The most recommended behavior modification books

Who picked these books? Meet our 37 experts.

37 authors created a book list connected to behavior modification, and here are their favorite behavior modification books.
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What type of behavior modification book?


Book cover of Don't Shoot the Dog: The Art of Teaching and Training

Stephen McGarvey Author Of Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior

From my list on the power of ideas and positive thinking.

Who am I?

I wasn’t always a reader. Diagnosed with a learning disorder in elementary school, I hated reading and school. Eventually, I discovered my passion for psychology, neurolinguistics, and persuasion and influence, and have now become a lifelong reader! Through my boutique consulting firm Solutions In Mind, my colleagues and I have been coaching executive teams to make the changes required to improve sales, organizational behavior, and communication. In my latest book, Ignite a Shift, I equip readers to think about how they and those around them think, feel and do. With greater awareness you’ll be able to better establish and meet your goals and persuade and influence others to do the same. 

Stephen's book list on the power of ideas and positive thinking

Stephen McGarvey Why did Stephen love this book?

This best-selling book, from the incredibly talented Karen Pryor, looks at behavior through a scientific and practical lens. When it comes to animals and humans, we aren’t that different in terms of our behavior and how it can be corrected positively. Through encouraging reinforcement, we can learn new ways of taking in and dealing with conflict in a more constructive way. I have found the methods suggested in this book extremely beneficial and have successfully incorporated them in my own life. 

By Karen Pryor,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Don't Shoot the Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Karen Pryor’s clear and entertaining explanation of behavioral training methods made Don’t Shoot the Dog a bestselling classic with revolutionary insights into animal—and human—behavior.

In her groundbreaking approach to improving behavior, behavioral biologist Karen Pryor says, “Whatever the task, whether keeping a four-year-old quiet in public, housebreaking a puppy, coaching a team, or memorizing a poem, it will go fast, and better, and be more fun, if you know how to use reinforcement.”

Now Pryor clearly explains the underlying principles of behavioral training and reveals how this art can be applied to virtually any common situation. And best of all,…

Book cover of How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism

Bodhipaksa Author Of This Difficult Thing of Being Human: The Art of Self-Compassion

From my list on finding and building compassion.

Who am I?

I went through a particularly hard time several years ago and to get through it I was forced to dig deep into what I’d learned about compassion and self-compassion over three decades of meditating. Because I’m a meditation teacher, I wanted to share with my students everything I learned about being kind and supportive toward myself as I went through the toughest challenges I’d ever faced so that they could benefit as well. That’s why I wrote This Difficult Thing of Being Human. Self-compassion has become the core of everything I’ve taught since then, and one of the wonderful things about it is that once you’ve shown yourself compassion, you automatically find yourself treating others with compassion too.

Bodhipaksa's book list on finding and building compassion

Bodhipaksa Why did Bodhipaksa love this book?

One of my favorite sayings (by G.K. Chesterton) is, “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” With these well-chosen words, Chesterton converted me to “imperfectionism.” It’s not that as imperfectionists we should aim to do things badly, but that we should aim to do necessary things and accept that we’re going to make mistakes on the way. Guise’s writing isn’t always elegant. However, he puts the case strongly that perfectionism is not something to humble-brag about, and is a “disorder of the mind.” More importantly, though, he offers detailed, practical, easy-to-implement steps for developing an imperfectionist mindset where we “lose our crippling fear of not doing [things] well.”

By Stephen Guise,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Be an Imperfectionist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From an early age, kids are taught to color inside the lines, and any color that strays outside the lines is considered to be a mistake that must be avoided. Perfectionism is a naturally limiting mindset. Imperfectionism, however, frees us to live outside the lines, where possibilities are infinite, mistakes are allowed, and self-judgment is minimal.The old way to approach perfectionism was to inspire people to “let go” of their need for perfection and hope they could do it. The new way is to show people how simple but highly strategic "mini actions” can empower them to gradually and effortlessly…

Book cover of Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure

Angie Clarke Author Of Sh*t Creek to Somewhere Else: The options to change even when all the odds are against you

From my list on how to instigate professional and personal change.

Who am I?

Helping others and getting help has been an integral part of my life and career. Over 30 years in the mental health world allowed me to explore many books, individuals and the simple ones are the best. They get to the core of change quickly which is vital sometimes to keep people alive. Supporting others is my passion and the truth is reading has allowed me to continue without burnout and some of my reading list are my go to books when this feels like it maybe coming.

Angie's book list on how to instigate professional and personal change

Angie Clarke Why did Angie love this book?

I love this book it recognises the dynamics we all play using the simple structure of the wind in the willows book to make and important point.

I read this every year without fail and if you have ever had a problem in your family about who is bossing you about and how to get through this as an adult then have a read.

By Robert de Board,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Counselling for Toads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Toad', the famous character in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows is in a very depressed state and his good friends Rat, Mole and Badger, are 'worried that he might do something silly'...
First they nursed him. Then they encouraged him. Then they told him to pull himself together... Finally, Badger could stand it no longer. That admirable animal, though long on exhortation, was short on patience.
'Now look here Toad, this can go on no longer', he said sternly. 'There is only one thing left. You must have counselling!'
Robert de Board's engaging account of Toad's experience of…

Book cover of Synanon Kid

Vennie Kocsis Author Of Cult Child

From my list on children growing up in cults.

