life-changing-books

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16 books to transform your life in 2021: Improve your life, be happier & get motivated

Whatever you want to change in 2021, there’s a book to help you do it

Katherine Robinson

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week and following over a year of lockdowns, uncertainty and being separated from our loved ones, it feels more important than ever. 

2020 may have been a difficult time for most, but that doesn't mean 2021 has to be a total write-off. You can still set yourself achievable goals and work on yourself – what do you want to achieve in terms of personal growth in 2021? Whether you want to calm your anxiety, get a grip on your finances, increase your self-confidence or just change your way of thinking, there’s a book out there to help you do it.

These great reads have already helped thousands of people – including several members of our HELLO! Online team - and have glowing five-star reviews. Swap an hour a day of mindless scrolling of social media for an hour with your nose stuck in one of these great books and we promise you’ll soon see a difference in your mindset.

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happy-planning

Happy Planning by Charlotte Plain

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Cover blurb: "Bring order amidst the chaos with this practical guide for those who like to prep (or maybe need a little more planning in their lives). Happy Planning will give you the tools you need to plan every aspect of your life, from the weekly shop, daily meal prep and general budgeting, right through to big occasions like weddings, parties and holidays. You’ll cut waste, save more and live better – a little plan goes a long way! Charlotte’s everyday approach has been so successful that she launched a business off the back of it, and is now sharing all of her practical and positive know-how. As well as her planning mantras and toolkit, each section of the book is dedicated to an area of life that benefits from planning and is packed with personal learning experiences, planning methods, tips and tricks, practical guidance and interactive elements. It’s simple, positive and practical planning that will lead to a healthier happier you."

Top review: "I only received this book today and couldn’t put it down! Absolutely loved it! Being a planner myself it reconfirmed some things, but for others sparked new ideas to put in place. I love how it covers everything from everyday life and food planning, to Christmas! Special events such as hen do and weddings to organising your finances. I think this is a book all houses should have. Perfect to pick up and out down for when you need it. I’ve even tagged certain parts for me to refer to again! Small and handy size, well written and relatable! Highly recommend and big thanks to Charlotte for such a wonderful book!"

fearne-cotton

Speak your Truth by Fearne Cotton

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Cover Blurb: "After Radio and TV journalist Fearne Cotton faced two weeks of being unable to speak due to a possible throat operation, she began to think about other times her voice had gone unheard - as a young woman, as 'just the talent', as the foil to louder, more dominant figures. She found herself wondering, at what point do we internalise this message, and start silencing ourselves? When do we swallow down our authentic words to become pleasers and compromisers at the cost of our own happiness or wellbeing? Speak Your Truth dives into all the ways we learn to stay quiet for the wrong reasons, and explores how to find your voice, assert yourself and speak out with confidence. Brave, vulnerable and deeply personal, it shares Fearne's compelling story and helps you to shape your own."

Top review: "I absolutely love this book! Fearne’s style of writing always feels accessible and relatable, but I do feel this book is possibly her most honest yet! Without spoiling too much, Fearne explores how we may feel fear of speaking up, as well as how to remedy that and to manage any potential difficult responses as a result. The book is also full of mini self-reflection activities (and I like how Fearne completes these with us!). I’ll speak my truth now and can confirm that it’s definitely perfect lockdown reading... this book perfectly equips you for emerging from lockdown confident, assertive... and knowing your truth."

humble

F***k being Humble: Why Self-Promotion isn’t a Dirty Word by Stefanie Sword-Williams

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Cover Blurb: "We are constantly told that being humble is essential to our professional success. It's often seen as distasteful or arrogant to shout about our achievements. But in a modern workplace this advice seems ever-more obsolete. It's time to f*ck being humble. With simple exercises, steps and real-life examples, learn how to: Know what you stand for. Stop hiding (even when you don't realise you are). Fully realise the power of networking. Know your self-worth. Play the money game and win. Manage your emotions at work. Take action and establish the right time to make the leap. Keep the momentum you've generated going and maintain that elusive work-life balance. Get ready to start taking charge of your own success."

