Before we get into this list of books like Girl, Wash Your Face, but better, let me tell you that I listened to about an hour of Rachel Hollis’s bestseller. It was fine. I was sad and needed to be told to wash my face, so it felt like the perfect book for that moment. But her advice is…not great. “Toughen up” isn’t something I want a self-help book to tell me. And I certainly don’t want to be fat-shamed throughout the reading experience.
Laura Turner at Buzzfeed wrote a really stellar piece about the phenomenon that is Girl, Wash Your Face, and it’s a must-read if you’re interested in Hollis’s work. Moral of the story: Rachel Hollis has lived a privileged life, and her advice, stemming from the idea that things are bad only because you allow them to be bad, is useless to anyone who is not as privileged as she is.
I love self-help, motivational, inspirational, woo-woo books. They’re cheesy and they make me feel good. But Hollis’s book did not make me feel good. It didn’t address any social or cultural challenges that we need to be talking and thinking about in this scary time. So, here are some books like Girl, Wash Your Face, but better, to help you navigate life with a little more tact and confidence.
Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani
In Brave, Not Perfect, Saujani takes a look at how girls are raised to be gentle, polite beings, and how that manifests in adulthood with women afraid of going outside their comfort zone, afraid of being anything less than perfect. She gives us research and practices to improve our lives our own way.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Vulnerability! Is! Not! Weakness! Based deeply in Brown’s 12 years’ worth of research, Daring Greatly gives us an incisive look at society, shame, and how we can change our little piece of the world by changing our attitude toward those things.
I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi
It’s a Miss Manners book for the digital age, with added snark! Ajayi throws shade at all sorts of social faux pas, then tells us how to do better. Online dating, subtle racism, personal hygiene—no topic is off-limits in I’m Judging You.
Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
Slow feels a lot like Girl, Wash Your Face. A middle-aged white woman shares her story and how she’s been able to slow down her life so she can enjoy it better. It’s filled with beautiful photos and illustrations on how to stop “keeping up with the Joneses.” It’s cozy.
Full disclosure: My employer published this book.
How to Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want to Be Tomorrow by Bianca Juarez Olthoff
If the Christian aspect of Girl, Wash Your Face is what drew you in, this book is a better option. Bianca Jaurez Olthoff shares stories from her own mistakes and offers advice on how to grow from your own experiences, all while trusting in the goodness of God.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
When Niequist realized she was burned out on the never-ending daily to-do lists, she started on a path for simplicity and ease. She writes lovely words about her journey, and gives tips on how to create your own journey to soulful living.
How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh
A bawse is a tough person who exudes confidence and has seen some shit and smiles anyway. Lilly Singh’s gorgeous book is full of wit, humor, and tough-love advice about how if you’re looking for success, you’re not going to find it by taking any shortcuts.
How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
The world we’re living in now is one focused on “productivity.” And Odell is over it. In this critique of technology, she writes about the radical act of doing nothing at all. She gets into nature and starts to see herself for who she really is. How to Do Nothing is a must-read.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
If you’re looking for an inspiring memoir, chock-full of advice on how to overcome adversity and come out shining, this is it. Do I need to say anything else?
Also, we compiled some of the most powerful lines from Becoming, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Look, a self-help list at Book Riot Dot Com is not complete without Cheryl Strayed. That’s the rule.
Tiny Beautiful Things is a compilation of the best of Cheryl Strayed’s work as advice columnist Dear Sugar. Her answers are full of compassion, honesty, and humor. This is required reading for all humans.
If you want even more inspiring self-help books like Girl, Wash Your Face, check out 20 of the best 2018 self-help books, controversial books for your book club, and 50 must-read books for 20-somethings.