Self-Growth Books: 15 Best Personal Development and Self- Improvement Books
by Intelligent Change — 11 min read
Do you read self-growth books? Are you interested in personal development and self-improvement?
If so, that’s great, but the question is: which book to choose. There are probably tens of thousands of self-help, self-growth, and personal development books. From personal experiences to popular psychology, from improving your cognition and productivity to maintaining your relationships in a healthy manner: bookshelves of the 21st century are stuffed with authors intended to help each and every one of us with their insights, knowledge, or research results.
In order to help you make an informed decision, we’ve decided to share with you titles of books that made a positive impact on our lives. When we say “our” lives, we mean people from our team: the Intelligent Change team.
15 Best Self-Growth Books: Editor’s Choice
In the following paragraphs, you’ll have a chance to read a short synopsis of our favorite self-growth books. We’ll also share links to Amazon or other websites where you can get them. If you are more into audiobooks, we included Audible links as well.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow
The man every psychology student knows from their textbooks, the winner of the Nobel prize for the amazing research he conducted on decision making alone and with Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman is the founder of a new discipline:behavioral economics. He dedicated his life to studying the way our psychology and cognition affect our decision-making processes.
His research is very well known among the scientific community, as it inspired a myriad of future experiments and examinations of human cognition. What makes this man special is his effort to bring cognitive science to all of us, using the language and storytelling everyone can understand.
Thinking Fast and Slow is a book of prose where Kahneman explains how our thinking is split into two systems: one fast and one slow. The fast one is actually our hardwired instincts, the remnants of our evolutionary past. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to remove our hand off a burning stove, nor to run away when we notice danger. It’s like our subconscious, not-so-rational, but still efficient machine.
The other one is our evolutionary advantage. The self-reflexive, logical, deliberate path. The conscious path we have a lot of control over, however, it also calls for a lot of effort and concentration (which is why we tend to use it less often).
In his book, Kahneman explains in plain words how these two systems work, why and how the slow system sometimes fails us, and why we often don’t use the slow one properly.
He backs these explanations up with his mind-blowing experiment results, teaching us how to make rational, logic-based judgments and gain the most out of both systems.
If we had to choose a book everyone should read during their lifetime, it would be this one. We already praised this book in Finding Your Purpose in Life article, emphasizing its importance for personal development and growth.
After spending three years in brutal conditions of Nazi concentration camps, thinking that every day could be his last day, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl explains in simple, at times even playful language, that the search for meaning lies at the core of every human being.
Thanks to his professional background, this book is more than a memoir about surviving Holocaust. It’s also a psychological investigation and the base for creating a new school of thought and therapy: logotherapy.
The bottom line of this book is that if we’re able to find meaning in life, we’ll be able to move forward even after experiencing the worst experiences imaginable to the human mind. Inspirational, life-changing and eye-opening book.
Do you ever wonder how humans became what they are today? What are the exact differences between us and other animals? Why do we rule today's world?
In his best selling piece Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari retells the history of our species, gives amazing insights and offers an in-depth perspective on our behavior, habits, emotions, relationships, etc. He explains how we got where we are now regarding animal exploitation, and why we aren’t happier than our ancestors.
Through the use of vivid and understandable language, Harari takes his readers on an unforgettable journey through the history of humankind. An absolute must-read.
Most people think that happiness is achievable through hard work and professional and personal accomplishments that accompany it. That’s a kind of common wisdom, something our culture and society teach us. If you get a good job, achieve desired weight, or get a promotion, you’ll be happy.
As honest this motto is, have you ever wondered whether the other way around actually makes more sense?
Recent research in positive psychology has revealed that the backward formula is much more closer to the truth and that it is happiness that actually fuels success.
When we’re happy, positive, and open-minded, our brains become more susceptible to creativity, motivation, and inspiration. We become more productive, resilient to stress, and energetic.
This is what Shawn Achor’s book is all about. After spending more than a decade researching and lecturing about happiness at Harvard University, he decided to share the formula for reprogramming your brain that will lead you towards happiness and success.
