What are the best self-improvement books you should read?
It’s a valid question. After all, everyone gets into self-improvement for their own reasons. And there are far too many self-help books for any one person to go through them all. Additionally, countless “self-help” books make big promises and bold claims but are filled with nothing but fluff.
This means you have to separate the wheat from the chaff.
And luckily for you, I’ve taken the liberty to do this on your behalf. If you’ve ever wondered what self-improvement books you should read, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find some of the best and most helpful personal development books I’ve ever read.
But keep in mind that this is just a list from my library.
There are plenty of books I have yet to read that surely deserve to be on this list. However, if I recommend a list of books you should read, it’s only because I’ve read them myself and can attest to their quality and usefulness.
Keep reading to learn the 13 best self-improvement books you should read.
1. Atomic Habits
Probably one of the most influential and practical books on habit formation, Atomic Habits by James Clear is a must-read for any self-improvement enthusiast. I enjoyed its pragmatic approach to forming good habits and breaking bad ones. In the book, James Clear breaks down his simple, uncomplicated (and science-backed) methods for effectively getting your habits on track.
Additionally, the book is filled with tips, tactics, and other methods you can implement right now in the comfort of your own home. The book is cleanly written, uses simple language, and is easy to implement.
This book is great for anybody who struggles with vices holding them back.
2. The Way of the Superior Man
The Way of the Superior Man is a must-read for everyone.
It’s a spiritual guide to the romantic relationships of men and women. But more than that, it’s a manual that communicates how a man should live to be the best version of himself. David Deida takes you on a journey of self-discovery in this personal development classic.
I’ve read this book ten times.
And each time, you take away a new insight or nugget of wisdom that you missed previously. Men, if truly you want to understand women, and have better, happier, and more fulfilling relationships with them, then read this book! And women, if you want the same outcome with the men in your lives, then the same principle applies — read the book!
3. Can’t Hurt Me
Easily one of the best self-improvement books I’ve ever read, Can’t Hurt Me is an autobiography of American triathlete and former Navy SEAL, David Goggins. The book details his inspirational story of the challenges and obstacles he overcame throughout his life. Goggins grew up in a broken home with an abusive father. He failed in school, cheated on tests, and ended up overweight, destitute, and lost.
Goggins details his meteoric rise to fame and how he surmounted these difficulties in the book. He became an ultramarathoner, triathlete, and U.S. Navy SEAL. And the best part? Throughout the book, he gives you challenges to take on to improve your life. These are the same challenges (although not as intense and vigorous) he employed to turn his life around.
But besides the challenges, the book is so entertaining with a rollercoaster of emotions that will keep you hooked.
4. How to Win Friends and Influence People
This is a book that should be taught to Kindergarteners.
The one thing all of us have to deal with in life is other people — this fact is inescapable. As a result, everyone needs to learn how to interact with one another properly. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your life, then How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie should be a staple in your library.
This book is chock-full of stories, examples, and anecdotes about human nature.
And even though it was written and published almost 100 years ago, its principles are still relevant today. Consequently, this personal development classic is a true investment in your self-improvement. Understanding people and human nature are some of the best things you can do, and this book is a great first step to making that happen.
For this reason, it’s near the top of my list of the best self-improvement books you should read.
5. As a Man Thinketh
As a Man Thinketh by James Alan is the most introspective book I’ve ever read.
The beautiful use of language and the deep and rich knowledge the book shares make this a must-read for anyone trying to improve their lives. It’s a book on the power of thought. And after reading it, you’ll feel a tremendous pull to be more conscious of what you allow your mind to focus on.
This book helps you realize that you are responsible for everything — good or bad — that happens in your life.
As a result, you feel a sense of responsibility to begin doing the right things.
6. The Strangest Secret
An easy read at only 46 pages, The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale is all about self-reliance.
Its focus is based on how to use your mind to properly set and achieve your goals. It’s simple, informative, and easy to consume. These qualities make The Strangest Secret a great read if you’re looking for a book that’s short but offers a lot of utility and quality information.
7. The Richest Man in Babylon
If you struggler with personal finance, The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clayson is one of the best books to help you on this topic.
Many finance books are complicated and filled with industry jargon, making them hard to understand and internalize. The Richest Man in Babylon is written in story form and divulges basic financial principles you can begin implementing immediately. It’s a clear and straightforward book about personal finance that will get you on the right track.
