The most recommended self-improvement books

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,306 experts.

1,306 authors created a book list connected to self-improvement, and here are their favorite self-improvement books.
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Book cover of Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type

Stacy A. Padula Author Of The Right Person

From my list on inspiration books with Christian themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was elated to be named “Top Inspirational Author of the Year” for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals. Inspiration is central to my career as a mentor, life coach, counselor, and author. I have possessed a deep interest in both Christianity and psychology since a young age. I have tied both topics in my own books, as I believe the knowledge I have gained has helped me find the joy, peace, and fulfillment I feel each day. This great sense of fulfillment and purpose is something I hope everyone can find in their lifetime, which motivates me to write about the power of faith in my books. 

Stacy's book list on inspiration books with Christian themes

Stacy A. Padula Why did Stacy love this book?

I have recommended this book on personality types to numerous friends, family members, and professionals over the years. As a Myers-Briggs ENTP, I found this book very insightful, and I fully enjoyed the statistics and explanations shared over a wide breadth of categories. This book is a staple in MBTI typology. I have used its insight in my career as both an author and a college counselor. It truly has the ability to inspire people to achieve their full potential and embrace their God-given gifts and talents!

By Isabel Briggs Myers, Peter B. Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*The original book behind the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (R) (MBTI (R)) test*

Like a thumbprint, personality type provides an instant snapshot of a person's uniqueness. Drawing on concepts originated by Carl Jung, this book distinguishes four categories of personality styles and shows how these qualities determine the way you perceive the world and come to conclusions about what you've seen. It then explains what they mean for your success in school, at a job, in a career and in your personal relationships.

For more than 60 years, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tool has been the most widely used instrument…


Book cover of Thank You for Your Service

John A. Nagl Author Of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

From my list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired Army officer who served in a tank unit in Operation Desert Storm. After that war, I became convinced that the future of warfare looked more like America’s experience in Vietnam than like the war in which I had just fought. I taught at West Point and then served in another tank unit early in the war in Iraq before being sent to the Pentagon where I helped Generals David Petraeus and Jim Mattis write the Army and Marine Corps doctrine for counterinsurgency campaigns. I am now studying and teaching about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a professor at the U.S. Army War College.  

John's book list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq

John A. Nagl Why did John love this book?

A sequel to The Good Soldiers, which told the story of an infantry battalion through some of the bloodiest fighting of the war during the “Surge” in Baghdad, David Finkel’s Thank You for Your Service follows the soldiers on their return to the United States. All are marked forever by the experience of combat; many have devastating physical wounds while others struggle mentally and emotionally with what they have seen and done at their country’s call. Life after war can be harder than life in war, and Finkel unpacks how and why with an unsparing but compassionate eye. This book should be read by every politician with responsibility for sending troops to combat—before they start America’s next war.

By David Finkel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thank You for Your Service as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No journalist is better situated to reckon with the psychology of war than New York Times bestselling author David Finkel. In Thank You for Your Service he weaves a masterly, compelling narrative out of the troubling stories of a US infantry battalion as they return home from Iraq and attempt to survive peace.

Finkel writes frankly and compassionately about the soldiers, and about their partners and children: the heartbroken wife who wonders privately whether her returned husband is going to get better, or kill her; and the heroic victims, with the fresh taste of gunmetal in their mouths, who will…


Book cover of How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir

Paige Harbison Author Of Anything to Have You

From my list on wasted women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire life in the literary industry, first being raised by an author and her two published sisters, then signing my own book deal at age nineteen. So basically, I am completely incapable of seeing the world through anything but a bookish lens. For this little project, I was asked to make some recommendations based on a subject I care about. I chose Wasted Women. These are books about women who deserve more out of life than they have—and about the consequences of letting a clever woman stay caged.

Paige's book list on wasted women

Paige Harbison Why did Paige love this book?

This one is literally about a wasted woman. It’s a fascinating non-fictional journey to be taken on by the author, who has led a fascinating, glittering New York life working for Conde Naste and other high-profile jobs. A life that she is consistently self-sabotaging through the abuse of drugs—particularly the ones prescribed to her by her father when she was a child. She is smart, sharp, interesting, interested in the world around her, and yet she continues to burn everything down time and time again.

