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If there’s ever been one thing I could identify as it’s a book fanatic. I was that child that would hide under my covers with a flashlight and book after my mother sent me to bed. Starting around the age of 10, I would stay up well into the middle of the night reading. My love for books was so great, that my mother had to ground me from them a couple of times. That may seem extreme to some people but looking back now I can’t help but laugh. I think it paints a clearer picture of just how much I loved reading.
As an adult, my love for reading continues. The only difference is that I’ve now swapped my Nancy Drew and Jane Austen classics for personal development books. Oh, and I rarely stay up all night reading.
I don’t really remember what my first personal development book was but I do remember the feeling it gave me. I loved it. Just like in my fictional books, it painted a story but the main character was me, and I had the power to shape the narrative.
There’s something about a good personal development book that has the ability to make you feel a little more alive. A little more self-aware and perhaps, if you tap into it, a little more confident about who you are.
As you can tell, I love them which is why I wanted to share my favorite and (personal opinion) the best personal development books for today.
What makes the best personal development books?
Before we jump into exactly which books I’m declaring as “the best”, I thought it might help to tell you what I define as the best.
A personal development book falls into my best category if it matches the following:
A book makes my best list if I have that “this is me” or “I do this” or “I get it now” moment at least three times while reading it. That “ah-hah” moment that feels like a light has gone off in my head and the words reach into my soul like a balm.
The best personal development books bring transformation into my life. Whether it’s a transformation in my thoughts, beliefs, or actions the point is that it left me just a little different, a little better off for having read it.
It brings healing
We’ve all been through some crappy stuff in life. Stuff we need to process through, to move beyond, and to let go of. The problem is that it’s so much easier said than done. Which is why if a personal development book helps bring me a little healing in a certain area of my life, it lands on my best list. Anything that heals even just the smallest little part of me, it worth my time to read.
It elicits emotion
I suppose this one is kind of the catch-all to the points above, but if a book makes me physically react while I’m reading it, I know it’s a good one. I’m a pretty silent reader, so if I laugh out loud, cry, say things like “wow” or “oh my gosh”, you can bet I think it’s gold.
It Inspires Action
The last thing that I think the best personal development books do is inspire me to take action. If it ignites motivation within me to actually make a change in my life, no matter how small or incremental, then it deserves being on my best list, cause let’s be honest, motivation is always a desired thing.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more info.
The Best Personal Development Books For Transforming Your Life
Real quick, I would like to note that I only mention books I have personally read. I never suggest anything just cause it’s popular if I haven’t read it yet. Also, if you struggle with reading or finding the time to read, be sure to check out my 3 Tips for Getting More Reading In at the bottom of this post.
1) The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks
This is a transformational personal development book at it’s finest. If you only read one single book on this list, (or for the rest of your life) choose this one. The Big Leap teaches you to eternally expand your happiness and tap into your most successful self by uncovering and resolving the underlying issues, aka limiting beliefs, that hold us back. I’ve put the concepts to work in my own life and it’s truly been life-changing.
2) Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
A must read for every woman out there. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed so hard I cried while reading this book. This book brought healing to me in a way that no other book ever has. It reached into the depths of my soul with comforting goodness and helped me unlock a part of me that I had kept hidden away for a very long time. Above all, it left me more confident in myself, my abilities, and my self-worth.
3) Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
If you’ve ever struggled to go after your goals or dreams in life definitely grab this book. As much healing as her last book brought to me, this one brought me the courage to take on my dreams. Rachel lays out a level of advice on goal chasing as you’ve rarely heard before. It’s hard to walk away from this one without making progress towards your dreams.
4) Take Control of Your Life: How to Silence Fear and Win the Mental Game by Mel Robbins
There are no words that sum up what this book did for my life, my determination, and most of all, the fear that held me back in life. Fear is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and listening to this book, was absolutely transformative for me. This one is an audible original but if you don’t have audible, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial and get the book for free. It’s what I did. If you do have audible, it is 100% worth using one of your monthly credits for.
Oh, and if you decide to get this one, be sure to grab the free take control of your life downloadable workbook that guides you through the book. You can get it here.
5) The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins
This woman brings me so much inspiration in everything she does. Which is why it’s no surprise to me that her book is simply incredible. In her book, she shares how she went from broke, depressed, and barely able to get out of bed to successful, happy, and confident in life. Now she spends her time teaching people how to make life-changing decisions. A book well worth the read.
