The most recommended books on building life skills

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to life skills, and here are their favorite life skills books.
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What type of life skills book?


Book cover of Demented

Walburga Appleseed Author Of The Princess and the Prick

From my list on funny feminist books you'll want to gift to all your friends.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I gobbled up Grimm’s fairytales, but I always wondered: Why do the princesses get such a terrible deal? This question gnawed at me. So, when I grew up and became an author, I wrote The Princess and the Prick to set the world right. Feminism can be such a terribly serious topic, but sexism is ridiculous! So, let's laugh at it! The books I've recommended are all short and brilliantly funny. They make fantastic gifts and will have everyone laughing at the patriarchy in no time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Walburga's book list on funny feminist books you'll want to gift to all your friends

Walburga Appleseed Why did Walburga love this book?

I get this book for every single one of my female friends when they get close to middle-age. Are we maybe confused about the world because we’re growing old, or has the world never made any sense, but we were too busy being young and didn’t notice? And why can we suddenly not see any of it properly anyway?

In true Jacky Fleming style, this little gem is both hilarious and painfully true. It makes me howl with laughter every time I read it.

By Jacky Fleming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Demented as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have the inevitable signs of ageing taken you completely by surprise? Do 'Friends Reunited' emails from primary school acquaintances precipitate an instant mid-life crisis? Has your computer introduced levels of frustration into your life that you never dreamed were possible? Does the sound of orchestrated easy-listening music while you're on hold for half an hour drive you to despair? Then this demented cartoon narrative may help slightly, although how I can't imagine. This work is an absolute must for the middle-aged but immature woman and her bewildered partner - or anyone obsessed with looking on the internet at properties for…

Book cover of Get It All Done and Still Be Human: A Personal Time-Management Workshop

Jeff Davidson Author Of Simpler Living: A Back to Basics Guide to Cleaning, Furnishing, Storing, Decluttering, Streamlining, Organizing, and More

From my list on making your life simpler and healthier.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hold the registered trademark as "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," and work with organizations that seek to enhance their productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. I've spoken to Fortune 50 companies such as IBM, Cardinal Health Group, Lockheed, American Express, the IRS, Wells Fargo, and Westinghouse. My books have been published in 19 languages and have been featured in 68 of the top 75 American newspapers, as well as Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. At heart, I'm a simpler living advocate. I believe in giving back to his community and am an active volunteer for Art Space in downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Arts, and numerous other civic, social, and charitable groups.

Jeff's book list on making your life simpler and healthier

Jeff Davidson Why did Jeff love this book?

The authors ask, "Why is it that a decent person like you, someone you would invite home for dinner, is plagued by the feeling that you will never get it all done? Do you think you invented the word frantic? Your life," they say, "is not a series of little boxes to be checked off as you complete tasks. Life is rough, sweet, sticky, hot and cold, even messy, and enjoyable."

To rearrange your life and get what you want done, they contend that you need a clear picture of your life as it actually is today. Diagramming helps; start with yourself in the middle and add spokes and branches in all directions that define and illustrate your inter-connectedness. Then, when you stand back and look at the pattern, you are viewing your life as it is today, with all of its important facets. All, that is, except for some…

By Tony Fanning, Robbie Fanning,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Get It All Done and Still Be Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents a program for assessing present utilization of time, evaluating the activities and responsibilities that make demands on your time, formulating priorities, and effectively managing time to increase success and personal fulfillment

Book cover of Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

Stephanie Dueger Author Of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

From my list on to feel more prepared for parenthood.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a trained therapist, educator, and coach for expectant and new parents, I understand on a deep level the importance of creating a strong foundation in building a family. I also was personally humbled at how difficult the transition to parenthood was for me and the challenges it presented in my relationship with my husband. While we’ve grown exponentially, I wanted to make it a little easier for other expectant parents to avoid some of the pitfalls that aren’t spoken about as much in becoming parents. I also wanted to help the new little beings arriving in the world to have more resourced, present parents. It’s a win-win.

Stephanie's book list on to feel more prepared for parenthood

Stephanie Dueger Why did Stephanie love this book?

