The 18 Best Personal Development Books to Read to Better Yourself

personal development books

In this article, we’re going to show you some books you can read to better yourself. Of course, we can recommend books about the same subject, but what’s the fun of that? If you want to read personal development books immediately, you can scroll down. 

We’re going to give you a list of books that can help you plan and follow the goals you want to set. To do things that can look scary, uncomfortable or unreachable at first, but simple and easy in the end.

We often regret the past. This is because we didn’t give it our best, neglected important things or postponed things that we didn’t feel like doing. At the moment it doesn’t necessarily feel that way.

We just postpone a project, a hobby or something else that we want to do to the next day, right? That day becomes a week and that week becomes a year and before you know, you feel horrible.

You look back and see what you neglected and look at others who succeeded. Now you’re here trying to find a way to reach your goals and develop yourself. Sounds familiar?

Before we’re going to give you a list of personal development books, we’re going to give you some overall tips we collected for you.

Tips on Personal Development and Reaching Your Goals

searching for personal development books

You can read dozens of personal development books, but before you do that we want to help you a little bit. With these tips, we want to give you a head start and possibly even hold you back from reading these books. Here’s why:

Deep Down Inside You Know What to Do

Let’s say that, for example, you want to learn more about a subject in your career field, say marketing.

You probably know that you can read a lot about that subject online, subscribe to newsletters, earn certificates, read books or attend workshops or events, right?

Chances are, you know damn well what to do. What is missing is motivation, a goal and a plan.

  • Motivation keeps you engaged in whatever you want to succeed
  • A goal makes it achievable and breaks something in more realistic smaller pieces
  • And a plan makes sure you follow your path, one day at a time

Before this article about the best personal development books turns into a speech of how-to set-up your life we will continue with the next tip. Still there?

Personal Development Takes Time

development takes time

You know the saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day? The same is true for personal development. As we mentioned in the previous tip, breaking a goal or task into smaller tasks makes it more attainable.

To make you see this we set up an example for you.


You’re at school (again) and you’re having a test in 2 months. You got Billy, who didn’t do anything until the last week.

For him, it feels unachievable. There’s no time, he thinks, although he knew it from the start. Although Billy didn’t have much time, he still tried to pass it.

After putting in 10 hours a day for 5 days he failed the test with a score of 45 out of 100 where you would pass with a score of 55.

He put in 50 hours for nothing, he thinks and fails the goal he set at the beginning of the semester.

Now there’s Joe. Joe knew the test was coming and prepared accordingly. He studied for 2 hours every day, without the weekends, where he, just as Billy, partied and had fun.

He learned 5 days a week for 2 hours in two months, bringing his study time to 80 hours total. Billy passed the test with a score of 88 out of 100 and was happy, although he didn’t really stress about it.

The Lesson

Do you see what happened here? Without having too much trouble Joe achieved his goal. He passed the test by breaking something bigger into a smaller task of putting in 10 hours a week or 2 hours a day.

Billy also put in the work. He studied every day for 10 hours! Five days straight! He was proud that he was putting in so much work and was so motivated to learn for such a long time every day.

In real life, this is often the case. It’s often more helpful to be consistent than to rush into something which you can’t keep up with. Consistency is key.

Now, before you rush into reading 3 books about personal development in the time frame of a week, we recommend you do this in 3 weeks. Here’s why:

Reading for 1 hour every day is more attainable than reading for 3 hours a day, and chances are, with everything happening around you, you will quit when you can’t make the 3 hours a day or when you got something else (important) to do.

Also, test if you can do it. After reading for the first time, decide on how long you’re going to read and make a plan for the next coming weeks (and follow it).

Personal Development Is Hard Work

personal development is hard work

They always say that nothing is easy in life. And why’s that? If it was easy, everyone else would do it, right? For this reason, you get that feeling of absolute joy and excitement when you finish something you weren’t sure you could.

Referring back to motivation, no one else is going to do it for you. If you’re like this, we got a little something for you.

You can start with the book Start Now, Get Perfect Later by Rob Moore. As the title suggested, this book helps with dealing with procrastination and changing your mindset.

If you didn’t scroll down to the personal development books yet and read these tips, you’re ahead of the rest. You got yourself a little gem of a book recommendation here that everyone else probably won’t know about.

Now, here is that list of personal development books you’ve been waiting for!

Personal Development books you should read

personal development books

Before listing all the books, we want to make sure you know how the books are selected. You probably know there’s a lot of books about bettering yourself out there. 

We don’t want to list every book about changing your mindset or about just one topic. That’s why we listed books on different topics. This way we hope that there’s a book in there for every one of you reading this. 

Behind every book, we put the category it belongs to or wrote a few words which describe the book.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (people skills)

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a book written by Dale Carnegie. In the book, Dale Carnegie explains the theory and mindset behind de social interactions in work and life.

You will learn tricks and get tips on how to make people like you and how to make a friend. In addition, you’ll learn how to influence people to do what you want, without them even knowing it.

Don’t you want to read a book about making friends, but rather get some tips? Then read The Ultimate Guide on How to Make Friends as an Introvert, if you’re an introvert.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow (mindset)

This book is a bestseller with over 3000 reviews on Amazon and a rating of a 4,5 out of 5. The book will teach you how your two parts of your brain work, and how, if possible, you can influence and improve them. This book is easily readable for people outside the neuroscience field.

