I remember the first time I got my hands on a self-improvement book. I was amazed. At that moment I realized that my fate was not set in stone. That’s why I am going to show you the Top-Rated Self Development Books to Read No Matter your age.
The books that I read represented the training course that I had to overcome. I just had to listen to that voice that wanted to climb higher and higher.
Every time I faced a new challenge; I knew it would be outside my comfort zone. But after enough iterations, I also knew that it would not only be part of my repertoire, but also part of me.
- 1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations
- 2. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
- 3. The 48 Laws of Power
- 4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
- 5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
- 6. Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
- 7. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition
- 8. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind
- 9. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
- 10. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
- 12. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
- 13. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life
- 14. Thinking, Fast and Slow
- 15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything
- 16. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat
- 17. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
- 18. The Power of Now
- 19. The Last Lecture
- 20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
- 21. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
- 22. Philosophy for Life
- 23. Man’s Search For Meaning
- 25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It
Not all self-improvement books are created equal. Some help will start you on your journey, others will give you a boost if you have experience in certain areas.
Here is the best I can recommend, no matter how old you are:
1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations
by Seth Godin
This book is a masterpiece and unlike most self-improvement books, this book targets an infinite number of areas in which you can and must improve.
With his ruthless honesty and genuine inspiration, Godin makes you think about the difficult questions you would never dare to ask. The result is a whole new perspective on the world – a fresher, more vibrant perspective full of new and bold opportunities.
If you need a friend who understands you, a boss who forces you to venture deep into your non-comfort zone, a wise guru who tells you what needs to be left behind, and a wise man who is entering a new age announced, then look no further; In this great book, you will find those clever voices that are all connected. Make sure you get it.
2. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Perhaps it is the fact that randomness played such an important role in my years as a poker player that I find this book extremely important.
We often attribute skills where there is only luck. We confuse correlation with causality and underestimate the incredible effect that small changes can have.
This book gave me a perspective that I seldom experience with others: You can do everything right and still lose or do everything wrong and still win. So it’s not about the result; It’s about the actions you need to take there.
This important message is central to many decisions I make in my life. This book by Taleb helps you develop such a perspective so that you can live in a world that cannot be fully understood, in which the results are not always clear performance indicators and in which chance seems to play with our fate. Don’t be fooled by coincidences!
3. The 48 Laws of Power
by Robert Greene
I read this book at a time when I thought I should achieve power. Power for the sake of power. And although I don’t agree with my previous self on this point, the fact remains that power is very real, it is the invisible scepter of all hierarchical relationships around us.
I still recommend this book. I think it is important to know how people use power for their own benefit and what needs to be done to protect themselves from certain abuses of power.
Besides the fact that all the stories in this book are about power. It contains many life lessons, amazing historical anecdotes. When read in a certain light, the ability to use energy forever.
From Caesar to Goethe, from Sun-Tzu to Machiavelli, this eye-opening book covers a broad spectrum of human development. If like me, you’d rather be a little less selfish, Greene’s latest book, Mastery, may be enough (I didn’t read that myself).
Another great book in the same style, but this time; cover a wider range and maybe something that will make the world a better place.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
by Stephen. R. Covey
The title of this book doesn’t cover everything. Covey shares seven habits with us that you should adjust to be really effective at whatever you want to achieve.
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. He emphasizes the fact that we have to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in the way we see the world and ourselves.
This book can be read as a guide with exercises and everything to go through the phases to bring about such a shift. Partly shock therapy, partly timeless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is full of wisdom that actually makes a difference.
And as I mentioned, don’t let the book’s title fool you. It’s much more than just being more effective. It is about becoming an integer, not only looking for the best in yourself but also in the people around you.
A must for anyone who feels that there is always something to learn.
5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
by James Fadiman
While it might be surprising to find a book on psychedelics in this list of books on self-improvement, I believe that any metaphysical distinction between tools like books, meditation, or molecules has no reason.
They should all be judged solely on their merits. And the merits of certain chemical keys that are used constructively may be greater than any book on this list.
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide tells you how to prepare yourself and your surroundings, what and how much to take, and what to do if something goes wrong.
In this way, you can safely improve your thinking, your creativity, your introspection, and your emotional balance.
This book contains everything you need to know about using psychedelics as a self-improvement tool while drawing on extensive scientific literature and personal wisdom. A must for beginners and experienced psychonauts.
6. Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
by Brian Tracy
We all know what this destructive downward spiral feels like.
We have to do some big tasks where just the thought triggers resistance. We are not sure how and where to start and feel overwhelmed before we even start.
