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21 Best Self-Improvement Books That’ll Truly Change Your Life

Self-help books are the IT thing at the moment. Here’s our handpicked list of the 21 best self-improvement books to help you figure out your life. 

best self-improvement books

Reading is an essential part of our self-care routine at YMHP, and the best self-development books are right at the center of our ‘to-read’ list

Now, what makes the best self-improvement books for you can be pretty subjective, depending on your needs, goals, and maybe just how your brain works. But we can all agree that they work as a much-needed catalyst for positive change.

Whether you need advice on relationships, career, finance, mental health, and almost anything under the sun – there are good self-help books out there for you.

But while we love personal development books, we also recognize that they have a complicated reputation. 

People have time and again questioned the effectiveness of the top self-help books. Moreover, with the amount of unhelpful products masquerading as the ultimate solution to all your problems, the societal understanding of the genre has changed. The scenario is so bad that even the best-selling self-help books are deemed embarrassing and something that you should buy incognito and devour in secrecy. 

So, in the middle of this noise, how do you find good self-help books that actually work? Well, we have got you covered. We sifted through the online catalogs of the best self-improvement books in the market and have compiled our favorite recommendations. Let’s dive in!

21 Best Self-Help Books To Read In 2024

You might be skeptical about investing in any of the best-rated self-help books. However, your skepticism comes from the unrealistic expectations you set with a self-help book. 

Isn’t it a bit impractical and unfair to expect any of the best-selling self-help books of all time to solve all our problems? This is why we need you to approach our list with an open mind. So, you might not find a step-by-step guide to tackle all your problems, but you’ll have a fresh perspective and a more robust set of tools to help you move ahead. 

Here are the four unexpected ways in which our list of the best self-improvement books will help you:

1. They will help you identify negative thought patterns, set realistic goals, and identify healthy coping mechanisms.

2. These best-rated self-help books will allow you to shift your perspective toward positivity. 

3. They will enable you to look at things from a broader perspective rather than obsessing over specific mistakes or goals.

4. Finally, they will introduce you to a community of people dealing with similar issues. 

Let’s dive in!

1. Me vs Brain: An Overthinker’s Guide to Life By Hayley Morris

best self-development books

Read for: Learning how to break the toxic rut of overthinking

The Big Idea: Accept your racing thoughts and befriend your overthinking brain rather than fighting it. 

If you have TikTok or Instagram on your phone, you know who Hayley Morris is. She’s the exceptional comic who has made us laugh throughout the lockdown. Her near-hysterical and funny take on overthinking made her an Internet sensation. And truth be told, Hayley, we love you. You make us feel seen and heard. You make us feel normal, and that’s why Me vs. Brain is one of the best self-improvement books on our list.

It normalizes overthinking and helps you understand its impact on people’s lives. And the best part is that this book covers many topics – puberty, acne, dating, and much more. 

2. Joy at Work By Marie Kondo And Scott Sonenshein

best self-help books

Read for: Simplifying and giving structure to your professional life.  

The Big Idea: You can only spark genuine joy and motivation in your work life if you keep things in order. 

We all love Marie Kondo from her popular Netflix series, where she encouraged families to ditch the clutter from their homes to embrace a better life. In this one from our list of the best self-development books, she teams with psychologist Scott Sonenshein to explore the benefits of decluttering for your professional life. 

With the number of incomplete tasks on our overflowing to-do lists, Joy at Work is one of the top self-help books to organize your work life and find the long-lost spark in it. We all wish we could get Marie Kondo to streamline our lives. But since that’s a long shot, this book is your second-best option. 

3. The Checklist Manifesto By Atul Gawande

best self-help books

Read for: Learning the art of self-control and discipline

The Big Idea: Checklists are one of the most surprising yet beneficial ways to learn self-discipline. 

Almost every aspect of our lives – personal to professional – is getting increasingly complicated daily. Combine it with the digital boom, and there’s every bit of chance you are currently distracted from your life goals. Much of this is due to the persistent lack of self-discipline, a quality we have collectively forgotten as a generation. 

This is precisely why The Checklist Manifesto is one of the most important and life-changing personal development books of our time. It explains how a simple checklist created with the right plan can make you the unconventional hero of the modern age. 

