20 Best Self Help Books | Top Personal Development Reads this Year

Self-help, self-development, personal development or self-improvement. Call it whatever you like, but there’s no doubt that this is a huge area with lots of ‘gurus’ out there teaching and preaching their beliefs. You can say it’s almost cult-like. Either way, we all know the benefits of reading books.

“Books showed me there were possibilities in life, that there were people like me living in a world I could not only aspire to but attain. Reading gave me hope. For me, it was the open door.” – Oprah Winfrey

This post will make finding books easier by showing you the best self help books out there. We’ve compiled all these influencers and asked them this question:

What is the best self help book you’ve ever read and why is it different from the rest?

If you’re short on time and are interested in summaries or audiobooks, you can check out our Blinkist app review or Audible. How does Audible work? Check out our write up on it! (Please read the review before making any decision on the two. They might not be the best match for everyone.)

1. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

For 80 plus years Dale Carnegie has taught us how we should treat each other. Regardless of your identity or what you do, this self-help book should have on your bookshelf. If you follow Carnegie’s teachings, making friends and being able to influence them will be a natural occurrence.

Carnegie teaches that to succeed in life, you must put others first. Then, communicate to that person that they own that number one spot.

It’s currently one of the greatest self-help books of all times.

2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Who are you? The question is not who you were yesterday or who you want to be tomorrow, but who are you today?

Often, we don’t stop from our daily activities long enough to reflect on where we are right now. The Power of Now is about being in the present.

Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author who grew up in Germany. At twenty-nine years of age, he underwent a radical transformation that led him on an inner journey. The course of his life was forever changed.

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

If you have a desire to succeed there are 7 habits that you should develop. In this article, we provide a summary of the meaning of the 7 habits taught by Covey.

You should be willing to do what it takes to make things happen. Know where you want to end up before you start. Start with the things that are most important first. The next three habits deal with how to interact with others.

In 2011, this book was one of the 25 most influential books for business management and it’s definitely one of the best self help books around.

4. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

What would you do if there were no limits? How far could you go if there were no boundaries? Your potential would be limitless.

In this book, Singer teaches how yoga and meditation can help you release the positive energy locked inside of you.

Michael Singer is the founder of a yoga and meditation centre where people go to experience inner peace. Singer has two other books on philosophy.

5. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel Ruiz, a native elder, gives his readers four agreements that will help transform their life. He bases his teachings on Toltec wisdom. Consider how your life would change if you followed these simple rules?

Never assume anything. So many people act on what they think they know and don’t ask questions to gain clarification. That amounts to acting on a falsehood, which produces less than desirable results.

No matter what, do your best. Understand that your best will change as the situation changes. So, your best today will not be the same as your best on tomorrow.

6. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Parents encourage their children to go to college, get a good paying job, and save money. They want the child to have a better life.

However, the truth is that there are no guarantees. A person can do all the right things and still barely have enough money to pay their bills.

Robert Kiyosaki had the benefit of having two dads who gave him advice about providing for the future. One was his biological father. The other one was an adopted father, who was the father of Kiyosaki’s best friend.

This information he shares changes his reader’s beliefs about what it takes to succeed in life.

7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Many people seek worldly treasures and are willing to do whatever it takes to find them. Some gamble with their life. Others go off on wild adventures seeking the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

In this book, join Santiago, a shepherd boy who travels the world seeking worldly treasure. He leaves Spain, goes to Morocco, and eventually ends up in Egypt. That is where he meets an alchemist who guides him toward spiritual enlightenment and self-understanding.

At some point, we come to realize that nothing worthwhile will be easy. This book is both inspirational and life-changing.

8. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Sincero does not teach you how to meditate or do yoga; you already know how to do that.

Jen Sincero gets direct to the point in her assessment of what it takes to succeed. She gives readers the type of pep talk you would expect from a coach whose team is down at halftime.

She communicates with her clients through email, public appearances, newsletters, and her books. She encourages others to let go of their fears and live the awesome life that they are destined to live.

9. The Compound Effect By Darren Hardy

If you want to know where you will end up in the future, look at the decisions you’re making today. Every decision will either take you closer to your dreams or move you away from them.

This book offers an easy step-by-step guide on how to increase the potential for you to become successful. Hardy’s words of wisdom will be challenging and inspiring to anyone who refuses to accept mediocracy.

Hardy is the publisher and editorial director of Success Magazine. He has the opportunity to speak with successful CEOs, athletes, entertainers, and others. In this book, he shares the precious nuggets on success that he has gleaned.

10. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

How do you know if you are putting your efforts in the right things? You don’t want to grab the ball, shoot the layup in the wrong basket, scoring for the other team.

If you are not working on the right things, we may as well not be doing anything at all. 

Many people are stressed out, burnt out, and in danger of passing out from their need to do it all. Instead of being like hamsters on a treadmill getting nowhere, McKeown teaches us how to do less and achieve more.

11. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck has spent a year at Stanford conducting research on the theory of mindsets. She believes that the way we think about our skills and the actions determine whether we will achieve our goals.

