13 Self Development Books That will Transform Your Life


13 Self Development Books That will Transform Your Life

Most people have a book that changed their life in one way or another. Whether it was sitting in your house or recommended by someone else, there was a book that caught your attention and made you dig deeper into it.

Self improvement books have the ability to transform your mind into developing new thinking patterns. Ranging from expert experiences and conducted research, the information found in self development books will improve your lifestyle by at least 1%.

One of the first self development books that caught my attention was The 48 Laws of Power. Without self development books, the path to bettering yourself would be extremely difficult because you wouldn’t have a guidance to follow. You’ll be someone searching for a lighter in a dark room when there’s already a working light switch in there.

Back when I didn’t have a mentor to help me on my path, all I had to reference were the books sitting on my shelf. Books acted as my mentor, teaching me how to approach people, lower my anxieties, and be charismatic.

While there are hundreds of great books that can change your life, I broke it down to 13 self development books that will transform your life by simply getting past the first chapter.If you’re searching for more self development books, check out the Best 36 Self Development Books to start your journey. And for more information about specific categories in self development books, check out our Exclusive Resource page.


1. 6 Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden

What’s it about: Building a freaking awesome tower of Self-Esteem

Do you ever wonder if you have high or low self-esteem? On some days you might feel like the king of the world as on others you feel like a pauper.

In Nathaniel’s book, he shows how your self-esteem is a practice that has the be maintained rather than labeling it as a thought or idea. Your mind will always rapidly think as it gets manipulated by your emotions. When you’re feeling down, those negative emotions turn your self-esteem upside down. But when you’re feeling good about yourself because you passed a test, suddenly your esteem skyrockets.

Rather than allowing yourself to suffer from that horrible roller coaster in your head, this books teaches you the best practices to build a consistent thought process.

To give a brief example, when he explains how to practice living consciously, he teaches you when to take the moment in for yourself. That skill is specially useful while you’re speaking to someone and realize you must consciously pay attention to your own behavior to prevent any communication mistakes. When you’re out in public, consciously become aware of how you behave to avoid bad habits and gestures.

2. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

What it’s about: Stuffing your procrastinating habits down the toilet

I’m not sure about you but the title really makes me want to laugh for some reason. But getting past that random thought, this book has a compilation of ideas and techniques from many successful people in the time management and productivity department.

Learn ways how to overcome your procrastination in a fun and proactive manner. One of the main areas he focuses on is writing everything down that has to be completed. This makes you feel more committed to completing those tasks.

And such as that technique, he goes about many areas meant to beat those nasty procrastinating habits. A lesson that I managed to embrace was making my bed in the morning. (Something I never enjoyed.)

But by completing a task I would have procrastinated on, it makes going about my day much easier towards other major tasks. That’s just one of the techniques Brian uses in his book than can take your life to the next level.

3. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

What it’s about: This actually makes learning pretty dang fun

Written by someone who was a chess master and international martial arts champion, this book displays detailed ways on how he achieved what he did and the principles he followed.

People learn in a variety of ways that helps them retain that information, but Josh helps you discover a passion to learning new things. Whether you have an interest in coding, writing, or dancing, Josh breaks down the key to pursuing excellence.

One of the keys he mention is embracing an organic long-term learning process and not to temporarily set a goal. This means slowly building yourself towards a goal because of personal interest rather than a motivated thought process. Motivation will always have a timer on itself, but giving yourself a purpose to why you’re learning something makes the habit building game extremely easy.

A lesson that really stood out to me was embracing the concept of learning from those who mastered the skills I wanted that dated back centuries ago. That means if you want to be a writer, spend time reading masterpieces from the 1800s rather than today’s novels. Study the critiques of those great novels and correct those mistakes in your own writing so that it can become a novel that lives through history.

4. Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing by Robert Wolff

What’s it about: Explore another world very, very different than our own

Explore the lifestyle of people who live away from society in Malaysia and how they built a system free from anxiety, struggle, and worry that we face in the modern world.

During his stay with the community, he learns not only about their way of life, but their unique way on living a fulfilling lifestyle. He explores the realities of two lifestyles where one, he is surrounded by technology and harsh realism as the other, he’s in an almost a dreamlike setting.

