Most ‘self-help’ books are full crap. They are like giant fortune cookies full of sounds good but says nothing. Or worse, some of them can infect your brain with toxic advice that do more harm than good. It is my goal to eliminate all the crap and find the few gems. This answer is the result of relentless research looking for the most helpful and mind-expanding books available for self-development.
Please note that there are many more powerful books that are not included on this list mainly because this list focuses on the ‘self-help‘ genre.
Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz “A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life”
The book is about how to cultivate a more productive mind; that your mental attitude is related to your success in a lot of ways. Happiness and success are habits. Turn crises into creative opportunities, dehypnotize yourself from false beliefs, and celebrate new freedom from fear and guilt.
The Millionaire Fastlane – MJ DeMarco “Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime”
An informative book that teaches how the process of wealth creation works and what’s the most realistic method to get rich quick. Dubbed as the best self-help book on acquiring wealth, better than Rich Dad Poor Dad and Think and Grow Rich combined. You’ll learn more in 2 days from this book than you will in 2 years of business college courses.
The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson “Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness”
A success book about learning how to retrain the way you approach work and life so you take full advantage of the seemingly insignificant details of our daily choices and, as a result, achieve maximum results over time.
Quitter – Jon Acuff “Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job”
From figuring out what your dream is to quitting in a way that exponentially increases your chance of success, Quitter is full of inspiring stories and actionable advice. This book is based on 12 years of cubicle living and the author’s story of cultivating a dream job that changed his life and the world in the process.
Black Box Thinking – Matthew Syed “Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do”
An eye-opening, Gladwellian look at the power of a positive attitude toward failure and its profound impact on our success in any field. It argues that growth mindset plays in important, perhaps the most important role, in individual’s development.
In Pursuit of Excellence
Mastery – Robert Greene “How to Achieve Mastery in Life”
This book demonstrates that the ultimate form of power is mastery itself. Mastery can be thought of as the unique way each of us can fully actualize our potential for greatness and enjoy a fulfilling life. With this seminal text as a guide, readers will learn how to unlock the passion within and become masters.
A Mind for Numbers – Barbara Oakley “How to Excel at Math and Science”
A Mind for Numbers is an excellent book about how to approach mathematics, science, or any realm where problem solving plays a prominent role. Barbara Oakley’s authoritative guide is based on the latest research in the cognitive sciences, and provides a clear, concise, and entertaining roadmap for how to get the most out of learning.
Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “The Psychology of Optimal Experience”
An almost euphoric state of concentration and complete involvement. This book reveals how you can achieve this state of mind at will — and turn everyday experience into a moment by moment opportunity for joy and self-fulfillment.
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell “The Real Story of Success”
A fascinating book about the hidden factors that contribute to individual success. It explains why successful people don’t arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent. They are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.
The Art of Work – Jeff Goins “A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do”
Explains how to abandon the status quo and live a life that matters with true passion and purpose. Through personal experience, compelling case studies, and current research on the mysteries of motivation and talent, Jeff shows readers how to find their vocation and what to expect along the way.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love”
This book offers advice based on research and reality on how to invest in yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. It provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love.
Mindsight – Daniel Siegel “The New Science of Personal Transformation”
Mindsight offers exciting new proof that we aren’t hardwired to behave in certain ways, but instead have the ability to harness the power of our minds to re-sculpt the neural pathways of our brains in ways that will be life-transforming.
Show Your Work! – Austin Kleon “10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered”
Beginner’s guide to self-promotion that emphasizes audience building and explains the how and why of such approaches as thinking about process rather than product, sharing something each day, teaching what you know, learning to take a punch, and developing staying power.
Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull “Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration”
This book offers systematic guidelines for high-level managers of companies that have a strong if not sole creative bent, such as Pixar, which was founded and molded by the author.
Creativity – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”
This book examines why creativity requires not only unusual individuals, but a culture and field of experts that can foster and validate such work. It clearly explains why creativity needs to be cultivated and is necessary for the future of the world.
The Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz “Why More Is Less”
The Paradox of Choice offers practical advice on how to focus on the right choices, and how to derive greater satisfaction from choices that we do make. This book explains how a culture that thrives on the availability of constantly evolving options can also foster profound dissatisfaction and self-blame in individuals, which can lead to a paralysis in decision making and, in some cases, depression.
The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss “Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, And Join the New Rich”
Tim Ferris has spent more than 5 years learning the secrets of the New Rich, a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the “deferred-life plan” and instead mastered the new currencies-time and mobility-to create luxury lifestyles in the here and now. Whether you are an overworked employee or an entrepreneur trapped in your own business, this book is the compass for a new and revolutionary world.
