Best self help books

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7 Must-Read Books To Ignite Your Inner Badass

Need some inspiration? Or a good swift kick in the pants? These 7 books will deliver both.

Marta KaganFollow Sep 8, 2017 · 5 min read

What do a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and a comedy writer have in common?

They’re co-authors of one of my favorite books, aptly titled F*ck Feelings.

“Given life’s cruelty and unfairness, F*ck Feelings believes profanity is a source of comfort, clarity, and strength. It also helps to express anger without blame, to be tough in the face of pain, and to share determination without sentimentality. On the other hand, we don’t tolerate the reverent use of truly obscene f-words, like “fair” or “feelings.”

Billed as “The only self-help book you’ll ever need,” F*ck Feelings was written to “help you put aside your unrealistic wishes, stop trying to change things you can’t change, and do the best with what you can control — the first steps to managing all of life’s impossible problems.”

I couldn’t recommend this book enough!

If you’re looking for a softer, gentler type of #badassbook, grab a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Strayed is the best-selling author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail (now a movie starring Reese Witherspoon), but Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of her Dear Sugar advice column (along with some never-before-published pieces) that offers honest, compassionate advice with a healthy dose of humor.

“Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills — and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar is the person thousands turn to for advice.”

For my spiritual badasses, I highly recommend Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back, which “teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life.”

Filled with personal stories and insightful lessons on how to release the blocks to the things that most of us long for: happiness, security, and meaning.

While you’re at it, grab Gabby’s 52-card The Universe Has Your Back deck — a beautiful way to indulge yourself with daily reminders that you’re strong, safe, and capable of living a badass life!

Of course, the quintessential #badass book is Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I have a copy of it on my nightstand and refer to it often for inspiration, a good laugh, or a sorely needed kick in the ass.

You’ll love Jen’s no-nonsense style of writing, inspired by her wish to write a “self-help book for people who desperately want to improve their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it.”


Lest you feel alone in your struggle to ignite your inner badass, Alexis Jones has you covered in I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl.

Featuring inspiring stories from thirty incredible women, Alexis show you how to “stop listening to that voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough. Stop worrying that you don’t have the perfect body, perfect job, perfect relationship, or perfect anything for that matter. Stop letting other people draw boundaries and limits around your life. And start living the life that you truly want (now!)”

Now, if you REALLY need a good swift kick in the pants, get your paws Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide).

In this no-holds-barred book, “anti-guru” Sarah Knight introduces you to the joys of “mental decluttering” — aka organizing the f*cks you want and need to give, and cutting through the bullsh*t cycle of self-sabotage to get happy and stay that way.

“Ever find yourself stuck at the office-or even just glued to the couch-when you really want to get out (for once), get to the gym (at last), and get started on that “someday” project you’re always putting off? It’s time to get your sh*t together.”

Of course no self-respecting #badassbooklist would leave out Mark Manson’s best-seller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

Manson backs his outspoken argument that “improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better” with academic research (and well-timed poop jokes). If you haven’t read the brilliantly hilarious blog post that gave birth to this book, READ IT NOW. I promise, you’ll thank me.

Of course, if reading’s not really your thing, you can a weekly dose of inspiration and practical how-to advice by joining my Ignite Your Inner Badass club. Each week, members receive an audio recording and PDF action plan that guides you through a simple, 10-minutes-a-day practice designed specifically to stoke the flames of your #badassery and help you stop playing small and start living LARGE.

Got any books to add to this list? Hop over to the Ignite Your Inner Badass Facebook page and share!

Here’s to igniting YOUR inner badass!

All love,

6 Books to Make You Give Fewer F*cks

The world out there can sometimes feel a little cold and unforgiving, and the daily trials and tribulations we all face can make even the most self-assured and steadfast men question themselves.

While there are a lot of tricks to navigating life’s choppy currents, one of the most common is this: Give less of a fuck. It sounds crude and counterproductive, but the truth is, you’re probably giving too many fucks to begin with.

As a result, you’re probably stressing out way more than you should. When you stop over-worrying, over-analyzing and over-thinking everything in your life, you can finally take a step back and begin living up to your infinite potential. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

Here are 6 Awesome Books to Help You Give Fewer Fucks And Start Living Your Best Damn Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Self-help books can be downright painful for a lot of us because they’re usually written in ways that are sappy, sentimental and honestly cringe-worthy.

This book is so perfectly real in that it leaves all that “Eat, Pray, Love” BS at the door. Author Mark Manson doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and his approach is completely counterintuitive to most of the self-help stuff with which we’re typically familiar.

He encourages failing, giving up, not believing in oneself and getting knocked to the ground every once in awhile. Why? Because life shouldn’t be about staying positive all the time and pretending everything is okay when the world is spinning and the room is on fire; it’s about accepting that sometimes, even by no fault of our own, life places us in bad spots, and about learning how to properly handle life’s hurdles and rogue waves.

Not only is it prolific and incredibly useful, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is also an excellent and hilarious read. It’s a page-turner that puts life and all of its magnificent bull shit into a perspective that has helped countless readers live better, more fulfilling lives.

Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life

We promise we’re not just putting these things here for profanity’s sake. Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life is another incredible no-nonsense guide that offers a straightforward approach to moving past your own baggage and limitations, and living the life you deserve.

The book’s author, Gary John Bishop, offers a simple hypothesis: You’re fucked, and you‘re in serious need of un-fucking yourself. If you un-fuck yourself, then you’ll be able to live a better and more fulfilling life. But don’t lose sight of the ultimate truth, here—you are the one that must make things right in your life; can’t just depend on them to get better by themselves.

Bishop guides readers through seven different assertions, in order to help empower them to understand they are the captains of their own ship: I am willing. I am wired to win. I got this. I embrace the uncertainty. I am my thoughts. I am what I do. I am relentless. I expect nothing and accept everything. It’s that simple, and by the end of the book, you believe it.

Ego Is the Enemy

In his book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday makes the argument that while we grow up being taught that the main things holding us back from living successful happy lives are external stimuli. The reality is that many of our problems come from within. And of those problems, our main enemy is clear: Ego.

Holiday takes a wonderfully pragmatic and straightforward approach to establishing his theory about ego, using a ton of examples from literature, history, and philosophy. He uses real-life historical figures—from Eleanor Roosevelt to Bill Belichick—to show readers how these incredible people were only able to achieve their greatness when they learned how to tame and set aside their own egos.