We are easily distracted to get rid of that feeling, only to suddenly realize that hours have passed – precious hours – and then find ourselves in the same position as before, still not knowing where and how to start, but feeling now we are guilty of what is expressed in more desires for distraction
To break this delay before it paralyzes us, Tracy advises us to eat this frog: to clearly state our priorities, to break down larger tasks into smaller ones, to learn when to start the big frog first or to start with something else.
Tracy is really a motivating writer. I wish he would have gone a little deeper into the psychological reasons why people hesitate, but it’s still a must for anyone who wants to break the spell and do shit.
7. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition
by Napoleon Hill
A from 1937, this book by Hill is a masterpiece. Don’t bother with the edited versions because they leave out all the important and controversial information: some historical and others the aim of the book to think and get rich.
The word “rich” could mean that this book is only about material gain, and while it certainly covers this area, it is about much more.
This may be the first explicit mention of positive thinking about how to take care of not only the money in your pocket but also the thoughts in your head.
This book could withstand the destruction of time. It covers all the basics, from planning, decision making, and persistence to more advanced techniques like auto-suggestion, transmutation, and what we can learn from fear.
This is not a rich book, but a timeless guide to find out what really matters. As is clear at the beginning: “Wealth cannot always be measured in money!”
8. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind
by Alan Wallace
In a world dominated by increasingly powerful technologies that are designed to grab your attention, you can empower yourself by getting that attention back where you want it to be. This book offers exactly that.
In the Attention Revolution, Wallace describes the path to achieving Shamatha, a Buddhist state of meditation that is free from any flickering of distraction. It is a hard and long way that we probably cannot go in this life. Even if you reach the second or third level, everything in life becomes easier.
The Attention Revolution is a wonderful introduction to meditation and will inspire you to take on the challenge and see what training your mind can actually achieve.
Once you have reached such a focus, you can use it to open your heart to the practice of the four immeasurable ones or to deepen the practice with this wonderful commentary by Dudjom Lingpa, both from Alan B. Wallace.
Before reading this book, you should take a look at this guide to get a better idea of how to prioritize your life: The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life
9. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
by John Durant
In the past 10,000 years, we seem to have been driven into an ever-faster world forged by our own hands and thoughts. Just recently we were able to reconstruct our trip and think about our humble origins.
This amazing book is such a reflection. It goes back to the Palaeolithic age and looks for answers to health and longevity.
Between science and his personal experiments, Durant weaves a breath-taking story that conveys the importance of an evolutionary perspective for a good life.
It covers everything from nutrition to exercise, from sleep to fasting, from old practices to modern biohacking and even includes an overview of a future vision in which depression and obesity are outdated.
If you only have room for a few books on this list, make sure it is included.
10. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
by Daniel J. Siegel
As my Burmese meditation teacher often said: “Mindfulness alone is not enough!” Siegel seems to have taken this to heart and has created a unique synthesis between meditation, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience, which he calls “Mindsight”. As he says, a strong combination of emotional and social intelligence.
We are all concerned with one or the other disorder, something that seems to disrupt the core of our well-being; and while getting rid of it is not always the best strategy, it certainly helps to understand and have compassion for that little aspect that disrupts this perfect picture of ourselves.
This book is full of techniques, insights, and revelations, and it contains everything you need to know to reprogram your brain and get the most out of its neuroplasticity. A great book for spiritual seekers and scientists.
11. How to Win Friends & Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
This is the first self-improvement book I’ve ever read, and it’s probably one of the oldest in this category.
This Carnegie book was written in 1937 mainly for the door-to-door seller of the time and can really be called a classic. It shows what we all know intuitively:
It doesn’t matter what your work is or what you want to achieve. When doing business of any kind, you have to take care of the other person.
Being nice helps a lot. And although I may not be able to fully defend the premise of this book because it doesn’t distinguish between real interest and fake to get what you want; it still contains a treasure chest full of timeless wisdom.
Everyone wants to feel quite valued. If you learn to make a person’s day with little effort, the world will get better no matter what your goal.
I still remember some of his guides spontaneously, and maybe this quality is why this book still attracts millions of readers to this day.
12. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
by David D. Burns
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective therapy that psychologists use today. It consists of identifying thought patterns that adversely affect your self-image and mood. and deconstruct them to break out of these destructive cycles.
If you want to know how this works, what moods are central to your life, what thought patterns are causing your depression, how to overcome self-judgment and guilt feelings, how to defeat recognition and love addiction, and how your self-perfectionism is hampering you, look no further.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy has helped and can help millions of people, and this is the best book for this job. Packed with scientific research, exercises, and examples, this is the best improvement you will make yourself.
13. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life
by Maxwell Maltz
What can a plastic surgeon tell us about happiness?
