13 Best Self-help Books You Cannot Miss Out On

13 mins read
Best self-help books
"Best Self-help Books", by Shiromani Kant, from Unsplash

Often we find moments where we lack motivation or are perturbed by upsetting thoughts. In moments like these grab a cup of coffee, tuck in on your sofa and grab any self-help book. It is more likely that you will get inspired by others’ motivational story or their experience.

If you’re at rock bottom, not in terms of just your personal life; it could be other factors like financial life, love life, then the best bet is to help yourself. Self help is after all the best help.

When you’re down, you seem to adopt a tunnel vision and things aren’t in clear focus. To get your life back on track, taking assistance from self-help books can be a good start. And they are quite affordable too! For some, life could do a complete turn towards the better if one is dedicated to implementing the tips provided by these self-help books.

In this fast-paced world, don’t fall back! Life is all about living in the present moment, making the most of it now, leaving the worries for the future. These self-improvement books are beneficial for overall personal development and they are very easy to find too.

Best Self-help Books

The books listed below are some of the best self-help books, showering us with timeless wisdom and essential life lessons. They are definitely a must-read. But according to your niche, you can refer to other good books out there which are not included in this article.

1.  Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! 

Rich Dad Poor Dad
“Rich Dad Poor Dad”, by Amit Singh, from Flickr

Authors: Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter

Publication year: 1997

Genre: Finance, Economics, Self-help

Rich Dad Poor Dad is focused on the financial spectrum and its importance. It sheds light on financial literacy, investing as well as increasing one’s Financial Intelligence.

It centers around the author’s life and the fact that financial literacy affected the long-term decisions made by his real father. The rich dad i.e. his friend’s father, was savvy in finance albeit never finishing tenth grade. Both of his dads shaped his thoughts about money with their contrasting perspectives. While the rich have money work for them, the poor have to work for money.

It is a great book not only for those seeking advice in finance and investing, but also for those who need a different aspect while looking at money. This thought-provoking, New York Times best-seller is a must-read and you just can’t afford to miss out on it!

2.  Atomic Habits:  An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Atomic Habits
“Atomic Habits”, by Marco Verch, from Flickr

Author: James Clear

Publication date: 16th October 2018

Genre: Self-help

Atomic means a small component in a larger system. The book illustrates how small habits daily or habit formation can build up to something great gradually. It emphasizes on how sowing seeds of self-improvement now, the benefits can be reaped in the long run. Letting go of bad habits can prove to be quite a bit of a challenge. We are all aware of how taxing it can be to change habits. However, Atomic Habits guides us through the process of getting rid of bad ones while developing the good habits.

In this personal development read, the author has included his own habit scorecard at the end of the book to elucidate the importance of keeping a track of your habits, thus the readers can draw inspiration from it. To spice things up the author has also included diagrams and graphs. Moreover, he also provides us with practical tools needed to transform our lives.

James Clear explains the operation of human behavior in terms of laws. These 4 laws are something we should implement in our life daily.

Tiny changes. Remarkable results. A daily 1% improvement can yield productive results, with consistency and patience.

3.  Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

Failing Forward
“Failing Forward”, by Business Book Summaries, from Flickr

Author: John C. Maxwell

Publication date: 8th March 2000

Genre: Self-help

This wonderful book by John Maxwell is exactly what the title suggests. The Author believes in looking failure in the eye and moving forward without fear. What makes successful people successful is their response to failure and their growth after the worst is over.

The book teaches us to take over failures instead of letting them take over us. It might be a cliché saying, but there is a lot to be learned from it. The road to greatness is filled with obstacles and not many venture that path. But being daringly arduous will teach you how to tackle these obstacles and rise as a stronger person.

At one point, great personalities like Albert Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh were faced with failures as well. The author stresses on the need for failure in order to succeed by taking various real-world examples. Failure is an inside job, it is a part and parcel of our daily lives. But tackling it fiercely is what makes them what they are today. Your response to failure today will set the course for tomorrow.

4.  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of not giving a fuck
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, from Bing

Author: Mark Manson

Publication date: 13th September 2016

Genre: Self-help

Mark Manson, a superstar blogger, is very blatant with his words and doesn’t beat around the bush. This book is for all those who loathe the term self-help. According to the author, life is not about hating failure, it is about getting better at it. Life is an inevitable roller coaster of ups and downs; the sooner we come to terms with it, the better. There are trivial imperfections in life and we need to ignore them.

The author takes on an unprecedented approach towards life. He says being positive and positive thinking in general is overrated. Life is all about accepting the flaws, bearing the pain, and overcoming it. He makes use of his own experience to staunchly put his point across. The way he uses profanities and throws in a hilarious joke every now and then is what makes this book an essential read.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck became the face of self-help books after its exponential surge, selling almost 2 million copies in its first year alone. It’s been #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and was translated into 25 languages.

