Self-Help / Relationships
by Will Hall
Plot/Idea: Hall’s construct is creatively defined and flows smoothly from the start. The idea of restructuring mental health, with a strong emphasis on mental diversity, is both relevant and noteworthy.
Prose: Powerful, almost lyrical prose drives the message home, and Hall’s style is equally comforting and intense.
Originality: Hall offers a novel and innovative take on mental wellness—focusing on empowerment as a tool for healing—that will provoke deep thought and influence systemic change.
Character Development/Execution: The diverse stories that Hall offers glide across the pages, immediately drawing readers in while generating profound reflection. The intimacy Hall elicits brings his subject to life; in artistic fashion, he paints evocative portraits alongside a meaningful and well-executed call to action.
by Colleen Bryant
Plot/Idea: This is a wonderful work, proving to be smart, engaging, and thorough. No matter what side of the political/moral fence readers find themselves on, they will nod with approval as they read the author's insights. As comprehensive as is possible, and certainly thought-provoking, there is much here that may open minds and help bridge the nation's divide.
Prose: What might otherwise be a dry and lifeless topic is handled brilliantly here. The writing touches the reader in a personal way and draws them in, keeping them hooked.
Originality: This is a highly original work with a unique perspective, and Doyle Bryant does not shy away from exploring these topics deeply.
Character Development/Execution: The main character here is really the human race, as the author explores how people react and think. Doyle Bryant gives the world exactly what it needs right now, a thoughtful and accessible examination of common decency and unbiased options for bridging common ground to overcome our differences.
Blurb: Bryant gives the world exactly what it needs right now - a thoughtful and accessible examination of common decency and unbiased options for bridging common ground to overcome our differences.
by LaNysha T. Adams
Plot/Idea: Adams's Me Power breaks down the concept of empowerment--what it means, how it can be harnessed, and how it can contribute to self-fulfillment. Adams blends her own personal and professional narrative into a broader guide to achieving success on one's own terms.
Prose: Adams's prose is immediately engaging. Readers will be struck by her personal story of being dismissed and underestimated, while she clearly lays out a blueprint for readers to seize their own empowerment.
Originality: The word 'empowerment' is a familiar and frequently used one. As Adams suggests early on, we often think of the term as something provided from outside an individual and bestowed upon them. Uniquely, Adams shifts this perspective, suggesting empowerment comes from within.
Character/Execution: Adams successfully combines guidance, personal anecdotes, and action plans for readers, while avoiding canned advice or platitudes.
by Andrea T Edwards
Plot/Idea: Edwards puts forth concrete ideas on creating a more positive world, specifying the audience for her guidance carefully while structuring the text in an intuitive, approachable manner.
Prose: The prose manages to be both entertaining and enlightening. Edwards’s style is effortless, and the book's many activities are self-explanatory.
Originality: Uncommon Courage draws from familiar self-help elements, but Edwards injects originality through the book’s use of unique metaphors and a wealth of hands-on exercises.
Character/Execution: Full of accessible information and easy-to-use activities, this guide offers readers an abundance of exercises that can be tailored to meet individual needs. The structure is similar to a workbook, and Edwards delivers on her objective to help readers achieve their best life.
by Carly Inkpen, Justin Wright, and Tad Mayer
Plot/Idea: Three authors team up to create a career coaching guide urging readers to examine lifestyle, goals, and how content they are with their current career path or job. This resource proves to be a handy guide with easy to follow exercises. The authors have created a deep dive that goes beyond the resume, asking readers to seriously consider their right fit for a job.
Prose: Well-written and nicely structured, the book offers a story as well as exercises to consider when looking for the perfect job. The tone is conversational, and the authors deliver an abundance of helpful guidance.
Originality: Access to the book's exercises is through a website or QR code, which allows readers useful options—and the encouragement to self-reflect throughout gives the guide an edge.
Character/Execution: The authors have a unique approach to what readers should consider when looking for a job, and it's evident they speak from hard-earned experience. Their advice has been perfected through coaching clients, and the guidance moves beyond just landing a job to remaining satisfied with a career.
by Elma Linz Kanefield
Plot/Idea: A professional in the psychology of performing arts, the author sets her focus on helping performers gain personal insight to improve their craft. She offers readers useful reflection exercises to aid them in reaching their full potential as well as real-life examples that illustrate her concepts in action.