Who am I?

Because I was brought up in a cult, I'm determined to serve as a voice for children. I'm an advocate for assisting children born into cults or taken into them in finding their true identities outside of the indoctrination they received. It's important to me that there is a network of support available to those who want to learn how to lead a balanced life. As a post-cult adult, I went on to study creative writing and art at the University of Tennessee. I have a deep appreciation for poetry as a form of expression, and I recommend using it as a method to work through the complex range of feelings.

Vennie's book list on children growing up in cults

Vennie Kocsis Why did Vennie love this book?

In this novel, which is set in the late 1970s, the protagonist, Celena, is abducted by two extremist women who are members of the Synanon cult. She would later find out that one of those women was her mother, whom she had not seen for more than two years at the time of the kidnapping. The culture of Synanon was one of abuse and deviation. This book packs a punch, and its story is an important one in the ongoing battle against cults that recruit parents to give over their children under the guise of improving their quality of life.

The accounts of survivors of the troubled teen industry are extremely upsetting due to the cultic practices of the industry, which include shunning, abuse, the use of forced labor, sexual assault, and more. It is essential to place a hold on this book because it provides one of the most…

By C.A. Wittman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Synanon Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I told you mothers do not matter here. We are all your mothers. Isn't that better than just having one?"

An ordinary weekend becomes surreal when Celena's mother, whom she has not seen for years, returns to claim her. Told that she is going to visit a place called Synanon, six-year-old Celena leaves her native Los Angeles on a bus for a secluded ranch setting in Northern California where the residents are strangely bald and dressed uniformly in overalls.

Coming to realize this eerie institution is to be her new home, Celena is ultimately forced to develop a new strength…

Book cover of Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Powerful, Practical Program for Parents of Children and Adolescents

Mark E. Crawford Author Of The Obsessive Compulsive Trap: Real Help for a Real Struggle

From my list on obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Who am I?

I’ve been a practicing clinical psychologist for over thirty years. I’ve seen many patients who have suffered from OCD – some to the point of being debilitated by their symptoms. Few things are as gratifying as helping someone overcome OCD and live a normal life. While the disorder can be confusing, once people understand what OCD is and how to treat it, they can literally change their lives for the better. This is why I went into this field to begin with, and after thirty years, I still feel privileged and grateful when I can help someone escape the prison of OCD symptoms. 

Mark's book list on obsessive-compulsive disorder

Mark E. Crawford Why did Mark love this book?

If you have a child who suffers from OCD, this is the only book you really need. Dr. Chansky is one of the nation’s experts in pediatric OCD, and this book is the most informative and practical book I have read on the subject. This book with help you understand OCD (how it presents, what causes it) and how to help your child overcome this disorder. 

By Tamar Chansky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you're a parent of one of the more than one million children in this country with obsessive-compulsive disorder, you know how confusing, even frightening, the symptoms of OCD can be. You're terrified of losing your child and angry about the havoc this disorder has wreaked in your family. More than anything, you want to be able to unlock the secrets of OCD, understand the cause of your child's bizarre symptoms, and help your child break free of these disruptive, relentless thoughts and actions.

In her landmark book, Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Dr. Tamar E. Chansky creates a…

Book cover of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life

Gregory Landsman Author Of Stop Stress Fast: 12 Quick, Proven Stress Relief Techniques to Help You Feel Good Everyday

From my list on managing stress naturally.

Who am I?

As a best selling author, TV host and global beauty and wellness expert, much of my career has been spent determining the best ways to look younger naturally. It turns out that many of the techniques I recommend to achieve younger looking skin, also reduce stress and the impacts of stress on the body. Having spent more than 30 years in the fashion and beauty industry I can say with absolute certainty that when it comes to the way we age; how we look cannot be separated from how we feel.

Gregory's book list on managing stress naturally

Gregory Landsman Why did Gregory love this book?

A wonderful little book that provides simple techniques for managing stress. In its simplicity it provides perspective to our daily stresses, reinforcing that much of what we stress about can often be easily managed.

By Richard Carlson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It's All Small Stuff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

So many of us would like to live our lives in a calmer and less stressful way, and be able to let go of our problems. This is the book that can show you how to stop letting the little things in life drive you crazy.

Dr Richard Carlson teaches us, in his gentle and encouraging style, simple strategies for living a more fulfilled and peaceful life.

We can all learn to put things in perspective, and by making the small daily changes he suggests, including surrendering to the fact that sometimes life isn't fair, and asking yourself, 'Will this…

Book cover of The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control: The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences

Andreas Killen Author Of Nervous Systems: Brain Science in the Early Cold War

From my list on the history of torture.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by this topic ever since the first newspaper stories exposing American involvement in torture began to appear in the early years of the so-called War on Terror. This fascination has persisted up to the present, as it remains clear – given recent accounts of Ron DeSantis’ time at Guantanamo – that this story refuses to die. Equally fascinating to me have been accounts revealing the extent to which this story can be traced back to the origins of the Cold War, to the birth of the National Security State, and to the alliance between that state and the professions (psychology and behavioral science) that spawned “enhanced interrogation.”

