The 100 Best Personal Development Books

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Are you tired of books that contribute nothing to your growth? Tired of books making big promises, without ever delivering? There are countless books out there filled with well-intended advice that are not at all helpful. Instead, they waste your precious time and lead you nowhere. If you’re looking for personal development books that can truly make a difference in your life, look no further. The following presents our hand-picked selection of the best self-help books from a variety of different categories. These are the books that will enable you to accelerate your life to the next level. They will ignite the fire within you and motivate you to be the best you can be. Let’s shift gears with this collection of true masterpieces from the best of the best. Here are the 100 best personal development books.

There’s really no need to waste your money on over-hyped books that only leave you disappointed. Why waste time with these books when there are truly brilliant masterpieces out there? You only need to find these gems. That’s where our hand-picked selection comes in handy. We did all the hard work for you and unearthed personal development books with priceless advice.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles William Eliot

The research for this list consisted of a threefold process. The first step to uncovering the best personal development books involved a brainstorming session. During this stage, we listed all our personal favorites. However, creating a list entirely based on the magnificent books that helped us transform our lives simply wasn’t enough for us. Therefore, we reached out to successful individuals in the second step. We asked them to share their must-read personal development books. The third and last step consisted of analyzing the reading habits of extraordinarily successful people.

Personal development books

Excellent personal development books for your next vacation!

The research resulted in a massive list of self-help books. We then went on to narrow the list down based on a variety of criteria. By doing so, we truly separated the wheat from the chaff. Thanks to this selection process, the following features only the best of the best.

Here’s the result of our combined efforts.

The 100 Best Personal Development Books

Over time, the list of self-improvement books grew beyond belief. We therefore decided it was best to split the books into various categories:

Table of contents

The Top 20 Self-Improvement Books
Business, Success, Wealth
Consciousness, Spirituality
Leadership
Mind
Motivation
Philosophy, Wisdom, Purpose
Productivity, Time Management, Effectiveness
Relationships, Interpersonal Skills

Enough for the introduction! Let’s get started. Here’s our hand-picked collection of the best personal development books of all time. These are the books that inspired millions to transform their lives.

We highly encourage you to pick a book that interests you. But don’t just read it. Master it. Dissect its contents and implement its wisdom into your life. You’ll be amazed how incredibly powerful the impact of just one book can be.

The Top 20 Personal Development Books

20. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
Compound effectThere’s no magic bullet for success. As such, The Compound Effect has no gimmicks or hyperbole to offer. Instead, Darren Hardy shows what it truly takes to be successful. His book outlines the core principles that lead to a successful life. It distills the very essence every individual needs to know in order to become extraordinarily successful. The Compound Effect addresses a wide range of topics, ranging from business, relationships, habits and goal setting. The book also presents actionable step-by-step strategies on what you can do to accomplish more in life. In short, The Compound Effect equips the reader with effective tools that actually help in making progress on the road to success.
 
19. The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
OneIn a time where people are exceptionally proud of being skillful multitaskers, The One Thing introduces a more balanced approach: Simplicity. The authors reveal in their book that the ability to focus on one activity at a time is the true secret behind extraordinary results. They point out in The One Thing that the narrowed down focus on a single activity can dramatically improve the results of your work. So instead of taking on ever more responsibilities and tasks, the authors encourage readers to peak productivity by decluttering and simplifying their lives.
 
18. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
searchNone of us can avoid suffering. We all suffer from time to time and we all are confronted with strokes of fate. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl shows that while we’re unable to avoid suffering, we’re still capable of coping with it. His book brilliantly shows how we can find meaning in suffering and what we can do to move forward. The book is greatly based on Frankl’s experiences as a surviving inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It is also an excellent guide that encourages the reader to pursue what they find meaningful. On a side note, the book that sold more than 10 million copies was named in a reader survey for the Library of Congress as one of the 10 most influential books that made a difference in reader’s lives.
 
17. Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
quietIf you’re an introvert, this book is a must-read. Quiet by Susan Cain highlights that it’s not always the one who is the loudest that has the best ideas. Instead, she goes on to show how a large number of great contributions stem from those who dislike self-promotion and are rather quiet in nature. Cain drives home the point that introverts are dramatically underestimated in modern day society. Her book is a carefully researched study that is filled with real stories about introverts and the impact they have. By introducing the reader to highly successful introverts, Quiet dramatically changes the reader’s perspective on introverts.
 
