10 Best Personal Development Books to add to your shelf

Are you looking for the next book that you’re going to immerse yourself in? Reading a personal development book isn’t exactly like reading a novel, but it can be just as fun if you have the right mindset!

I like to keep it fun by taking notes and relating the information in the books to my personal experiences.

Sometimes personal development books can be a little difficult to read. You can now find most of the top self improvement books in audiobook format. Some of them are even read by the author!

The only downside of an audiobook is it’s harder to make notes while you’re “reading.” If you are an audiobook person then make bookmarks for yourself on the sections that stick out to you and then when you get a chance to sit down and review, write notes to yourself about what you got out of those sections.

Another way to keep notes on your favorite sections of personal development books and audiobooks is to use the voice memo app on your phone. I use my voice memo app because I can’t always sit down to write what my thoughts are at the time. Then, I can go back to my voice memos and put some text in my evernote file or in my journal.

Why spend your time reading?

There’s so many ways to fill your time. You could scroll facebook for an hour, watch snapchat stories until your eyes are bloodshot, or lounge around without any direction.

Reading a book is literally taking the author’s world view and information that they have spent years learning, and consuming it in hours.

There is so much power and knowledge in books. You can change your perspective, gain motivation, and learn something new by reading a book.

You probably already know all these things, otherwise you would have even clicked on this link to read my list, but I think it’s a good reminder to why you’d spend your time checking these books out.

There are so many great personal development books out there, but I have created a list of just 10 that you should add to your shelf immediately.

The list

This list of personal development books are just some of my personal favorites. You may have heard of them, but maybe you haven’t.

Some of them are classics and some are relatively new. I hope you are able to take the knowledge in these books and let it help you on the next step in your personal development journey!

Pitch Anything - Personal Development Book

Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff

If you ever take part in presenting information to people (which is something that all of us do) then Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff is a must read.

Oren breaks down his formula and STRONG method of pitching information to people. One of the major points of his book is that people have the croc brain which is where information is first passed through when it comes into we see it or hear it.

Our croc brain takes the information and determines whether or not it’s an immediate threat. After information passes through our croc brain, it is sent up the chain of command in our brain to our neo-cortex. Our neo-cortex then works out where the information needs to go.

9 out of 10 pitches end up getting stuck in someone’s croc brain because it confuses the information with a threat. This is why people seem to get so defensive when they are presented with new information.

Oren then breaks down the different “frames” that you will come up against and how to use “frame busters” to relate your information to your audience.

Oren is one of the best presenters of our time, and by reading or listening to his book, you will learn exactly why he has been so successful.

I would recommend this book to anyone who does any public speaking or group presentations.

Extreme Ownership - Personal Development Book

Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Leadership is one of the cornerstones of your personal development journey. Becoming a great leader is something that you will accomplish with practice. You’re already working hard to become the best version of yourself that you can be, and I’m sure people are taking notice.

Extreme Ownership is a personal development book that is all about the leadership principles of the US Navy Seals. Jocko and Leif are retired US Navy Seals that now have their own company that teaches these leadership tactics to companies all over the world.

The book is broken up in to 3 parts:

  1. Winning the war within
  2. The laws of combat
  3. Sustaining victory

Each part has multiple chapters devoted to the best leadership tactics that the US Navy Seals have developed over their years of combat.

One of the most eye opening parts of this personal development book is that while you might expect Navy Seals to be rough and gruff with their leadership, they are actually very understanding.

With great tactics like keeping things simple, prioritize and execute, and decisiveness amid uncertainty, you can bet that you will learn something from this book.

I highly recommend it and it is one of my personal favorites.

Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill - Personal Development Book

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Finances are a major part of everyone’s personal development journey. As a matter of fact, they are one of the 6 categories of personal development that I always recommend everyone to develop a why for. My 6 are:

  1. Finances
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Fun
  5. Work
  6. Health

But this book is about more than just making money. The title may be a little misleading in this way.

This book is about mindset and the power that your thoughts have over every aspect of your life.

Think and Grow Rich is one of the classic personal development books. It offers many suggestions on how to better yourself.

The author, Napoleon Hill, discusses his own personal battles with mindset and how he came to understand the power of thinking.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for help with mindset and planning their lives.

Essentialism - Personal Development Book

Essentialism – Greg Mckeown

As we develop our skills and grow our network, we will start to be asked to do more and more. This book is the best one I have read that discusses the power of saying no.

Greg Mckeown asks pivotal questions such as “What is it that you want to do with your ONE wild and precious life?”

He give us great analogies such as imagining your life as a 4 burner stove. One each for your family, friends, work, and health. You are going to have to choose which burners to turn higher and which to turn off at different times. Being prepared for this is of vital importance.

The point of the book is to help you determine what is most valuable and precious to you. I can help you with this as well with my free template for creating your whys.

He isn’t telling us to say no to everything, just to the things that aren’t a 100% yes. The things that aren’t truly vital.

