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6 New Self-Help Books for Better Living

The latest advice on parenting, breaking bad habits and finding happiness

graphic of five books stacked on each other with inspirational phrases on the spine


There's no time like today for self-improvement, especially with the arrival of so many new books that are meant to help us be better, in all kinds of ways. Here are six good ones, each with a different focus.

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

BJ Fogg

If you want to get into the habit of flossing your teeth, start with one tooth. You'll be so pleased with yourself, you'll want to do it again tomorrow. Fogg, director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, argues that if you begin with itty-bitty shifts in behavior, those little successes feed confidence and fuel motivation for greater change — allowing you to “tackle any behavior-change challenge in your life. Which means there is no feeling stuck. Which means you can be the person you want to be.” His premise is simple and low risk, and sure beats relying on willpower.

The Tiny Small Habits that Change Everything book cover


Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives

Daniel J. Levitin

If you've ever wondered how time's passage affects your brain, this fact-packed book dives into the subject with gusto, exploring why, as Levitin puts it, “some people seem to age better than others.” Levitin, the author of the bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music and The Organized Mind, explains the science behind age-related memory loss, pain, sleeping problems and more, and how we can use that knowledge to live better in our later years.

Successful Aging book cover


Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief

David Kessler

Kessler is the renowned author, with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, of 2005's seminal On Grief and Grieving: Finding Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss and a top expert on grief — a painful subject that Kessler approaches with compassion and intelligence in his new guide to healing during this theoretically sixth and last stage of grieving: meaning. It's also a very personal book: Kessler includes his heartbreaking story of mourning the 2016 death of his son David, at age 21.

Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief book cover


We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life

Laura McKowen

The title of McKowen's inspirational memoir refers to her realization, after years of envying people who were able to drink without consequence, how lucky she is to be free from her disastrous pattern of acohol abuse. She's appealingly frank about how hard it has been to get to that grateful place in the “land of sobriety,” and offers hope and encouragement to readers who've shared her struggles.

We are the Luckiest book cover


HappiNest: Finding Fulfillment When Your Kids Leave Home

Judy Holland

This book comes out Feb. 15 — which means you still have plenty of time to get ready for your high schooler's setting off for college at the end of the summer (or, in my case, the summer of 2021). Holland describes her own jarring experience of suddenly finding her house empty after the last of her three children left for college, and offers advice on how to process such loss and constructively fill the void. “Transitioning to an empty nest is tricky and requires moving mindfully,” she writes.

Happinest book cover


Failure to Launch: Why Your Twentysomething Hasn't Grown Up... and What to Do About It

Mark McConville

Just when you've mastered HappiNest, you may find UnHappiNest — in the form of your children returning home in their 20s overwhelmed by grownup responsibilities. McConville, a clinical psychologist based in Cleveland, writes about such “struggling transitioners,” defined by the author as young people who have trouble “shifting from adolescence to emerging adulthood.” He addresses parents’ potential feelings of frustration and disappointment, and suggests ways to encourage independence while remaining supportive (always a tough balance).

Failure to Launch book cover