6) The Brain Fog Fix: Reclaim Your Focus, Memory, and Joy in Just 3 Weeks by Dr. Mike Dow
This book helped me solve a lot of my day to day health issues in every way. I’m talking physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It was one of the first books I read in the self-help category and I can honestly say it changed my life. In fact, I started telling all my friends and family about it too and they came back to me telling me how much healthier they feel in every way.
7) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
I used to say this book was “the minimalists’ book from heaven”. While I suppose that holds true in some ways, the book is about so much more than living with the least amount of stuff or getting rid of stuff even. The book is all about only having the things in your life that bring you joy and let’s be honest, we can all use more joy. Marie now also has a Netflix Original that’s taken America by storm. I’ve watched it and it’s been a huge help to us. Ironically, we had started to go through a lot of our stuff just before the show premiered but the concepts she shares in both the book and show, are ones that I believe we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.
8) Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits by Gretchen Rubin
This book is all about understanding how to create your best life through habits. The idea is that most of the day is shaped by our habits and the tendencies we each have that motivate our habits. If we can learn to create habits effectively, we can create better lives.
I think of this book as an extension of Better Than Before. It delves more deeply into understanding the four profile types that are the basis for why we do or don’t do things. It’s also super helpful for understanding why some people interact the way they do. I personally found this book to explain a lot of things both about why I did certain things and why other people reacted the way they did, etc. It helped a lot with family relations in general.
10) The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype–and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More by Dr. Michael Breus
Have you ever wondered why sometimes you feel more creative, energetic, or get more from a workout than other times? It probably has to do with your biological clock or your chronotype, as it’s known in the Power of When. This book played a big part in helping Josh and I understand our best functioning routine. It even helped our marriage out because we were a lot more understanding of each other’s patterns of things like sleep and eating.
11) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This one’s a classic in the self-help department. It’s been around for a while but the message it gives continues to be relevant and the methods tried and true. It gives a lot of sound advice on some of the basic things we tend to miss out on, like making friends. Which by the way, is no joke as an adult.
3 Tips for Getting More “Reading” In
I often hear a lot of people say that they find it really difficult to read books. There’s never enough time, you actually hate reading… the list goes on.
So I also wanted to give you a couple of quick tips for getting through more books that have worked me for over the years.
Figure Out What Method is Best for You
While a lot of people prefer the “holding the book in your hand” kind of reading, some people find it cumbersome and too much a reminder of school.
For those people, I suggest either kindle or audible!
Kindle books are perfect for on the go people because you can download the app to your phone or iPad for free and read on the go whenever you have an extra minute. Plus, you get the book instantly downloaded and occasionally, I come across free ones. You can also opt to go with the Kindle Unlimited subscription which lets you choose ten a month to borrow with no due dates. They give you a 30-day free trial which you can check out here.
Audible is perfect for that person that commutes a lot or just hates to actually read. It’s a monthly subscription that allows you to choose a select number of books a month and listen to them as you please. Shockingly, I only recently discovered it and it’s amazing! They give you a 30 day free trial for this too which you can check out here.
Both options allow for audiobooks now which is perfect for turning on while you cook, clean, or drive.
Only Read Books You’re Really Digging
There’s nothing worse than starting a book and feeling obligated to finish reading it because you started it. The fact of the matter though, is that not every book is for every person. So, if you start a book and just aren’t digging it, give yourself permission to let it go and move onto a different one.
You’ll be far more likely to read or listen to something you are truly enjoying.
Make it Part of Your Routine
I used to feel like I couldn’t start a book if I didn’t have much time on my hands. Something I started doing was pairing my reading with something else so that it became part of my routine or habits.
For instance, I turn on an audiobook while I do dishes. The two things just go together now. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, I get a book in and I do it almost every day. It all adds up. You may not be able to do exactly that, but find what works for you!
For years, I struggled with self-confidence, self-worth, and being happy in life. To top it all off, I felt guilty for feeling that way because I knew my semi-typical American life was a good one.
These books brought me a kind of healing I never knew possible. They unlocked confidence I didn’t know I had, and they helped me see my life in a way that is precious.
I truly hope you find the same kind of transformation from them because you deserve it!
Also, I’m always on the lookout for good personal development books so if you’ve found one that speaks into your life in a transformative way, let me know about it in the comment box below!
The gist: I spent my first 25 years chasing the life I *thought* I was supposed to live. Which resulted in being lost, confused, & kinda miserable. So I ditched the status quo by changing my life just 1% a day – the numbers add up to a 37x difference a year. I call it “A Year of Better.”
Feeling like you want to do the same? Here’s the things that helped me the most… Check it out ->