Confession time: over the past decade, I have become someone who actively reads self-help books. 

As someone bumbling through my 20s figuring life out, I wanted to learn from writers offering their thoughts on self and life improvement. I hoped that these books would help me navigate this first decade of adulthood.

Now, not all self-help books are created equal. Some are monotonous, some are flippant, some have their own made-up systems and beliefs, some are overly general, while others seem to rely a tad too much on the spiritual.

Here are the top 7 self-help books written by women that I recommend reading, each one with a lesson or affirmation that I needed:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo 



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I have enjoyed Marie Kondo’s simple, non-pushy way of encouraging people to tidy up in various media forms (written book, manga, namesake Netflix show). 

Whatever your personal opinions of Marie Kondo are, her book simply offers the idea that you should only keep things that ‘spark joy’ in your life or are at least functional enough to see usage.

You don’t have to be a minimalist to be on board with that idea. After all, you should own your items, and not let your items own you. 


  1. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero


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Admittedly, I bought this book because of the title. I prefer self-help books that do not take themselves seriously, and this seemed like a perfect fit for that preference.

Jen espouses the idea that we are often our biggest obstacle when it comes to reaching for our biggest, wildest dreams. While her ideas are not applicable across the board – such as telling you to get your dream car, the money will come later – it does remind you to question if you are standing in the way of your own happiness.


  1. You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero


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This second You are a Badass book is basically like the first but slanted towards financial advice. Please note that it is not concrete financial advice – you will not find advice on which stocks to invest in here – but more on the mental obstacles we have in achieving wealth. 

While the ideas in here can seem tone-deaf and too New Age for some people, Sincero is an entertaining writer who does bring up points that are food for thought. And at the very least, it is a daily affirmation that yes, you are a badass at making money.

  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

As a self-confessed introvert, I was thrilled to read a book dedicated to people like me – especially when Susan Cain says that the world undervalues introverts a lot.

Quiet talks about the strengths and weaknesses of being an introvert, and how an introvert can be successful even in a world geared to reward extroversion. 

  1. Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones


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If you have ever suffered from imposter syndrome, you are not alone. With wit and warmth, Luvvie talks about how we let fear stop us from achieving what we want to do in our careers or asking for what we deserve.

Fear should not stop us from living our best lives. Professional Troublemaker teaches us how to face our fears, how to give voice to our truth, and to charge ahead to truly live the lives we want and dream of living.

6. But You’re Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings are Redefining Adulthood by Kayleen Schaefer

We are supposed to have it together in our 30s, but a lot of us are approaching our 30s knowing that we are nowhere close to having it together. Whether this is to to economic or societal changes, the thirtysomethings of today are not the thirtysomethings of yesteryears.

But You’re Still so Young delves into the lives of men and women in the US whose 30s were different from what they imagined would happen, or what should have happened according to their cultural expectations. If you have been feeling like you are behind your peers, this book will let you know that you are not alone in your navigation of life.

7. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

We want women to succeed, and cheer on others to do it and break the glass ceiling, but sometimes we are also our own biggest obstacles. 

Lean In asks women to embrace their leadership skills, and not to doubt themselves. It addresses subconscious biases we may have about ourselves about our sex and asks us to live up to our fullest potential wherever we may be. Now that is a message I can get behind with.