Dweck describes two types of mindsets – fixed and growth. A person who has a fixed mindset will not be changed, because they believe their skills and intelligence cannot improve. People with a growth mindset believe anything is possible if they are dedicated and work hard to achieve it.

12. Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Brené Brown shares the stories of people from all walks of life to teach that there is power in emotion. Everyone from CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to stay-at-home moms, allow themselves to be vulnerable in telling their stories. Everyone has a story.

When the journey of storytelling begins, it can be dangerous. The process of walking through the story is what develops courage.

Through the stories, including those from her own life, Brown challenges the reader to think about their own relationships. One story is about a strong discussion or argument she had with her husband.

13. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This New York Times bestseller shows readers how to work less and spend more time doing what they love. Ferriss explains how he increased his salary from $40,000 per year to $40,000 a month. His work week went from 80 hours a week to 4 hours a week.

What do you want to achieve in life and how do you want to live? If you can answer those two questions, Ferris can help you accomplish your goal.

Ferris’s book is also the number 1 recommended business book in an interview of over 97 online entrepreneurs. See the post: 200+ Business Books: Recommended by Business Professionals

14. Mastery by Robert Greene

In this book, Robert Greene examines the lives of people like Charles Darwin, Henry Ford, Paul Graham, and Mozart. He identifies the traits of each of them that make them masters.

To become a master over anything in life involves hard work. Greene provides persons willing to embark on the journey towards the mastery of ideas and strategies to help them be successful. The first thing a person must do is find their purpose in life.

15. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Published 25 years ago, this book was inspirational for millions of people. The premise of the book is the principle that the natural direction of life is a creative expression.

Many things that occur in life can rob a person of their creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” has only high praise for the book, “The Artist’s Way.” She gives this book credit for her ability to complete her memoir.

16. Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

Published in 1992, with over 500 pages, this book is a collection of strategies for creating change. Robbins teaches that people don’t change because they don’t know the reason why they developed their bad habits.

For over 30 years, Anthony Robbins has helped people take charge of their lives and move to a new level. This book is another tool that will help empower readers to reach a level of self-fulfillment.

He is a New York Times bestselling author, who lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

17. The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday teaches us how many of the world’s most successful people had to overcome difficult obstacles.

This book is a gem collection of true stories to inspire anyone who is feeling frustrated with their life. It has become a classic. Among its fans are Arnold Schwarzenegger, LL Cool J, and the coaches of many professional sports teams.

Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that involves enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. The Stoics focus their attention on the things they can control rather than the things they can’t. Every obstacle is an opportunity to improve, grain strength, and become tough.

18. Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

When we go through periods of transition, they stress, and adversity is often part of the package. How we go through the change has a lot to do with how we will look on the other side. We always have a choice to make in how we face the challenges of life.

Our choices are to embrace the change, run from it, shut down, or allow ourselves to be broken and transformed. This book is a testament to the rich potential to heal and grow that each of us possesses within us.

Like the people in the stories she tells, Lesser has also had her share of challenges. She admits struggling to submit to the process of being broken open to rising.

19. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

This is truly a self-help book designed to help you meet the challenges that people face every day. This book helps people break the ice to get unstuck.

Rubin talks about things such as the need to eat healthier, stop procrastinating, and exercise more. We may have developed bad habits that keep us from life mastery, but we can replace them with good habits.

Rubin describes four motivation types that people fall into. When a person is aware of their motivation type, they can learn to take on new habits.

20. Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn

There is nothing that can help a person heal and change their lives for the better than laughter. When you read Grabhorn’s book, you will laugh, you will cry, you will heal.

Our feelings are the things that have a profound impact on every moment of our daily life. We should not ignore them, but we should embrace them and learn from them.

A true assessment of our feelings to discover what they truly mean can help turn our lives around. Grabhorn was the person who introduced millions of readers to the Law of Attraction. The book appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and sold more than 151,000 copies.

Hope you enjoyed our list of the 20 best self help books around. Please share if you found a book you liked 🙂

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  1. One author best seller translated to 30 languages and millions copies sold that has remarkable followers and praise did not make the list.
    I can’t remember the title nor author’s name except his smiling Oriental face with a hat and blue shirt. Can someone help me with name or tittle please?

  2. Jeez. It’s been a long time I actually pulled out a piece of printer paper to take notes on a blog post lol. Thanks for this. You’ve earned yourself a new reader!

  3. Hello!
    So glad that you produced this list.
    How do you think that people can be guaranteed to get the most out of personal development material? What is the biggest problem with the Personal Development industry as it stands?

    1. Self Development Secrets

      Hey Angelo, there are no guarantees in life but people can make the most out of it by being open and picking the right books. Some books are more practical than others and some books relate better to certain people than others. To me the biggest problem with the personal development industry are the fake guru’s and hype. I understand that miracles can happen and they do, but things should also be put into perspective. Just my 2 cents 🙂

  4. i am so in love with these books. great work. i’ve read some of them recently like the magic, that how to influence one. wonderful article.

  5. are the books to read absolutely before you die!
    So let’s put it this way: if we were to fill a shelf of books that, for no reason in the world, we would like to give up, surely there would be those below. Have you already read them all?
    in life there is a lot to know why not do it comfortably on a sofa reading one of these books?

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