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5 Self-Help Books That Won’t Make You Cringe

These self-help books offer frank, in-your-face advice on how to improve your life.

Erica Riveraby Erica Rivera
Photo: Morsa Images, Getty Images.

Self-help books have a reputation for lameness, but you won’t be embarrassed if you get caught reading one of these badass titles. In addition to dropping four-letter words, the authors of these books counsel you like longtime friends, not patronizing experts (though many of them have the academic degrees to back up their advice). What’s more, they tackle problems you deal with in the real world and offer immediately applicable tools and tactics to make life a little easier on yourself. So what are you waiting for? Pick one up and start your transformation today.

F*ck Feelings

Fuck FeelingsDr. Michael Bennett likes the “F” word. A lot. In fact, every chapter of this New York Times bestselling self-help tome begins with F-ing one thing or another, from self-esteem to serenity to love. That’s great news if you’re sick and tired of being overwhelmed by emotions and want some practical tools to help you deal with life’s “impossible problems.” Even if emotions aren’t your issue, there’s useful – and often hilarious – advice for other conundrums here, like the chapter “Fuck Assholes,” which explains that Assholes (yes, with a capital A) are quite charming initially, causing many a well-meaning person to fall for them. The trouble is that “anyone who gets close to an Asshole will eventually get shit on.” Thus, “the sooner you learn that all attempts to change Assholes are futile, the sooner you’ll be able to live with Assholes in your day-to-day life.” Each chapter offers a quick diagnosis, real-life examples, and scripts to use in strife-causing scenarios. It’s slightly disconcerting that Dr. Bennett wrote this book with his daughter, Sarah, but daddy issues are something you can discuss with your own therapist (though you might not need one if you read this whole book).

Unfu*k Yourself

Unfuck YourselfAuthor Gary John Bishop is a no excuses kind of dude. He isn’t interested in placing blame on your past and he doesn’t believe in helplessness. What he does believe: that you need to wake up to your potential, assume responsibility for your circumstances, and start taking action. The book revolves around seven assertions: “I am willing,” “I am wired to win,” “I got this,” “I embrace the uncertainty,” “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do,” “I am relentless,” and “I expect nothing and accept everything.” If you take nothing else away from this book beyond those easy-to-remember and surprisingly effective mantras, you’re already on the path to self-improvement.

Get Your Sh*t Together

Get Your Shit TogetherIn this profanity-infused national bestseller, Sarah Knight introduces readers to the concept of “mental de-cluttering.” She’ll show you how to end self-sabotage, re-prioritize the fucks you give, manage anxiety, set goals, persevere through your fear of failure, and be more financially responsible. Her simple tips on dealing with “the small shit,” “the tough shit,” and the “deep shit” are interspersed with humor, making for a quick read that you can immediately apply to your life – and therein lies the catch: this book is only as helpful as you are motivated. So stop fucking around and do what you’re supposed to do already.

The Brave Athlete

The Brave AthleteIf athleticism is the area where you could use some help, this new book by Simon Marshall, Ph.D. and Lesley Paterson will show you how to “calm the fuck down and rise to the occasion.” Through the scientific lens of evolutionary biology, the authors explain your three brains: an ancient chimp brain, a modern professor brain, and a computer brain. By integrating these systems, you can shed your worrywart, hesitant persona and become the confident, resilient hero you long to be. By addressing over a dozen hurdles athletes frequently face, and learning to confront self-defeating thoughts and feelings, you’ll be able to train and race better, not to mention enjoy the experience more.

Practice Makes Purpose

Practice Makes PurposeIf you prefer a spiritual spin on self-help, C. Paul Schroeder is your new guru. The former Greek Orthodox priest left the church after a divorce and personal crisis that forced him to reevaluate his purpose. Now he shares what he learned with you in six simple practices: compassionate seeing, heartfelt listening, intentional welcoming, joyful sharing, grateful receiving, and cooperative building. Each practice comes with its own mantra that not only applies to personal improvement but to community change as well. For a book with spiritual roots, it’s refreshingly preach-free. You’ll learn how to open your heart while maintaining boundaries, how to look for the gifts in the tough times, and how to co-create a new reality with those around you.