By Cat Marnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Murder Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'I was twenty-six years old and an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America. That's all that most people knew about me. But beneath the surface, I was full of secrets: I was a drug addict, for one. A pillhead. I was also an alcoholic-in-training who guzzled warm Veuve Clicquot after work alone in my boss's office with the door closed; a conniving and manipulative uptown doctor-shopper; a salami-and-provolone-puking bulimic who spent a hundred dollars a day on binge foods when things got bad (and they got bad often); a weepy, wobbly, wildly hallucination-prone…


Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

Book cover of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

Edward Benzel Author Of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, I have witnessed many successes and failures over more than four decades. I recognized decades ago that communication with patients at a level that involves emotions is a necessary part of being a complete physician. This involves being empathetic and, henceforth, digging deep to find the strength to be transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, understanding, and, when needed, forceful (some would call this paternalism). Although the five books I have chosen to highlight vary widely in content, they have one common theme – finding within us the will and wherewithal to succeed.

Edward's book list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us

What is my book about?

My book is a collection of monthly Editor-in-Chief letters to the readership of World Neurosurgery, a journal that I edit. Each essay is short and sweet. The letters were written for neurosurgeons but have been re-edited so that they apply to all human beings. They cover topics such as leadership, empathy, vulnerability, stress, burnout, and on and on…. These essays are relevant for all who strive to craft a better version of themselves.

Life lessons learned by the author during his 40+ year neurosurgery career are shared and translated into real-life scenarios. Between the covers are many lessons that are derived from the experiences of the author and then applied to all humans. The mastering of these lessons should translate into a sense of pride and satisfaction. In keeping with the theme of the book, this process should culminate in the feeling at the end of the day that ‘Today was, indeed, a good day.’

Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

What is this book about?

About the Book
Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon features many topics that pertain to how neurosurgeons interact with others and how each of us can use introspection to modify how we are using tools and strategies such as empathy, respect, stress management, and much more.
This book provides some insights into leadership, effective communication, and fulfillment from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, and it causes the reader to think about and consider many, many attributes of a leader.
We all want to have a good day. This book provides strategies…


Book cover of You Belong: A Call for Connection

Mike Albo Author Of Another Dimension of Us

From my list on putting you in a trance (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

As a queer teenager, I loved reading because it transported me away from my oppressive reality and into another one. My friend, writer Virginia Heffernan, calls it ‘The Trance’—when you’re so into a book, time and space fall away. Recently I learned about the work of cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf, who writes that “deep reading” of dense, poetic works (not the “skimming” we’re always doing now in our digital culture) uses, remarkably, all areas of the brain—carving neuronal pathways, engendering empathy, imagination, self-reflection, and more. No-brainer: reading is really good for you. While there’s no lack of classics that can do this, here are obscurer titles that have put me in a trance.  

Mike's book list on putting you in a trance (in a good way)

Mike Albo Why did Mike love this book?

There’s no end of books out there on mindfulness and meditation. What I love about meditation teacher, writer, and thinker Sebene Selassie’s book is how funny, personal, awkward, and honest she is about her journey. Each chapter delivers a new perspective on how you—how we all—are connected, how disconnection is at the core of our suffering, and how the one way to get back to a sense of belonging is through the body, the breath, and presence. Selassie is that friend who gently leads you to look inward and understand the power and joy of connection.  

By Sebene Selassie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked You Belong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A POWERFUL WORK OF SPIRITUALITY AND ANTI-RACISM"-Publishers Weekly

"IF YOU READ ONE BOOK IN 2020, MAKE IT THIS ONE."-Tricycle

From much-admired meditation expert Sebene Selassie, You Belong is a call to action, exploring our tangled relationship with belonging, connection, and each other

You are not separate. You never were. You never will be.

We are not separate from each other. But we don't always believe it, and we certainly don't always practice it. In fact, we often practice the opposite-disconnection and domination. From unconscious bias to "cancel culture," denial of our inherent interconnection limits our own freedom.

In You Belong,…


Book cover of Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Jennifer Howard Author Of Clutter: An Untidy History

From my list on to read when you’re decluttering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I didn’t choose clutter as a topic—it chose me. Around the time Marie Kondo became a tidying-up sensation, my mother suffered a breakdown and could no longer live in her dangerously cluttered house. I’m an only child, so it fell to me to figure what to do with it all. So much stuff! It got me wondering: How did clutter get to be such a huge problem for so many people? The books on this list helped answer that question and made me feel less alone in the struggle with stuff. I hope you find them useful too.

