The best self-help books of all time

best self-help books

It’s a season of reflection and a time when inspiration is all around us. It’s also the perfect time of year to set intentions for the months ahead and grab a time-tested self-help book to guide the way. Here we rounded up some of the best self-help books of all time for you, in no particular order.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s self-help book is a classic, and just like the title suggests, it’s a guide sharing the habits of successful and effective people. Throughout the seven focus habits, the book reminds readers to do all things with integrity, honesty – with one’s self and others – and compassion.

Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

With insight and humor, Dr. Jeffers shows readers how to become powerful in the face of their fears – and to channel energy into living happy, healthy lives. She uses a 10-step process to help readers identify what they are afraid of (and why), how to move from victim to creator, and ultimately how to create more meaning in life.

The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has researched intention as a force in the universe that allows the act of creation to take place. In doing so, this book explores intention as something we do and as a certain type of energy we’re a part of. He offers an intention guide with specific ways to apply the co-creating principles in daily life.

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho

This novel is structured very differently than most typical self-help books, but it’s recognized in the self-help community as being among the very best. The story introduces Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy in search of an extravagant treasure. He travels far and wide, and the treasures he finds on his journey teach about listening to our hearts, recognizing the signs along life’s path and following our dreams.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman 

This book helps readers to identify their love languages, as well as identify the love languages of our partner – with the intention of having both partners’ needs met. By understanding what we seek and what our partner seeks, our relationships can become stronger and more fulfilling.

What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Dr. Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D.

Dr. Helmstetter helps to positively transform readers’ lives by teaching the skill of inner self-talk. He identifies how self-talk can possess a large amount of control and influence in our lives, with weight in every decision we make.

The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle

Business blogger Megan McArdle uses stories from successful people – from doctors, bankruptcy judges and venture capitalists to kindergarten teachers – to illustrate the lessons we need to learn from failing. Her goal is to teach readers how to reinvent themselves in the face of failure.

The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

An international bestseller with more than five million copies in print, Dr. Peale’s classic self-help book has sharpened the self-improvement space for nearly 70 years. “Written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying and worthwhile life,” says the author, it teaches readers to build new power and determination, develop and reach goals and more.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Researcher and bestselling author Brené Brown pinpoints the most important issue of all in this book: our lack of self-worth and struggles with shame. It’s about courage, and harnessing the nerve to be vulnerable in a way that can transform the way we live, parent and lead.

You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

In this entertaining and funny how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach Jen Sincero infuses readers with the confidence to pursue their goals in relationships, careers, financial matters and more. Her high-energy approach is a refreshing change in this space – and one that has positively influenced millions of readers and counting.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

For more than 80 years the time-tested advice in this book has led to successes great and small, all over the world. Carnegie teaches readers six ways to make people like you, 12 ways to let people into your way of thinking, and nine ways to change peoples’ minds in a positive manner.

I’m OK, You’re OK: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis by Thomas Anthony Harris, M.D.

Harris believes we can find the freedom to change our lives by exploring the structure of our personalities and understanding our decisions of the past. He identifies three ego-states (Parent, Adult and Child) as the basis for the content and quality of interpersonal communication. 

(Feature image courtesy of @itschantalsimone)

*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. These picks are editorially selected, but if you purchase, She Reads may get something in return. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. 

Alison Luther

Alison Luther is a freelance editor and writer based in Fredericksburg, TX, where she lives with her husband and two children. Her background is in digital consumer content and marketing strategies, but today she focuses on small business marketing, ghostwriting, and writing about all things books on She Reads. In addition to raising longhorn, chickens, and children, she loves to cook and is a voracious reader.

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