I created a browsable list of my favorite personal development books. I think I ended up with ~100 books, and that’s just a small subset of my collection (which explains why my bookshelf is overflowing). I put my top 5 at the top, though it was hard to whittle down to a fave five. I organized the books into categories to help make the list as scannable as possible, and I summarized the key problems each books addresses. I think a good measure of a book is the value of the problems it solves..
How I Figure Out Which Books to Read
I have the benefit of being surrounded by a bunch of smart people. I ask them which books made a real difference for them. This helps me weed through a lot of books and get to the best of the best. I also find a lot of books that just aren’t that mainstream. For example, most people, I know haven’t heard of Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion. Yet, this is one of those books that gives you an incredible advantage when dealing with conflict or persuading a room of people. It’s like unearthed arcana. You learn how to frame compelling arguments and argue without anger using techniques from the best Greek orators. The best part though is the author is a lyrical genius and just when you think he’s dangling a particle, he slaps you upside the head with a subtle rule of rhetoric that just makes everything OK.
Some Books You Might Not Know
Here’s a few books you may not know that might surprise you:
- Brilliant NLP: What the Most Successful People Know, Do and Say
- Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst
- Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated
- Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
- Overachievement: The New Science of Working Less to Accomplish More
Brilliant NLP is one of the best introductions to Neuro Linguistic Programming I’ve seen. You can learn how to build rapport, shake limiting beliefs, and model the success of your favorite heroes. Dealing with People You Can’t Stand is one of the best books for improving your interpersonal skills. It’s a quick playbook for understanding and coping with difficult behaviors from the Know-It-All to the Whiner. Feeling Good is an intense read, but it’s a set consolidated set of patterns and practices for feeling good. It’s not an easy read, but you’ll walk away with skills for handling everything from motivation issues to coping with the worst tragedies in your life. Learned Optimism does what’s on the can. It’s a set of thought patterns for defeating learned helplessness and pessimism. If you tend to be a critic or you always see the pits in your bowl of cherries, this book is for you. Overachievement is about kicking arse and taking names using the latest sports psychology in the workplace. The author shares stories and insights that can instantly get you out of a slump and knocking the ball out of the park.
What’s Your Favorite Books?
Although my shelf is spilling many times over, I’m always on the look out for more gems of insight. What’s your favorite book that changed your life?