Prose: This is a well-written, accessible work that performers will find valuable. The author's prose is succinct yet meaningful, ripe with stories that will resonate with readers in these professions.
Originality: The world of performance arts psychology is a specialized field and as such the book is unique; however, this work also delivers pearls of wisdom for an audience beyond the intended one.
Character/Execution: The author skillfully relates her advice, methodology, and stories to her theme. Readers will find an abundance of helpful prompts and activities to utilize in their own performance achievement paths.
by Melon Dash
Plot: This book will help readers of all ages who want to learn to swim. The step-by-step approach is clear and easily accessible and can be practiced in just a few sessions as readers find themselves less fearful in deeper water. Melon breaks down the subject with multiple solutions, yet manages to not overwhelm the learner.
Prose: In this well-executed text, with a step-by-step approach to not only overcoming a fear of water but also learning to swim in spite of it, Melon’s perspective and real-life comparisons make it easy to understand her lessons.
Originality: For anyone who thought it wasn’t possible to learn to swim from a book, this book will prove that theory wrong. The advice given is relatable and will ring true with anyone who has ever doubted themselves in the water.
Character/Execution: Melon’s process is simple and nicely conveyed. She has patiently included and addressed any problem or excuse that might arise in such situations. Her methods are practical and logical, and go hand in hand with the games and practice methods that she recommends. Melon has eliminated confusion by breaking the process down into specific activities and solid advice.
by Adena Sampson
Plot/Idea: This work, while most decidedly a self-help title, places a heavy emphasis on the author's personal journey as she overcomes severe hardships in multiple areas of her life. The lessons she extracts from these events form the basis of the work and are applicable to situations many of us find ourselves in. The author is an effective storyteller, and she moves from one concept to the next in a logical manner.
Prose: The author is a strong writer, able to maintain an accessible and engaging narrative both when she tells her life story and also when she switches to advisor mode.
Originality: This is a highly original work with its roots extracted from the author's personal experiences.
Character Development/Execution: As the author shares her journey, the reader comes to understand her through not only what happens to her but in how she deals with and processes these life events.
by Heather Leah
Plot/Idea: This is a well-reasoned, detailed approach to evaluating prospective partners on the quest to find Mr. Right—or in hindsight, "Mr. Right Now." The author offers an enlightened viewpoint that many will find liberating.
Prose: The author is a very strong writer, able to put forth ideas in a clear, concise manner. She demonstrates a thorough understanding of writing nuances and is able to fully engage the reader.
Originality: This is an original perspective on a much discussed topic. The author delivers a fresh approach that will entertain while extending useful advice.
Character/Execution: The author keeps her theme front and center throughout the work, consistently making points that bolstor her theory.
by Amber Dobkins
Plot/Idea: Dobkins’s idea of making future generations better through acceptance is insightful and engaging. She makes readers understand and realize why some families function in the manner that they do with clear, relatable examples.
Prose: Conversational and easy to read, the authors make good points throughout. Examples are understandable and well-written. Each person has a distinct voice yet clear perspective, and their experience in years rings through for each.
Originality: Allowing the reader to experience positive change through the insight of three different perspectives and generations is a fresh and intelligent approach.
Character/Execution: The five premises of finding and exemplifying one’s true self are woven throughout the story and also highlighted at the end of the book. The family makes a conscious decision to improve the cycle of support and help future generations build stronger offspring.
by Antonia Hall
Plot/Idea: Hall offers a sprightly self-help guide that will entertain as it teaches, aimed at helping improve well-being through the art of play and pleasure. The book references the scientific alongside the imaginative, pairing the two nicely into one interesting text.
Prose: Creative and playful prose dots the pages of this guide, perfectly in sync with the book’s theme. Hall uses imaginative metaphors to bring her suggestions to life.
Originality: Hall’s willingness to address topics that many books shy away from is refreshing, and she offers readers functional advice that comes with a sparky edge.