This book is invaluable, especially if you’re the kind of person who’s obsessed with things like social media and self-promotion. It’s brilliant.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

This self-help classic—and by “classic,” we mean it was originally published in 1948—from the famous writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie, has been read by millions of people and is considered by many to be the definitive guide to living a life free from fear, worry and doubt.

What makes Carnegie’s book so valuable is that it focuses not just on personal betterment, but is also chockfull of tips—real, actual tips—to help you influence your external stimuli to live better.

Primarily, the book explores how to eliminate half of your business worries immediately, reduce your worries about financial stability, avoid fatigue and depression, maximize your time management and also find yourself. It addresses all of it—anxiety, depression, professional and personal stagnation, social awkwardness… There’s a reason why it’s still a best-seller over a half-century after it was first published.

The 4-Hour Work Week

When it comes to our professional lives, we don’t believe shortcuts or easy fixes are the answer. Working hard and doing good work yields positive results 10 times out of 10, and anything else is nonsense. But it’s also important to not lose sight of the idea that you should always work smarter, not harder. That’s the premise behind The 4-Hour Work Week.

Not only has the book been on the New York Times bestseller list for several years, but it’s also written by someone who can empathize with people who work too hard. Timothy Ferris, a now-successful serial entrepreneur, angel investor and advisor to companies like Facebook and Evernote, actually got the idea for the book while he was working 80-hour weeks and making little money at a sports nutrition company. He conceptualized it while on a 3-week sabbatical to Europe, and he never looked back.

Aside from giving you the tricks to his trade, it also is written in a way to inspire damn-near anyone feeling down about themselves to take control of their lives and start using their time more efficiently.

Even if you’re not in a position to drop your current life and become a serial entrepreneur who works four hours a week and automates his life to overseas virtual assistants or any of that crazy stuff, there’s still a lot of useful, everyday information about doing things like eliminating clutter from your life, choosing a work method that makes the most of the time you’re spending on it and focusing less on emails and more on actually living.

Hell, at the very least, it’ll inspire you to take some time away and finally take that vacation you’ve been planning for the last five years.

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

A lot of the self-help books out there are going to try to convince you that you—and everything you are—are what’s holding you back from your potential greatness.

In You Are a Badass, renowned success coach Jen Sincero makes the case to readers—through her uniquely in-your-face, irreverent and blunt style of writing—that you’re more than capable of getting everything you want out of your life. Whether you’re held back by legitimate mental disorders (like depression and anxiety), or whether you’re just lazy and find it difficult to get your shit together on some days, You Are a Badass is a book that will inspire you to just shut up and figure it all out.

The thing that turns so many of us off from self-help books is that they feel like they were written by a high school guidance counselor trying to life coach a kid who got sent to the principal’s office for smoking cigarettes behind the tennis court. Sincero doesn’t care what period you ditched or where you smoke your cigarettes; she cares that you understand the things you are (and aren’t), and ensures that you know how to leverage your personality to do all the things you’ve been putting off.

Even if you don’t agree with everything she’s saying, you still won’t be able to not be motivated by this book.

We Read 9 Self-Help Books So You Don’t Have To

This summer, I decided to really give the whole “be-present-in-the-moment” thing a shot.

I wanted to take this seriously, so I decided to check out a couple self-help books dedicated to the idea of “living in the now.”

And here’s the thing: some of the ideas, I could really, really get behind. But others didn’t resonate with me as deeply. And that’s okay.

Self-help books aren’t meant to be mindlessly devoured and followed diligently, like a cookbook recipe for happiness. You can cherry pick the lessons that fit your life.

Which is why we’ve gone ahead and done the hard work for you. Here, we’ve curated a list of nine self-help books to help you achieve professional and personal growth — along with our biggest takeaways from each.

1. 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal (2012)

This year, my New Year’s resolution was to be healthy.

Originally, this meant a complete lifestyle overhaul: replacing meals with kale juices, waking up at 5 a.m. for runs, avoiding all contact with sugar, becoming so proficient at SoulCycle that the instructor would ask if I’ve ever considered teaching on the side …

As the month progressed, being aggressively healthy became more about moderation. Occasionally choosing the salad instead of the burger. Drinking more water. Cycling exactly twice a week — in the back of the class, dripping and (usually) pretty defeated.

My quest for big changes became a search for small ones.

This is the main premise of Blumenthal’s book, which points out that all big changes start with small ones. Becoming a healthier person doesn’t come from making one big change. It comes from small changes, like choosing salads instead of burgers, eating a little less sugar, and downsizing your portions.

In her book, Blumenthal challenges you to make one small change each week, targeted at improving your nutrition, fitness, mental well-being, or green living. At the end of each week, she gives you a weekly changes checklist, so you know how to integrate these changes into your lifestyle.

Even though many of Blumenthal’s changes seem small (e.g. take a multivitamin, enjoy time alone), Blumenthal promises that at the end of the year, you will have fully transformed your life: you will be happier, healthier, more confident, more productive, and more positive.

Her book encourages holistic changes — improving your mental, physical, and spiritual lifestyle, one small, attainable step at a time.

The Big Takeaway: Slow and steady still wins the race. Tackle your health and lifestyle goals one small change at a time. If your New Year’s resolution seems overwhelming and unattainable, encourage yourself to focus on one little change per week: get more sleep, practice five-minutes of meditation each morning, or take a daily multivitamin. Then, all you have to do is repeat for 51 more weeks — easy, right?

2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2012)

When you woke up this morning, did you do anything remotely different? Did you decide you’d start your morning with a glass of lemon water, even though you usually drink coffee first? Did you sit down to watch an episode of Game of Thrones, even though you always watch Fox News? Did you tie your shoes differently, just for fun?

I’m betting you didn’t do any of these things — you were probably on autopilot, going through your normal routine without taking the time to weigh your options or consciously make any decisions.

What you do in the morning, what you do throughout the day — it’s mostly just habit.

In this compelling book, Charles Duhigg examines why habits form, and how we can break them. He examines a range of different scenarios where big decisions were made, from MLK and the American civil rights movement, to the creation of Starbucks, drawing upon scientific research to bolster his claims.

Ultimately, Duhigg explains that our goals can only be met if we change our underlying habits, and we can only change our habits if we understand why they form in the first place.

The Big Takeaway: Your life rests on a firm foundation of habit. If you’re unhappy with any aspect of your life, your biggest opportunity to create lasting change lies in your ability to change your habits. For example, Duhigg wrote about one woman who decided to quit smoking. By breaking this one keystone habit, a chain of events occurred: first, she began jogging more, which eventually changed her eating habits, her sleeping habits, and even her spending habits.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with your big aspirations, start by changing one habit that inhibits you from reaching that goal, and let new habits drive you from there.

3. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven (2017)

In 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven gave a Commencement speech to the University of Texas at Austin. He talked about the ten lessons he learned during six months of Navy Seal training, and how anyone can use those same lessons to change the world. The video of his speech went viral, encouraging McRaven to write a book based on those same principles, as well as additional stories from his naval career. According to McRaven, here are a few ways to change the world:

    1. Make your bed first thing in the morning, which reminds you little things in life matter.
    2. Admit you can’t do it alone, and learn to ask for help.
    3. Don’t be afraid of failure or setbacks.
    4. Be your best in the darkest moment, like a SEAL is taught to be his best when he’s under the keel, at the darkest moment of his mission.

The Big Takeaway: The reason many people think they can’t “change the world” is because that sounds unrealistic and grandiose. But McRaven argues that you can change a life — your own, and other people’s — through small gestures, little accomplishments, and a sincere inclination to hang onto hope at all costs.

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey (1989)

Not only has Stephen Covey’s book sold more than 25 million copies, but Time also listed it as one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books.” Bill Clinton even invited Covey to counsel him on the book’s principles during his presidency.

25 years after publication, the wisdom behind the seven habits Covey presents still holds true.

While I won’t spoil all these habits, I will say that Covey separates his seven habits into three categories:

  1. Private victory: learning to prioritize your goals, visualize your dreams, and act proactively rather than reactively.
  2. Public victory: learning how to collaborate and compromise, empathize with others, and become a team player and a leader.
  3. Renewal: learning how to use spirituality, meditation, and even service to maintain these lessons over your lifetime.

Covey provides you with the tools to adapt to change, and the power to reach your best professional and personal self.

The Big Takeaway: Covey came up with two terms in his book: “abundance mentality,” which applies to someone who is not competitive when it comes to success and believes success is more attainable with others’ involvement; and “scarcity mentality,” which applies to people who think success is only possible if they do it alone.

Covey posits that the most successful people are the “abundance mentality” people: those who are able to celebrate the success of other people, and even share recognition and responsibility for their own successes. So if you want to be successful, don’t be competitive. Instead, learn to use the people around you as resources, delegate responsibility, and work as a team player.

5. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk (2018)

If nothing else, this book offers some pretty unique arguments next time your dad asks why you don’t have a corporate (read: full-time) job yet.

But honestly, in 2018 the arguments for pursuing a less conventional, more entrepreneurial career are valid: many people have found success by creating their own alternative paths.

But since these paths don’t follow any blueprints, it can be tricky (and scary) to figure out where and how to start.

In his book, four-time New York Times bestselling author Vaynerchuk outlines exactly how to become a successful person without following a corporate path. His book provides useful and tangible advice on how to excel on social media platforms to establish and sustain a powerful personal brand — no matter who you are. Whether you’re interested in becoming the next YouTube superstar, Instagram influencer, iTunes podcaster, or Spotify musician, his book offers strategic advice drawn from other successful influencers’ real experiences.

The Big Takeaway: This book isn’t a “get-rich-quick” scheme. Instead, it’s a guide that shows you how other people have become successful doing what they love, and how you can, too. It encourages you to dream bigger: whether you’re a plumber (in which case, “your pillar should be Facebook,” writes Vaynerchuk) or a podcaster (like John Lee Dumas, who followed Vaynerchuk’s advice and is now the creator of one of the top-ranked business podcasts on iTunes, which grosses around $200,000 per month). Ultimately, there’s a social media platform and strategy for everyone: you just have to find it and put it into action.

6. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)

I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of this book. It’s one of the best-selling books of all time, and was named number 19 on Time’s list of 100 most influential books.

To be honest, if this was written in 2018 and preached things like, “fundamental techniques in handling people,” “six ways to make people like you,” “how to win people to your way of thinking,” and, “how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment,” I’d think it was a bunch of nonsense.

But, this book was published in 1936. And it’s still listed under Amazon’s best-sellers, 82 years later. So I’m thinking author Dale Carnegie is probably onto something.

Some of the advice is simple: smile, say someone else’s name when talking to her — and some is more complex, like, “let the other person feel your idea is his or hers,” which might take some practice.

The Big Takeaway: Here’s the gist of why Carnegie’s advice endures — people like to talk about themselves. Everyone wants to feel special, understood, and appreciated. If you make people feel this way, they like you better. So whether you’re the leader of a big marketing firm or in your first full-time position, learn to listen to the people around you, ask them meaningful questions about themselves, praise them for their good ideas, empathize with their point of view even during an argument, and remain humble. If you make people feel special, they’ll live up to the great reputation you’ve created for them.

7. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown (2017)

To me, the title itself sounded like a contradiction: find a way to belong, and find a way to stand alone? How do those two things fit together?

Brown argues that you can’t have one without the other: you can’t learn how to belong anywhere until you learn who you are and how you should fit. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone … true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity.”

In other words, how can you authentically fit in to a group or community if you’re not being your true self? And how can you be your true self if you don’t learn who you are without the pressures or expectations of your community?

Our culture today doesn’t make “belonging” easy. Brown says that we often strive to be perfect, pleasing, non-confrontational, and, as a result, quiet. We are terrified of braving what she calls “the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism.”

While being quiet might make for less complicated relationships, it also makes for less authentic ones.

The Big Takeaway: The first important lesson is that all of us have an innate need to connect with others (something Brown found in her research). But making connections is hard. Brown suggests reaching out and finding connections with those who are different from you. She also advises searching for truth in these relationships, within yourself and in others. If that sounds a bit too much like yoga-guru-jargon, it really just means being honest about who you are even at the risk of confrontation, and encouraging other people to be honest with you. She recommends learning how to truly listen, ask deeper-level questions, and always be “more curious than defensive.”

8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (2016)

Have you ever heard someone say something overly positive — “It’ll all work out, never give up on your dreams, you are a superstar!” — and thought to yourself, Sometimes, it doesn’t all just work out … sometimes, life isn’t fair, and I wish we’d all just be honest about that.

You would probably get along pretty well with superstar blogger and author Mark Manson.

I’ll admit, at first, his advice can seem a bit jarring. Growing up in a society in which positivity and having big dreams are encouraged, it was weird to read, “F**k positivity. Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.”

But his book has sold over two million copies, and this rare and unflinching honesty is probably why.

