Gone are the days of the self-help book as hokey spiritual cheerleader. By digging deeper and getting realer, these six books help women to practice radical acts of self-love, and to know that the rest will follow.
When you stop to think about what technically makes a self-help book a self-help book, things can start to get nebulous pretty quickly: If the very act of reading is an act of self-improvement, aren’t all books technically self-help books? If the overall act of writing a book is to provoke and elevate discourse as a way of locating the self within said discourse, doesn’t that encompass pretty much every book?
The point is, the very act of reading something that inspires and motivates you is an act of self-love, which is in turn, a radical act. In keeping with that spirit, we’ve compiled six incredible books by women of color that might not always fit tidily into the category of “self-help” as we’ve been conditioned to think of it, but that ask the important questions when it comes to our bodies, racism, sexism and self-worth.
Take a dive into the brain spaces of some of the most important thinkers and activists of our generation, and come away helped.
The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
“Survival is damn hard,” Taylor says in the intro of her new book. And one of the contributing factors to this difficulty, she alleges, is that we are incessantly taught that our very being and our very bodies, are a source of shame and dysfunction.
In a stirring series of essays, the activist and poet provides guidance and insight on how we might undo these indoctrinated beliefs that insist we’re never good enough, and replace it instead with a simple, yet radical act: Loving ourselves unapologetically.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins
Pulling precisely zero punches, cultural critic Morgan Jenkins’ debut book explores what it means to be a black woman today. In a series of riveting, raw essays running the gamut from Sailor Moon to being a black tourist in Russia, to dating “colorblind” dudes, Jenkins writing is an incisive driver of much-needed conversations that help us look both inward and outward.
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body by Jessamyn Stanley
In this gorgeously photographed guide-book-slash-body-positivity-manifesto, yoga superstar Jessamyn Stanley provides readers with the capacity to cultivate power, peace and acceptance on the mat, and to then take it out into the wider world.
In a time where the messaging around yoga often corroborates a problematic “feminine ideal,” Stanley’s book serves as the antidote—an affirmation that we all deserve to explore (and love) the ways our bodies show up and what they are capable of.
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
In a series of essays that both dissects and embraces the trope of the “angry black woman,” Cooper takes a deep dive into the systemic racism that informs society’s views of black women, and how they can reclaim their power accordingly, citing examples like Serena Williams, Beyoncé and Michelle Obama.
TheCosmopolitan columnist implores readers to imagine themselves in a world in which “neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes.” How amazing does that sound?!
I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi
Comedian and digital strategist Luvvie Ajayi is here to remind us that the cultural conversations taking place right now are much needed—but also, that we can’t always come at them with stone-faced seriousness 100 percent of the time.
In this series of hilarious yet poignant essays, Ajayi provides a framework for looking at the issues of our day and striving to “do better,” all the while keeping some important perspective: We’re all flawed humans with flawed relationships. And that’s OK. Still, there are ways to do better.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This gem covers the forever-in-our-hearts FLOTUS’ life path from her childhood in Chicago, to what it was like during an against-all-odds presidential race, to life after spending two influential terms in the White House. There’s no way you won’t find this book to be inspiring, inclusive, and uplifting as a book can possibly be, because, well, she’s Michelle Obama.
Feeling burnt out lately? Reset and recharge in The Zen Den at the Girlboss Rally for wellness-focused workshops that will help you relax, open your mind, and manage your priorities to make sure your own self-care needs are always being addressed. Register now at.