Books hold the key to knowledge figured out by those that have already gotten something – they solved a problem, fixed a relationship, or figured “it” out. They then dispelled it into an easily digestible, obtainable format for anyone who is interested.
Books can be life changing, and in the field of self-improvement and self-help, there is no shortage of amazing books that can help you become a better, stronger, and happier person.
Here is a list of 20 self-help books organized in categories, that have affected my life and the lives of thousand of people in an extremely positive manner:
Dating, Relationships, and Dealing with People
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
A book that delivers on its promise. The classic was originally published in 1936 and has been re-printed and re-formatted again and again throughout the years. It contains simple steps to improve your social skills and relationships, illustrated by Carnegie’s examples in his own life and the lifes of those he knew. Just with the single shred of advice that a person’s favourite word is their own name, you can begin to make waves.
2. When I Say No I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith
Many people have issues with boundaries: standing up for themselves, saying “No”, and defending their beliefs. Or, they become codependent on others – they make others’ issues and emotions their responsibility. Smith teaches how to properly establish boundaries using applicable techniques, so that you can open your boundaries to those that are safe and deserve your energy, and keep them tightly closed for those who try to mess with your life.
3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
A game changer. In society today, we discuss our deeper issues less, and the weather more. Nobody wants to connect. Nobody wants to admit that they have flaws that are actually strengths. Daring Greatly presses the message that those who dig deeper, are open about their issues, stick their neck out at business meetings with their own opinions… These people take the most risks, yet gain the most respect from others and rewards. To succeed in life, we must be vulnerable and take chances – in work, dating, and otherwise.
4. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Most think love between two people is a simple exchange of words and keeps on going with no work. Wrong. It takes a lot of hard, strategic work that is not the same for each person. After the “honeymoon” or novelty period of a relationship wears off, this book gives you the framework to keep your partnership strong. Your partner may feel love by receiving gifts, while you like hearing nice things that your partner likes about you (words of praise). But understanding that everyone feels love and affection differently will help you build stronger relationships all around you.
5. The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle
The book that started a phenomenon long withstanding – Be Present. The book is a bit repetitive with the same general message, but gives examples in the context of how one acts during the day and in relationships with others. If nothing else, this book should convince you of the fact that you are not your mind, and that you do not have to believe all of your thoughts (by acting as an observer): Regret lies in the past, anxiety lies in the future, peace is in the now.
6. A Guide To To The Good Life by William B. Irvine
Irvine presents the classic philosophy of Stoicism born anew in modern times with wonderfully explained practical habits and tools to improve one’s quality of life. For example, periodically imagining we don’t have something we love to remind us of how fortunate we are to actually have it. The information is presented well, and from personal experience, I can definitely say it has helped me become happier and more tranquil.
7. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
The phenomenon that made everyone want to quit their 9-5 jobs and work online. You will either love and devour this book, or hate it and all Ferriss stands for. Ferriss tries to get you to realize that your time is limited, and sitting in an office may not be the best way to get the life you want. He provides tools for anything you could ever ask for – from hiring virtual assistants, to e-mail templates for auto-responses. HOWEVER whatever you do, if you are only working four hours a week, you will not make it. This book is about maximizing the time you have.
8. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
While the book has a lot of repetition (you are mortgaging your life by working a 9-5, investing in index funds, etc.etc…. by being a “slowlaner”), DeMarco’s book is quite motivating to get moving on a business idea, and provides a great deal of useful information. For example: what type of legal entity to format your business into (LLC, S-corp, C-corp), potential problems entrepreneurs run into (such as taking on too many projects at once), and more.
9. Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath
We are terrible at making decisions. We think we are doing well making comparison lists, but really, we’re being tricked by our own emotions into making a poor decision. The Heath brothers break down decision making in to a four step process (WRAP), providing instructions and real life examples of their techniques being put into practice. Expand your options, test your assumptions, distance yourself from the decision before making it, and prepare to be wrong in the worst case.
10. Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary is an online empire mogul. You will find some filler in this book, but he offers step-by-step methods of creating online businesses. Just like the 4 Hour Work Week though, the take away is that you will have to sit down and work your butt off. Read this if you are looking to start an online presence, want to know about Twitter, or want to start making videos for YouTube.
11. No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert A. Glover
This book is extremely short, but it packs a punch. After the first 5 pages, I was furious but couldn’t stop reading it. Dr. Glover discusses Nice Guy Syndrome – an anxiety based malady that affects men and makes them lie, manipulate, cheat, and deceive instead of facing reality or their emotions. This pervades everything they do in their sex lives, work, friendships, and more. Dr. Glover breaks down how to overcome the syndrome with step-by-step “breaking free” activities. If you feel anxious about expressing yourself as a man, read this book.
12. Way Of The Superior Man by David Deida
Deida’s book is a spiritual guide for a man looking on how to be a man in the traditional sense. How does one deal with women? What are masculine and feminine energies (hint: that doesn’t necessarily mean men and women)? How can you, as a man, feel the most happy and fulfilled? Way Of The Superior Man tackles these questions in several short, descriptive chapters. “A man’s purpose in life is his mission, and his mission must always come before his woman.”
13. Models by Mark Manson
The “manosphere” is filled with books about picking up and sleeping with women – but many come from a place of using lines, are overfilled with complex theory, or only get to the point of sex. Manson pioneered a view on dating that a man’s attractiveness is in inverse proportion to his level of neediness, and in direct proportion to his investment in himself and his own comfort with his own emotions. In short (though the process may take a while): don’t change yourself to make a woman like you, become comfortable with who you are, improve your life for yourself first, and get a handle on expressing your emotions in healthy ways… then you’ll get amazing girls.
14. Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Viktor Frankl’s book is absolutely inspirational. The first part is Frankl’s telling of his capture as a Jew during World War II, deportation to concentration camps, and return home. Many of his friends died, but with the hope of seeing his wife again, he postulated that he survived. He introduces logotherapy, and his view that as long as a man/woman has something to live for, something they can believe in, they will survive in extreme circumstances. But if they have nothing, they are already dead inside and will give up. Find your why.
15. Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
Written in 1960 by a plastic surgeon, Maltz discusses how so many people wanted to change their appearance to be “beautiful”, but all they needed was a change in how they saw themselves to be happy. Maltz introduces methods of relaxation and mental preparation and practice used by everyone from public speakers to professional basketball players. Yes, it can help you too.
16. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
The classic essay is short with a clear message: your thoughts determine your reality. Your mind is like a garden and your thoughts are seeds sprouting into flowers (good) or weeds (bad). But without your focus and energy, the bad thoughts will die. So work on tending your garden, and only let flowers grow. You can’t stop negative thoughts entirely, but you do not have to believe them. You do not have to let them grow and fester.
17. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Ariely looks into why we do the things we do, even when we think we’re being smart. We think we’re being logical, but it’s only our emotions tricking us. This book will help you uncover your hidden motivations and make you second guess yourself… in a good way. Backed up with stories, tests on University students and more, it’s psychological theory but not drab and boring by any stretch.
18. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
While being a bit long and dense, Influence will help you understand how people work… just don’t take too much advantage of them. This is not only directly useful in relationships and with people, but also for sales positions, job interviews, and even writing (I promise I haven’t used any tricks on you).
19. The Red Queen by Matt Ridley
Why are men more prone to wanting multiple mates? Why should women be more selective? What is encoded into our genes? Ridley’s book on evolutionary biology is academic, but a must read to understand the more nerdy side of sex and how people choose their mates. Just make sure you don’t just read the book but actually go out to meet people as well.
20. Vagabonding by Rolf Plotts
This was the first book that got me EXTREMELY excited about traveling. Plotts advocates slower travel (longer stays in places) and gives you packing lists and helpful hints. But, it is his approach to the concept of traveling that is the best part of the book: For him traveling is almost a form of meditation, a journey of self-discovery. If you want to get excited about traveling, you need to read this book.
This is my list. How many have you read? Do you want to check any of these out? What would you recommend?