Manson provides research-backed arguments to say we can improve our lives if we learn to accept our limitations, our flaws, and the inherent unfairness of life. We can’t all be superstars. He writes that we will be happier, healthier, and more authentic, if we learn to accept when we’ve failed and re-direct our dreams, rather than inappropriately believing that we should be a winner just because we try.

Although it sounds rather grim, maybe it’s not. Maybe the person who hasn’t become the next Justin Bieber after ten years of effort should reach for a new dream, because likely, the only alternative to that is resentment and frustration, and there’s nothing positive about that.

The Big Takeway: Manson explains — in his own very elegant way — that there are only so many things we can “give a f**k about,” and we need to try our best to limit that list. We spread ourselves too thin, which does us a disservice. It makes us miss out on the important things. For instance, I bet you care about having a job you love, and becoming rich. But what if I asked you to choose? Manson says you should choose — if you want to do something you love, focus all your time, energy, and effort only on that.

9. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2013)

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and thought, Is this really the best I can do, and is this really the best life I can lead? If you have, you’ll appreciate Sincero’s journey, which started that same way.

Her book is all about learning how to create the life you desire — a meaningful, happy, purposeful life, however that looks to you.

As Sincero writes, “You may have heard stories about people who had these major breakthroughs … they found a lump or got their electricity turned off … when suddenly they woke up, transformed. But you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom to start crawling out of your hole. All you have to do is make the decision.”

If you’re unhappy, Sincero will inspire you to change your life. Plus, she won’t allow for any of your usual excuses, like not having the time (to which Sincero would reply, “you always have the time.”)

Besides delving into how to change your life, Sincero discusses where we learn these excuses (childhood, society), and why we’re sometimes more afraid to go after what we want than just accept failure from the start.

The Big Takeaway: Enough with the excuses. Enough with the “maybe next year” or “that’s for someone else” or “I’m not meant for that kind of (job, relationship, life).” Sincero explains that you have more time than you think, and you need to give yourself that push (“your life depends on it,” Sincero urges). So get started — not just with the effort, but with the attitude. As many of her readers have praised, Sincero’s book led them to their “destiny” because it created a voice in their heads that told them they deserved to go after that job, that soulmate, or that hobby. And it reminded them how massively important it is to live your most fulfilling and meaningful life — now.

Originally published Feb 19, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated February 19 2018



Best Self Help Books of All Time

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Get ready to level up this year by diving into some of the best self-help books that will help you make big changes in your life.


Why Read Self-Help Books?

The New Year is upon us, but that doesn’t mean you show make self-improvement your New Year’s Resolution. Instead, try to make small incremental changes throughout the year when there is less pressure to do so.

This is where self-help books shine. Self-help books can help guide you as you seek to make changes to your day-to-day life while giving you the freedom to make those changes at your own pace. If you are ready to start making changes, here are 30 of the best self-help books that you need to read in 2020!

What Are Self-Help Books?

Self-help books generally try to provide steps that the reader can take to help them reach a specific outcome or expectation. Whereas, personal development books help you develop personal skills that can be beneficial when trying to advance personally or professionally.

If you have personal problems or weaknesses that you are interested in improving, then self-help books may be something to consider. Self-help books have the power to give you insights, information, and instructions on how to improve your life, thinking, or circumstances. Many self-help books offer strategies that the author has personally used to improve their lives, while others are based on research and scientific inquiry.

Do Self-Help Books Actually Work?

Well, yes, and no. No self-help book is ever going to be able to give you the self-improvement you crave if you’re not willing to do the work. Self-help books can give you the tools to improve your life, but you are not going to see results unless you take the time and make an effort to apply the principles and lessons that these books teach you.

The 30 Best Self-Help Books to Read in 2020

This list of 30 self-help books features a variety of books that will help you reflect on your life and make big changes. I don’t have a lot of time to read with a book in my hand. My Audible Subscription makes life easier. It allows me to listen in the car. I love that it is conveniently linked to my Amazon Account. Plus if you sign up for Audible today, you get your first two audiobooks completely free

#1 Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert

One of my favorite self-help books of all time is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. This the incredible story of how ideas float around in the world trying to find just the right person. She shares some of her most intimate experiences with magic, creativity, and living a fulfilling life. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read, including; entrepreneurs, parents, educators, and just about everyone else.

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  • Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$10.49 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#2 The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up By Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is one of the most life-changing self-help books I have ever read. This book really altered my mindset around stuff! Decluttering can truly be an exciting experience if you have Marie Kondo’s wise words to live by. This book is the foundation of the incredibly popular Konmari Method!

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  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
  • Hardcover Book
  • Marie Kondō (Author)

$9.69 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#3 The Little Book of Big Lies: A Journey into Inner Fitness By Tina Lifford

If you like story-driven life lessons than this raw and incredibly illuminating book by Tina Lifford is perfect for you. This book has 14 personal stories from Lifford that will help you change the way you see not only the world but yourself. This book will help you change your perception and build the life you want.

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Lifford, Tina (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$16.99 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#4 The Power of Self-Discipline By Brian Tracy

Are you struggling to get past the same lame excuses day after day that is keeping you from achieving your dreams and goals? Your problem might be a lack of self-discipline or your willingness to do what you have to do even when you don’t feel like it. Brian Tracy has packed this book full of activities and exercises to prompt you to make the changes to reach your personal goals, business and money goals, and overall happiness.

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  • No Excuses The Power of Self Discipline
  • Tracy, Brian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$12.99 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#5 You Are A Badass By Jen Sincero

Jen Sincero is blunt and to the point in her motivating self-help book, You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life. This book has many practical strategies that you can start using today. Follow the steps in this book to manifesting a more exciting and meaningful life. Do you want to make more money, find a life partner, or go on more adventures? If yes, Jen Sincero will remind you that it is all possible!

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  • You Are a Badass How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
  • Sincero, Jen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$8.99 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#6 How To Win Friends And Influence People By Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a bit older but still relevant. Are you struggling to maintain friendships or hoping to develop more meaningful connections? If yes, this book is for you.

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  • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie 1998 Paperback New
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#7 The Four Hour Workweek By Tim Ferriss

The Four Hour Workweek is for the aspiring entrepreneur who is ready to dive in and make some serious changes to his or her life. Are you ready to make money and change your lifestyle? Tim Ferriss will help you “escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich.” This book holds a lot of information. Plan to take it slow and implement as you go.

