Beyond limitation: New personal growth books

Human beings face both real and perceived limitations, influenced by our beliefs and the workings of our brains. These beliefs can be inherently limiting. It’s through understanding these mental limitations deeply that we cultivate personal growth and ultimately transcend some of them.

Reconsidering the idea that distraction is purely negative allows us to recognize its potential benefits. Exploring our limited choices in depth can help us gain clarity around what to pursue and what to “give up” on. Memory also has its limits, but by understanding these boundaries we can use this knowledge to our advantage. Love can find its way through all our constraints. Staying silent can also be a self-imposed limitation, preventing authentic self-expression.

The following personal development books may help you break free from these limited perceptions and challenge both real and perceived boundaries:

On Giving Up / Phillips, Adam
“To give up or not to give up? The question can feel inescapable but the answer is never simple. Giving up our supposed vices is one thing; giving up on life itself is quite another. One form of self-sacrifice feels positive, something to admire and aspire to, while the other is profoundly unsettling, if not actively undesirable. There are always, it turns out, both good and bad sacrifices, but it is not always clear beforehand which is which. We give something up because we believe we can no longer go on as we are. In this sense, giving up is a critical moment: an attempt to make a different future. Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips illuminates both the gaps and the connections between the many ways of giving up and helps us to address the central question: What must we give up in order to feel more alive?” (Adapted from publisher and catalogue)

The Power of Distraction: Diversion and Reverie From Montaigne to Proust / Aloisi, Alessandra
“Aloisi challenges the traditional view that distraction is detrimental and should be “avoided” for better living and work. Arguing that distraction is a creative, subversive, and aesthetic capability that can lead to inspiration and serendipitous discoveries. Drawing on a wide range of classic and contemporary sources, she contrasts the traditional association of distraction with sin or melancholy with the idea that it is often when we stop focusing on a problem that inspiration strikes, as is often the case with artists. Aloisi also examines the political value of distraction, arguing that in an age of constant technological demands for our attention, distraction provides a “slight revolt” from societal codes and behaviours, as suggested by Bergson. By combining philosophy, literature, art, and politics, the book encourages readers to rethink their attitudes toward attention and consider the productive potential of daydreams and distractions.” (Adapted from catalogue)

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Deconstruction and Reconstruction – New Personal Growth Books

These new books critically examine how dominant ideas and power dynamics have influenced our interpretation and application of shared concepts. They question established paradigms and power structures, offering a range of perspectives from sexual wellness and psychology to the history of emotions and the intersection of philosophy, politics, and drug use. They delve into how external forces, such as psychological studies or the experience of grief, can shape one’s sense of self. They also primarily challenge or reframe common beliefs, assumptions, and narratives around these subjects, encouraging us to think critically about the forces that shape our personal and societal narratives.

Come Together: The Science (and Art) of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections / Nagoski, Emily
“A leading sexual wellness educator, tackles the often misunderstood topic of sex in long-term relationships. Challenging conventional wisdom and harmful assumptions, she explores what truly fulfilling sex looks like through inclusive stories and examples. The book aims to help pairs overcome obstacles like relationship conflicts, gendered beliefs about sex, and body image issues. With insight, humor, and empathy, it offers a radically transformed approach to sex and desire, empowering readers to create lasting, fulfilling sexual connections in their long-term relationships.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Data Baby: My Life in a Psychological Experiment / Breslin, Susannah
“In Data Baby, Susannah Breslin recounts her extraordinary childhood as a research subject in a renowned 30-year study of personality development at UC Berkeley. Decades later, grappling with an abusive marriage and breast cancer, she investigates how being raised under scrutiny shaped her identity and choices. Her compelling, provocative quest uncovers long-buried secrets behind the study, raising profound questions about whether it truly understood her better than she knew herself. With brave honesty and wit, her universal story explores the tension between allowing technology to define us and discovering our authentic selves in an era of increasing data-driven self-optimization. Her life-changing journey as one of history’s most studied individuals illuminates why we turn out the way we do.” (Adapted from publisher and catalogue)

