• The 33 Best Self-Help Books of All Time to Read at Any Age

Best Self Help Books

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, bonus: 2-minute pep talks by niklas göke, other book lists by topic, other book lists by author, other book lists by year, best books on self-help overall.

The Alchemist Book Cover (Best Self-Help Books)

Favorite Quote

“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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

Atomic Habits Book Cover

“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.

Thinking Fast and Slow Book Cover

“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.

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.

The Four Agreements Book Cover

“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 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Cover

“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.

Best Self Book Cover

“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.
  • Use the power of honesty to vanquish the villain of fear that is holding you back.
  • Help yourself first so you can take great care of other people.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Book Cover

“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

Girl, Wash Your Face (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 a Badass Book Cover

“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

12 Rules For Life (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.

The 48 Laws of Power Book Cover

“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 Disliked (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.

Man's Search For Meaning Book Cover

“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.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Book Cover

“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

Daring Greatly Book Cover (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.

Big Magic Book Cover

“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.

Quiet Book Cover

“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.

The Magic of Thinking Big Book Cover

“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

How to Win Friends and Influence People (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.

The 5 Love Languages Book Cover

“True love cannot begin 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

Deep Work Book Cover

“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 4 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.

Getting Things Done Book Cover

“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!

Who Moved My Cheese Book Cover

“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

Rich Dad Poor Dad (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.

Think and Grow Rich Book Cover

“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

The 4-Hour Workweek Book Cover (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.

Outliers Book Cover

“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 Power of Positive Thinking Book Cover (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.

The Secret Book Cover

“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.

This is the seminal book on visualization, manifestation, and how to make your dreams a reality through the power of your thoughts. It’ll help you understand and unlock the true power of your mind. It’s not a cheat code for not doing any work, but it goes a long way in tackling our challenges with more optimism, vigor, and determination than ever before.

  • 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

Meditations Book Cover (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.

The Obstacle is the Way Book Cover

“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

The Power of Now Book Cover (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 Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book Cover

“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 will be affected by it. Tidying up your house can help you reach a feeling of calmness and change your mindset, both of which will make you happier.

  • 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.

The 33 Best Self-Help Books of All Time (Bonus): 2-Minute Pep Talks

“Pep talks are like vitamins: You can take them every day preemptively, or you can wait until your body signals a lack of them — but sooner or later, you will need your vitamins.” — Niklas Göke

2-Minute Pep Talks is a collection of 67 short jolts of inspiration for more hope, comfort, and love in any situation, providing you with a daily dose of good-spiritedness so you can tackle each day with the lightness, excitement, and optimism we all used to feel as kids.

If you feel tired, burned out, or are going through a slump in motivation, this book is for you. It’ll reignite your inner fire, but not with rah-rah speeches and bold claims. Instead, these soothing daily messages will make you think and give you a quiet sense of strength that, yes, you can do this — whatever “this” is. If you enjoy brief stories from all walks of life that contain powerful lessons and are looking for a way to stay consistently motivated without injecting caffeine straight into your veins, get this book.

  • No matter what has happened in your life thus far, you’re still here, and that’s all that matters.
  • The secret to life is that there is no secret, except showing up on a daily basis for the things and people we care about.
  • If you’re not valued, chances are, you’re just in the wrong place.

We don’t have this one on our roster yet, but thankfully, each chapter is even shorter than a Four Minute Books summary! Grab a copy, and in just two minutes a day, you’ll feel empowered, calm, and resilient!

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 60 Best Business Books of All Time (Will Forever Change How You Think About Organizations)
  • 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 12 Best Nonfiction Books Most People Have Never Heard Of
  • 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
  • The 22 Best Books About Sex & Sexuality to Improve Your Love Life & Relationships
  • The 30 Most Life-Changing Books That Will Shift Your Perspective & Stay With You Forever

Looking for more books by the world’s most celebrated authors? Here are all of the book lists by the author we’ve curated for you:

  • All Brené Brown Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • Jordan Peterson Books: All Titles in Order of Publication + The 5 Top Books He Recommends
  • All Malcolm Gladwell Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Michael Pollan Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • Peter Thiel Books: A Comprehensive List of Books By, About & Recommended by Peter Thiel
  • All Rachel Hollis Books: The Full List of Non-Fiction, Fiction & Cookbooks, Sorted by Popularity & the Best Reading Order
  • All Ray Dalio Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Robert Greene Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Ryan Holiday Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Simon Sinek Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Tim Ferriss Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Walter Isaacson Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)

Want more books sorted by the year they came out? Here are all the best-of lists we’ve made for you based on various years:

  • The 21 Best Books of 2021 (Fiction & Nonfiction)

Last Updated on September 30, 2023

*Four Minute Books participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising commissions by linking to Amazon. We also participate in other affiliate programs, such as Blinkist, MindValley, Audible, Audiobooks, Reading.FM, and others. Our referral links allow us to earn commissions (at no extra cost to you) and keep the site running. Thank you for your support.

Need some inspiration? 👀 Here are... The 365 Most Famous Quotes of All Time »

  • Scholarships

40 Best Self-Help & Personal Growth Books to Read in 2023

Self-help books are the most reliable way to change your life for the better. While the self-improvement and personal growth industry has a mixed reputation, it’s undeniable that if you build the habit of reading self-help books, taking notes, and actioning valuable lessons, you can transform your life in profound ways.

As someone who has read  200+ books  in the last five years, including dozens of self-improvement books and personal development books, I’m a firm believer that you can use books to improve almost any area of your life, including finding a fulfilling career, becoming more productive, learning how to navigate difficult times, developing new skills, and learning how to manage your money.

Given the volume of great works available from the world’s leading thinkers across disciplines, it’s clear that books can help you solve almost any problem in your life. But when it comes to self-help books, the most important thing you can do is  choose the best books  to read. With millions of personal development books available on the market, that task is easier said than done.

This article exists to help make the task of selecting the right self-help books easier. Below, you will find 40 of the best self-improvement books of all time, broken down by categories so that you can find the book that fits your life and current needs. If you get started with these books and put the lessons into practice, you will move closer to where you want to go.