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  • Crown Publishing Group NY
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ferriss, Timothy (Author)

$14.10 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#8 Radically Happy By Phakchok Rinpoche

Happiness means something different to everyone. Many want to feel excitement and enthusiasm regularly, while others want to find a sense of contentment with what they already have. Radically Happy will support you in becoming more mindful through meditation. This book presents personal narratives and scientific studies that will teach you to begin to experience how shifting your perspective slightly can create radical happiness in your life.

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  • Rinpoche, Phakchok (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 10/01/2019 (Publication Date) – Shambhala (Publisher)

$14.58 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#9 The Friendship Formula: Add Great Friends, Subtract Toxic People and Multiply Your Happiness By Caroline Millington

Everyone has toxic people in their lives, but what would your world be like if they were no longer around? The Friendship Formula will help you identify your true friendships, and navigate the people in your life. Take back control of your relationships and multiply your happiness with this book!

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Millington, Caroline (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$14.04 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#10 Eat that Frog! By Brian Tracy

“There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day. For Tracy, eating a frog is a metaphor for tackling your most challenging task—but also the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life. Eat That Frog!” If you struggle to complete dreaded tasks on your to-do list each day, then this classic self-help book is for you!

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  • Tracy, Brian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$11.69 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#11 100 Days To Brave By Annie Downs

If you are looking for light daily reading, then 100 Days to Brave may be a good place to kickstart a more courageous new year. Annie Downs shares personal stories and short devotions that will help you work through your fears and become a braver you. Who doesn’t need a little more courage in their life?

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Downs, Annie F. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$8.99 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#12 Daring Greatly By Brené Brown

Brené Brown has spent years researching vulnerability and shame. She shares her findings for the good of humanity in her best-selling book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Get practical strategies to help you work through shame when it comes up in life so that you can live a more joy-filled existence.

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  • Avery Publishing Group
  • Brown, Brené (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$9.39 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#13 The Universe Has Your Back By Gabrielle Bernstein

Faith and optimism are two of the key components that will lead to real change in your life. You truly have to believe that change is possible, and Gabrielle Bernstein will make you believe. The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith will help you to get rid of emotional blocks and improve your mindset so that you can start living a happier and more purposeful life.

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  • The Universe Has Your Back Transform Fear to Faith
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bernstein, Gabrielle (Author)

$6.42 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#14 Finding Your Own North Star By Martha Beck

Want help figuring out what to do with this one wild and free life? Consider reading one of Martha Beck’s self-help books. She is a believer in magic, life coaching, science, and the importance of having fun. Martha Beck writes stories that are funny yet extremely helpful. Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live will help you find your path so that you can make your dreams come true.

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  • Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live
  • Beck, Martha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$8.99 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#15 Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking By S.J. Scott

Minimalism is all the rage, and everyone is focused on how to declutter their homes and their lives. But have you taken the time to think of how to Declutter Your Mind? This fantastic book from S.J. Scott will help you identify what is causing your mental clutter and help you develop a strategy to declutter your mind.

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  • Declutter Your Mind How to Stop Worrying Relieve Anxiety and Eliminate Negative Thinking
  • Scott, S.J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$13.49 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#16 The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying By Bonnie Ware

If you are searching for a deeply sentimental and touching story that will give you the desire to change your life while you still have time, consider Bonnie Ware’s book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed. In this book, the author shares her experience working with those nearing death to help you understand that anything is possible if you make choices that align with your values.

302 Reviews The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing

  • The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing
  • Ware, Bronnie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$15.88 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#17 The Happiness Advantage By Shawn Anchor

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life is bursting with interesting research about how you can live a happier life starting today. Shawn Achor shares the psychology behind happiness. Are you interested in learning how to be happier with your current situation?

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  • Crown Business
  • Hardcover Book
  • Achor, Shawn (Author)

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#18 Switch By Chip Heath

I read Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard a few years back, and then I recently re-read this interesting book. Switch is a fascinating book. Chip Heath shares research-based information that will help you make big changes in your life.

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  • Broadway Business
  • Hardcover Book
  • Chip Heath (Author)

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#19 Radical Acceptance By Tara Brach

If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or mental illness and are hoping to work toward a more peaceful state of mind, then Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance may be for you. This book will help you heal with the help of a little self-compassion. Find purposeful living, less suffering, and peace through mindfulness.

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  • Great product!
  • Brach, Tara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$12.75 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#20 Practice You: A Journal By Elena Brower

If you have an eye for art and enjoy journaling, then you should consider picking up a copy of Practice You. This journal guides you step-by-step on your path to enlightenment. The author guides you to reflect on your life by gently prompting you to jot down your thoughts, wisdom, and goals. Helping you to gain clarity and live your best life. The Practice You self-help journal is used in treatment centers globally to help people who are working through challenging times.

Sale 167 Reviews Practice You: A Journal

  • Brower, Elena (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages – 09/19/2017 (Publication Date) – Sounds True (Publisher)

$15.26 Buy on Amazon

#21 Everything Is Figureoutable By Marie Forleo

Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo is the perfect read for anyone looking to expand their business or chase that passion project in their life. The book will give you the tools you need to tackle just about any problem in your personal or professional life. Marie Forleo has built a massive digital media empire, and she will help you retrain your brain to focus on the positive, and accomplish your goals.

1,291 Reviews Everything Is Figureoutable

  • English (Publication Language)

$15.24 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#22 Don’t Keep Your Day Job By Cathy Heller

Don’t Keep Your Day Job: How to Turn Your Passion Into A Career will help you create a vision for monetizing your favorite activities, whether that be baking, writing, or jewelry making so that you can live a life filled with purpose.

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Heller, Cathy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$15.89 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#23 Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life By Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar

If you are interested in learning about Ayurvedic wisdom, this book will help you effortlessly lose weight, sleep better, exercise stronger, reduce stress, and boost your wellbeing. This self-help book is based on harnessing the power of chronobiology to help you create a daily schedule that compliments your mind-body type.

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  • Kshirsagar, Dr. Suhas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 01/29/2019 (Publication Date) – Harper Wave (Publisher)

$13.18 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#24 When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing By Daniel Pink

Have you ever wondered why you struggle with completing certain tasks at certain times of the day; When will help you understand why. The author, Daniel Pink, will guide you to understand your chronotype or your pattern of circadian rhythms. Knowing this information about yourself will give you insights about the when to complete certain types of tasks, like exercise, email, or work that requires focus. Learn to carefully consider how to plan your day with this fascinating book.