Top review: "I devoured this book in three weeks, eagerly underlining take-aways and action points to go back to. This is a book that you’ll keep on your shelf for years and continuously go back to when in need of inspiration or reminding of the badass that you are. No matter what gender, race, age you are and no matter what industry you are in this book is for you. It was actually reading this book on holiday last month that gave us the driving power to finally launch my own side hustle. So go read this, be inspired, start that side hustle and live your purpose."

get-sht-together

Get Your Sh*t Together (A No F**ks Given Guide) by Sarah Knight

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Cover blurb: “A New York Times bestseller. From the author of the bestselling book everyone is talking about, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. How to stop worrying about what you should do, so you can finish what you need to do and start doing what you want to do. Ever find yourself snowed under at the office - or even just glued to the sofa - when you really want to get out (for once), get to the gym (at last), and get started on that daunting dream project you're always putting off? Then it's time to get your sh*t together. In her first book, 'anti-guru' Sarah Knight introduced the joys of mental decluttering. This book takes you one stop further - organizing the f*cks you want and need to give to help you quit your day job and move abroad, balance work and fun - and save money while you're at it - or simply get out of the door for happy hour, every day.”

Top review: “I would recommend this book to everyone. I have used the advice in everyday life and work life. I have even coached my daughter who was having a complete meltdown about her final exams. I just said Get your sh*t together and make a plan of what you must do! Her tutors have noticed a difference. I love Sarah's writing style. Straight to the point. Just brilliant!”

money-book

Real Life Money: An Honest Guide to Taking Control of your Finances by Clare Seal

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Cover blurb: “Part memoir, part guide, Real Life Money takes the reader on a journey that can be adapted to their own pace and circumstances. It will cover everything from how to negotiate repayment terms with creditors and setting realistic budgets without punishing yourself, to dealing with money anxiety. The goal is not to get rich overnight, or to pay off debt at the expense of all of life's pleasures, but rather to gain an understanding of why we feel the way we do about money, and how we can use that to change our mindset and our finances for good.”

Top review: "Loved this book! I ordered because I thought it would be useful in general, rather than because it was needed, but it gave such an insight into the 'whys and hows' of spending and I really did relate to so much that I didn't even consider previously. Clare has not only provided great tips and advice on how to get on top of debt, but also how to recognise unhealthy spending habits and the psychology that sits alongside. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about money... I've quoted the book and shared it with so many friends and they've found it really useful too!”

big-magic

Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life and Let Go of your Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Cover Blurb: "Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys."

Top review: "Just brilliant. Inspiring, I couldn't put it down. A must-read to anyone out there who has ideas but is afraid of making them happen."

social-media

Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life, by Katherine Ormerod

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Cover blurb: “Do you ever obsess about your body? Do you lie awake at night, fretting about the state of your career? Does everyone else's life seem better than yours? Does it feel as if you'll never be good enough? Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life tackles head on the pressure cooker of comparison and unreachable levels of perfection that social media has created in our modern world. In this book, Katherine Ormerod meets the experts involved in curating, building and combating the most addictive digital force humankind has ever created. From global influencers - who collectively have over 10 million followers - to clinical psychologists, plastic surgeons and professors, Katherine uncovers how our relationship with social media has rewired our behavioural patterns, destroyed our confidence and shattered our attention spans.”

Top review: “Terrifyingly true. Wow! She hits the nail on the head. Some of the facts in this book are quite mind boggling. When you really think about it, social media isn't always what it's cracked up to be. Enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to others.”

dis-comfort

The Discomfort Zone: How to Get What You Want by Living Fearlessly by Farrah Storr

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Cover blurb: "When you explore your discomfort zone, you'll find that anything is possible. While it is human nature to shy away from things that are outside of our comfort zone, it is only by spending time in our discomfort zone that we can grow, and improve, and realise our full potential. Whether it's putting yourself forward for a new challenge, asking for difficult feedback, nailing a presentation or getting a dream job, in this book Farrah Storr shows how you have to push through what she calls "brief moments of discomfort" in order to get to where you need to be. Farrah describes these brief moments of discomfort as "like HIIT training for your life" - and shows how the more you force yourself into them, the easier it will get. This book is full of advice, practical exercises and examples both from Farrah's own life and career and from all sorts of other successful people, from athletes to entrepreneurs.”

