The self-help genre has a long history of providing advice to readers seeking change, guidance and empowerment. These two highly anticipated books, while wildly different, are positive, entertaining additions to the bunch.
In Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, bestselling author Luvvie Ajayi Jones uses her trademark humor and insight to show readers how to break down—and break through—the fears that hold them back from their professional and personal goals. Her principles are explained in three sections: Be, Say and Do.
In the Be section, Ajayi Jones emphasizes how important it is to first know who you are and what you want. As you determine these things, remember that being audacious and dreaming big aren’t just for other people; they’re for you, too. In this section, readers meet Ajayi Jones’ grandmother, a joyful woman who took time to celebrate her life and always made space for herself in the world. In the Say section, Ajayi Jones explores how speaking up and setting boundaries are steps worth taking toward fighting your fears. Finally, in Do, she explains that there is no progress without action.
Throughout the book, Ajayi Jones provides helpful examples of fear-fighting from her own life, such as the time she almost turned down the opportunity to give a TED Talk because she was scared of failure. She also provides useful exercises like writing a mission statement and listing your values and goals. Ajayi Jones’ fans will appreciate this bold display of her signature fearlessness, and new readers will connect with her funny personal stories and flair for language, which make reading this book feel like talking to an old friend.
Nedra Glover Tawwab, a therapist with a hugely popular Instagram account, debuts with Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself. Tawwab, who specializes in relationships, began writing this indispensable guide after her Instagram post “Signs That You Need Boundaries” went viral. Her book aims to address frequently asked questions from people who may not even know they have boundary issues, since they’re often disguised as other problems such as time mismanagement, anxiety and burnout. Once someone understands boundaries better, Tawwab explains, they can begin to improve their relationships through open communication.
Beginning with a description of Tawwab’s own process of setting boundaries with family members, the book establishes six types of boundaries—physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, material and time—and gives examples of how these issues might play out in real-life scenarios. Tawwab then dispenses advice about how to handle each type of situation through personal anecdotes and examples from anonymized therapy clients.
Although Set Boundaries, Find Peace is written with authority, Tawwab’s voice is friendly and sincere as she presents her ideas in a clear, no-nonsense fashion. For example, when explaining time boundaries, she gives a brief description of the issue; follows it up with examples of time boundary violations, such as overcommitting or accepting favor requests from people who won’t reciprocate; then tells the reader what time boundaries might sounds like (“I won’t be able to make it to your event on Tuesday”) and ends with an exercise to reinforce the information.
Tawwab excels at presenting complicated ideas and behaviors in an accessible, nonjudgmental manner, helping the reader feel at ease and understood. Anyone looking to regain control over their time, energy and needs will appreciate her book’s wisdom and practical advice.