- The 33 Best Self-Help Books of All Time to Read at Any Age
Self-help books are all about change. A change of habits, character traits, or your physical appearance – you name it. The thing is, you have to make the change yourself .
Every New Year’s Eve, you commit to another version of “new year, new me.” But how does it look a few months later? Has it ever happened to you that you ended up resolving to make the same changes again the next year? Two years, three years, four years in a row? Inevitably, we’ll ask ourselves: How many times do I have to try this to succeed?
The honest answer is “Forever” – because there’ll always be new changes you want to make, a new person you’ll want to become. That’s perfectly okay. Growth is what life is all about. When it comes to making a certain set of new habits stick, however, there are proven methods, tools, tips, and tactics you can use. That way, you won’t get stuck trying to make a single transformation over and over again.
At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books , most of them in the self-improvement category. In the process, we’ve learned a thing or two about habits, and we’ve also discovered which books are most efficient at helping us adjust our behaviors to better serve our goals.
All in all, we’ve found 33 books that’ll support you in making the changes you want to make and achieving your full potential. In this list, we’ve curated them all – the 33 best self-help books of all time. These are the hardest hitters. They’ll drastically improve your life, no matter how old you are.
Self-help can be a tricky thing initially, but if you embrace it and stick with the process for the long run, it’ll yield great rewards. Changing yourself is a never-ending process. The books in our list will be a great starting point for your journey.
If you want to live your best life and become your most powerful self, here are the 33 best books you should dive into. Discover their secrets and make it happen!
Table of Contents
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
2. atomic habits by james clear, 3. thinking fast and slow by daniel kahneman, 4. the four agreements by don miguel ruiz, 5. the 7 habits of highly effective people by stephen r. covey, 6. best self by mike bayer, 7. the subtle art of not giving a f*ck by mark manson, 8. girl, wash your face by rachel hollis, 9. you are a badass by jen sincero, 10. 12 rules for life by jordan peterson, 11. the 48 laws of power by robert greene, 12. the courage to be disliked by ichiro kishimi & fumitake koga, 13. man’s search for meaning by viktor frankl, 14. how to stop worrying and start living by dale carnegie, 15. daring greatly by brene brown, 16. big magic by elizabeth gilbert, 17. quiet by susan cain, 18. the magic of thinking big by david joseph schwartz, 19. how to win friends and influence people by dale carnegie, 20. the 5 love languages by gary chapman, 21. deep work by cal newport, 22. getting things done by david allen, 23. who moved my cheese by spencer johnson, 24. rich dad poor dad by robert t. kiyosaki, 25. think and grow rich by napoleon hill, 26. the 4-hour workweek by tim ferriss, 27. outliers by malcolm gladwell, 28. the power of positive thinking by norman vincent peale, 29. the secret by rhonda byrne, 30. meditations by marcus aurelius, 31. the obstacle is the way by ryan holiday, 32. the power of now by eckhart tolle, 33. the life-changing magic of tidying up by marie kondo, other book lists by topic, other book lists by author, best books on self-help overall.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho
The Book in One Sentence
The Alchemist is a classic novel in which a boy named Santiago embarks on a journey seeking treasure in the Egyptian pyramids after having a recurring dream about it and on the way meets mentors, falls in love, and most importantly, learns the true importance of who he is and how to improve himself and focus on what really matters in life.
Why should you read it?
This novel presents a simple story, yet filled with wisdom. Concentrating on the theme of destiny and integrating mysterious characters, as well as important lessons, it compels the reader to wonder constantly and to come to the conclusion that destiny is what we make of it.
- Listen to your heart if you want your dreams to come true.
- Your fear is holding you back more than anything else.
- “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” — James Clear
Atomic Habits is the definitive guide to breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps, showing you how small, incremental, everyday routines compound into massive, positive change over time.
What does it take to form a habit? There is a lot of information out there in regards to this, but sometimes you might just not have the time to go through all of it. James Clear has put together this useful and practical book, for you to achieve more good habits and avoid the bad ones.
- Every time we perform a habit, we execute a four-step pattern: cue, craving, response, reward.
- If we want to form new habits, we should make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
- You can use a habit tracker as a fun way to measure your progress and make sure you don’t fall off the wagon.
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it” — Daniel Kahneman
Thinking Fast and Slow shows you how two systems in your brain are constantly fighting over control of your behavior and actions, and teaches you the many ways in which this leads to errors in memory, judgment and decisions, and what you can do about it. /em>
The human mind is a wonderful, yet still undiscovered place. But what Kahneman can tell you is that two systems form our thinking. If you are looking for a curious conversation about the human mind, this book will not only get you thinking but also transform the way you think.
- The biggest leaps in progress are vertical, not horizontal.
- Your brain is lazy and thus keeps you from using the full power of your intelligence.
- When you’re making decisions about money, leave your emotions at home.
“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive – the risk to be alive and express what we really are…” — Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements draws on the long tradition of the Toltecs, an ancient, indigenous people of Mexico, to show you that we have been domesticated from childhood, how these internal, guiding rules hurt us and what we can do to break and replace them with a new set of agreements with ourselves.
Our lives are usually conducted by a set of beliefs, and they can sometimes limit us and keep us away from our true calling. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, four agreements could help us transform the way we live our lives and experience its joys to the fullest. And if you are passionate about ancient wisdom, then this book might just be what you need.
- We’re domesticated from a young age and it leaves us living by a set of rules we haven’t chosen ourselves.
- What people say and do to you is a reflection on them, not you. Know who you are and you won’t take things personally.
- There are three ways to break your old agreements and live with new ones you choose yourself.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” — Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People teaches you both personal and professional effectiveness by changing your view of how the world works and giving you 7 habits, which, if adopted well, will lead you to immense success.
Taking control of your life might seem like a difficult thing to do without the proper advice. But Covey has put together a few pieces of advice to help people achieve exactly what they want, from proactivity to success in both their professional and personal lives.
- Do the funeral test.
- Learn how to say no.
- Practice active listening.
“It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.” — Mike Bayer
Best Self will help you become the hero you’ve always wanted to be by teaching you how to be honest with yourself about what you desire, identify your toxic anti-self, and discover the traits of the greatest possible version of you that you can imagine.
Do people change in order to become happier? If you are unsure how to answer this question, Coach Mike’s book might be a good starting point, as it will help you put into perspective where exactly your life is. Knowing where you stand can show you what you need to do and where to head to live a better life. Has this book made it to your “must-read” list yet?
- Don’t worry if you never learned how to reach your full potential, simply start now by defining the version of yourself that would make you happiest.
- Help yourself first so you can take great care of other people.
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for” — Mark Manson
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck does away with the positive psychology craze to instead give you a Stoic, no bullshit approach to living a life that might not always be happy, but meaningful and centered only around what’s important to you.
Nowadays, wherever you turn your head, you hear that positivity is the key to living a happy and fulfilled life. But according to Mark Manson, this might be a flawed way of thinking and he will tell you that in a raw voice that will make you rethink all that you know about living a happy life.
- Values you can’t control are bad values to follow.
- Don’t believe you know anything with certainty, for it keeps you from improving.
- Trying to leave a legacy might ruin your life.
Best Self Help Books for Women
“You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” — Rachel Hollis
Girl, Wash Your Face inspires women to take their lives into their own hands and make their dreams happen, no matter how discouraged they may feel at the moment.
Women deal with a lot of things that might not be visible to other people. In this book, Hollis makes use of a soft, yet empowering tone that helps women remove themselves from any mentality that might destroy their self-confidence and helps them stay on top of things, even when they seem to crumble. A book that is filled with honesty and humor, as well as precious advice.
- Build the habit of keeping your promises to yourself because breaking them pulls you down.
- Rather than fighting the river of chaotic home life, learn to embrace it.
- Visualize your dreams and focus on them in detail to stay motivated to make them happen.
“You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.” ― Jen Sincero
You Are A Badass helps you become self-aware, figure out what you want in life and then summon the guts to not worry about the how, kick others’ opinions to the curb and focus your life on the thing that will make you happy.
Improving your life might sound like a tedious thing to do, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. Jen Sincero has written this book exactly for those people – the ones who want to change their lives, but not in a hard way. Making use of stories and pieces of advice, as well as easy exercises, this book promises to be a good starting point in your life-changing journey.
- Decide you’ll stop caring what other people think. Right. now.
- Figure out what you want but don’t obsess about how you’ll get there.
- If your habits, surroundings and friends don’t support you, it’s time to change them.
Best Self Help Books for Men
“It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable.” — Jordan Peterson
12 Rules For Life is a stern, story-based, and entertaining self-help manual for young people that lays out a set of simple principles that can help us become more disciplined, behave better, act with integrity, and balance our lives while enjoying them as much as we can.
Sometimes, life can get rather chaotic and some things just don’t seem to make sense. Not to mention those burning questions that nobody seems to have an answer to. But according to Dr. Peterson, there are some things everybody should know and he explains them in a humorous and informative way in this stunning book.
- Sweep in front of your own door before pointing out the street is dirty.
- Treat yourself like a child you’re responsible for.
- Aim to do what is meaningful, not convenient.
“Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.” — Robert Greene
The 48 Laws Of Power draws on many of history’s most famous power quarrels to show you what power looks like, how you can get it, what to do to defend yourself against the power of others and, most importantly, how to use it well and keep it.
What constitutes power? Is it a set of black and white moral views? Or is it a set of gray moral views, the ones that some people never really talk about? This challenging book puts into perspective a synthesis of philosophies and historical legacies that might be surprising to the reader. Are you curious yet?
- Always make superiors look smarter than you.
- Confuse competitors by acting unpredictably.
- Don’t force others to do what you want, seduce them instead.
Best Self Help Books for 20-Somethings
“The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness.” — Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga
The Courage to be Disliked is a Japanese analysis of the work of 19th-century psychologist Alfred Adler, who established that happiness lies in the hands of each human individual and does not depend on past traumas.
Is it that easy to liberate our real selves and be happy, despite past experiences and doubts that might have shaped us differently? This book offers precious insight in terms of what we need to do to let go of any burdens that might keep us away from who we truly are.
- It’s dangerous to believe that your past determines your future.
- If you focus on what’s wrong with you, you might be looking for reasons to hate yourself on purpose.
- Most of what we think of as competition is just made up and hurting our happiness.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” — Viktor Frankl
Man’s Search For Meaning details holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s horrifying experiences in Nazi concentration camps, along with his psychological approach of logotherapy, which is also what helped him survive and shows you how you can – and must – find meaning in your life.
Do you ever wonder what is exactly that people are pursuing? Could it be anything we find meaningful or is it just something that brings us happiness and pleasure? Written by a psychiatrist, this book wants to inspire us to find something meaningful not just when it comes to things, but when it comes to your life.
- Sometimes the only way to survive is to surrender to death..
- Your life has its own meaning and it’s up to you to find it.
- Use paradoxical intention to make your fears go away.
“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember: Life is too short to be little.” — Dale Carnegie
How To Stop Worrying And Start Living is a self-help classic which addresses one of the leading causes of physical illness, worry, by showing you simple and actionable techniques to eliminate it from your life.
Do you feel like you are constantly worrying and that this is taking its toll on you? This book might help you cope with those feelings, by making use of simple, yet effective techniques that can bring you peace. You might also find out the golden rule for conquering any kind of worry – but that will not be spoiled here.
- Use a 3-step approach to deal with confusion and you’ll eliminate the worry caused by it.
- Put a stop-loss on stress and grief.
- Take criticism as compliments.
Best Self Help Books for Self Esteem
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” — Brene Brown
Daring Greatly is a book about having the courage to be vulnerable in a world where everyone wants to appear strong, confident and like they know what they’re doing.
Embracing our vulnerabilities can be a difficult thing to do, but once we learn how to do that, we find out that we can dare to do anything. Dr. Brene Brown has come up with a powerful vision that encourages us to do exactly that: overcome our insecurities and learn how to live our lives fearlessly.
- Vulnerability means strength, not weakness.
- Understand and verbalize your shame to make it go away.
- Children can only become who you are, so be a role model.
“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic is the book that’ll give you the courage you need to pursue your creative interests by showing you how to deal with your fears, notice ideas and act on them and take the stress out of creation.
Inspiration is a mysterious thing, but that’s what makes it so interesting. And Elizabeth Gilbert knows that, which is why she has written this book. In Big Magic, she tries to show us how to embrace who we are and to find those hidden things inside us, which can help us accomplish wonderful and unimaginable things. Filled with wonder and with a sense of joy, this book might be what you need to let go of your fears and live in a way that inspires you to change.
- Let your fears coexist with your passions.
- Give yourself permission to create.
- Keep your day job to fuel your creative affair.
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” — Susan Cain
Quiet shows the slow rise of the extrovert ideal for success throughout the 20th century, while making a case for the underappreciated power of introverts and showing up new ways for both forces to cooperate.
There are people in the world who prefer to listen, rather than talk. Or people who have greater results on their own, rather than inside a team. And those people are most likely introverts. Susan Cain presents us in this book with stories about those quiet people and promises to give us a different perspective in regards to how we perceive these quiet people.
- Whether you like small talk or not is part of your personality type.
- Western cultures portray extroversion as the ideal of success.
- Companies need to adjust their workplaces to introverts as well.
“Do what you fear and fear disappears.” — David Joseph Schwartz
The Magic Of Thinking Big gives you several starting points to develop and strengthen the most important trait of successful people: believing in yourself.