Grief is For People / Crosley, Sloane
“Sloane Crosley’s poignant memoir explores loss and the complexities of mourning after her closest friend’s death by suicide. With disarming wit and empathy, Crosley embarks on a quest to understand grief, upending conventional narratives and offering a category-defying elegy that resonates deeply in our grief-stricken times. Hailed as one of the most anticipated books of the year, it’s a suspenseful and moving portrait of friendship, family, and the struggle to hold on to the past without being consumed by it.” (Adapted from catalogue)

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Beyond the surface: New personal development books

We are intricate beings, with complex emotions woven through a web of interconnected systems. This collection of books explores the vast tapestry of human experience, from navigating societal challenges to confronting personal grief. By celebrating our beautiful diversity and fostering connection within this complexity, we pave the path to true wellbeing and empowerment.

The Alternative: How to Build a Just Economy / Romeo, Nick
“While many still preach outdated economic dogmas, a growing number are rejecting these myths and reshaping economies around ethical values. Journalist Nick Romeo explores innovative models being implemented globally, from purpose-driven companies to climate budgeting to worker ownership. He outlines an alternative economic system structured around equity, sustainability and accountability that could work for everyone.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture / Sole-Smith, Virginia
From a young age, kids internalize that being “fat” is bad and are pressured to pursue thinness by diet culture and weight-centric healthcare. ‘Fat Talk’ exposes how the war on “childhood obesity” has fuelled disordered eating and body hatred across all sizes. Drawing on research and personal accounts, the book argues to reclaim “fat” as not inherently unhealthy, stop trying to “prevent obesity,” and instead adopt a weight-inclusive approach that addresses societal fatphobia rather than viewing kids’ bodies as the problem. It provides an alternative framework for parenting around food and bodies.” (Adapted from catalogue)

How To Be: Life Lessons From The Early Greeks / Nicolson, Adam
“2,500 years ago, a few heroic individuals in small Mediterranean cities pioneered the beginnings of Western philosophy, casting off the dominance of god-kings and priests. Adam Nicolson takes readers on an expedition into these early innovative thinkers like Homer, Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Sappho and Pythagoras, who shaped ground-breaking ideas about the natural world, ethics, authenticity and the soul. Enhanced with visuals, it revisits the ancient philosophers’ fundamental questions about how to live and understand existence, shedding new light on the radical, investigative thought that formed the bedrock of Western philosophy.” (Adapted from catalogue)

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New ways of seeing: New personal development reads

Our frameworks or schemas, through which we interpret the world around us, can have profound implications for our wellbeing, including through our use of language. This includes the ways we may speak to ourselves internally which may keep us stuck in unwanted patterns. There have been many great thinkers throughout history who have illuminated new human possibilities, as well as artists who have the unique capacity can awaken us to a world of creative and imaginative wonder. These new personal development books will help you explore those topics in greater depth through a new pair of eyes:

Aging Angry: Making Peace With Rage / Barusch, Amanda Smith / Barusch, Amanda Smith
“An interdisciplinary look at the history and meaning of anger and a significant new interpretation of anger in later life. Never before in the history of humanity have so many people lived to be so very old. Throughout our past, a few individuals might have made it to old age but “mass aging” is a new concept for the human species. Now, more than ever, it is time for older adults to turn toward anger rather than denying or avoiding it. This book provides strategies and approaches for harnessing the power of anger at any age.” (Adapted from publisher/catalogue)

Beyond Genius: A Journey Through the Characteristics and Legacies of Transformative Minds / Atalay, Bülent
“This book delves into the nature of genius, examining the lives and works of Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven, and Einstein. It explores how these transformative geniuses, who redefined their fields and opened new realms of thought, drew inspiration and achieved remarkable feats. He investigates their traits, habits, and thought patterns to understand what sets these individuals apart and offers insights into humanity’s most prolific thinkers and creators.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Living the Artist’s Way: An Intuitive Path to Greater Creativity : A Six-Week Artist’s Way Program / Cameron, Julia
“In her bestselling book ‘The Artist’s Way’, Julia Cameron shared with her millions of readers the three main tools needed to unlock creativity. Here, she reveals the vital fourth which she relies upon daily to find creative inspiration: writing for guidance. Readers will learn radical new skills needed to take their creative work to the next level: connecting with their intuitive power and trusting the answers. For followers and newcomers alike, it will teach readers how to find greater happiness, productivity, and creative inspiration.” (Adapted from cover/catalogue)

