The best personality books

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to personality, and here are their favorite personality books.
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What type of personality book?


The Four Tendencies

By Gretchen Rubin,

Book cover of The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)

Mel Jolly Author Of Becoming Future You

From the list on becoming a better you in the new year.

Who am I?

In 2014 I finally came to the realization that I had become the most negative person I knew. I couldn't stand being that whiney, unhappy person anymore. So even though I didn't know how I was going to do it, I made a no-turning-back decision to kill off Negative Past Mel and become Positive Future Mel. The first step in my how was a book that taught me how to create a morning routine. That book saved me and set me on a path of personal growth and development and helped me take my first steps forward to becoming a version of Future Mel I actually enjoy being!

Mel's book list on becoming a better you in the new year

Discover why each book is one of Mel's favorite books.

Why did Mel love this book?

As far as books that help you understand yourself go, this one is at the top of my list! I never understood why I was so resistant to the pressure of others, why accountability buddies didn’t work for me (even though they worked so well for other people), and why my husband was always so insistent about following the rules! Understanding that my superpower is asking great questions is what ultimately led me to coaching and writing my own book. I promise knowing more about how you respond to expectations will help you in so many ways.

By Gretchen Rubin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



Everyone falls into 1 of 4 personality types and knowing yours could make you happier and more successful. During her investigation to understand human nature, explored most recently in her bestselling Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin realised that by asking the seemingly dry question 'How do I respond to expectations?' we gain life changing self-knowledge.

She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behaviour, so using this framework allows us to…


By Daniel Nettle,

Book cover of Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are

Mark Jabbour Author Of Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate

From the list on understand personality and who you are.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a talker. In the fourth grade my teacher, L. Wood, wrote on my report card, “Mark is a good worker. He is well adjusted and is well-liked in the classroom and on the playground. Mark needs to control himself when he likes to speak out too frequently.” Some things (personality) never change. Now, sixty years later with the help of my doctor, I’m working on it. I've been trying to understand myself, and others for most of my life. Using Nettle's descriptors I could be called a confident, callous, Poet Wanderer. Now, in my seventies, and having written three books about it - I'm beginning to get it.

Mark's book list on understand personality and who you are

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

This book is the best description of the general consensus of personality today. The book describes the concept of OCEAN, or the Big Five personality indicators. OCEAN stands for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

I like this book because it's not overdone. Nettle simplifies the complex - the Big Five. Chapter headings are: "Wanderers"; "Worriers"; "Controllers"; "Empathizers"; and "Poets". One word descriptors for persons who typically represent each trait.

Nettle does go into detail about clusters of traits and behaviors that characterize each type. Extroverts are Wanderers, generally optimistic, positive, and adventuresome. Introverts are aloof and can be Worriers, generally pessimistic, negative, and risk-averse. Or said another way - stay-at-homes, stick-in-the-muds, grounded individuals who could be happy being the way they are.

The one-word descriptors along with their opposites can be a fun and useful way to think about people. Such as novelist Lee Child's protagonist, Jack Reacher. Reacher…

By Daniel Nettle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why do some people seem good at empathising, and others at controlling? We have something deep and consistent within us that determines the choices we make and the situations we bring about. But why should members of the same species differ so markedly in their natures? What is the best personality to have; a bold one or a shy one, an aggressive one or a meek one? And are you stuck with your personality, or can you
change it?

Daniel Nettle takes the reader on a tour through the science of human…


By Angela Duckworth,

Book cover of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Dave Liu Author Of The Way of the Wall Street Warrior: Conquer the Corporate Game Using Tips, Tricks, and Smartcuts

From the list on hacking your career that aren’t boring.

Who am I?

I am a 30-year veteran who has achieved success in three industries: Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. I rose to the top of Wall Street, arguably one of the most grueling professional work environments in the world. I want to share the tips that helped me reach financial success with anyone who feels disadvantaged in the corporate game (i.e., women, people of color). My book leans heavily on research into cognitive biases and human nature, but focuses almost exclusively on actionable ideas. It is high on practical, often offbeat, tactics with an emphasis on gamesmanship, and is accessible to any reader, working at any job, due to its humorous, irreverent, satirical tone.

Dave's book list on hacking your career that aren’t boring

Discover why each book is one of Dave's favorite books.

Why did Dave love this book?