What do you need in order to become successful? Is it talent or intellect or is it just a habit of thinking in such a way that all you’ve ever wanted will be sitting right in front of you? Dr. Schwartz has put together a few useful methods to achieve all those things you want but never dared to get: from a good job to a good life.
- Always be open to new ideas.
- Learn something new whenever you can.
- Ask yourself “How can I do a better job today?” every day.
Best Self Help Books About Relationships
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” — Dale Carnegie
How To Win Friends And Influence People teaches you countless principles to become a likable person, handle your relationships well, win others over and help them change their behavior without being intrusive.
Making things work to your advantage doesn’t have to be just a dream. All the things you have in mind can happen and all you need is to follow the solid advice Dale Carnegie has to offer in this bestseller. How to make friends, how to win people by making use of the way you think. and how to change people – these are all things you will encounter in this book.
- You can make a great first impression just by smiling.
- To be interesting to others, talk about their favorite topic: themselves.
- If you want to convince people, get them to say yes a lot.
“True love cannot beging until the “in love” experience has run its course” — Gary Chapman
The 5 Love Languages shows couples how to make their love last by learning to recognize the unique way their partner feels love.
Love is a curious thing, and it can even be deemed as challenging sometimes. But there is a secret to keep things going and this book contains it. Filled with practical examples, Dr. Chapman’s approach will help you experience a deeper connection with your partner and also discover the love language of both you and your partner, through a Couple’s Personal Profile assessment.
- As your relationship matures, communication is key.
- There are 5 different ways people give and show love.
- Identify your and your partner’s love language to deepen intimacy.
Best Self Help Books About Productivity
“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive – no matter how skilled or talented you are.” — Cal Newport
Deep Work proposes that we have lost our ability to focus deeply and immerse ourselves in a complex task, showing you how to cultivate this skill again and focus more than ever before with four simple rules.
There is a valuable skill out there that could you get the best results in whatever you do. Being able to focus without being distracted can seem like a difficult thing to do, but it is a very powerful skill that could help you achieve your goals and unexpected results. If you want to find out more about this skill, Cal Newport’s book might be a good starting point.
- There are four strategies for deep work, all of which require intention.
- Productive meditation can help you work deeper, even while you’re taking a break.
- Stop working at the same time each day.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” — David Allen
Getting Things Done is a manual for stress-free productivity, which helps you set up a system of lists, reminders and weekly reviews, in order to free your mind from having to remember tasks and to-dos and instead let it work at full focus on the task at hand.
Things change daily and that can sometimes become overwhelming and even frustrating. But that doesn’t always have to be the case, as David Allen depicts. Filled with methods that will help our productivity reach its peak, even in the case of stressful situations, this book will help you get things done, under any circumstances.
- Use a “collection bucket” to store things outside your mind and stay focused.
- Create a “next actions” list for all your projects to avoid thinking in the moment.
- Do a weekly review of everything, or else!
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” — Spencer Johnson
Who Moved My Cheese tells a parable, which you can directly apply to your own life, in order to stop fearing what lies ahead and instead thrive in an environment of change and uncertainty.
This is not your usual guide, but rather an amusing story that will put things into perspective. You are in a maze and there’s a block of cheese in front of you. Your life is the maze and the cheese is the prize, but there is a tricky thing about it – you constantly have to chase it. Just as it is in life, this story puts into perspective the challenges we have to deal with in order to reach our goals. But what’s the moral of the story? You’ll discover it when you read this book!
- Thinking too much about your cheese might paralyze you, so just start looking.
- Nothing lasts forever, so keep your eyes open for approaching changes.
- You can always find new cheese, and the minute you start moving things will get better.
Best Self Help Books About Money
“The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play not to lose. They don’t play to win.” — Robert T. Kiyosaki
Rich Dad Poor Dad tells the story of a boy with two fathers, one rich, one poor, to help you develop the mindset and financial knowledge you need to build a life of wealth and freedom.
As a child, growing up, your views and thoughts are usually shaped by your parents. And in this book, Robert tells the story of how his views about money and how they were shaped by his two dads, one of them being his real father and the other one, his best friend’s father. Money makes the world go round, but how do you deal with them? Read this book to find out.
- Get a real financial education if you ever want to exit the “rat race” and stop living paycheck to paycheck.
- Stop saying “I can’t afford it” and instead focus all your energy on answering the question “how can I afford it?”
- Get more assets, which are anything that brings in more money, and pay off all liabilities, which are anything that takes your money away.
“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill
Think And Grow Rich is a curation of the 13 most common habits of wealthy and successful people, distilled from studying over 500 individuals over the course of 20 years.
In life, you have to take certain steps to achieve your goals and there is also a point where you have to avoid certain steps to be successful. Filled with timeless information and pieces of advice that might take you far, this book is a must-read for your personal development.
- Use autosuggestion to build an unshakable belief in yourself.
- Be stubborn and always stick to your decisions.
- Join a Mastermind group to cut the learning curve.
Best Self Help Books for Business
“Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.” — Tim Ferriss
The 4-Hour Workweek is the step-by-step blueprint to free yourself from the shackles of a corporate job, create a business to fund the lifestyle of your dreams, and live life like a millionaire, without actually having to be one.
The world keeps changing, but some things seem to always stay the same. If you feel that your business is trapping you in a life that is not the best for you or if you just feel overworked, while other people seem to be doing very little and are living their lives to the fullest, you might want to dive into this book and find out exactly what you might be doing wrong.
- Be effective, not efficient.
- Validate all of your business ideas.
- Charge a premium to make your life easier.
“Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from” — Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers explains why “the self-made man” is a myth and what truly lies behind the success of the best people in their field, which is often a series of lucky events, rare opportunities and other external factors, which are out of our control.
Are those considered high achievers different from the rest of the world? Malcolm Gladwell answers this question and not only, in a book that puts into perspective the background of those high achieving people. According to him, being that kind of person is not just about what you are like, but so much more. Are you curious to find out the secrets of all these great people?
- After you cross a certain skill threshold, your abilities won’t help you.
- The month you’re born in matters.
- Asians are good at math, because where you come from matters.
Best Self Help Books for Positive Thinking
“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.” — Norman Vincent Peale
The Power of Positive Thinking will show you that the roots of success lie in the mind and teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by taking control of your thoughts and changing your attitude.
You usually hear people saying that you should have faith in yourself, and that alone will bring you to the point you want to reach. But what if you had more faith in action? Filled with practical advice, this book will help you clear your mind and realize that sometimes, you just have to let yourself believe.
- Start with confidence and watch your problems shrink.
- Your world is nothing more than the thoughts you have about your experiences.
- In order to live worry-free, first imagine a worry-free life.
“Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.” — Rhonda Byrne
The Secret explains how the law of attraction governs your thinking and actions, and how you can use it to achieve whatever you desire in life.
The world is a magical place and it is filled with secrets that can make us understand our power and how to properly use it. All these secrets form what is called The Secret, which contains words of wisdom and powerful wisdom which will help you overcome any difficulties you might encounter in your life.
- The law of attraction is one of the most prevalent principles in the world.
- To use the law of attraction, you must think about what you want, not what you want to avoid.
- The three steps of the law of attraction are asking, believing, and receiving.
Best Self Help Books About Stoicism
“Put an end once for all to this discussion of what a good man should be, and be one.” — Marcus Aurelius
Meditations is a collection of 12 books written by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who’ll introduce you to Stoic philosophy, the concept of logic, self-discipline and give you faith that the course the world runs is a good one.
A remarkable collection of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, this book will help you realize that simple and true ideas might be the most important things to live life to the fullest extent. Things are temporary, and so are people and their feelings, but what is not temporary is the work we put into developing ourselves. An enlightening read, this book will provide you with some challenging beliefs.
- Logic doesn’t always make sense, but everything happens for a reason.
- Life is too short to complain.
- The only pain you suffer is the one you create yourself.
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” — Ryan Holiday
The Obstacle Is The Way is a modern take on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, which helps you endure the struggles of life with grace and resilience by drawing lessons from ancient heroes, former presidents, modern actors, athletes, and how they turned adversity into success, thanks to the power of perception, action and will.
You might ask yourself, is there a way to transform obstacles into actual opportunities? Ryan Holiday shows us in this book that there is a way for us to turn different situations into victories, as impossible as they might seem at the beginning. And all of this, by making use of different philosophical principles.
- Imagine you’re advising yourself as a friend to keep an objective perspective.
- Large obstacles have large weaknesses – identify them and use them against them.
- Use your will to accept what you cannot change and change the things you can.
Best Self Help Books About Mindfulness
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” — Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now shows you that every minute you spend worrying about the future or regretting the past is a minute lost, because really all you have to live in is the present, the now, and gives you actionable strategies to start living every minute as it occurs.
Is living in the present moment the key to a happy life? According to Eckhart Tolle, this might just be what we need – to be conscious and to live in the moment. Employing useful information and ideas which prove to be inspirational, this guidebook will inspire you to change your life for the better.
- Life is just a series of present moments.
- All pain is a result of resistance to the things you cannot change.
- You can free yourself from pain by constantly observing your mind and not judging your thoughts.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” — Marie Kondo
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up takes you through the process of simplifying, organizing and storing your belongings step by step, to make your home a place of peace and clarity.
Your environment dictates your mood. And it also applies to your home – if your home is cluttered with all sorts of things, your mood might be affected by it. Tidying up your house might help you reach a feeling of calmness and to change your mindset – all for the better.
- Move from easy to hard items when considering what to keep.
- YODO – you only declutter once (if you do it right).
- Ask yourself a few simple questions for each item.
That concludes our list of the best self-improvement books. We hope we managed to give you a bit of insight into what self help means and how to do it right. We’re confident that these 33 books will help you figure out where to start and how to become the person you want to be.
Letting go of certain beliefs or ideas might be scary, but when you take a leap, you’ll discover parts of yourself you never knew existed. Knowing yourself and changing yourself is not a piece of cake, but it will bring out your most remarkable sides.
What idea spoke most to you in our list? Which book presented it the best? Take that idea and put it into practice, and you’ll find yourself improving immediately!
Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:
- The 20 Best Entrepreneurship Books to Start, Grow & Run a Successful Business
- The 14 Best Finance Books of All Time
- The 21 Best Habit Books of All Time to Change Any Behavior
- The 33 Best Happiness Books of All Time That Everyone Should Read
- The 60 Best History Books of All Time (to Read at Any Age)
- The 7 Best Inspirational Books That Will Light Your Inner Fire
- The 40 Best Leadership Books of All Time to Help You Become a Truly Inspiring Person
- The 31 Best Motivational Books Ever Written
- The 35 Best Philosophy Books to Live Better and Become a Great Thinker
- The 34 Best Psychology Books That Will Make You Smarter and Happier
- The 25 Best Sales Books of All Time to Help You Close Any Deal
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Top 13 Best Self Improvement Books to Win at Life (2023 Edition)
By Catherine Nyorani
Updated on January 11, 2023
We all want to be happy and win in this life , and self improvement books can be a vital catalyst for many such victories.
Self-help books contain precious nuggets penned by experts and people who love to share strategies that worked for them. You can glean wisdom from them to catapult you to your next level in life.
Whether it’s a battle with depression, a marriage in the doldrums, parenting challenges, or a dilemma over a career choice. Name it. A therapeutic self-help book will prove almost as valuable as a life coach.
With so many books in print, choosing the right self-help book can be a problem added to the one you’re trying to solve. But don’t worry. We’ll help you navigate through the maze of multiple publications and offer you the finest selection of the best self improvement books for men and women alike.
How we picked the best self improvement books
Type in “the best self-help books” on Amazon. What do you get? Pages and pages of books promising to help you help yourself. At this point, you’re probably spoilt for choice. And rightly so. There are so many options to pick from, right?
Unfortunately, not all the options are great reads. Some are a collection of recycled information regurgitated in a non-inspiring way. Some promise but deliver air. And some are more demoralizing than they are empowering.
Related Reading: How to Make Friends as an Adult
Thankfully, we’re here to help you sift the wheat from the chaff.
- Picking a self-improvement book depends on the problem you’re trying to solve. There are texts dedicated to solving money problems, others offer guidance on love matters and some speak on family issues among other areas. So before you make your purchase, ascertain that the self improvement book addresses your concerns.
- Next, conduct a background check on the authors to verify their experience, background, or professional expertise on the subject matter. For instance, a book authoritatively promising to make you a millionaire, authored by a person reeling from bankruptcy should be a red flag.
- Lastly, pick a book written in a style suitable for your consumption. Grasp a book whose content delivery is easy to understand, relatable, and the examples or principles applicable. Look out for content that’s actionable, fluff-free, and that has valuable reviews from an authentic audience.
Top Self Improvement Books
Here’s our list of the top 13 proven confidence boosters from some of the best self-help authors. Sit back, read and enjoy.
#1 – If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? – Raj Raghunathan
This mind-opening book is based on research. Research that attempts at answering the time-honored question, if you’re smart, why aren’t you happy.
Raj analyzed his old MBA classmates’ lives fifteen years after their graduation to find out whether their academic success translated to career success . The results showed pretty little correlation between the two.
He went further to investigate whether career success led to “life success” or happiness. He discovered the relationship here was even more dismal. Hence begging the question, “Why are men so successful in business yet not happy?”
People generally presume that intelligent people are capable of making better decisions in life. Decisions that should lead to a happier life. But the reality, according to Raj’s findings, was proving otherwise.
He delves into seven common tendencies that successful people need to be wary of and proposes seven alternative habits they need to embrace.
The author concludes that generosity and appreciating uncertainty can go a long way in boosting your happiness. He also asserts that success rarely determines one’s level of happiness.
Get this self improvement book for fresh perspectives on how to enjoy a happier life today.
#2 – Make Your Bed – Admiral William H. McRaven
The book sprung from a Texas University graduation speech that hit the social media scene like a wild bushfire.
Admiral Willian H. McRaven is a retired navy seal who makes a passionate argument drawn from accessible and relatable examples on the building blocks to a successful life.
He emphasizes how the little conquest through the mundane tasks of everyday life builds up to your holistic success.
The book’s approach is compassionate and realistic. He encourages you to conquer the little things, like making your bed, to step out in confidence on the path to success. The approach demystifies success as an unattainable ideal in the distant future making it accessible to everyone who dares to try.
The book lists 10 simple tasks that can change you and possibly impact the world. You can change the world one step at a time, with the first step at your bedside.
A good read for anyone seeking inspiration and victory in everyday life.
#3 – Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones – James Clear
Old habits die hard. But not so hard for James Clear .
In Atomic Habits, he draws a clear roadmap to breaking free from old habits and establishing a successful routine.
A proven expert in habit development, Clear employs scientific reality sprinkled with a generous amount of humor to help you understand how to break free from old habits.
He provides practical tips for breaking free from a toxic habit and how to adopt a more desirable habit.
Embracing a new mindset towards the habit you intend to obliterate from your life is crucial. Whether it’s the need to adopt a new diet, fitness routine, or to quit drinking or smoking, he proposes a better way at attaining a breakthrough.
His approach is both practical and persuasive.
It’s not that your goals are unattainable, or that you’re incapable of reaching your desired peak performance. It’s the system you’re using to reach them that needs fixing.
James Clear makes a compelling case for his strategy using an assortment of case studies from accomplished olympian sportsmen, global business magnates, successful comedians, and world-class physicians.
Read with caution; you might never be the same again.
#4 – How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece How to Win Friends & Influence People has sold over 45 million copies since it was published in 1936. There must be a compelling case for the text to remain so popular ever since.
Carnegie’s main point is to be good to people and you’ll be likable and have influence over them. Sounds rather pedestrian. Doesn’t it?
He goes ahead to demonstrate how that actually works. That’s where the rubber meets the road. In this text that concentrates classical wisdom, Dale unlocks principles for creating influence and impact that seem hidden in plain sight. He encourages people not to criticize, condemn, or complain in order to be likable.
Dale furnishes you with 6 rules that will make people like you and 12 tips on making people follow your way of thinking. He then suggests 9 ways to influence people to do what you want them to do willingly.
By changing your habits, happier life at home, in the office, managing a team, in business, or politics is within reach.
Warren Buffet is one of the beneficiaries of Dale’s wisdom which he credits for success in his life and business.
Dale’s admonitions were brewed in the pot of real-life experience as a successful businessman. He was a proficient speaker and a prolific salesman.
This book is one of the greatest bestsellers of all time ; a must-read.
#5 – Declutter Your Mind – S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
A masterpiece on how to dispel negative thinking and create room in your mind for positive vibes.
This book is best suited for those whose lives are typified by endless worrying. Scott and Barrie draw their reasoning from a scientific backdrop to conclude that your anxieties are offsprings of a cluttered mind.
The authors prescribe practical steps you can take to declutter your mind. You begin by focussing on those aspects of your life that deserve your attention; set your priorities right. You proceed to declutter your mind by waving off your mind those thoughts that do not warrant your concern.
The reason you’re bogged down in thought, worry, and stress is because the mind is cluttered with unnecessary items that need to be hurled over to the trash bag. By learning to apply these principles, you free up “free” space in your mind for inner peace. With such a mindset you can stay calm and make better decisions in life.
An essential resource to teach you how to eliminate the unnecessary mental load of worry and anxiety…together with its accompanying emotional consequences.
#6 – Beyond Mars and Venus – John Gray
“ Beyond Mars and Venus ” is John Gray’s follow-up book to his 1992 classical book on relationships, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. The book stands out as one of the best self improvement books ever written on relationships.
Although the mainstay of the book is romantic relationships, the understanding of how women and men uniquely communicate has found application in formal business communication.
Over time, relationships have evolved. The traditional definitions of men and women in relationships have undergone certain levels of change. This book by John Gray attempts to make updates on these changes.
Women are learning to optimize their masculine capabilities while men are also learning to tap into their feminine potential. These complexes bring with them fresh challenges as partners in a romantic relationship are no just seeking a “role mate” but a “soul mate”.
A man will learn the art of being better at romance while being more thoughtful and dependable to his partner.
#7 – Awaken the Giant Within – Tonny Robbins
Tonny Robbins is a world-famous motivational speaker, author, coach, and philanthropist. He is a self-help master wizard.
Robbins has a way around provoking you to greatness. That’s why his books are hot cake. Wildly popular. Among the best self improvement books you could ever read.
The pages of this book are an invitation to greatness by calling you out from a slumber of mediocrity. A proven peak performance guru, and internationally sought speaker, Tonny demonstrates what you need to do to have the steering wheel over your emotions, finances, body, and relationships.
The techniques to unlocking the best that you can be are practical and effective. In this step-by-step guide, you will discover what you’re here for, and you’ll take charge of your life, and be an active participant in your destiny.
Take hold of life NOW.
#8 – Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds – David Goggins
David Goggin ’s very life is inspirational having come from a background of extreme poverty and painful abuse. He has emerged from the shadows to become a powerful motivational speaker and author who not only tells us it can be done but demonstrates how in this read that’s perhaps one of the best self-improvement books.
David is a bundle of endurance, resilience, and motivation. He’s a great marathoner and a retired navy seal. The virtues he exhibits seem contagious as you devour the contents of this inspirational book.
This book will shock you off any self-pity cocoon and stretch you up to overcome the limitations of a twisted-world.
#9 – Get out of Your Own Way – Dr. Mark Goulston and co-author Philip Goldberg
Deal a death blow to your self-limiting habits. Here’s the weapon.
Dr. Mark Goulston , a psychiatrist, and Philip Goldberg hand you actionable tips that have been tried and tested.
Through the pages of this self improvement book, they help you overcome 40 self-defeating behaviors and come out victorious. By tackling common issues that we all face on a day-to-day basis, the text is practical, relevant, and relatable.
Some of the vices that the book helps you confront include fear, procrastination, lethargy, self-pity, anger, guilt, obsession, rebellion, jealousy, and many more.
#10 – The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face – Patrick M. Morley
This award-winning book has remained a timeless gem since it was first published in 1989. With over 4 million copies in print, it’s definitely an indispensable resource worth reading.
Drawing many of his lessons from Biblical references, Patrick M Morley urges men to have a look at themselves in the mirror with a view of fixing whatever areas fall short. As you look into the mirror and make amendments, you become a better man in the family and society.
Patrick zooms in on 24 specific problem areas for men. With insightful wisdom and practical tips, he helps men confront wide-ranging issues that are common landmines for men; finances, making choices, accountability, temperamental challenges, and handling broken relationships.
As you read this book, you’ll appreciate why it’s appeared on the bestseller list close to 20 times with over 4 million copies in print.
#11 – You are a Badass – Jen Sincero
Jen delivers this refreshing 27- chapter-guide spiced up with humor. As you get entertained, you’re getting made into this awesome person who takes charge of their lives.
The book digs deep touching on insecurities and their root causes.
Create the kind of life you’d like to live. Learn to embrace with humility the things that you can’t change while working on those things you’d rather not live with.
At the end of the day, the book, one of the best self improvement books in the market, will help you realize more personal success and satisfaction, as you boost your earnings. Who wouldn’t want that?
#12 – Who Moved my Cheese? – Spencer Johnson
A fun-filled golden-oldie with an interesting twist on managing change. Anyone going through any major change in life must have this book .
The simple story brings out profound revelation about change. It revolves around 4 characters living in a maze, which depicts our world. They’re busy chasing around for cheese to stay happy. The cheese is an equivalent of the daily necessities we seek after; money, power, relationships, job, status, and the like.
The gist of the story is based on their reaction when unanticipated changes deprive them of their cheeses. Profound lessons can be learned from their reactions to help us cope wi8th changes in our everyday lives.
The only thing that’s constant in our fast-paced world is change. The book provides an excellent lesson in change management.
Rather than dwell on the past, identify change and prepare for it so that you make the most out of it with less stress.
#13 – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
A timeless classic by Stephen R. Covey buttressed on solid principles that have stood the test of time.
You’ll thank yourself for getting the insights propounded by Covey for confronting and solving personal and professional challenges.
The book centers on an inward quality that produces a positive habit. The focus is on increasing an individual’s effectiveness thus making them more successful in life.
Covey lays down seven habits that if well employed can propel any individual to success. The principles are: be proactive; begin with the end in mind; prioritizing first things first; embracing a win-win mindset; endeavoring to understand others first than to be understood; synergizing; sharpening the saw.
It’s a step after step roadmap to living a dignified life characterized by fairness and virtue.
While merely reading a book cannot automatically change you and make your life better, the best self-improvement books have a way of stirring within you the urge to get up and take action to improve yourself.
Have you read any of these books that we’ve listed above? How did it impact your life? Share with us in the comment section below. And feel free to recommend any other great self-help book we may have missed on our list.
He mentioned good books. But, there is no place for Brian Tracy’s books in this list. Eat that frog Time Management
At the moment, I’m reading Atomic Habits book, by James Clear. I’ve also decided to make reading a habit and researching for books to read led me here.
Mostly I wanted to leave a comment so I can thank you for this perfect article. It was exactly what I was looking. A list of great self improvement books with explanation on how you come up with the list and what each books focuses on.
So thank you for doing hard work and researching this instead of me, Catherine Nyorani, and thank you thecoolist!
Very good article. The Aware Self: A Compendium Of Conscious Living is another great self-help book. Different from the rest.
Have you read my recently released book, “I’m Old, I’m Wise & I Know My Sh*t”? I was an agony aunt for 7 years as part of my duties as magazine editor. The tear-stained letters I received 20 years ago are still relevant today. Which was why I wrote this book and rewrote it 21 times. Could you vet my book? ISBN 9789390924769. Published in India by Amaryllis, English wing of Manjul Publishing House, which has signed a contract with me to publish a Hindi translation.
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38 best self-improvement books to read in 2023.
I remember the first time I got my hands on self-improvement books. I was baffled. At that moment, I realized my fate was not set in stone. I could become my own drill master and coach. The best self-improvement books that I read would set out the training course for me to overcome. All I had to do was listen to that voice that aspired to climb higher and higher.
Every time I committed to a new challenge, I knew it was going to be outside of my comfort zone. But after enough iterations, I also knew it will not just be part of my repertoire, it will be part of me .
Not all personal development books are made equal. Some help in starting you out on your journey, others give you a boost when you’ve achieved experience in certain areas.
Best Self-Improvement Books to Read
Here are the best self-help books that I recommend to read no matter how old you are:
1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? by Seth Godin
This is one of the best books for self-improvement. Unlike most self-improvement books, this one targets an infinite array of areas in which you can, and ultimately must, improve.
With its ruthless honesty and genuine inspiration, Godin makes you ponder the difficult questions you wouldn’t ever dare to ask yourself. The result is a completely new perspective of the world- a fresher, more vibrant perspective, packed with new and bold possibilities.
If you need a friend who understands you, a boss that forces you to venture deep in your non-comfort zone, a wise guru that tells you what needs to be left behind and a sage that proclaims the coming of a new age, then look no further; you will find these shrewd voices all tied together in this magnificent book. Make sure to get this one.
2. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Perhaps it is the fact that randomness played such a significant role in my years as a poker player that I find this book utterly important.
We often attribute skill where there is only luck; we confuse correlation with causation and we underestimate the incredible effect small changes can have.
This book gave me a perspective that I unfortunately rarely encounter in others: you can do everything right and still lose, or do everything wrong and still win. It is thus not about the outcome; it is about your actions that have lead you there.
This important message is central to many of my decisions I make in my life. This book by Taleb helps you develop such a perspective so you will be able to live in a world one cannot fully understand, where the results are not always clear markers of performance and where chance seems to play games with our fates. Stop being fooled by randomness!
3. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
I read this book in a time where I thought power was something I should attain. Power for power’s sake. And while I disagree with my former self on this point, the fact remains that power is very real, it forms the invisible scepter of all hierarchical relations around us .
I still recommend this book. I believe it is important to know how people use power for their own benefit and what to do to protect yourself from certain abuses of power.
Besides the fact that all stories in this book gravitate around power. It contains many life lessons, amazing historical anecdotes. If read in a certain light, the ability to use power for good.
From Caesar to Goethe, Sun-Tzu to Machiavelli, this eye opening book spans a wide range of human development. If you, like me, would rather be interested in something less egotistical, perhaps Greene’s latest book Mastery will suffice (I haven’t read that one myself).
Another great self-development book in the same style, but this time around; covering a wider scope, and perhaps, something that will make the world make a better place.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen. R. Covey
The title of this book doesn’t capture it all. Covey shares with us seven habits one should adapt to become truly effective in whatever you would like to achieve.
Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. He stresses the fact that we need to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in how we perceive the world and ourselves.
This book can be read as a guide, with practices and everything, to go through the stages in order to make such a shift happen. Part shock-therapy, part ageless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is packed with wisdom that actually makes a difference.
And as I mentioned, don’t let the title of the book fool you; it is about much more than just becoming more effective. It is about becoming a whole integer person who not only seeks the best in oneself, but also in the people around her.
A must read for anyone who feels there is always something left to learn.
