12 of the best self improvement books

Best self improvement books

Over the last decade I’ve read a lot of self improvement books about everything from productivity to meditation and mindfulness. In no particular order of greatness, here’s my list of some of the best self improvement books out there.

Man's Search for MeaningMan’s Search for Meaning

Viktor E Frankl, a psychiatrist, psychologist and the author of Man’s Search for Meaning spent several years trapped inside a concentration camp in WW2. Whilst inside, Frankl discovered that everything can be taken from a person except the freedom to choose an attitude or mindset. This has to be one of the most powerful, moving and inspirational books I’ve ever read.

7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Don’t let the title deceive you — this is one of the most influential self improvement books of the last 100 years. Covering everything from productivity to integrity and dealing with change, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is refreshing, non preachy and life changing.

How to be freeHow to be Free

Far from a self help manual, How to be Free is funny, inspiring and refreshingly honest. There’s no preaching here — just Tom Hodgkinson chatting about everything from anxiety to money and happiness. If you’ve ever thought, there must be a better, more freer, happier way of living — read this — it’ll give you inspiration.

The 4 Hour Work WeekThe 4 Hour Work Week

Whether you’d like to work for four hours a week or not, this book taught me loads about productivity and efficiency. If you want to get out of the 9-5 routine, work and live anywhere in the world and have time to see it, this book will give you a starting point.

Think and Grow RichThink and Grow Rich

I put off reading this book for years because the title seemed a bit shallow but I have to say, it’s one of the most inspiring self improvement books I’ve read. It totally transformed my outlook on money. Although money can’t bring happiness as we all know, having it helps in the world we live in. I learned to appreciate any money I had after reading this book and as a result ended up getting more.

Feel the Fear and Do it AnywayFeel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Man’s Search for Meaning says we can choose our attitude in any given situation. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway will take you through different fears from public speaking to ageing, and suggest practical exercises and solutions to help you conquer your fears once and for all. The success of the book speaks for itself — it’s become an international best seller.

What Color is Your ParachuteWhat Color is Your Parachute

This is the ultimate job/career/life seekers guide to finding out what you’d like to do in life and how to go about accomplishing it.



Zen Mind, Beginners Mind Zen Mind, Beginners Mind

Whether you’re new to Zen or not, this book is for anyone with an interest. The title is more about adopting a ‘beginner’s mindset’  when you meditate rather than the book being purely for beginners.

Zen and the Art of HappinessZen and the Art of Happiness

Inspiring and beautifully written, Zen and the Art of Happiness teaches us that your state of mind and your happiness is always a choice. Unlike, lots of positive thinking books out there, there’s a refreshing honesty to this one that you can’t help but listen to.

The Power of NowThe Power of Now

In a world where many of us are in a constant state of striving, Eckhart Tolle takes us back a step and helps us to realise that everything we need is rooted in the ‘Now’. The book is written in a question and answer format and offers clear and easy to understand information on everything from the ego to enlightenment and mindfulness.

Inside Meditation, self improvement booksInside Meditation

This has to be the best book I’ve read so far on meditation. Rather than preaching about one specific method, Inside Meditation takes an objective view and covers everything from practical meditation exercises and breathing technique, to the science behind meditation and why it’s beneficial.

Spiritual self improvement books (fiction)

The AlchemistThe Alchemist

Magical, uplifting and beautifully inspiring, the popularity of the Alchemist speaks for itself. It’s a story about following your dreams, listening to your intuition and following your own path through life.


Siddhartha is the story of a man on a spiritual journey around the time of the Buddha. A beautifully written and inspiring classic, this is a must for anyone interested in spirituality, meditation and enlightenment.

Finally, if you feel I’ve missed any important self improvement books off the list, please feel free to add some more to the list.

