The host of The Sunday Salon, a new podcast celebrating female authors, on the women bringing ‘self-help’ into the 21st century
The term “self-help” gets a bad rap. It conjures up images of weight loss books or “how to find a man” guides. But a new generation of women is taking the genre and turning it on its head, penning seriously smart guides to work, health, life and beyond. We asked Alice-Azania Jarvis, host of the new podcast The Sunday Salon with Alice-Azania Jarvis, featuring weekly interviews with female authors, which ones we should be reading.
The Discomfort Zone by Farrah Storr (Piatkus, £13.99)
“Farrah knows a thing or two about success (she’s the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and a social mobility commissioner, after all). Here she writes about the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – and, crucially, gives genuinely useful advice on how to cope when you do. This book opened my eyes and challenged my thinking. If you’re feeling nervous about a new job, an upcoming presentation, or simply daunted by life, this is the book for you – encouraging, emboldening and practical. Everything she says is backed up with painstaking research and interviews, and she uses anecdotes from her own life and experience too. I loved it.”
Jog On: How Running Saved My Life by Bella Mackie (William Collins, £12.99)
“Who would have thought that a book about running could be so thoroughly engaging and ring so true? But then Jog On is so much more than ‘a book about running.’ In fact, whether you run or not, you will find something relevant in this poignant, clever and funny work, which documents Bella’s struggle with anxiety and details how taking up jogging in the aftermath of her marriage ending helped her cope. I found her research into the mental health effects of our sedentary lifestyles – which start as we are schoolchildren – particularly fascinating.”
The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99)
“Emma is her own best ambassador – an accomplished writer, broadcaster and podcaster, she appears to combine disciplines effortlessly. But in fact, she has worked ferociously hard to find a way of life that works for her by combining her interests and expertise. In this book – out in paperback in May – she explains how to make your own balance work for you, no matter what your age or industry. It’s an inspiring read even if you aren’t planning on ‘going portfolio’ since it’s packed with insights into how work is changing, how you can re-evaluate your time, and more. I’ve given this book as a gift to several friends and they all love it.”
Vagina: a Re-Education by Lynn Enright (Allen & Unwin, £14.99, available for pre-order)
“Released in March, this vital and urgent book by journalist Lynn Enright encompasses sex, periods, health, fertility, reproductive rights and so much more. A total re-education, it demonstrates how a squeamishness around women’s bodies has negatively impacted our health and wellbeing in myriad ways. Enright’s writing is hugely engaging and the level of research and attention to detail staggeringly impressive. This is sex education for grown-ups (and much more besides). I’m so impressed – every woman should read it.”
The Sisterhood by Daisy Buchanan (Headline, £14.99, available for pre-order)
“Ok, not technically a ‘guide’. This funny and touching memoir, due out in March, is still rich in wisdom and life lessons – and not because Chapter 20 does actually offer a series of advice on everything from how much to spend on shoes to why it’s better to go for a smear test late than not at all. The author of How to be a Grown Up (as well as countless magazine and newspaper articles), Daisy’s writing is always funny and touching and this, about Daisy’s relationship with her five (five!) sisters, is a joy to read.”
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