The Best Self-Help Books To Make Your Life Better

Best self-help books for everyone, best self-help books for difficult times, best self-help books for productivity, best self-help books for women, best self-help books for men, best self-help books for your 20s, best self-help books for your career, best self-help books for relationships & romance, best self-help books for your mind, best self-help books for your finances, best self-help books for creativity, how to get more from self-help books, additional book lists, 1. awaken the giant within by tony robbins.

Awaken the Giant Within Book Cover

“Achievers rarely, if ever, see a problem as permanent, while those who fail see even the smallest problems as permanent.”

Rating : 9/10

Why it’s Great : A classic self-improvement book for people who want to embark on a deep psychological investigation of their mind, body, emotions, and finances. You’ll learn about the motivating forces of pain and pleasure, the importance of the questions you ask, and how to clarify and live by your values. Read it slowly and do the exercises.

2. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*Ck By Mark Manson

“The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all.”

Rating : 9.5/10

Why it’s Great : Mark Manson provides philosophical and candid thoughts on how we can live a better life, starting with rejecting the fluffy, positive psychology obsessed self-improvement culture of the modern era. He explores what it means to embrace the negative aspects of life, take responsibility for everything that happens to us, prioritize good values, and choose the problems that we solve.

3.  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

“The greatest mistake physicians make is that they attempt to cure the body without attempting to cure the mind; yet the mind and body are one and should not be treated separately.” – Plato

Why it’s Great : In this time-tested book, Dale Carnegie shows us how to conquer worry and anxiety. Via engaging stories that reveal helpful lessons and practical frameworks, Carnegie arms you with an array of tools that will help you start living more fully and without the harmful effects of worry. Even though this book was written in 1936, the deceptively simple lessons from this book will help you better navigate the noise of the modern era.

4.  The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Why it’s Great : Through an elegant narrative about an Andalusian shepherd boy, Coelho communicates essential life lessons, including the importance of pursuing your passions, living in the present moment, and doing things with love and enthusiasm.

5.  Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning Book Cover

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Rating : 10/10

Why it’s Great : In this heart-wrenching story, Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl leverages his personal experiences in Nazi concentration camps and the philosophy of logotherapy to show you that you can overcome and find meaning in the face of unimaginable tragedy. His core idea is that while we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we respond to everything we encounter in life.

6.  When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

When Things Fall Apart Book Cover

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”

Why it’s Great : This book will help you navigate the peaks and valleys of life. Buddhist Pema Chodron shares a compelling philosophy of how to live in a fundamentally shifting world and introduces many concepts from Buddhism that you can incorporate into your life.

7. The Obstacle Is The Way By Ryan Holiday

“We blame our bosses, the economy, our politicians, other people, or we write ourselves off as failures or our goals as impossible. When really only one thing is at fault: our attitude and approach.”

Rating : 8.5/10

Why it’s Great : A practical and actionable philosophy on how to perceive, act, and thrive in an uncertain and changing world. Leveraging the wisdom of the Stoics, Holiday explains how we can deliberately improve the way we perceive the world and find opportunities in the obstacles we face.

8. Meditations By Marcus Aurelius

Meditations Book Cover

“Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquillity. And by tranquillity I mean a kind of harmony.”

Why it’s Great : This is a life-changing collection of philosophical and spiritual thoughts from the former Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The work is grounded in Stoicism, a practical philosophy that encourages us to keep our mortality in mind at all times, view things as they are, reflect thoughtfully, focus on what’s within our control, and practice virtues like generosity, honesty, and self-control.

9.  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less By Greg McKeown

“Essentialists spend as much time as possible exploring, listening, debating, questioning, and thinking. But their exploration is not an end in itself. The purpose of the exploration is to discern the vital few from the trivial many.”

Why it’s Great : A compelling philosophy about living consciously, focusing on the essential few things that fulfill you, and designing your life to achieve your highest point of contribution. McKeown highlights the danger of failing to recognize tradeoffs, the necessity of learning to say no, the value of deep work , and the importance of play and sleep.

10 .  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

“And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom—and the responsibility—to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”

Rating : 8/10

Why it’s Great : Good habits are the foundation of all personal success. The Power of Habit is a digestible and informed examination of why habits exist, how they work, and how you can change them. This book will give you the foundational understanding required to make new habits stick and break old habits that are limiting your daily life. Pair this book with  Atomic Habits by James Clear to develop more self-mastery, live a happy life, and achieve success.

11.  The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt

“Since the strength of the chain is determined by the weakest link, then the first step to improve an organization must be to identify the weakest link.”

Why it’s Great : The Goal does not make most personal development book lists, and that’s a shame. Through an engaging fictional story about a manager who has 90 days to turn around his plant, author Eliyahu Goldratt teaches you the first principles of operating and improving any system. Reading this book will show you how to implement an effective and efficient process of ongoing improvement. His approach provides you with a valuable skill that will allow you to better approach problems in life and business.

12.  Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

“While desire naturally arises again, the wisdom of seeing that everything passes is liberating. Observing desire without acting on it enlarges our freedom to choose how we live.”

Why it’s Great : If you have ever struggled with self-compassion, self-love, or low self-esteem, Radical Acceptance is the book for you. Clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, introduces a fantastic approach that will help you live life with a better understanding of your experiences and emotions.

13.  The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity… you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others”

Why it’s Great : The 48 Laws of Power is a timeless guide that offers a dense, candid, and frightening examination of power and its many dynamics. If you want to understand human nature, get better at identifying bad actors, and avoid the pitfalls of naive positive thinking, this is one of the best personal development books to get a new perspective.

14.  The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

“To complain is always non-acceptance of what is.”

Why it’s Great : Eckhart Tolle explores presence, thinking, and spirituality to help you understand what presence means, how thinking and non-acceptance drive a lot of human pain, and how to live a life that reduces suffering.

15.   Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus

“To live one day well is the same as to live ten thousand days well. To master twenty-four hours is to master your life.”

Why it’s Great : A no-nonsense book with tactical, science-backed insights on how to live a healthier, energy-filled, and fulfilling life. Many practices in this book have helped me boost my daily energy and productivity.

16.  The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant

Lessons Of History Book Cover

“So the first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life—peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food.”