5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by James Fadiman
While finding a book on psychedelics in this list of books on self-improvement might come as a surprise, I believe any metaphysical distinction between tools such as books, meditation or molecules hold no ground. They should all be solely judged on their merits. And the merits of certain chemical keys, used in a constructive way, are perhaps bigger than any book in this list.
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide will teach you how to prepare yourself and your surroundings, what and how much to take, and what do when something goes wrong. So you can safely enhance your thinking, creativity, introspection and emotional balance.
This book contains everything you need to know about using psychedelics as a tool for self-improvement while drawing on extensive scientific literature and personal wisdom. A must have for the beginning and experienced psychonaut alike.
6. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
We all know how that destructive downward spiral feels.
We have to do some big tasks of which the thought alone triggers resistance. We aren’t sure how and where to begin and feeling overwhelmed before we even start. We get easily distracted to get rid of that feeling, only to suddenly realize that hours went by- precious hours- and then find ourselves in the same position as before, still not knowing where and how to begin, but now, feeling guilty on top of it which expresses itself in more craving for distraction.
To break this spell of procrastination before it paralyzes us, Tracy advises us to Eat That Frog: to set our priorities straight, deconstruct larger tasks into smaller ones, learn when to tackle the big frog first or to start out with something else.
Tracy is truly a motivational speaker and one of the best personal development writers. While I wished he had gone a bit deeper into the psychological reasons why people procrastinate, it is still a must have for anyone who wants to break the spell and get shit done.
7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
A from 1937, this book by Hill is a masterpiece. Don’t bother with the edited versions since they all omit important and controversial information: some historical, and some pertaining to the goal of the book, which is to think and grow rich.
The word rich might imply that this book is all about material gain, and while it certainly covers that area, it is about much more than that.
This is perhaps the first explicit mention of positive thinking on how to care not just about the cash in your pocket, but also the thoughts in your head.
This book for self-development has been able to withstand the destruction of time. It covers all the basics from planning, decision making and persistence, to the more advanced techniques as auto-suggestion, transmutation and what we can learn from fear.
This is not a grow rich book, but a timeless guide to find out what actually matters . As it says clearly in the beginning ‘ Riches can’t always be measured in money!’
8. The Attention Revolution by Alan Wallace
In a world that is dominated by ever stronger technologies designed to grab your attention, a way to empower yourself is to bring that attention back to where you want it to shine. This book offers just that.
In The Attention Revolution, Wallace describes the path to attaining Shamatha, a buddhist meditation state of mind that is free from any flickering of distraction. It is a hard and long path, probably not possible for us to reach in this lifetime. However, even getting to stage two or three will make everything in life easier.
A wonderful introduction to meditation, The Attention Revolution will inspire you to take on the challenge and see what training your mind can actually achieve.
Once you have achieved such level of focus, you can put it to use to open your heart with the practice of The Four Immeasurables or deepen the practice with this wonderful commentary by Dudjom Lingpa, both by Alan B. Wallace.
9. The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant
In the last 10,000 years or so, it seems we have been propelled into an ever faster paced world forged by our own hands and minds. Only recently have we been able to reconstruct our journey and reflect back upon our humble origins.
This amazing book is such a reflection. It goes back to the paleolithic searching for answers to health and longevity.
Between science and his personal experiments, Durant weaves a mind-blowing story that will convey the importance of an evolutionary perspective on how to live well.
It covers everything from nutrition to exercise, from sleep to fasting, from ancient practices to modern biohacking and even has an outline for a vision of the future where depression and obesity have become obsolete.
If you only have room for a couple of books on this list, make sure this one is included.
10. Mindsight by Daniel J. Siegel
As my Burmese meditation teacher often proclaimed, ‘Mindfulness alone is not enough!’ Siegel seems to have taken this to heart and made an unique synthesis between meditation, psychoanalysis and neuroscience which he calls ‘Mindsight‘. As he says himself, a potent combination between emotional and social intelligence.
All of us deal with one disorder or another, something that seems to disturb the very core of our being at ease; and while it might not always be the best strategy to want to get rid of it, it certainly helps to understand and have compassion for that little aspect that upsets that perfect image of ourselves.
Brimming with techniques, insights and epiphanies, this book contains everything you need to know to reprogram your brain and to optimally use its capacity of neuroplasticity. A great book for spiritual seekers and scientists alike.
11. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is the first self-improvement book I have ever read and it is also probably one of the oldest in this category.
Written in 1937, mainly for the door to door salesman of that era, this book by Carnegie can truly be called a classic. It shows what we all intuitively know:
It doesn’t matter what your line of work is or what you want to achieve. If you are doing business of any kind, you need to make it about the other person.
Being nice helps, a lot . And while I might not fully defend the premise of this book because it doesn’t distinguish between genuine interest and faking it to get what you want; it still contains a treasure chest full of timeless wisdom.
Everybody wants to feel appreciated, and rightfully so. Learning to take a small effort to make someone’s day will make the world better no matter what your goal is.
I still spontaneously remember some of his guidance, and perhaps this quality is the reason why this book still draws millions of readers to this day.
12. Feeling Good by David D. Burns
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective therapy used by psychologists today. It consists of identifying thought patterns that have a detrimental effect on your self-image and mood; and deconstructing these in order to break out of these destructive cycles.
If you want to know how this works, which moods are central in your life, what thought patterns are causing your depression, how to overcome self-judgment and guilt, how to defeat approval and love addiction and how your self-perfectionism is hindering you , then don’t look further.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped millions of people and it can help you, and this is the best book for the job. Packed with scientific research, exercises and examples, this is the best improvement your self is going to get.
13. The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
What can a plastic surgeon tell us about happiness?
By dealing with his patients, Dr. Maxwell Maltz experienced firsthand that having your expectations come true doesn’t automatically result into a more positive life experience. Their outward appearances did indeed change but their inner insecurity remained.
This caused him to find other means to help his patients, resulting in visualization techniques. He found a person’s outer success can never rise above the one visualized internally.
This book carries a very honest and humbling story, loaded with fundamental truths about our psychology and how our own philosophy affects us. This is all told by a very compassionate writer.
Of some books it can be said that it will be valuable for years to come, and I am absolutely positive that this is one of them.
14. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a lucid account of all the amazing research he has done over the years. He is the founder of behavioral economics – the way our psychology affects our decisions – and explains in simple prose how our thinking is divided in two systems: one fast and one slow . (Here’s an explanation on how these two systems work .)
The fast one is almost instant; it consists of the hardwired instincts that govern emotions, a remnant of an evolutionary past, an unconscious irrational machine.
The slow one is deliberate, self-reflexive and logical, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort.
Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores when the fast system fails and why the slow system is often not utilized.
Packed with mind-blowing examples and sharp analyses, this book teaches you how to learn to make sound judgments, and use the best of both systems.
15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
A few extraordinary people journey to the edge of our world and come back with a unique story to tell. Colonel Hadfield is such a person, and his story is perhaps the most important one in this list.
While the other books in this list teach you to be independent, visualize your future and dream big, this astronaut’s guide turns these all upside down.
A truly remarkable book, overflowing with mind-blowing stories that illustrate the life lessons he learned as one of the most accomplished astronauts that ever lived.
Full of compassion, warmth and genuine self-reflexive humor, he conveys to us to be prepared for the worst and never let yourself be swayed from enjoying every moment.
Part action story, part no-nonsense hard truth and part timeless spiritual wisdom, this book makes you feel like you stepped onto a rocket ship and experienced what he did while learning these most valuable lessons on the way.
16. Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet
No self-improvement list is complete without a nutrition book and the Perfect Health Diet is arguably the best diet book on the market now.
If you are overweight or not, feel sick, or just looking for an extra boost in health (and keep it this way), then look no further.
From reading decades of studies the authors construct the optimal way to eat, destroying popular food fads in the process. They explain in sufficient details the optimal macro-ratios of which starches are safe, which vitamins and supplements to take and what foods, or what they call toxins, to avoid.
This book is a great supplement to the Paleo Manifesto as it shares its basic evolutionary perspective; we were evolved to eat non-toxic, high fat, moderate protein and carbohydrates.
And sometimes, going around with no food at all, can be a very healthy thing. If your body is not in optimal health, then it is almost no use to read the other books. Make this your priority number one.
17. Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell
At one time or another, we will all fail. What matters most is how you deal with it once you do.
Will you give up? Or will you use it as a stepping stone for success?
I recently read an article about new start-ups in silicon valley. Its hypothesis was the more you had failed in the past, the more likely you were going to get funding.
Because failing teaches you invaluable lessons , and if you decide to continue after you hit the pavement, the more you have it in you to deliver.
Now, this is not in anyway our instinctual reaction to failing. Most of us dread it, avoid it or refuse to fail at all costs. All three are by far sub-optimal. It is far better to accept failure where it arises, to accept responsibility and use it as a way to learn about yourself and your weaknesses.
Only when you are absolute honest with yourself with respect to failure can you hope to grow. This wonderful book will teach you how to do exactly this. A honest book for everyone searching for a clean mirror.
18. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now hardly needs any introduction. It is perhaps the book that has had the most impact on our collective consciousness in recent years.
It inspired millions of people all over the world to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life, all through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of moment to moment non-judgmental awareness.
It is a technique that alleviates depression, increases emotional intelligence and develops compassion. And only recently has come to the west, which remained weary and skeptical until science had validated a wide array of its claims.
The brain can be trained. The Power of Now teaches you how to release your attachment to certain thoughts and states of mind, thereby clearing the mind to fully embrace the present moment.
If you already have read this book and are looking for deeper understanding, readWherever You Go, There You Are.
19. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
At some point or another, almost all of us has come across The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (If you haven’t, watch this powerful message here.)
What would you say when you only have a few months left to live? This was probably Pausch’s question he posed to himself when he had to deliver his lecture a week later.
But being confined to an academic setting and short time frame, he felt he had more to share, thus marking the birth of this book.
Filled with stories about his childhood, it is a very down to earth exploration of what it means to chase your dreams, to be a good person and live a life that gives value to others.
A beautiful mixture of humor and optimism , his tender voice will be a source of inspiration for everyone who will take the time to listen, something he tried to impart on his readers.
A very lovely read. And don’t forget, ‘It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.’
20. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
I love Brené Brown’s books. She writes about an insight that I have found to be scary but true at the same time.
Vulnerability, unlike we have been taught, is not a weakness, but a power to be tapped. Growing up with the idea that we have to hide certain parts of ourselves, to look strong and persevere at all costs always seemed a facade to me. And now she has the research to back that up.
From that place of vulnerability comes a sense of worthiness, which for most of us, needs to be cultivated every day. Only if we get in touch with that tender spot of our hearts can we connect with others and develop genuine compassion, which are prerequisites, Brown tells us, for living a ‘wholehearted life.’
The reality, however, is that we often close down, feel neglected and misunderstood, and rather want the vulnerability and perhaps even ourselves to disappear.
This book is an amazing antidote for that common instinct. Want to be truly convinced? Check out her amazing ted talk here .
21. The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
We all find UFO’s fascinating. We all really want to believe in magic or visiting aliens. (Surely the crop circles are conclusive proof!) And some of us believe the government is poisoning us with chemtrails.
At the same time we are fascinated by the progress made by science, by all the new technology and medicines and the fascinating discoveries being
22. Philosophy for Life by Jules Evans
As philosopher Sloterdijk puts it; ‘philosophy is a beautiful child of an ugly mother.’
Philosophy first arose when the old Greek polis states were at the brink of destruction. Philosophy, according to Sloterdijk, was not just a way to make sense of the world, to come to knowledge or truth, but to serve as a psychological immune system.
This book is an amazing expression of this perspective. From the stoics to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Jules Evans writes about some of the amazing philosophical techniques we can use to train and improve our cognitive immune systems.
He weaves ancient stories with modern applications, from heroism to cosmic contemplation. Philosophy for Life is a beautifully written book that makes it easy to understand the practical nature of philosophy.
Perhaps the book would have been better if he would have gone deeper into the subject matter, but nonetheless he captures the essence of what philosophy can mean for the modern person. A must read.
23. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor. E. Frankl
If I had to pick one book from this list for mandatory reading, I would choose this one.
For three years, Viktor Frankl labored in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He tells us about his experience and that of his fellow prisoners.
Both chilling and uplifting, confronted with the idea that they would be trapped there for the rest of their lives; he gives us an account of those who found meaning and those who succumbed to nihilism.
A blend between a memoir, a psychological investigation and a self-help book, Frankl delivers a powerful message:
Finding meaning lies at the core of being human.
From his own experience as a psychiatrist, combined with anecdotes from his time in the concentration camps, he tells us how important it is to find meaning in our own lives and what we can become if we don’t.
Suffering, he conveys to us, is inevitable. But as to how we cope with it is dependent on ourselves. If we can find meaning, even in the worst acts our species have ever inflicted upon their fellow men, we will be able to move forward with renewed purpose.
I also recommend you to check out this article to help you find out your purpose and passion that will motivate you to live in a meaningful way: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
24. Simplify by Joshua Becker
This is a fun little book written by Joshua Becker, a big proponent of minimalist living. We all know that quote from Fightclub: “ Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
Well, this is ending.
Slowly we are outgrowing an era where the unquestioned mantra ‘more is always better’ dictates our behavior. Rather, we now find ourselves, our lives and our homes cluttered with too much information, too much stuff and just too much shit we don’t need.
This simple book helps you become aware of the freedom gained from living with less. It is a small book, easily read under an hour, but it carries a persuasive punch to start living live in a very different way.
