12 Self-Help Books That Actually Work

A good self-help book is way cheaper than therapy.
Publish date:
August 27, 2012
books, self help

Self help books get a bad rap sometimes, I think. They're seen as the province of walking, talking "Cathy" cartoons and hippie-dippie-fruit-loop types. That couldn't be less true: there are many different types of self-help books for all kinds of problems. Some books are more spiritual while others are more practical, as in teaching you techniques of coping with depression and anxiety. Not only is a good self-help book cheaper than paying for therapy -- even if it's just a co-pay! -- but you can circle sections, fold over pages, and come back to them whenever you read.

I scoured my own bookshelf and that of The Frisky staff to find the best self-help books we've ever read -- ones that actually work!

This piece is part of The Frisky’s How To Deal Week, in which they're tackling mental health issues. It has been reprinted with permission from The Frisky.

Adult Children Of Alcoholics Pretty self-explanatory, no? A must-read for other ACOAs. [Amazon, $9.88]

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow

This is the one and only book I would recommend to anyone going through a bad time. I read it back when I'd made a huge mistake and a bunch of people were mad at me (and rightfully so). Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser helped me to use the experience to help me grow as a person and become more compassionate towards others. It's truly genius. — Jessica [Amazon, $10.88]

When Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are no joke. This workbook will help you to deescalate your anxiety through recognizing your triggering thought patterns, such as "all or nothing thinking." I found the activities extremely helpful back when anxiety and depression were hijacking my life. — Jessica [Amazon, $10.87]

Toxic Parents: Overwhelming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

This book has been life-changing for many of my friends who grew up with an alcoholic or abusive parent. — Winona [Amazon, $10.88]

When Things Fall Apart

When it feels like your life is literally coming apart at the seams, this book by a Buddhist nun will bring you peace. — Winona [Amazon, $10.72]

The Only Dance There Is

Ram Dass was a psychologist who did acid and became a spiritual guru back in the 60's. This book has some far out new thought. — Ami [Amazon, $10.20]

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

I carried this around for all of college. It was essential in me learning how to quiet my mind. — Ami [Amazon, $10.17]

Letters To A Young Poet

This is my spiritual text on matters such as love and art. — Ami [Amazon, $9.48]

A New Earth

I liked Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. This one gave me a new perspective on the way I thought about other people's issues. — Ami [Amazon, $11.20]

Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger has always been a bit of spiritual text for me and I read it whenever I need guidance. There's something about Franny's yearning that resonates with me and Zooey's advice always rings true. — Amelia [Amazon, $11.19]

Spirit Junkie

Gabrielle Berstein's Spirit Junkie memoir/guide was really inspiring because it's all about how all the love you really need is inside you. Focusing on your own happiness and wellbeing and wholeness then leads to attracted the right people into your life. I just like the core message of what she talks about and it's been something I've returned to during down times, to get me back on track mentally. She also has this medication album specifically about love and dating, and, as goofy as I initially felt listening to it, it's actually really wonderful. — Amelia [Amazon, $11.20]

The Feeling Good Handbook

There's a book and workbook called Feeling Good, which is basically a book that offers cognitive therapy tips and tricks. I found it really helpful after my last major break up -- it gives you real tools on how to change and retrain your brain against negative thought patterns. — Julie [Amazon, $16.77]