Jennifer's book list on to read when you’re decluttering

Jennifer Howard Why did Jennifer love this book?

Randy Frost and Gail Steketee have done groundbreaking research on hoarding disorder, and their work has helped shift the conversation away from the traditional shame-and-blame approach to the subject. In these case studies, they dig into what drives individuals to accumulate extreme amounts of clutter. Emphasis on individuals—each of these people has a unique, often fascinating story, and Frost and Steketee treat them with compassion and understanding. Stuff helped me understand that forced cleanouts and harsh interventions don’t solve the problem, they only inflict more trauma.

By Randy O. Frost, Gail Steketee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stuff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller

Acclaimed psychologists Randy Frost and Gail Sketetee's groundbreaking study on the compulsion of hoarding, "Stuff invites readers to reevaluate their desire for things” (Boston Globe).

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that’s ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house? Or Jerry and Alvin, wealthy twin bachelors who filled up matching luxury apartments with countless pieces of fine art, not even leaving themselves room to…


Book cover of Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love by Understanding Your Personality Type

Jennifer J. Lacelle Author Of Calling Down the Goddess

From Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Witty Writer Wordsmith Playful Reader

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Jennifer J. Lacelle Why did Jennifer love this book?

This is a non-fiction read and is written by one of the leading “love experts” in North America. Helen Fisher helped create the tests that numerous dating websites have used to pair people up.

It might not be fiction, but it’s a powerfully deep dive into who you are as a person and why you choose the person you choose as a partner. 

By Helen Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Him? Why Her? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you looking for The One? Well, according to Dr Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and relationship expert, you don't have to look any further for the way to find that special someone than your very own brain chemistry.
Based on Dr Fisher's groundbreaking personality type study, in which she analyzed the personalities of more than 28,000 people, Why Him? Why Her? provides a formula for long-term love that is based on cutting-edge discoveries in evolutionary neurology. Once you've identified yourself as one of the personality types (explorer, builder, negotiator, or director) Dr Fisher provides a detailed plan of how to…


Book cover of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Havard Mela Author Of Digital Discipline: Choosing Life in the Digital Age of Excess

From my list on how we get distracted and how to reclaim your attention.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 how we get distracted and how to reclaim your attention

Havard Mela Why did Havard love this book?

Deep Work is an excellent book for realizing how detrimental the typical employee’s work habits of checking email every 5 minutes, constant meetings, and other distractions are to their ability to perform high-quality work. Newport also shares good suggestions for reclaiming your focus and doing what he calls “deep work.” 

The book strongly advocates for the importance of having as much time as possible without distractions to achieve flow and perform optimally. This book helped me become much more conscious about how I work.

By Cal Newport,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Many modern knowledge workers now spend most of their brain power battling distraction and interruption, whether because of the incessant pinging of devices, noisy open-plan offices or the difficulty of deciding what deserves your attention the most. When Cal Newport coined the term 'deep work' on his popular blog, Study Hacks, in 2012, he found the concept quickly hit a nerve. Most of us, after all, are excruciatingly familiar with shallow work instead - distractedly skimming the surface of our workload and never getting to the important part. Newport began exploring the methods and mindset that foster a practice of…


Book cover of Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old

Kat Arney Author Of Rebel Cell: Cancer, Evolution, and the New Science of Life's Oldest Betrayal

From my list on understanding why we haven’t cured cancer yet.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been fascinated by how life unfolds from a single fertilized egg cell containing just one set of DNA, whether it’s a human, mouse, frog, worm, or anything else. While studying for my PhD in the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, which combines brings together researchers working on development and cancer, and spending twelve years in science communication at Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest cancer research charity, I came to see cancer and development as two sides of the same coin: one process unfolding healthy life as egg becomes embryo, and the other ultimately bringing disease and death as a single cell grows into a deadly tumor. 

Kat's book list on understanding why we haven’t cured cancer yet

Kat Arney Why did Kat love this book?

