The Best Self-Growth Books for Changing Your Life and Perspective

Take the next step in your inner-work journey with these personal development books.

The Best Self-Growth Books for Changing Your Life and Perspective , Young hipster woman reading a book in her living room
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If you've ever made an effort to work on your personal growth and development, you likely understand that it's an ongoing journey — there's always more to learn and there's always work to be done.

One of the best ways to continue that work and learning? Books, naturally. Not only are there tons of benefits to reading books of any kind, but by choosing to read self-growth books, you can reap the benefits of doing some personal development work as well.

Of course, everyone's personal development journey looks different, and that will color which books you turn to for guidance: Are you looking to strengthen positive habits? Are you trying to be kinder to yourself? Are you looking for a better way to address stress?

From overcoming fear to practicing self-compassion, these self-work books provide a foundation for working on the area of your personal development that needs the most attention, with one common theme: fulfilling your potential to excel in all areas of your life.

01 of 08

Atomic Habits by James Clear


Building — and sticking to — healthy, positive, and productive habits is easier said than done. Which habits do you really need to succeed, anyway? And how do you go about learning them and applying them to daily life? In Atomic Habits, Clear outlines a system to change your habits and, as a result, get "one percent better every day." Life and health coach Simone De La Rue recommends it as a personal-growth book to "help you make the small changes that will have a big impact and transform your life." (Related: What Is a Life Coach — and Can You Benefit from One?)

02 of 08

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff


"Practicing self-compassion, essentially treating yourself like a good friend, will totally transform your life," says Ellen Albertson, Ph.D., registered dietician, nutritionist and psychologist. In her self-growth book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Neff presents a combination of empirical research and personal stories, while also engaging readers with practical exercises to explore self-compassion — think: writing a letter to yourself about a time when you felt insecure or not good enough and repositioning the memory to address it from a place of acceptance. "Research shows that [self-compassion] reduces depression, anxiety, and stress and increases optimism, life-satisfaction, wellbeing, and happiness," says Albertson. (See: Your Negative Self-Talk Could Be Harming Your Health — Here's How to Stop)

03 of 08

Let It Be Easy by Susie Moore


If you find that your days are often derailed by stress, this book is for you. Moore suggests that stress is self-induced, and can just as easily be replaced with positive inductions, like peace and power. In her personal-development book Let It Be Easy, Moore provides strategic methods for replacing the stress response to negative life events (like pain, grief, anxiety) with a different reaction. As the title of this self-growth book suggests, Moore wants to teach readers ways to make their life "easy," rather than battling the challenges and the weight of stress.

04 of 08

Destination Wellness by Annie Daly


If you're seeking to firm up your wellness routine, let Daly redefine what you should really be thinking about when it comes to "wellness." A wellness and travel journalist, Daly transports readers beyond the green juices and yoga of a commercialized wellness routine as she travels to what she calls "the world's happiest and healthiest cities and villages" to discover what we can learn from them. From Japan to India, Norway to Brazil, Daly composes Destination Wellness based on these destinations and their cultural philosophies for holistic wellbeing. The takeaway: Wellness isn't about trends or products, but about the way you live your life.

05 of 08

Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty


For three years after college, Shetty lived in India, training to become a monk, which included four to eight hours of daily meditation. In Think Like a Monk, he compiles the lessons he learned from regularly clearing his mind, sitting with his thoughts, and navigating life's roadblocks — like overcoming negative thoughts and habits — to make space for the calm within. "This self-growth book brings the wisdom of monks to practical concepts that can be done by anyone, anywhere," says De La Rue.

06 of 08

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz


Too often we limit ourselves with our beliefs, unintentionally robbing ourselves of joy and creating needless suffering, explains Ruiz in this self-growth book based on the four agreements of Toltec Wisdom: Be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, and always do your best. In The Four Agreements, he unpacks these concepts from ancient Mexico so readers can learn how to apply the wisdom to the present day. "You'll discover how exactly to change your thoughts and beliefs and how doing so will transform your life," says Albertson. It may look familiar — this personal development book was released in 1997 — but it's just as relevant today, says Albertson.

07 of 08

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck


"Although it was published 25 years ago, this book is still profound, thought provoking, and pertinent for people desiring self-growth," says Albertson. The Road Less Traveled is a gentle guide to approaching loving relationships and navigating difficult change by confronting our problems head on. Peck doesn't shy away from the fact that "life is difficult," as he writes, but rather he leans into this reality, suggesting manageable ways to resolve problems, especially those that relate to personal development. "A bridge between psychology and spirituality, this book is packed with wisdom that will enable you to live each day with more love and joy," says Albertson. (Also read: The Best Guided Journals, Picked By Mental Health Pros)

08 of 08

Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones


An author, podcast host, and speaker, Jones' corner of the universe sits at the intersection of humor, media, and justice. In her book subtitled "The Fear-Fighter Manual," Jones shares personal anecdotes of times when imposter syndrome (when someone is unable to internalize and accept their success) almost dissuaded her from participating in events as significant as speaking at TED Talks and how overcoming fear is a continuous process that you must be committed to in order to maintain progress in all areas of your life. In Professional Troublemaker, Jones teaches readers "what they must get right within themselves before they can face the things that really scare them."

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