16. Drive by Daniel H. Pink
DriveWhen it comes to motivation, there are numerous misperceptions that prevent us from igniting the fire within. Daniel Pink seeks with his book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us to shed some light on these illusions. He argues that the carrot-and-stick approach to motivation is highly outdated and not effective. Instead, the sense of having a purpose and the quest for mastery is what drives excellence, performance and satisfaction. It’s our very desire to strive for greatness that enables us to peak performance. In Drive, Daniel Pink presents an alternative to the outdated concept of self-motivation. He highlights actions we can take to affect positive changes, and in doing so presents a strategy of transforming our lives by discovering the source of true motivation.
 
15. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking fast and slowThe decision-making process consists of two systems. The first system is largely based on our intuition and emotions. It makes us respond quickly, without meeting a rational decision. The second system is largely based on logical decision-making. It enables us to act in a more deliberate manner. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman addresses these two systems of thinking and their wide-ranging impact on our lives. He brilliantly highlights the issues that come with acting too quickly or thinking too slowly. Kahneman embarks with his book on a journey through the human mind and explorers the decision-making processes that greatly shape our fates. Packed with excellent advice, the book also points out in which situations you can trust your intuition and when you should better think things through.
 
14. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale
ThinkingPublished in 1956, The Power of Positive Thinking was heavily criticized by psychologists, literature critics and theologians alike. The idea that positive thinking could have a deep impact upon a person’s life was quickly dismissed, back then. But as it is often the case, revolutionary ideas are often heavily attacked, until they are quietly adopted and profoundly change the status quote. The same held true for Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking. More than 60 years after its publication, it’s scientifically established that positive thinking can have a profound influence on your life. The book brilliantly highlights how positive thoughts can lead to a positive reality. But unlike its unofficial successor The Secret, Peale is not promoting the “think positive and success will miraculously manifest”-approach. Instead, the book equips the reader with the attitude required to become successful.
 
13. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
blinkDecision-making can either make or break you. It’s one of the most important skills with a great impact on your life. However, it is highly neglected. In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell investigates how some people are seemingly able to instantly make a decision – and how they are able to meet the right decision almost all the time. Gladwell invites us with his book on a journey to explore the world within. He takes the reader on an adventure to find out why some individuals have become exceptionally successful decision-makers by following their intuition. Especially the idea of “thinslicing” – the ability to separate key decision factors from a wide range of variables – is an invaluable concept of decision-making.
 
12. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
thinkingThe ability to think big is what separates extraordinarily successful individuals from the average. David Schwartz argues in The Magic of Thinking Big that the relative smallness of people’s aims is holding them back. He therefore highlights the important role thoughts (and thinking positively about yourself) can have on your life. Schwartz challenges the reader to set high goals, to pursue these optimistically and to give everything to reach these aims. Even more so, The Magic of Thinking Big indicates that it’s not always intelligence, education or connections that truly contribute to a person’s success. Instead, it’s the unique ability to see beyond what already exists. To expand the horizon and to discover what truly is possible. David Schwartz created with The Magic of Thinking Big a classic self-help book that introduces a carefully developed strategy for making the most out of your life.
 
11. Mastery by Robert Greene
masteryThe #1 New York Times bestseller Mastery is the synthesis of Robert Greene’s research about the traits of great historical figures, such as Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci. The result is a book that it distills the essence about attaining true excellence and greatness in life. By means of analyzing the biographies of these true masters, Greene discovered that they all followed a similar pathway to success. Each and every one of these historical figures was not only intensely immersed in their respective fields, but they also sought to obtain true mastery in these areas. Reading the book can have a profound impact upon your life. Not only will it change the way you think about your life, but it will also give you valuable tips to get started in the process of attaining greatness.
 
10. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
Who moved my cheeseChange is inevitable. It’s a central aspect of life and can be found all around us. Forcibly trying to avoid any kind of change is therefore impossible. In Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson explores brilliantly effective strategies to deal with unexpected change. The basic assumption of his work is that we’re not able to avoid negative developments from happening, as we’re not able to predict the future. What we can do, however, is to react to these situations and to seize these new opportunities. Johnson therefore highlights that the ability to quickly respond to new developments can highly effect your success in life. In summary, Who Moved My Cheese? is an uplifting and inspiring guide that helps the reader to better deal with change and in doing so, reduce stress.
 
9. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
OutliersOutliers, by the definition of Malcolm Gladwell, are the best of the best. They are extraordinarily successful individuals who do not fit the regular categories of success. Their accomplishments range at the outer boundaries of each statistic. But what is it that makes these people so special? Malcolm Gladwell embarks in his book on a journey to reflect the nature of these people’s successes. What he discovers is truly inspiring. His investigations highlight how important the 10,000 hour rule is when it comes to accomplishing extraordinary things. Gladwell also points out that attaining greatness is the key to success in all areas of life. In sum, Outliers is the intellectual quest to better understand what it really takes to be more successful than 99% of all people.
 
8. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins
GiantPopular motivational coach Anthony Robbins created with Awaken the Giant Within a personal development classic. As the title suggests, the book outlines a variety of strategies to attain greatness and self-mastery. It’s all about awaking the giant that lies dormant within each and every one of us. But Robbins also encourages us to be the best we can be. Filled with timeless advice and profound philosophical thoughts, Awaken the Giant Within seeks to help the reader to unlock their full potential. What makes this book so powerful is the fact that Robbins stresses numerous times how important it is to actually implement his teachings in everyday life. Additionally, Robbins shares his own struggles in life and what helped him to overcome these. These lessons alone provide excellent ideas on what you can do to transform your life.
 
7. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
NowThe present moment is all we have. But instead of being able to truly enjoy it, we’re haunted by the past or worried about the future. The Power of Now seeks to address this issue. By encouraging the reader to enjoy the present moment, Eckhart Tolle introduces a novel approach to mindfulness. Even more so, the book introduces a unique approach to overcoming worries about past and future by living in the present moment. But Eckhart Tolle also challenges us to reflect on the nature of our thoughts and to make adjustments if necessary. In doing so, we become more thoughtful and learn to better appreciate each and every moment. In the end, The Power of Now introduces an interesting approach to living life and shares meaningful philosophical wisdom.
 
6. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
HabitHabits greatly influence our lives. They shape our personalities and ultimately, they make or break us. Our behavioral patterns can therefore make all the difference in life. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg discusses the transformational power of cultivating positive habits. At the core of his writing, Duhigg emphasizes to identify disruptive habits and to replace them with more beneficial behavioral patterns. But the book is so much more than just a manual on changing unbeneficial habits. It is an interesting journey that initiates the reader into the development and functioning of habits. The author also presents individuals who magnificently changed their lives by addressing disruptive habits. Even more importantly, he analyzes the beneficial habits of extraordinarily successful people. Consequently, the intention behind The Power of Habit is to challenge the reader to proactively change negative patterns. And in doing so, the author brilliantly empowers us to break unsupportive behaviors instead of allowing them to break us.
 
5. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
ThinkPublished in 1902, this timeless classic inspired millions to give more thought to their thinking patterns (if you excuse the pun). It was one of the first books that highlighted the intertwined relationship between thoughts and character. And by doing so, greatly differentiates itself from the vast majority of personal development books. Instead of focusing on the discussion of strategies to become more successful, Allen’s book takes a more reflective and internal approach. His discussions are centered around the great impact our thoughts can have on our lives. In a brilliant and eloquent manner, Allen points out how our behavior and personality is shaped through our thinking processes. The result is a unique book that encourages the reader to strive for integrity, purity of mind and the realization of one’s dreams.
 
4. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
TalentIn his landmark Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin embarks on a quest to discover what separates world-class performers from the rest. The findings of his journey condensed to essential insights about personal growth. In Talent is Overrated, Colvin highlights that exceptional accomplishments are not primarily determined by talent. Instead, he points out that true greatness can only be attained by practice and perseverance. But it’s not just hard work that made individuals such as Tiger Woods and Warren Buffett world-class performers. It’s the way they practiced, how they tracked their progress and the key lessons they learned from failures that enabled them to attain greatness.
 
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
HabitsFirst published in 1989, Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. His unique approach inspired millions to cultivate beneficial habits. But instead of promising a quick fix solution, Stephen Covey develops a unique approach to increase effectiveness. Covey’s powerful lessons are enriched by the philosophy that habits profoundly influence our lives. His strategies to become more effective are therefore centered on cultivating powerful habits. Additionally, the book takes a holistic approach to success. It encourages us to change within to affect positive change on the outside world. All in all, Covey’s book is an invaluable roadmap for better living.
 