Why it’s Great : A concise, thematic account of history that covers the core biological, social, economic, and philosophical lessons of history. The Durants introduce you to everything from the 3 fundamental biological lessons of life to the origins of racial antipathies.

17.  Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance By Robert Pirsig

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

Why it’s Great : Pirsig takes us on a philosophical journey through the engaging narrative of a middle-aged man who takes his son on a motorcycle trip across America. You’ll walk away with a newfound appreciation for philosophy and the great interconnectedness of the world.

18. Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

“Life is all about growth and change. It’s not static. It’s not about some destination. It’s not about answering the question once and for all and then it’s all done. Nobody really knows what he or she wants to be.”

Why it’s Great : In this book, Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show you how to use design thinking to create a meaningful, joyful, and fulfilling life. If you fully engage with the frameworks and self-reflection exercises, you will have a clearer path to creating a life worth living.

19. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

“Goals direct us from the inside, but shoulds are paralyzing judgments from the outside. Goals feel like authentic dreams while shoulds feel like oppressive obligations. Shoulds set up a false dichotomy between either meeting an ideal or being a failure, between perfection or settling. The tyranny of the should even pits us against our own best interests.”

Why it’s Great : This book directly challenges the thirty-is-the-new-twenty culture. Through research and anecdotes from her time as a clinical psychologist, Meg Jay advocates for being intentional about how you spend your twenties.

20.  Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.” – Milan Kundera

Why it’s Great : Wanting is a transformational deep dive into the origins of desire. In it, Luke Burgis shows us how we come to want certain things in life and how we can transform our relationship with desire in ways that allow us to live a more aligned, fulfilling existence with other people. Burgis’s work builds off of the philosophy of René Girard, a French philosopher who spent his life understanding and writing about the human condition.

21.  Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Caroll Tavris and Elliot Aronson

“Our convictions about who we are carry us through the day, and we are constantly interpreting the things that happen to us through the filter of those core beliefs.”

Why it’s Great : An insightful examination of how and why we self-justify everything we do and the dangers of this human tendency to self-justify. You will walk away with a humbling skepticism about the reliability of your memory, the source of your beliefs, and the motivations behind your actions.

22.  Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

Why it’s Great : Phil Knight recounts his struggles, victories, and lessons learned from building Nike from a small startup to a billion dollar shoe giant. He tells engaging and inspiring stories that highlight his personal philosophies on life. Knight encourages us all to seek and pursue a calling, even if we don’t yet know what that means.

23.   Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

“Persuasion is not about how bright or smooth or forceful you are. It’s about the other party convincing themselves that the solution you want is their own idea. So don’t beat them with logic or brute force. Ask them questions that open paths to your goals. It’s not about you.”

Why it’s Great : International hostage negotiator Chris Voss provides a practical guide and set of principles to improve your effectiveness in getting what you want. You’ll learn that being a good negotiator is about being an effective communicator, understanding what drives people’s decisions, and using counterintuitive techniques, such as asking calibrated questions, beginning with “no”, and listening actively and empathetically.

24.  Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success By Adam Grant

“Highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck.”

Why it’s Great : This book reshaped my understanding of what drives success. With an engaging body of research, Wharton professor Adam Grant demonstrates how, combined with motivation, ability, and opportunity, being a giver in our attitudes and actions towards others can fuel our long-term personal and career success.

25 .  How To Lie With Statistics By Darrell Huff

“‘Does it make sense?’ will often cut a statistic down to size when the whole rigmarole is based on an unproved assumption.”

Why it’s Great : We all learn statistics in school, but rarely do we apply the important and basic principles of statistics in adulthood. This book is a great primer on statistics that shows you all of the ways in which we are manipulated by data at work, in the news, and more.

26. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Why it’s great: How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best self-improvement books of all time. It is full of practical advice for anyone who wants to improve their relationships, influence people, and achieve success. Above all else, Carnegie teaches us that connecting with other people is a skill (not a natural talent) and that through being honest with our shortcomings and intentional in our efforts to overcome those challenges, we develop more self-confidence and rewarding relationships.

27. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Four Agreements Book Cover

“Making assumptions in relationships leads to a lot of fights, a lot of difficulties, a lot of misunderstandings with people we supposedly love.”

Why it’s great: Leveraging the teachings and wisdom of the ancient Toltecs, Don Miguel Ruiz takes you on a spiritual and philosophical path of understanding and changing the agreements you have with yourself. He first shows how you are indoctrinated with beliefs that harm your well-being and then teaches you how to reshape those beliefs. The result is that you leave the book with four new agreements that will help you create a life of connection, joy, and fulfillment.

28.  Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson

“…vulnerability is not a technique or tactic. It is a way of being. It’s not something you learn, it’s a mindset you practice.”

Why it’s Great : Personal development extends to all areas of life, including your romantic endeavors. If you’re struggling in your romantic life, Models is a wonderful book. Author Mark Manson will help you understand how to be less needy, express yourself in healthy ways, and get comfortable with dating in an attempt to make your dating life easier and more rewarding.

29.  Awareness: Conversations with the Masters by Anthony de Mello

“When you renounce or fight something, you become tied to it. In fighting it, you give it power. So instead of fighting, give in. You might find that what you’ve been resisting no longer holds the same power over you.”

Why it’s Great : Awareness is nourishment for the soul. In a humorous and digestible way, Anthony de Mello helps you understand yourself and the world in a way that will help you improve the quality of your life.

30.  Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wherever You Go There You Are Book Cover

“Meditation is neither shutting things out nor off. It is seeing things clearly, and deliberately positioning yourself differently in relationship to them.”

Why it’s Great : A clear and engaging introduction to practicing meditation and cultivating mindfulness in your life as a pathway to personal development. You will learn about what meditation and mindfulness are, why they matter, how to introduce them to your daily activities and way of operating. If you’re interested in living a life with more clarity, presence, awareness, and acceptance, this book will help you get there.

