7 Self-Improvement Books that Should be on Your Bookshelf

What are the best self-improvement books to read (or listen to) today? Here are some of my favorites—the ones that actually change lives.

There are self-improvement books that have inspired millions of people, whether they’re fictional tales that inspire people to change or step-by-step guidance. Here, you’ll find seven books that knocked my socks off.

1. The Secret – Rhonda Byrne

The Secret Rhonda Byrne

I’m not a proponent of The Secret. In fact, I believe life is filled with good and bad and both will happen no matter how much you practice the so-called law of attraction. What I do believe though is that The Secret will change the way you look at life and specifically your life.

The Secret basically states that if you believe in something, if you think about it as if it is already yours, it will happen. This may be the case, or it may not. I once wrote a list of 10 things I wanted in a guy, including things like he had to be a filmmaker, have curly dark hair, speak French and sometimes wear glasses (true love and all that). It took me less than two weeks to find him.

In fact, I think it took less than a week. I was in shock. Was he my happily-ever-after though? No. Hence the expression, “Be careful what you wish for.” It’s one thing to wish for something; it’s another to mentally be ready for it on all levels, and generally we only accept what we are ready for.

What holds true is that when we start focusing on the good things in our lives, we start expanding those areas because that’s where our focus is. It also helps to increase our own feelings of happiness immensely.

Think of it this way: when you start looking for yellow cars, you start noticing them. So, if you are looking for opportunity, you will find it. If you are confident about it, people will naturally gravitate towards you.

Likewise, you will only invite into your life what you are familiar with. Abused people often open their doors to abuse because they recognize it. They’re used to it. It’s not that they want it, but they’ve come to expect it. When you come to expect good things, when you become comfortable receiving them, you open the door to the people, events and places that bring them.

It is true that thoughts control a great deal of your life. Start applying The Secret not because everything you wish for will necessarily come true, but because a great deal will when you start focusing on creating it. And maybe, you know, it does work.

2. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho


This book is a tale. It’s fiction, but it is rare to come across a tale of fiction that so vividly mimics life, even if there are added elements of magic to this tale.

The Alchemist is about a boy following his dreams. By doing so, he faces great obstacles and overcomes them. He learns to listen to his inner voice, which was previously drowned out by noise from the outside. He learns to be a warrior of his dreams.

Whenever something happens on the journey to my dreams, I remember The Alchemist, and I start polishing glasses. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean. It will help you to overcome the obstacles.

If you have a dream and wish to achieve it, this book is for you.

(I also really like Brida and The Pilgrimage, both by Coelho, but they are more spiritual in nature. Also check out his blog. It’s filled with stories.)

3. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman


This is one of my favorite books of all time where relationships are concerned. The quality of your life is directly connected to the quality of your relationships. This book is about romantic relationships, but you can apply it to relationships with friends and family.

It teaches us that we all perceive love differently. We need to feel loved in different ways. As a result, the ways in which you show love might go unnoticed to your husband, wife, children, friends, siblings or parents. Likewise, you might feel unloved though someone close to you loves you very much.

If you start applying The Five Love Languages in your life, even in your work life, your relationships will change. If nothing else, this book is an excellent read if you want to reinforce your belief in love; the stories of the couples Chapman has helped throughout the years are incredible.

4. The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz


Ruiz puts forward four simple agreements, which, if you live by them, will greatly improve your life and the lives of those around you.

It’s such a simple book, yet the truth of it rings deeper than the deepest well. If you can live by these four simple agreements, you are a hundred times likelier to find happiness.

5. The Mastery of Love – Don Miguel Ruiz


Ruiz is one of my favorite authors, and this book does not disappoint. It’s a book about love: the love we need to have for ourselves and each other.

I’d say a great number of troubles we have in life are directly proportional to our inability to love ourselves. This book will show you why you deserve love, and why you are truly beautiful as you are—as a human being.

6. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle


This book has changed the lives of millions of people. It comes with one simple, yet powerful suggestion: live in the now.

The first time Tolle experienced freedom was when he was sitting homeless on a bench. He’d lost everything but his life, and suddenly had no fear left. Without fear, he started living. He realized he was free to do whatever he wanted with his life. In turn, he’s helped millions of people do the same.

7. The Road Less Travelled – Scott M. Peck


This book was given to me by a friend a long time ago and I’m ashamed to say I am still working to finish it, but it does contain incredible advice—especially if you haven’t studied psychology. It will teach you the discipline you need to truly change your life. I don’t think a list about self-help books is complete without it.

Peck has helped millions of people through his writing. You could become one of them.

Other authors I recommend: David Deida, William Whitecloud, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Sam Kogan (it’s acting, but it’s really about life), Milton H. Erickson (My Voice Will Go with You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson is a book I highly recommend), Malcolm Gladwell (Blink is extraordinary), Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt and Dr. Sue Johnson.

Feel free to add to this list of life-changing self-improvement books!

About the author

Maria Montgomery

Writer. Social Entrepreneur. Foster mommy (twins). Change maker. Foodie. Health freak. Nature lover. Creative nutcase. Blogger (Confessions of a Dizzy Blonde). A friend of mine once described me by saying “One minute she’s like the Dalai Lama, the next a dizzy blonde” and maybe that does sum me up…

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