Thinking and Decision Making
Decisive – Chip & Dan Heath “How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”
When it comes to making choices, it seems, our brains are flawed instruments, disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities. This book explains how to navigate the land mines laid by our irrational brains and improve our chances of good outcomes.
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow gives deep–and sometimes frightening–insight about what goes on inside our heads: the psychological basis for reactions, judgments, recognition, choices, conclusions, and much more.
Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely “The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”
This astounding book cuts to the heart of our strange behavior, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for this is embedded in the very structure of our minds. And, by recognizing these patterns, we can make better decisions in our everyday lives from drinking coffee to losing weight, buying a car to choosing a romantic partner.
Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Nicholas Taleb “The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets”
This book examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill. While serious investors and mathematics enthusiasts will be intrigued, readers looking for practical investment strategies will be disappointed by this rambling intellectual discourse.
Discipline and Resilience
Switch – Chip Heath “How to Change Things When Change Is Hard”
This book talks about how difficult change is in our companies, our careers, and our lives, why change is so hard, and how we can overcome our resistance and make change happen.
Resilience – Eric Greitens “Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life”
This book provides a brilliant and brave course of action to help navigate life’s roughest water, packed with warrior wisdom about how to engage life’s challenges with ones fullest potential and grow along the way.
The 50th Law – Robert Greene
A bible for success in life and work based on a single principle: fear nothing. This deeply inspirational book is perfect for entrepreneurs as well as anyone interested in the extraordinary life of Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent.
The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy “Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success”
The Compound Effect is based on the principle that little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default. A book on why deliberate work will lead to exponential growth and how to harness it.
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg “Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”
A book that presents a framework of understanding how habits work, and serves as a guide to show how to change habits.
The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene “The Secrets of Powerful People and How They Influence People”
Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, The 48 Laws of Power is the definitive manual for anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control.
The 33 Strategies of War – Robert Greene “How to Win the Subtle Social Game of Everyday Life”
The 33 Strategies of War is a comprehensive guide to the subtle social game of everyday life informed by the most ingenious and effective military principles in war. It provides all the psychological ammunition you need to overcome patterns of failure and forever gain the upper hand.
The Charisma Myth – Olivia Fox Cabane “How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism”
The Charisma Myth combines a compelling analysis and breakdown of the key elements of charisma, with practical and easy to understand advice and exercises for developing one’s own charisma.
The Art of Seduction – Robert Greene “24 Laws of Persuasion”
This book continues Greene’s gross exploration of social power, this time in the realm of sexual politics. Greene unearths the two sides of seduction: the characters and the process. an indispensable primer on how to take what you want from whomever you want.
(7L) The Seven Levels of Communication – Michael J. Maher “Go from Relationships to Referrals”
This is a fantastic book for anyone involved in sales, and magnify this for realtors, mortgage professionals, and anyone else involved in real estate because the main characters in the book are from the real estate industry.
The Culture Map – Erin Meyer “Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business”
A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures. Meyer draws on numerous examples from her experiences to explain how to detect the invisible barriers in the global business world – and how to get past them.
TED Talks – Chris Anderson “The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking”
This is an insider’s guide to creating talks that are unforgettable. This book explains how the miracle of powerful public speaking is achieved, and equips you to give it your best shot.
The Way Of The Superior Man – David Deida “A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire”
What do women really want? What makes a good lover? What is your true purpose in life? This powerful book explains the heart and soul of a woman to men and explores the most important issues in men’s lives.
Models – Mark Manson “A Detailed Guide To Modern Sexual Interactions”
Models is the first men’s dating book ever written on seduction as a purely emotional process rather than a logical one, a process of connecting with women rather than impressing them, a process of self-expression rather than manipulation. It’s the most mature and honest guide on how a man can attract women without faking behavior, without lying and without emulating others.
The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown “Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, & Courage”
A practical training program on embracing our imperfections to discover our true source of strength, connection, and purpose. A genuine and engaging book on how to live our most honest, and fulfilled selves.
Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed “Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar”
Part memoir, part essay collection, the aptly titled Tiny Beautiful Things gathers together stunningly written pieces on everything from sex to love to the agonies of bereavement. This book is a balm for everything life throws our way. Strayed’s ability to elicit empathy and peace in even some of the darkest of stories is incredibly moving.
Mindfulness and Fitness
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle “A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”
This book shows us how to free ourselves from “enslavement to the mind.” The aim is to be able to enter into and sustain an awakened state of consciousness throughout everyday life.
Spark – John J. Ratey “The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”
This very readable book describes the science behind the mind-body connection and adds to the evidence that exercise is the best way to stay healthy, smart, alert, and happy!
A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle “Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”
Explains how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.
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"A Course in Miracles"