31.  On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

On The Shortness of Life Book Cover

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”

Why it’s Great : On the Shortness of Life is one of those self-improvement books that will make you think. Unlike books that rely on ever-changing scientific research, the Stoic philosopher Seneca uses his life experience to reveal time-tested insights about how to live a good life. Through stories, he reveals the wisdom in slowing down, the futility of worrying about the future, the importance of learning how to master your emotions, and how to act in the face of uncertainty.

32. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

Why it’s Great : What a wonderfully heavy and moving read that offers a window into the human mind grappling with the precipice of life and death. In it, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi confronts the question of what makes life meaningful in the face of death. He wrote the book after being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer at the peak of his career.

33.  The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Psychology of Money Book Cover

“Getting money requires taking risks, being optimistic, and putting yourself out there. But keeping money requires the opposite of taking risk. It requires humility, and fear that what you’ve made can be taken away from you just as fast. It requires frugality and an acceptance that at least some of what you’ve made is attributable to luck, so past success can’t be relied upon to repeat indefinitely.”

Why it’s Great : In the Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel teaches you how to have a better relationship with money and to make smarter financial decisions. Instead of pretending that humans are ROI-optimizing machines, he shows you how your psychology can work for and against you.

34. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: Including A Life-Cycle Guide To Personal Investing By Burton Malkiel

“The core of every portfolio should consist of low-cost, tax-efficient, broad-based index funds.”

Why it’s Great : A Random Walk Down Wall Street is a classic guide full of amazing research that blends history, economics, market theory, and behavioral finance to offer practical and actionable advice for investing and achieving financial freedom. Malkiel’s central message is abundantly clear – begin a consistent savings plan as early as possible and invest the core of your portfolio in low-cost, broad-based index funds.

35. The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins

“Since money is the single most powerful tool we have for navigating this complex world we’ve created, understanding it is critical. If you choose to master it, money becomes a wonderful servant. If you don’t, it will surely master you.”

Read this book if you want to get your personal finances in order. In a simple, engaging way, Collins shares the basic wisdom you need to make your money work for you, not against you. You’ll walk away with a practical toolkit to achieving financial freedom with minimal effort.

36. Rich Dad Poor Dad By Robert Kiyosaki

“It’s fear that keeps most people working at a job: the fear of not paying the bills, the fear of being fired, the fear of not having enough money, and the fear of starting over. That’s the price of studying to learn a profession or trade, and then working for money. Most people become a slave to money – and then get angry with their boss.”

Rating : 7.5/10

Why it’s Great : In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki gives you the crash-course financial education that you should have learned in school. If you want to accrue wealth, this self-help book is filled with solid advice and success principles for creating a better financial life.

37. The War Of Art By Steven Pressfield

The War of Art Book Cover

“The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

Why it’s Great : If you write or create, read this book. Pressfield names the killer of creative dreams: Resistance. He describes the many forms it takes and outlines a plan to overcome it. If you have creative dreams, Pressfield will prepare and inspire you for the war ahead.

38. The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

“Creativity is not a rare ability. It is not difficult to access. Creativity is a fundamental aspect of being human. It’s our birthright. And it’s for all of us.”

Why it’s Great : Legendary music producer Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act: A Way of Being is a mind-bending series of meditations on what it means to be an artist and creator. Through 78 philosophical musings, Rubin shares the wisdom that we are all artists, offers helpful mental frames for creating and moving through roadblocks, and helps you develop an understanding of what it means to operate as an artist in the world.

39.  The Art Of Possibility by Rosamund And Benjamin Zander

“Gracing yourself with responsibility for everything that happens in your life leaves your spirit whole, and leaves you free to choose again.”

Why it’s Great : In this engaging read, a music conductor and an experienced psychotherapist introduce 12 unique personal development practices that will reshape how you see the world and accelerate your personal and professional growth.

40.  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”

Why it’s Great : This timeless, 12-week course is sure to fill your spirit and help you be more creative. Cameron offers heartfelt advice for all creatives and a medley of helpful practices like morning pages and artist dates that will make you a happier, better creative.

  • To get more out of every self-help and personal growth book you read, check out How to Read a Nonfiction Book. This article will help you get the most out of the time you spend reading, starting with the topic of choosing the right books.
  • If you read with a Kindle (highly recommend), check out Readwise , a tool that allows you to access and learn from all of the highlights and notes you make while you read.
  • If you struggle to read, try listening to audiobooks with Amazon Audible .
  • Finally, I send out a weekly Sunday newsletter, Life Reimagined , with helpful ideas and quotes from good books. If you want to receive small nuggets of wisdom and recommendations for future reading every week, you can sign up below.
  • 28 Books That Will Expand Your Mind
  • 49 Best Philosophy Books for Beginners
  • 11 Best Books On Decision Making
  • 100+ Book Summaries and Notes

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13 of the best self-development books for your favourite version of you

The best modern-day guides to help you live your best life

Headshot of Hannah Fox

Ten Times Calmer - Dr Kirren Schnack

Ten Times Calmer - Dr Kirren Schnack

Clinical Psychologist Dr Kirren's popular Instagram account has become a go-to for honest, actionable anxiety advice and useful information on how our minds work, so her book has been a welcome addition to our bookshelves.

With so many books available on the market claiming to help us beat our anxieties and face our biggest challenges, it can be confusing to know which to go for. Dr Kirren's warm, practical advice is what sets her book apart for us: we like action. If you want insight into how anxiety works and what really goes on in our minds alongside tips and takeaways that you can immediately implement, you'll like this debut.

Manifest for Kids - Roxie Nafousi

Manifest for Kids - Roxie Nafousi

Fans of Roxie Nafousi's iconic orange bible, Manifest , will understand how exciting it could be to get the children in our lives harnessing the power of manifestation and self-belief from a young age.

As a parent herself, Nafousi knows that teaching children to understand and articulate emotions is challenging for any caregiver, and so in her latest book designed for children ages 8-12, our little ones can learn the power of self-belief, gratitude and goal setting - and we can't wait to see a new generation of manifesters.

Atomic Habits - James Clear

Atomic Habits - James Clear

Understanding how our minds work is key to adapting them, and James Clear absolutely understands this in his million copy bestseller, Atomic Habits. In just a few chapters you can feel how this book is different to other self-development books: it will motivate and inspire you to change your daily life for the better, and show you how.