3. The 4 Hour Work Week (entrepreneurs)

Always wanted to be free, work your own hours and live your life, whenever you want? Then this book from Timothy Ferris is the right one for you.

In this book, he is going to teach you simple techniques you can apply in your work life or business.

One thing that stayed with me while reading this book was this simple rule: Want to make a million dollar? Then you have to sell:

  • 100.000 products of 10$
  • 10.000 products of 100$
  • 1.000 products of 1000$
  • 100 products of 10.000$

He also mentioned the use of a virtual assistant. By hiring one in let’s say India, his costs per hour were only 5$. A lot less than when you hire one in the US.

4. Start With Why (decision making)

In Start With Why you’ll learn how to make decisions in life. These decisions can be small or big and can be applied in your personal- and work life.

Start With Why is going to teach you the process of thinking. This method relies on 3 factors: Why, How and What. So, start with why?

5. You Are a Badass (change yourself)

You Are a Badass is written by Jen Sinciro. In the book, she explains how you can drastically change your life and how to get what you want. The book is somewhat similar to The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck.

6. The One Thing (organizing yourself)

This book, written by Gary W. Keller focusses on the time element of life. You learn how to prioritize and do what’s important. In addition, he gives examples of how this works.

This technique may sound easy, but you need to read it to get familiar with the theory behind it. In this book, he explains how to use this method with easy steps, tips and tricks.

7. The E-Myth Revisited (entrepreneur mindset)

The E-Myth Revisited teaches you how to take charge of your business again. He explains how a business owner generally takes on three roles/personalities in the business.

These are the Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Technician. With examples, he explains the steps you can take to be in charge of your business instead of working in it.

8. Atomic Habits (building habits)

Atomic Habits is a bestseller written by James Clear. In this book, he explains the use of a compound effect of multiple small decisions. Hereby he means: try to improve yourself one percent at a time.

Want to know how even the smallest changes result in big life-altering outcomes? Then this is the book for you!

9. Unlimited Memory (time management)

We get it. You don’t have all the time in the world. So, what if we tell you that this book can help you with using your time better.

This book shows advanced learning strategies that will help you learn faster. In addition, it teaches you how to remember more and be more productive.

10. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (making yourself stronger)

Do you sometimes feel like you’re pleasing others instead of yourself? Then this book is for you!

The author explains how to make decisions and take actions that benefit YOU, not others. You’ll learn this by the techniques and examples described in this book.

11. Your Best Year Ever (achieving your goals)

Your Best Year Ever is written by Michael Hyatt. The book helps you with reaching your goals. In this book, he uses a method and research-driven system.

In just 5 hours you will learn how to set goals and how you can achieve them. See The 5 Best Goal Setting Books You Must Read to see more books about setting goals. 

12. The Intelligent Investor (finance)

The Intelligence Investor is a worldwide know bestseller, written by Benjamin Graham. Benjamin Graham was the professor of Warren Buffet, who we all know. To Buffet, Graham was the second most important man in his life.

The book teaches you about the smartest investment strategies. Although the book seems outdated, it still has a lot of applicable strategies which can be used.

13. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (behavior and mindset change)

As the title suggests, this book explains the 7 habits you can form to be effective and take control over your life again.

As one of the bestsellers, with over 25 million copies sold in more than 40 countries, this book is considered the bible of habits. Go get it!

14. Dare to Lead (toughen yourself)

Dare to Lead is a bestseller, written by Brené Brown. The book talks about choosing courage over comfort and choosing the right questions to ask.

What do a lot of Fortune 500 leaders have in common? Read this book and find out for yourself!

15. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (mindset)

This book contains 12 practical rules for life. It is written by Jordan B. Peterson. Some of the rules can sound strange at first. This is, for example, setting your house in order.

He also doesn’t talk about happiness as a goal. The goal of your life is to be meaningful. Are you ready to find out about all 12 rules?

16. Daring Greatly (mindset)

Do you remember Brené Brown from book number 14 in the list? She is also the author of Daring Greatly. In this book, she teaches you how you can live more fully.

In this book, she talks about how being vulnerable, among other things, is something that strengthens us, instead of weakens.

17. Unfu*k Yourself (get uncomfortable)

Unfu*ck Yourself is written by Gary John Bishop. He is an expert in personal development. In this book, Gary talks about how to get out of your own head. What happens, is that most of the time we’re too busy filling in what we think someone thinks about something we say or do.

Negative voices in your head are destroying you, instead of helping. With examples and methods, Bishops guides you in strengthening yourself and teaching you how to deal with personal problems.

18. How Successful People Think (motivation/self-improvement)

In this book, the author John C. Maxwell guides you through 11 secrets that successful people know, and you don’t (yet). One of the principles in this book is simple: Look at the bigger picture.

With this, the author refers to looking beyond your own needs. What do people want? And how do you know for sure? Did you ask them that? This is the perfect book for you to improve your life – by thinking differently.

That was a lot of reading, wasn’t it? We hope that you found where you were looking for. Share this article on social media if you liked it. Also, if you liked this topic, maybe this article with 23 Tips for Mastering Your Time is something for you!

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