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
FriendsPublished in 1937, How to Win Friends and Influence People is the first of its kind to become a bestseller. Even though it was published nearly 80 years ago, the book’s lessons are still invaluable today. Centered around strategies on dealing with people, Dale Carnegie’s book is so much more than just that. It’s a timeless classic that encourages you to achieve your maximum potential. Even though the title of the book seems to indicate the manipulative nature of the book, quite the contrary is the case. Instead of helping you to manipulate people, Carnegie’s lessons show how to win people for your cause with integrity, honesty and authenticity. Plus, a wide variety of interesting anecdotes from real-life scenarios make this book an exciting and supremely valuable read.
 
1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
RichAdmittedly, the number of self-improvement books centered around becoming successful is almost infinite. However, none of the existing books come close to this timeless classic. Published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich quickly became a bestseller that sold more than 70 million copies. It is based on the valuable insights Napoleon Hill gained, while studying 500+ extraordinarily successful individuals. He condensed the impressive findings resulting from 20 years of research in 13 brilliant principles for successful living. Think and Grow Rich inspired millions of people to transform their lives. It is such a powerful personal development book because it profoundly changes the way we perceive life. Even further, it encourages the reader to actively change their reality. Numerous modern-day self-improvement books discuss the principles that this book laid out. But not a single one comes close to the original. This is the mother of all personal development books.
 

 

Business, Success, Wealth

To avoid duplicates, books already listed in the top 20 list are not included in this category. These must-reads about Business, Success and Wealth are: Think and Grow Rich, Outliers, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Drive, The Magic of Thinking Big, Awaken the Giant Within and As a Man Thinketh.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
48Make no mistake, this book is highly amoral and cunning. It seeks to distill the essence of power. Readers will learn what it takes to become powerful and to maintain this position. Robert Greene also outlines how influential historical figures used these tactics to gain or maintain control.
 
The Psychology of Winning by Dennis Waitley
winningBeing a winner is a way of life. In his book The Psychology of Winning, Dennis Waitley presents what it really takes to become a winner in life. He unveils the formula people can implement to develop the 10 qualities of winners.
 
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
warConflict is an ever present part of life. The Art of War fundamentally changes the reader’s perspective on what it takes to overcome these conflicts. It equips the reader with invaluable principles that are necessary for being victorious in times of conflict.
 
The Richest Man in Babylon George Clason
Richest manBy introducing the reader to Babylonian parables, George Clason provides invaluable information on establishing financial freedom. The Richest Man in Babylon also shows us how we can properly plan for the future and guides us in making wiser investment decisions.
 
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
freedomPublished in 1997, Suze Orman’s bestseller introduces readers to the principles of managing money. Her book stresses the importance of planning the (financial) future. She also addresses in The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom the most common obstacles that prevent people from ever reaching financial freedom.
 
Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy
maximumIn his monumental work, Brian Tracy introduces “strategies and skills that will unlock your hidden powers to succeed.” The author highlights that everything that’s necessary to succeed lies already dormant within you. That’s where the strategies of Maximum Achievement come in and help the reader to unlock their potential.
 
The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard
managerWhat kind of management style does it take to be both efficient and effective? In The One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard introduces the one minute management style that helps to increase the productivity and satisfaction of your team.
 
The Intelligent Entrepreneur by Bill Murphy
intelligentA must-read for anyone who dreams of starting a business. The Intelligent Entrepreneur presents the 10 essential rules of creating a highly profitable business. Murphy distills in his book the essence of dozens of interviews he conducted with widely successful entrepreneurs and professors of the Harvard business school.
 
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
talentIf you ever wondered where talent came from, this book is a must read for you. In his best-selling exploration, Daniel Coyle presents the latest findings in brain science to show how talent grows and develops. In short, his book presents actionable strategies on acquiring new skills and becoming better each day.
 
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
successJack Canfield, known for his best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, distills in his book the core principles required to be successful in life. The Success Principles discusses 64 invaluable principles from a wide range of important areas, such as confidence, overcoming challenges, finding purpose in life and accomplishing one’s goals.
 