Top review: “I was supposed to be saving this book for my holiday but after reading the introduction I couldn't put it down. Farrah's writing speaks to you in a way that other 'self-help' books don't. I use that term lightly because I think this book shouldn't be optional, anyone who wants to make something of themselves needs to read this book. It has inspired me and I'm positive it will inspire a lot of others. This book has given me an inner confidence that I didn't realise I possessed. If I could give it 7 stars I would!”

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own-room-n

How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking by Viv Groskop

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Cover blurb: “Most books about public speaking don't tell you what to do when you open your mouth and nothing comes out. And they don't tell you how to get over the anxiety about performance that most people naturally have. They don't tell you what to do in the moments when you are made, as a woman, to feel small. They don't tell you how to own the room. This book does. From the way Michelle Obama projects 'happy high status', and the power of J.K. Rowling's understated speaking style, to Virginia Woolf's leisurely pacing and Oprah Winfrey's mastery of inner conviction, what is it that our heroines do to make us sit up and listen - really listen - to their every word? And how can you achieve that impact in your own life? Here's how.”

Top review: “You might think that this book isn't relevant to you unless you regularly give speeches in public, but you would be wrong. This book explores why speeches that women throughout history have given are so relevant to our lives, and how we can use the same techniques. You might not ever think you need to "own a room" but what about when having a one to one with a tricky boss, when pitching an email to a new client, or when you are about to deliver a presentation to a board meeting... there are so many scenarios that you can put into practice what Viv talks about in this book.”

think-monk

Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty

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Cover blurb: “In this inspiring, empowering book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk in the Vedic tradition to show us how we can clear the roadblocks to our potential and power. Drawing on ancient wisdom and his own rich experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that lie within all of us. The lessons monks learn are profound but often abstract. Shetty transforms them into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve focus, improve relationships, identify our hidden abilities, increase self-discipline and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. Shetty proves that everyone can and should think like a monk.”

Top review: “Omg! The best life guide book one can own, written beautifully with practical exercises on how to have monk-like mindset without becoming a monk! Example exercise--Count for a week how many times you CCC the cancers of the mind - Complain, Criticise, Compare and mind blown with the insights and how to conquer it. This is just an example of many many positive life conquering strategies that you will find in the book! Must buy - bedside keep forever!”

midnight-library

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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Cover blurb: "Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change. The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren't always what she imagined they'd be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?”

Top review: “This book for me was amazing, outstanding, life changing, powerful and thought provoking. Honestly have you ever felt so low you wanted to die? Then this book is for you. It will change your whole perspective on life. It has for me. It's taught me A LOT of life lessons and how I see my life. I actually have fallen in love with this book and I don't say that lightly. I don't want to ruin this for anyone but if you could view every possible outcome of your life would you? Would you ever be happy? Just wow. It's taught me to open my eyes, appreciate what I have not what I want. Life is life. Life is beautiful. I loved it all. I devoured it in a day.”

rising-strong

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

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Cover blurb: "#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending. Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability--the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome--is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall. It is the rise from falling that Brown takes as her subject in Rising Strong. Walking into our stories of hurt can feel dangerous. But the process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It's the process that teaches us the most about who we are."

Top review: “A brilliant book for anyone going through tough life changes or loss ... I've bought it for two friends and have read all her books. They have changed my approach to parenting and also leadership, as well as how I live my life. Read them all.”

the-dry-challenge

The Dry Challenge by Hilary Sheinbaum

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Cover Blurb: "For many people, drinking a glass of beer or wine after work is a part of everyday life. But did you know taking a break from drinking (even for just a month!) has extreme benefits and can be incredibly life-changing? From losing weight, to saving money, to sleeping better at night, the overall health and mental gains of going dry for a month are endless. Offering friendly support and encouragement and filled with engaging activities to help you prepare –and complete – a full alcohol-free month, The Dry Challenge provides an easy step-by-step guide for completing your first Dry January, Sober October, or any other alcohol-free month. You’ll find plenty of booze-free activities from prompts to checklists to the best mocktail recipes around. From making a plan to sharing the news with friends and family (and what to do when someone tries to sabotage your boozeless journey) to getting back on track if you slip up and have a drink (or two), we got you covered."