As a therapist and coach for expectant and new parents, this book is always near the top of my list of recommendations. Taylor does a wonderful job of normalizing the difficult transition for most from “couple” to “parents.” She uses her background as a couple’s therapist to help people build tools to navigate the emotional upheaval that is incredibly common (and backed by extensive research) in the transition to parenthood. I appreciate Taylor’s honesty and her inclusion of stories from couples as examples. Reading this book feels like having a conversation with a good friend, who focuses first on your strengths, but who isn’t afraid to help you learn some new and helpful ways of interacting.

By Elly Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nautilus and Non-Fiction Book Awards Winner

Parenthood is like a whole new world. And people say nothing can prepare parents for it, but what if you and your partner could?

Becoming a family brings much joy, love and wonder, but also some big life changes and some new challenges for you and your partner to navigate. Becoming Us is a map for this journey. You’ll find practical steps on every page to prepare for and manage the most common issues for parents, like the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, changes to lifestyles, finances, communication and love-life,…

Book cover of The Unbreakable Student: 6 Rules for Staying Sane at University

James Withey Author Of How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

From my list on manage bloody anxiety.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived with anxiety all my life – it’s a real bugger. At school, I would worry about wearing the wrong shoes or forgetting my shorts for football. Anxiety can be paralyzing and often coupled with its BFF depression, which I have too. Nice eh? I also know that when you face up to anxiety and start swearing at it, not letting it rule you, understand what it is and how useless it is, things start to get easier. It’s not about getting rid of anxiety, it’s about managing it, not letting it rule you. That’s what my book does, with a large dollop of humour thrown in to help things. 

James' book list on manage bloody anxiety

James Withey Why did James love this book?

Young people’s mental health is so important to tackle; it’s so prevalent at the moment. Going to university or leaving home is one of the most stressful times in our lives and therefore crucial that we have tools and understanding to help us get through. This book has some great practical advice about how to manage. The author knows his psychology and has obviously worked with students with anxiety before, you feel like you are in trusted hands. It’s an easy to read book and you get to know the author too who writes with a light heartedness which really helps. 

By Nic Hooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Unbreakable Student as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Equal parts practical, funny and illuminating - belongs on the required reading list for life' - Sarah Knight, internationally bestselling author of Get Your Sh!t Together

Accessible and inspirational, The Unbreakable Student is the self-care guide that every university student needs.

So, you're starting university - you've learnt what to pack, where to socialise, how to cook (sort of)... but what about how to look after your mental health?

University is a whirlwind of exciting, fresh experiences. But it can also be overwhelming. You're in a strange new environment and faced with the pressure to make friends, complete difficult assignments,…

Book cover of Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women

Meg Jay Author Of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

From my list on figuring out your 20s.

Why am I passionate about this?

Meg Jay, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist, and an Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia, who specializes in adult development and in twentysomethings in particular. She earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and on NPR and BBC. Her TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” is among the most watched of all time.

Meg's book list on figuring out your 20s

Meg Jay Why did Meg love this book?

The best way to reassure people is to give them good information. That’s what Dana Perino does for young women in this engaging guide to life and work. From clearing your inbox to clearing your mind, if you follow the advice in this book, you’ll be well on your way to much more than okay.

By Dana Perino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything Will Be Okay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

GREAT NEWS! is a no-nonsense how-to guide to life for young women looking to reframe their thinking, to believe in themselves, to take risks, to understand their power, and to feel better overall.

Young women seek out advice from Dana Perino every day -- at work, through friends, and on social media. The story of her own quarter-life crisis, And the Good News Is..., brought countless readers to her inbox looking for guidance. Through her mentorship program, "Minute Mentoring," Dana quickly realized that quarter-life crises have begun following young women well into their thirties. Many of them are distressed but…

Book cover of Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

Amanda Stern Author Of Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life

From my list on mental anguish from inside a body in distress.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of The Long Haul and Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life and eleven books for children written under the pseudonyms AJ Stern and Fiona Rosenbloom. I publish a newsletter called “How to Live” where I simplify complex theories from psychology and offer ideas for their practical applications. My work explores the complexities of emotion, addiction, neglect, and issues surrounding mental health. I am prone to write from inside the body, to capture the visceral resonance of the somatic experience and consciousness.

Amanda's book list on mental anguish from inside a body in distress

Amanda Stern Why did Amanda love this book?