If you want to find out about verified success principles, learn about the Tetris Effect of retraining our brains, or how to build a social support network, check out The Happiness Advantage book. After all, this book was the inspiration for creating The Five Minute Journal.
Seth Godin, the author we admire here at Intelligent Change, wrote one of the best self-growth books you’ll find on the market.
A traditional workplace used to have two teams of people: management and workforce. Today, there’s a third team: linchpins. Linchpins are people – artists as Godin calls them – who are indispensable, creative, innovative, and who resolve problems “outside the box.” They jump in when there’s no rule book or clear instruction, they create their own path.
Their role at the workplace is to do emotional work, to challenge fixed mindset and inspire their colleagues and customers, as they love doing their jobs. By giving 100% of themselves into it, they manage to turn their jobs into art.
These creatives are an essential part of every successful company. They have a lot to give, they come up with their own rules and play by them.
Linchpins are system-changers, and if the idea of being one inspires you, we strongly recommend you to read this book.
David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Creativity
Do you ever wish someone could simply give you a step-by-step recipe for how to get things done no matter what?
Well, that’s what David Allen is offering in his book. A unique approach to productivity and time- management based on years of experience and experimentation.
People are rarely well-organized by nature. There are so many underlying processes responsible for our success or failure with time- management. In his book, David Allen shares with you all of the organizational tricks and perks that can help you get your things together on both personal and professional plans.
This book is truly special among self-growth books, as it gives you a 100% accurate, many times successfully tested step-by-step tips and guides on how to get a hold of your life. Getting Things Done is a serious time- management methodology, and you can even convince yourself by clicking on this link and visiting David Allen’s website.
In this book, he shares with his readers 65 ways of achieving a transformation in life. If you want straight, direct tips on how to change your life, this is the right book.
Success principles the author mentions are pretty straightforward, and you might realize that you already knew many of them. Still, we believe it’s always good to remind ourselves of the things we know and see them in a different perspective.
Here are some of the examples of Jack Canfield’s success principles:
If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life.
You have control over only three things in your life—the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take (your behavior).
The only thing that will change your results is to change your behavior.
These principles may seem like common knowledge to most people, it’s good togo through them one more time and hear them in a rather elaborated form, mixed with real-life examples and logical explanations.
You can purchase the hard-copy version of this book, or listen to it on Audible.
Tim Ferriss, The Four-Hour Workweek
Tim Ferriss has been a rising star in the field of productivity, organization, influence, and digital labor for years now. What does he do?
Tim Ferriss spent the last 10 years of his life learning everything about the “new rich”, a whole subculture that’s abandoning the standard lifestyle and exchanging it for a digital career, mastering new skills, and creating mobile, luxury lifestyles.
If you’re interested in changing the status quo and dropping out from your 9-5 job, this is the book for you. Tim Ferris will teach you everything about pursuing a digital career, making the most out of the “digital nomad” lifestyle, starting your own business, and staying motivated.
If you’re searching for a major change in your life, if you’re tired of being bossed around and want to start a career in dropshipping or affiliate marketing, gain more control of your working hours, location, and workload, then Tim Ferriss is the best person to consult.
Get your fresh printed copy of the book, or, if you prefer listening, there’s an audiobook available on Audible as well.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
When we say “flow”, you say…?
What’s your first association? Perfectly in-tune musical improvisation conducted by a couple of well-practiced musicians? A great conversation between friends or partners where two people are so in sync they finish each other’s sentences? Or maybe the feeling you get when you’re working on something and it’s flowing?
Whatever you’re thinking – you’re right. Hear it from one of the most important contemporary psychologists and a leading researcher in the field of positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. After years and decades of scientific research, he decided to share his knowledge about productivity, happiness, self-control, creativity – everything the term “flow” encompasses – with a wider, non-professional audience.
Flow is a special state of mind, an optimal experience that can’t just happen to you. You need to prepare for that state, cultivate it, and defend. And how do you do that? By taking control over your inner world.
