Categories
Literature

What to read if you only like self-help books

Most of or perhaps everything you find in self-help books is stuff you already know. 

It doesn’t take much to write down that the secret of life is knowing what you want. It also isn’t necessary to be a spiritual guru in order to tell you that positive thinking is the key to success as Rhonda Byrne mentions in her best – selling book The Secret. 

Wanting to be a better person is something natural and often necessary for our overall development. However, in a world in which the self – help market is one of 9.9 billion dollars, we must look for books whose lessons are really useful and are not just a result of a million-dollar marketing campaign. 

There is so much to read and so little time. Here are some recommendations about books along the lines of self-help that I believe are worthy of your time and are infinitely better than Who stole my cheese?

You are not so smart – David McRaney

David McRaney is a writer and researcher that explains to us why our mind doesn’t work the way we think it does and how easily we fall in self-delusion. McRaney also has a podcast (you can find it on Spotify with the same name) which is based on the book. In each episode, he invites an expert to discuss the ways in which our brain fools us. 

Moral letters to Lucilius – Seneca

¿What better advice than that from a stoic? Seneca was a famous stoic philosopher that was born in the year 4 B.C. In this book, he writes letters to his friend Lucilius about many different topics. He gives him advice regarding happiness, time management, fear of death, loneliness and many more. The OG self-help. 

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

In this book, Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from the year 161 until his death in 180, writes a series of thoughts and reflections on life, death, morality, human condition and so on. This is a short and easy-to-read book, with lessons that continue to be relevant today. 


(Besides, it is the #1 most sold Philosophy book on Amazon, in case you need some external reassurance based on capitalism)

Amador: A Father Talks to His Son about Happiness, Freedom, and Love – Fernando Savater

A very simple and straightforward book that focuses on the lessons that, philosopher and professor Fernando Savater, gives to his son Amador. Short and easy to ready with lessons that are explained through examples of great thinkers and philosophers. 

On Confidence – School of Life

School of Life is an organization that focuses on education for emotional intelligence. On Confidence teacher readers how confidence isn’t something innate, but instead something that needs to be worked on. School of Life also has other similar books such as On Being Nice, Calm, Small Pleasures and many more. 

The Consolations of Philosophy – Alain de Botton

I think this is the book that is closest to the structure of other famous self-help books. Alain de Botton, the founder of the organization School of Life, explains how certain everyday problems can be solved through the teaching of old philosophers. 

This is just a short list of self-help books that I consider are worth reading. There are a million self-help books but it is important to realize that most of them are not going to change your life. If by reading this type of book you want to “work on yourself” be aware that the lessons that you are receiving are actually worth it. 

Also, it is important to explore fiction. Fiction can help us more than we think on our journey to becoming better people. There are many fiction books that contain lessons that we can apply to our everyday lives while we learn to be more empathetic at the same time. 

Here are some recommendations of Latin American authors that you could read: 6 books by Latin American women

Keep on reading. 

Categories
Literature

6 books by Latin American women you should read

Since forever, the literary works of women have been ignored. Their work has been subjugated and classified almost as a subgenre; “women’s literature”. In Latinamerica, this can be seen quite clearly. Literature by women is not considered to be part of the canon nor have they received the attention and public praise that other Latin American male writers have such as Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Marquez and so on. What is true is that the literature of Latin American woman has shaped the way for many others. The importance and influence that they continue to have is undeniable and it is not limited to geographic frontiers. 

The following list includes some of the authors I believe are definitely worth knowing.

(The list includes Amazon Associates links. If you are interested in buying any of the books, please use the links that are in each book name or cover. By using them I receive a tiny percentage and I can buy myself  ⅓ of a cup of coffee in order to continue writing. Thank you. )

Recollections of Things to Come – Elena Garro

Elena Garro was a Mexican playwright and novelist. Her writing showed new ways to manage time in stories and presented a hybrid genre that years later would be classified as a predecessor of  “magical realism”. She is known for exploring in her work the cosmology and way of life of Mexico’s indigenous people. Elena Garro’s novels and stories resemble long dreams, sometimes absurd and always filled with symbols. 

The Shrouded Woman – María Luisa Bombal

María Luisa Bombal was a Chilean writer mainly known for her novel La Amortajada published in 1938. La Amortajada tells the story of a woman named Ana María, who narrates her death through an interior monologue. This novel, due to its dreamlike environment, its ambiguous time frame and an internal monologue that fluctuates between life and death, is considered to be an antecedent to Juan Rulfo’s novel, Pedro Páramo, which was published almost 18 years later. 

The Houseguest: And Other Stories – Amparo Dávila

Amparo Dávila was born in the Mexican state of Zacatecas in 1928. Her work is inspired mainly by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and she has also been compared to the American author, Shirley Jackson. Her stories never completely fall into a fantasy genre but they are often immersed in a state of mystery and uncertainness. You should definitely read her most known short story: “The Houseguest.”

Fever Dream – Samantha Schweblin

Now adding something more recent to the list, Samantha Schweblin. She is an Argentinian writer that has been widely read and known from a few years back. Her novels and short stories have been translated into multiple languages and have received various international awards. Fever Dream is a short novel that explores the bond between a mother and her daughter through a surreal and mysterious environment. 

Now adding something more recent to the list, Samantha Schweblin. She is an Argentinian writer that has been widely read and known from a few years back. Her novels and short stories have been translated into multiple languages and have received various international awards. Fever Dream is a short novel that explores the bond between a mother and her daughter through a surreal and mysterious environment. 

No One Will See Me Cry – Cristina Rivera Garza

Cristina Rivera Garza is a Mexican writer and academic whose novels and research have been of great importance to Hispanic Literature. No One Will See Me Cry, published in 1999, takes place in the La Castañeda General Asylum in Mexico City. The story set in 1920, tells the story of Joaquin Buitrago and Matilda Burgos, a photographer and a patient at the asylum, through the use of multiple narrative tools such as police reports. 

Hurricane Season – Fernanda Melchor

Finally, one of the most honest and shocking vooices of the recent years is Mexican author, Fernanda Melchor. Through her novels such as Hurricane Season and This Is Not Miami, she paints a picture of the violence in México over the last decades. A country that has been submerged in a total state of emergency but that has never explicitely said so. Hurricane Season talks about the violence that arises from poverty and the cruelness that hides within us all. It is not a light read but Fernanda’s story-telling abilities makes it worth every second.