As you learn the differences between our world and theirs, you begin to question yourself, “What is it to be truly human?” This book allows you to temporarily escape the superficial world you live in and embrace a lifestyle you never envisioned before. Though most people still prefer the comfort of a westerner’s lifestyle, it makes you appreciate the small joys in life and what not to take for granted.

5. 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change A Lot by Richard Wiseman

What’s it about: Quick Life Hacks that’s pretty fun to read about

The first time I came across these teachings was on YouTube. It was always great to know the amount of things I learned in less than a minute.

In Richard’s book, he presents scientifically proven techniques that helps you achieve your aims and ambitions in less than a minute. (Sounds too good to be true?) He goes from mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, and resilience to relationships and how you can give yourself a rapid change of thought.

How Richard goes about explaining the ways to change your life in 59 seconds is with examples and techniques on correcting your small day-to-day choices. Overall, what I enjoyed were the quick life hacks it provides that can actually help you throughout the day.

For example, something I practiced from the book was telling my friends and family about my goals and ambitions. That way, I feel more committed and obligated to achieve them.

6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

What’s it about: Getting Introverts to stop feeling ashamed about themselves

As a fellow introvert, I know how it’s like to live in a bias world who assume I’m either selfish, depressed, or lack social skills. But in actuality I just like my own privacy for a majority of the time.

As for fellow introverts who feel a desperate urge to hide during the middle of a party to catch your breath, this book is for you. Susan explains the power of introverts and a way to change introverts mindsets who are ashamed of themselves.

She helps give introverts an empowerment vision on living the life they want rather than allowing themselves to be judged. By the time you finish this book, you’ll receive a heartfelt message because she totally relates to introverts and their daily problems.

7. The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill

What’s it about: Learning the best ways to success old school style

Published in 1937, it still remains one of the best books for entrepreneurs and business minded people. Napoleon goes over 16 original principles meant to help future generations study the habits of the most wealthy and successful people of their era.

One of the best lessons he uncovers is how to use enthusiasm towards your advantage. Mix it into your work to avoid easily overwhelming yourself. One of the ways I stay motivated is to wear fancy clothing while at in my office. It makes me feel like a million bucks because I feel good about my appearance. (Though it doesn’t end well when I try working out in it.)

Same goes to other attributes such as makeup, environment, or settings. But besides personal preferences, Napoleon explains in great details on ways to master self-control, gaining a pleasing personality, and mastering concentration. Whether it’s 1 principle or all 16, you will relate to one of them that will transform your way of thought.

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

What’s it about: How to be a boss and own people

A while ago, one of my closest friends biggest complaints was his inability to work out despite the weight he gained. Though he would complain about his weight and his circumstances, he never made any efforts to change it because he couldn’t see how.

Stephen shows this is how reactive people behave when they’re faced with a conflict and never do anything to resolve it. Though what my friend said about his weight was true, it never helped him lose the weight he wanted. However, another friend I had who was proactive focused on how she can improve her health so that she could lose the weight she wanted in a timely manner.

And it wasn’t a one week fix either. Using the principles laid out in this book, she took time, discipline, and effort to make the changes in her life. Dale makes you focus on how to build a healthy habit that builds a successful living. Forget trying to find a way to conjure motivation and use Dale’s methods to develop habits that lets you keep hold onto long term goals.

9. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

What’s it about: Getting people to like you even if you’re a jerk

Just to make things clear, this book isn’t meant for loners or people who don’t have any friends. (Though it will help.) I have several close friends and I still like to refer to this book because of the fundamentals it teaches you about human communication.

Dale goes over the main principles when it comes to handling people, make others like you, and how to win people to your way of thinking. It’s a short book (consisting of over 200 pages) so it won’t take long to complete.

As an introvert, one of the best lessons I learned was understanding how to be genuinely interested in other people. It made me realized that I can’t always make it about me when I speak to other people and should learn how to smile, be kind, and considerate.

By simply becoming a better listener (a lesson taught in this book) I discovered more people willing to talk to me. (sometimes a little too much.) But if you’re looking for effective methods on making friends and acting like a leader, take some time to briefly read this book.

10. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

What’s it about: Using science to manipulate your mind

As a book that relates heavily in psychology and conducted research (40 years to be exact), Daniel uncovers your cognitive processes that makes you function the way you do.