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Pink, Daniel H. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$16.12 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#25 The Third Door By Alex Banayan

The Third Door by Alex Banayan is what he calls “the wild quest to uncover how the world’s most successful people launched their careers.” This book is packed with exciting tales of some of the most successful people in the world. Alex’s ability to tell stories masterfully combined with his willingness to share his personal journey will inspire you to find your third door and take action to make changes in your life.

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Banayan, Alex (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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#26 Raise Your Hand By Alice Tapper

Seeking an inspiring children’s story for your daughter or young woman in your life? Then Raise Your Hand is for you! Many women, young and old, can relate to the feeling of sitting in a group of people knowing what to say but lacking the self-confidence to share your brilliant ideas with the world. This picture book illustrates determination, bravery, and an unwillingness to accept the status quo to remind your female loved ones that the world needs her words!

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Tapper, Alice Paul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$11.69 Buy on Amazon

#27 Joy Diet By Martha Beck

Learning to be happy with your current circumstances can be challenging. However, acceptance and gratitude are often what lead us to make breakthroughs and big changes in our lives. If you are curious about how to start living a joyful life starting today, then you should consider curling up with a copy of Martha Becks’ menu of ten behaviors you can add to your way of living. That will help you discover ways to enhance your everyday journey by getting on the Joy Diet.

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  • The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life by Martha Beck
  • Hardcover Book
  • Beck, Martha (Author)

$11.54 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#28 The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, & Body in the Healing of Trauma By Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk

Nearly every person has been through a traumatic event in their life. This could be anything from a divorce, death of a loved one, or a car accident. While it may seem like you grieved this event and then moved on, this is generally not the case. Research shows that when trauma happens, we often carry the aftermath of it with us for years to come. In The Body Keep’s Score, you will learn how to forge a path to recovery by activating your brain’s natural neuroplasticity so that you can work toward a stronger sense of well-being.

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  • van der Kolk M.D., Bessel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$10.88 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#29 The Alter Ego Effect By Todd Herman

My personal favorite! If you are ready to make a massive shift in your life, but you have no clue where to begin, then The Alter Ego Effect is a must-read for you! Todd Herman will teach you step-by-step how to move out of your way and perform at your peak. With your new activation token in hand, you will learn how to ignite the best version of yourself using the same secret activation techniques used by many top athletes and executives.

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  • Hardcover Book
  • Herman, Todd (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$16.59 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

#30 Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person By Shonda Rhimes

The Year of Yes by the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes, shows you exactly how, a self-proclaimed introvert, went on to be the creator of some of the most groundbreaking TV shows. This beautifully written New York Time’s bestseller will show you that despite the fear, it’s always worth it to try something new.

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  • Year of Yes How to Dance It Out Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person
  • Rhimes, Shonda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

$9.69 Get The Audiobook Buy on Amazon

Which Self-Help Book Will You Read?

Do you plan to spend the year working on self-love, getting motivated, or decluttering your home? Either way, anything you do with good intentions will likely have a dramatic impact on your life! Which of these books will help you set the tone for your best year yet?

You May Also Like: 11 CREATIVE HOBBIES TO TRY IN 2020

Last update on 2020-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Prices shown represent Amazon prices only, and do not represent the current price from any other source.

Life Is Long

Karen Salmansohn (58 years young in August 2018)

Want to live to live longer, healthier, younger? Me too!

I’m a late-in-life mom.

I want to be around to dance at my son’s wedding.

With this in mind, I recently promised my son, Ari, that I’d do everything I can to live to one hundred.

Ari wanted me to live to two hundred, but I bargained him down to one hundred.

He accepted my counteroffer.

Next, I went on a quest to learn everything I could to live longer – and younger! I interviewed our world’s top health and aging experts, read stacks of books and immersed myself in cutting edge research studies about longevity.

Then I turned all I learned into a fun-to-read, fast-paced book, called Life Is Long.

Inside Life Is Long you’ll learn a wide range of longevity boosters – including fascinating studies on everything from coffee to fasting to hidden toxins – and shedding light on intriguing questions like…

  • what spice improves cardiovascular health as much as aerobic exercise?
  • why does brushing my teeth improve my heart health?
  • how do I keep my chromosomes in good shape?
  • and more!

Learn how to live longer, healthier younger.

Get secrets to live to one hundred plus – alongside me!

With this in mind, you’re invited to attend my one-hundredth birthday party.

And I promise it will be a super fun 100th birthday bash.

Oh, and I’m not joking.

I’m planning my one-hundredth birthday party now – for two researched reasons.

  • I want to engage in plan de vida (“reason to live”) – a common practice of peppy elders living in Nicoya, Costa Rica, a famed centenarian hotspot. In Nicoya, residents credit their longevity to living with a purpose. (Example: Looking forward to fun times with family and friends.)
  • Plus I want to positively embrace getting older. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who enjoy a happy attitude about aging lived more than seven years long than those with negative attitudes about aging.

So I’m planning my one-hundredth birthday party – for real!
And you are invited!

You’re invited! Sign up now for my 100th Birthday Bash!

Although it’s my party, I’ll be sending you lots of gifts – long before it happens – including free longevity videos and discounts on lots of longevity products!

No SPAM, ever! Read the Privacy Policy for more information.

Great knack for reducing wisdom to memorable words

Self-help needs help. It can be tedious. It can be preachy. It can be dull and holier than thou. Its an embarrassing part of the book store to be caught in. Unless you’re with Karen Salmansohn. She is a former copywriter (in fact she named the Burger King Croissanwich®) and she has great knack for reducing wisdom to memorable words.

Danny Gregory NYTimes Best Selling Author and Founder of Sketch Skool “

Rockstar at igniting your sense of what’s possible

Karen Salmansohn merges psychology and cutting-edge research with her unique feisty humor to empower you to push through limiting beliefs and zoom towards your goals! She’s a rockstar at igniting your sense of what’s possible, then sharing the tools to get you there.

Jonathan Fields Entrepreneur, Author Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance “

A creative force of nature

Karen Salmansohn is a creative force of nature. I love her insights and relentless commitment to helping people live happy and successful lives. Her smart sense of humor and unusual metaphors make changing your life not only do-able but, totally fun. I simply adore her!

Marie Forleo Best Selling Author “

Sass and shine

Salmansohn’s got sass and shine! Her work sparks people to wake up, and at the same time, gives the comfort of perennial wisdom – such a divine combo. Sass and shine, in the best package!

Danielle LaPorte Creator of

Think happier. Think calmer.

Think about subscribing for free weekly tools here.

No SPAM, ever! Read the Privacy Policy for more information.

