Admittedly, some may sound nauseatingly cliched, but on the whole, we think the pros of reading a couple of these excellent books far outweigh the cons.
1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Avoiding the very things self-help books get accused of most, Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman’s book on the power of human thought is backed up by years of individual research on topics like happiness and cognitive bias as opposed to the subjective opinions of the author.
While in-depth, Kahneman’s book centres around two systems of thought; with system 1 being the more reactive and 2 being of a more logical and patient mindset. But rather than dismantle one system and favour the other, the author, through numerous tested studies, examines the benefits and weaknesses of both, leaving the reader with a better understanding of how the mind operates and most importantly how we should think in certain situations.
2. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
Kahneman’s academic book may have set out to cast a shadow on books like Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, but one thing you can’t take away from books like Peale’s is its high-octane prose that, while not substantiated with academic studies, almost doesn’t need to be as long as the reader embraces it in the way Peale believes you should.
Teaching the reader to focus on things that are in their control as opposed to things that aren’t, the book’s samey prose can at times be exhaustive, but with such a simple message, you could very well put it down after reading the last page and feel ready to take on all those dream-stopping obstacles.
3. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra
The message conveyed in many self-help books is that the individual achieves one’s pursuits by putting themselves first, but Deepak Chopra’s book believes the well-being of others is equally as important. Detailing some of his core Hindu beliefs, Chopra lists 7 spiritual laws that are essential to achieving a zen-like happiness, all of which are listed below.
-The Law of Pure Potentiality
-The Law of Giving
-The Law of Karma
-The Law of Least Effort
-The Law of Intention and Desire
-The Law of Detachment
-The Law of Dharma
Not only does the book explain how you go about abiding by these laws, but it also stresses that life is like a boomerang and that your actions, both good and bad, will always come around again. A perfect read for those guilty of being too caught up in themselves.
4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
The way we think and how different thought processes can help mould an all-conquering mindset has been written about countless times, but one of the first to cover it was a book published in 1959. Written by David Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big stresses how important it is to love yourself in a world that almost requires a mild form of arrogance to succeed.
Not only this but Schwartz thinks that those who think big often attain bigger things further down the line. Of course, having lofty goals and ambitions without a backup plan is never advised, but by visualizing your success and even telling people about your dreams, the drive and determination to achieve them coupled with the hard work itself will be enough to achieve, or at least come close to reaching your goals
5. Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers
Written by Susan Jeffers, otherwise known as ‘The Queen of Self-help’, this book has many celebrity admirers including the co-founder of the designer shoe brand, Chimmy Choo. It’s premise, which as the title suggests, covers the theme of fear and how it stifles our dreams and productivity, suggests that only by stepping outside our comfort zone are we actually embracing our potential.
Selling over 15m copies, since its release, Susan Jeffers, who holds a PhD in psychology from Columbia University, is a regular guest on Oprah, and if you face a career dilemma or find your hopes and aspirations paralysed by fear, then this book is a must-read.
6. There is Nothing Wrong With You; Going Beyond Self-Hate by Cheri Huber
Not only does Huber’s book offer practical and everyday advice, but it also sets out to erode the negative image many have of themselves by analyzing the definition of self-hate and how it proliferates into our way of thinking.
As well as detailing how negative thoughts sometimes lead to vices and life-crippling disorders, the book’s central premise is that meditation can help overcome these thoughts, with Huber stressing that once we embrace meditation, we can see life in a new light. A simple message, but a life-enhancing one nonetheless.
7. Starting Strength, 3rd Edition by Mark Rippetoe
Top of many people’s New Year’s resolutions is going to the gym, yet as we’ve explained in past articles, only 8% of people follow through with their resolutions which is why this easy-to-follow book about barbell training should be an essential read for gym newbies.
Of course, various online forums and websites detail similar exercises, but Mark Rippetoe’s step-by-step account of different exercises is worth the money. Better still, exercise, as you probably know, releases a wave of endorphins to the brain, so buying a book that helps you look and feel good makes this title one of our favourites on the list.
8. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
While New Age spirituality is a whole genre in itself, Tolle’s book, which uses the teachings of established religions and pseudo-science to explain his philosophies, is a favourite of Hollywood celebrities because the book’s central premise teaches us to let go of our ego-driven nature by entertaining the idea of spiritual enlightenment.
The book verges on the melodramatic at times and some of the chapters are unnecessarily long, but if you embrace Tolle’s message the way he tells you to, you may discover a new form of serenity.
9. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
The New Yorker journalist and bestselling author hit the big time when his book about what brings people success became a worldwide bestseller. Based largely on the 10,000 rule that Gladwell came up with, (anyone can achieve success if they practice their craft for over 10,00 hours, he argues) Outliers: The Story of Success takes a sociological approach when analysing the primary determinants of inequality and interviews successful people across a broad range of industries.
Gladwell also throws a lot of statistical research into the book and attempts to back up his 10,000 theory by analysing the early practices of successful people like Bill Gates and the iconic British band, The Beatles.
10. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner
Written after the death of his 11-year-old son, Harold S. Kushner wanted to tackle a question many critics have of religion: Why do bad things happen to good people?
Yes, it is a book that defends religion, but even non-believers can gain solace and inspiration from this read, which details various coping mechanisms to help deal with life’s most brutal moments and thus take on life in a fashion befitting of an immortal warrior.
11. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman
Having everything you want in life isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, but that isn’t because the dreams many have aren’t doable. They are, but according to Seligman’s book, our pessimism leads us into a negative spiral of thought were everything becomes blocked and in our minds at least, unachievable.
To counter this problem, the book encourages the reader to pursue a fight with its inner voice, which in time, will gradually deplete the pessimism. Referred to as ‘learned optimism’, it may sound like a simple premise to centre a book on, but with various aspects of life covered, including love, sports and parenting, the book is highly relatable and can turn even the most pessimistic people into full-on go-getters.
12. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
We could all do with improving our social skills and get better acquainted with pitching our ideas and persuading people to give us a chance. Thankfully, Carnegie’s book has you covered, with tips and advice on how better people-skills can lead to a better life.
A favourite with many high-profile figures and celebrities including the likes of Warren Buffet and Eminem, Dale Carnegie’s book, whose own story came from humble beginnings as a farmhand, has sold over 15 million copies and is synonymous with the Self-help genre.
13. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Cameron’s book is more like a textbook but takes you on a journey that is almost novel-like. As the title suggests, the book is for anyone wanting to tap into that artistic creativity that many have, but few tap into because of time constraints or an innate fear of failure.
But it isn’t only adults that suffer from this. Children and teens do too, and while they appear to have more free time, the reality is most don’t and are flooded with homework instead. Because of this, Cameron’s belief that everyone should hang on to one’s artistic license is highly relevant for people of any age, and especially those who wish to one day make a living as an artist.
14. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Consumed by over 65 million readers, the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s narrative is one which offers hope to people who believe in the beauty of their dreams. And, with a beautifully written spiritual prose, you may just finish the book feeling your life can be whatever you want it to be.
Technically, Coelho’s books is a novel, albeit a short one. Nonetheless, it’s as inspiring as any self-help book and one which has the power to encourage people to not let circumstance or ill thoughts determine their future.
15. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
Not to be confused with the famous Chinua Achebe novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’, Pema Chodron’s book of an almost identical title explores the precarious nature of life and the cracks that always seem to reappear, no matter how hard you try to conceal them.
But such cracks can often feel like they never want to leave which is why the wisdom in the book, eloquently expressed by the Tibetan Buddhist nun, may just help you overcome life’s everyday problems and help you live a life free from the worries and insecurities that plague us.