25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant
The fundamental ground upon which all true self improvement is build is called self-love. Because in the end, no matter which way you turn, if you don’t love yourself, you will sabotage yourself at one point. You will think that, for some reason or another, you are not worthy. And if you think that, why would you truly want to achieve anything?
And this is not just about achievement. This is about how you approach yourself every day; this is what you see when you look in the mirror.
We make so many snap-judgments about ourselves- often without being conscious of them- that are filled with negativity, haltering us before we can even begin to heal. This powerful book shows you the antidote.
Self love. Not to be confused with creating some narcissistic image of ourselves that some previous books in this list implicitly endorse, but self love, that inner gratefulness that no external condition can take away.
Self love, that infinite source you can share with others.
26. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
This is a great timeless book that focuses on the mindset of money rather than making money. Despite that, it’s still the best personal finance book in the world for the past 20 years and for good reason. It dispels the myth that you need to have a high salary job in order to make a living. That statement is truer now than ever thanks to the gig economy and a variety of other opportunities for people to make money.
This book provides a number of timeless quotes and lessons that are still relevant today as people’s views around money haven’t changed all that much over the years. This book provides you with an opportunity to challenge your views about money in unique ways that other personal finance books don’t.
27. Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg
A somewhat recent book but it’s one that has plenty of lessons around productivity, finding purpose, working as a team, and more. It’s all relevant as our careers and our lives are becoming more connected with other people and many people are still trying to figure out what they want to do in life.
Even if you have a lot of things figured out, this book still offers plenty in terms of setting goals, making better decisions and reminds you that managing how you think is more important than what you think. Duhigg pulls from real-world examples to emphasize 8 key productivity concepts. He did research into neuroscience while also interviewing a wide variety of people: such as broadway songwriters, a pro poker player, a four-star general, an FBI agent, airplane pilots, educational reformers, CEOs and more.
28. Waking Up by Sam Harris
If you’re interested in spirituality but aren’t sure if you need to identify yourself with any particular religion, then Sam Harris’ book “Waking Up” may be just what you’ve been looking for.
“Waking Up” is written by Dr. Sam Harris, an American neuroscientist, writer, and “New Atheist.” He believes that religious experience cannot be explained through the scientific method, and he wants to show us what we can learn about ourselves and the world around us if we look at the lives of religious figures.
Waking Up is an introduction to meditation for those who are interested in discovering what happens when we stop trying to figure out everything about our universe and start accepting its mystery instead. From multiple New York Times bestseller authors, neuroscientists, and “New Atheist” Sam Harris, this book is for the 30% of Americans who follow no religious tradition.
29. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
The ONE thing is a book about setting goals. It shows you why simple is the best choice, and it has the science to back it all up. You will learn how to break your goals down into smaller pieces and then focus on just one piece at a time.
This means that when you reach a goal, you will have achieved something bigger than if you had tried to achieve everything at once.
You want a healthier relationship with technology, and you want to spend more time doing what matters to you. You want to enjoy life more, and you want to feel more productive. You need to get rid of the clutter and distraction in your life, and you want more flexibility at work.
This book tells you how to do that.
The One Thing explains how to overcome the six lies we tell ourselves about why we fail, how to beat the seven thieves that rob us of time, and how to leverage the laws of purpose and priority.
30. No More Negative Thinking by Beau Norton
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to be happy all the time? Most people think that happiness comes naturally, but it doesn’t. You can train yourself to be happier, even if you’re currently experiencing a lot of stress.
No More Negative Thinking by Beau Norton shows you how to eliminate your negativity and replace it with positivity. Your life will change for the better in just a few short weeks.
Depression isn’t always a disease. Sometimes it’s just our feelings getting the best of us. We feel sad, angry, frustrated, or lonely. These negative feelings can cause us not to do the things we love and even prevent us from making progress in our lives.
If you want to change your mood, you need to start thinking about what you can do instead of focusing on what you can’t. Talking to a friend or family member might help you get through tough times. You can also try talking to someone about how you feel.
31. The Courage to be Yourself by Sue Patton Thoele
This book is written for women who are struggling with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other issues. It will help you understand your problems in a way that you understand from someone who has lived through similar situations and knows how to fix them.
Sue Patton Thoele continues to write about life, love, and relationships. She shares her personal story and also gives advice on how to overcome various challenges when you feel like your self-confidence is low. The book focuses on helping women understand their feelings and emotions and how to cope with them, especially if they feel lonely, afraid, insecure, or sad.
You will learn how to identify your beliefs and negative thoughts that cause you to act out of character and how to replace those thoughts with positive ones.
32. The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi
The Self Esteem Workbook is designed to help you boost your confidence and improve your self-image. It’s based on the author’s original new research, which shows that self-esteem can effectively be increased through the use of self-help materials.
Now psychologist and educationist Glenn Schiraldi has crafted these tried and tested tools into a comprehensive, self-directed program that guides you through twenty essential skill-building activities, each focusing on developing a crucial component in healthy self-esteem.
This book is a great place to start when looking to boost your own self-esteem. It gives you all sorts of ways to improve your life, including eating healthier, exercising more, and finding joy in everyday activities. You will also learn about what happens when someone criticizes you and how you can respond positively instead of negatively.
33. 50 Self-Help Classic by Tom Butler-Bowden
Thousands of books have been written on self-improvement. But finding the best self-improvement books is not that easy.
Self help books are everywhere. You can buy them at your local bookstore or online. Some of them are great, and others are just junk. If you want to get an opinion from some of history’s greatest minds, you should check out this book.
It features 50 self-help books compiled into a single book from the likes of legendary thinkers like Benjamin Franklin and Paulo Célio. It’s a great buy if you want to hear what some of the greatest minds have to say about life, love, success, and happiness.
34. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
While asked, “What do you do?” Tim Ferriss has trouble answering this question because he doesn’t really know what he does. He could say he races motorcycles in Europe, skis in the Andes, dives in Panama, dances the tango in Buenos Aires, or even works at a startup.
But none of those answers are true. What he actually does is travel the world, meet interesting people, and write about his experiences. His goal is to help others achieve similar success through his writing, podcasting, speaking engagements, and consulting services.
The 4-Hour Work Week is a great read because it will help you rethink what you do at work. Tim Ferris’s concepts will be new to those who work a regular 9 to 5 job. He will show you how to get out of your comfort zone and start thinking differently about your career.
35. For Your Own Good by Alice Miller
Alice Miller, the celebrated Swiss psychoanalyst, examines the psychological effects of childhood abuse and neglect. She argues that children who grow up under certain conditions will become adults who have a mental illness, depression, anxiety, addiction, and violence. Her theory is based on her own experience and the experiences of others she interviewed.
This book explores the damaging effects of abuse on children. It shows you how to identify and understand your own patterns of behavior and how to change them. You’ll discover how to become a healthier parent and how to help your children grow into healthy adults.
For your own good is an insightful book that explores the effects of abuse on children. It offers many insights into the causes of violence and how to prevent it. For example, it explains why we see certain personality traits in abusers. It also shows us how to identify signs of abuse before it happens.
36. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
In The Power of Habit, award-winning journalist Charles Duhigg takes readers inside the science behind our habits—and shows them how to change them. He reveals the surprising truth about what we need to succeed at work, school, and in love.
From the brain’s “habit loop” to the neuroscience of addiction, Duhigg explains how habits form and how to break them. And he shows how changing just five small behaviors can create dramatic changes in your life.
In this book the writer broke some myths about how the habit forms. Therefore, you can take immediate action and make new habits or change bad old ones.
37. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
It is an entertaining and informative tale about four characters who live in the same maze looking for cheese. Cheese is a metaphor to represent what we all want in our lives, like a good job, a healthy body, love, money or possessions, etc.
The maze represents the place we look for what we want, perhaps the company we work at or the family or neighborhood we live in. The problem with the cheese is that it keeps moving. We need to keep looking for it, even though we might not always get there.
This book will show you how to anticipate change, adapt quickly, enjoy the change and be ready for more, all while suffering less stress and enjoying more success in your life.
38. QBQ! The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller
John G Miller believes that the problems that plague organizations cannot be fixed by pointing fingers at other people. Instead, real solutions are achieved when everyone takes responsibility for his or her own actions.
In QBQ, Miller explains how negative, and unfocused questions represent a lack of personal responsibility. When we ask better questions, our lives and our organizations transform.
QBQ is a book that allows us to ask questions about our lives that help us move forward. We can ask ourselves what is really going on behind the question. QBQ helps us get past blaming others or ourselves. This book is short but will change your life.
Now that you’ve got a list of the best self-improvement books to transform your life, what should you do next? Read them all?
It’s of course best to read them all, but we only have so much brain energy to take all this knowledge. What if I tell you there’s a way to boost your brain power? Here it is: How To Learn Faster And Smarter
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How to Work Remotely (Your Complete Guide)
How to Become a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott
How to Make Time Work For You — The Time Mastery Framework
The Impact of Procrastination on Productivity
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How to Calm Your Mind For Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey
8 Misconceptions of Time That Make You Less Productive
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Distractions: Understanding the Biggest Productivity Killer
How to Deal With Work Stress in a Healthy Way
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Top 10 books about self-improvement
In time for new year resolutions, a cultural historian chooses some of the best guides to making a better life, dating back to some of our earliest literature
I t is easy to dismiss self-help books and those who read them. But not only do we need serious self-help, we must also take self-help more seriously. Valued at $11bn (£8bn) worldwide, self-help is a major global industry. It both reflects and generates many of our prevailing ideas about the self and about the cultures in which we live. The self-help industry not only seeks to shape the way in which we think, feel and behave, but also provides many of the core metaphors on which we rely to talk about our inner lives. Many of those metaphors, not least that of the mind as a computer that might require reprogramming, are at best unhelpful.
Critics of self-help believe that its current popularity is part of an all-pervasive neoliberal imperative to maximise efficiency. They see it as a sinister plot to direct all responsibility for our wellbeing back upon ourselves. Self-help, they feel, casts all our problems as personal, and our failures as owing to a lack of willpower and resilience, when they are in fact caused by the politics of capitalism. But while this may be true of some self-help, the idea of self-improvement has a long and rich history, extending back to ancient wisdom traditions. The wish to improve ourselves is bound up with our need for self-knowledge, for mastery and for transformation. It is a timeless desire and an essential part of what makes us human.
And some self-improvement literature really can help us to become better people. I mean better not in a competitive but in an ethical sense: the improved self is more able to direct attention outwards, towards projects, other people and the communities of which we are a part.
1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius The Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius (AD 121–180) believed that all suffering is in our minds. Suffering is caused not by external events but by our reactions to those events – by faulty judgments and unrealistic expectations. Given that most external events are beyond our control, Aurelius argues in his Meditations that it is pointless to worry about them. Our evaluations of these events, by contrast, are completely within our control. It follows that all our mental energies should be directed inwards, with a view to controlling our minds. The key to a happy life, then, lies in adjusting our expectations, because “only a madman looks for figs in winter”.
2. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D Burns (1980) The science underpinning Burns’s book may no longer be cutting-edge, but its core message remains a powerfully relevant one. A more down-to-earth version of Stoicism, it is based on the premises of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Feeling Good illustrates how our feelings are shaped by our thoughts, and contains some great techniques for training our minds to question negative thinking about ourselves and others.
3. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris ( 2007) We are, of course, not purely rational creatures. Sometimes our attempts to control our thoughts can become counter-productive. Here, Australian psychologist Harris explains the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). He invites us not to try to control our negative thoughts or uncomfortable feelings, but simply to de-fuse with them, to accept them and then to let them go. That way we have more energy to commit to value-based action.
4. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Spiritual self-cultivation through the art of letting go is the central theme of the Tao Te Ching (the classic study of “The Way and Virtue”, usually dated to the sixth or fourth century BC). In Daoism, letting go centres on the idea of offering no resistance to the natural order of things. It promotes a sophisticated form of submitting our will to cosmic forces, by accepting what is and loosening our attachments to our desires and expectations of specific outcomes. The Tao suggests that we can improve ourselves by returning to a simpler, more authentic and intuitive way of life. A key concept is wu wei – “non-action” or “effortless action”. Wu wei can perhaps best be described as a spiritual state marked by acceptance of what is and the absence of selfish desires.
5. The Power of Now: A Guide Book to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle ( 1998 ) We are not our thoughts, argues Tolle in this bestselling book. Most of our thoughts, Tolle writes, revolve around the past or the future. Our past furnishes us with an identity, while the future holds “the promise of salvation”. Both are illusions, because the present moment is all we ever really have. We therefore need to learn to be present as “watchers” of our minds, witnessing our thought patterns rather than identifying with them. That way, we can relearn to live truly in the now.
6. Altruism: The Science and Psychology of Kindness by Matthieu Ricard ( 2015) In many theologies and wisdom traditions, altruism is the highest moral and spiritual value. More recently, psychologists have shown that altruistic acts not only benefit the recipient but also lead those who perform them to be happier. Moreover, practising altruism, the French Buddhist monk Ricard argues, is the key not just to our personal happiness but also to solving our most pressing social, economic and environmental problems. Altruism enables us “to connect harmoniously the challenges of the economy in the short term, quality of life in the mid-term, and our future environment in the long term”.
7. Walden by Henry David Thoreau ( 1854) The American transcendentalist philosopher Thoreau famously withdrew to a cabin in the woods near Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, where he sought to live simply and “deliberately”. It was there that he developed the intriguing notion of “life cost” – the perfect antidote to unthinking materialism and the toxic Protestant work ethic to which so many of us are still enslaved. Most of us find it normal to trade our life time for goods, believing that productivity and success are secular signs of grace. Thoreau saw paid work as a necessary evil to which we should dedicate as little time as possible. His aim was not to work a single minute more than was necessary to cover his most basic living expenses, and to spend all his remaining time doing what he truly cherished.