As someone who went through tremendous hardship early in life, I can attest to the power of grit and resiliency.

This book does a great job highlighting one of the key superpowers I developed which propelled me in my career: developing thick skin!

Reading this book will help you develop strategies for how to do this for yourself!

By Angela Duckworth,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In this must-read for anyone seeking to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth takes us on an eye-opening journey to discover the true qualities that lead to outstanding achievement. Winningly personal, insightful and powerful, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that - not talent or luck - makes all the difference.

'Impressively fresh and original' Susan Cain

Me, Myself, and Us

By Brian R. Little,

Book cover of Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being

Christian Jarrett Author Of Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

From the list on achieving lasting personal change.

Who am I?

I'm a psychologist and neuroscientist and I've been writing for the public about all things mind and behaviour for more than two decades. Something I've noticed in that time is that the question people want to know the answer to, perhaps more than any other, is how much we can ever truly change, deep down. After all, self-help advice is seemingly endless, but does any of it really work, or are we ultimately destined to always revert to type? That's what motivated me to begin delving into the latest science of personality – defined by psychology as the habits of emotion, behaviour, and thought that make us who we are.

Christian's book list on achieving lasting personal change

Discover why each book is one of Christian's favorite books.

Why did Christian love this book?

The author is a psychology professor and a leading populariser of personality psychology. His book will give you a great overview of the most widely endorsed model of personality, which is based on the so-called Big Five traits, including extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness. Little is also renowned for his research into 'personal projects' – the goals you have that are meaningful to you. What I particularly took away from this book is how these projects feedback and shape your personality. So, if you want to have more control over who you are and will become, it is worth thinking about the goals that you are pursuing in life – whether they are satisfying and how they might be influencing you.

By Brian R. Little,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Me, Myself, and Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How does your personality shape your life , and what, if anything, can you do about it?Are you hardwired for happiness, or born to brood? Do you think you're in charge of your future, or do you surf the waves of unknowable fate? Would you be happier, or just less socially adept, if you were less concerned about what other people thought of you? And what about your Type A" spouse: is he or she destined to have a heart attack, or just drive you to drink?In the past few decades, new scientific research has transformed old ideas about the…

Book cover of The Origins and History of Consciousness

Thomas T. Lawson Author Of Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind

From the list on C.J. Jung and the evolution of culture.

Who am I?

A certain idea kept cropping up in my reading, triggered perhaps by Richard Dawkins's conception in The Selfish Gene, of the “meme.” It seemed that the meme had a life of its own. Then I came across Richerson’s and Boyd’s Not by Genes Alone, and they laid it out: cultures evolve. And they evolve independently of the genes—free of genetic constraints in an idea or thought to contribute to its own survival. That is up to the multitude of people who happen to come across it. I now have a new book readying for publication: How Cognition, Language, Myth, and Culture Came Together To Make Us What We Are.

Thomas' book list on C.J. Jung and the evolution of culture

Discover why each book is one of Thomas' favorite books.

Why did Thomas love this book?

Of seminal importance to an understanding of the world is the conception of a collective unconscious grounded in inheritable archetypes. These evolve: how could it be otherwise—everything in nature evolves. And that means that our consciousness, too, evolves. Its evolution is, in a sense, teleological: from the less conscious to the more consciousness. This is to say that the evolution of the archetypes permits the increasing distillation of consciousness from the vastness of the collective unconscious. I believe that language, which is indivisible from consciousness, did not begin to materialize until about 10,000 BC. I may have been virtually alone in this view, but computerized models of evolutionary linguists today suggest that the key to language capability may have been enfolded in our make-up from our earliest beginnings.

By Erich Neumann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Origins and History of Consciousness draws on a full range of world mythology to show how individual consciousness undergoes the same archetypal stages of development as human consciousness as a whole. Erich Neumann was one of C. G. Jung's most creative students and a renowned practitioner of analytical psychology in his own right. In this influential book, Neumann shows how the stages begin and end with the symbol of the Uroboros, the tail-eating serpent. The intermediate stages are projected in the universal myths of the World Creation, Great Mother, Separation of the World Parents, Birth of the Hero, Slaying…

Book cover of A Primer of Freudian Psychology

Richard E. Nisbett Author Of Thinking: A Memoir

From the list on thinking.

Who am I?

