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13 Books To Read For A Better Relationship With Yourself

These recommended reads prioritize self-love. You should, too.

Good Reads

There is no shame in needing a little bit of help – even if said help comes from the pages of a book. Nevertheless, so many self-help books – if you're looking in the wrong places – can be more hindering than helpful. The best self-help books these days thankfully come from experts in their field – journalist, psychologist, social scientists, career coaches, life coaches, and legitimate successful people who've been where you are.

Here are the 13 best self-help books you should read to foster a better relationship with the most important person in your life, yourself:

Black Girl, You Can Do This by Brittni Kirkpatrick

"This book is written from my heart and soul to teach and guide the next generation in love, empowerment, and truth."
―Brittni Kirkpatrick, Black Girl, You Can Do This

In this manifesto of mindset liberation for young women, Brittni Kirkpatrick encourages the next generation to explore their ideas and values, find the meaning and truth within, and be true to themselves rather than fitting in with the crowd.

Black Girl, You Can Do This is a series of love letters from Kirkpatrick to her younger self, followed by the practical techniques that will help you cultivate the needed space for personal growth and development, love and healing, and empowerment to thrive in the power of your natural talents, skills, and abilities.

The Self-Love Experiment: 15 Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself


"Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same."
― Shannon Kaiser, The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

In TheSelf-Love Experiment, Shannon Kaiser encourages you to overcome your fears and put a stop to self-sabotage, so that you can gain the confidence you need to reach your goals and become your own biggest fan, best friend, and unwavering supporter.

The Self-Love Experiment rectifies the problem people face when they believe that they are not allowed to put themselves first or go after their own dreams out of fear of being selfish or sacrificing others' needs. No matter what you're going through, Kaiser walks you through her own personal experiment, a simple plan that compassionately guides you through the process of removing fear-based thoughts, so you can fall in love with your life.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur


"What's the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one. She's already had everything she needs within herself. It's the world that convinced her she did not."
- Rupi Kaur, milk and honey

milk and honey is the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Divided into four chapters, each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, and heals a different heartache.

milk and honey "takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look."

the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur


"This is the recipe of life/ said my mother/ as she held me in her arms as i wept/ think of those flowers you plant/ in the garden each year/ they teach you/ that people too/ must wilt/ fall/ root/ rise/ in order to bloom."
- Rupi Kaur, the sun and her flowers

Unlike milk and honey, the sun and her flowers talks about the experience of growth, healing, ancestry, and honoring one's roots. Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

the sun and her flowers reflects souls who rise above the barricades that incumber their growth. It is a passage between decay, awakening, and healing; and it is a passage that has the capacity to truly mend and heal broken hearts stuck in darkness and despair.

the sun and her flowers beautifully discusses "expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself."

The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz


"And what is the right woman, the right man? Someone who wants to go in the same direction as you do, someone who is compatible with your views and your values ― emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually."
― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love

In The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel sheds light on deep-seated fear-based beliefs and assumptions that cripple love and lead to suffering and drama in relationships. Utilizing perspicacious anecdotes to bring his message to life, he shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, reclaim our freedom and joy, and reestablish the spirit of playfulness that is essential to healthy, loving relationships. Using teachings from the three Toltec Masteries — Awareness, Transformation, and Love — as groundwork, Don Miguel illuminates the misconceptions and erroneous expectations about love that pervade most relationships.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz


"You express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others."
― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel argues that everything we do is found on agreements we have made with ourselves, with other people, with God, and with life itself. Out of these agreements, the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements, we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, and what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth. With The Four Agreements, bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and creates unnecessary suffering. The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can quickly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and, ultimately, love.

sunny. by Gabrielle Hickmon

via Permission To Write

"When was the last time you let yourself feel everything?/ Gave yourself over to the love,/ the fear,/ the soul of it all?"
-- Gabrielle Hickmon, sunny.

As a collection of poetry dedicated "to everyone, but especially the girls everywhere — chasing the sun," sunny. is a poignantly familiar place for you to spend your afternoon. With poetry and prose about the ins and outs, ups and downs, and twists and turns of life and love, sunny. is rooted in the notion that "everything is a piece of a poem, if you're paying attention." Exploring the ideas of self-love, what happens when a relationship falls apart, and how love finds us in even the ostensibly minuscule details of life alone or with someone else, Hickmon, showcases the struggles of being vulnerable and effortlessly loving oneself, seamlessly.

