This list of the top 20 best personal development books is one I enjoyed creating because reading good personal development books is one of the best ways to invest in your own growth. The right reading habits can improve your memory and learning capabilities.
It is no wonder that many successful people credit their success to their reading habits. Oprah Winfrey once said, “books were my path to personal freedom.”
*Note: Some links on this page are affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Looking for the best personal development books to start reading now?
The top 20 personal development book collection is perfect for you. If you can read just one of these books every month and take action on the key takeaways you get from it, I promise you that at the end of the year your life will not be the same. Reading is an investment in your personal growth.
Bill Gates is also known to be a voracious reader, completing about 50 books a year. That’s about a book a week and is no mean feat. I will share with you his 4 rules on how to read a book just below the table of contents.
Click on the table of contents to navigate to any point you would like in the post.
- Looking for the best personal development books to start reading now?
- About The Best Books On Personal Development
- List of The Top 20 Personal Development Books
- 1. The 7 Habits of Highly effective people; Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
- 2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- 3. The success principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be – Jack Canfield
- 4. How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie
- 5. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny – Tony Robbins
- 6. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? – Rick Warren
- 7. The Power of Positive Thinking – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
- 8. Developing the Leader Within You – John C. Maxwell
- 9.Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! – Robert T. Kiyosaki
- 10. Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude – Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
- 11. Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation – Edward L. Deci
- 12. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – Joseph Murphy
- 13. Outliers- The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell
- 14. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
- 15. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg
- 16. See You at The Top- Zig Ziglar
- 17.The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- 18. Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills that Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed – Brian Tracy
- 19. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen
- 20. Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life – Spencer Johnson
Bill Gates’ 4 rules on how to read a book :
- Don’t start a book that you will not finish
- Take notes to make sure you are absorbing new knowledge, make sure you are concentrating.
- Read what is comfortable with you whether print or digital books.
- Read for at least one hour every day.
So, if one of your goals in 2020 is to read more books, you are in the right place.
I subscribe to the school of thought that books are the path to enlightenment and freedom. And I believe that the books on this list have the ability to totally transform your life.
When Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success, he said, pointing to a nearby stack of books,
“ Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” – Warren Buffett
Do you have 15 minutes to spare?
I totally understand. You are a busy person and much as your personal development is really important to you, you cannot imagine adding any more tasks that need a ton of time your to-do list.
Let me introduce you to Blinkist.
It is an app that highlights the key insights from some of the best nonfiction books. It provides summaries (called blinks) which make it possible for you to get the best of a book in a matter of minutes. And the best part, it is available in both audio and text.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
About The Best Books On Personal Development
One of the things I really like about most of the books on this top 20 best personal development books list is that they have been popular for years. A book like Think and Grow Rich was written in 1937 and has been revised multiple times but its principles are still applicable today. That tells me that the wisdom in these books is for the most part, timeless.
Below you will find a summary of the top 20 personal development books after which there will be short reviews of each of the books and an affiliate link through which you can see more reviews on the book and/or buy it.
Are you only interested in a specific book in the top 20 personal development books list? Click on the link below and it will take you straight to the book’s review and links to check it out.
List of The Top 20 Personal Development Books
Short reviews of the top 20 personal development books:
1. The 7 Habits of Highly effective people; Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey covers 7 habits that you can adopt in your own life to become more effective. There is an emphasis on effectiveness rather than efficiency (Yes, there is a difference). It is no good being highly efficient on stuff that is not important.
The 7 habits covered in the book are:
- Be proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Put first things first
- Think win-win
- Seek first to understand then to be understood
- Sharpen the saw
I won’t preempt the book any further. This book has been on the Amazon bestselling books list for like forever, and for good reason. If you are keen on becoming more effective in your life, get yourself a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
There is wealth in this book. Napoleon Hill draws from the stories of successful people to teach you the secrets that can help you have a rich life. It is one of the most life-changing books you will ever read and it has withstood the test of time.