8. Grit by Angela Duckworth (2017) According to the psychologist Angela Duckworth, grit tops talent every time. That is music to the ears of anyone inclined to identify with Aesop’s plodding tortoise rather than the effortlessly speedy hare. “Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another,” she writes. Here grit is a drive to improve both our skills and our performance by consistent effort. Gritty people are always eager to learn and are driven by an enduring passion. They learn from their mistakes, have direction and live more coherent lives.
9. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri ( 1308–21 ) This 14th-century poem chronicles the gradual overcoming of the middle-aged and burned-out Dante’s spiritual weariness. Guided by his mentor Virgil, he journeys from Hell to Paradise, where he is eventually reunited with his beloved Beatrice. The epic can be read as a cautionary Christian tale or as an extended revenge fantasy in which many of Dante’s personal enemies get their gruesome come-uppance. But we can also read it as an archetypal story of spiritual growth and self-overcoming. The doubting Dante is systematically re-educated by his many encounters in Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. The inhabitants of Hell show him how not to live his life, and the costs of their bad choices. In the end, purged of his own weaknesses, Dante reaches a higher spiritual plane and glimpses the divine.
10. The Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2100–1200 BCE) Almost all forms of self-improvement resemble a quest narrative or a heroic journey. Such narratives show the hero or heroine venturing into the unknown – a dark wood, an underground kingdom or the belly of a beast. There they encounter obstacles and often have to battle with an enemy or a temptation. Having overcome these challenges, they return from their adventures transformed and ready to share what they have learned to help others. The oldest surviving narrative of this kind recounts how the formerly selfish Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh returns from the wilderness bearing the plant of eternal life. Rather than eating it himself, he shares his boon with his people.
Anna Katharina Schaffner is Professor of Cultural History at the University of Kent. Her book The Art of Self-Improvement: Ten Timeless Truths is published by Yale University Press .
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Self-Growth Books: 15 Best Personal Development and Self- Improvement Books
Do you read self-growth books? Are you interested in personal development and self-improvement?
If so, that’s great, but the question is: which book to choose. There are probably tens of thousands of self-help, self-growth, and personal development books. From personal experiences to popular psychology, from improving your cognition and productivity to maintaining your relationships in a healthy manner: bookshelves of the 21st century are stuffed with authors intended to help each and every one of us with their insights, knowledge, or research results.
In order to help you make an informed decision, we’ve decided to share with you titles of books that made a positive impact on our lives. When we say “our” lives, we mean people from our team: the Intelligent Change team.
15 Best Self-Growth Books: Editor’s Choice
In the following paragraphs, you’ll have a chance to read a short synopsis of our favorite self-growth books. We’ll also share links to Amazon or other websites where you can get them. If you are more into audiobooks, we included Audible links as well.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow
The man every psychology student knows from their textbooks, the winner of the Nobel prize for the amazing research he conducted on decision making alone and with Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman is the founder of a new discipline: behavioral economics. He dedicated his life to studying the way our psychology and cognition affect our decision-making processes.
His research is very well known among the scientific community, as it inspired a myriad of future experiments and examinations of human cognition. What makes this man special is his effort to bring cognitive science to all of us, using the language and storytelling everyone can understand.
Thinking Fast and Slow is a book of prose where Kahneman explains how our thinking is split into two systems: one fast and one slow. The fast one is actually our hardwired instincts, the remnants of our evolutionary past. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to remove our hand off a burning stove, nor to run away when we notice danger. It’s like our subconscious, not-so-rational, but still efficient machine.
The other one is our evolutionary advantage. The self-reflexive, logical, deliberate path. The conscious path we have a lot of control over, however, it also calls for a lot of effort and concentration (which is why we tend to use it less often).
In his book, Kahneman explains in plain words how these two systems work, why and how the slow system sometimes fails us, and why we often don’t use the slow one properly.
He backs these explanations up with his mind-blowing experiment results, teaching us how to make rational, logic-based judgments and gain the most out of both systems.
Get your printed , kindle , or audio version now.
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
If we had to choose a book everyone should read during their lifetime, it would be this one. We already praised this book in Finding Your Purpose in Life article, emphasizing its importance for personal development and growth.
After spending three years in brutal conditions of Nazi concentration camps, thinking that every day could be his last day, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl explains in simple, at times even playful language, that the search for meaning lies at the core of every human being.
Thanks to his professional background, this book is more than a memoir about surviving Holocaust. It’s also a psychological investigation and the base for creating a new school of thought and therapy: logotherapy.
The bottom line of this book is that if we’re able to find meaning in life, we’ll be able to move forward even after experiencing the worst experiences imaginable to the human mind. Inspirational, life-changing and eye-opening book.
You can find this book in the printed , Kindle , or audio format.
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens
Do you ever wonder how humans became what they are today? What are the exact differences between us and other animals? Why do we rule today's world?
In his best selling piece Sapiens , Yuval Noah Harari retells the history of our species, gives amazing insights and offers an in-depth perspective on our behavior, habits, emotions, relationships, etc. He explains how we got where we are now regarding animal exploitation, and why we aren’t happier than our ancestors.
Through the use of vivid and understandable language, Harari takes his readers on an unforgettable journey through the history of humankind. An absolute must-read.
Check out his website for more info and book purchase.
Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
Most people think that happiness is achievable through hard work and professional and personal accomplishments that accompany it. That’s a kind of common wisdom, something our culture and society teach us. If you get a good job, achieve desired weight, or get a promotion, you’ll be happy.
As honest this motto is, have you ever wondered whether the other way around actually makes more sense?
Recent research in positive psychology has revealed that the backward formula is much more closer to the truth and that it is happiness that actually fuels success.
When we’re happy, positive, and open-minded, our brains become more susceptible to creativity, motivation, and inspiration. We become more productive, resilient to stress, and energetic.
This is what Shawn Achor’s book is all about. After spending more than a decade researching and lecturing about happiness at Harvard University, he decided to share the formula for reprogramming your brain that will lead you towards happiness and success.
If you want to find out about verified success principles, learn about the Tetris Effect of retraining our brains, or how to build a social support network, check out The Happiness Advantage book. After all, this book was the inspiration for creating The Five Minute Journal.
Available in all formats on Amazon .
Seth Godin, Linchpin
Seth Godin, the author we admire here at Intelligent Change, wrote one of the best self-growth books you’ll find on the market.
A traditional workplace used to have two teams of people: management and workforce. Today, there’s a third team: linchpins. Linchpins are people – artists as Godin calls them – who are indispensable, creative, innovative, and who resolve problems “outside the box.” They jump in when there’s no rule book or clear instruction, they create their own path.
Their role at the workplace is to do emotional work, to challenge fixed mindset and inspire their colleagues and customers, as they love doing their jobs. By giving 100% of themselves into it, they manage to turn their jobs into art.
These creatives are an essential part of every successful company. They have a lot to give, they come up with their own rules and play by them.
Linchpins are system-changers, and if the idea of being one inspires you, we strongly recommend you to read this book.
The book is available in all formats on Amazon .
David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Creativity
Do you ever wish someone could simply give you a step-by-step recipe for how to get things done no matter what?
Well, that’s what David Allen is offering in his book. A unique approach to productivity and time- management based on years of experience and experimentation.
People are rarely well-organized by nature. There are so many underlying processes responsible for our success or failure with time- management. In his book, David Allen shares with you all of the organizational tricks and perks that can help you get your things together on both personal and professional plans.
This book is truly special among self-growth books, as it gives you a 100% accurate, many times successfully tested step-by-step tips and guides on how to get a hold of your life. Getting Things Done is a serious time- management methodology, and you can even convince yourself by clicking on this link and visiting David Allen’s website.
Get your fresh hard copy or audiobook of David Allen’s masterpiece today.
Jack Canfield, The Success Principles
If you’re into self-help and self-growth books, you probably know Jack Canfield from his Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
In this book, he shares with his readers 65 ways of achieving a transformation in life. If you want straight, direct tips on how to change your life, this is the right book.
Success principles the author mentions are pretty straightforward, and you might realize that you already knew many of them. Still, we believe it’s always good to remind ourselves of the things we know and see them in a different perspective.
Here are some of the examples of Jack Canfield’s success principles:
If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life.
You have control over only three things in your life—the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take (your behavior).
The only thing that will change your results is to change your behavior.
These principles may seem like common knowledge to most people, it’s good to go through them one more time and hear them in a rather elaborated form, mixed with real-life examples and logical explanations.
You can purchase the hard-copy version of this book, or listen to it on Audible .
Tim Ferriss, The Four-Hour Workweek
Tim Ferriss has been a rising star in the field of productivity, organization, influence, and digital labor for years now. What does he do?
Tim Ferriss spent the last 10 years of his life learning everything about the “new rich”, a whole subculture that’s abandoning the standard lifestyle and exchanging it for a digital career, mastering new skills, and creating mobile, luxury lifestyles.
If you’re interested in changing the status quo and dropping out from your 9-5 job, this is the book for you. Tim Ferris will teach you everything about pursuing a digital career, making the most out of the “digital nomad” lifestyle, starting your own business, and staying motivated.
Ferriss is an inspiring character, an advocate of productive habits and healthy lifestyle. Find out more about him in an article on blog, where he explains how he uses The Five Minute Journal to make the most out of it.
If you’re searching for a major change in your life, if you’re tired of being bossed around and want to start a career in dropshipping or affiliate marketing, gain more control of your working hours, location, and workload, then Tim Ferriss is the best person to consult.
Get your fresh printed copy of the book, or, if you prefer listening, there’s an audiobook available on Audible as well.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
When we say “flow”, you say…?
What’s your first association? Perfectly in-tune musical improvisation conducted by a couple of well-practiced musicians? A great conversation between friends or partners where two people are so in sync they finish each other’s sentences? Or maybe the feeling you get when you’re working on something and it’s flowing?
Whatever you’re thinking – you’re right. Hear it from one of the most important contemporary psychologists and a leading researcher in the field of positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. After years and decades of scientific research, he decided to share his knowledge about productivity, happiness, self-control, creativity – everything the term “flow” encompasses – with a wider, non-professional audience.
Flow is a special state of mind, an optimal experience that can’t just happen to you. You need to prepare for that state, cultivate it, and defend. And how do you do that? By taking control over your inner world.
This book is not a typical self-help and personal growth piece of literature. It’s a half-philosophical half-scientifical work, based on real data and scientifically derived conclusions about happiness, content, productivity, and, most importantly, flow.
The book is available as paper-back on Amazon , as a second hand book, or as audio .
Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within
For decades now, Tony Robbins has been one of the leading American authors, coaches, motivational speakers, and philanthropists. People know him from his infomercials, seminars, and self-growth books.
Awaken the Giant within is a book where Robbins explains how to take immediate control over your life: your mental, physical, emotional, and financial reality.
Over the years, Robbins has become an acknowledged expert in the field of psychology of change, and this book is a step-by-step program intended to teach his readers some of the fundamental laws of self-mastery. You will learn how to discover your purpose, how to take control over your life, and how to awaken and nurture the forces that will shape your future in a more positive and productive way.
The book is available on Amazon , SeconSale , and Audible .
Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
If you’re looking for a book to help you improve your personal traits and gain a better, deeper self-understanding, here’s the perfect piece for you.
In her influential book Daring Greatly, thought leader and researcher, Dr Brene. Brown encourages the readers to embrace and discover their vulnerability, imperfections, and a variety of emotions we experience daily.
This book focuses on one core idea: you can live a brave and courageous life by exploring your inner world and getting to know yourself better.
Each day we face a variety of risks and uncertainties. As Dr Brown says, we need to face these vulnerabilities and deal with them in order to “dare greatly.” What she means by this is that we need to challenge everything we know about vulnerability and transform it into our greatness, and this is exactly what she does in her book.
Whether it’s about a new relationship in life, an important job decision, or a complex family situation, it’s always important to reflect on our vulnerability and find courage to deal with it.
David R. Hawkins, Letting Go
If you want to learn how to deal with and let go of emotions such as anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, uncertainty, guilt, who better to ask for advice than a clinical psychiatrist?
David R. Hawkins shares his knowledge and insights gained through many years of experience working with his clients and patients. Using a simple and understandable language, he takes the readers on a journey through depression, guilt, shame, but also love, courage and personal growth.
The book is filled with anecdotes, personal or professional examples, and descriptions of different states of being.
If you’re ready to explore different sides of your psyche, learn from it, transform them into growth, and align with your inner self, then this book is the perfect choice.
It’s available on Amazon in audible, hard-copy, and Kindle format.
Susan Cain, Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
Sometimes, being the loudest one to communicate their ideas, seeking constant contact with other people, telling jokes, or being at the center of attention in a social group isn’t what everybody enjoys.
In this book, Susan Cain sheds new light on introversion . She reveals how many introverts have achieved success in their life, even if it means reaching the position of authority and being a “people person”.
If you’re tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with you, or that you should somehow change your personality to fit in the society, this is the book you need to read. It will help you understand why you act the way you do and how to utilize your strong sides to move forward.
It would also be good for extroverts to read this book and get a better understanding of how introverts live, think and feel in this world.
Get your hard copy or audio version today.
John C. Maxwell, Failing Forward
You know what differentiates a person with a growth mindset from a person with a fixed mindset ?