The misconception that we must 'think big' to create change often prevents us from doing anything at all but, as Clear shares, it is in understanding our small daily habits that real change happens. You'll learn how our brains form habits - positive ones and negative ones - and how we can use this knowledge to create lives we truly love.

Good Vibes, Good Life - Vex King

Good Vibes, Good Life - Vex King

Vex King’s modern take on the law of attraction is enough to challenge any sceptic. According to King, everything carries its own energy – and that includes us. Our bodies vibrate with this energy, and vibrations can be high or low based on the emotion behind them: negative emotions create low vibrations, and positive emotions create high vibrations.

In Good Vibes, Good Life , King reveals how raising your vibration can encourage further positivity towards us: joy breeds joy. But the approach is one of realism – it’s not just a case of deciding to be positive from… now. It’s about dealing with the things you need to deal with, prioritising self-care and overcoming all of the things which are holding you back.

Untamed - Glennon Doyle

Untamed - Glennon Doyle

“Who were you before the world told you who to be?” asks Glennon Doyle’s Untamed , a thoughtful exploration of the conditioning of women – and it’s a wake-up call. Encouraging all of us to be brave, Doyle shares stories from her own life and learnings to help us unleash our true inner selves, untamed.

Somehow written with both extreme sensitivity and powerful force, the messages Doyle shares in Untamed provide life-changing revelations for readers who are open to the idea that the true you may not be present in your day-to-day life – and once you know this, you will want to find her.

The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel van der Kolk

The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel van der Kolk

We all carry past emotions within us, and Bessel van der Kolk has dedicated his life to exploring the impact this has on us and how we can overcome it. Each of us has experienced things we’d rather leave in the past; but our brains and our bodies don’t forget. In The Body Keeps the Score , van der Kolk shares his life’s work in understanding the very real impact that serious stress can have on us long after it’s passed, sitting in our bodies and often wreaking havoc on our lives.

The Body Keeps the Score gives us practical tips and information on how we can release the past from the very fibres of our bodies, enjoy more fulfilling lives, and truly leave our past experiences behind.

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? - Dr Julie Smith

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? - Dr Julie Smith

Clinical Psychologist Dr Julie Smith became a social media sensation by providing actionable, practical insights and tips for users to improve their mental health. In her book, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? , Dr Smith makes therapy techniques accessible for all – because they should be, right? – and claims that the tools provided in the book are “not therapy skills, [but] life skills”.

The book aims to educate readers on the ins and outs of how our minds work in an understandable, digestible way, to empower us to take control, build resilience and nurture good mental health. If you’re looking for lightbulb moments and practical tips on what to do with them, ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ is a good place to start.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k - Sarah Knight

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k - Sarah Knight

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, uninspired and stressed , you might need a f**k budget. Sarah Knight encourages readers to consider where they may be spending too much energy, whether that be through unwanted obligations, people pleasing or having a ‘bikini body’ (no thank you) – and to spend that energy elsewhere, where we actually want to.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k , we’re challenged to review where and how we spend our time and focus back in on how we want our lives to be. We could all do with spending a little less time on certain things, or with certain people, and Knight’s no-nonsense approach will help you work out what really matters.

How to Fail - Elizabeth Day

How to Fail - Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day takes the message of her cult podcast to this stirring book. Part memoir, part inspirational guide, it's all about learning how to embrace failure in order to know how to succeed better.

Day reminds us all that failure is really part of success if we can use it as an opportunity to grow. How To Fail is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail makes us stronger in the end and provides an important part of our process as human individuals: we all fail, and sometimes, going wrong can be a wonderful thing.

That Little Voice In Your Head - Mo Gawdat

That Little Voice In Your Head - Mo Gawdat

Mo Gawdat’s personal story of the loss of his son is tragic and inspirational – though he wouldn’t describe it as that. Gowdat is full of wisdom on how we can optimise our minds for happiness – because unfortunately, it’s not always the default for many of us.

The premise of Gowdat’s message is that in understanding how our brains work, we can engineer happiness for ourselves: beat negative self-talk, change thought processes, and use the predictability of our brains to reprogram them for positivity. Based on neuroscience, That Little Voice in Your Head brings simplicity to our most complex of functions and what it means to be human, and empowers us to “adjust the code” running our brains.

The Course of Love - Alain de Botton

The Course of Love - Alain de Botton

As one of the world’s greatest thinkers, we’re always intrigued about what Alain de Botton has to say. Debunking the myth of the ‘happily ever after’ we’re all sold, The Course of Love explores marriage in its most messy, beautiful, modern-day form.

The book provides a safe sense of familiarity through relatable, real-life anecdotes and learning opportunities on them, to help all of us nurture our relationships in ways which are real. It’s not romantic, it’s not always pretty – and that’s the best thing about it.

Ikigai - Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Ikigai - Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Ikigai, which means “a reason to live” in Japanese, is a word that we should all have in our vocabulary. Ikigai itself is about balance, and that’s what the book aims to help readers achieve. Bringing together your needs, wants and desires isn’t always practical – perhaps you’re passionate about something you’re trying to turn into a career , or you’re unsure on what your purpose is – but García and Miralles make it refreshingly simple to find your joy.

Ikigai also explores how making choices to prioritise wellness and lead healthier lifestyles can help us to live longer, providing practical tips on how small changes can have big effects.

The Discomfort Zone - Farrah Storr

The Discomfort Zone - Farrah Storr

It’s human nature to favour things within our comfort zones – but is that really where we thrive? Former editor-in-chief of Elle UK , Farrah Storr , has penned this eloquent guide to moving towards the things that scare us and finding power in facing challenges head on. Her book teaches an adaptable method to allow you to – yes – feel the fear and do it anyway.

Storr shares that “brief moments of discomfort” are what help us to grow and get to where we need to be, and in exploring our discomfort zones, we can achieve great things.

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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.

‘Effortless action’ … detail from image of Lao Tzu held by the British Museum.

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”.

replica of Henry David Thoreau’s house close to Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts.