He breaks down the way your mind works by splitting it into two categories. The first is known as System 1, which operates unconsciously, effortlessly, and rapidly. Examples would be the way you automatically move your body, respond to events, and pee whenever someone puts your hand in a glass of water while you’re sleeping. In other words, there’s no heavy requirements in thought process.

The other acts as System 2, which either accepts, rejects, or analyze the decisions of System 1. For example, suppose you encountered a strange dog. System 1 of your mind will assume that it’s friendly and will lick you upon approach. However, system 2 takes a look at the situation and brings up the possibilities that it might be freaking Cujo. This suddenly makes you scared of the situation and you decide to back away from it because it might bite your hand off.

Both systems are necessary for survival, however, Daniel displays how people misuse System 2 on a daily occasion by running away from the wrong problems. He gives detailed analysis on how to solve simple problems by thinking towards it in a new fashion. What Daniel focuses on in his book will get you to think in a new way by the end of the first chapter.

11. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

What’s it about: Throwing those nasty thoughts in the trashcan

A majority of people life’s is dictated by a reign of negative thoughts. They hold onto their past burdens and problems, allowing negativity to control their mindset.

The Power of Now focus on forcing you to realize the person you are this moment. As one of the best self development books in the world, it teaches you how to think outside of the box and recognize your inner conscious. Until you control your mind, it will always rule over you and your actions.

Your sense of identity derives from thinking because it’s perhaps the one thing you do most in the world. You developed a habit, such as the rest of us, to think everyday whether it be about your accomplishments, failures, happiness, or depression. Eckhart discusses how to free yourself from building negative compulsive thoughts. Think of your mind as a vehicle and Eckhart’s book will be the wheel to lead you towards the right direction.

12. Simplify by Joshua Becker

What’s it about: Decluttering the crap out of your life

This great source of knowledge is for anyone looking for strategies to declutter their home and lifestyle. Your life is too valuable to simply waste it away by chasing after meaningless objects.

Most people spend a majority of their life working until they reach retirement when such a gift isn’t guaranteed for them. The first time I began decluttering my life, though it was difficult to let go of some of my personal possessions, I noticed an immediate change. I became lighter in mind and spirit, finding more energy to do what I wanted.

With no fear or concerns about possessions I had before, I had a new focus to find more passions. Simplify will change the way you view the world and find ways to motivate you to follow your heart’s greatest passions.

13. The 4 Hour Workweek

What’s it about: Working less hours for more money

The moment I picked up this book I was unable to put it down the rest of the night. This book is well known throughout the world. With so many potential uses, discover the way to embody a “full time” job on a part time schedule.

The author goes about the best methods he used to escape the 9 – 5 job schedule for a rich and fulfilling lifestyle. Of course such an idea seems too good to be true. (do I smell a scam in the air?) But is this possible? Absolutely.

There’s plenty of people who goes by this book methods and if you don’t mind temporarily living overseas, it’ll make the progress much easier. The foundation of this book reveals how you can be richer than someone who makes over $100,000 annually while you only make $25,000.

One of the greatest aspects I learned was how to save my time and energy by learning the proper ways to outsource my work and manage other people to take care of smaller tasks for me. With those extra hours, I have more time to conduct more research and spend more time with my love ones (or by myself.) If you’re searching for a way to escape the big corporate lifestyle and go your own path, I recommend reading this book.

Your turn…

Do you have any self development books that transformed your life? Feel free to share those thoughts.

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About Author

Besides being random and dealing with ADHD from time to time, Michael Gregory II is the CEO of the Self Development Workshop. He's traveled to over a dozen countries, counselled a variety of people, and continues furthering his knowledge in self-development, depression, and mastering your happiness. On his lazy days, he enjoy watching people, reading in Starbucks, and speaking to random strangers. (Yeah, he’s weird.)


  1. Jaime Lopez on

    I recommend the book 7 laws of success of Deepak Chopra, very short and enlightment.

  2. I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and amusing,
    and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something that not enough people are speaking
    intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I came across this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  3. Monica

    Love the book list! The book that I have in mind is the Art of Seduction. I heard that was a really good book to try out. Especially for women.

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