In this fast-paced, fast-changing world, we need to improve our personality and our perspective in life. However, this is more easily said than done. Fortunately, there are lots of motivational writers and speakers who provide us with good advice, insight, enthusiasm, will power and inspiration that will guide us on our way.
With so many self-help books these days though, it’s easy for so many good titles to get lost among the shelves. Here are the 20 best and most influential self-help books that you should check out.
1. The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho
Aside from being a writer, Paulo Coelho is also a lyricist; he also became an actor, journalist and a theater director. He published his novel The Alchemist in 1988. Originally in Portuguese, it became a best seller in 1994 and has since been translated in 70 languages.
The Alchemist recounts a story of a young Andalusian shepherd boy who wants to travel the world in search of a treasure, after having recurring dreams about it. The book teaches us that listening to one’s heart and desires is important, while learning to read the signs along the way as we go on in our life’s journey.
Steven Covey is the late American author who is principally known for his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold over 25 million copies and has transformed a lot of people’s lives.
A self-improvement book, it discusses a holistic, principle-centered and integrated approach when it comes to solving your problems. It also offers a look at how successful people do, and lets us see how these habits help them in achieving personal success.3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
It’s easy for most of us to get distracted, which causes us to lose sight of what we are and what we have in the present moment, as well as the enjoyment of it. Eckhart Tolle will guide us on how to lead us to the right way with his book The Power of Now.
Tolle is a German-born writer who is best known for his several books, most notably The Power of Now. First published in 1997, it was famously recommended by TV host Oprah Winfrey. It has sold over three million copies (as of 2009) and has been translated into 33 languages.
In this book, Tolle shows us the importance of living in the present moment, as well as the ways to do it and the benefits that we can get from it.
American businessman and author Robert Kyosaki who achieved fame from his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad which has sold over 27 million copies and has been translated into 51 languages.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is basically a financial self-help book that is inspired by the Kyosaki’s own experience growing up in Hawaii. Using a parable-style story about two fathers and two sons, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, teaches us about the importance of financial literacy, financial independence as well as financial responsibility.
Dale Carnegie was an author and lecturer who was famous for launching courses about self-improvement and interpersonal skills, among all others. His book, How to Win Friends and Influence People (published in 1936) is perhaps the grandfather of all self-help books. Its practical and accessible approach to making friends, becoming a leader and being successful in domestic affairs is still applicable even in this modern world. It’s no wonder that How to Win Friends and Influence People remains one of the most popular all-time best-sellers.6. The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck
M Scott Peck was an American psychiatrist who was the author behind the book The World Less Traveled. Published in 1978, the book only made the best-sellers list in 1984. In the book, Peck deals with the notion of discipline, the nature of love, religion and grace, and he concludes: “the miracles described indicate that our growth as human beings is being assisted by a force other than our conscious will”
7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich, by self-help author Napoleon Hill, was first published in 1937, during the Great Depression era. At the time of Hill’s death, it had sold about 20 million copies; as of 2015, it has sold over 100 million. It places consistently on the top 10 best self-help books of all time.
While the book guides people on how to increase and amass their financial fortunes, it also guides people on how to grow and improve themselves, and how to be successful in everything they do. In this book, Hill presents thirteen “steps” — desire, faith, autosuggestion, specialized knowledge, imagination, organized planning, decision, persistence, the power of the master mind, the mystery of sex transmutation, the subconscious mind, the brain, the sixth sense — to achieve success in life.
Mexican author and teacher Don Miguel Ruiz published his book The Four Agreements in 1997. It has since sold over seven million copies and has been published in 40 languages.
What’s the secret of this book’s success and popularity? In this book, Ruiz stresses the importance of the “inside,” rather than the “outside,” as a way to achieve personal freedom. The “four agreements” are:
1) Be impeccable with your word;
2) Don’t take anything personally;
3) Don’t make assumptions;
4) Always do your best.
The late English philosophical writer James Allen published his self-help book As a Man Thinketh in 1903. It is now widely regarded by devotees as well as many other self-help gurus.
In the book, Allen believes that the real-life actions are the result of our own thoughts. He shows us why something like that happens, and he also guides us on how to master our own thoughts in order to create the life that we desire.
Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and author Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was also a Holocaust survivor. His own experiences at the hands of the Nazis inspired him to write the book Man’s Search for Meaning, which was first published in 1946 in his native country. It was then published in the United States in 1959. At the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, it had sold over 10 million copies.
This inspiring and encouraging book tells us that while we could not avoid suffering, we can choose on how to cope with it, learn lessons from it and overcome it, with a whole new purpose. A man’s quest in life is not just all about pleasure, but the pursuit and desire to find something that gives you a reason to be alive.
11. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
The late motivational author Louise Hay published her self-help and new thought book You Can Heal Your Life in 1984, when she was 60 years old. By 2008, it has sold over 35 million copies and has been published in over 30 languages.
In the book, Hay states that our body and the mind are connected, and the illnesses the we feel are the result of emotional and spiritual aspect of our mind. By changing our thoughts and beliefs, we would be able to achieve emotional and even physical well-being.
The late American self-help writer and motivational speaker Wayne W. Dyer was the author behind the book The Power of Intention.
In the book, Dyer believes that your own intention is a force in the universe and shows you the way on how to tap into the power of your own intention to create the life that you want, and to enrich it.
Like many other famous self-help and personal development gurus, Anthony Robbin is wont to give you constructive advice. And it shows in his book Awaken the Giant Within. In the book, Robbin guides you on how to master every aspect in your life — your body, your mind, your emotions as well as money and relationships — by providing a program with practical steps to help you find your life’s purpose.14. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
The late psychologist and author Susan Jeffers published her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway in 1987. It has sold over 35 million copies and has been translated into 35 languages.
The book guides you on how to turn your passivity into assertiveness, on how to turn yourself from being a victim to being a creator. Jeffers provides a practical program consisting of ten steps to help you get rid of all the negative thoughts and your fears, and make your life more meaningful.
The late motivational speaker and writer David J. Schwartz published his book The Magic of Thinking Big in 1959; Forbes magazine would later hail it as one of the greatest self-help books. By 2015, it has sold over six million copies and has inspired future self-help authors such as Thomas J. Stanley, who wrote his own best-selling book The Millionaire Next Door.
If you feel trapped in your current situation and think that you can’t make it, The Magic of Thinking Big provides everything you need to turn your fortunes around, financial and everything else. With this book, you can prove that inborn talent is not necessary to achieve success.
Renowned American author, speaker and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra published his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (first published in 1994) which was inspired by Hindu and spiritualism concepts.
In this book, Chopra believes that personal success is a result of understanding our nature as human beings, instead of as a result of hard work or driving ambition. He presents seven laws which you can apply to your every day life in order to achieve success.
New Thought author Wallace D. Wattles (1860-1911) published his book The Science of Getting Rich where he discussed the ways on how to become wealthy. His approach to achieving financial success is more scientific (as the title says so), breaking it down into 17 brief, straight-to-the-point sections that guide you on to how to beat mental barriers. This book explains about how creation is the untapped key to attract material wealth (rather than competition).18. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
The late American minister and author Norman Vincent Peale is one of the pioneers of “positive thinking.” And so, his book harnesses the power of positive thinking by laying out ten surprisingly simple steps that involves developing an optimistic attitude, overcoming defeat and regaining confidence, among other things, in order to achieve the life that you want.
The Power of Positive Thinking quickly became popular (despite literary criticisms) and has sold over five million copies and has been translated into 40 languages.
American author, lecturer, screenwriter and film producer James Redfield achieved worldwide renown through his novel The Celestine Prophecy, which was first published in 1993. It has sold over five million copies (as of 2005), has been translated into 34 languages and has even received a film adaptation (which was released in 2000).
This book, told in a first-person narrative, recounts a literal and spiritual adventure which involves the search for, and the understanding of, the mysterious ancient Peruvian manuscript (which contains profound messages). This book allows you to understand why are you going through in a certain part of your life and give you the reason to be hopeful and optimistic for the future.
Zig Ziglar was an American salesman, motivational speaker and author. His book See You at the Top was first published in 1975, after being rejected by several publishers 39 times. It became popular and is still in print today.
In the book, Ziglar shares the secrets of climbing up the success ladder by presenting a program which contains six steps: self-image, your relationship with others, goals, attitude, work and desire.