 

Consciousness, Spirituality

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
earthFinding your purpose in life certainly isn’t easy. In his follow-up to “The Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle shows that by awakening to our life’s true purposes, we can stop the downward spiral of anger and unhappiness. A New Earth presents a manifesto for a better way of life and encourages us to build a better world.
 
Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge
dreamingWidely considered a must-read for avid dream-explorers, the book establishes a scientific framework for lucid dreaming. It is based on Dr. Stephen LaBerge’s research on the mind during the dream state.
 
Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
givenCentered around presenting you techniques to manifest your desires, Ask and It Is Given is so much more than just that. It’s teaching you to understand and abide the Universal laws and principles that greatly influence your entire life. Instead of encouraging the reader to simply seek the fulfillment of all their desires, the authors clearly point out what things we should rather not pursue.
 
The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer
intentionIn his book The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer takes a unique approach to the whole concept of intention. He does not consider intention as a means to manifest success by combining hard work, determination and excellence. Instead, the author presents intention as an invisible power that starts the act of creation. His work also teaches the reader about ways to become a co-creator by connecting to the power of intention.
 
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
spiritualThe groundbreaking book by Deepak Chopra seeks to unveil the secrets of fulfilling your dreams. By addressing the seven natural laws, he provides a unique perspective about becoming successful in life. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success also addresses many misperceptions about success and how to prevent these from leading you into the wrong direction.
 
Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins
forceBy drawing from a wide variety of scientific insights, David Hawkins presents with Power vs. Force the hidden determinants of human behavior. This powerful book also addresses how we can instantly determine if a statement is true or false. All in all, Power vs. Force is a fascinating exploration of human behavior.
 
A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman
miraclesA Course in Miracles presents a self-study system for spiritual progress. It teaches a universal approach to spirituality and emphasizes the importance of forgiving others.
 
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
peacefulPresented as a book that changes lives, Way of the Peaceful Warrior is a manifesto about inner peace. It is the part-fictional autobiography of the author Dan Millman and humorously combines piercing truths with philosophical wisdom.
 
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
alchemistThe story about an Andalusian shepherd boy and his quest to find a hidden treasure buried in the pyramids inspired millions around the world. The journey that starts as an endeavor to fulfill worldly desires is magnificently transformed during the course of the book to a spiritual undertaking in search for the treasure within.
 
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
siddharthaSiddhartha tells the story of a young man who has chosen a life of the flesh in favor of a more contemplative approach to life. His life, however, comes to a turning point that resembles the true beginning of his life. It is the beginning of a new life that leads the man from suffering to inner peace and wisdom.
 

 

Leadership

(This category is a work in progress. Therefore, the following is just a preview.)

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Good to Great by James C. Collins
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Developing the Leader within You by John C. Maxwell
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
Tribes by Seth Godin
The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes
Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint by Christopher Witt
The Brand Called You by Peter Montoya
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Mind

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
tippingGladwell emphasizes in his book The Tipping Point that seemingly little things can make a huge difference. He defines in his work the tipping point phenomenon as the special moment in which an idea starts to spread like wildfire. Throughout the course of his work, Gladwell brilliantly introduces the reader to the personality types behind the phenomenon of word-of-mouth.
 
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
subconsciousYour subconscious greatly influences your life. In The Power of the Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy details what you can do to tap into this source of power that is so close within your reach. The author also teaches what you can do to gain control over the incredibly powerful forces of the subconscious.
 
Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
visualizationIn her book Creative Visualization, Shakti Gawain explains how affirmations and mental imaginary can affect profound changes in an individual’s life. She also shows how powerfully your imagination can help you to excel in various areas of life. Even more so, the book is filled with practical exercises that help the reader to stir their lives in a positive direction.
 
The Social Animal by David Brooks
animalEquipped with intellectual curiosity, David Brooks embarks in his book on a journey to investigate human nature. Specifically centered on social aspects of the brain, The Social Animal follows a composite American couple through life in order to illustrate its message. It is a story about success and failure, but most importantly, it seeks to explore the realm of our minds that is responsible for meeting the most important decisions in our lives.
 
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
superWith the recent developments in artificial intelligence, one might wonder what is going to happen once machines are more intelligent than human beings. In Superintelligence, Nick Bostrom seeks to answer this question. He explores the potential future of mankind and stresses the unique capabilities of the human brain.
 
Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
switchWhy is it so incredibly difficult to affect changes in our own lives? The authors of Switch show how important it is to unite the rational and emotional mind in order to make lasting changes. They illustrate their points by introducing the reader to everyday people that managed to achieve dramatic changes in their lives.
 
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
happinessRenowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains in Stumbling on Happiness the wide variety of misconceptions that accompany us through everyday life. He vividly illustrates that our brains are fundamentally wired into doing exactly the opposite. It is not only a fascinating subject the author speaks about, but the book is also an enjoyable and humorous journey through human psychology.
 
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
predictablyIn a series of mind-boggling experiments, Dan Ariely uncovers the hidden forces that greatly impact our decisions. He goes on to show how even slight changes can fundamentally change our perception of things. The intention of the author is to raise awareness that we seldom meet smart and rational decisions, even though we think we are in control.
 
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
Psycho CyberneticsWhy is it that some patients still feel unattractive after plastic surgery? It is the very question that spurred the investigations of plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz. He began to understand that some patients needed “emotional surgery” instead of a reconstruction of their physical appearance. Maltz’s insights lead him to conclude that misery and failure are habits we adapt over time. He therefore aims with his book to develop effective strategies to help the reader create a more beneficial and supportive self-esteem.
 
Your Brain at Work by David Rock
brainIf you’re interested in super-effective strategies about becoming more focused, eliminating distractions and working smarter, Your Brain at Work is a must read for you.
 

 

Motivation

See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar
topWidely considered to be one of the most influential motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar created with See You at the Top a monumental bestseller. It has become the guide that inspired generations to strive for excellence in their lives.
 
Feel the Fear… And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
fearWithout ever risking something, you won’t accomplish much. In her excellent guide Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers encourages us to be more assertive when it comes to risk-taking. She helps the reader to think more positively about risks and the underlying opportunities of risk-taking.
 
Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson
peaksLife consists of ups and downs. In Peaks and Valleys, Spencer Johnson explores how we can remain calm and optimistic, even when confronted with incredibly challenging situations.
 
The Greatest Salesman in the World by OG Mandino
SalesmanThe Greatest Salesman in the World is so much more than just a book about selling goods and closing deals. It introduces the reader to a magnificent philosophy of success and salesmanship. Even more so, it comes with practical advice and step-by-step exercises to help you implement its profound wisdom in your everyday life.
 
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alborn
HeavenThe Five People You Meet in Heaven is the inspiring (fictional) story of an old war veteran, who believes his life was of no use. However, upon entering heaven, he is introduced to five people whose life he greatly influenced. Mitch Alborn’s brilliantly inspiring book comes with the message that each and every one of us matters.
 
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
AgreementsIn The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz introduces the reader to a powerful code of conduct designed to help us break free from limiting mindsets and beliefs.
 
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
livingDale Carnegie’s book is filled with practical advice and techniques you can implement immediately. Basically, his writings revolve around the importance of breaking the negative habit of worrying too much. And in doing so, Carnegie presents you with invaluable lessons that can greatly help you to live a happier life.
 
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Entitled “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are,” Brené Brown questions in her book how intensively our self-image is shaped by media and society. Instead of unquestioningly adopting society’s portrayal of how we should be, she encourages the reader to be who they truly are. The Gifts of Imperfection is all about helping the reader to develop the necessary courage to stop pleasing other people and to finally live life the way they want to.
 
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Last lectureThe Last Lecture is an intensely moving book. It’s centered on the last lecture Randy Pausch gave, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Despite the shocking circumstances, the resulting lecture was anything but negative. Instead, it was a celebration of life. The speech Randy Pausch gave is highly motivating and challenges you to seize your dreams.
 
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma
MonkRobin Sharma tells in his book the fictional story of Julian Mantle who is confronted with a challenging crisis. As a result of his stroke of fate, Julian Mantle decides to embark on a spiritual journey and to re-balance is life. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is an uplifting fable about living a fulfilling life and realizing your dreams.
 

 

Philosophy, Wisdom, Purpose

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
meditationsThe Meditations of Marcus Aurelius give us an intimate view on the psyche of the Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. They were written as private journals, without having the intention of publishing in mind. Aurelius’s meditations cover a wide diversity of subjects and provide profound philosophical reflections on life.
 
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu
taoLao Tsu’s masterpiece Tao Te Ching provides access to the wisdom of Taoist philosophy. It is the foundation of religious and philosophical Taoism and greatly inspired other teachings, such as Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism.
 
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
prophetIn his beloved masterpiece, Kahlil Gibran discusses in the form of poetic essays philosophical and spiritual ideas. His collection of essays discusses topics such as marriage, friendship, crime and punishment, self-knowledge, love, joy, passion, and pain.
 
The Warrior Within by John Little
warriorJohn Little introduces readers of The Warrior Within to the inspiring philosophies of martial artist Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee’s personal philosophy synthesizes different concepts from Eastern and Western philosophy. It can greatly help the reader to put things into perspective and to better understand reality.
 
Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
goodPerhaps the most influential European philosopher of his time, Friedrich Nietzsche questions in Beyond Good and Evil the ‘slave morality’ of false piety. He presents in his book a philosophical alternative that celebrates the present and in doing so, helps readers to free themselves from self-enslavement.
 
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
worldIn her novel Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder vividly explores the different concepts of Western philosophy. The book tells the story of Sophie Amundsen who embarks on a quest to discover who she really is and what the nature of reality is.
 
The Republic by Plato
republicPresented as dialogue between Socrates and his interlocutors, The Republic is an inspiring piece of work. It addresses important topics, such as justice, education, citizenship and statesmanship. The philosophical discussion culminates in establishing the utopia of a well-balanced city that is ruled by philosopher-kings.
 
Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff
happyInstead of seeking happiness from the outside, Marci Shimoff encourages us to seek happiness within. It is a revolutionary approach to experiencing happiness and joy, without being dependent on external factors, such as achievements, money and relationships.
 
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV
artReaders of The Art of Happiness are shown how they can defeat insecurities, anxieties and worries. By using different stories and meditations, the Dalai Lama highlights why he considers happiness to be the purpose of life and what readers can do to redirect their lives towards happiness.
 
The Bhagavad-Gita
gitaAs one of the most important masterpieces of Sanskrit poetry, the Bhagavad-Gita is an intensely inspiring piece of spiritual work. It is centered on a discussion between the warrior Arjuna and his friend Krishna. This classic masterpiece addresses central issues of life and encourages the reader to lead a good life.
 

 

Productivity, Time Management, Effectiveness

When it comes to increasing productivity, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a must-read. Usually, I would have placed it in the #1 spot of the Productivity, Time Management, Effectiveness list, but I already listed it in the top 20 of the best personal development books. The Power of Habit is also a must-read that was also already included in the top 20 list.

Getting Things Done by David Allen
getting_things_doneIf you’re looking for unique techniques for getting things done more productively, David Allen’s book is a must-read. It introduces the reader to his concept of stress-free performance that highlights the importance of relaxation and clearing your mind on effective productivity.
 
The Now Habit by Neil Fiore
nowOne of the most important steps to increase productivity lies in your ability to overcome procrastination. Neil Fiore introduces in The Now Habit a strategic approach for lowering your stress levels, beating procrastination and enjoying ‘guilt-free’ play.
 
The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
lessTrue productivity stems from the ability to focus all your attention on the most essential tasks. In The Power of Less, readers learn what they can do to eliminate the various distractions that prevent them from ever accomplishing anything. The book is an excellent guide to help you streamline your life.
 
The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield,
focusA lack of focus can be a major reason that prevents people from accomplishing what they desire. The Power of Focus introduces you to the focusing strategies some of the world’s most successful leaders have been applying for decades.
 
Time Power by Brian Tracy
timeA must-read for everyone seeking to get more things done in less time. Brain Tracy shows you how you can gain up to two more hours each workday by managing tasks more efficiently and by meeting better decisions.
 
Simple Rules by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
rulesIn a world of complexity, the introduction of simplicity can be a game changer. In Simple Rules, Sull and Eisenhardt show you elaborately why simplicity trumps complexity in your private and professional life. They challenge readers to reconsider the nature of complexity and illustrate excellent reasons why simplicity can help you to thrive in a complex world.
 
Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
organizingGetting organized is incredibly important for your performance. In Organizing from the Inside-Out, Julie Morgenstern presents a simple organizing plan that helps you to better set your priorities.
 
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
frogAnother important read on stopping procrastination. Brain Tracy provides readers with helpful advice on how to stop technology from decreasing their productivity.
 
