25 Must-Read Personal Development Books for Transformation

Our latest collection of the best personal development books will help you reach your full potential.

There is a famous quote by Lao Tzu that says:

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

This drives what I feel is true about self-help and personal development.

Many times, we need to let go of who we have told ourselves to be, of the habits we said cannot be changed, and the patterns that cannot be broken to achieve our full potential.

Change comes when we believe that it is possible and when we open our minds to the potential of who we could become.

So, where do we start to work on this personal development?

The best self help books for personal development, or even articles online, are not a bad place to start.

Here are some of my suggestions.

Best Personal Development Books About Your Confidence, Relationships, and Goals

1. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

Brene Brown writes about ten guideposts that can help us get rid of the shame and guilt that we carry around.

This concept should help us embrace the idea that we belong and that we are worthy.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

Her writings show us how to be more authentic.

It helps us shed others’ ideas as well as our own of what we should.

She teaches us to show courage and comfort in embracing who we truly are.

This is one of the best self help personal development books that carries a true message of acceptance.

2. Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior Paperback by Mark Goulston  & Philip Goldberg

The authors teach you to “transform 40 common self-defeating behaviors, including procrastination, envy, obsession, anger, self-pity, compulsion, neediness, guilt, rebellion, and inaction.”

By learning to stop these self-defeating behaviors, you can achieve success and have a life that you embrace.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

3. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

“You are a Badass is one of the best self help books for personal development for people who desperately want to improve their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it.”

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

Jen Sincero shares moving stories, clever advice, and simple exercises to help you recognize and cease the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that are keeping you from the life you want.

You will learn where these patterns started, to accept the things you cannot change, and to take on the things that you can.

4. Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall

Derek Rydall focuses on ONE important point: “The answer is already in you.”

He believes that there is no part of us that is not exactly as it should be.

Deep down, we possess the skills and the abilities, but something stopped us from knowing this along the way.

The book follows seven stages that show us that we actually are not lacking anything and that everything we need is already inside of us.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

5. I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brené Brown

So many people get stuck on this idea of “What will people think.

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Somewhere down the line, they learned to care more about what others thought of them than what they thought of themselves.

In this spirit, Dr. Brene Brown writes:

“We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.”

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

When we can truly love and accept ourselves in this way, we can achieve greatness.

6. Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and… by Beverly Engel

Beverly Engel focuses on healing your emotional self.

Whether this means letting go of toxic people in your life and the self-esteem damaging messages that come with them or letting go of the shame and guilt you have been inundated with your whole life.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

The author works to help you become more kind and tolerant of yourself.

To create an image of yourself that you feel worthy of.

It is one of the best personal development books for those who need to let go of past abuses and hurt to achieve their personal goals.

7. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.

She shows us that using tools such as self-admiration does not necessarily mean we will be successful.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

The fact is that this mindset can actually get in the way of our success and growth.

The author focuses on the idea that we can actually take part in lifelong learning that can lead us towards our most significant accomplishments.

8. Self-Defeating Behaviors: Free Yourself from the Habits, Compulsions, Feelings, and Attitudes That Hold You Back by Milton R. Cudney

I do not think you can get a better review than this:

“The most detailed examinations of self-defeating behavior I have ever read…. Very useful.” — Albert Ellis, PH.D., President, Institute of Rational-emotive Therapy, and author of A New Guide to Rational Living. 

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

When the person who literally founded the school of thought on how our thoughts impact our emotions, you know this is a book you need to read!

It focuses on the simple premise that we are constantly faced with opportunities to demonstrate self-defeating or self-enhancing behaviors.

9. The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

This is one of the best personal development books of all time.

It has helped countless people change their thinking and achieve their goals.

Dr. Peale simply wants individuals to live a happy and nourishing life by believing in themselves and what they choose to do and by developing a sense of purpose.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

If people believe that they have the power to accomplish anything, they can learn to be at peace with the thought that they can be truly successful.

They will also find meaningful personal and professional relationships.

Finally, this book can help folks grow control and confidence in themselves.

10. The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi

This is a simple and phenomenal workbook.