I know a lot of people might roll their eyes when they hear about self-help and self-motivation books and wonder if they really work. Over the years I’ve read several self-motivation and self-help books. Some have been useful, taught me things that improved my life, and encouraged me to reach greater heights. Some were redundant and not helpful at all. In the end, it all boils down to the reader, I think.

If you are looking to foray into the world of self motivation books or just looking for your next read, here are 15 self-motivation books that might help you on your personal growth journey.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

In this book, Elizabeth encourages you to go out there and live a creative life. This doesn’t only apply to professional artists or people we call creatives, but to everyone, because we all create different things in our daily lives. In this book, she asks you this question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.” And then she attempts to help you achieve this. You will find yourself coming back again and again to this book at moments when your creativity runs low.

What A Time To Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue

Garnished with stories from her life and the Igbo Language, What A Time To Be Alone tells you to know your worth in visual and colourful ways. It reads like a love letter to her mother, to herself and to anyone who’s ever felt they aren’t good enough or have been stuck in toxic relationships.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes shares how one word changed her life. You might be wondering how that’s possible. She shares how saying yes opened up multiple opportunities for her and how it can do the same for you as well. This doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything, but if you constantly reject or run away from things because you are afraid of failure, new experiences, or you want to stay in your comfort zone, then maybe its time to reevaluate and see how you might be standing in the way of your own success. But you aren’t alone in this as Shonda takes you through her story and shows you what happened to her when she decided to stop saying no and started saying yes for a whole year.

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith

A lot of people search for meaning, their life’s purpose. You don’t have to travel to a distant land, visit a monastery or go through a life-threatening situation to find it. You can find it in the things and people around you. Emily shows us this with research and her experiences travelling, meeting, and observing people from all walks of life.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

This book is all about self-love, gratitude and self-focus. Told in a straightforward and humorous way, it tells you to embrace who you are and exactly how to go about doing so. According to Jen, “We are all perfect in our own, magnificent, fucked-up ways. Laugh at yourself. Love yourself and others. Rejoice in the cosmic ridiculousness.” It might feel like it brings nothing new to the table for self-motivation book veterans, but if you want a fun, easy, and motivational read I would recommend this.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

No one wants to be vulnerable and no one wants to expose that vulnerability to others for fear that they might be mocked, judged or taken advantage of. Daring Greatly is about how we need to embrace our vulnerability and conquer the shame around it in order to live a wholehearted life.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

As an introvert myself, I know how it feels to be told that you have to try to be extroverted or you won’t make an impact in the world or “experience” life or you’re too sensitive. Well, it took me a while to know that that simply isn’t true. In this book, Susan Cain talks about what introverts have to offer the world especially in this age, introverts that have changed the course of history and how the traits that make us introverts make us exceptional and that we aren’t less needed than extroverts. You can also listen to her TED talk on this topic, it made me feel seen and realise that there’s nothing wrong with me and I have so much to offer the world. Though aimed at introverts, this book isn’t only for introverts, it’s for everyone who wants a better understanding of people and human relations.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

You’re probably wondering what a book about tidying up your home is doing on this list. Well, by decluttering your home, you also declutter your mind. By clearing out the excess you can focus on what’s important. We tend to surround ourselves with things we think are important to us but in the long run really aren’t. By decluttering your home and life and only keeping the things you truly need and that spark joy, you simplify your life.

Gmorning, Gnight! : Little Pep Talks For Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Sometimes all you need are some words of encouragement daily to push you to go out there and make things work. Gmorning, Gnight! is a collection of bite-sized daily affirmations to encourage you daily. With illustrations by Jonny Sun, this collection of motivational, humorous and poetic affirmations might just be what you need.

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

Chances are you’ve heard about this book before. A wildly successful self-help book, it highlights the habits that effective people possess and breaks it down so you can build such habits as well. Several spinoffs have been written for teens and kids as well. While some of the advice might be outdated in this day and age, it’s a worthwhile read.

A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You by Donna Cameron

This book is all about the power of kindness, why we should be kind to ourselves and others as well. The author shares her experiences during the year she decided to actively practice kindness each day. I feel this is a relevant read in the world we live in today based on current events, where people can easily go online and be unkind to each other. It shows you that kindness is not a weakness. By being kind to yourself you can change areas of your life and being truly kind to others as well can have greater consequences than you can imagine.

More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth

Part manifesto, part memoir, this books takes us on a journey through Elaine’s life and all the struggles she faced while passing on the message that we are more than enough and we shouldn’t let anyone tell us otherwise.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

In an era of books that tell people to focus on the positive side and relentlessly pursue happiness, Mark Manson is here to tell you otherwise. Negative things are a part of life that we will probably face often, and we have to live with it. This book forces you to come to terms with this uncomfortable truth and live with it, focus on things that matter and don’t give a fuck about things that don’t. Everything won’t always work out and that’s okay. You might think this sounds negative for a self-help book but it isn’t; sometimes having the harsh truth handed over to you helps you grow and become stronger. It doesn’t really say much that we don’t know already, but it says it in such a slightly vulgar and definitely not sugarcoated way that works as a wake-up call to most.

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

In this book, you are given simple rules to living a better life by building your confidence and working towards success through positive thinking. By believing in yourself, having a positive outlook on life instead of being pessimistic, having faith in yourself, being kind to yourself, and more, you can improve your life. This is one of the classic self-help books which will still benefit people today.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Option B is about dealing with grief, facing adversity and finding the courage to move on when it feels like everything has fallen apart. With Sheryl’s experience after losing her husband combined with Adam’s research, in this book we are given a guide to help those going through hard times build up their resilience and ultimately find joy.

There are dozens of self-help and self-motivation books out there, but let’s remember that no matter how many you read, you need to apply what you read in them to see changes in your life as well.

If you are looking for more self motivation books that can help in your personal growth journey, the bibliologists over at TBR can help you find more nonfiction reads as well as fictional books. Our service is like Stitch Fix, but for books, pairing you with your next favorite book!

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From the concept of the American Dream featured in self-development classics such as Think & Grow Rich and The Power of Positive Thinking to the New Age thinking and positive psychology in books such as The Power of Now and Daring Greatly, self-help literature has always reflected societal trends.

Taking that all into consideration, what are the best self-help books of all time? Which books rise above the cultures and time periods they came from to represent the best of the best in terms of evergreen life lessons and timeless wisdom?

Any book is a self-help guide if you can take something from it.

– Kevin Smith

Here are 11 of the best self-help books of all time:

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The only fiction book on this list, The Alchemist is a seminal classic that has sold over sixty-five million copies worldwide.