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

In the wake of Senate hearings into CIA scandals in the mid-1970s, former State Department official turned investigative reporter Marks used an FOIA request to gain access to a trove of agency files that he used to uncover the full story of the American intelligence community’s decade-long dive into research on LSD, hypnosis, and sensory deprivation during the first decade of the Cold war.

A marvelous example of how to uncover “secret history.” I also love the connections he draws between Fifties’ era mind control research and Sixties' era consciousness expansion.

By John D. Marks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Search for the Manchurian Candidate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 'Manchurian Candidate' is an unwitting assassin brainwashed and programmed to kill. In this book, former State Department officer John Marks tells the explosive story of the CIA's highly secret program of experiments in mind control. His curiosity first aroused by information on a puzzling suicide. Marks worked from thousands of pages of newly released documents as well as interviews and behavioral science studies, producing a book that 'accomplished what two Senate committees could not' (Senator Edward Kennedy).

Book cover of The Nurture Effect: How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives and Our World

Carlos A. Zuluaga Author Of The Wisdom Factor: Reducing the Control of Bias, Threat, and Fear while Building a Better World

From my list on inspiring personal growth.

Who am I?

I have been passionate about continuous learning and understanding why people act the way they do. The books I recommend cover the topic of continuous growth across different states and areas of life. 

Carlos' book list on inspiring personal growth

Carlos A. Zuluaga Why did Carlos love this book?

This is a wonderful book for any person that is inspired to enact change in their communities.

I especially like the action steps at the personal, institutional, and legislative levels at the end of the chapters. I found inspiration in the real-life examples of individuals using an evidence-based approach to the actions they take.

By Anthony Biglan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What if there were a way to prevent criminal behavior, mental illness, drug abuse, poverty, and violence? Written by behavioral scientist Tony Biglan, and based on his ongoing research at the Oregon Research Institute, The Nurture Effect offers evidence-based interventions that can prevent many of the psychological and behavioral problems that plague our society.

For decades, behavioral scientists have investigated the role our environment plays in shaping who we are, and their research shows that we now have the power within our own hands to reduce violence, improve cognitive development in our children, increase levels of education and income, and…

Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Havard Mela Author Of How to Thrive in the 21st Century: By Avoiding Porn and Other Distractions

From my list on porn addiction.

Who am I?

As someone who has felt the consequences of spending too much time online on distractions, I am compelled to share how much better life can be when we are conscious of the time we spend online. In my early twenties, I experienced digital addiction. I managed to turn things around by cultivating discipline and finding purpose in life. In the process, I developed a deep interest in neuroscience and psychology. My book explains how you can take conscious control of your life in a practical way based on my experience backed up by research.

Havard's book list on porn addiction

Havard Mela Why did Havard love this book?

This book is not a book that covers porn addiction, but it is a great book for understanding and creating new habits. This will be of great value to you if you want to stop watching porn.

I got a lot of value from reading this book; it is one of the books that can improve your life, no matter your situation. 

By James Clear,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Atomic Habits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller. Over 4 million copies sold!

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the…

Book cover of Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others

Maura Thomas Author Of Attention Management

From my list on to skyrocket your career.

Who am I?

I’ve spent my entire career working with people who have achieved impressive personal and professional success, but in a way that leaves them exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed. My passion is to help them see that exhaustion is optional, and they can offer their unique gifts to the world in a way that inspires and energizes them. The collection of books I’ve recommended here provide a wonderful starting point for some of the most common challenges I see my clients experiencing: distraction, overcoming unhelpful habits, stress and burnout, and the growing prevalence of remote work and distributed teams. This collection is for busy, driven professionals who are dedicated to personal growth.

Maura's book list on to skyrocket your career

Maura Thomas Why did Maura love this book?

Any kind of growth and improvement requires change. And change is hard! In the crowded field of books on habit change, Smart Change is a quiet standout. It’s one of the few on the topic written by an actual psychologist and the benefits of that are quickly apparent. But don’t be concerned it’s written like a textbook—it’s not. It’s relatable, interesting, and filled with easy, actionable ideas on changing any kind of habits and adopting lasting new behaviors that will feed your success. This is a book I refer to over and over again for both myself and my clients.

By Art Markman PhD,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smart Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An insightful guide that shows how habits of behavior are formed, and how we can transform bad habits into positive behaviors in ourselves and others.

Smart Change explores the psychological mechanisms that form and maintain habits in individuals and groups and offers real, accessible and actionable advice for changing habits. In an engaging narrative, Markman covers a wide range of habits, from individual behaviors like eating better and exercising regularly to work-related behaviors such as learning effectively and influencing customers’ purchases. He proposes that there are five effective tools to help individuals change behavior and to help people influence the…