In this book, you will learn how checklists can boost your self-discipline and keep you on track for your life goals.

4. Autobiography Of A Face By Lucy Grealy

personal development books

Read for: Gaining a fresh perspective on beauty standards and self-acceptance.

The Big Idea: True beauty lies in accepting yourself just as you are. 

Autobiography Of A Face is one of the top self-improvement books, and it just gets more relevant each day. The narrative is set around the life of Grealy, who is diagnosed with cancer in her jawbone when she’s just nine years old. It traverses the journey of her medical treatment, where doctors remove a considerable part of her jaw, which leads to a sinking of her face. 

In a day and age where everyone is obsessed with the concept of image, this best-selling self-improvement book is a must-read for everyone. Grealy recalls the two decades of her life when she fought body-image issues. But she outgrows her issues to understand the power and position she holds in the world.

This one makes it to our list of the best self-improvement books of all time because of the whole journey of Grealy, from a child who struggled to love herself to an adult who could love others (and accept the same love in return) has never been more relevant than now. 

5. The Highly Sensitive Person By Elaine N. Aron

personal development books

Read for: Embracing the whole spectrum of your emotions

The Big Idea: Your emotions are never a sign of weakness. They are proof that you are capable of experiencing everything that’s happening around you.

If you have ever identified yourself as a sensitive person, this is one of the most important best-selling self-improvement books for you. If you are confused about whether you are a sensitive person in the first place, it contains a complete checklist in the beginning to help you figure it out. 

The Highly Sensitive Person is one of the top self-help books to help you unload your emotional baggage and stop looking at your vulnerabilities as a sign of weakness. It also explains the biological concept of sensitivity and enables you to devise healthy coping mechanisms for your emotions. 

6. The Little Book Of Hygge’ By Meik Wiking

personal development books

Read for: A blueprint on how to live your happiest life

The Big Idea: The happiness that small things bring to our lives is underrated. 

You might love your bed, pillow, comforter, lamp, and whatnot. But you’ll never understand how much these small and seemingly inconsequential things contribute to your overall happiness and well-being until you read this best-selling self-help book. 

The physical comfort of a good meal, hot coffee, warm blanket, etc., is underrated but incredibly important to our lives. The Little Book Of Hygge celebrates small pleasures and is a definitive guide to being genuinely happy

7. ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’ By Matt Haig

top self-improvement books

Read for: Tips on how to survive in the 21st century 

The Big Idea: The 21st century is doing an unhealthy number on our mental health. The only way forward is to prioritize your well-being and understand your limitations. 

If you constantly struggle with bouts of anxiety in today’s world, this is one of the best self-improvement books of all time for you. Matt compares the planet’s state and people’s mental health to help you find a way out of this vicious cycle of stress and worry. 

The book jumps from one topic to another by identifying the problem, giving workable and accessible solutions, and sometimes just providing a list of hopeful things to remember.

8. Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us by Russ Roberts

top self-improvement books

Read for:  Improving your decision-making process

The Big Idea: For solving complex and wild problems, embrace the chaos and go for the simple solutions. 

We all have rational problems with definitive ‘how-to’ answers, like finance, career goals, etc. But what about the wild problems – the ones that follow no algorithm and linear trajectory? What about marriage, having children, or shifting countries? 

These decisions need more than just a random pros and cons list. And that’s why Wild Problems is one of the best self-help books to read in 2024.

This book breaks down some of the most incredible people navigating similar territories like you and the process through which they came to a decision. Moreover, it helps you combat the fear of making these tough choices.  

9. How To Do Nothing By Jenny Odell

best-selling self-improvement books

Read for: Learning how to resist the attention economy 

The Big Idea: Attention is our most precious resource, and capitalism is up in arms trying to capture it. 

How To Do Nothing is more than one of the best-selling self-improvement books. It’s less about how to sit idle while doing nothing and more about why we feel irked when we aren’t doing anything. 

Hint: it’s got a lot to do with our attention and the constant ways capitalism is trying to cash on it. 

This self-help book is all about ditching the age-old idea of constantly trying to get something done all the time. Instead, it tells you to focus more on your immediate environment and be more present. If you are looking to release the pressure of hustle culture or expand your mindfulness – How To Do Nothing is one of the best self-growth books for both. 

