One of the largest sections of any book store (even if e-books on Amazon is your chosen book store) is that on “self-help.”
In it, a browser/shopper can find colorful covers, great catchy titles, and front-cover phrases that will tell you that you can change your life with this one book purchase. So, in your quest to motivate and improve yourself, you purchase book after book.
Some are long and really non-engaging; others are too impractical for you; still others have great ideas and theories but no practical suggestions that you can implement right now.
Even when you find a great one – short, to the point, full of really meaningful information that speaks directly to you and your current situation, you finish it and go on to look for the next one.
Here is a novel idea: How about going back to that one that held real meaning for you and sticking with it for a while?
If you keep buying book after book, you will just scatter your thinking and will never settle in on substantive practice that will improve who you are and what you do.
With that in mind, I have selected 7 self improvement books that are rather diverse but that all meet my two criteria for such a work:
- They are short, or they have, within the longer page counts, great stories and examples that will hold interest.
- The advice is realistic and practical – things that can be implemented by the average person right now
The 7 Best Self Improvement Books to Read
If one of these “strikes a chord” with you, purchase it. Read it all the way through. If it really speaks to you, then go back to the beginning. Read each chapter, implement the suggestions for change, and get those “cemented” before you move on to the next chapter.
This is the only way that a self-improvement/motivational book will ever really change your life.
1. Who Moved My Cheese? – by Spencer Johnson
No will disagree with Johnson on his major thesis and premise – change is coming more quickly than any of could possibly have imagined, and it wreaking havoc in the lives of many of us.
Our lack of ability to adjust to change and to “roll” with it causes failure, stress, and unhappiness.
The book is a parable of mice and little people, with the cheese symbolizing our aspirations, goals, environments, work life, etc. that continue to be moved (changed) too quickly for us to successfully adapt.
Through this tale, good lessons are taught about how we can respond to change and its inevitability in successful ways. For example, there are ways that you can anticipate change, to pick up on the clues, and to prepare for it, if you have the right tools.
This is a great short read with some lessons to be learned.
2. You Can Win – by Shiv Khera
While this book was written 17 years ago, the principles are the same. It’s all about self-confidence, says Khera, and the person with self-confidence can achieve all that she wishes.
This book has 7 carefully explained steps toward gaining self-confidence, and he includes lots of practical tools and exercises for mastering each of these steps.
Weaknesses can be turned into strengths; and anyone can become a “winner” by doing things differently and by doing the “right things for the right reasons.” There are lots of great anecdotes to show examples of what he means, and these make the book both compelling and engaging.
3. The Power of Intention – by Wayne Dyer
The most famous quote from this book is, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.” But the book is far more than just catchy quotes.
For those on a non-traditional spiritual journey to find meaning and success, this book is a great read.
Intention, to Dyer, is an energy force that exists for all of us to tap into. Once we do, we are “connected,” and only great things can follow. There are 7 “faces” of intention, and each is explained in detail with real-life illustrations. But he does not stop there.
The reader will find very concrete exercises to tap into intention and, in so doing, improve his personal/spiritual life and, as well, become highly successful.
4. The Power of Positive Thinking – by Norman Vincent Peale
This book is not a quick short read. And for those who have a more secular approach to life, the permeation of religion throughout the work may be a “turn off.”
However, if you can put that aside and focus on the “truths” of positive thinking, and following the exercises to eliminate all negative thinking in your life, this book has a great deal to offer. It’s really all about transforming your thoughts and attitudes.
If you are depressed, feeling like a failure, or have determined that you are a victim of “circumstances,” there are specific mental methods for getting out of these destructive thought patterns and learning to love the life you have, by being grateful for what you do have.
Writing a list of your blessings to read to yourself each day is just one of many critical suggestions. As you change your thought, so will you change your life, is the overriding thesis of this book.
5. The Butterfly Effect – by Andy Andrews
What if you had never been born?
This is the question Andrews asks of his readers.
How many lives have you impacted in ways you may never fully know?
The impetus for this book was a theory of a meteorologist in the 60’s that went something like this: when a butterfly flaps its wings, it moves air molecules. Those molecules then move other molecules and, ultimately, entire weather patterns/fronts are created.
While he was ridiculed by his colleagues at the time, modern physicists do now accept his theory. What Andrews has done is simply translate that theory to human existence.
His thesis is that everything you do matters – it matters to someone even if you do not know that it does.
For those who may believe that their lives are of no consequence, this will truly change that pattern of thinking! This is one of the great self improvement books for every personal development enthusiast.
6. 7 Habits of Highly Successful People – by Steven Covey
Yes there are actually 7 habits that all successful people have, and the point of this book is to identify them and to provide the readers with concrete means to develop those habits themselves.
To develop the habits, however, Covey explains that we must all become interdependent people, rather than dependent or independent.
Once the reader understands the concept of interdependence, they’re ready to begin to develop the habits, one by one – habit that result in both personal and professional success.
This book may a bit “dryer” than the others, but it is full of practical steps to take.
7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – by Dr. Richard Carlson
The thesis that Carlson presents is that most of us get “caught up” in the small things of life – how our food is cooked, whether the dry cleaners did a good job on our clothes, whether we missed our favorite TV show, or were “slighted” in some way by a co-worker.
We let these things consume so much of our daily lives that we lose focus and the ability to prioritize. The important stuff gets left to “chance” and to “luck,” rather than being the focus of our planning and energy.
Carlson provides very specific and sometimes pretty small changes that we can make in our daily lives that will allow us to “see” the larger picture and to place our energies on it.
- Who Ate My Cheese? – by Spencer Johnson
- You Can Win – by Shiv Khera
- The Power of Intention – by Wayne Dyer
- The Power of Positive Thinking – by Norman Vincent Peale
- The Butterfly Effect – by Andy Andrews
- 7 Habits of Highly Successful People – by Steven Covey
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – by Dr. Richard Carlson
Thanks for checking out this awesome list of self improvement books. If you’re interested in personal development, then definitely check these out using the links in each title, and see for yourselves.
If you enjoyed this article, then check out this one for another 5 great self development books to read.