This collection of poetry is reminiscent of poets before her, such as Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace, with more of that refreshingly raw and gritty edge one could expect from such a book.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey (and Guests)


"All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings."
Oprah Winfrey, The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations

The Wisdom of Sundays features insightful selections from the most meaningful conversations between Oprah Winfrey and some of today's most admired thought leaders. Organized into ten chapters — each one representing a powerful step in Oprah's own spiritual journey and introduced with a personal essay by Oprah herself — the moments of inspiration that have enlightened millions are collected and held within this stunning, treasurable, and deeply-affecting book.

Paired with beautiful photographs, including many from Oprah's private property in California, The Wisdom of Sundays promises to be a timeless memento that will help readers awaken to life's astounding potentials and discover a deeper connection to the natural world around them.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

"If you're serious about changing your life, you'll find a way. If you're not, you'll find an excuse."
Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

You Are a Badass is the self-help book for people who gravely want to improve their lives, but don't want to go broke doing so. In this invigoratingly entertaining how-to guide, Jen Sincero — world-traveling success coach — offers humorously inspiring stories, sagacious advice, and easy exercises, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want; to ultimately create a life you can be incandescently in love with.

You Are A Badass lets you create the life you want not tomorrow, not the next day, and not in a month, but now. By the end of the book, you'll understand why you are the way that you are, how to love what you cannot change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use everything else to kick some serious ass. You Are A Badass makes you feel…well, like you're a badass. The baddest of them all to be exact.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

"Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It's a shield. It's a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from flight."
Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

With living in the age of social media, each day we face a bombardment of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. In doing so, we are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, then we would no longer feel inadequate. We would no longer feel incomplete. So, most of us perform, please, and perfect instead of living as our true, authentic selves.

In The Gift of Imperfection, Brené Brown — a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging — shares what she has acquired from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living; and teaches her readers how to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. Using ten guideposts, Brown engages your mind, heart, and spirit while she explores how you can cultivate the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think I am enough.

UnFu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop


"Wake up to the miracle you are. Here's what you've forgotten: You're a fu*king miracle of being."
- Gary John Bishop, UnFu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life

In this straightforward handbook, Gary John Bishop gives you the tools and perceptive guidance you'll need to demolish your woes weighing you down, so that you can become the truly unfu*ked version of yourself. Through a series of seven assertions, Unfu*k Yourself encourages you to believe that you are: willing, wired to win, unstoppable, capable of embracing uncertainty, not your thoughts, what you do, expectant of nothing and acceptant of everything.

Unfu*k Yourself illuminates the idea that "it isn't other people that are standing in your way, it isn't even your circumstances that are blocking your ability to thrive, it's yourself and the negative self-talk you keep telling yourself." If you're tired of feeling fu*ked up, Unfu*k Yourself does a marvelous job of showing you that you can truly lead the life you were meant to have. All you have to do is get out of your own head and out of your own way.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Simon & Schuster

"There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It's funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don't want a baby? Don't have one. I don't want to get married? I won't. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don't apologize. Don't explain. Don't ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it."
Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where she could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen.

Then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda's sister muttered something that was both a wake up call and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.

Afterwards, Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes hilariously, emotionally, and candidly shares anecdotes and her solution to overcome your fears. This book is a genuine and rousing account of saying yes to life. After reading this novel, you will feel like you are limitless and that you are only one word away from your life-changing moment. When in doubt, step back, assess the situation, and without hindrance, say "yes."

Be Unapologetically You: A Self Love Guide for Women of Color by Adeline Bird

Adeline Bird

"As a woman of color, you think you are at the bottom of the pile but your position is unique and your differences are not your weakness, they are your strength. Once you own that, you can be unstoppable."
Adeline Bird, Be Unapologetically You: A Self Love Guide for Women of Color

In Be Unapologetically You, Adeline Bird teaches that self-love is a journey that starts with forgiveness and acceptance of what is. Only after you have forgiven yourself and accepted that whatever happened happened, can you start your soulful revolution, where you stop judging yourself and start celebrating yourself instead.

In hopes that you become self-aware, Bird encourages her readers to learn what is important to them and then she forces them to decide what kind of behavior they are prepared to accept from themselves and from others. Loving yourself is non-negotiable, and with the help of Bird, she teaches you that although loving yourself is hard, takes courage and commitment, you are blessed with the creative genius to shape your own world. All you have to do is reach out and grab it with both hands.

Once you've found and cultivated a better relationship with yourself, with the help of these novels, come on back and let us know which one helped you the most.

Featured image by Getty Images.

Originally published on February 2, 2019

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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