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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“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain

There are instances in your life where you feel trapped in a vortex of doubt, where you have to make the decision to take the trodden path or the road not taken. These instances are moments which have a drastic effect on your life. To make the best out of these moments, we ought to have a wider perspective in life which we can easily gain by reading books; specifically self-help books. Self-help books help in widening our tunnel vision and thus empowering us for the better.

With inputs from our experts, we have put together a list of 10 self-help books which are a must read:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

This thought-provoking book not only makes you think but also to take action to translate your dreams into realities. This is a book which not just talks about the monetary riches but also about how to make one’s behaviour and mind rich. Not many books can take pride in having the research of 20 years into its content, this one does.

“In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.”

Have you ever wondered why you were not taught anything about managing money in your school and college whereas in the real world it’s an indispensable skill to have? Well here is the book for you in that case. It gives you an insight into the way rich people think, thereby widening your perspective.

3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it”

Do you often find yourself thinking? We all do! It’s a basic human nature. But have you ever wondered what goes into thinking? How can we think better? Is thinking fast effective? Are slow thinkers losing out? Well, this book engages the reader in a gripping tale woven with enlightening insights into how choices are made and makes us aware of the different facets of thinking and things we think about.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“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.”

This is a must read book for everyone and not just people with social anxiety or nerds, because it contains some timeless tips on how to be sociable with people, and how to influence them with your ideas. It is a handbook for people who have problems dealing with people and for people who want to improve their relationships. It comes in handy when dealing with dealing with children as well.

5.  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

The message of this book is not new at all, but it is not old wine in a new bottle as well. Tolle being a world class teacher packs the message of this book to resolve in a very concise and concrete way to the readers to make them understand the underlying philosophies of the book in the simplest of terms. The topics discussed are – the source of Chi, enlightened relationships, creative use of the mind, impermanence and the cycle of life.)

6.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

This book reinforces the long withstanding belief in the power of habits by rediscovering a new approach to it. The philosophy behind this approach is so ingenuine that it connects with an audience of different ages from different walks of life. This book still serves as a go-to book for many people to solve their problems.

7.  The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.”

This book is unlike any other book in this collection because of how it is written. It takes the reader on a philosophical journey with its poetic essays which have inspired generations. It’s regarded as one of his best works and successfully brings out the spiritual being in one to understand oneself better.

8.  Outliers: The Story of Success  by Malcolm Gladwell

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

In this remarkably recent book, Malcolm asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? And explores the answers. He comes up with the famous 10,000-hour practice theory which is worth looking into and provides a thought-provoking insight into the lives of successful people by going into their background and digging out the reasons that made them successful.

9.  The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate.”

Whenever you find yourself in doubt, stay positive – this is one of the biggest mantras I use in my life to tackle the most ambiguous of situations.

Thanks to this book, I can position myself on the brighter side of any situation now. Such is the power of positive thinking.

10. Who Moved my Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

This is a book which makes you ask questions to yourself about the way you think and challenges your beliefs. A fun aspect of this book is unlike any other self-help book, it has an amusing story about two mice which gives you an insight into your own life and the decisions you have made or are about to make. In a nutshell, it prepares you for the unexpected changes that are about to come into your life.

So, what are you waiting for?  Grab one of these and get started with a more productive weekend. 

Mention in comments if we have missed any good ones. We will include that in our next edition.

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65 Most Inspiring Self-Help Books To Refresh The Way You Think

From memoirs to mental decluttering guides, here is your go-to list of self-care literature, to help your mind, body and beliefs

best self help books

Whether you want to feel more courageous, implement new habits for your daily routine, stop worrying or become more productive, self-help books have the ability to help you unlock your potential, and have you feeling happier and healthier.

According to the mental health charity MIND : ‘Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems.

‘They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse.’

The current cost of living crisis and economic uncertainty may mean you're trying to juggle spending habits with a yearn to invest in yourself, whether that comes to your career, relationships or living situation. And where better to find a helping hand during that journey than with a self-help book?

Here are the best self-help books to buy in 2023 to rejig your life:

Glennon Doyle

Glennon Doyle

The blurb for Adele-approved book Untamed reads: ‘When women learn to please, we forget who we are.’ The part memoir, part self-help book clocked up 68,000 sales in its first week out in March 2020 — and for good reason too. Doyle's book encourages readers to trust their instincts more, in turn helping them to become more at peace with themselves.

Taking to Instagram to gush about the book, Adele said in 2020: ‘If you’re ready - this book will shake your brain and make your soul scream. I am so ready for myself after reading this book! It’s as if I just flew into my body for the very first time. Whew!’

Waterstone Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More and Live Bolder

Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More and Live Bolder

It's time to unlearn everything you've been programmed to understand about how to be courageous with the help of Girls Who Code founder, Reshma Saujani. Saujani's book focuses on ways in which women are primed to be perfect (and therefore feel inadequate when they don't achieve what they set out to) before offering advice to ensure you're making courageous decisions in everyday life, whether that's standing up for yourself or quitting your job and pursuing your true passion. For anybody who feels like they're at a crossroads in their life, this book will change your perspective.

Dr Tara Swart The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life

Ever wondered what the neuroscience is behind manifestation? That’s precisely what The Source covers, including the myriad ways in which manifestation can work. Dr. Tara Swart is a neuroscientist and senior lecturer at MIT and in her revered self-help book she reveals the science that supports The Law of Attraction as an effective tool for self-discovery.

Penguin Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Susan Cain perfectly articulates why the binaries of being an introvert or an extrovert are outdated. Having practiced corporate law for seven years, Cain explores this concept in order to bring new life to the definition of introverts and extroverts. Prepare for your mind to be blown.

Thinking, Fast and Slow (Paperback)

Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics in 2002, interrogates the human condition by explaining behavioural economics, and how certain human behaviours can be analysed in order to make different, or better choices.

Kahneman seminal book helps us to analyse how we can separate ourselves from ‘fast’ or irrational thinking to lead better, calmer more logical lives.

Me vs Brain: An Overthinker’s Guide to Life

Overthinkers rejoice. Me vs Brain is all about unpicking the anxiety-inducing thoughts, feelings and worries that can take a toll on us daily, which Hayley Morris knows all too well.