Confession: as of this writing I am only ⅓ of the way through this book, but I like it immensely and find it immensely soothing and validating. A cursory search on Dr. Julie Smith, a therapist, tells me that she is “TikTok famous” and remains very popular on social media. This is not how I came across her work, or this book. This book is an excellent primer for how to survive being human in this world, with vital inside information from decades of therapeutic practice on how to face daily challenges and become attuned to our mental health. Filled with insights, strategies, and explanations that are both practice and relatable, this is a great book to gift to people of all ages.

By Julie Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Sound wisdom, easy to gulp down. I'm sure this book is already helping lots of people. Great work, Dr Julie' MATT HAIG, bestselling author of REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

'Brilliant. Bite-size. Easy to understand. Easy to flick through. It's like a reference to how you feel' Phillip Schofield on ITV's THIS MORNING


'Julie Smith is the psychology teacher you wish you'd had at school' EVENING STANDARD
'This book is a goldmine. I truly treat it like a handbook now' STYLIST
'It's real, it's authentic . . . Very practical and very, very helpful' LORRAINE…

Book cover of Excuse Me While I Disappear: Tales of Midlife Mayhem

Ann Aikens Author Of A Young Woman's Guide to Life: A Cautionary Tale

From my list on funniest memoirs with advice for a happy life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised when unsupervised kids roamed freely in the woods, my friends and I became adept at finding fun. My 20s were spent in New York in the 1980's zeitgeist of exploration and excess. A lifelong fan of comedy, I worked at the Comedy Cellar, where I booked and watched countless standup comics. Later, I left NYC’s glamor for Vermont’s nature. Since then, my Vermont newspaper column, "Upper Valley Girl," has amused and astonished (and possibly appalled) readers with humor and candor. Ever adventurous to the point of risk, making awful mistakes, and enduring impossible people, I learned limits the hard way. I advise young people not to do the same. 

Ann's book list on funniest memoirs with advice for a happy life

Ann Aikens Why did Ann love this book?

Notaro is a comedic goddess. I still don’t know what a “tweaker” is (since reading Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death years ago), but she cracks me up hard, early, and often. I wish she was my neighbor. She somehow makes her other characters sound as funny as she, which they may or may not be in real life.

The chapter on becoming magically invisible once you let your hair go grey is worth the price of admission. This book is largely about aging. She mines the comedy. I hope to meet her one day.

By Laurie Notaro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Excuse Me While I Disappear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A laugh-out-loud spin on the realities, perks, opportunities, and inevitable courses of midlife.

Laurie Notaro has proved everyone wrong: she didn't end up in rehab, prison, or cremated at a tender age. She just went gray. At past fifty, every hair's root is a symbol of knowledge (she knows how to use a landline), experience (she rode in a car with no seat belts), and superpowers (a gray-haired lady can get away with anything).

Though navigating midlife is initially upsetting-the cracking noises coming from her new old body, receiving regular junk mail from mortuaries-Laurie accepts it. And then some. With…

Book cover of Life Skills for Puppies: Laying the Foundation for a Loving, Lasting Relationship

Deborah Taylor-French Author Of Red Sky at Night: Dog Leader Mysteries

From my list on dogs and canine behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I’m not out rescuing lost dogs or walking our dog, Beau, in the hills of Sonoma County, I’m reading, writing, blogging, or offering writers' support. Our family started when we took in a baby for foster care, then a year later, after great effort, prayer, and help, we completed her adoption. As for canines, we’ve adopted four dogs, all from dogs returned to their breeders or an animal shelter. Three of our dogs happened to be only one year old when we took them in. I continue to research and edit my Dog Leader Mysteries blog. Twelve years blogging about saving dogs.

Deborah's book list on dogs and canine behavior

Deborah Taylor-French Why did Deborah love this book?

Loved the foreword by Jean Donaldson. “What a dog lover should be most concerned about is fear in our puppies and dogs.” Why? Fear behaviors start with growling and snarling, then leads to snapping and biting. Too many big dogs lose their lives from biting accidents. We want our puppies to feel confident and free to sometimes say no. 

Repeat. Be kind. Be patient.