Character/Execution: The hands-on activities are useful and highlight the book’s main concepts, and Hall is careful to leave space for each reader to customize her advice.
by Lynn Lok-Payne
Plot/Idea: Drawing on her own life-changing experiences, Lok-Payne is able to share her story to help others overcome tragic events. Her advice is not only based on her own story; she includes guidance from experts through her research and knowledge. This transformative guide offers something for everyone.
Prose: The upbeat prose shines through Lok-Payne's struggles. Each chapter focuses on techniques for the reader to consider applying to their own circumstances. The workbook allows for personal introspection, while the author’s positive attitude will leave a strong impression on readers.
Originality: Drawing from experts and her own experience, Lok-Payne organizes the helpful information well and stays focused, while providing a variety of resources and tools for readers.
Character Development/Execution: Lok-Payne provides a winning blend of personal narrative and self-help. Readers will value her empathy and words of encouragement.
by Claire N. Rubman
Plot: This work of nonfiction comes from the mind of a cognitive developmental psychologist and veteran educator. The author constructively summarizes research and years of valuable classroom and parenting experience.
Prose: Rubman presents the chapters in an engaging manner, leading the reader through common ‘myths’ about teaching people to read. This is an encompassing straightforward educational text with historic context, psychological development, and tools for a classroom and/or parenting.
Originality: For those interested in pedagogical research and understanding, This May Be Difficult to Read will prove to be a valuable and timely resource. Parents or teachers looking for support while teaching children to read will find comfort and advice in these pages.
Character/Execution: An overarching premise is that the educational system in America is broken, thus there are criticisms of current means of education, but Rubman offers insight as to how to counter what she sees as challenging to readers. This full-color textbook is strikingly designed and effectively developed.
by Jakob Franzen
Plot/Idea: Franzen builds from the concept that sharing a story opens the door to healing from grief. Though not overly structured, the book’s free-flowing essence is a perfect fit for Franzen’s main topic, and his expression of the variability of grief is spot-on.
Prose: Franzen writes gracefully, mixing the reality of his grief with expressive passages that will resonate with any readers experiencing loss. The prose manages to accentuate the ache of grief while illuminating the need to forge through its painful emotions.
Originality: Written more in the style of sophisticated journaling, this is a worthwhile contemplation on grief, love, and resilience. Franzen’s willingness to open a window into his intimate passage through loss is moving.
Character/Execution: Franzen is a natural storyteller, and his recollections, advice, and musings unfold smoothly across the pages. He allows readers an unhurried, safe space to explore their own grief and emotions.
by Gretta Keene (author) William Murray (illustrator)
Plot: Your Way There uses the expertise and experiences from the author's work as a psychotherapist to walk readers through the ups and downs of human emotions. This is a beautifully illustrated, engaging introduction to psychotherapy/ talk therapy that can help readers work better understand their emotions.
Prose: The author's prose is clear and she uses helpful anecdotes, analogies, and metaphors to help readers process difficult feelings and experiences. This book uses a science-based approach, but the author's knack for crafting beautiful phrases enhances the prose.
Originality: In some ways, this work is fairly representative of psychotherapy/talk-therapy self-help books, but the author's kind but professional tone makes it very inviting. It is also filled with original illustrations that enhance the book's arguments in a novel fashion.
Character/Execution: Overall, this is an approachable and engaging self-help guide. Readers might find it helpful to include an introduction that explains the author's professional qualifications and experiences from the start.
Blurb: Your Way There is a beautifully illustrated, engaging introduction to psychotherapy/ talk therapy that can help readers work better understand their emotions.
by Kelly Tallaksen
Plot/Idea: Tallaksen delivers a deeply thoughtful treatise on the challenges inherent in developing, maintaining, and nurturing self-love. The ideas presented throughout are valuable, but the work may benefit from additional references outside the author's own sound ideas and advice.
Prose: Tallaksen's prose is highly readable: her tone is warm, level-headed, and compassionate.
Originality: Many self-help works offer platitudes about self-esteem and self-care. Tallaksen offers a more nuanced discussion by framing self-love in the context of trauma and formative childhood experiences.
Character/Execution: While not all readers will find the more spiritually-focused sections, many of her arguments will have broad appeal for readers seeking to rekindle their self-love.