In dealing with his patients, Dr. Maxwell Maltz learns first-hand that fulfilling your expectations does not automatically lead to a more positive life experience. Their outward appearance changed, but their inner insecurity persisted.
This prompted him to find other means to help his patients, which led to visualization techniques. He found that a person’s external success can never go beyond what is internally visualized.
This book contains a very honest and humiliating story loaded with basic truths about our psychology and the effects of our own philosophy on us. All of this is told by a very compassionate writer.
Some books can be said to be valuable for years to come, and I am absolutely certain that this is one of them.
14. Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
This brilliant book by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman is a clear account of all the amazing research he has done over the years. He is the founder of behavioral economics – how our psychology influences our decisions – and explains in simple prose how our thinking is divided into two systems: one fast and one slow.
The quick one is almost instantaneous; it consists of hard-wired instincts that govern emotions, a remnant of an evolutionary past, an unconscious irrational machine.
The slow one is deliberate, self-reflective, and logical, but can be easily distracted and requires a lot of effort.
Both play a big role in our lives and Kahneman examines when the fast system fails and why the slow system is often not used.
This book contains stunning examples and sharp analysis and shows you how to learn to make informed judgments and get the best out of both systems.
15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything
by Chris Hadfield
Some extraordinary people travel to the edge of our world and come back with a unique story. Colonel Hadfield is one such person, and his story is perhaps the most important on this list.
While the other books on this list teach you how to be independent, visualize your future, and have big dreams, this astronaut guide turns it all upside down.
A truly remarkable book is full of breath-taking stories that illustrate the lessons of life that he learned as one of the most accomplished astronauts who have ever lived.
Full of compassion, warmth, and genuine, self-reflective humor, he tells us to be prepared for the worst and never to be deterred from enjoying every moment.
Part book action part, part no-nonsense hard truth, and part timeless spiritual wisdom. This book gives you the feeling of stepping on a rocket ship and learning what it did while you learned these most valuable lessons along the way.
16. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat
by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet
No self-improvement list is complete without a nutrition book and the Perfect Health Diet is arguably the best diet book on the market.
If you are overweight or not, feel sick, or are just looking for (and holding) an extra health boost, look no further.
From decades of studies, the authors construct the optimal way to eat and thereby destroy popular fads. They explain in sufficient detail which macro ratios are optimal, which strengths are safe, which vitamins and food supplements are to be taken and which foods or what they call toxins to avoid.
This book is a great addition to the Paleo manifesto because it shares its basic evolutionary perspective. We are designed to eat non-toxic, high-fat, moderate proteins and carbohydrates.
And sometimes it can be a very healthy to be walking without eating. If your body is not in optimal health, reading the other books is almost pointless. Make this your number one priority.
17. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
by John C. Maxwell
At one time or another, we will all fail. Most importantly, how you deal with it when you do this.
Will you give up or will you use it as a springboard for success?
I recently read an article about new start-ups in Silicon Valley. The hypothesis was that the more you failed in the past, the more likely you were to get funding.
Because if you fail, you will learn invaluable lessons. If you choose to continue after the sidewalk impact, you have all the more time to deliver.
This is in no way our instinctive response to failure. Most of us fear it, avoid it, or refuse to fail at all costs. All three are far from optimal. It is far better to accept mistakes where they occur, take responsibility and use them as a means to get to know yourself and your weaknesses.
Only if you are absolutely honest with yourself about failure can you hope to grow? In this wonderful book, you will learn how to do just that. An honest book for anyone looking for a clean mirror.
18. The Power of Now
by Eckhart Tolle
The power of now hardly needs an introduction. It is perhaps the book that has had the greatest impact on our collective consciousness in recent years.
It inspired millions of people around the world to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of the non-judgmental awareness from moment to moment.
It is a technique that relieves depression, increases emotional intelligence and develops compassion. And only recently has the West arrived, which has remained tired and skeptical until science has confirmed a wide range of its claims.
The brain can be trained. The power of the Now teaches you how to release your attachment to certain thoughts and states of mind and thus free the mind to fully grasp the present moment.
If you’ve already read this book and are looking for a deeper understanding, readWherever You Go, There You Are.
19. The Last Lecture
by Randy Pausch
At some point, almost all of us came across The Last Lecture by Randy flush. (If you don’t, check out this powerful message here.)
What would you say if you only had a few months left to live? This was probably Pausch’s question that he asked himself when he had to give his talk a week later.
However, since he limited himself to an academic environment and a short time frame, he felt he had more to share, marking the birth of this book.
Filled with stories about his childhood, it’s a very down-to-earth exploration of what it means to chase your dreams, be a good person, and live a life that gives value to others.
