250+ Best Self Help Books (or How to Never Run Out of Good Things to Read)

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There are thousands of books on self-help, habit change, and personal development. Some are good and some are … not so good, but what are the best self-help books? The ones that can really make an impact in changing your life for the better?

That is the question this exhaustive list of over 175 great habit and self-help books strives to answer. It can be hard to drill through all the options to find the books that really have an impact on your life, so I have tried, with the ongoing help of some friends and readers to narrow the list down to size.

(Side note: Another positive ​way to improve your life is to read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest FREE, informative news from this website.)

 

Who am I to talk about habits and self-help books?

I have been writing about habits, both in books and on this blog, for about 3 years now. For over 20 years before that, I was reading a variety of personal development books. That is a lot of time and lot of books.

Lately, I've been asked about my personal favorites.  So I decided to create a small resource…maybe a top 25 list.  But this list grew and grew until it hit 100 books.  Then 125, then 150.  Finally, I stopped at 175.

The problem?

It would be really hard to navigate a list like this, so I settled on a simple solution…

(Update 2018: The list of self-improvement books continues to grow. I continue to make new sub-lists and refine older short books lists into multiple more larger, yet more narrowly focused book lists. Most recently I published a post on real estate investing, something I just had a lot of experience in. Soon I will be revamping the lists for business, entrepreneur, investing and leadership. Following those lists, I will delve into more health and fitness book lists. As this post stands now, the total is around 325 great books. I expect the list will have grown to 500 by 2020. Broken into 30-35 sub-book-lists. Stay tuned!)

250+ of the Best Self Help Books (in 22 Categories)

The personal development field is very large. So it would be challenging to detail my favorite books in one large list.

That's why I've broken down the 200+ books into 18 distinct categories.

That means someone who wants help with their fitness can just jump right to that section.  But someone who wants to build simple habits can check out the few pages on building powerful, daily routines.

How to Use This List…

The following list can be used for many purposes.

The main reason is for the reader.  If you are looking for a specific type of book, you'll get a nice list which has been vetted which should suit your purposes — from fitness to productivity.

The secondary reason is for self-help book gift ideas.  If you know someone who is “into”, personal development, habit change, health, fitness, productivity and any other style of “self-help” books, you get a list of ideas for books they might enjoy.

Without further ado, here's the list…

250+ Top Self-Help Books (by Section)

And… How to Navigate This List

Also, reading through an 18-page list can be difficult.  So to make things easier, I have added an additional option for finding your page.

Every page has a button that will take you to the next page in order.

Like this:

Next Habit Books

And there's also a fancy button to get back to this main page:

Self Help Books

175+ self help books now well nearly 250+ self help books

I started this collection of the best self-help books around nearly 2 years ago. At the time I clocked in 175 books, so I split then into separate lists. As new books are both found and released, I have grown each of these sub-pages. The total on this book is currently (15 May 2016) at a whopping 244 books, and continuing to grow. I hope you enjoy this self-help collection, and please share your favorites and/or new choices.

Finally, I need your help.

I spent a fair bit of time combing through Amazon, finding books that are both popular and brand new (including a few of my own.)

I think this list is really good, but it could always be better.  That's why I need your help.

So (in the comments section below) let me know if you:

  1. Like, love or hate the list.
  2. Have any additions, that should be on the list. I will check them out, and perhaps with time, they will be added. Simply include the title and author name.  (I'll do the rest.)
  3. Think this list has some value, please spread the word.  (Simply use the social media buttons to the left of this article.)

The more input this list has, the better of a resource it will become.

Well, that's it for my preamble.

Finally, if you want another positive ​way to improve your life, then read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest FREE, informative news from this website.

 

I hope you enjoy the 200+ Top Habit Books!

Mental Health Books

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45 thoughts on “250+ Best Self Help Books (or How to Never Run Out of Good Things to Read)”

  1. Dear SJ,

    I came across your article and found it intriguing and insightful.
    The list you published is a great comprehensive list. I skimmed through this list targeting few books and gladly I found that you have included them.
    I only have one comment: shouldn’t “how to win friends and influence people” be categorized under relationships?

    Regards

  2. First, I’m honored that you included a couple of my books. I think The Fitness Expert Next Door is a better fit to weight loss.
    And a word of caution for the eventual readers: my books are of course great (wink, wink), but basic: for someone who read at average speed and someone overweight respectively. You won’t find any secret advanced techniques in them.