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One of the major reasons that people enter therapy and are held back from achieving their goals is due to issues with self-esteem.

Best Self Help Books for Personal Development

This book will help the individual to learn the roots of their confidence issues, how their formation may have been faulty, and that they have control of who they are and what they want to achieve going forward.

More of the best personal development books

If you’re enjoying this article, be sure to check out our collection of the best motivational books for personal development.

11. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book), by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements has been a bestseller for more than eight years.

Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the book identifies the source of self-limiting beliefs and provides a powerful code of conduct to help transform our lives into a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

the four agreements


12. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer

The Untethered Soul seeks to help the reader free themselves from limitations and soar beyond their boundaries.

It aims to help you find inner peace and serenity so you can have more meaningful relationships with yourself and the world around you.

the untethered soul

13. Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal,  by Pretty Simple Press

Good Days Start With Gratitude is a self-exploration journal that will teach you how to be more thankful for both the big and small things you have.

The book contains space to write the things you’re thankful for, as well as inspirational quotes and a weekly checkpoint.

good days start with gratitude

14. I Attract What I Am: Transform Failure Into An Orgasmically Joyful Life & Business, by Melissa Dawn

I Attract What I Am is perfect if you’re looking to take a new direction in your life.

In this inspirational book, Melissa shares her journey of transformation from failures to an orgasmically joyful life and business.

i attract what i am

15. How to Make Sh*t Happen: Make more money, get in better shape, create epic relationships and control your life!,  by Sean Whalen

How to Make Sh*t Happen explains that you’re in control of the various aspects of your life and offers a simple roadmap to reach your goals and dreams.

How to Make Sht Happen

In this book, Whelan breaks down life into four key aspects (CORE 4) and gives you steps to reach your goals for each area.

16. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes

In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes shares how saying YES changed her life.

Rhimes is the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious television shows, such as Grey’s AnatomyScandal, and How to Get Away With Murder.

year of yes

17. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst

In Uninvited, you’ll learn how to overcome the feeling of rejection, being left out, loneliness, and being less than.

The author seeks to help you stop feeling left out by understanding the secret of belonging.


18. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, by William H. McRaven

Make Your Bed is based on the incredible graduation speech on May 17, 2014, by Admiral William H. McRaven to the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day.

make your bed

In this book, McRaven recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage.

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19. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondō

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo.

the life changing magic of tidying up

In this book, Kondo takes you step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

20. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret contains wisdom on how to understand the hidden, untapped power that’s within you and achieve happiness in every aspect of your life.

the secret

Also, check out our collection of quotes from The Secret.

Other personal development books worth reading

21. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by Dalai Lama

The Book of Joy answers the burning question – how do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?

In the book Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness.

the book of joy

22. Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive, by Kevin Horsley

In this Wall Street Journal Best Seller, Kevin Horsley – who broke a World Memory Record in 2013 – shares how to use his memory strategies to learn faster, be more productive, and achieve more success.

unlimited memory

23. 100 Days to Brave: Devotions for Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self, by Annie F. Downs

100 Days to Brave seeks to help you find the courage and confidence to move forward no matter how difficult your challenges might be.

100 days to brave

This book will inspire you to embrace your dreams and experience personal growth.

24. Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, by Max Lucado

Written by New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado, Anxious for Nothing provides a roadmap for fighting and overcoming anxiety.

anxious for nothing

This book offers an actionable guide for dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress-related illnesses.

25. Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results, by Stephen Guise

Mini Habits outlines a strategy to create permanent healthy habits focused on:

  • Exercise
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Thinking positively
  • Meditating
  • Drinking water
  • Eating healthy foods

The book shows how to start playing by your brain’s rules and taking your human limitations seriously so you can achieve lasting change.

mini habits

Which of these personal development books will you read first?

Working on self-esteem, getting to the point where you believe in yourself and your abilities, can be the single most important thing that someone can do to achieve personal development and success.

Once we have developed a strong foundation of self-esteem, all things are possible.

Which of these best self-help books for personal development will you read first?

Do you have any other books to add to the list?

Let us know in the comment section below.

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