Too many people struggle to get ahead — this book is a simple and thought-provoking solution to that problem.
8. How to be a 3% Man
Having troubles in the dating/relationship department?
Look no further than How to be a 3% Man by Corey Wayne. This book will change the way you look at dating. relationships, and male and female dynamics. I’ve read this book dozens of times and it has transformed my dating life and the quality of my relationships, and it continues to serve as a guide, as I still read through it at least once or twice a year.
Even though it’s geared toward men, there’s A LOT that women can take away from this book too.
9. 12 Rules for Life
My favourite intellectual, academic, and speaker, Jordan Peterson released 12 Rules for Life back in 2018.
This book details 12 principles you can align your life with to get the most out of your experiences and live an honest, forthright, and virtuous lifestyle. In the book, Peterson outlines the necessity of living forthrightly in the world; and how doing so can enrich your life as well as the lives of those around you.
But he also describes the potential there is for chaos if we fail to live and orient ourselves properly in life.
These admonitions make 12 Rules for Life both a guidebook as well as a warning. And that’s part of what makes this book so powerful. I will admit though, the book is quite negative at times, and this can cause you to get a little bogged down as you read through it. But that doesn’t compromise the book’s utility in any way, shape, or form.
I highly recommend 12 Rules for Life, as it is one of the best self-improvement books you should read.
10. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
Mark Manson is a brilliant writer!
His wisdom, knowledge, and unique perspective stand out when combined with his humorous writing style. And The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is the perfect example of these qualities perfectly blended together. What separates this book from other self-improvement books is its unconventional approach to quality living.
He introduces new concepts you won’t find in other books.
One example he mentions in the book is learning to love pain. While most self-improvement books try to teach how to avoid it, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck teaches the benefits of embracing pain. And this is just one example of many that this counterintuitive book offers.
11. 5 Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle
The 5 Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle by Jim Rohn is a personal development classic.
A straightforward guide for living a happy and productive life, this book details 5 major principles that will guide you to personal and professional success. What I love most about this book is Jim Rohn’s elegant way of driving simple concepts home. Its light and uplifting tone offer an inspiring view of future possibilities.
Consequently, you’re engaged throughout the entire book as the simple A, B, C and 1, 2, 3 concepts feel totally within your ability to take action on.
12. The Laws of Human Nature
At nearly 600 pages, The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene isn’t a book — it’s a behemoth bulging between two covers.
Brimming with descriptive stories, lessons, and tips, this manual is an extensive guide to understanding yourself and others. Many of us are naive or ignorant when it comes to people. We assume that all people have good intentions. As such, we often get taken advantage of.
This book shines an unapologetic light on how we humans truly think and operate.
After reading it, you will start to realize how flawed each of us is and why there is so much pain, deceit, and hurt in the world. These may not be lessons you want to learn about yourself and others, but they’re important to learn nonetheless. With such an understanding, you can better navigate your way through the world.
You’ll learn how to spot and defend yourself against vindictive, manipulative, and malicious people.
This book is a treasure trove of information that is invaluable for dealing with others and understanding yourself. For these reasons, The Laws of Human Nature is one of the top self-improvement books you should read.
13. Think and Grow Rich
The landmark bestseller Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is a self-improvement classic.
Actors, musicians, CEOs, athletes, and everyday people like you and me have benefited from its teachings for almost a century. Although it’s entitled Think and Grow Rich, its principles can actually be applied to any goal you set for yourself — financial or otherwise. And that’s what makes this book so amazing; its versatility.
The 13 principles the book divulges are principles that — believe it or not — you’re using every day already.
However, if you’re like most people, you’ve just been misapplying them. Think and Grow Rich clarifies these principles and how to properly use them in everyday applications for your dreams and goals. Originally published in 1937, this manual remains one of the best-selling and most popular personal development books of all time.
Self-Improvement Books You Should Read: Which Ones Will You Read First?
Books are among the most powerful self-improvement tools.
They allow you to shortcut your learning curve by gaining knowledge that took the author years (or decades) to acquire. For this reason — in addition to many others — developing a consistent reading habit is one of the most important things you can do to improve yourself. My personal library is one of my proudest assets.
And each of the books on this list is a part of it. Now, which self-improvement books will you start reading to progress in your life?
1. High-Performance Habits by Brendan Burchard
2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
3. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
5. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge