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Top 13 Best Self Improvement Books to Win at Life (2021 Edition)

We all want to be happy and win in this life, and self improvement books can be a vital catalyst for many such victories.

Self-help books contain precious nuggets penned by experts and people who love to share strategies that worked for them. You can glean wisdom from them to catapult you to your next level in life.

Self improvement books

Whether it’s a battle with depression, a marriage in the doldrums, parenting challenges, or a dilemma over a career choice. Name it. A therapeutic self-help book will prove almost as valuable as a life coach.

With so many books in print, choosing the right self-help book can be a problem added to the one you’re trying to solve. But don’t worry. We’ll help you navigate through the maze of multiple publications and offer you the finest selection of the best self improvement books for men and women alike.

How we picked the best self improvement books

Type in “the best self-help books” on Amazon. What do you get? Pages and pages of books promising to help you help yourself. At this point, you’re probably spoilt for choice. And rightly so. There are so many options to pick from, right?

Unfortunately, not all the options are great reads. Some are a collection of recycled information regurgitated in a non-inspiring way. Some promise but deliver air. And some are more demoralizing than they are empowering.

Thankfully, we’re here to help you sift the wheat from the chaff.

  • Picking a self-improvement book depends on the problem you’re trying to solve. There are texts dedicated to solving money problems, others offer guidance on love matters and some speak on family issues among other areas. So before you make your purchase, ascertain that the self improvement book addresses your concerns.
  • Next, conduct a background check on the authors to verify their experience, background, or professional expertise on the subject matter. For instance, a book authoritatively promising to make you a millionaire, authored by a person reeling from bankruptcy should be a red flag.
  • Lastly, pick a book written in a style suitable for your consumption. Grasp a book whose content delivery is easy to understand, relatable, and the examples or principles applicable. Look out for content that’s actionable, fluff-free, and that has valuable reviews from an authentic audience.

Top Self Improvement Books

Here’s our list of the top 13 proven confidence boosters from some of the best self-help authors. Sit back, read and enjoy.

#1 – If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? – Raj Raghunathan

If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy_ - Raj Raghunathan

This mind-opening book is based on research. Research that attempts at answering the time-honored question, if you’re smart, why aren’t you happy.

Raj analyzed his old MBA classmates’ lives fifteen years after their graduation to find out whether their academic success translated to career success. The results showed pretty little correlation between the two.

He went further to investigate whether career success led to “life success” or happiness. He discovered the relationship here was even more dismal. Hence begging the question, “Why are men so successful in business yet not happy?”

People generally presume that intelligent people are capable of making better decisions in life. Decisions that should lead to a happier life. But the reality, according to Raj’s findings, was proving otherwise.

He delves into seven common tendencies that successful people need to be wary of and proposes seven alternative habits they need to embrace.

The author concludes that generosity and appreciating uncertainty can go a long way in boosting your happiness. He also asserts that success rarely determines one’s level of happiness.

Get this self improvement book for fresh perspectives on how to enjoy a happier life today.

#2 – Make Your Bed – Admiral William H. McRaven

Make Your Bed - Admiral William H. McRaven

The book sprung from a Texas University graduation speech that hit the social media scene like a wild bushfire.

Admiral Willian H. McRaven is a retired navy seal who makes a passionate argument drawn from accessible and relatable examples on the building blocks to a successful life.

He emphasizes how the little conquest through the mundane tasks of everyday life builds up to your holistic success.

The book’s approach is compassionate and realistic. He encourages you to conquer the little things, like making your bed, to step out in confidence on the path to success. The approach demystifies success as an unattainable ideal in the distant future making it accessible to everyone who dares to try.

The book lists 10 simple tasks that can change you and possibly impact the world. You can change the world one step at a time, with the first step at your bedside.

A good read for anyone seeking inspiration and victory in everyday life.

#3 – Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones – James Clear

Atomic Habits_ An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones - James Clear

Old habits die hard. But not so hard for James Clear.

In Atomic Habits, he draws a clear roadmap to breaking free from old habits and establishing a successful routine.

A proven expert in habit development, Clear employs scientific reality sprinkled with a generous amount of humor to help you understand how to break free from old habits.

He provides practical tips for breaking free from a toxic habit and how to adopt a more desirable habit.

Embracing a new mindset towards the habit you intend to obliterate from your life is crucial. Whether it’s the need to adopt a new diet, fitness routine, or to quit drinking or smoking, he proposes a better way at attaining a breakthrough.