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  • http://www.365daysofradicalselftransformation.com Brigitte

    LOVE this book list. Like you, I’m an avid reader of personal development books, and Man’s Search for Meaning was the first life changing book I ever read. I just listened to 4 hour work week, which I enjoyed as well. I have Think and Grow Rich but was feeling some resistance to it, but you’ve convinced me to read it. I’m also gonna check out the Feel the Fear and the 7 habits – have known about the latter forever, but I figure it was more mainstream than worthwhile, so glad I am wrong.

    • Clare

      Hi Brigitte, glad you like it — And I hope you enjoy Think and Grow Rich and 7 habits of … Let me know what you think.

  • Penelope Dawkins

    Thank you. I will definitely check out a couple of these. I’ve just finished reading What’s Next by Joy Chudacoff and it’s left me feeling very inspired and focused on my goals. I love a book that can do that. If you haven’t read it already you should pick that one up. Really wonderfully written book http://whatsnextthebook.com/

    • Clare

      Hi Penelope, thanks for the recommendation. I’ve never heard of What’s next so will definitely check it out.

  • Lauren Emily Walters

    The Alchemist is amazing :) x

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

      It’s definitely one of my favourite books of all time. Keep meaning to read more of his books though!

  • Marsha Mann

    I love it I will definitely share this page and read some of those book!! Thank you!

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

      Hi Marsha, glad you like the list. I’ll be writing a new and updated one soon so stay in touch.

      • http://www.puppii511.com Marsha Mann

        I just renewed my Disqus account so I will be

  • http://www.letssandbox.com/ Darius Lukas

    Now, after a while, been having a little browse through your bricks of thought – loving your posts! And this list is definitely a must-have, adding them all to my amazon wish list ;)

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare Hudson

      Glad to hear it :)

  • Cameron Thomas

    Great list there. I have read a few of those and they would definitely make my list too. I have bookmarked this page to remember a few of the others listed here. Thank you for posting these up. For me, no list of this kind is complete without To Hold The Sun by Chas Watkins. http://toholdthesun.com/
    That is a book that will change your life or at the very least leave you asking a lot of important questions. You can’t put a price on that.

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

      Hi Cameron, glad you like the list. I’ll definitely check out to hold the sun — thanks for the recommendation.

  • Leslie Hoff

    Great list! I have added quite a few to my “TBR” pile. Thanks for sharing these with your readers. I just came up for air after a non-stop reading session with a book called “Life In Half a Second” by author Matthew Michalewicz
    (www.LifeinHalfaSecond.com). It was recommended to me by a friend and although
    I went in a little skeptical, wow was I wrong. This book is a perfect example of what can be achieved by an author who is an expert at his subject and very passionate as well. He provides a fact based formula for achieving success not only in business but in life. It is not often that I come across a business book that also tackles self help too! Using real world examples and even science to relay the material, this book can really boost you into overdrive to achieve your goals and desires. I highly recommend it because it really can inspire anyone (students, CEOs, people who feel stuck in their jobs) check it out!

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

      Hi Leslie,
      Glad you like it. I feel like I feel like I’ve since read dozens more great books which should be added to the list though! Will definitely check out Life in Half a Second. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

      Hi Leslie,
      Thanks for the recommendation. Will add it to my now extensive self improvement book list.

  • Karen Counts

    A must read self improvement book is “Mentor Me: GA=T+E: A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement” by author Ken Poirot. The GA=T+E means greatest achievement equals time plus energy, how true is that! The author stresses how time is our most valuable commodity and helps you figure out how to manage it more effectively. You can read an excerpt from the book on his website: (http://www.mentormegate.com).I really liked the down to earth style the author chose to write this “self help” book, he is self aware of what the genre is and offers some information that you wouldn’t expect in this kind of book. I really recommend it to anyone looking to get ahead or get out of a rut.

    • Riese Jones

      Great book! I read it and it is the best self-help, success, business book I have read so far. Truly Amazing!

      • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

        Seems like an interesting author.

    • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

      Hi Karen, I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.