The best self-help books I wish I’d read sooner

Who am I?

I’ve been on a quest of healing my childhood trauma for decades. Now I’m living with gratitude and a zest for life. Let my research help you on your own unique journey. Since you’re reading this, it may be the exact time for you to move forward on your self-actualization trip! Here’s a tip: You don’t need “improvement.” You’re already good – you just need help to find it inside and believe it. Here are 5 books that helped me accept myself, made me think differently about others, and opened new possibilities for happiness and peace. 

I wrote...

Parenting Well After Childhood Abuse: Be a Great Parent Even if Yours Were Crap

By Geanne Meta,

Book cover of Parenting Well After Childhood Abuse: Be a Great Parent Even if Yours Were Crap

What is my book about?

When I had kids, I needed to learn everything about how to be a better parent. This is a parenting book based on that knowledge and a lot of thought into what children need. Most of the challenges are universal to any parents who want to do a good job for their kids: understanding your child’s perspective, building self-esteem, teaching values, keeping them safe, dealing with teenagers, and much more.

There’s also practical information on how to recognize and heal your childhood wounds once and for all. I want to help other survivors to thrive. It begins by believing that it was never your fault.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Voices We Carry: Finding Your One True Voice in a World of Clamor and Noise

Why did I love this book?

I love the way the author uses honest stories to impart valuable life lessons. He humbly shares what a jerk he had been and how he learned to be more tolerant and loving in relationships.

As a hospital chaplain he hears intimate life stories and often, dying wishes. This is where such profound wisdom comes from, I believe. God is mentioned a few times but there is no judgment or preaching from this guy.

I highlighted so much in this book I almost ran out of ink! I will be going back whenever I need inspiration.

By J. S. Park,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Voices We Carry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reclaim Your Headspace and Find Your One True Voice

As a hospital chaplain, J.S. Park encountered hundreds of patients at the edge of life and death, listening as they urgently shared their stories, confessions, and final words. J.S. began to identify patterns in his patients’ lives—patterns he also saw in his own life. He began to see that the events and traumas we experience throughout life become deafening voices that remain within us, even when the events are far in the past. He was surprised to find that in hearing the voices of his patients, he began to identify his…

Book cover of The Good Human: 9 Radical Practices to Smash Your Ego, Unleash Your Authentic Self, and Foster Connection in a Divided World

Why did I love this book?

In a no-nonsense way, the author points out humans’ flawed thinking and ego-driven way of life proving that changes need to happen to find true happiness. She offers simple steps to recognize and deal with these flaws—acknowledging that it won't be easy. 

Because of this book, I’m interacting differently with other people! I’m trying to be grateful for everyday things, listen actively, be curious instead of reacting, and look inward when I feel triggered. This book will help you work toward empathy with people different from you, which is so important in this divisive world.

By Dawn K. Hammer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Good Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes a good human?

Who deserves to be called good, and who doesn’t? When did we start believing our ideas about goodness? And does being good ultimately even matter?

In The Good Human, author Dawn K. Hammer extends an invitation to dive deep into our own inner landscapes to re-discover the inherent goodness residing there. Her simple, yet profound, practices guide readers to gently question the thoughts, beliefs, and ideologies that may be keeping them stuck in fear rather than acting from love, and furthering divisions rather than fostering connections.

The Good Human teaches you how to:

Take ownership…

Book cover of The Cafe on the Edge of the World

Why did I love this book?

This is easy to read adventure about a regular guy who takes a wrong turn and ends up at the Café of Questions. John meets characters who alternately confuse and help him find his way. The questions will make you think – and maybe rethink your choices about what’s really important to you.

By John Strelecky,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Cafe on the Edge of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gifted by millions to those they love. The simple yet profoundly life changing story for anyone struggling to find their place in life. Seven time winner- Bestseller of the Year.

In a small cafe at a location so remote it stands in the middle of the middle of nowhere, a visitor finds three unusual questions on the back of a menu.

Why are you here?

Do you fear death?

Are you fulfilled?

With this food for thought and the guidance of three people at the cafe, the visitor embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way discovering a new…

Book cover of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Why did I love this book?

You may have heard of this one or even read it before. I recommend a refresh! These seemingly simple agreements with yourself are not always easy to put into practice. If we all pursue the work of these lessons, our worlds will be more peaceful, stress-free, compassionate to self and others, and lived with childlike wonder.

By Don Miguel Ruiz,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Four Agreements as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

•  A New York Times bestseller for over a decade
•  Translated into 46 languages worldwide
“This book by don Miguel Ruiz, simple yet so powerful, has made a tremendous difference in how I think and act in every encounter.” — Oprah Winfrey

“Don Miguel Ruiz’s…

Book cover of Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

Why did I love this book?

This book, and a couple of seminars with Byron Katie, really did change my life! I was stuck in negative thinking and couldn’t seem to get out of it. She offers a straightforward method to challenge your thoughts and turn them around to other possibilities. It‘s almost magical how your hurtful beliefs can be changed into accepting “the way it is” without the hurt.

Get this book and get some relief from whatever is bothering you. Truly.

By Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Loving What Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the truth hiding behind troubling thoughts with Byron Katie’s self-help classic.

In 2003, Byron Katie first introduced the world to The Work with the publication of Loving What Is. Nearly twenty years later, Loving What Is continues to inspire people all over the world to do The Work; to listen to the answers they find inside themselves;and to open their minds to profound, spacious, and life-transforming insights. The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light.

Loving What Is shows you step…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in self help, Manhattan, and self-actualization?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about self help, Manhattan, and self-actualization.

Self Help Explore 1,400 books about self help
Manhattan Explore 105 books about Manhattan
Self-Actualization Explore 161 books about self-actualization

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Half Broken Things, Good Strategy Bad Strategy, and Be Here Now if you like this list.