Among many other things, is their approach to mistakes . Living a life without making mistakes is already an impossible sentence, as we all make them sooner or later.
However, failures and mistakes are not what matters, per se. It’s our approach to them. Are we going to give up or can we use our mistake as a valuable lesson necessary for future improvement?
In his book, John C. Maxwell teaches his readers to treat mistakes and failures as stepping stones to success. The more you fail, the bigger the odds that you’ll make it next time.
And because persistence is not our natural reaction to failure, we need to be reminded of this.
The book is available in print , Kindle , and audio format.
Col. Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
When we were kids, many of us dreamt about becoming astronauts. But little did we know about the unconventional philosophy one has to build and live in order to succeed in such a quest.
If you want to enjoy one of the best self-growth books ever written, along with amazing space stories, take it from this inspiring man.
Colonel Chris Hadfield spent more than 4000 hours in space. During that time he experienced unexpected situations we only expect to see in movies: breaking into a Space Station only with a Swiss knife, being temporarily blinded while holding onto the exterior of a spacecraft, or getting familiar with a snake while piloting a plane.
This inspiring man reveals the strange philosophy that he learned at NASA: being ready for the worst to happen in any given moment and enjoying it to the fullest.
Through humoristic and reflective stories about everything he’s been through, one of the most accomplished astronauts in history shares valuable lessons about life every adventurer would enjoy.
The book is available in printed and Kindle format.
Thank you for reading this review on the best self-growth books of our choice. Since a variety of people with different characters, personality traits, vocations, and general interests were involved in writing this article, we’re confident that everyone can find something for themselves. From business oriented self-growth books to science-based factual knowledge on how to improve your lifestyle, find purpose and unleash your full potential.
Best Personal Development Books
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12 books to read now if you want to improve your life in 2023.
The Everygirl’s product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.
The cliché of “finding yourself” always made no sense to me until I actually did. But finding out who you are and what makes you unique just scratches the surface. Discovering what makes me truly happy , the kind of people I want to surround myself with , and what motivates me to work hard has shaped who I am and what I will become. And a huge part of my journey has been reading self-improvement books. I mean, we gotta learn how to be our highest selves from someone else, right? It can be difficult to find the best self-improvement books that speak to you as every path to self-discovery is individual. The good news is we’ve done the homework for you and rounded up some of our favorites to get you started. Here’s to 2023—2022 has nothing on us.
If you're looking to change what your average day looks like and build better habits while breaking bad ones (who isn't?), you've come to the right place. Clear provides a practical guide for transforming your habits—no matter what your goal is—intertwined with inspiring, real-life stories of people who used his strategies to master their craft and become their highest selves.
For all you people-pleasers out there (me included), this is a must-read. Part memoir, part self-help book, Untamed is about discovering your voice, your true self. Doyle takes us through her personal journey of letting go of others' expectations and, instead, trusting and strengthening her inner voice. The main takeaway? “Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.” I'll leave you with that.
The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit
According to Robbins, all it takes is a simple habit—giving your reflection a high five in the mirror—and an easy morning routine to shift your mood and perspective, which she calls the “High 5 Habit.” You might be thinking that sounds silly (I definitely did), but after trying it for a week, I realized it all comes down to the relationship I have with myself and being my own biggest cheerleader. PSA: We shouldn’t wait to receive a promotion, fit in our favorite pair of jeans from high school, or finally get reciprocation from a longtime crush to feel more confident. We deserve to be happy now. The “High 5 Habit” tools are free and easy, which means anyone, anywhere, at any age can benefit from them.
Self-Love Workbook for Women: Release Self-Doubt, Build Self-Compassion, and Embrace Who You Are
Let's face it: You've got to put in the work to live your highest self. Enter: this workbook that leads you through proven exercises to help you tap into your emotions and let go of limiting beliefs. Uplifting affirmations round out this guided self-love journal for a boost in self-esteem. What's not to love?
If you've ever seen Brené Brown's amazing podcast about shame and vulnerability, this is basically its mom. One of the hardest things to learn is being vulnerable, and this book not only reveals why it is so difficult, but also breaks down the little steps we can take to learn how. Brown includes several anecdotes to share just how she struggles with this same thing even though researching and discussing shame is her job.
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls
Sleeveless tops, shorts, bathing suits—summer can be rough if you have any issues with body images and, unfortunately, that is something many women experience. This book is not only a fun read, but everything Baker says is backed up by research, making her advice even more credible. Don’t struggle with body image issues? (Woohoo!) Baker gives tons of advice on just living unapologetically yourself, which we could all benefit from.
The Self-Love Experiment
As a self-proclaimed perfectionist and atychiphobic (fear of failure!), I can get pretty hung up on every little mistake I make. The Self-Love Experiment is that bit of encouragement to get you out of those thoughts and remember just how much good your failures can do. Kaiser takes you on her journey to self-love and acceptance, and through her true testimony, you just might start to realize more about your own. She’s candid and real and doesn’t lead you on that self-love is a quick fix. Also, having a little reminder that you’re more than a sum of your failures is pretty powerful.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
As the title conveys, Manson doesn't sugarcoat it: "Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it." Rather than living in a world of sunshine and rainbows, he encourages embracing our fears, faults, and uncertainties to lead happier, more grounded lives. Equal parts a reality-check and humorous self-help guide, this book is the kick in the a** we all need.
You might know Oyeneyin as the sought-after Peloton instructor or from her popular S.P.E.A.K. Instagram Live series. Well, now she's extending her trademark blend of positivity, empathy, and motivational “Tunde-isms,” to fans on and off the bike through this book. She walks you through each step of the SPEAK acronym—Surrender, Power, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge—while imparting what she has learned about loss, love, body image, and creating an intentional, joyful life.
Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
No matter your experience level with the Law of Attraction, Gabby Bernstein makes manifestation simple and effective. The Law of Attraction is about more than just manifesting sports cars and diamond jewelry, and this book shows that it can be as simple as changing your mindset for a positive one. It covers the essential methods for confidently attracting what you want in life. Step one: Release the past.
Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life
Because there's no such thing as too much manifestation, consider this book your BFF who will hand-hold you through seven simple steps to create the life you've always envisioned. Step one: Be clear in your vision.
Girl On Fire: How to Choose Yourself, Burn the Rule Book, and Blaze Your Own Trail in Life and Business
Ladies, it's about time we write our own rules and blaze our own trails. The follow-up to the best-selling book Girl Code, Girl on Fire builds on the idea that you don’t need permission or validation to start fearlessly living your dream life and career, and it teaches you just how to do that.
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The 10 Best Self-Help Books, According to GoodReads
- October 2, 2022
Where can you get the inspiration to power past life’s many curveballs? Where do you start when everything seems to crumble? Or better yet, what can you use as fuel for your motivation?
Books! And not just any books, but self help books!
Almost all successful people will swear by books. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world have overcome enormous obstacles that threatened to derail their progress.
By cultivating a habit of reading inspirational books, you’ll get the chance to learn from other people’s mistakes, gain inspiration from other people’s testimonies, and, most importantly, apply the tips and lessons to your own life.
I won’t lie and say that I’ve read all inspirational books out there (Although I’ve read a couple, to be honest), but I scoured the internet for some of the best-selling inspirational books with thousands of positive reviews and reader ratings to come up with an expansive list.
So if you’re wondering what inspirational books are worth your time and effort, then you couldn’t be in a better place!
Buckle up as we take a look at 10 of the best inspirational books you should give a read in 2022, plus some extra categories if you’re looking for something more specific!
Top Self Help Books by Category
- Come As You Are – Dr. Emily Nagoski
- The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
- Communion: The Female Search for Love – bell hooks
- Self-Love Workbook for Women – Megan Logan
- Becoming – Michelle Obama
- I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Terrance Real
- No More Mr. Nice Guy -Robert A. Glover
- The Mask of Masculinity – Lewis Howes
- Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
- The Highly Sensitive Man – Tom Falkenstein
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook – Edmund Bourne
- The Anxiety Toolkit – Alice Boyes
- Hardcore Self-Help F**k Anxiety – Robert Duff, Ph.D
- The Negative Thoughts Workbook – David A. Clark
- Essential Strategies for Social Anxiety – Alison Mckleroy
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ – Daniel Goleman
- Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy – David Burns
- The Happiness Trap – Russ Harris
- The Mindful Way Through Depression – Mark Williams, et al.
- This is Depression – Dr. Diane McIntosh
- Atomic Habits – James Clear
- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle
- Courage to Be Disliked – Fumitake Koga
Top 10 Best Self Help Books
1. Screw It Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life – Richard Branson
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
3. Make Your Bed – William H McRaven
4. You Are A Badass-How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness – Jen Sincero
5. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
6. The Four Agreements -Don Miguel
7. The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbin
8. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
9. Awaken The Giant Within- Tony Robbins
10. The Art of Happiness – Dalai Lama
1. Screw It Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life- Best Overall
Widely viewed as Sir Richard Branson’s best book, Screw It Let’s Do It targets people that doubt their capabilities to achieve their set goals or those who fear failure.
You’ll love the book if you’re stuck in a rut or doubt your capability to perform a certain task or achieve set goals.
In the Book, Branson reveals lessons that have helped him through his personal and business life. Despite dropping out of school at the tender age of 15, Branson believed in his abilities to create value and thus powered through all obstacles by never shying away from anything.
You’ll learn a lot about self-belief and persistence, especially when it comes to tackling life’s various challenges.
It’s also great that Branson advises his readers to ditch overly cautious attitudes and instead become more open-minded to make the most of opportunities!
Purchase the book here .
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Best for Self-Discipline
Stephen Covey is a well-known inspirational author that’s helped millions overcome procrastination, poor attitudes, and hopelessness .
As the title suggests, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People focuses on the habits that everyone ,regardless of social status, needs to observe to achieve sustained success.
The 7 habits you’ll be reading about are as follows:
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Put first things first (prioritize things)
- Think Win-Win
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- Sharpen the Saw
By observing these 7 habits, you will be well placed to perform at a high level and overcome obstacles that might occur further along the way.
I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for ways to stay motivated despite having to deal with work or school-related challenges.
3. Make Your Bed- Best for Getting Through Tough Times
Written by renowned author William McRaven, Make Your Bed is an inspirational book that aims to lift readers, especially those facing difficult circumstances.
McRaven doesn’t paint life as easy, instead he asserts that attitude towards difficulties plays a vital role in whether or not you come out strong and unscathed.
You’ll love McRaven’s tone and brutal honesty, especially as he discusses how we tend to make things harder for ourselves.
Some of the main lessons you’ll learn from this best-seller include:
- Start your day with small wins (i.e., making your bed)
- Seek support
- Work hard and stay focused
- Embrace failure as opposed to fearing outcomes
- Take calculated risks
- Step up instead of sitting back
4. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness- Best for Motivation
New York Times Best Selling Author and world-renowned success coach Jen Sincero leaves no stones unturned in his popular book You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness .
The book works as the perfect ‘pick me up’ for millions of readers across the globe and is relevant for all age groups.
The 27-chapter bestseller features inspiring stories that will leave you feeling highly motivated to change your mindset and believe in your potential.
It’s a great read if you’re doubting yourself or are facing identity issues, as it will help challenge your beliefs and promote self-acceptance.
Granted, Jen Sincero’s brilliance will leave you fired up to face your fears and challenges, but as you’ll learn from the book, motivation isn’t enough to get you over the line!
You’ll need to implement all the tips provided in the masterfully authored book and plan for your future by learning from past mistakes.
5. Think and Grow Rich- Best for Improving Personal Finance
It’s impossible to create a best inspirational books list without mentioning Think and Grow Rich , one of the critically acclaimed personal development masterpieces of the 20th century.
Napoleon Hill put his best foot forward when creating this bestseller by describing the concept of success and the power of thoughts in achieving set goals and targets.
Should you pick this book up for a thorough read, you’ll learn everything about mindset and how you can alter your thoughts to transform your future.
It’s a great read if you want to level up not only in your career but also in your relationships.
You’ll learn that thoughts and desire to achieve a goal are what distinguish failures from achievers.
6. The Four Agreements- Ideal for Self Improvement
If you feel like your personal beliefs are limiting your growth and that you need to break mental shackles, then The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz will make an exquisite read.
In his bestseller, Don Miguel reveals how to cope with stressful situations and shares great insight on ways to improve your life’s overall quality.
It’s superb how Don Miguel sticks to his usual simple style, which helps make his book highly relatable to readers.
As you read the book, you’ll understand the importance of living a focused, self-aware life and how to remain consistent in your beliefs despite facing tough challenges.
You’ll enjoy The Four Agreements if you’re in search of a ‘pick me up’ book.
Here’s a quick breakdown of Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements that you’ll learn over the course of the read:
- Be impeccable with your words
- Avoid taking things seriously
- Avoid making assumptions
- Always do your best
7. The 5 Second Rule- Best for Behavior Change
Tired of trying (without any success) to change bad behavior? Frustrated about how you end up repeating the same mistakes? If your answer to these questions is a big yes, then Mel Robbins’ best seller, The 5 Second Rule , can come to your rescue.
Boasting over 100,000 5-star reviews, The 5 Second Rule is a must-read if you want to break a bad habit.
Mel’s 5 second rule is simple, when you have an instinct to act or perform a certain goal, you must make a physical move in less than five seconds, or your brain will kill the instinct!
Put simply, do whatever you know is right by your goals immediately the thought pops up. Delaying the decision to act on a goal means you’ll probably talk yourself out of it.
The book will teach you a lot about setting goals, sticking to them, and of course, how to break bad habits.