    SJ, You’ve missed a great book, I think it’s a good fit for “Best Personal Development”:
    “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson

    I read “Your Money or Your Life” and highly recommend it. I recommend also for money management category “Start Over, Finish Rich” by David Bach.

  3. S.J.,

    I am a BIG fan of yours and got a Kindle Unlimited membership LARGELY so I could round out my collection of your books.

    “Habit Stacking” in particular has helped me immeasurably. Thank you.

    One resource I think that belongs here is B.J. Fogg’s work… though he never PUBLISHED a habit change book (darn it!) he does have some excellent, groundbreaking work on the subject.

    tinyhabits.org is where I went to start doing some positive change. Habit Stacking is where I ended up after that.

    I may want to do a collection of books like this for my website, only mostly focused around entrepreneurship and marketing. Do you have any suggestions? Wouldja be mad at me if I copied your format?

    Thanks for this post. Grabbing the following titles right now, because of it: The One Minute To-do List, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Let Go, and Master Evernote. Appreciate you pointing the way.

    Keep Stepping,

    Kurt

    • You will love “Master Evernote.” It has completely changed the way I manage information. Now I no longer have 200+ browser tabs open all the time, just waiting to have time to read all the articles I find online. I just clip them to Evernote!

    • Kurt,

      Gotta love KU. It makes checking out books so darn easy.

      Totally agree with you about BJ Fogg. His name would be here in an instant if he had a book to put here. I even took the tiny habits course of his recently to see if he had any insights I missed.

      Go ahead and use the format! Feel free to use any choices you want in those categories, also. I am sure you will have a TON of additions too! I think this sort of large collection of books is a great resource for an audience -and if it makes a few bucks in amazon sales…all the better. Just a word of warning, though, it was kinda a pain to put together. Much more time consuming than I initially imagined, however, hopefully worth it in the end!

    • Thanks S.J. Gonna get right to work on my list.
      CORRECTION above: I used .org instead of tinyhabits.COM. In case any of your readers here wanna go check it out.

      Thanks again for the post. Wonderful resource as well as inspiration for me.

      Keep Stepping,

      Kurt

  4. I love this list SJ!
    7 Habits changed my life when I was 21.

    I would recommend Essentialism. Recently read this book and I made my sort out my priorities, cut out the fluff, and helped me spend more time with my wife and two awesome daughters.
    Thanks for creating this list! Will bookmark this and share

  5. I love this book! I’ve only read 1/2 of it since it was a library book. The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living by Amit Sood MD and Mayo Clinic.

    Another thing that has really helped me organization wise (it’s not a book) is the Bullet Journal style of to-do lists/capturing ideas. You can read more about it here: http://bulletjournal.com/

    Thanks for compiling this list! I’m bookmarking it for later reference.

    Anne

  6. Looks like a good list – unfortunately, I’ve read a lot and done very little.

    But I’d like to share this with my Facebook friends closer to New Year’s and I’m surprised you don’t have those little share icons somewhere on the page.

    Just a suggestion that might help you gain more exposure.

    Chris

    • Chris,

      Completely understand. I feel reading and learning is important -but not as important as getting out there and taking action (in whatever you are working on)

      The “share” icons are on the 175+ main page only (on the left side for FB, Google, LInkdin, Twitter), since that was made as a “post” and others only made as “pages”. I may try to go back and figure out how to get them on all subpages as long as I can do it without too much more effort.

  7. Great list for us self improvement junkies!
    Check You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams by Elizabeth Sims for another in the writing and publishing category.
    And thanks for including the link to your Kindle publishing blog. I didn’t know.

    • Thanks for the addition! I will check it out in a few days. Also glad you found the Kindle Publishing blog. Hopefully you will enjoy that, see you over there in comments hopefully! 🙂

  8. Thanks a lot S.J for the wonderful effort of compilation. This is helping me to find my right choice..

  9. Hey!

    Thank you so much for your list. Fantastic! I am going to link to it on my resource page.

    I am really surprised, however, that you didn’t have “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
    It is the ONE book out of all the self-help books I found the most powerful and life changing.

    Maybe I just didn’t see it or it wasn’t in the right category? I looked for it in the 10 books to improve your relationship and life.

