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Right, so it’s October next week (how did that happen?!) but while the sun still shines and we’re able to grab lunch without putting our coats on, we’re going to stay positive! With this in mind, this week we’re bringing you the second instalment in our Step Up book recommendations series (if you missed the first, and are looking for some escapist paperbacks, you can find our picks here).

We had so many of you messaging us last time, and since, with your thoughts on the novels that we suggested, so we thought we’d go again, this time though, it’s all about our favourite, go-to self help books. If you find the ‘self-help’ phrase as nauseating as we do, then rest assured, these recommendations all share heart, soul, intellect and advice across a wondrous range of subjects.


The Discomfort Zone: How to Get What You Want by Living Fearlessly by Farrah Storr

We’ve had a sneaky read of this brand new book, which is published today, and we’re hooked. Not just on Farrah’s brilliant story telling (as Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan she knows a thing or two about how to grab a reader’s attention), but because of the simple point her book makes: that modern society is structured to keep us comfortable, and yet actually, and rightly, it’s only through enduring those times of discomfort that we grow as people. In amongst the stories, she’s included lessons on dissecting your challenges, whether these are brief moments in time, or bigger life traumas, changing your mindset and managing your self-talk. Like us, she’s also a big advocate of journaling.

This book is for you if..

You want to become more resilient, manage failure better, enhance your performance and feel energised by situations that could once have felt paralysing.

It’s helped us…

To re-evaluate difficult times in our lives, and commit to accepting that they’ll come again, but ultimately that’s ok.

Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra

Thinking about your career is important, but if you want to reinvent your career, says Ibarra, you have to experience. Through a combination of personal stories, and captivating case studies (this absolutely does not feel like a heavy textbook), Herminia explores the iterative process of trial and error and offers three clear ways to create change. Her triumvirate approach goes like this: try out different new activities, interact with new groups of people and think about and revisit your identity stories, the ones you hold in your own head.

This book is for you if…

You’re at a pivot point. Herminia illustrates her method using stories of successful career-changers – from a literature professor-turned-stockbroker to an investment banker-turned-novelist.

It’s helped us…

In so many ways, it’s one of our favourite self-helps and was our bible when we took the plunge and made Step Up our full-time jobs.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

In print since 1989, this is the seminal self-help book around happiness, productivity and, inadvertently, work-life balance. The idea behind the book is to become self-motivated whilst being highly attuned to the needs of those around you; in short, it is a book about working with others. Packed full of practical coaching exercises to that will get you living happier and being more effective (who doesn’t want those?!). Stephen’s book also has a deeper message around abundance: those who are most successful, he says, commit to the notion of abundance over scarcity. In an everyday sense, this is being able to open and sharing with our own resources, whether those are our skills, money, time or empathy.

This book is for you if…

You are feeling removed or isolated from your team. If you’re struggling with your connections and want to recommit to purposeful networking.

It’s helped us…

To be more generous. It’s natural to want to hoard your own resources, but what we’ve honestly found is that when we’ve shared them out, as Stephen recommends, then we’ve been rewarded so many times over.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Sarah Knight’s brilliant, hilarious and honest book is a joy for so many reasons. Her writing alone will make you laugh out loud. But more than that, her treatment of the widespread modern complaints of overwhelm, stress, anxieties and over-complex relationships, is genius. As she puts it in her own introduction, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*** is for all of us who work too much, play too little and never have enough time to devote to the people and things that truly make us happy.’ Her book is the culmination of everything she’s learnt about not giving a fuck (this line never gets tired) and is testament to what happens when you break free – mentally and physically – and tread your own, no fuck giving future.

This book is for you if…

You’re a woman today. This is one of our favourite books of the past couple of years, mainly because it’s so relatable and for a self-help book, it reassuringly breaks through every advice-giving tradition.

It’s helped us…

You’re a woman today. This is one of our favourite books of the past couple of years, mainly because it’s so relatable and for a self-help book, it reassuringly breaks through every advice-giving tradition. To feel freer. To realise we can be modern in this personal development game. To laugh more often.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg wrote this book in the 2 years after her husband David died unexpectedly, and prematurely, on a holiday in Mexico. It’s a heart-breaking starting point for a book, and there are sections that are incredibly difficult to read and process. It’s absolutely worth it though; this book is a tender exploration of our personal support networks and our stockpiled resilience. There are so many quotes in this book that you’ll want to tear out and pin up on the wall, one of our favourites: “We can embark on things together, that we could never achieve alone.” In line with Farrah Storr’s point that discomfort can be nourishing, this is very much Sheryl’s story – although she learns on some brilliant other support systems, it’s moral is that even in the case of an extreme and life-changing devastation, you will invariably find more of yourself during the healing process.

This book if for you if…

You are ready to sob into your pillow, but are open to hearing great, honest advice from a woman who has flourished many times, and in many different forms.

It’s helped us…

To pause. To reflect. To be kinder.

We hope you enjoyed reading and have got some inspiration for the rest of the year. What self-help books would you recommend? We’d love to hear them!

Until next time,


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