Ultimately, you are the captain of your life, you steer in the direction which you want. Realize that you have this power within you and this book will help you unlock that power.
“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”– Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
3. The success principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be – Jack Canfield
In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield lays out 65 principles that have been used by successful people throughout history which can be adapted to your own life. Should you be looking for just one book with lots of great ideas to help you make improvements in your life, then get this one.
You will learn how to increase confidence, tackle daily challenges, live a life of passion and purpose and realize your ambitions.Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks
4. How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie
The ideas in How To Win Friends & Influence People are very simple but they have the potential to significantly impact your relationships. You will find simple advice such as to smile and remember people’s names and also more serious and crucial insights on how to deal with arguments.
When you are in a position of leadership, having influence and great relationships with others is an asset. And this book will be of great help to you in that area. I love that the advice in there is very simple yet really practical.
5. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny – Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins has created his place as one of the greatest authorities in the personal growth and development space today. Many people will agree that he is a great coach and in Awaken The Giant Within, he has also established himself as a great author.
It is hard to choose only one book from the top 20 personal development books list since they are all so good. But, if you are only going to pick one book to read today, pick this one. Then take the wisdom in the book and take action. You can now watch the quality of your life improve drastically.
6. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? – Rick Warren
I read The Purpose Driven Life for the first time over 10 years ago and helped me to discover that each one of us has a purpose in life. The book seeks to help clarify your purpose in life, to answer the question, why am I on earth? For each one of us, it is your responsibility to identify and live in your purpose and Rick Warren will help you to do so through this book.
The purpose driven life is also really popular for group studies in churches and study groups on purpose. For the clarity you need on purpose, get yourself a copy.
7. The Power of Positive Thinking – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
You control your life by controlling your thinking. the power of positive thinking is one that none of us can afford to ignore and Dr. Peale does well in developing the argument for positive thinking.
The Power of Positive Thinking is an international bestseller and is one that should be on everyone’s bookshelf. No matter where you are in life, there is wisdom in this book to help you live a happier, more fulfilling life.
8. Developing the Leader Within You – John C. Maxwell
Leadership is all about influence. Great leaders are those who are able to influence others positively. You will find Developing the Leader Within You to be a great resource for developing leadership principles in a systematic way. There are many practical points that will help you become a better leader in whichever position you are.
9.Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! – Robert T. Kiyosaki
Do you believe that you need to earn a huge income for you to be rich? This book is best for improving your financial intelligence. The advice in the book is practical and will help to start you off and improve your personal growth in finance. If you are looking for a personal growth book in finance and investing, Rich Dad Poor Dad is the book for you.
10. Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude – Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
Your success, happiness, health, and financial wellbeing are all dependent on your attitude. I listened to the audio version of this book and I found it quite remarkable. It covers principles of success and makes a case for how a positive mental attitude is key to attain success. Using real stories of men and women that used the power of positive attitude to attain success, the wisdom is timeless. Success through a positive mental attitude is one of those books you have to read more than once because it is that good.
11. Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation – Edward L. Deci
Sometimes your external circumstances do not motivate you but you need the drive to keep going on. Self-motivation is something we cannot ignore in pursuit of personal growth. You cannot achieve success without self-motivation.
In Why We Do What We Do, Deci delves into the science of human motivation, how and why we do the things to do. He gives actionable advice to help you create sustainable motivation and drive in your life. Apart from being a great resource for everyone who is in charge of others, as a parent, this book will be an eye-opener and help you practice positive parenting.
12. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – Joseph Murphy
Our subconscious mind does most of our daily thinking. Understanding the power of your subconscious mind and releasing this power is the secret possessed by successful people.
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind is an easy read and will help you to understand the power of your subconscious mind better and how to work with your subconscious mind to improve all areas of your life.
13. Outliers- The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell
Many people say that their success is self-made. But why is it that some people attain great levels of success while others fail to attain their highest potential? Gladwell takes the scientific approach to explain the different factors that play a role in one achieving success.