Top Review: "Combining research, personal anecdotes and humor, The Dry Challenge is a guide for drinkers, light drinkers and non-drinkers for completing a month (or longer) without alcohol. Offering useful alternatives to “going out for a drink,” backed with research and life lessons, this book is a pleasure to read. Never preachy, always helpful, I found myself laughing at the author’s asides and eagerly turning the pages for more information. The interactive nature of the book is a great idea, allowing readers to not just read, but also actively participate in thinking about the content. The inclusion of recipes in the back for a variety of “mock tails” make this purchase even better. Side note: the hardcover is really nicely made and the publisher went all out in the printing quality."

Why-We-Sleep-book

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

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Cover Blurb: "Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life - eating, drinking, and reproducing - the purpose of sleep remained elusive. Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence."

Top Review: "This book has been eye-opening for me. Are there days when you don't have a clear mind? Are you sometimes forgetful? Are you sometimes less optimistic than you used to be? How patient are you? Do you sometimes feel dizzy? Do you have headaches? Why do you think that is? Are you having too much coffee? Are you having too little? Maybe you have high blood pressure? Well, there could be a much simpler explanation. You could be sleep deprived. Lots of people are and many don't even know. This book explains why we sleep, the positive effects of sleeping on your mind, body and health and the negative effects that not sleeping enough has on them. I really enjoyed this book. I am sleeping more now and I definitely feel a lot better, more clear-minded and energetic. I can now clearly understand the effect a few nights in a row of not sleeping enough have on me... and I can detect it and easily fix it by just going to bed earlier! Life-changing."

Normal-Bryony-Gordon

No Such Thing As Normal by Bryony Gordon

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Cover Blurb: "From depression and anxiety to personality disorders, one in four of us experience mental health issues every year and, in these strange and unsettling times, more of us than ever are struggling to cope. In No Such Thing As Normal, Bryony offers sensible, practical advice, covering subjects such as sleep, addiction, worry, medication, self-image, boundary setting, therapy, learned behaviour, mindfulness and, of course - as the founder of Mental Health Mates - the power of walking and talking. She also strives to equip those in need of help with tools and information to get the best out of a poorly funded system that can be both frightening and overwhelming. The result is a lively, honest and direct guide to mental health that cuts through the Instagram-wellness bubble to talk about how each of us can feel stronger, better and just a little bit less alone."

Top Review: "As a huge Bryony Gordon fan I have been eagerly awaiting this book and it does not disappoint, in fact, I read it in 24 hours! Once again Bryony's honesty and passion for supporting others is so inspiring and it has changed my life. Since reading her books, I myself became a mental health mates walk leader which has changed my journey and that of many others. As a service user myself I have had lots of professional support (for which I am grateful), but what has actually changed my life is the introduction of peer support and books like Bryony's which have made me feel less alone and more understood. What I love about this book is the fact there is so much information on how and where to get help and support which is very much needed in the world right now. I will be forever grateful to Bryony for her ability to be so open and honest and for making me feel like I'm not the only person in the world who feels like this. I can't recommend this book enough, it has helped me put the right foot forward in what is going to be another challenging year."

Make-Your-Bed

Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven

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Cover Blurb: "Make your bed to change the world... 'What starts here changes the world' was the university slogan that inspired William H. McRaven to take charge of the small things that could change his life...and even the world. Here McRaven shares the 10 life-changing principles he learned during his 37 years as a Navy SEAL. These 10 philosophies helped him to overcome challenges not only in his career but also throughout his life. What's more, anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves, and the world, for the better. Begin each day with a simple task, help one another you through life, respect everyone, know that your life won't be fair and that you will fail often."

Top Review: "If you are looking for a book that inspires you in all walks of life... a book that will give you the mental energy to get through situations in life which are tough to understand and get through... this is the book to read. I love the energy the book gives out. It's compassionate and strong, yet does not ignore what sometimes seems to be the 'easy way out'. The writer just gives you the strength and energy and wisdom that giving up is not really an option, and that there are always ways not to give up. He builds your mental strength just by reading about the examples and prepares your mind to want to try and adapt some of the strategies and thinking used and explained in this book."

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