    Thanks!
    Sarah

    • Thought it was in there, and had to look for it myself. It is already there…under personal development. #4 (not that the numbers mean anything)

      I agree. An inspirational classic!

      Thanks for the link on the resource page. I do hope this becomes a good resource for everyone, and the list will only grow in time. (have about 5-10 additions already I will likely do mid week)

  10. I totally agree! There are so many self help books out there it’s hard to find ones that can really make a difference! I was so happy to come across one recently that really changed my outlook on things. The book is called, “Social Wealth” by author Jason Treu (http://beextraordinary.tv/). I really liked this book because unlike so many self help books that focus on one aspect of life (career, relationships, etc) this book has a plan to help master them all. The coolest part being that the “Social Wealth Mindset” plan applies to everything and can be used in every aspect of your life. By focusing so clearly on relationship building strategies, this book is a one stop shop for business, friends, family, love, and all other socially focused areas of our lives. It is a great read that stresses the point that a personal transformation can be simple!

  11. Great list!

    I recently read a book that you may find interesting titled “Build Wealth and Spend It All” by author Stanley Riggs. It was a very interesting read, as it takes you on a different course than the typical financial planning book. The author not only focuses on building wealth, but actually outlines plans for, and encourages, spending it! Riggs has personal experiences with what can go wrong from a life of investment and frugal saving. He very smartly teaches what you can do about it.

  12. A life-changing book for organization is “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh. He gets to the core of why we collect stuff and how to organize an area based on what you want to use it for, not based on how much stuff you have. I recommend this book to everyone, before you read any book about organization.

  13. Dear SJ,

    WOW !!

    Your hugely indepth compilation is making me run to the local bookstore and then onto amazon to get hold of books which I find is missing from my home library collection.
    You have done an awesome & wonderful job of putting all the real knowledge this planet needs under a single roof !
    Can’t thank you enough and was wondering how was I managing my stuff without this resource.

    Keep on updating the stuff-its really good !!!

  14. The list is a great idea, well-executed.

    Please consider adding The Now Habit by Neil Fiore to your Productivity titles – I actually have read nearly everything on the subject and none has the insights into procrastination that it does. As far as I know, Fiore was the first to identify anxiety as the root cause of most procrastination, while others (mistakenly, I believe) see procrastination as a problem of motivation. Without Fiore’s seminal work on the topic, I woud never have gotten into med school – I even hired him for a few coaching sessions. If you haven’t read it already, you are in for a treat.

    Unfortunately, others are now appropriating Fiore’s work – an author endorsed on Tim Ferriss’s blog has directly lifted some of Fiore’s key concepts as his own, and though I did write to Ferriss about this, got no response. Yes, we all learn from each other, but it is only courteous, I believe, to give credit where it’s due. Check out The Now Habit and keep up the good work!

  15. Hi SJ I loved your 175+ book list and have been listening to your habit books on audible.
    I have a book suggestion for healthy lifestyle and fat loss that helped my clients tremendously. It’s called
    Making Shi(f)t Happen by Dean Dwyer. He gives 20 seismic mini habits to drastically change one’s long term health and fitness.

  16. I have not read enough of the titles you mention to make a comparison of this book on happiness to those you listed. I love this site. The book I am recommending had a huge impact on my life and my take on happiness. it is a tiny tome called Happiness is a Serious Problem: A Human Repair Manual by Dennis Prager It radically altered some of my beliefs about happiness and changed the trajectory of my life, and therefore my family’s path too. I write this from Mexico where I am raising four lovely kids to be bilingual, bi cultural, and ready for a world that doesn;t frighten and depress me as it once did. I stopped being depressed about a son lost to severe regressive autism in part because of this pithy little book and the advice in it….ultimately, Matt did not turn out to have autism – or rather his autism was the result of severe inflammation from chronic undertreated infections. We are treating his lyme disease, babesia, and bartonella infections here in Mexico and slowly getting the our son back. This book really is a wee repair manual and I highly recommend it – I wish I could articulate exactly HOW it shifted everything for me. I can only tell you that I changed after reading it, and it was a spiritual and belief shift. I felt alot less sorry for myself and my son – and overcame the paralysis that emotion created, and ultimately found answers and help through NIH, lots of online research, and finally a total shift to a place, culture, and country where healing can happen and we can all still have an interesting and beautiful life while it does. Cheers. Di

  17. Thanks for sharing all of these self-help books! It is so absolutely incredible that there are so many books available online. It’s so cool how much technology has advanced in the last few years so that there are almost 200 books available in one place. In fact, I should probably take a look at a couple of these books and see whether they’d be right for me.