His approach is both practical and persuasive.

It’s not that your goals are unattainable, or that you’re incapable of reaching your desired peak performance. It’s the system you’re using to reach them that needs fixing.

James Clear makes a compelling case for his strategy using an assortment of case studies from accomplished olympian sportsmen, global business magnates, successful comedians, and world-class physicians.

Read with caution; you might never be the same again.

#4 – How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece How to Win Friends & Influence People has sold over 45 million copies since it was published in 1936. There must be a compelling case for the text to remain so popular ever since.

Carnegie’s main point is to be good to people and you’ll be likable and have influence over them. Sounds rather pedestrian. Doesn’t it?

He goes ahead to demonstrate how that actually works. That’s where the rubber meets the road. In this text that concentrates classical wisdom, Dale unlocks principles for creating influence and impact that seem hidden in plain sight. He encourages people not to criticize, condemn, or complain in order to be likable.

Dale furnishes you with 6 rules that will make people like you and 12 tips on making people follow your way of thinking. He then suggests 9 ways to influence people to do what you want them to do willingly.

By changing your habits, happier life at home, in the office, managing a team, in business, or politics is within reach.

Warren Buffet is one of the beneficiaries of Dale’s wisdom which he credits for success in his life and business.

Dale’s admonitions were brewed in the pot of real-life experience as a successful businessman. He was a proficient speaker and a prolific salesman.

This book is one of the greatest bestsellers of all time; a must-read.

#5 – Declutter Your Mind – S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport

Declutter Your Mind - S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport

A masterpiece on how to dispel negative thinking and create room in your mind for positive vibes.

This book is best suited for those whose lives are typified by endless worrying. Scott and Barrie draw their reasoning from a scientific backdrop to conclude that your anxieties are offsprings of a cluttered mind.

The authors prescribe practical steps you can take to declutter your mind. You begin by focussing on those aspects of your life that deserve your attention; set your priorities right. You proceed to declutter your mind by waving off your mind those thoughts that do not warrant your concern.

The reason you’re bogged down in thought, worry, and stress is because the mind is cluttered with unnecessary items that need to be hurled over to the trash bag. By learning to apply these principles, you free up “free” space in your mind for inner peace. With such a mindset you can stay calm and make better decisions in life.

An essential resource to teach you how to eliminate the unnecessary mental load of worry and anxiety…together with its accompanying emotional consequences.

#6 – Beyond Mars and Venus – John Gray

Beyond Mars and Venus - John Gray (self improvement book)

Beyond Mars and Venus” is John Gray’s follow-up book to his 1992 classical book on relationships, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. The book stands out as one of the best self improvement books ever written on relationships.

Although the mainstay of the book is romantic relationships, the understanding of how women and men uniquely communicate has found application in formal business communication.

Over time, relationships have evolved. The traditional definitions of men and women in relationships have undergone certain levels of change. This book by John Gray attempts to make updates on these changes.

Women are learning to optimize their masculine capabilities while men are also learning to tap into their feminine potential. These complexes bring with them fresh challenges as partners in a romantic relationship are no just seeking a “role mate” but a “soul mate”.

A man will learn the art of being better at romance while being more thoughtful and dependable to his partner.

#7 – Awaken the Giant Within – Tonny Robbins

Awaken the Giant Within - Tonny Robbins' self improvement book

Tonny Robbins is a world-famous motivational speaker, author, coach, and philanthropist. He is a self-help master wizard.

Robbins has a way around provoking you to greatness. That’s why his books are hot cake. Wildly popular. Among the best self improvement books you could ever read.

The pages of this book are an invitation to greatness by calling you out from a slumber of mediocrity. A proven peak performance guru, and internationally sought speaker, Tonny demonstrates what you need to do to have the steering wheel over your emotions, finances, body, and relationships.

The techniques to unlocking the best that you can be are practical and effective. In this step-by-step guide, you will discover what you’re here for, and you’ll take charge of your life, and be an active participant in your destiny.

Take hold of life NOW.

#8 – Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds – David Goggins

Can’t Hurt Me_ Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds - David Goggins

David Goggin’s very life is inspirational having come from a background of extreme poverty and painful abuse. He has emerged from the shadows to become a powerful motivational speaker and author who not only tells us it can be done but demonstrates how in this read that’s perhaps one of the best self-improvement books.

David is a bundle of endurance, resilience, and motivation. He’s a great marathoner and a retired navy seal. The virtues he exhibits seem contagious as you devour the contents of this inspirational book.

