Book Review Series: A Few Books on Self-Help

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Finding time to read more books has always, and will always be, an ongoing goal in my life. I’m sure that I that there will be days that this goal is reached with ease, and that there will be days when it seems like forever since the last time I laid my eyes on a page. That being said, the excuses in my mind are easier to overcome, thanks to our amazing library where e-books can be borrowed online. It’s an effort some days, but yes, it is doable to trade off the time I spend on social media and dedicate that in reading books instead.

Some of the books I have read recently are the “self-help, productivity and motivational” type. Here are some reviews of these books I read recently:

How to Be A Bawse by Lilly Singh

Similar to the other books in this article, this is a collection of ‘lessons learned from my journey’ that the author have compiled. In this case, it is Lilly Singh, a Youtube Celebrity who has been successful for some time now.

The language of the book –  casual, relatable, sassy and honest – made me feel like I can envision her voice and actions like in her Youtube videos. The 40-something chapters are grouped into four parts, or themes. I laughed out out at the introduction of each of these sections, which was a diagram inspired by the aesthetic of an Ikea catalogue. I suppose that’s what the book is about, reading through the different guidelines to make a better version of yourself. One thing I really appreciate about this book’s style, is that the last chapter of each themed part is called ‘Out of the Blue’. This chapter shares a journal entry from when her she was at a low point on her life (around 2009- 2011) , immediately followed by a journal entry many years after (around 2015). This is her way of demonstrating how things had drastically changed for the better, and how the principles she discussed in all the earlier chapters made those positive changes a reality.

One key learning that both surprised and amazed me is about ‘being selective on who and how much to disclose your personal details to’. I appreciated her explanation that being strategic about this is healthy and helpful. Many of the chapters in the book talked about seeking ways to learn, humility, courage, perspective and authenticity. It’s a great read, the type that you will want to read again in a few years as a refresher.

 

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The book talks about the author’s journey into embracing the discomfort, the vulnerability, the rewards, and the beauty of asking for help.

A key aspect I really appreciate in this book is how the shame, the anguish and the vulnerability of asking for help can affect the dynamics of a romantic relationship. The ‘differences’ between her and her husband were a bit more drastic compared to me and my partner. That being said, I was able to relate to her mind’s inner dialogue that made her hesitate, resist, or be hostile to her husband’s offers for help. Whether it is money, flexibility, or understanding, battling the feeling of being undeserving of these things is tough for most people. In both her romantic relationship and in her life as a musician, being bold in the ‘art of asking’ resulted in unexpected outcomes and exhilarating stories of connection with people around her.

Thank you, I shall do my best to graciously ‘take the f***ing donut’, in other words, accept the help that is available to me that can improve my situation. I shall try to remember that asking and giving help is vital to life and human connection. It may take a while for me to comfortably yell in a public bathroom ‘I need a tampon’ when I unexpectedly need one, but that is part of the self-improvement journey.

 

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht

This book is written by someone who made a career in the fashion industry, a field that I an not familiar with at all. I found it refreshing to learn about the trials and tribulations of someone who was just starting out in their career path, and how many of the struggles are the same, no matter the line of work. From having to catalogue hundreds of designer bags from various companies, to competing to get first dibs on a new design by a fashion icon, these stories were  both entertaining and relatable in their own way.

May of the tips in the book seems to be common sense to me already, such as staying humble once you ‘make it’, having well crafted cover letters and resumes that have no typos, and embracing one’s decision to take risks. But there are specific topics that I haven’t read about in other self-development books, and I welcome the new perspectives. Stories and key lessons for managing one’s personal brand, social media presence, and office politics were quite valuable. I feel lucky that a boss has never screamed at me and accused me of stealing her job, so it was sobering to learn that such things do happen to people. Each chapter is loaded with related stories from her experiences, and it was able to get a point across despite the sprinkling of unfamiliar fashion lingo.


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