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10 of the Best Self Improvement Books

A quick search on Amazon.com shows there are over 35,000 self improvement books, and more are being released every day. With this much reading material, it can be difficult to decide which books are worth picking up.

This list contains some of the best self improvement books to help you get started. The spectrum of self-help knowledge out there is pretty broad, so this list covers a few of the bigger topics, namely: building effective habits, managing your time effectively and learning how to create value (for yourself and others).

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Steven Covey's book is one of the best selling self improvement books of all time, and it's easy to see why. Many self-help books are based on quick fixes, but the 7 habits concentrate on building a strong foundation instead.

The different habits are split into three groups:

Each habit is given a chapter to itself, and new habits build on the previous ones. Even if you don't become a master of all 7 habits, you're bound to find something useful in the book.

The NOW Habit

If you've ever had problems with procrastination, then The NOW Habit is for you. The book addresses the causes of procrastination, and gives a thorough plan for beating it.

One of the most important parts of the system is that it encourages scheduling fun, not just wringing a little more work out of the day. It's a great way to make sure you create a balanced schedule, and ensures you can enjoy your relaxation time.

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done, or GTD as many of its fans call it, is one of the most popular time management systems available. David Allen covers just about everything you'll need to create an effective system, including:

The best part of the GTD system is how flexible it is, and it's easy to see why so many people use it.

The E-Myth Revisited

Over a million businesses are started in the US each year, with 40% of them failing in the first year and 80% by the fifth. The E-Myth Revisited describes why this happens, and more importantly how to fix it.

Although it's not strictly a self improvement book, there's a host of useful information on how to find fulfilment in work. Even if you have no interest in starting a business, there's some good stuff about how different aspects of your personality affect the decisions you make.

Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's powerful recollection of his time in a World War 2 concentration camp. It might sound like a bleak read (and it is in parts) but throughout the book Frankl writes about how the experience changed him and the positive lessons he tried to draw from it.

The Power of Focus

It's common to hear the word "focused" being used when talking about the success of others. Common sense would suggest that focusing on the tasks that bring us closer to our goals is a good idea, but it's sometimes difficult to do in practice.

The Power of Focus gives ten different strategies for developing focus. They can be used to achieve personal, business or financial goals. Topics covered include:

Each chapter also ends with a short set of "action steps" to guide you through the process of building new habits.

The Power of Full Engagement

The Power of Full Engagement takes a different approach to most organization books, in that it suggests managing energy rather than time. A lot of the advice may seem like common sense, but it all works together to create something useful. Recommended if you find yourself low on energy and trudging through work.

Pragmatic Thinking & Learning

Although the book is aimed at computer programmers (hence the subtitle "Refactor Your Wetware"), there's plenty of value in it for everyone else. The chapters are diverse, but are all focused on the theme on building more efficient skills for thinking, learning and doing. Highlights include:

Don't be out off by the programming focus - there are many valuable lessons inside.

59 Seconds

As the title implies, 59 Seconds is more about bite-sized information than long chapters. Each article in the book is backed up by plenty of scientific studies, which cover areas from procrastination to goal setting. Some of the answers seem obvious, but others are quite surprising (such as how concentrating on a goal's end result can damage motivation rather than help it).

Despite there being a heavy focus on backing claims up with scientific evidence, it's still easy to pick up and read, and there's enough variety in the topics to make it interesting for everyone.

The 4-Hour Work Week

Plenty of self-help books make lofty promises, and Tim Ferris' "4 Hour Work Week" is definitely one of them. Will you only have to work 4 hours a week after reading it? Probably not. However, there are still some topics that are worth investigating, such as:

Even if you have no interest in outsourcing your life, you can benefit from a lot of the content in the book.

For more recommended books on self improvement, time management and goal setting, see the list of Personal Development Books.