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How to Choose Nonfiction: Self-Help

As one of the posts in my How to Choose Non-Fiction series, I present to you the most cringed upon genre, Self-Help. This guide breaks down Self-Help into three categories and provides a book recommendation within each category that is Time Management, Productivity, and Financial Management. You can find other posts about how to choose nonfiction on terminal illness memoir here, nonfiction in regards to Science here, and nonfiction on business strategy here, If you are here to find out how to choose the right self-help book for you, please read on.


There is a lot of taboo surrounding the Self-Help genre. Especially if you feel judged by reading Self-Help. Even more so if you’ve read so many books about success but success is nowhere near you. If you find yourself shying away from self-help, take that as a stronger reason to read more self-help to boost your confidence. Self-Help is the genre that had helped millions by emulating the techniques and practices from the books they read. How do you expect to have a one-to-one session with a successful person, if not by reading the book she/he had written?

Other than that, let’s correct the misconception about Sel-Help books. Self-Help books aren’t the kind that promises that you can be a millionaire in 45 days. The market is booming with those kinds of books. It’s sad that publishers are trying to make money out of you naïvety. Self-Help is the books that let you become the best version of yourself. Because self-help is for those who feel dissatisfaction. Especially with their inner selves and are looking for a way to address it. Nothing to do with becoming rich.

It is also important to note that reading Self-Help does nothing if you don’t put the theories into action. Although reading Self-Help books is the best first step in acknowledging that your circumstances don’t change unless you do.


Time is free and yet it is our most valuable asset. Everyone is given the exact amount of time every day and yet its impact is not the same. The most successful people are masters of their time or they have learned the art of using their time effectively. Most successful people spend time on things that matter. They see time as an investment, rather than a hand that tells you your schedule. Ultimately, how you spend your time is how you spend your life!

Baini Mustafa How To Choose Nonfiction Self-Help Time Management

The recommended book about time management is by Brian Tracy, Master Your Time Master Your Life. In this book, he breaks down time-management into the ten most important aspects of our lives. Those are family, career, relaxation, and income improvement among others. Effective how-tos and strategies are placed according to the aforementioned aspects. And this includes the results of practicing effective time management. This book is highly recommended for those who feel overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities, and need to take a step back to reassess their priorities.


The Seven Habits* by Stephen R. Covey is a classic and every household should own one copy. Although this book is about character building, this is the ultimate handbook in the subject of increasing Productivity because, without solid character, no business would last. More and more people are going up the corporate ladder just by taking orders without questioning the value of the work they’re doing. Focusing on one’s character in approaching work is wise because the journey of life is bigger than a temporary bump in your paycheck.

Baini Mustafa How To Choose Nonfiction Self Help Productivity

Winners in life would allow others to win as well because they know human relationships are for the long run. It is more effective to live in agreement rather than playing the win-lose game. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a gem because it encourages you to act in harmony with your values. More often than not, it is easier to give in to external pressure. There is a lot to digest in this book, so make sure you are ready for a change when you pick this up. Sustainable improvement happens when you have primed yourself with the wisdom that life is never smooth sailing!


On top of managing your time well and having solid values, one needs to also manage his/her finances. The Richest Man in Babylon distills the best personal financial advice in the form of a fable. This approach uses a story to relay advice on personal finance. This way, one sees the cause and effect of financial decisions. This book is less than 150 pages and easy to read. It doesn’t contain complex financial terms to teach you how to save and to earn more money. Although a lot of investment theories have formed since this book was written in the 1920s, the advice from this book still stands true.

Baini Mustafa How To Choose Nonfiction Self Help Financial Management

Although being successful is not about making more money, managing your money is a part of success. We recommended The Richest Man in Babylon for everyone to keep a copy at home. Good books lying around at home is the portal that primes the minds of many unsuspecting kids.


The guide on how to choose nonfiction in the genre Self-Help aimed at liberating those who feel inadequate about reading Self-Help. We hope that breaking down the genre into smaller categories will ease your reading decisions. And would ultimately broaden your reading horizon. Remember, it is always about reading something that’s within your interest by good authors and sits well with your frame of mind.

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