There happen to be many styles and methods of training dogs. Unfortunately, Animal Shelters and the Humane Society report homeless canines as 3.1 million in the U.S.A. Plus, each year in the U.S., 3.9 million dogs are abandoned or given to shelters. Shocking facts. We dog lovers need to do a much better job socializing and training our best friends.

By Helen Zulch, Daniel S. Mills, Peter Baumber (photographer)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Skills for Puppies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

EEvery year millions of puppies enter homes, carrying their new family's expectation of a wonderful relationship. Sadly, many are re-homed or lose their lives as the result of behaviours which their owners find difficult to live with. Helping a puppy to grow into a resilient dog, capable of coping with the challenges of daily living, whilst retaining a good quality of life and exhibiting behaviours acceptable within society, is not an easy task. This book aims to simplify puppy education by presenting the skills that are required to achieve these goals within the context of everyday life. By enabling owners…

Book cover of The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens: Updated for the Digital Age

Thomas Lickona Author Of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain

From my list on raising good children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a developmental psychologist and former professor of education. My life’s work and 10 books have focused on helping families and schools foster good character in kids. Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility is credited with helping launch the national character education movement. My first book for parents, Raising Good Children, described how to guide kids through the stages of moral development from birth through adulthood. My focus these days is kindness and its supporting virtues. My wife Judith and I have two grown sons and 15 grandchildren, and with William Boudreau, MD, co-authored Sex, Love, and You: Making the Right Decision, a book for teens.

Thomas' book list on raising good children

Thomas Lickona Why did Thomas love this book?

I regularly recommend this terrific book, recently updated for the digital age, to both teens and their parents. Sean Covey is the son of the famous Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Sean is an experienced father, nationally known character educator (creator of The Leader in Me program), and highly talented author in his own right. His book on “the 6 most important decisions” tackles areas of a young person’s life where good decisions can bring big benefits and poor ones can carry a high cost: (1) choosing friends, (2) making the most of school, (3) creating a positive relationship with your parents, (4) building self-confidence, (5) dating and romantic relationships (without sex), and (6) steering clear of drugs, pornography, and other damaging addictions.

Covey’s gift for connecting with young readers combines straight talk, practical tips, humorous cartoon graphics, and hard-to-argue-with wisdom illustrated with true…

By Sean Covey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the wildly popular bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens comes the go-to guide that helps teens cope with major challenges they face in their lives-now updated for today's social media age.

In this newly revised edition, Sean Covey helps teens figure out how to approach the six major challenges they face: gaining self-esteem, dealing with their parents, making friends, being wise about sex, coping with substances, and succeeding at school and planning a career.

Covey understands the pain and confusion that teens and their parents experience in the face of these weighty, life-changing, and…

Book cover of Colin Cowie Chic: The Guide to Life as It Should Be

Dawna Pitts Author Of Entertaining Is My Love Language

From my list on for inspiration when entertaining at home.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Dawna Pitts. I am passionate about entertaining and always have been. I realized I actually have much to share from my experiences of entertaining for many years and living on different continents which made me write my book Entertaining is My Love Language. I wanted to inspire people to have more get-togethers in our homes build sweet, delicious memories, and understand home entertaining doesn’t always have to be proper and perfect and no need to be intimidated by foreign exotic food ingredients.

Dawna's book list on for inspiration when entertaining at home

Dawna Pitts Why did Dawna love this book?

I have been a fan of Colin Cowie for years and this book totally lived up to my expectations.

He wrote how he did things and why in the most chic way possible. I have adapted several things into my life from this book. For example, I organize my dried spice rack alphabetically and have host/hostess gifts ready at all times so I am always ready for any invitation. I felt my life was more organized when I finished this book!

By Colin Cowie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Colin Cowie Chic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A handbook for living well in the twenty-first century

From legendary lifestyle expert Colin Cowie comes the last word in living a gracious, sensuous life on any budget. Colin draws back the curtain on his own chic, passionate, 120-miles-per-hour life, revealing how to create and entertain in an inviting home, garner respect in the workplace, and travel with ease and comfort. No matter how or where you live, or whatever your personal style may be, Colin Cowie Chic will place you on the fast track to experiencing life to the fullest.

This immensely practical handbook offers step-by-step instructions on everything…