Richard Nisbett is one of the world’s preeminent psychologists. His thinking is primarily about thought, but it is extremely wide-ranging – from biopsychology to social psychology to criminology to philosophy. His influence on philosophy has been compared to that of Freud and Skinner.

Richard's book list on thinking

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

This book gives an excellent overview of Freud’s thoughts about human psychology, and also shows the way he thought. Freud’s brilliance shines through. I hasten to say most, though not by any means all of his hypotheses are wrong. I read this book at 15 and knew when I finished it I was going to be a psychologist. Some of my work gives strong support to a few of his hypotheses about the unconscious. Ironically, Freud himself didn’t believe his ideas could be tested by psychology experiments.

By Calvin S. Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Primer of Freudian Psychology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Culled from forty years of writing by the founder of psychoanalysis, A Primer Of Freudian Psychology introduces Freud's theories on the dynamics and development of the human mind. Hall also provides a brief biography of Sigmund Freud and examines how he arrived at his groundbreaking conclusions. In discussing the elements that form personality, the author explains the pioneer thinker's ideas on defense mechanisms, the channeling of instinctual drives, and the role of sex in male and female maturation. Lucid, illuminating, and instructive, this is an important book for all who seek to understand human behavior, in themselves and others.

The Desire Factor

By Christy Whitman,

Book cover of The Desire Factor: How to Embrace Your Materialistic Nature to Reclaim Your Full Spiritual Power

Kelly Weaver Author Of Living Your Own Aloha: 5 Steps to Manifesting Your Dreams

From the list on manifesting and attracting your dreams and desires.

Who am I?

I am and always will be a teacher. For the past 25 years, I dedicated my life to inspiring students to achieve their goals and manifest their dreams. I finally decided to take my own advice and listen to the calling that has been ringing louder and louder over the years. I used my gifts to become a certified Law of Attraction coach, reiki practitioner, and Tarot reader. While I may have left the academic classroom, I was called to the world classroom. As an author, speaker, coach, and healer, I awaken the manifestation superpower that exists in all of us.

Kelly's book list on manifesting and attracting your dreams and desires

Discover why each book is one of Kelly's favorite books.

Why did Kelly love this book?

Finally, an author who gives me permission to have anything materialistically that I desire and not feel guilty about wanting it! Growing up in a religious household, I was taught that it was selfish to want anything that exceeded my physical needs. In fact, desire is part of human nature, and it is a necessary step in the manifestation process. This book explores 7 Universal Principles to manifest any desire one has. The key is to become a master of your own energy.  

By Christy Whitman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How to Master Your Energy so You Can Have What You Desire

Christy Whitman, transformational leader, founder of the Quantum Success Coaching Academy, and channel for The Divine Council unfolds the precise steps for bringing about the manifestation of any desire. 

The book is built around 7 Universal Principles for tapping into the divine energy stream that is the source of all things so that you can have more peace, prosperity, and joy.

The Desire Factor shows you how to master your energy so you can create a life that you love despite what’s going on around you.

When you…

Book cover of Alfred Adler's Basic Concepts and Implications

Laurie Stevens Author Of In Twilight's Hush

From the list on psychological thrillers as demented self-help.

Who am I?

I suppose I’ve asked myself the question, “Why do people do bad things?” I became passionate about exploring the bleak side of the human condition. It wasn’t always a joy ride, I assure you. I’ve read many books and done hours and hours of research online. What I couldn’t garner from books and the Internet, I sought from the professionals. I even had the opportunity to interview one of the premier forensic psychiatrists in the world, Dr. Ronald Markman. He’s the guy who determines who is “competent to stand trial” and he’s interviewed the most infamous. His book, Alone with the Devil, would be my 6th book to recommend. 

Laurie's book list on psychological thrillers as demented self-help

Discover why each book is one of Laurie's favorite books.

Why did Laurie love this book?

I stumbled upon this book when I researched the psychology behind my first novel (the protagonist goes to therapy sessions). Although most psychologists follow Jung, I decided to make the therapist in my book an Adlerian psychologist. Why? Because Adler studied the criminal mind and posed interesting theories of how we follow a “faulty pattern of life” set forth from the time we are children. Kids develop defense mechanisms that allow them to cope with a given situation (violent parent, cloying parent, bullying at school, etc.) The problem is, as the kids grow up, they forget that these “patterns” they’ve cultivated were based on survival and may not guide them in the right direction. To be happy, people may have to rewire their brains. Good stuff! And I used the heck out of it. 