This book is not a typical self-help and personal growth piece of literature. It’s a half-philosophical half-scientifical work, based on real data and scientifically derived conclusions about happiness, content, productivity, and, most importantly, flow.
For decades now, Tony Robbins has been one of the leading American authors, coaches, motivational speakers, and philanthropists. People know him from his infomercials, seminars, and self-growth books.
Awaken the Giant within is a book where Robbins explains how to take immediate control over your life: your mental, physical, emotional, and financial reality.
Over the years, Robbins has become an acknowledged expert in the field of psychology of change, and this book is a step-by-step program intended to teach his readers some of the fundamental laws of self-mastery. You will learn how to discover your purpose, how to take control over your life, and how to awaken and nurture the forces that will shape your future in a more positive and productive way.
If you’re looking for a book to help you improve your personal traits and gain a better, deeper self-understanding, here’s the perfect piece for you.
In her influential book Daring Greatly, thought leader and researcher, Dr Brene. Brown encourages the readers to embrace and discover their vulnerability, imperfections, and a variety of emotions we experience daily.
This book focuses on one core idea: you can live a brave and courageous life by exploring your inner world and getting to know yourself better.
Each day we face a variety of risks and uncertainties. As Dr Brown says, we need to face these vulnerabilities and deal with them in order to “dare greatly.” What she means by this is that we need to challenge everything we know about vulnerability and transform it into our greatness, and this is exactly what she does in her book.
Whether it’s about a new relationship in life, an important job decision, or a complex family situation, it’s always important to reflect on our vulnerability and find courage to deal with it.
If you want to learn how to deal with and let go of emotions such as anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, uncertainty, guilt, who better to ask for advice than a clinical psychiatrist?
David R. Hawkins shares his knowledge and insights gained through many years of experience working with his clients and patients. Using a simple and understandable language, he takes the readers on a journey through depression, guilt, shame, but also love, courage and personal growth.
The book is filled with anecdotes, personal or professional examples, and descriptions of different states of being.
If you’re ready to explore different sides of your psyche, learn from it, transform them into growth, and align with your inner self, then this book is the perfect choice.
It’s available on Amazon in audible, hard-copy, and Kindle format.
Susan Cain, Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
Sometimes, being the loudest one to communicate their ideas, seeking constant contact with other people, telling jokes, or being at the center of attention in a social group isn’t what everybody enjoys.
In this book, Susan Cain sheds new light on introversion. She reveals how many introverts have achieved success in their life, even if it means reaching the position of authority and being a “people person”.
If you’re tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with you, or that you should somehow change your personality to fit in the society, this is the book you need to read. It will help you understand why you act the way you do and how to utilize your strong sides to move forward.
It would also be good for extroverts to read this book and get a better understanding of how introverts live, think and feel in this world.
Col. Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
When we were kids, many of us dreamt about becoming astronauts. But little did we know about the unconventional philosophy one has to build and live in order to succeed in such a quest.
If you want to enjoy one of the best self-growth books ever written, along with amazing space stories, take it from this inspiring man.
Colonel Chris Hadfield spent more than 4000 hours in space. During that time he experienced unexpected situations we only expect to see in movies: breaking into a Space Station only with a Swiss knife, being temporarily blinded while holding onto the exterior of a spacecraft, or getting familiar with a snake while piloting a plane.
This inspiring man reveals the strange philosophy that he learned at NASA: being ready for the worst to happen in any given moment and enjoying it to the fullest.
Through humoristic and reflective stories about everything he’s been through, one of the most accomplished astronauts in history shares valuable lessons about life every adventurer would enjoy.
Thank you for reading this review on the best self-growth books of our choice. Since a variety of people with different characters, personality traits, vocations, and general interests were involved in writing this article, we’re confident that everyone can find something for themselves. From business oriented self-growth books to science-based factual knowledge on how to improve your lifestyle, find purpose and unleash your full potential.
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