So, why is a fiction book on a self-help book list? To put it simply, the way it was written by author Paulo Coelho was unlike anything of its kind at the time. It’s a fictional story, but you’re just as much within main character Santiago’s head as you are there beside him in his journey to discovering his Personal Legend.

If you’re looking for guidance in a general sense, are at all religious (or even agnostic), or simply want wisdom on how to discover what it is you were meant to do and become (and, honestly, probably even if none of those things apply to you), this book will quite literally change your life forever.

Check out The Alchemist here.

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

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peopleis one of several well-known classics on this list, though I personally find it to be the most refreshing one.

On one side, this self-help book is exactly what it sounds like: a guide to the habits of successful, effective people. On the other side, though, there runs an incredibly important undertone that forms the real power of the book and the prime takeaway: living with fairness and integrity is the path to maximum efficiency and success.

In a world where shortcuts, secret deals, and dishonesty are prominent, Covey’s classic preaches a message that the world needs more than ever — and shows you how to apply it in the form of simple, straightforward habits.

Check out 7 Habits of Highly Effective People here.

3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

If you read one book on spirituality, you can’t really go wrong with Tolle’s classic The Power of Now. It isn’t just a guide to spiritual practice and how it can transform your own life, it’s a guide to transforming the world with the power of that practice as well.

The key takeaway here is that you have the ability to change the world one step at a time if you work on transforming yourself from the inside out, an insight that can serve you well for your entire life.

Check out The Power of Now here.

4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

On the complete other side of the spectrum, there’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad is to financial literacy what The Power of Now is to spiritual practice. It presents you with a complete set of sound, useful principles for living better and more effectively when it comes to money and personal finances.

The book uses the contrast between two characters, “poor dad” and “rich dad,” to teach various financial principles. The primary takeaway is that those who aren’t good with their money and have less are that way because they work for money, whereas those who are good with their money amass more of it because they learn how to make money work for them. They’re generalities, but the lessons taught are no less valuable.

If you want to improve your ability to manage your finances, Rich Dad, Poor Dad is the perfect package of enlightening knowledge and actionable instruction.

Check out Rich Dad, Poor Dad here.

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

Dale Carnegie wrote several great self-help books in his time, but How to Win Friends and Influence People is easily his best. This book is king when it comes to learning how to work and communicate with people, so I consider it required reading — especially for an introvert like myself.

Carnegie does a great job of showing that good communication really has nothing to do with natural talent or smooth words, but knowing the right tactics to use with interacting with others, something everyone can do.

Communication is one of the single most important skills you can work on, given how critical communication is to everything that we do. If you want (or believe you need) to become a better communicator, or simply want to get better at working with people, read this now.

Check out How to Win Friends and Influence People here.

6. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is one of several old-school classics on this list and its place is well-earned. For twenty years, author Napoleon Hill studied the most successful people of his time, including Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell and chronicled those findings together into one neat little package.

The main takeaway? A focused, burning desire (or the power of a made-up mind, what Wayne Dyer called intention), gives us the power to achieve or acquire what we want most in life.

If you’re looking for insights on how to achieve your dream or a specific goal, this is a classic you can’t do without.

Check out Think & Grow Rich here.

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

This book had a profound effect on me at a very critical point in my life. A classic that’s not often listed on best self-help book lists, Dr. Helmstetter’s WSWYTYS has the ability to completely transform your life by showing you how to master your inner self-talk.

Our inner dialogue holds huge amounts of control over our life, influencing virtually every decision we make each and every day. The only problem is, our inner dialogue is usually incredibly negative and self-destructive.

So, what happens when you learn to master this inner dialogue and change it? Your entire life changes. I credit this book, in part, for helping me get out of a difficult spot in my life where I was working somewhere I knew didn’t align with my purpose but didn’t have the confidence or belief to take the next step.

If you believe your inner dialogue is holding you back, this book has the chance to change your life forever.

Check out What to Say When You Talk to Your Self here.

8. The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Dr. Peale’s classic is the quintessential self-help book, being one of just a handful of early books from around the 1950s that shaped the entire self-improvement space as a whole. For that reason, there are many themes in the book that you’ll see echoed throughout many of the other books on this list. However, the perspective is slightly different and a refreshing change.

The value of positive thinking is such a basic mantra of self-improvement that it’s now almost overlooked. The Power of Positive Thinking is great for anyone looking to get back basics and learn some of the fundamental lessons that are critical to believing self-confidence and an optimistic mindset.

Check out The Power of Positive Thinking here.

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

The Magic of Thinking Big is a book that I’ll always remember because reading it was probably the first time I was introduced to the true power of the mind. Like Peale’s Positive Thinking, this is another classic, so the examples and speech that Schwartz uses are often entertaining in themselves.

Above all else, The Magic of Thinking Big will teach you not to short-change yourself. Think big, don’t settle, and watch as a simple shift in the way you think literally changes your results.

The Magic of Thinking Big is great for anyone looking to learn more about how to use the mind to achieve higher levels of success.

Check out The Magic of Thinking Big here.

10. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Awaken the Giant Within is probably Robbin’s most well-known self-help book and, once you read it, you’ll know why. Many of the books on this list hone in on a particular subject, but this one doesn’t. It gives you the whole damn thing and then some. Robbins gives his best advice for improving your relationships, confidence, finances, and finding your purpose.

However, the main takeaway and the theme that runs through the entire book is that you have an inner confidence, a giant within, that you can awaken by changing the way you think in a fundamental way. And doing so will allow you to create real change in your life– no matter the type of change you want to make happen. If that’s what you’re looking for, prepare to be blown away.

Check out Awaken the Giant Within here.

11. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Many of the books on this list are centered around old-school ideas of acquisition and self-improvement. If you’re a bit tired of all that (I don’t blame you), this will be a breath of fresh air.

The classics are classics for a reason– they work. They include invaluable wisdom which for anyone trying to make a great dream or goal a reality. However, the older classics tend to ignore something very important: the challenges we face throughout life.

Of all self-help type books, researcher and author Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly strikes at the heart of the most important issue of all: our lack of self-worth and struggles with shame.

The main takeaway of Daring Greatly? You’re not alone in thinking that you’re not worthy. In fact, most people think the same way. It’s the single most universal challenge facing people of all cultures. But you are worth it and you can find that self-worth– and great strength– in the willingness to open up and be vulnerable.

If you’re looking to work more from the ground up and want to tackle fundamental issues, this is the one book you need.

Check out Daring Greatly here.