By Robert W. Lundin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alfred Adler's Basic Concepts and Implications as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1989. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

To Have or to Be?

By Erich Fromm,

Book cover of To Have or to Be?

Steve Taylor Author Of Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation

From the list on spiritual psychology.

Who am I?

I’m a spiritual psychologist who investigates areas such as spiritual experiences, personal transformation, near-death experiences, and psi. I also write spiritual poetry. I had spiritual experiences (feelings of euphoria, harmony, and connection to my surroundings) as a teenager and always wondered why they occurred, how common they were in others, and whether they could become permanent. I became involved in the field of transpersonal psychology (which really is spiritual psychology) largely because I wanted to answer those questions. I see myself as an explorer of “the farther reaches of human nature” (in Abraham Maslow’s phrase). I’ve written many books about my explorations, including The Leap, Spiritual Science, and my new book Extraordinary Awakenings

Steve's book list on spiritual psychology

Discover why each book is one of Steve's favorite books.

Why did Steve love this book?

Erich Fromm isn’t so well known nowadays, but I am a great admirer of his. He developed a wide-ranging vision of individual and collective well-being. He investigated the whole spectrum of human nature, from the cruelty and brutality of Nazi Germany (which he personally experienced, as a German Jew who escaped to the United States) to love and altruism. This book is his last major work, in which he decries modern society’s emphasis on having and suggests that the only authentic and fulfilling mode of life is being. He develops a concept of a new type of human being who lives in harmony with themselves and the world. Fromm rarely wrote explicitly about spirituality, but it’s an underlying theme of almost everything he wrote. 

By Erich Fromm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Have or to Be? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To Have Or to Be? is one of the seminal books of the second half of the 20th century. Nothing less than a manifesto for a new social and psychological revolution to save our threatened planet, this book is a summary of the penetrating thought of Eric Fromm. His thesis is that two modes of existence struggle for the spirit of humankind: the having mode, which concentrates on material possessions, power, and aggression, and is the basis of the universal evils of greed, envy, and violence; and the being mode, which is based on love, the pleasure of sharing, and…


By Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning,

Book cover of Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

Jennice Vilhauer Author Of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind's Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life

From the list on improving your life.

Who am I?

I’m a psychologist in Los Angeles specializing in helping people identify their blind spots and break the cycles of their past by retraining their mindset about the future. I developed a new treatment called Future Directed Therapy and I’ve been helping people build better lives for over 15 years. I’m very passionate about empowering my clients to find practical skills and tools for taking charge of their emotional health and achieving the things they want in life. I recommend these books to my clients on a regular basis and find inspiration in them for my own blog Living Forward which I write as a featured expert for Psychology Today

Jennice's book list on improving your life

Discover why each book is one of Jennice's favorite books.

Why did Jennice love this book?

I recommend this book to many of my clients because you create your life based on your perceived self-concept about who you are in the world. If you don’t feel good about who you are it’s hard to build a good life. This book is great because it applies the well-researched principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy to overcoming the inner critic and building a positive view of one’s self, creating the much-needed platform for transforming your life.

By Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Self-Esteem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Circumstances and status can affect self-esteem-many factors can contribute to the way we see ourselves-but the one contributing factor that all people who struggle with low self-esteem have in common is our thoughts. Of course we all have a better chance of feeling good about ourselves when things are going well, but it's really our interpretation of our circumstances that can cause trouble, regardless of what they are.

This revised and updated fourth edition of the best-selling Self-Esteem uses proven-effective methods of CBT and relevant components of ACT to help you raise low self-esteem by working on the way you…


By Kevin J. Mitchell,

Book cover of Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are

Mark Humphries Author Of The Spike: An Epic Journey Through the Brain in 2.1 Seconds

From the list on how brains actually work.

Who am I?

I’m a British neuroscientist and writer who’s been using computers to study the brain since 1998, and writing about it since 2016. How I ended up a neuroscientist is hard to explain, for my formative years were spent devouring science books that were not about the brain. That’s partly because finding worthwhile books about the brain is so hard – few delve into how the brain actually works, into the kinds of meaty details that, for example, Hawking offered us on physics and Dawkins on evolution. So I wrote one to solve that problem; and the books on my list are just that too: deep, insightful works on how the brain does what it does.