Otherwise known as 'the brain girl', Morris wants to make it clear that she is normal, as is everyone like her. From imaginary arguments to sleepless nights, Morris has experienced the various realities of having an overworked brain, and has used it to create this guide that delves into topics such as dating and menstrual health. Here's to taking steps towards feeling more confident in our skin.

The Squiggly Career: The No.1 Sunday Times Business Bestseller - Ditch the Ladder, Discover Opportunity, Design Your Career

For many, career ladders are a thing of the past. Instead, a flexible work arrangement, undefined next steps and, as this book title suggests, a squiggly employment history are more and more common. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, as of June 2022, more than 6.5 million people in the UK expect to quit their job in the next 12 months. This book helps to ease the stress and overwhelming feelings that can arise from moving frequently and fluidly between roles. It highlights the opportunities, freedom and fulfilment that can follow.

Featuring personal case studies from highly successful people, it inspires career growth and happiness, your way.

John Murray Learning The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM

If you want to fiercely own your morning routine and wake up to your full potential, let The Miracle Morning be your guide. Author Hal Elrod provides transformative tips for maximising your days by allowing time to do the things you love. By following his advice, you'll wake up feeling more motivated, energised and focused. Ever found yourself creating a vision board of your dream life? Read this and bring it to life.

You Coach You: The No.1 Sunday Times Business Bestseller – How to Overcome Challenges and Take Control of Your Career

Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis are the founders of award-winning career development company Amazing If. They are using their success in business to help others become confident self-directed leaders. This tool guide is a subversive take on self-help books, as it helps us to seek out our inner coach to feel assured we can make transformative changes in our professional life on our own accord. Develop self-awareness and 'own' your career with the powerful duo's insightful tips which will see you through even the toughest days.

Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthy Eating

Get ready to unlearn everything you know about dieting and weight loss. Brought to you by registered dietician Rachael Hartley, who champions inclusive nutrition, intuitive eating and body image healing, it focuses on a non-restrictive approach to healthy eating. Cutting through toxic messaging, she demonstrates how gentle nutrition allows for nourishing our bodies throughout the day while taking pleasure from food. It includes 50 nutritious recipes, too.

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

Dr Julie teaches powerful training techniques that will help you develop resilience no matter how hard your experiences have been.

Easy to digest, this book comes in the form of bite-size entries, enabling you to turn to a specific section and tackle a particular problem or challenge. It will boost your self-confidence and motivation, whether you're feeling anxious, facing criticism or grappling with a low mood.

Financial Wellness and How to Find It

Navigating our finances can have a strenuous affect on our mental health, and becoming more at peace with spending, prioritising and budgeting becomes much easier when we have a healthy relationship with our finances. That's where Melanie Eusebe comes in. She shares tools and resources to help you revive your approach to money and manage your financial happiness, regardless of the economy.

Audible Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home

This topical and continually relevant book is one for every office worker, with provocative reporting and interviews featuring workers and managers to highlight key issues around office work. Fairness, flexibility and inclusivity are all covered, and rather than just being about remote working, this book sets out to renew our relationship with the office.

Saved by the Siesta: fight tiredness and boost your health by unlocking the science of napping

You've heard about the importance of sleep and the effect a lack of it has on the body. This book, however, gives a refreshing, in-depth insight into the subtleties of sleep - the right body position to adopt, the times that are conductive, the stages of sleep that heighten awareness and more. It unplugs how to get to sleep efficiently and wake up feeling well-rested. Not to mention, it gives a practical guide around the benefits of napping.

Audible Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy

Our days are often peppered with feel good memes and positive quotes such as 'good vibes only'. While mood boosting on occasions, they can often make us feel as though taking time to grieve from a break up, for example, or to understand career pressures should be soothed simply by positive affirmations.

As opposed to leaving less space for taking time to process feelings, this honest guide sees sought-after therapist Whitney Goodman share tangible, practical and applicable advice. Her words of wisdom are based on everyday examples and client stories.

The Rules of Thinking

Many of us are conditioned to believe that our thoughts are who we are. In fact, you can actually control your thoughts and learn how to make wiser decisions, stop obsessing over certain issues, keep your brain active and live with happier and healthier thoughts.

How to Stop Overthinking

Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night totally and completely consumed by your thoughts, that are more often than not negative? Well, it's time to put an end to that and read this book as you'll learn how to control overthinking, how to stop anxiety and worrying, how to stay calm and sleep better.

Piatkus Know Your Worth: How to build your self-esteem, grow in confidence and worry less about what people think

This is Sunday Times bestselling author psychotherapist Anna Mathur's second book and it's all about finding balance and appreciating your self-worth - two things we really struggle with. If you're looking to improve your self-esteem and confidence, then this is the book for you.

How to Ikigai

We're all for looking to ancient tried and tested methods of reaching enlightenment, and it sounds like Ikigai might be for us. This book explores the lifestyle choice of those from Okinawa - a small island south of Japan where people live their life's purpose every day. After reading this you'll leave about how to look at happiness in a completely different way.

HOW TO SORT YOUR F*CKING LIFE OUT: No self–help bollocks No sanctimonious bullshit Just evidence–based solutions

Zuckerman doesn't exactly mince his words with this book. If you think this book in a one-stop shop to find out the meaning of life, then think again. This is for the realists who know there's no secret to happiness, but want some no nonsense evidence-based solutions to help you sort your sh*t out.

Headshot of Katie O'Malley

Sakaynah Hunter is the Digital News Editor at ELLE, covering subjects including politics, health, women’s interest, the royals and entertainment. Having worked in editorial roles across luxury e-commerce, newspaper and magazine journalism, she’s an all-rounder. When Sakaynah’s not at work, she loves psychological thrillers, the ballet and endless conversations over a glass of wine. 

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Top 20 Best Self Help Books of All Time

Best self help books of all time.

After more than a decade as a public speaker, I’ve been asked hundreds of times for the best self help books that have made the biggest impact in my life. I’m excited to finally have this list available here for you on my blog.

After having read hundreds of books in my 18 years as an entrepreneur, I have to admit, it was tough narrowing the list of the best self help books of all time down to only 20. I feel self help encompasses spirituality, financial, physical, relationships and many, many more areas of our lives.  Needless to say, this best self help books list is by no means the end all, be all. There are no-doubt many others that will add tremendous value to your life.