Cancer and ageing are inextricably linked, with the risk of cancer increasing significantly over the age of 60, so Andrew’s book about the biology of ageing is very much a companion piece to my own. He digs into the latest scientific research on why and how our cells, tissues, and bodies age, and neatly sifts fact from fiction when it comes to anti-ageing supplements and treatments. His most surprisingly simple piece of advice to help slow the ravages of time? Make sure you clean your teeth!

By Andrew Steele,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A stunner ... If you haven't got this book in your house, I don't know why' Chris Evans

'A startling wake-up call . . . Writing with the vim of a Bill Bryson and the technical knowledge of a scientist, Steele gives us a chance to grasp what's at stake' Independent

'An exhilarating journey . . . Steele is a superb guide' Telegraph

'A fascinating read with almost every page bursting with extraordinary facts . . . Read it now' Mail on Sunday

Ageless is a guide to the biggest issue we all face. Ageing - not cancer, not heart…


Book cover of This Time Next Year

Cressida McLaughlin Author Of The Happy Hour

From my list on romance books where time is important.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a voracious reader of romantic fiction, and I’m always drawn in by books where time plays an important role. I love it when the characters have limited time and are on a countdown, or time is stretched out between their interactions, or when one single moment changes the course of their lives so completely. It always adds so much conflict and drama to a plot, as if time is a character in itself: it’s such a big thing in all our lives, but it’s also, in some respects, completely arbitrary. I love all these books because time and timing have such a big impact on the characters. 

Cressida's book list on romance books where time is important

Cressida McLaughlin Why did Cressida love this book?

I loved the premise of this funny, charming romcom, where two babies are born on New Year’s Eve, one minute apart in the same hospital. Minnie is a feisty, lovable heroine, and when she meets Quinn again when they’re both thirty, the dynamic sets the pages on fire.

I loved how the book was sprinkled with star-crossed lovers, fate, and the sense of magic and things being meant to be.

The surrounding cast of characters is also brilliant, and I felt like I knew them all by the end. It’s so heartwarming and romantic, and a book that’s dusted with stardust. 

By Sophie Cousens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Time Next Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK

Their lives began together, but their worlds couldn't be more different. After thirty years of missed connections, they're about to meet again...

Minnie Cooper knows two things with certainty: that her New Year's birthday is unlucky, and that it's all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she's never met. Their mothers gave birth to them at the same hospital just after midnight on New Year's Day, but Quinn was given the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990--and the name Minnie was meant…


Book cover of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

Shannon Hayes Author Of Redefining Rich: Achieving True Wealth with Small Business, Side Hustles, and Smart Living

From my list on minimalism, materialism, and getting by with less.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an entrepreneur, chef, homeschooler, and third-generation farmer living in the northern Catskill mountains. With that many passions, I had to remove all other distractions from my life so that I could put my attention on what mattered most. My writing has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio, and national television. During the growing season, I broadcast The Hearth of Sap Bush Hollow podcast, chronicles and lessons from a life tied to family, community, and the land. You can also taste my cooking by coming to my restaurant, Sap Bush Cafe, on Saturdays, 9-2 (I’m too busy living the good life to be open the other days).

Shannon's book list on minimalism, materialism, and getting by with less

Shannon Hayes Why did Shannon love this book?

The objective of a minimalist, anti-materialist, simple life is to open ourselves up to whatever “something greater” the universe has in store for us. Drawing on rigorous science and historical evidence, Alex Pang helps us understand how the act of slowing down helps bring us closer to that something greater. As a farm kid, I was raised in a culture that embraced overwork and shunned slowing down. So learning to have a simpler life meant I had to buck that culture and develop an understanding of how rest benefited my brain and well-being. 

This book helped me move my business to a place where all owners and employees enjoyed more freedom and lower stress, and where greater fun and creativity unfolded.

By Alex Soojung-Kim Pang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Take a break and read Rest: you'll make smarter decisions, have better relationships, and be happier and more creative" James Wallman, author of Stuffocation

Do you regularly find yourself too tired after a long day at your desk to do anything other than binge TV, or scroll mindlessly through social media? Do you go on holiday and still compulsively check your email? Do you work through your lunch-break, often not even leaving your desk to get some fresh air?

For most of us, overwork is the new norm, and we never truly take the time to rest and recharge. But…