Mark's book list on how brains actually work

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

We neuroscientists know a lot about how brains are, but not how they come to be. This book fills that huge hole: it explains how genetics and development shape the growing brain, and the consequences this has for our personalities and our mental disorders. Mitchell’s thesis is that the stochastic nature of development is key to understanding much of the variation between brains, and it has changed the way I think about the wiring of brains.

By Kevin J. Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A leading neuroscientist explains why your personal traits are more innate than you think

What makes you the way you are-and what makes each of us different from everyone else? In Innate, leading neuroscientist and popular science blogger Kevin Mitchell traces human diversity and individual differences to their deepest level: in the wiring of our brains. Deftly guiding us through important new research, including his own groundbreaking work, he explains how variations in the way our brains develop before birth strongly influence our psychology and behavior throughout our lives, shaping our personality, intelligence, sexuality, and even the way we perceive…


By Volker Ullrich,

Book cover of Hitler: Ascent: 1889-1939

Neil Gregor Author Of How to Read Hitler

From the list on biographical studies of Hitler.

Who am I?

I am Professor of Modern European History at the University of Southampton, UK, and publish widely on diverse aspects of Nazi Germany. The first history book that I ever read was Alan Bullock’s Hitler. A Study in Tyranny - the first scholarly biography of Hitler to appear. I still recall the fascination of reading this as a teenager: it sparked a curiosity that formed the basis of a scholarly career that has spanned nearly three decades. The desire to make sense of the phenomenon of Nazism was never purely academic, however – my own family origins in Germany, and the stories elderly relatives told of their wartime experiences, gave the history texture, immediacy, and urgency.

Neil's book list on biographical studies of Hitler

Discover why each book is one of Neil's favorite books.

Why did Neil love this book?

In my view, this is the most readable and persuasive of a number of new biographical treatments that have appeared recently. In terms of interpretation, largely Ullrich confirms the line offered in an older two-volume biography, the equally magisterial account by Ian Kershaw published at the turn of the century. Like Kershaw, Ullrich is concerned to explain Hitler’s power in terms of charismatic authority, and not just dictatorial terror. But whereas Kershaw was of the view that Hitler had comparatively little personal hinterland, foregrounding instead his career as a public figure, Ullrich pulls out a remarkable range of often tiny, seemingly insignificant personal details or anecdotes to generate a compelling view of Hitler’s own interior landscape – it is all the more impressive for the fact that he uses this to explain better Hitler’s political outlook and actions.  

By Volker Ullrich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • This landmark biography of Hitler puts an emphasis on the man himself: his personality, his temperament, and his beliefs.

“[A] fascinating Shakespearean parable about how the confluence of circumstance, chance, a ruthless individual and the willful blindness of others can transform a country — and, in Hitler’s case, lead to an unimaginable nightmare for the world.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Volker Ullrich's Hitler, the first in a two-volume biography, has changed the way scholars and laypeople alike understand the man who has become the personification of evil. Drawing on previously unseen papers and…

Anatomy of the Spirit

By Caroline Myss,

Book cover of Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing

Sydney Campos Author Of The Empath Experience: What to Do When You Feel Everything

From the list on for empaths and highly sensitive people.

Who am I?

I always sensed I was from another planet, here to help create a new world by nature of my heightened sensitivity and ability to perceive beneath the surface of our supposed reality. After decades of struggling and nearly dying through addiction to mute my sensitivity, my healing path led me to see how being an empath is the greatest gift, once we learn to take care of ourselves and refine our abilities. My book The Empath Experience is the guide I wish I had when I was born, that tells my story and guides life-changing practices to master your energy and harness your empathic gifts as the superpowers they are.

Sydney's book list on for empaths and highly sensitive people

Discover why each book is one of Sydney's favorite books.

Why did Sydney love this book?

This book is so genius in its ability to straddle so many different dimensions of experience – from science to medicine to intuition to energy healing and everything in between. I love Carolyn Myss as a great example of what’s possible in bridging worlds – her story of bringing medical intuition into more mass consciousness is brilliant and endlessly inspiring. This book helped me to affirm what I was already sensing as an energy healer – that all dis-ease and pain is rooted in an underlying spiritual or energetic issue. This book provides great precedents for how we can truly heal and recover from seemingly hopeless ailments by actually getting to the root of our supposed problems and meeting them with love, grace, and acceptance.