For each of the best self help books on this list, I give my highest recommendation. With the new year upon us, I encourage you to jump out of your comfort zone and pick several of these to add to your library and read this year. I’ve linked each book title to Amazon so you can go straight to the page and buy it!

So here goes…. (drum roll, please)


1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who wants to travel in search of an extravagant treasure. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures he finds on his journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the signs along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

2.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With powerful insights and spot on anecdotes, Covey reveals a pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity–principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Tolle takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light. In writing about enlightenment, he introduces you to it’s natural enemy, your mind.  He goes further by showing readers how to live in the present moment.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Kiyosaki tackles the ‘financial literacy” that’s never addressed in schools.  He had two father figures growing up.  One who struggled paycheck to paycheck for a lifetime whom he called “poor dad” and the other who was a multimillionaire eighth grade dropout he lovingly calls “rich dad”.  The concept behind the book is that rich people have money work for them while the poor work for money.  This is a must read to change anyone’s negative belief system on money or to further your understanding on how money can work for you.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is one of the most timeless self help books ever written.  Carnegie believed that most successes come from an ability to communicate effectively versus brilliant insights. This book teaches these skills by showing you how to value people and help them feel appreciated rather than manipulated.

The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck

6. The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck

When a book opens with “Life is difficult”, you know it’s going to wake you up and provide you with some candid lessons. His timeless voice in The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new peace and fulfillment. You will learn how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Hill was one of the first ever self help authors, and his books are incredibly relevant today. Think and Grow Rich condenses his laws of success and provides you with 13 principles of personal achievement. It is noted  that an individual with desire, faith, and persistence can reach great success by eliminating all negative energy and thoughts and focusing at the greater goals in hand.

The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz

8. The Four Agreements  by don Miguel Ruiz

This self help book is rooted in traditional Toltec wisdom, four agreements in life are essential steps on the path to personal freedom. As beliefs are transformed through keeping these agreements, shamanic teacher don Miguel Ruiz asserts lives will “become filled with grace, peace, and unconditional love.”

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

9. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

This is considered a classic self-help book that inspired future books on the law of attraction. Its underlying premise is that noble thoughts make a noble person, while lowly thoughts make a miserable person. James Allen reveals how our thoughts determine reality.  He shows you how you can master your thoughts to create the life you want instead of simply drifting through life unaware of the inner forces that keep us held in failure and frustration.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

10. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

This self help book has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.  Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. He holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure but the discovery and pursuit of what we find meaningful.

See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar

11. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar

As one of America’s most gifted speakers/authors in motivation, the late Zig Ziglar shares the secrets of climbing the stairway to personal success. He presents a proven program of self-development based upon the foundation of a winning self-image.

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

12. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript was discovered. It includes 9 key insights on life.  Drawing on ancient wisdom, it shows you how to make connections among the current events in your life and let’s you see what is going to happen to you in the future. This book can help you understand why you are where you are in life and align you with a new optimism for your future.

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

13. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

Dr. Peale shows you 10 simple rules to obtain confidence, 3 proven secrets for vigor, 5 techniques to overcome defeat and much, much more. This book proves that an attitude can change lives, win success in all things, and overcome obstacles.

The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles

14. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles

Originally published in 1910, this book takes the mystery out of wealth accumulation and breaks it down into a scientific formula. The text is divided into 17 quick, no nonsense chapters that show you how to oconquer mental barriers, and how creation, not competition, is the true key to attracting wealth.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

15. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

Chopra’s teachings are summed up in 7 simple principles which can be applied to all areas of your personal life to create success. Chopra’s basic premise is that personal understanding and harmony promote fulfilling relationships and material abundance without extra effort.  Each of the chapters provide specifics on how to achieve it.

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

16. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Millions of people all over the world have improved their lives using this book . Schwartz will help you sell better, lead more effectively, earn more money, and  (this is a big one) find more happiness and peace of mind.He proves that you don’t need innate talent to achieve massive success but you do need to understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that get you there.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

17. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

We’ve all got fears which is why I love this book! Whatever your fear, here is your chance to push through it once and for all. You’ll discover how to move from victim to creator, the 10-step process to turn off the negative talk in your head and how to create more meaning in your life by overcoming those fears.

Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

18. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

Tony Robbins is famous for his motivational speaking but this is, by far, one of the best self help books of all time. Robbins shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life through a step-by-step program teaching self-mastery that enables you to discover your true purpose, take control of your life and harness the forces that shape your destiny.

The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer

19. The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer

This isn’t your typical book on intention. Dyerhas researched intention as a force in the universe that allows the act of creation to take place. This book explores intention—not as something you do—but as an energy you’re a part of. We’re all intended here through the invisible power of intention. He’s the first in our industry to look at intention as a field of energy that you can access to begin co-creating your life with the power of intention.

What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Dr. Shad Helmstetter

20. What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Dr. Shad Helmstetter

Don’t overlook this book because it’s #20 on my Top 20 Best Self Help Books of all time list.  I’ve recommended this book to many friends and family members who’s lives have been changed dramatically as a result of reading this book.  Self doubt? Read this book. In secure about anything? Read this book.  I’m sure you get the idea.

Some real surprises in the top 20 best self help books, right?  Which on these best self help books jumps out at you? Let me know by leaving a comment.  Of course, I considered adding my bestselling book,  The Unemployed Millionaire ,  to this list since it is one of my personal favorites (wink, wink) but since it’s newer and hasn’t sold millions of copies yet I thought I better leave it off… for now anyway. 😉

As an added resource for you, here’s a quick link to a list of the best self help books  on Amazon.

Was there a book you felt should have made the list of the Top 20 Best Self Help Books of All Time?  If so, please share it in the comments section and why you feel it should be included.  After all, this is a group discussion meant for personal growth and self development.  Discussion is encouraged.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Make life an adventure!

P.S. – If you feel this list of the top 20 best self help books of all time can add value to others, please share it on Facebook or Twitter!

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