Self-help and self-improvement books to start the new year

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Omaha Public Library wants to help readers find new books — or at least books new to them. Every month in this space, employees will recommend reading and resources based on different writing genres, themes or styles.With a new year upon us, many people are thinking about what they would like to change or accomplish in 2023. Staff have suggested some of their favorite self-help or self-improvement titles to help people reach their goals. Find these books and more at your local branch or“The Ballerina Mindset: How to Protect Your Mental Health While Striving for Excellence” by Megan Fairchild. This is a good book to help prioritize your mental health while achieving your goals, especially in a high-stress environment. It’s great for current and former athletes! — Rosemary Bernth, adult services specialist at Abrahams Library

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“So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them” by Charise Mericle Harper. This is a wonderful choice to help kids process the embarrassing moments we all experience sometimes. Young readers will appreciate the humor, empathy, and delightfully illustrated scenarios in this graphic novel. — Molly Burns, youth services specialist at Benson Library“How to Be Fine: What We Learned From Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books” by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer. I absolutely loved this book by the hosts of the podcast By the Book. They try out self-help books for two weeks and let their listeners know about their experiences — so it is like 50 self-help books in one. — Angela Fernandez, collection development librarian at Omaha Public Library“I’m So Effing Tired: A Proven Plan to Beat Burnout, Boost your Energy, and Reclaim Your Life” by Amy Shah, MD. I checked out this book because I was looking for ways to improve my energy levels. I appreciated how flexible and comprehensive it was. No one thing is for everyone and I feel like this book got that while also giving many options for improvements. — Fernandez

“Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results” by James Clear. This is one of my favorite self-help reads! I wanted to read this book again immediately after it ended so I could take notes. The concepts were simple and easily usable, while being completely innovative in how they posited the way we see habits. — Fernandez“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, MD. This can be a tough read mentally and emotionally, but it opened my eyes on how much stress and trauma affect the brain and entire body. The author discusses various treatments for healing, which has been life changing. — Jenna L. Garcia, executive secretary at Omaha Public Library“The Whatifs” by Emily Kilgore. Cora has always been plagued with small “Whatifs” in her life, like all of us. Having to face her piano recital, Cora’s anxiety has grown into something she can’t manage alone. — Garcia“Already Enough: A Path to Self-Acceptance” by Lisa Olivera. Reading Olivera is like talking with the most nonjudgmental, understanding friend you could invent for yourself. She knows you, she’s been there, and she’s not here to fix you. She’s more like a librarian of your life that’s saying you’re reading all these stories people have picked out for you, but maybe it’s time to put them down and write some new ones. This book is grounded, practical and radical. I recommend it to fans of Brené Brown, Adrienne Maree Brown, and Tara Brach, and any human in the world wanting to feel enough. — Victoria Hoyt, youth services librarian at Sorensen Library“The Oysterville Sewing Circle” by Susan Wiggs. After her budding fashion design career falls apart in New York City, Caroline Shelby arrives home with two young children in tow and begins to pick up the pieces with a local support group. Written in the style of Jodi Picoult, Wiggs shares a story addressing domestic violence that includes a spectacular #MeToo moment. — Theresa Jehlik, strategy & business intelligence manager at Omaha Public Library“The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less” by Tanya Dalton. Dalton lays out her program to help women deal with today’s nonstop, often frantic world. She personalizes advice with her own and family members’ shared experiences. Dalton disputes the idea of a balanced life by asserting that women can have it all, they just can’t have it all at the same time. — Jehlik“Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience” by Brené Brown. Brown examines 87 human emotions and groups them into families, which include near-enemies and far-enemies. Using personal examples, she shares how various emotions have shaped her personal and professional life and relationships. — Jehlik“The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People” by Meik Wiking. This is a succinct look into the little things in cultures around the world that cultivate happiness and that can be added to your own life. — Sarah Myers, library specialist at Sorensen Library“Lagom (Not too little, not too much): The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life” by Niki Brantmark. Our lives today are full of too much and not enough, but the Swedish idea of “lagom” reframes life into a healthy, calming balance of just enough. — Myers“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed. When I was a kid, I read “Dear Abby” columns in the local newspaper, looking for answers I hadn’t found on my own. Many of them didn’t apply to me of course (being a 10-year-old), but I found camaraderie in the concept that someone out there will listen fully and kindly respond. Fast-forward to adulthood and a modern version of an old classic. Strayed is empathetic, thoughtful, and smart. She gives advice not as a perfect person who knows the answers, but as a person who fails and gets back up and tries again. — Holly Pelesky, arts & culture librarian at Bess Johnson Elkhorn Library“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami. This is my number one book recommendation for distance runners, but by no means do you have to be a runner to enjoy this. Murakami’s writing is inspiring, meditative, and partly about what it takes to plunge forward through life and accomplish your goals. — Karen Pietsch, learning & statistics coordinator at Omaha Public Library“Shop Class for Everyone: Practical Life Skills in 83 Projects” by Sharon and David Bowers. Originally published as an even larger life-skills tome, The Useful Book, this title and its home-ec companion volume aren’t just a DIY manual. As a comprehensive guide to fixing the small things that break in our lives and spaces, it’s intended to cultivate a feeling of independence, ownership, and empowerment. — Mark Sorensen, reference services librarian at Abrahams Library“An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Mastery” by Janna Malamud Smith. Part historical and part psychological in its approach, this book examines the creative process and the emotional and mental roadblocks that artists and craftspeople overcome in pursuit of their work. — Sorensen“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb. This is a beautiful, insightful exploration of therapy from the patient and therapist perspectives. — Grace Trembath, youth services specialist at Willa Cather Library“The Magical Yet” by Angela DiTerlizzi. During a time of year when we focus on self-improvement and change, this book is a reminder that learning doesn’t happen right away. Mistakes are part of the journey to your new skill or hobby. — Curtis Yabut, library specialist at Omaha Public Library

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