By Caroline Myss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anatomy of the Spirit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Encoded within your body, teaches Caroline Myss, is an energy system linking you directly to the world's great spiritual traditions. Through it, you have direct access to the divine energy that seamlessly connects all life. On Anatomy of the Spirit, Myss offers a stunning picture of the human body's hidden energetic structures, while revealing its precise spiritual code and relationship to the sacred energy of creation.

Our most revered wisdom traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, hold in common essential teachings about seven specific levels of spiritual development, the stages of power in life. These seven great truths also grace…


By Eugene T. Gendlin,

Book cover of Focusing

David J. Bookbinder Author Of The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World

From the list on living your best life.

Who am I?

To paraphrase the old Hair Club for Men ads from 1980s late-night TV, I'm not only a life coach, I'm also a client. I’ve been a self-help junkie since before the term was a book category. I started out with Eastern thought, added in meditation and psychology, and eventually became a therapist and life coach myself. Like the authors of several of the books I’m recommending here, I’ve crystalized into one easy-to-access volume the essence of what I’ve learned from 20 years of working with clients and from my own struggles. I hope these books help you move ahead confidently, knowing you can take on whatever comes your way.

David's book list on living your best life

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

In the late 1960s, Eugene Gendlin teamed up with pioneer psychologist Carl Rogers to try to figure out why some people got better with therapy while others did not.

After screening for all the factors that might explain this phenomenon, they identified the most important one, and it was something people either came into therapy already doing (and they got better) or didn’t do (and they didn’t improve). Gendlin created Focusing to teach us all this simple, powerful technique. It’s the best self-help tool I know.

Along with meditation, Focusing is at the heart of my personal and professional life.

By Eugene T. Gendlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic guide to a powerful technique that can increase your mindfulness and lead to personal transformation

Based on groundbreaking research conducted at the University of Chicago, the focusing technique has gained widespread popularity and scholarly acclaim. It consists of six easy-to-master steps that identify and change the way thoughts and emotions are held within the body. Focusing can be done virtually anywhere, at any time, and an entire “session” can take no longer than ten minutes, but its effects can be felt immediately–in the relief of bodily tension and psychological stress, as well as in dramatic shifts in understanding…

The Five Elements

By Dondi Dahlin,

Book cover of The Five Elements: Understand Yourself and Enhance Your Relationships with the Wisdom of the World's Oldest Personality Type System

Lauren Walker Author Of The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom From Stress and Trauma Through Energy Medicine Yoga

From the list on understanding what energy is and how to use it.

Who am I?

I remember being a kid and wanting to know everything about everything. After I’d been teaching yoga for several years, and finding myself struggling with stress and trauma that the yoga wasn’t helping, I really started to dive into the world of Energy. That world is fascinating, endless, and powerful. And the more I study and learn, the better my life gets. I’ve created my own teaching methodology from all the studies I’ve done and helped thousands of people find their own inner strength and healing. I love learning how other people overcame their struggles and how at the root, we basically all want to help each other! That's the kind of world I aspire to. 

Lauren's book list on understanding what energy is and how to use it

Discover why each book is one of Lauren's favorite books.

Why did Lauren love this book?

Dondi Dahlin’s book was a total surprise to me! I thought I knew a lot about the 5 Element theory, and wondered what she might add to the conversation. This was another book I could not put down. Her storytelling chops are amazing, and even if I wasn’t interested in the subject, she had me at hello. I was thrilled with the journey she brought me on. And I learned so much about myself, and about how people act the way they do. But more than that, I also learned valuable tools on how to interact better with people, how to extend compassion to myself and others, and how to see the world through a different lens. I adore this book!

By Dondi Dahlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Five Elements brings the wisdom of an ancient healing system to modern readers, helping them understand themselves--why they do what they do--better.

Dondi Dahlin shows us that we are all born with individual rhythms that go beyond the influence of our genes and upbringing. The five elements originated in ancient Chinese medicine over 2,000 years ago--when scholars theorized that the universe is composed of five forces: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Understanding these elements helps us stay in balance physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. By explaining the efficacy of wood, the depth of water, the joy of fire,…