To operate at your highest level of contribution, you must make an effort to tune into what is important here and now. There are certain things that you should keep in mind every day.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is feeling a little overwhelmed and like they are having trouble saying no to things that they know don’t fall in line with their big goals.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution - Personal Development Book

The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Franklin Covey

With big goals and dreams comes big execution. Execution is where most of us fall short.

We plan. We create. We have all of these wonderful ideas, and then we just don’t go anywhere with them.

It’s OK to admit that you’ve done that. I know I have. Executing on my ideas is one of the biggest struggles I have.

The 4 disciplines of execution are:

  1. Focus on the wildly important
  2. Act on the lead measures
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard and know the score at all times
  4. Create a cadence of accountability

The book dives into each of these disciplines and the author does an incredible job of explaining why each one is pivotal to your success.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is like me and struggles with executing on their ideas.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Personal Development Book

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

This personal development book is still marketed as the first – and still the best – book of its kind to lead you to success.

It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period. And I read the Harry Potter series!

How to Win Friends and Influence people offers valuable about growing your network and just being a sincere person.

When I read this book, I was instantly reminded of 2 friends of mine who just naturally act the way that this book suggests a person act. I’m working to become one of those people as well.

The lessons in this book are timeless and true. Some of them may seem like common sense. They might not be the most original ideas, but they are great ideas nonetheless.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking to gain a better understanding of how to make true friends.

Meditations - Personal Development Book

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was Roman emperor from 8 March 161 to his death; he was also a Stoic philosopher.

We are so lucky that he wrote many of his thoughts down and those thoughts have been published as a book called Meditations.

This book shares his thoughts in some of the most trying times in his life. He does a great job of instilling wisdom in anyone who opens this book.

Whether you’ve heard of Stoic philosophy or not, you will get great value from reading this book.

His major influence on the people who read this personal development book is that it helps the reader to understand to only compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

“What is it about ourselves that we should prize? An audience clapping? No. Throw out the recognition of others. Take each day and do what you were meant to do.” Marcus is so thoughtful and so many of his passages will make you think about what you are consuming and how your thoughts could be getting in the way of your own success.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is having trouble with comparing themselves to others or trouble with controlling their thoughts. Keep your mind on the most important things to remember to do every day.

Principles - Personal Development Book

Principles – Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates which is one of the nation’s largest investment firms. Ray has grown this company from being just himself into one of the most powerful contemporary companies.

He has done this by employing certain principles that he learned on his journey. Bridgewater was one of the first companies to use personality testing to build teams of people who would work best together.

This personal development book has an impact that goes beyond just personal development. He gives life lessons as well that will make you think deeply about how you are spending your time and where your highest value lies.

His way of thinking is contagious and when you start to understand how powerful principles can be, you will find yourself thinking about them every day.

I would recommend this book to people who are trying to be more open minded.

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor - Personal Development Book

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor – Gary Keller

Whether or not you have any interest in investing in real estate, this book offers many lessons that go far beyond just buying and selling real estate.

Gary Keller does a wonderful job of discussing how to set your goals and how to spend your time to get the best results from the smallest amount of effort.

Since finances are one of the bedrocks of our personal development, this book is recommended based on its insight to how to manage your money.

The advice in this book will work for any type of investing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a little help with their finances and investing.

The Art of War - Personal Development Book

The Art of War – Sun Tzu

This text is roughly 2,500 years old, but it still rings true today. The Art Of War is not a book that is only about war.

There are many lessons from this book that correlate to every day life and the way that you interact with the people around you.

This book discusses preparation, mindset, emotions, and many other important things.

I’ll be honest: This book took me multiple attempts to read. I first picked it up about 6 years ago, and I wasn’t read for it. I read it cover to cover in 2018 and it made a lot more sense to me.

One of the parts of this book that hit home for me was a small section on staying level headed:

  • Resolved to die, one can be killed
  • Resolved to live, one can be captured
  • Quick to anger, one can be goaded
  • Pure and honest, one can be shamed
  • Loving the people, one can be aggravated

This book will be interpreted by everyone a little bit differently. I took this passage as advice to keep yourself level at all times. Understanding when to stay rigid and when to become more fluid is of utmost importance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for deep insight into how to prepare and behave to get the most out of themselves.

List of my top 10 personal development books

  1. Pitch Anything
  2. Extreme Ownership
  3. Think and Grow Rich
  4. Essentialism
  5. The 4 Disciplines of Execution
  6. How to Win Friends and Influence People
  7. Meditations
  8. Principles
  9. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor
  10. The Art of War

Wrapping it up

Reading is one of those things that will always hold value in your life. Personal development books can be found everywhere. These are the 10 that have had the most value to me up until this point. There are so many more that I’ve enjoyed and I will share those in another post.

It’s important to keep notes of the books that you read, unless you just have the world’s best memory. I will sometimes forget that I’ve even read a book! You might forget the most important parts of some of these books just a week after you read them.

Try to read 10 pages a day and you will be knocking many books out in no time. It’s an achievable goal. If you have any books to recommend, I’d love to hear about them!

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