This book will shock you off any self-pity cocoon and stretch you up to overcome the limitations of a twisted-world.

#9 – Get out of Your Own Way – Dr. Mark Goulston and co-author Philip Goldberg

Get out of Your Own Way - Dr. Mark Goulston Self improvement book

Deal a death blow to your self-limiting habits. Here’s the weapon.

Dr. Mark Goulston, a psychiatrist, and Philip Goldberg hand you actionable tips that have been tried and tested.

Through the pages of this self improvement book, they help you overcome 40 self-defeating behaviors and come out victorious. By tackling common issues that we all face on a day-to-day basis, the text is practical, relevant, and relatable.

Some of the vices that the book helps you confront include fear, procrastination, lethargy, self-pity, anger, guilt, obsession, rebellion, jealousy, and many more.

#10 – The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face – Patrick M. Morley

The Man in the Mirror_ Solving the 24 Problems Men Face - Patrick M. Morley

This award-winning book has remained a timeless gem since it was first published in 1989. With over 4 million copies in print, it’s definitely an indispensable resource worth reading.

Drawing many of his lessons from Biblical references, Patrick M Morley urges men to have a look at themselves in the mirror with a view of fixing whatever areas fall short. As you look into the mirror and make amendments, you become a better man in the family and society.

Patrick zooms in on 24 specific problem areas for men. With insightful wisdom and practical tips, he helps men confront wide-ranging issues that are common landmines for men; finances, making choices, accountability, temperamental challenges, and handling broken relationships.

As you read this book, you’ll appreciate why it’s appeared on the bestseller list close to 20 times with over 4 million copies in print.

#11 – You are a Badass – Jen Sincero

You are a Badass - Jen Sincero

Jen delivers this refreshing 27- chapter-guide spiced up with humor. As you get entertained, you’re getting made into this awesome person who takes charge of their lives.

The book digs deep touching on insecurities and their root causes.

Create the kind of life you’d like to live. Learn to embrace with humility the things that you can’t change while working on those things you’d rather not live with.

At the end of the day, the book, one of the best self improvement books in the market, will help you realize more personal success and satisfaction, as you boost your earnings. Who wouldn’t want that?

#12 – Who Moved my Cheese? – Spencer Johnson

Who Moved my Cheese_ - Spencer Johnson

A fun-filled golden-oldie with an interesting twist on managing change. Anyone going through any major change in life must have this book.

The simple story brings out profound revelation about change. It revolves around 4 characters living in a maze, which depicts our world. They’re busy chasing around for cheese to stay happy. The cheese is an equivalent of the daily necessities we seek after; money, power, relationships, job, status, and the like.

The gist of the story is based on their reaction when unanticipated changes deprive them of their cheeses. Profound lessons can be learned from their reactions to help us cope wi8th changes in our everyday lives.

The only thing that’s constant in our fast-paced world is change. The book provides an excellent lesson in change management.

Rather than dwell on the past, identify change and prepare for it so that you make the most out of it with less stress.

#13 – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey

A timeless classic by Stephen R. Covey buttressed on solid principles that have stood the test of time.

You’ll thank yourself for getting the insights propounded by Covey for confronting and solving personal and professional challenges.

The book centers on an inward quality that produces a positive habit. The focus is on increasing an individual’s effectiveness thus making them more successful in life.

Covey lays down seven habits that if well employed can propel any individual to success. The principles are: be proactive; begin with the end in mind; prioritizing first things first; embracing a win-win mindset; endeavoring to understand others first than to be understood; synergizing; sharpening the saw.

It’s a step after step roadmap to living a dignified life characterized by fairness and virtue.

Parting words

While merely reading a book cannot automatically change you and make your life better, the best self-improvement books have a way of stirring within you the urge to get up and take action to improve yourself.

Have you read any of these books that we’ve listed above? How did it impact your life? Share with us in the comment section below. And feel free to recommend any other great self-help book we may have missed on our list.

2 comments
  1. Very good article. The Aware Self: A Compendium Of Conscious Living is another great self-help book. Different from the rest.

  2. Have you read my recently released book, “I’m Old, I’m Wise & I Know My Sh*t”? I was an agony aunt for 7 years as part of my duties as magazine editor. The tear-stained letters I received 20 years ago are still relevant today. Which was why I wrote this book and rewrote it 21 times. Could you vet my book? ISBN 9789390924769. Published in India by Amaryllis, English wing of Manjul Publishing House, which has signed a contract with me to publish a Hindi translation.

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