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
checklistBy introducing readers to the magnificent power of the ordinary checklist, The Checklist Manifesto presents an effective strategy to better cope with an ever more complex reality.
 
Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson
reworkIf you’re looking to start your own business, Rework is a refreshing read that introduces you to a easier way of being successful in business. The authors will tell you why you don’t need to be a workaholic and why business plans can actually be harmful. The book is also a great motivator that joyfully encourages readers to stop talking and start working.
 

 

Relationships, Interpersonal Skills

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must-read when comes to fostering interpersonal skills. It’s already included in the list of the top 20 personal development books, otherwise it would rank in the #1 position of this list.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray
marsJohn Gray’s modern classic remembers us in a humorous way how greatly different men and women are from each other. His book is an excellent guide that helps readers to avoid conflicts and to transform their relationships.
 
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg
nonviolentLanguage can have a profound impact on our ability to get what we want. In Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg introduces you to essential skills that help you to communicate more effectively. It is an excellent guide that can greatly contribute to the quality of your relationships. But it also helps you to get what you want in a peaceful manner.
 
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
loveIn many instances, conflict arises when partners do not speak the same language. In his vastly popular book, Gary Chapman synthesizes the five different types of love languages. It will help you to better understand the love language of your mate and what you can do to skillfully communicate your heartfelt commitment.
 
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
influenceIn Influence, Robert Cialdini introduces you to the six universal principles to skillfully persuade others. In addition, he also presents strategies that can help you in defending yourself from the persuasive influence of others.
 
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
emotionalTravis Bradberry’s Emotional Intelligence 2.0 introduces you to the essential strategies to increase emotional intelligence. His book will introduce you to the important skills that are considered responsible for more than 58% of our performance.
 
How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Les Giblin
confidenceLes Giblin’s work introduces you to the fine art of successfully getting what you want from others. The book takes a unique approach to interacting with other people. It highlights the importance of dealing with others as they are, instead of interacting with them as you would like them to be.
 
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
crucialWe are all confronted with a wide variety of difficult conversations. Especially when stakes are high, it’s highly beneficial to be able to draw on a variety of effective communication strategies. In crucial conversations, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler help you to communicate effectively when it matters the most.
 
The Charisma Myth by Olivia F. Cabane
charismaCharisma can be taught, says Olivia Cabane. In her book The Charisma Myth she embarks on the adventure of discovering what charisma really is and finding out how it actually works. She will also show you interesting techniques you can use to be widely perceived as a charismatic person.
 
Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward
leadershipBy drawing on a wide range of historical examples, Brady and Woodward seek to launch, as the title suggests, a leadership revolution. They will introduce you to their five-step plan designed for gaining and maintaining leadership in any organization.
 
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
eatAccording to master networker Keith Ferrazzi, networking and reaching out to other people is the key to climbing the ladder to personal success. In his book, he presents the techniques he uses to successfully connect with thousands of people. (The author is drawing from a wide variety of personal experiences; one could criticize him for bragging a little bit too heavily.)
 

 

I hope you enjoyed flickering through this massive list of the best personal development books.

“Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.”
E.P. Whipple

In conclusion, I hope that this list gave you some inspiring ideas about brilliant books you can read. One thing I’m interested in is learning about your favorite personal development books. So, feel free to share your favorites in the comment section below!

What are your favorite personal development books?

Stay victorious!

UPDATE:

The following includes reader submitted suggestions.

Book suggestions by readers

Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong.


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About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!

4 Comments

  1. Hey Steve, this is really a long and great list.
    It is great to see that there are quite a numbers of books that I have in my personal library.
    Some are really good books that I recommend all to read.
    Upon going through your list, I have short-listed 5 that I’m going to read next…

    The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
    The Psychology of Winning by Dennis Waitley
    The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
    The Intelligent Entrepreneur by Bill Murphy
    The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alborn

    Thanks for sharing.. 🙂

  2. The best thing in the list is its classification into several types. This will help me to read books which are beneficial for me and not waste my time here and there. Thanks a lot. I would also like to recommend another book which is Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong.
    Thanks a lot to Steve Mueller and his team for such a great work.

    • Thanks a lot Shivoy Dixit. I’m glad this list helps you to find exactly the right books you need. And many thanks for your recommendation. I’ve included it in the article.

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