His tender voice is a nice mixture of humor and optimism and a source of inspiration for everyone who takes the time to listen to what he wanted to convey to his readers.
A very nice read. And don’t forget, “It’s not about the cards you get, it’s about how you play the hand.”
20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown
I love Brené Brown’s books. She writes about an insight that I found scary but at the same time true.
In contrast to us, vulnerability is not a weakness, but a power that must be used. Growing up with the idea that we have to hide certain parts of ourselves in order to look strong and enduring at all costs always seemed to me to be a facade. And now she has the research to prove it.
From this place of vulnerability comes a sense of worthiness that most of us need to maintain every day. Only when we get in touch with this delicate point of our heart can we connect with others and develop real compassion, which, according to Brown, is a prerequisite for “living with all our hearts”.
However, the reality is that we often close, feel neglected and misunderstood, and want the vulnerability, and maybe even ourselves, to disappear.
This book is an amazing antidote to this common instinct. Do you really want to be convinced? Check out her amazing ted talk here.
21. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
by Carl Sagan
We all find UFOs fascinating. We all really want to believe in magic or visit aliens. (Certainly, the crop circles are conclusive evidence!) And some of us believe that the government is poisoning us with chemtrails.
At the same time, we are fascinated by the advances in science, by all the new technologies and drugs and the fascinating discoveries
22. Philosophy for Life
by Jules Evans
As the philosopher Sloterdijk puts it; “Philosophy is a beautiful child of an ugly mother.”
Philosophy first emerged when the ancient Greek Polis was on the brink of destruction. According to Sloterdijk, philosophy was not only a way to understand the world, to come to knowledge or truth, but to serve as a psychological immune system.
This book is an amazing expression of this perspective. From stoics to cognitive behavioral therapy, Jules Evans writes about some of the amazing philosophical techniques we can use to train and improve our cognitive immune system.
He interweaves old stories with modern applications, from heroism to cosmic contemplation. Philosophy for Life is a beautifully written book that makes it easy to understand the practical nature of philosophy.
Perhaps the book would have been better if he had gone deeper into the subject, but it still captures the essence of what philosophy can mean for modern people.
23. Man’s Search For Meaning
by Victor. E. Frankl
Viktor Frankl worked in four different Nazi concentration camps for three years, including Auschwitz. He tells us about his experiences and those of his fellow prisoners.
Both terrifying and uplifting, faced with the idea that they would be trapped there for the rest of their lives; It tells of those who have found meaning and those who have succumbed to nihilism.
Frankl is a mixture of memoirs, psychological examinations, and a self-help book and delivers a strong message:
Finding meaning is at the core of being human.
From his own experience as a psychiatrist, combined with anecdotes from his time in the concentration camps, he tells us how important it is to find meaning in our own lives and what we can become if we don’t.
Suffering, he tells us, is inevitable. But how we deal with it depends on ourselves. If we can find meaning even in the worst actions our species has ever done to their fellow humans, we will be able to move forward with a new goal.
I also recommend reading this article to find out what purpose and passion motivate you to live meaningfully: how you get motivated and happy every day when you wake up
I also recommend you to check out this article at LifeHacks.org to help you find out your purpose and passion that will motivate you to live in a meaningful way: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
by Joshua Becker
This is a fun little book written by Joshua Becker, a big proponent of a minimalist life. We all know Fight club’s quote: “In advertising, we chase cars and clothes, work on jobs we hate so we can buy shit that we don’t need.”
Well, that ends.
We are slowly growing out of an era in which the undisputed mantra “More is always better” determines our behavior. Rather, we are now in our lives and in our homes with too much information, too much stuff and just too much shit that we don’t need.
This simple book will help you become aware of the freedom that comes from living with less. It is a small book that is easy to read in less than an hour, but it is convincing to start life in a completely different way.
25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It
by Kamal Ravikant
The fundamental reason for which any true self-improvement is built is self-love. Because in the end, no matter which direction you turn, if you don’t love yourself, you will sabotage yourself at one point.
You will think that for some reason you are not worthy. And if you think so, why would you really want to achieve anything?
And this is not just about performance. This is about how you approach each day. You can see that when you look in the mirror.
We make so many quick judgments about ourselves – often without being aware of it – that is full of negativity and stop us before we can even start to heal. This powerful book shows you the antidote.
Self-love. Not to be confused with creating a narcissistic image of ourselves that some previous books in this list implicitly support, but self-love, this inner gratitude that no external state can take away.
Self-love, an infinite source that you can share with others.
What should you do next after getting a list of the most inspiring books to improve your life? You all read?
It’s best to read them all, of course, but we only have enough brain energy to use all this knowledge.
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