6 Totally Must-Read New Age Self-Help Books.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 3.9
Hearts 0.0
Comments 8.0
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
~Oprah Winfrey

My most recent list of book recommendations were spiritual books that, in my humble opinion, fall into the category of “non new-agey.”

You may wonder, “What’s wrong with being New Agey?”

Well, it depends on how you define “New Age.”

I am currently working on an article which opens up that can of worms. For now, let’s just say it involves an eclectic array of influences, often including but not limited to: Oprah, astrology, “manifesting” via visualization and affirmations, Goddess worship, occult practices like Tarot reading and casting magic spells, “positive psychology,” Eastern spirituality and/or self-help.

I read a shitload of self-help books during my twenties. Now I view “self-help” as unnecessary, through the lenses of Buddhism and Vedanta. I agree wholeheartedly with Pema Chodron’s opinion:

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth.

They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”

Though I have moved away from the self-help genre, the following six decidedly New Agey books did resonate with me greatly at the time that I read them.

1. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

Thanks to cutting class one afternoon in my sophomore year of college, I caught author Gary Zukav on Oprah and immediately ran out and bought his book. It was the year 2000. This book definitely opened me up to a new way of thinking and living. It’s all about getting in touch with your authentic power versus playing the victim when external powers that be get you down. I never have been able to get myself to reread it though.

2. Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain

The reality is, we don’t control the universe. There is no secret. The law of attraction is psychobabble.

That said, I have found that there is value in vocalizing intentions and setting reasonable personal goals. The meditative techniques laid out in Shakti Gawain’s 1970s bestseller are clear, coherent and practical. She explains how to strengthen self-esteem, improve overall health and experience deep relaxation.

3. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

A wise old gas station attendant named Socrates coaches confused young Dan Millman in this bestselling spiritual saga. A fictionalized memoir, it is admittedly a little cheesy, but its message of finding peace and happiness within resonate.

I met both Dan Millman and Shakti Gawain when I heard them speak at an event called the New Living Expo in San Francisco in 2004. Both authors emanated intelligence, vitality and friendliness.

4. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

I read this follow up to Tolle’s first bestseller, The Power of Now. I appreciated his non-dogmatic, clear language and examples from diverse spiritual sources. It sold a gazillion copies thanks to being chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. (Funny side note: in searching for this book on Amazon, I came across a rebuttal entitled A New Earth, An Old Deception: Awakening to the Dangers of Eckhart Tolle’s #1 Bestseller. Written by a Christian, not surprisingly.)

5. Incredible You! 10 Ways to let your greatness shine through by Dr. Wayne Dyer

I bought the Spanish edition of this book when I was teaching bilingual third grade in an Austin public school. Written by long time New Age guru Dr. Wayne Dyer, its feel-good message is aimed at kids. The ten lovely suggestions are based off of an book he wrote for adults called 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace.

6. In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want by Iyanla Vanzant

For someone (me) who had a whole lot of “meantimes” between disastrous dates and dysfunctional relationships in her twenties, this manifesto of how to be single and content and not settle for less than love sang to me.

Bonus: What book notably did not make the list? The Secret. I can’t stand it. (Neither can Waylon.) It’s this kind of pseudoscientific baloney that gives New Age a bad name.

What New Age/self-help books have helped you out most on your spiritual journey? Leave a comment to continue the conversation.

Relephant read:

11 Spiritual Books that Blew my Mind.

Relephant bonus:

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Ed: Catherine Monkman

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 3.9
Hearts 0.0
Comments 8.0
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous Aug 24, 2015 4:04am

Although The Secret may seem rubbish, it’s about how you interpret the information provided in it. Of course we cannot control the Universe, of course we cannot win the lottery (visualize it all day if you want to), you have to be a bit delusional to think you can understand physics because of auto-suggestion (as the author states she does). But it is an eye-opener. It was the first self-help motivational new-agey book I read. It actually made me feel great through times of struggle. If a book can make you feel good, it means it isn’t that bad. You just have to take the meaningful stuff out of it and apply it to your own world. Will give your suggestions a try.

anonymous May 4, 2015 9:31am

Since you include Eastern spirituality in your definition of new age, I highly recommend How to be Sick and How to Wake Up by Toni Bernhard.

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 11:01pm

Highly recommend Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye for great storytelling lessons in life. Met him at a book signing and he called self help books “shelf help books” for all the good they do us when they sit half-read on a shelf.

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 10:43pm

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander is an account of his Near Death Experience. Fascinating. I don't read books like that or other ;new agey' titles to self-improve, i read them to remember/discover who we really are

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:59pm

Nice article. Out of the list of six books you listed I have only read one which was the Eckhart Tolle book. Which was a very good read indeed. The Sylvia Brown books helped me to awaken and I would have voted for any of her titles. Although I have never read The Secret, I know I didn't miss out on too much. 🙂

I respect your opinion on self help being unnecessary although I must respectfully disagree. Did you give up reading all together? To me, if you're reading anything on any sort of spiritual growth topic then you are doing so to improve yourself in one way or another.

anonymous Sep 29, 2013 4:28pm

The Celestine Prophecy!

For me, this book put into words what I’ve felt about life, religion and relationships my entire life but was unable to express it in my Christian up bringing. I love how its set in a fictional story, allowing the reader to feel connected and not necessarily preached at. Each new insite made me reflect on my life and ultimately changed my perspective….. Which is what I believe all these types of books should encourage. I personally believe a shift in perspective is where real change starts, not new radical ‘truths’.

I was happy to see your last comment about the Secret. Intuition has always been my gift and when that book came out I got a very unsettling feeling about it and choose not to read it. Everyone I met asked if I had read it because of the things I talked about and ways I encouraged people to live, yet there was always an underline feeling of ‘fake’ or ‘fluffy’ when people talked about how the book changed them. Which is when I started to understand how to promote true and positive change in people. Simply by giving them the tools to find their ‘truth’ and appreciate others. Not forcing the world into the ‘right’ way of thinking/living.

Thanks for sharing your list, definitely going to check these titles out!

anonymous Sep 29, 2013 11:40am

I finally had to tone down my prejudice against The Secret, but for me the best New Thought book remains The Game of Life, and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn.

She shows how important it is that one’s affirmations and will stay in tune with life’s or God’s will. Without this spiritual anchoring one’s affirmations are but fancies at best and outright sorcery at worst… Only your most authentic desires are synchronised with the universe.

anonymous Sep 26, 2013 7:06am

Great! I'm glad you are exploring this subject. I am not into self-help books per se, but I find it helps my self when I read new age books.

anonymous Sep 24, 2013 10:58pm

I was hoping The Secret would be the one not to read ever 😀

anonymous Sep 24, 2013 9:01am

I agree….The Four Agreements should definitely be on the list. It is a game changer!

    anonymous Sep 24, 2013 6:14pm

    Thanks for your recommendation!

anonymous Sep 24, 2013 7:32am

I'm afraid that to say "We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement." is its own form of new-agey pablum that trades on lite versions of older insights, ignoring the context of the statement. That's evident from the fact that the discussion quickly turns to 'self-help' books that are actually worthwhile.

Rather than say we all need to 'self-improve,' we might simply say we all need — and usually want — to grow up and mature into well-rounded human beings, which is a natural part of being born into this world. Some ways of seeking insight into this process are better than others. Some — such as the 'Secret' — simply play upon adolescent concepts, urging us to revel in our fantasies. Thus some hate it while others love it.

    anonymous Sep 24, 2013 6:17pm

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Doug. You're right… in my research I am discovering that pretty much all Western spirituality is somewhere on the spectrum of "New Age." I like your phrasing. Let's all grow up and become more well-rounded humans.

anonymous Sep 24, 2013 3:30am

Waves of Change – Unleash The Power of The Natural Self by Bartholomeus Nicolaas Engelbertus.
Potent little book, easy read, and no mumbo jumbo crystal waving stuff written by the surf life coach

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 8:04pm

THe Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy oldie but goodie. Everything The Secret left out!

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 2:37pm

And "You Can Heal Your LIfe" by Louise Hay is a great one, too!

    anonymous Sep 24, 2013 6:14pm

    Classic. Thanks for your recommendation!

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 2:34pm

The Naked Now: Learning to see as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 2:26pm

Loved the article, one book that has resonated with me for years now and I do re-read once a year or so is The Mandala of Being by Richard Moss, MD. I learned why I make the choices that I do based on conditioning as a child and learning how to live in the now. A wonderful read and I recommend it to many people.

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 2:00pm

I would love to read your comments on the books by Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God. Thanks for sharing your recommendations. Leonor

    anonymous Sep 24, 2013 6:13pm

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Leonor. I read Conversations with God many years ago and found it harmless, but I have since seen many critiques of the author's method and style.

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 12:31pm

this is missing a very important book that is very non-new agey "The Four Agreements" by don Miguel Ruiz

(full discloser he is my teacher).

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 11:58am

My husband and I have a stack of 1/2 read self help books on our shelf. We are challenging ourselves to read your selections and then we will give you our feedback. The secret is one of those books sitting… I agree not worth picking up and we only read bits of it.

    anonymous Sep 23, 2013 1:10pm

    Great! Good luck with your challenge. Take what works for you and discard the rest, right? Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennifer.

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 10:19am

Self Help in short: Be Yourself (and be bold in doing so).

    anonymous Sep 23, 2013 1:09pm

    Good summary. Thanks for reading and commenting!

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 10:18am

Thank you for sharing this list. I look forward to reading your future article as my own personal journey has led me to see the fallacies within some of the self-help material too.

Your last note about what book was not included caught my attention and brought a smile to my face… Because, ah, I know. I agree with you & I can relate. There is so much missing, and in some ways there appears to be false promises.

However, in the last year or so, I’ve begun to see the collective value of the “new agey” materials, if nothing else, as an entry point.

I honor that when I cracked the door for conscious re-engagement with my inner life, “The Secret” was the material that entered my awareness first… Helped me to begin to see life differently.

Thankfully my journey has only continued to deepen, expand & wind. The same grace that helped me wake back up is also the same grace guiding a deeper, knowing, life.

All of that is to say, while many materials that sustained me “in the beginning” may not be useful now… They were an entry point that I am deeply grateful for.

    anonymous Sep 23, 2013 11:59am

    Good point. If the Secret helps people start their journey then I welcome that.

    anonymous Sep 23, 2013 1:09pm

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Rachel. I'm glad you can relate. It's great that your journey has continued and deepened. It is a very valid point that more mainstream books/media such as The Secret is often an "entry point" for spiritual sojourners. The problem is when the journey stops or plateaus there…

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 9:54am

Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom!

    anonymous Sep 23, 2013 1:06pm

    Thanks for your suggestion!

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 9:09am

I LOVE Eckhart Tolle. That is a great book. And I completely concur–The Secret is ridiculous. After I laughed out loud countess times before I got halfway through it, I couldn't even force myself to finish it.

Thanks for the suggestions. Looking forward to some good reads.

    anonymous Sep 23, 2013 1:06pm

    Thank you for reading and commenting!

Read The Best Articles of March
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom. She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010  and has written and self-published several inspiring books. She incorporates yoga, dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting, pranayama and more into her teachings and personal practice.

Join Michelle on retreat this July 20-27 at magical Lake Atitlan in Guatemala!