    • Thanks Linda. It is amazing there are so many helpful books out there these days. IN fact, There are even more… I keep meaning to update the list with 20-25 new books, spread amongst the categories. Thanks for checking it out! Best of luck!

  18. Hi, I recently authored a new paperback titled “Simply Enough: The Encyclopedia of Simplicity” (by Zachary Perry). It highlights the many benefits of living simply, supplies practical advice on how to do so and offers details about my own experiences. Most of the book is arranged alphabetically so that people can easily refer to it after reading it the first time. Please consider it for your list. Thank you!

    • Zach,

      I will give it a look over and add it to the list when I do my next revisions if I like the content. (actually planning on redoing the simplicity section within the next month).

      Thanks for dropping by and best of luck with your new book

      Steve

  19. Thank you! Yes – sorry, it’s only available as a paperback. However, Amazon just finished adding a “Look inside” preview that lets you read several pages online before buying it.

  20. What a fantastic list! Obviously room for debate, but a really great resource.

    My only issue was that it might be a sin to not have a book by Dave Ramsey on the finance/money list. His teaching/program changed my life and saved my finances.

    Thank you for putting this together!
    Adam

  21. Love your list. 2 books I’m currently reading and don’t see on your list. Fanatical Prospecting ~ Jeb Blount; The Seven Decisions ~ Andy Andrews. Also John Maxwell has several great books. Success Magazine website also has some great books. A couple of other great authors are John Addison; Larry Weidel. Hope this helps your list. Thank you for sharing your favorites.

  22. Dear SJ,

    This Resource that you have So Graciously provided is simply AMAZING!!
    What an astounding Gift! It is truly an awesome thing to me that, in addition to your own outstanding writing, that you would also take this vast amount of time to assist people to improve their lives in the most essential life elements.

    Truly, I am unable to sufficiently thank you for what you have done to help me … and indeed, the World, to grow as persons & to succeed in life! What could Possibly be more helpful and more GIVING than that?!

    Sincerely, Chuck

    • Thanks for the glowing endorsement Chuck! Really glad you like the list. I have been meaning too add to it and refresh it for 2017. Your kind words have added to my desire to revamp, add and improve this list.

  23. Amazing list. I really loved it. I think it helps us to improve myself. I believe that Book makes a man perfect if love it. Whatever do you know about the writer’s name of Joanna Bator? I really like his book. Can you add it to your book list? I think its look likes better. Thanks for sharing.

    Mardell

  24. Your list is certainly comprehensive. I value self-improvement books greatly and decided to write one myself. Willing Change, by Jane Collins, is about creating easier transitions, improvements, and productivity by changing your thoughts. Several self-improvement courses have been developed based on Willing Change as well for personal and professional development. It is available in ebook formats and I hope you check it out.

    Thanks for your time,
    Jane Vlasblom Collins

    • Jane thanks for sharing your book. I am currently redoing this entire list trying to add a lot of books and more value to the books on the list with short reviews for all books. So I will check out your book at *some* time in the future. Might be a bit though because I am trying to get a new sublist done every month…..and there are about 30 sublists I want to work on…lol

  25. These are good choices, and I have read many self-help books over the years. I wanted to take a different approach in writing my own: How to Fix Your Life in 30 Seconds: Tips for Better Living. I wanted to take a practical approach by giving people skills they may not have learned from their mom and dad.

  26. This is an awesome site,so glad i found it as im always listening to audible books. Thank you for all the work i imagine you put into making this site.
    One lot of books i found missing however are those on living with/managining chronic pain.I have chronic pain and am always on the lookout for more on subject.There are more on Amazon than Audible which is a pain as i cannot sit up and read. Any Audible books on subject of pain would be gratefully received. Once again…Good work!!

  27. Sometimes people feel that their life can not move forward, it is at that precise moment when, once the limit of the anguish and suffering is reached when the person begins to say to himself. When there is clarity and the type is recognized of difficulty, problem or conflict that is suffered, we can go to self-help.

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