10. Conversations on Love: with Philippa Perry, Dolly Alderton, Roxane Gay, Stephen Grosz, Esther Perel, and many more By Natasha Lunn

best-selling self-help books

Read for: Relationship advice.

The Big Idea: Explores the idea of love and relationships across the spectrum – from parental to romantic, friendships, and self-love

Readers of Conversations on Love share that this book has changed the whole concept of love in their lives. It is one of the top self-help books to better understand love and relationships through the lens of your beloved authors. 

Natasha, a journalist who has struggled with love her whole life, ventures to understand the concept through the lives of multiple authors. What follows is an inspirational, philosophical, and enlightening journey that will teach so much about love. 

The book explores topics of gender, sex, social expectations, etc. And trust us when we say you’ll want to highlight every word. 

11. Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent, And Lead, By Brené Brown

best self-improvement books of all time

Read for: Valuable lessons on compassion and courage.

The Big Idea: Vulnerability is not weakness. It is, in fact, the measure of your courage and power in the world. 

Brown is the undisputed queen of the self-help genre, and we are not complaining. In this one from our list of the best personal development books, she explains vulnerability and how you can derive strength from it. She challenges the cultural notion that sees vulnerability as a weakness. 

She goes on to explain how vulnerability breeds both positive and negative emotions. So, if you shut off your vulnerable self, you cannot feel the experiences that bring true joy and happiness to your life. And while letting yourself out there is scary, there’s nothing as bad as never feeling it all. 

12. The Body Keeps the Score By Bessel van der Kolk

best self-improvement books of all time

Read for: Understanding the impact of trauma

The Big Idea: Trauma affects your body and brain. It affects your ability to process emotions and feel happiness, pleasure, and other emotions. 

If you have ever wanted to know how trauma is stored in your body and brain, this is one of the best self-improvement books for you. It gives you deep insight into how trauma affects your body and everyday reactions in life. 

It’s an extremely slow and very heavy book. Most of it is due to the processing you do while reading it. As you move through the book, you get an understanding of some of your reactions from the past that might have felt instinctive but weren’t. 

Apart from trauma, the book also explores alternative treatment options for those dealing with the condition. At the fundamental level, it dives into the relationships between hurting and healing. 

13. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone By Lori Gottlieb

best self-improvement books of all time

Read for: Understanding the impact of therapy and professional help

The Big Idea: We constantly tell ourselves lies about how well we are doing. But it’s only when you hit rock bottom that you understand the impact of these lies.

Lori Gottlieb is a clinical therapist. However, certain life events make her end up on the opposite side of the therapist’s couch. So, along with a doctor’s qualifications, she has the experience of being a patient. That way, she provides a refreshing perspective on therapy.

If you have ever felt like therapy is not for you, this is one of the best-rated self-help books for you. It explores the power of therapy and how it can literally change your life. 

14. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

best self-help books to read in 2024

Read for: Rethinking your attitude and beliefs about failure, happiness, and uncertainty. 

The Big Idea: While happiness is defined by success and control, it’s mostly an overly glorified idea. True happiness can be achieved by accepting failures, lack of control, uncertainty, and fears – the very things you spend your life avoiding.  

If you are very skeptical about the whole idea of self-help books, this is one of the best self-improvement books for you.

Oliver Burkeman argues that intentionally wanting to make yourself happy might be counterproductive to the whole process. Therefore, if you’re not inherently positive, embracing and processing the negativity can be really good for you. 

Therefore, it’s one of the good self-help books for the cynics out there. But you would want to distance yourself from it if you’re naturally optimistic. 

15. Digital Minimalism By Cal Newport

best self-help books to read in 2024

Read for: Learning how to be more focused.

The Big Idea: Digital minimalism is a new-age philosophy for the technological world. It focuses on the conscious usage of devices.

Cal Newport is one of the modern world’s most influential and important thinkers. Digital Minimalism is one of the most relevant and essential personal development books of all time. 

The core idea of digital minimalism is to reject and reduce the dependence on technology. Cal tells you to cut down on non-important technology and spend time reconnecting with your values and beliefs. Once you have outlined your values and goals, it’s time to reintroduce technology into your life. But it should only be the ones that help you reach your goals. 

16. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? By Dr Julie Smith

self-growth books

Read for: Mental health advice. 

The Big Idea: Positive thinking does not come easily to people. Therefore, exploring the roots of your stress and anxiety is essential.

This is one of the most popular best-selling self-improvement books on the list. Dr Julie Smith has been a TikTok sensation, and with every page of this book, she is out to make your life better.

Packed with insightful advice and stories, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before offers practical tools to build resilience and manage your mental health. The best part about Julie’s writing is that it’s incredibly relatable, accessible, and warm. Therefore, it’s sure to connect with your heart and make you feel better. 

17. Wisdom from a Humble Jellyfish By Rani Shah

top self-help books

Read for: Life-changing self-care advice. 

The Big Idea: We can learn a lot from the plant and animal kingdom about self-care practices.

Turns out, there’s a lot that a small jellyfish can teach about taking care of yourself. 

Wisdom from a Hubble Jellyfish is a beautifully illustrated guide about the life of this small but highly energy-efficient creature. It also looks into the life of an avocado tree and the sloth. Simply put – it helps you draw important life lessons and self-care tips from the plant and animal kingdom.

And it gives you this newfound appreciation and love for the world around you. Not a bad deal, right? That’s precisely why it’s one of our favorite self-growth books. 

18. The Comfort Book By Matt Haig

top self-help books

Read for: A literal hug for all the hard times. 

The Big Idea: The tough times will eventually pass. 

Our love for Matt Haig is endless, so this list has another book from him. The Comfort Book was one of the best-selling self-help books the year it was released and an instant hit worldwide. 

It’s neither a self-help novel nor a memoir. It’s a collection of random little messages that are meant to provide you with a sense of comfort. The comfort book has everything from comfort food and books to inspirational stories and much more.

Haig conveys a simple message that the tiniest amount of hope is essential. Short and simply written, Comfort Book is the novel you can keep returning to on your hard days.

19. Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy By Whitney Goodman

 good self-help books

Read for: A complete guide on how to own up to your emotions. 

The Big Idea: Toxic positivity can be disastrous for your well-being. Acceptance and authenticity are the keys to a truly healthy life. 

In today’s times, it constantly feels like we are almost pressured to be happy. If you dare be sad, you are labeled toxic. And this is what Goodman wants to change. Toxic Positivity is one of the best self-development books that explore the harmful impact of this pressure – from anxiety to burnout and so on.

On the flip side, Goodman also explores how you can genuinely own up to your emotions and be true to yourself. 

20. Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

best personal development books

Read for: Practical advice on how to be more decisive. 

The Big Idea: Every decision you make has a hint of luck that’s beyond your control. Therefore, the key to good division is bets. 

As humans, we are terrible at being wrong. And it’s acceptable because it feels so damn good to be right. But after playing poker for years, Annie has understood that if you think you are on the right track, you are about to mess up.

And that’s what she is trying to teach the world in this practical self-growth book. Annie tells us that thinking in bets, evaluating how much you know and don’t know, and letting go of the urge to control everything are the keys to your well-being. It increases your chances of making a good decision and also reduces any knee-jerk reactions or negative responses if things don’t go your way. 

21. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom By Don Miguel Ruiz

 best-rated self-help books

Read for: A fresh perspective on modern life.

The Big Idea: Accepting the self-limiting beliefs of society will only lead to suffering. Breaking from these toxic ideas is the only way forward. 

Don Miguel was a former surgeon who entered the world of spirituality after having a near-death experience. In The Four Agreements, one of the best-selling self-improvement books of all time, he advocates the need to shed societal boundaries and definitions of who you should be.

This book contains essential life lessons about various issues, but the core values focus on freedom, happiness, and inner peace. 

Conclusion:

Self-growth books are an important part of your self-care journey. They can help you initiate tough conversations, outline problems, and chalk out healthy coping mechanisms. 

We hope this list of the best self-improvement books of all time will help you find the perfect one for you.

Not a books person? Don’t worry! We have got you covered. Here are the best self-improvement podcasts to help you become the best version of yourself. To continue learning about personal development and mental health, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.

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