So, you’ve decided to work on yourself.
This is generally harder than many assume it to be, and sometimes the unicorn and rainbow world of self-improvement can seem like fluff in the face of real-life challenges.
But among the glut of poorly written, badly cited, semi-informational works, there are still those that stand out and add value to the reader.
Here are seven self-improvement books I think are solid reads.
1. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
For many, The Magic of Thinking Big (affiliate link) will have been their entrance into the world of self-improvement.
And while some might consider the content “basic,” I have read this book several times, and each time different parts of it have spoken to me more clearly and loudly.
Spaced repetition is good practice with any material you intend to internalize, but this type of magic isn’t present in many books. The Magic of Thinking Big is one of those rarities.
So, even if you think it might be too basic, too commonsense, or too obvious, give it another try. Read it all the way through. Likely, some passages will be highlighted just for you, and you will be better off for having read them.
2. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
As A Man Thinketh (affiliate link) is a personal development classic that lays everything out in black and white. Its core tenant – that our outer world reflects our inner world (the mirror principle) – is also echoed in age old philosophies and wisdom.
More in-depth reading will be required to flesh out this concept in full. The Secret, and more importantly, Reality Transurfing Steps I-V. But jumping into these books without some context and endurance (Reality Transurfing is over 700 pages long) is going to prove lofty.
I believe author James Allen’s intent to be pure. That said, you can still take this information the wrong way, believing that all “bad” thoughts must be banished lest they manifest in your reality. That is a tall order for the best of humans, and let’s face it – that passing thought you had about your friend’s head exploding isn’t coming true.
That’s why I say it may be a good starting point, but only that.
3. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
So, what is the secret to adulthood? How can we remain productive and effective? How can we find the internal resources required to make our dreams a reality?
You’ve heard much about compound interest. Well, The Slight Edge (affiliate link) shows you exactly how it works as applied to life decisions, ranging from business and finances to health and relationships.
The Slight Edge is an easy read. But you will get something from it that no summary can provide. You will gain a sense of motivation as you never have before, and a clearer plan for the achievement of your goals.
If you can find an early edition, that’s what I recommend. Newer editions are needlessly repetitive.
4. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect (affiliate link) picks up where Jeff Olson’s The Slighted Edge let off. First, you will be schooled again on the importance of the compound effect. But reinforcement is good.
Fortunately, this is not the same book. It’s just that Hardy and Olson both hold motivational speaker Jim Rohn in high regard.
In this short volume, Hardy unpacks choices, habits, momentum, influences, acceleration, and how understanding these components leads to jumpstarting your income, life, and success.
Great reading for newbies and personal development fiends alike.
5. Beyond Positive Thinking by Robert Anthony
Robert Anthony is required reading if you claim to be a self-improvement enthusiast, and in Beyond Positive Thinking (affiliate link), we find him in prime form.
Positive thinking can spark ideas and help you see possibilities in challenging situations. But maintaining positive thinking is a herculean task at best, and many have keeled over at the alter of positive thinking.
This is beyond positive thinking, though, and author Anthony doesn’t sugarcoat it. He tells you exactly what to expect as you begin climbing your personal mountain towards desired outcomes and results.
You will be inspired. But you will also understand that the path to your goals isn’t paved with unicorns and rainbows.
6. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
Best known for his success with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and appearance in The Secret movie, here author Jack Canfield explains the 67 principles, how to apply them, and how Canfield himself has seen them at effect in his life and the lives of others.
How Canfield expects you to remember or even apply all 67 principles is well beyond my grasp. That said, I don’t think you need to be a devotee to every principle to find success on your own terms. The book offers both inspiration and practical steps you can apply, and both are key ingredients to a better book.
Despite the critique already given, The Success Principles (affiliate link) is a great read for those who aspire to more. Pay special attention to the Rule of 5, which can basically be applied to any aspect of your creative projects, business, health, relationships, life, or otherwise.
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (affiliate link), author Mark Manson comes out swinging, showing the reader in daylight clarity, how personal development hasn’t made a single soul happier. Ouch.
But he does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The subtle art is a subtle shift in perspective – seeing self-improvement from an angle that’s often missed by motivational speakers parading standout successes and abnormal achievements.
Manson says instead of trying to measure up to the gurus, the prodigies, and the geniuses of the world, work on you. Embrace the ordinary that you are, stay curious and ask questions – never assuming you know it all. Then you will never run out of growth runway.
You have more to gain from Manson’s loving tough talk than many a fluffy personal development book.
The above list should not be considered definitive or comprehensive, and depending on what you’re working on right now, there are more great books to choose from. If you need a recommendation, just leave a comment below and I will get back to you.
What is your favorite self-improvement book? Are there any you think I should read?
Leave a comment and let me know.
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