You will learn about the 10,000-hour rule. For one to become an expert in a certain area, they have to have put in at least 10,000 hours of practice. In Outliers, I not only enjoyed all the stories Gladwell uses to prove his point, but I also found it quite eye-opening. Do you think there are self-made successful people? Outliers will change your perspective.
14. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
If you are an introvert, this is a must-read for you. I am an introvert myself and I know that sometimes we spend a great deal of time trying to adjust. Adjusting to a world that seems to be going at a much faster pace than we are comfortable with.
You will learn that there is nothing about your introversion that needs ‘fixing’. It will free you to be true to yourself and realize that being an introvert is not a flaw. It is a beautiful thing. Grab that book fellow introvert, you won’t regret it. Looking for something to gift an introvert? Quiet is a good choice.
15. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg
Habits can either enslave you or free you, you only need to learn to handle habits well. This is why I felt that this book was a must-have in the best personal development books list. Habits can make you or break you.
The Power of Habit will teach you how habits are formed and their influence over individuals and society. Get a copy of The Power of Habit and learn how to replace bad habits with good habits and utilize the power of habit to excel in life.
16. See You at The Top- Zig Ziglar
This book is really a step by step guide to help you live a happier and successful life. Ziglar covers 6 steps for success including self-image, relationships, goals among others. You will learn how to set and accomplish goals, develop a healthy self-image and have better relationships with others.
Do you need the inspiration it takes to get to the top? Then you really need to get See You at The Top!
17.The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Of course, The Alchemist made it to the Top 20 Best Personal Development Books list! Everyone should read it. The Alchemist is a modern classic that tells an inspiring tale of self-discovery. It is a book that inspires the courage to pursue your goals and visions no matter how big they are. When I read it, it reminded me of “The monk who sold his Ferrari” and “The richest man in Babylon”, the lessons are weaved into the storytelling beautifully. If you read either of these books and liked them, you are going to like the Alchemist.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Do you want to live fully the life that you truly desire? The Alchemist is the book for you.
18. Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills that Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed – Brian Tracy
You have the power to succeed but you have to first recognize your true potential. Maximum Achievement will give you the strategies you need to realize your potential and achieve success in all areas of your life. If you apply the principles outlined in this book by Brian Tracy, you will be able to see the results in your own life quickly.
19. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen
Who doesn’t want to be productive yet stress-free? I know I do. This is a book to help you become more organized. David Allen offers practical skills which you can implement immediately and start seeing changes in your own life. Getting your life into order will definitely relieve you of unnecessary stress and make you more productive.
20. Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life – Spencer Johnson
Who moved my cheese is my all-time favorite book. I think it will always make it to my Top 20 Best Personal Development Books list every year because it has transformed my life so much. It is short to read, I think it is like 32 pages. And it has a life-changing message, I try to read it every year.
Read the full review: Who Moved My Cheese Summary and Book Review
Improve Your Reading Habit
In order for you to read the Top 20 Personal Development Books effectively, you have to improve your reading habits. I do have some tips for you in this section.
- Set aside about 20 minutes every day to read. 1 hour a day is ideal but when starting off, 20 minutes are just fine. I find that the best time to make time for reading is at night before you sleep. Instead of scrolling through social media waiting to fall asleep, pick a book, and enjoy reading until you actually fall asleep. Blinkist is a great resource for short book summaries.
- If reading does not appeal to you then try listening to audiobooks as you drive, commute, or even go about your daily activities. Listening is the new reading 🙂
What is the best personal development book you have read?
However, I will be working on more resourceful lists which target specific areas of development, e.g. finances, entrepreneurship, etc.
I would love your feedback/help on this and here is how you can help me. In the comment box below give me your response to these questions:
- Did you like the Top 20 Personal Development Books list?
- Which are some of your favorite books that are not on this list?
- Which areas are you looking for reading suggestions/ recommendations on?
I look forward to hearing from you.
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