10 of the best health books for transforming your wellbeing

From books exploring the menopause to mindful eating, here are 10 health books worth buying

covers of the best health books
(Image credit: Future)

If you're looking to get your body and mind into shape, you might want to snap up one of the best health books around. 

Whether you prefer reading on one of the best kindles or you like good old-fashioned paperbacks, getting your hands on a health book could give your health and wellbeing the ultimate boost. That's right, whether you want to sleep better, worry less, or sail through menopause, there’s a health book out there to help you.

"Health books are popular because we're interested in our psychological, emotional, physical, and mental health," says award-winning author and relationship and lifestyle strategist Rainie Howard. "People want to take ownership of their wellbeing, and health books can make readers feel empowered." 

Do health books really work?

Switching your usual best thriller books for one of the best health books could transform your health and wellbeing. In fact, Rainie believes they can be like having a therapist on speed dial, without the hefty hourly charge. "We're constantly going through challenging times in our lives, whether it’s our stress levels shooting through the roof, poor health, or struggling with menopause symptoms. But often we’re not comfortable talking about these challenges with another person, which is why many turn to books," says Rainie. "Reading a book written by an author that relates to their circumstances, while guiding them through their challenges."

Health books can benefit anyone wanting to improve an element of their health and wellbeing. "They can help readers feel more in control of their life," says Rainie. However, Rainie believes there are times when self-help or health books should be used with the guidance of a professional. For example, someone dealing with addiction, mental illness, poor health, or even weight loss issues should also seek advice from a professional therapist or medical expert. 

The best health books to give your body and mind a lift


Living well through the menopause by Myra Hunter and Melanie Smith

Menopause brings about many physical, mental, and emotional changes, which can make you feel like you're just keeping your head above water. Based on a wealth of research, this book uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help women understand and cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause, and how to live well through it. CBT is a proven effective alternative for women who do not want or are unable to use hormone therapy. 

Best for: Improving physical and mental health during menopause


Self-Care For Tough Times: How To Heal In Times Of Anxiety, Loss And Change by Suzy Reading

This book shows you how to be your own safe place during periods of stress, grief, loss, or change. It helps you develop a self-care toolkit to call on during difficult periods, such as relationship breakdown, illness or death in the family, financial strain or simply feeling exhausted by life. It addresses many of the rising mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and burnout, and includes practices to promote resilience, self-worth, and self-compassion.

Best for: Dealing with stress, grief, loss, change and transition 


The Calm Kitchen by Lorna Salmon

The foodie approach to self-care. This book reveals how mindful cooking, baking, foraging, and feasting can lead to better peace of mind, health, and wellbeing. Following the four seasons, it’s a beginners’ guide to reconnecting with nature through food, cookery, and ingredient sourcing. It includes a collection of 30 foolproof vegetarian recipes, as well as informative, insightful guides on the ingredients used and how they can benefit your physical and mental health. We love the Full Springlish – a brunch packed with green spring vegetables – and the antioxidant-rich blackcurrant and mint sorbet.

Best for: Healthy and mindful eating 


The Science of Sleep: Stop Chasing A Good Night’s Sleep And Let It Find You by Heather Darwall-Smith

Over a quarter of women have trouble falling asleep every night, according to a survey by Linen Bundle. Just one bad night’s sleep can cause irritability, brain fog, and anxiety, while longer-term sleep problems can severely impact our health. But, don't worry, this book promises that a restful slumber is achievable for everyone. By looking at the sociological, physiological, neurological, and psychological factors that might be impeding sleep, we can work out the lifestyle changes we need to make to allow ourselves to sleep naturally again.

Best for: Anyone wanting to know how to sleep better


The Lost Art Of Doing Nothing by Maartje Willems

Often our life can seem like one big to-do list. Most of us have lost the knack of kicking back and zoning out. Don’t worry, though, it seems the Dutch have figured out how we can reclaim our free time to properly rest and reset. Their best lifestyle secret 'Niksen' is the art of, well, doing nothing. It’s the opposite of productivity. While this may seem like an alien concept, this state of "active rest" can apparently calm our minds, improve our health, offer rest on hectic days, and boost our creativity.

Best for: Those wanting to hit the breaks and slow down


It’s Not A Diet by Davinia Taylor

Ex-actress Davina Taylor was overweight and unhappy after having four children – until she discovered biohacking as a way to overhaul her health. In this book, Davina shares how by taking a holistic approach to weight management, she was able to lose three stone in six months and, as a result, gained more energy than she’d ever had before. It’s Not A Diet is divided into sections covering mood, food, movement, and rest, with an easy reset plan so her advice can be put into action. 

Best for: A sustainable way to lose weight


Know Your Worth by Anna Mathur

Has your self-worth taken a nosedive? Or do you spend too much time worrying about what other people think of you? This easy-to-follow guide promises to restore rock-solid confidence so you can live a happy and authentic life that’s free from self-doubt. Author Anna explains the reasons behind cripplingly low self-esteem and shares the healthy habits, coping mechanisms, and everyday tips that really work to rebuild confidence levels.

Best for: Building self-confidence


The Brain Fitness Book by Rita Carter

It's proven that regularly challenging the brain keeps the mind fit and healthy and can delay age-related cognitive decline. The Brain Fitness book is a training manual for the mind that’s packed with logic puzzles and cognitive exercises to improve memory, beat brain fog, boost processing time and sharpen reasoning, thinking, and problem-solving skills. Follow the science-backed suggestions and you’ll discover exactly how the brain works and why quality sleep, diet, and exercise are also important factors for optimum brain health.

Best for: A healthy mind


I’m So Effing Tired by Dr Amy Shah

Constantly exhausted and struggling with feeling overwhelmed? Then you could be on the brink of burnout. In her must-read book, Dr. Amy Shah outlines a strategy that helps to build resilience against life’s major stressors. You’ll find anxiety-busting exercises, tips for revamping your diet, and easy ways to improve gut health in order to balance hormones and boost the immune system. Stick to the plan to gain a topped-up tank of energy to draw on when life gets stressful. 

Best for: Beating burnout.


Why Meditate? Because It Works by Jillian Lavender

There are countless studies showing that mindfulness has both physical and mental benefits – from easing anxiety and beating insomnia, to lowering blood pressure and improving focus. But what if you are yet to master the art of meditation? With this book, beginners can access the wisdom of expert meditation teacher Jillian Lavender, who explains the science behind the transformative technique, debunks some common myths, and lists tips for embarking on daily practice. 

Best for: Mindfulness

How to pick the right health book for you 

  • Pick a book that focuses on a specific topic or area of your life that you want to work on. Research and read reviews to get a clear understanding if the book can benefit you personally.
  • Look for books that interact with you and ask you questions to encourage your views and thoughts as you read. Great health books can give the same benefits of working with a life coach. 
  • Ask yourself these questions: Can you easily relate to the book? Does the author understand your problems? How can the advice help you?
  • Go in with an open mind. Health books are more helpful when the reader is invested in reading them and applying the helpful advice.

Natalia Lubomirski is a health journalist with 14 years experience in the publishing industry. She has worked for a number of well-known magazines and websites including Marie Claire, marieclaire.co.uk, woman&home, Top Sante, Boots and The Telegraph. 

She likes to think she practices what she preaches when it comes to health and fitness. She loves the great outdoors and you’ll often find her up a mountain somewhere. She’s climbed eight major mountain ranges across four continents and hit the summit of Half Dome (in Yosemite) during her honeymoon.