5.  Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust

man's search for meaning
“Man’s Search For Meaning”, by Pop & Zebra, from Unsplash

Author: Victor Frankl

Publication year: 1946

Genre: Biography, Psychology, Self-help

The author-psychotherapist was a survivor of the holocaust and had been sent to 4 Nazi concentration camps. In his book, he recounts the mortifying experiences he was faced with. It was during this period that led to the birth of Logotherapy: a hallmark therapy developed by Victor Frankl that revolves around the premise that finding the purpose in life ultimately leads to happiness.

The book is divided into 2 sections. In the first section, the author vividly describes his experiences, the atrocities his prison mates and him had to face in the concentration camps. The second part is a segue to the journey of the birth of Logotherapy and his work with it. Victor Frankl’s inspiration to help console his mates is what led to the advent of logotherapy.

The author states that suffering is a part of life, one cannot run away from it. But we can surely control how we face the pain, and emerge victorious. Something as fickle as hope is our key to a life filled with purpose, to a meaningful life with a renewed purpose.

Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” has over 100 printings in English and has been published in 21 languages, with more than 12 million copies sold worldwide. It is definitely one of the best self-help reads out there if you are in search of the meaning of life; if you have lost hope and need to get back on track. After all, what’s living if we can’t find meaning in our own lives.

6.  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”, by Luan Nguyen Kinh, from Flickr

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Publication date: 21st August 2015

Genre: Self-help

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is all about letting go of the inhibitions gripping our minds and following our creative hearts. The conversational tone, the excellent storytelling, the engaging anecdotes, and the complete rawness in this book are unparalleled and really sweep in the reader.

The author believes that all of us have a door full of creativity, and all we need to do is tap it to unleash the creativity and joy within. All these creative ideas will take root in your mind if you entertain them; if you encourage them. We need to get out from the ‘struggling artist’ ideal and give everything our best. To embrace our creative side, we need to let go of fears of rejection and perfectionism. It’s all about learning through the process and breaking down all the mental barriers.

There is loads to take away from this book. If you want to live a creative life or nurture a creative idea without being burdened with fear and what-ifs, then this is the book for you.

7.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

7 habits of highly effective people
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by bellaunar, from Flickr

Author: Stephen Covey

Publication date: 15th August 1989

Genre: Self-help

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 15 million copies since its first publication in 1989. It has been an inspiration for readers and continues to be to date.

The author discloses 7 fundamental habits that guide readers towards an independent, successful, and fulfilling life. The first 3 habits help us to get attuned with our personal life, to master it. The next 3 focus on building our public skills, teamwork, and how we can inspire the people around us. The last habit is based on self-renewal, on how one must work towards becoming a better version of themselves.

The book aims to make the readers see the world in a positive paradigm. It enlightens one on how our choices and habits, both mentally and physically, will shape our lives for the better or for the worse.

There are a lot of valuable lessons to unpack from this book.

8.  Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow
“Thinking, Fast and Slow”, by Monica Sauro, from Unsplash

Author: Daniel Kahneman

Publication date: 25th October 2011

Genre: Psychology, Self-help

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, the Nobel-prize winner author- Daniel Kahneman lays down a fascinating hypothesis of the existence of two systems in our mind. System 1 is intuitive, fast, and emotion-driven. System 2 is slower, logical, and introspective. System 1 is perhaps what makes us jump to conclusions based on bias and heuristics. System 2 on the other hand analyzes everything and delves deeper into the root of the problem. These two systems work hand in hand to shape our thought processes.

The Best part of the book is that everything is supplemented with citations on behavioral economics research studies. It is a highly researched and expertly written book.

It is a lengthy, slow-paced yet satisfactory self-help book focused on human behavior. It is definitely worth a read.

9.  When things fall apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

When Things Fall Apart
“When Things Fall Apart”, from Bing

Author: Pema Chödrön

Publication date: 24th December 1996

Genre: Self-help

Pema Chödrön, a practicing Tibetan Buddhist with 20 years of experience, in her book focuses on spiritual and personal growth, and draws inspiration from traditional Buddhism wisdom.

The author suggests that instead of running away when everything falls apart, we should face these problems head-on. Opening your arms to painful memories and situations will actually help you tackle them better. She finds that accepting life’s inconsistencies will bring peace to your world. The more you come to terms with suffering and its impermanence, the better it is for your health. Nothing lasts forever is an important lesson to understand.

This book is like a breath of fresh air, putting things into a unique perspective. We don’t know what the future holds, change is the only constant and we should get familiarized with it. If we can live with change, accept ourselves as we are, then we can surely extend our compassion to others. In just 160 pages the author is able to enlighten us more than we could hope for in our whole lifetime.

The fact that the author takes on a relatable approach is what makes her work so beautiful and wholesome. You could reread and reread the book, and still you will find yourself learning something new.