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Untangling Complexity: New personal development books

In times of disconnection, change, and darker periods, how can we continue to cope and grow? How do we grant ourselves and others the grace to falter and learn from our mistakes? The insights from these new books illuminate the profound power of thought, self-expression, and compassionate connection. They guide us in navigating life’s challenges with resilience and empathy, showing us how to harness these tools effectively for personal growth and understanding.

Bright shining: How grace changes everything / Baird, Julia
“If karma is getting what you deserve, then grace is the opposite: forgiving the unforgivable, favouring the undeserving, loving the unlovable. But, information “silos” dot the media landscape like skyscrapers. Growing distrust of the media, politicians and public figures has choked our ability to cut each other slack, allow each other to stumble, and to forgive. So what does grace look like now? How do we recognise it, nurture it and express it, even in the darkest of times?” (Adapted from catalogue)

Build the life you want: The art and science of getting happier / Brooks, Arthur C.
“Brooks and Oprah combine decades of experience studying happiness from every angle, showing us how to manage emotions so they no longer control our outlook and behaviour; turn life’s inevitable difficulties and challenges into growth; strengthen family ties (by managing expectations and building trust); create and preserve deep and lasting friendships at any age; develop a satisfying work approach that fits our life; and find inner peace with a spiritual practice” (Adapted from publisher and catalogue)

Feel something, make something: A guide to collaborating with your emotions / Metz, Caitlin
“An artist and educator presents a guide to experimental and creative self-expression and reflection that can help readers use art to process and understand negative emotions such as grief, anger and sadness.” (Catalogue)

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Navigating uncertainty: New personal development books

three book covers from our personal development booklist on a checkered yellow and sky blue background.

How many of our desires are truly our own, and how many are simply a subconscious drive to imitate those around us? Is traditional success actually desirable? Do we even have free will at all? These new personal development books explore the subjects of freedom and limitation from multiple angles. They explore memory and the meanings we give things in a world where nothing lasts forever, providing guidance on how to live with the inevitable uncertainties of the human condition.

All Desire Is a Desire for Being: Essential Writings / Girard, René
“An approachable anthology of Girard’s writings covering thoughts on desire, imitation, rivalry, the roots of conflict and violence, religion’s deep structures and other cultural subjects. His work bridges diverse fields of human inquiry and has influenced many well known writers. His insight into contagious violence looks ever more prophetic and relevant years after his death. In many ways he is the thinker for our modern world of social media and herd behaviour. Girard spoke in language that was engaging, accessible and often controversial.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Determined: Life Without Free Will / Sapolsky, Robert M
“One of our great behavioural scientists mounts a brilliant full-frontal assault on the pleasant fantasy there’s some separate self guiding our biology. Sapolsky tackles all major arguments, exploring chaos and complexity science and quantum physics, consciousness, as well as some of the wilder shores of philosophy. He shows us that the history of medicine is in no small part the history of learning that fewer and fewer things are somebody’s “fault”; for example, for centuries we thought seizures were a sign of demonic possession. Yet, it’s almost impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others or ourselves. He applies the new understanding of life beyond free will to some of our most essential questions around punishment, morality, and living well together. By the end, he argues that recognizing that we have no free will, though difficult, is not going to result in anarchy, pointlessness, and existential malaise, but instead make for a much more humane world.” (Adapted from catalogue and publisher)

Freedom: A Disease Without Cure / Žižek, Slavoj
“A radical new take on a perennial question in philosophy – can we ever be free? – by one of the world’s most famous living philosophers” (Catalogue and publisher)

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