With a world that’s constantly moving faster and demanding more of our time and attention, it’s important to approach life in a way that best suits you. With everyone trying to manage their work/life balance, it’s unsurprising that books on lifestyle philosophies and life-managing techniques continue to be bestsellers all year round.
By Cara Fielder. Published 19 April 2023.
As part of Stress Awareness Month, we’ve pulled together a selection of popular and relevant books offering ways to look at the world and your place in it. Check out our wellbeing reading list to give you a taster of the changes you could make to reduce stress and live a happier life.
The concept of minimalism has been around forever, but with Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life and its authors’ website and podcast it’s become a hugely popular trend. Flying in the face of the consumerist culture, the minimalist ideal promotes reducing clutter in your life – both physical and psychological – so that you can focus on the things that really matter to you. The main message is iterated regularly throughout the Minimalism book, website and podcast: “Does it add value?” If not, bin it. It can seem a little preachy and (ironically) indulgent at times, but beneath the overzealous narrative the underlying philosophy is one that is worth investigating if you feel overwhelmed by some or all aspects of life. And, in true minimalist style, it’s only 140 pages, so it won’t take you ages to read.
From its full title you could mistakenly think The Antidote: Happiness for People who can’t stand Positive Thinking is an anti-wellbeing book. In fact, it’s a well-considered and insightful look at how the “cult of optimism” and the many self-help books and programmes designed around it are often more well-meaning than truly beneficial. Instead, The Antidote promotes a thought process dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans: Stoicism. Not to be confused with the modern stiff-upper-lipped use of the word “stoic”, Stoicism encourages you to let go of trying to control everything and find peace with what already is, rather than fixating on what you want things to be and spiralling into misery if things don’t turn out how you’d hoped. It’s a great attitude to adopt, which not only affirms your life view but also encourages you to stop beating yourself up when it comes to trying to achieve your aspirations.
The original book about bullet journaling, written by the method’s creator Ryder Carroll, The Bullet Journal Method carefully details the practice of bullet journaling. Even if you only take to some of the ideas in this book, you’re sure to find something that will help you streamline your planning, thinking and working.
Conjurer and mental magic man Derren Brown has written a few books, but Happy is his first one on life philosophy. Largely revolving around the teachings and thoughts of the ancient Greeks and Romans, this book applies the Stoic thinking of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca to the modern world to interesting effect. It’s a longer and more detailed exploration of this ancient philosophical system than The Antidote, and also includes some entertaining anecdotes from the author.
Side note: Interestingly, Derren Brown studied law in Bristol and used his mind and memory tricks to help him remember cases and lengthy bits of information for his law exams. If you’d like to give it a try for yourself, check out his first book; Tricks of the Mind.
No doubt you’ve seen, or at least heard of, Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, Tidying Up. Well, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying is the book that launched her to fame. Much like The Bullet Journal Method above, this book’s not specifically about your mental wellbeing, but it’s got some great advice on how to sort out your stuff so you feel less overwhelmed by the things around you. A tidy home leads to a tidy mind, after all.
Good sleep hygiene is one of the most important aspects of positive wellbeing. Without it, you’ll quickly see a negative impact on your work, resilience, and health.
In The Sleep Book, Guy Meadows shares a wealth of general information on sleep but focuses on a unique five-week plan to get you sleeping soundly.
For those who like their reading based on science, you’ll be happy to know that The Sleep Book is the sum of a doctorate degree in sleep. Meadows spent well over 12,000 hours working with more than 2,000 insomniacs in one-to-one clinics, workshops and retreat environments.
Who doesn’t want to have a good laugh while improving their wellbeing? Throughout the twenty-seven bitesize chapters that make up How to be a Badass, Sincero will inspire you as much as she makes you laugh. Her signature sass, down-to-earth humour and blunt practicality make a nice change of pace from some of the more serious self-help books out there. So if you enjoy inspiring stories, sage advice and easy exercises with a sprinkling of swear words, look no further.
If this sounds right up your street, How to be a Badass is part of a series that includes You Are a Badass at Making Money and Badass Habits.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is one of the best-known and loved self-help books out there and claims to have ‘changed the lives of millions of people around the globe’.
What are you scared of? Public speaking; making decisions; being alone; intimacy; changing jobs; interviews; going back to school; ageing; ill health; ending a relationship or failure? Whatever your personal fears and anxieties, Feel the Fear provides you with insight and tools to improve your ability to handle any situation. Don’t let your fear hold you back any longer.
These are just a few of our top picks for wellbeing reads, but the list of books out there covering different areas or perspectives is staggering. Here’s a bunch of the others that come near the top of our picks:
Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig
Humans, Matt Haig
Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig
Mind over Mood, Dennis Greenberger
Overcoming Stress, Gillian Todd and Leonora Brosan
The Little Book of Mindfulness, Patrizia Collard
Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canfield and Hansen
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet, Benjamin Hoff
Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
Find your happy, Shannon Kaiser
F**k it: be at peace with life, just as it is, John Parkin
The life changing magic of not giving a f**k, Sarah Knight
Do Breathe, Michael Townsend Williams
You can find out more about how The University of Law works to support your wellbeing as well as your ambitions while you study by checking out our support hub.