The 5 Second Rule will also impart invaluable wisdom on how to put an end to negative thought processes and gain personal freedom.
8. The Alchemist- Best for Purposeful Living
Widely viewed as one of the best publications of the 20th century, the Alchemist talks about destiny and how much the human mind is in control of it.
It’s the type of book you read when you feel stagnated or unfortunate about life’s circumstances.
In the masterpiece, Paulo Coelho narrates the story of Santiago, a shepherd boy that yearns to travel in pursuit of worldly treasure.
Through Santiago’s mystical experiences, readers learn a lot about life and self-improvement.
I’ve read this title repeatedly as it always has a way to lift my moods and offer a much-needed reassurance about my life goals and choices.
You’ll come through many inspiring quotes as you journey with Santiago until the last page.
You should definitely pick this book up if you want something to keep you motivated and assure you that everything will be okay regardless of your current situation!
9. Awaken the Giant Within- Best for Self-Awareness
Tony Robbins rarely misses the mark in his inspirational books. Although not everyone’s a fan of his approach to life coaching, his undeniable success speaks for itself.
Awaken The Giant Within is an inspirational book that touches on the importance of self-belief and self-awareness, especially when it comes to setting and achieving goals.
As usual, Tony doesn’t shy away from delivering some stinging truths about failure, laziness, and poor attitude.
And as you keep turning the pages, you’ll learn that everything starts with the mind. What you do after waking up and your attitude towards your activities determine the outcomes of your day.
But by taking control of your thoughts and mind, Tony insists that things will start falling in place.
The positive energy will flow not only in your personal relationships but also in your finances, work, and all aspects of life until you become the giant you were always destined to be.
I’d recommend reading this book if you feel low, unlucky, hopeless, or extremely unmotivated. Tony’s hands-on approach will leave you feeling rejuvenated and highly excited about your future.
10. The Art of Happiness- Ideal for a Calm Happy Life
The Dalai Lama dishes out his unbelievable wisdom in The Art of Happiness . Be prepared for a real awakening when you turn through the pages of this outstanding read.
If you feel like something is amiss in your life and you desperately need to ignite a spark to get your mojo back, then you’ll enjoy The Art of Happiness .
The book is brilliantly written in a profound yet simplistic style that welcomes readers to meditate on the words rather than just read for the sake of completion.
And as expected, the Dalai Lama challenges pre-existing stereotypes about worldly happiness and instead urges the reader to focus on personal intelligence and warmheartedness, as opposed to external sources of perceived joy.
The Dalai Lama brilliantly states that true happiness lies internally as long as an individual’s basic needs are met.
This timeless masterpiece is worth reading if you’re in pursuit of inner peace. Whether your work (or school) life or even personal relationships are overwhelming you, dedicating a few minutes to read this insightful book will show you how to overcome your woes.
Why You Should Read Self Help Books
It’s normal to feel unmotivated every now and then. However, if you don’t lift yourself sooner rather than later, you might end up sinking deeper into the pit of hopelessness, loss of focus, and even depression.
Below are some of the reasons why you should consider reading inspirational books.
Inspirational books are great tools for reinvigorating oneself. In fact, most successful people attribute their success to reading inspiring books that reassured them when feeling low or unmotivated.
If you’re going through a challenge or you feel stagnated, interesting titles like The Alchemist, Awaken the Giant Within, The 5 Second Rule, and Make Your Bed can help reignite the lost spark.
The trick with inspirational books is to be truthful to yourself and commit to learning and not just completing the book.
As it’s commonly said, you can learn from a book what you’d learn in 100 lifetimes!
Inspirational books are snippets of wisdom handed down by people who’ve either experienced the situation or learned from others in similar circumstances.
Therefore, reading an inspirational book can teach you ways to cope, strategize, and set (and execute) goals. It’s a great way to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others.
If you commit to an inspirational book, chances are you’ll alter your mindset as you get deeper and deeper into the read.
And as your attitude continues to change, so too do your life outcomes. You’ll start to take failures less personally and eventually develop a thick skin that can overcome all the curveballs life throws your way.
Inspirational books play a massive role in helping people increase their focus and dedication toward personal goals.
For instance, a book about savings and finances will teach you ways to improve your financial discipline and get closer to your goals. Similarly, a book on self-improvement will reveal the tips and tricks of setting and executing goals and targets.
Sometimes, all you need is to listen to others to appreciate your steps and minute blessings. Most inspirational books share stories about how people overcame massive obstacles, which can help make you feel better about your circumstances.
Cultivating a habit of reading inspirational books will make you more appreciative of your achievements, no matter how small.
Inspirational books allow you to learn from successful people you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
These books give you the much-coveted access to the failures and achievements of some of the most successful people in the world.
You can then use the life lessons from your favorite authors to build a solid foundation for your life.
You’ll likely develop positive skills as you continue reading and learning from your mentors’ failures and successes.
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at some of the best inspirational books around, you should be well-placed to choose a title (or several) that resonates best with your interests.
Richard Branson’s Screw It Let’s Do It is an amazing read if you’re in search of life hacks and want to take every opportunity by the horns.
You’ll also enjoy Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People , a proper blueprint for living a fulfilled life regardless of age and status.
If you’re feeling low and need some insights into happy leaving, then the Dalai Lama’s famed title– The Art of Happiness , can make an exquisite read.
Whichever book you choose, it is crucial to commit to completing the book in order to pick up all the important lessons.
And if you can, why not go through all these self help books? They’re totally worth the time and effort.
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25 insightful self-help books that will help you grow in all aspects of your life
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- Self-help books aim to improve an aspect of our lives.
- They might be business books, psychology reads, or memoirs.
- We used Goodreads to rank the best self-help books to read in 2022.
Books can serve so many different purposes, from entertainment to education, but self-help books are designed to help us improve a specific aspect of our lives. Though the very idea of "self-help" books used to conjure mental images of cheesy lectures and impractical advice, the best self-help books actually offer a new perspective for readers to explore habit building, emotional growth, or gain a deeper understanding of the world.
Goodreads is the largest platform in the world for readers to rate and review books, so we turned to Goodreads reviewers to rank the best self-help books to read in 2022. From classics like " How to Win Friends and Influence People " to Susan Cain's " Quiet ," these self-help books include business books, memoirs, philosophy reads, and so much more.
25 of the best self-help books, according to Goodreads
"the subtle art of not giving a f*ck" by mark manson.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.60
Mark Manson is a popular blogger who aimed to defy the norm of "positivity" in self-help books by acknowledging that, sometimes, life sucks! In his book, Manson encourages readers to recognize what is worth caring about and adjusting our perspectives based on our goals.
"Atomic Habits" by James Clear
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.98
" Atomic Habits " is a practical self-help book that helps readers change bad habits and develop good ones. With an abundance of practical examples, any reader can develop a system of change with James Clear's suggestions and motivational writing.
"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.99
With over 700,000 ratings and averaging at 4.21 stars, " How to Win Friends and Influence People " is the best self-help book according to Goodreads members. Selling over 15 million copies since its original publication in 1936, Dale Carnegie's book includes his tried-and-true principles to help readers in their personal and professional lives. There are six principles to help people like you, 12 to help people understand your way of thinking, and nine to encourage change in others.
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey
Available at Amazon , from $12.53
With over 15 million copies sold since its first publication in 1989, this self-help book uses 7 fundamental habits that guide readers toward an independent, successful, and fulfilling life. Using psychological principles, this book begs to be opened over and over again, refreshing readers with life mantras that will lead them to greatness.
"The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.95
After studying patterns across a variety of success stories, Charles Duhigg presents why habits exist — and what we can do to change them. He argues the key to reaching any of our goals lies with understanding how habits are formed and uses researched principles to help readers change habits in order to transform their lives.
"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.58
With a book and Netflix series that changed how we organize and stay tidy, Marie Kondo is a professional organizing consultant who presents the KonMari method of organizing. In " The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ," Kondo introduces readers to her approach to cleaning, including the idea of only keeping items that "spark joy".
"You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.45
This best-selling self-help book uses anecdotes and exercises to help readers break down the mental barriers that are keeping them from achieving their goals. It's an inspirational, motivational, and funny read that aims to instill self-confidence and leave readers feeling refreshed and ready to accomplish anything.
"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.74
In this spiritual self-help book, Don Miguel Ruiz pulls from Toltec wisdom to present four principles that, when applied in harmony with each other, can offer new experiences and happiness in our lives. This book challenges readers to apply four simple truths to their lives: Be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, and always do your best.
"The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.51
" The Power of Now " is a spiritual self-help book that proclaims living in "the now" is the ultimate path to happiness. More a practical guide than a traditional narrative, Tolle aims to inspire readers to become conscious of the thoughts and challenges that prevent us from living in the present moment.
"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.89
Introverts have been widely overlooked in American society. In this psychology book dubbed a favorite self-help read by Goodreads reviewers, Susan Cain uses stories from successful introverts to explain how invaluable introverts are to our community and help introverts value themselves more. To learn more about this book, check out our review of "Quiet."
"The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brené Brown
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.47
Brené Brown's 2010 self-help bestseller is still a favorite amongst Goodreads reviewers for the revelations and impacts her reflections have had on their lives. In this book, Brown explores the psychology behind releasing our expectations of living a "perfect" life and offers 10 benchmarks readers can follow to embrace a more authentic life.
"Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" by Brené Brown
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.99
Based on 12 years of research, " Daring Greatly " is a self-help book that encourages readers to embrace vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness. With personal anecdotes and plenty of examples, this book demonstrates how vulnerability can open new avenues to courage, connection, and creativity.
"Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" by Cal Newport
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.99
" Deep Work " is a self-help book about productivity that aims to help readers understand how to reach a "deep work" state where we can focus on a mentally demanding task without distraction — a skill that has become harder and harder to master in an increasingly distracted world. Cal Newport argues the importance of deep work and presents four rules readers can follow to transform their productivity habits and reach more focused success.
"The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.57
" The 5 Love Languages " is a self-help book whose concepts have permeated many relationships as its popularity grows. In this book, Dr. Gary Chapman proposes that there are five main ways in which people give and receive love. By understanding your and your partner's love language, you can enrich your relationship by showing love more effectively.
"Who Moved My Cheese" by Dr. Spencer Johnson
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.17
First published in 1998, " Who Moved My Cheese ?" is a self-help book in the form of a motivational fable of four characters who live in a maze, looking for cheese. Representing anything we may want in life, the cheese is constantly moving and only when one character successfully navigates change to reach the cheese does the reader discover how to navigate change in their own lives.
"The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11
Written after the hit movie of the same name in 2006, " The Secret " is a self-help book that outlines the law of attraction, a concept Rhonda Byrne claims can change or redirect a person's entire life. With this concept, Byrne encourages readers to find the power within themselves to apply "The Secret" to every aspect of life and achieve nearly anything.
"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.29
This psychology book has helped readers understand the way we think by separating our thought processes into two systems: one that is intuitive and one that is deliberate. By knowing how these two systems work separately and together, we can better understand how we make choices and think about thinking. To learn more about this book, check out our review of "Thinking, Fast and Slow."
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.18
Though " Rich Dad, Poor Dad " is usually seen as a business or finance read , Goodreads reviewers love it as a self-help book as well for its lessons on how to make your money work for you. Author Robert T. Kiyosaki grew up with two dads — his own and his best friend's dad — who shaped his views on money and investing in very different ways. In this book, Kiyosaki explains different financial theories to change how many readers view finances.
"The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun" by Gretchen Rubin
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.19
When Gretchen Rubin realized she wasn't focusing on the things in her life that truly mattered, she decided to dedicate a year to her "happiness project." This autobiographical self-help book is a 12-month chronicle of her journey as she tried new things, focused on improving herself, and embraced happiness while encouraging others to take time and do the same.
"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.38
In a self-help book that aims to inspire creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert offers an honest look at the creative process — with all of its challenges and unrealistic expectations. This book reminds readers that creativity isn't linear or clean and we can be any degree of an artist, writer, or musician that satisfies our soul.
"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.99
" Man's Search for Meaning " is a memoir that begins with psychologist Viktor E. Frankl's experiences in Auschwitz during World War II and how he coped with suffering in order to not just survive it, but move forward with purpose. With psychological, philosophical, and sociological influences, this moving read offers self-help advice through the author's inspirational personal account of searching for a guiding meaning in life. It's also a book that therapists recommend to read if you want to build more empathy .
"The 4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.39
Aiming to help readers escape the confines of a 9-5 job, " The 4-Hour Workweek " encourages a restructuring of our lifestyle to find fulfillment now rather than once we retire. Born of the author's three-week break from his company, this self-help book is modeled after his series of lectures on entrepreneurship given at Princeton University.
"Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.29
While many self-help productivity books encourage readers to work harder, " Getting Things Done " proposes that our productivity is directly linked to our ability to relax, as we can only reach our greatest potential when our minds are clear and organized. This book offers core principles, tricks, and advice to help readers streamline their effectiveness, overcome challenging situations, and avoid the burnout that often comes with an overwhelming workload.
"Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.55
Dr. Carol Dweck is a psychologist who, after decades of research, has discovered just how powerful and affecting our mindset can be in every aspect of our lives. In this book, she demonstrates how we can influence our success by adopting a growth mindset — and how changing the mindset of a community or organization can inspire incredible success.
"Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.94
In this personal development read, Malcolm Gladwell highlights successful "outliers," the best and brightest of our society — from the Beatles to Bill Gates — and what makes them so successful. Gladwell presents the histories of our heroes, their rise to excellence, and how their beginnings carefully positioned them for success.
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