10.  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, by
conan edo, from Flickr

Author: Susan Cain

Publication date: 24th January 2012

Genre: Self-help

This New York Times bestseller has an interesting take on introverts. The author explains how it’s okay to be an introvert, and in fact 1/3 of the people we come across are introverts themselves. Introverts like Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak, Eleanor Roosevelt, Al Gore, Warren Buffet, Gandhi have achieved greatness in their lives and contributed greatly to the society. The point being, even introverts can attain new heights and emerge successful in life.

Today’s western society is very pro-extrovert. Through charts, the author presents how the extrovert ideal has seeped in and how deeply it runs in our culture. We urge people to talk more, to make their presence known and perhaps to mark a place in history, all by being extroverted. But the author excellently refutes all these beliefs by divulging in real-life examples of all the introverts who have silently earned a place in history. She demonstrates how there is nothing to be ashamed of, rather you should be proud of being an introvert.

The book is a mix of thorough research, impressive stories of real people to support the author’s cause. All these make it a highly recommended book.

11.  A Cat’s Guide to Money: Everything you need to know to master your purrsonal finances, explained by cats

A Cat's Guide to Money
“A Cat’s Guide to Money”, from Bing

Author:  Lillian Karabaic

Publication date: 12th September 2019

Genre: Self-help

This book is for all those struggling to make ends meet; the ones trying to survive in the gig economy, ones without a steady job.

A Cat’s Guide to Money is filled with hilarious cat puns and teaches us self-discovery and financial awareness. The book includes the author’s very own “Cat Tree of Financial well-being”, a lucid graph that gives one a clear idea about managing money. Lillian Karabaic’s (host of the excellent “Oh My Dollar” podcast) book is loaded with great financial advice, worksheets to help you get started with budgeting and planning, and drawings of cute cats along with some David Bowie-inspired art.

The book includes fun activities that make you contemplate your priorities when it comes to money and personal choices. The book is a real myth buster. The author also includes a 7- week plan to get your finances in order. This self-help book describes fun ways to tackle stressful issues related to finance. Lillian takes on a non-judgmental and empathetic attitude throughout the book.

This amazing book makes you wish you’d come across it sooner.

12.  The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements
“The Four Agreements”, from Bing

Author: Don Miguel Ruiz

Publication date: 7th November 1997

Genre: Spirituality, Self-help, Personal growth

The author derives noteworthy lessons from ancient Toltec wisdom on how we can revamp our lifestyle to experience raw freedom, happiness, love, and fulfillment. This can be achieved with 4 simple, yet effective rules. These rules or four agreements as Ruiz calls them, should be intertwined with our daily lives and they are:

1. To be impeccable with one’s word.

2. Not to take anything personally.

3. Not to make assumptions.

4. Always doing one’s best.

The rules may be challenging to implement, but their value is cathartic.

The author uncloaks the source of self-doubt and self-limiting beliefs that have plagued our minds. All these thoughts in turn lead to suffering. He provides these rules as a solution to avoid thought patterns that create frustration, anger, suffering, and other destructive emotions.

This self-help book has been a New York Times bestseller for more than a decade and has sold over 6.5 million copies in the U.S. This deal breaker book had attracted the attention of many, all reverting back with positive reviews. It is undoubtedly one of the best self-help books out there.

13.  Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich
“Think and Grow Rich”, by Forex Expert, from Flickr

Author: Napoleon Hill

Publication year: 1937

Genre: Self-help

Think and grow rich is a result of twenty years of tedious research conducted by Napoleon Hill on some of the most popular millionaires of that era. The hard-earned result was that it sold more than 100 million copies. This book is mostly centered around the idea that success is how hard you’re willing to work. If you want something, get it done. Our mind is a catalyst in most of our decisions. Train it in such a way that you always work towards what you need, and give your best while doing so.

The author believes that the term ‘thinking’ is too mainstream. He deems it as an amalgam of initiative, faith, desire, and resilience. It’s the ‘I can, I will’ way of thinking that will get you to your finish line, that will make your life easier.

Think and grow rich includes countless real-life examples of people who started at the bottom and now are at the top, who struggled in their early years but are now living a fruitful life. The book is more than its title. It focuses not only on finance but also on life as a whole. It is about how we can shape our thoughts and actions to acquire success and riches.

Towards Self-improvement

We are habitually plagued with self-doubt and negativity. They are like a leech ingrained deeply inside us and we can’t get rid of them easily. But we can definitely take control of our own life and steer it towards the better. Self-help books prove to be a great tool for overall self-improvement. You should focus on activities like:

  1. Engage in new hobbies
  2. Move to a healthier diet
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Surround yourself with positivity
  5. Work towards self love, self-discipline, self-confidence, and eventually self-mastery.
  6. Realize your self-worth
  7. Set short term achievable goals aligned with long term goals

The journey of self-improvement is a challenging yet fulfilling one. We will come across many hardships on the way. But as we overcome each obstacle, we are filled with satisfaction and improvement in self-confidence and self-worth.

Remember: be patient with yourself, have faith in yourself, and be consistent, for your journey to a better self has just begun!

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