“The wise man reads both books and life itself.” ~ Lin Yutang

I often get asked which self help books I’d recommend to read. I think everybody has a book or two that had a profound influence on his/her way of life. Some books were a great help on the path of personal growth and some were even life-changing. I personally read hundreds of self help books in the past and this is my list of 10 books I would recommend to everybody without a second thought. So here is my personal Top 10 list of the best self help books in reverse order…

The Top 10 Self Help Books:

#10 The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

A really new kind of thinking about where you invest your time and what is the most effective way to do it. Even if you don’t manage to only work for 4 hours a week (who really wants that anyway?), the ideas from Tim Ferris could make it possible. → Get The 4 Hour Workweek on Amazon

#9 Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

One of the best productivity books. It is a complete system for using your time most efficiently and especially there where it matters most for you. → Get Getting Things Done on Amazon

#8 The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

A great and complete guide to happiness in life by The Dalai Lama (← my review). It focusses on worldly factors like wealth and satisfaction as well as spiritual parts. → Get The Art of Happiness on Amazon

#7 Good To Great by Jim Collins

Another success book and especially one if you want to build a great business. I really enjoyed this book which is based on examining companies that made it from decent to really outstanding. → Get Good to Great on Amazon

#6 The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

This is about “A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth”. → Get The Road Less Traveled on Amazon

#5 Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. → Get Man’s Search for Meaning on Amazon

#4 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

For more than sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. → Get How to Win Friends and Influence People on Amazon

The Top 3 Self Help Books:

#3 Think and Grow Rich

by Napoleon Hill

Napolean Hill’s classic book from 1930 is of course a book about money. But at it’s core it’s also a personal developmment book that can help you to develop a mindset of success and personal achievement.

What you will learn: While the title says that the goal is to become rich, it actually teaches a lot about what is now known as The Law of Attraction: thoughts become things. What and how you think continiously is what you draw into your life. The book is based on 500 interviews of super-successful people of that time.

Why I recommend it: Whether we like it or not, money is an important part in our life. It helps to get educated in that area and build a mindset so that money is not a limiting factor in our life. For me this book opened a lot of new thinking strategies, which not only helped in reaching my financial freedom.

Get Think and Grow Rich on Amazon (Kindle Edition, Audio Book)

#2 The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

“The 7 Habits” is an outstanding book to build positive habits that really improve your life. It is like a framework for success and for building character and integrity, with Stephen Covey being the exceptional personality who really walked his talk.

What you will learn: The book has two parts: private victory and public victory. In the first part, the private victory of the 7 Habits, you’ll learn the 3 habits to personal effectiveness: Proactivity, Begin with the end in mind, First things first.
In the second part, the public victory, you’ll learn the qualities to be effective with other people: Think win-win, Understanding others, Synergize. The last of the 7 habits is Personal Renewal. You also learn a lot about personal vision, goals, time-management and communication.

Why I recommend it: The 7 Habits are not just 7 random tips to improve your life, it is a complete system reduced to the essence of effectiveness. It comes from deep understanding and from the willingness to believe and seek the good in everyone and everything. It is a source to start with the man in the mirror and then to go on to build a better world.

Get The 7 Habits on Amazon (Kindle Edition, Audio Book)

#1 The Power of Now

by Eckhart Tolle

If I could recommend only one self help book, The Power of Now would be it. This is one of those life-changing books that can turn your world upside down.

What you will learn: The Power of Now is really a spiritual book. If you let it, it can connect you with yourself beyond your name, character, roles or body. You will learn to feel and trust your deeper sense of self again. Most importantly if helps you to be more alive and to center your consciousness in the present moment – The Now. The subtitle is “A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” and that’s what is really all about. The first chapter teaches you that “You Are Not Your Mind”. And this is also the credo in order to really understand the book, which contains not just intellectual knowledge but also real transformational power.

Why I recommend it: The Power of Now had a huge positive impact on my life. While I was always drawn to spiritual books seeking for the truth of what is, I never glimpsed the actual experience of spirituality. Spiritual awakening, as Eckhart Tolle writes himself in the book, is not some super-human accomplishment but simple the felt oneness with being. Unfortunately our own ego and mind chatter gets in our way in order to really feel this oneness. The present moment, or The Now as Tolle calls it, is the entry point into this realization. Oprah Winfrey recommended the book as well.

If you haven’t read The Power of Now yet, start with the first chapter here on this site and dive into this life changing book from Eckhart Tolle. You can read my in-depth Review of The Power of Now here.

Get The Power of Now on Amazon (Kindle Edition, Audio Book)

Those were my 10 recommendations for self help books. I would love to hear in the comments which books you would recommend and which had a positive influence on your life!


  1. Comment by Evelyn Morehead

    Evelyn Morehead Reply February 15, 2016 at 9:07 am

    I found your site while attempting to find self-help books for a young man I know who is now in prison. Some of the ten would not be very adaptable to prisoners; some will. Can you recommend books for people in prison? They tell me that about all they have to do is read. It would be great if they could improve their lives while doing so.

  2. Comment by John (Books That Will Change Your Life)

    John (Books That Will Change Your Life) Reply August 6, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Nice list! I run a website on life-changing books so I’m researching now and looking for inspiration on which books to include. I’ve covered three of these already, and right now I’m reading The Power of Now :) And probably Think and Grow Rich will be the one of the upcoming ones. How to Win Friends and Influence People and Getting Things Done also seem very popular on lists like these. Thank you!

  3. Comment by Mfeke

    Mfeke Reply May 31, 2015 at 4:50 am

    Thank you very much for this profound information. I haven’t read in a while. I am so motivated by your blog. My sister has urged me to read the power of mow. As I was browsing through the Internet, I came across your blog. My only challenge is to finish reading a book. I found myself having read lots of books without finishing.
    Please help me to focus. I will appreciates your help.

  4. Comment by Johann

    Johann Reply February 24, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Hello! I love the list. I’m a self-help book veteran going all the way back to Napoleon Hill and even Norman Vincent Peale’s classics. I’ve recently discovered neuroplasticity and how we can use it to “make over” our brains to have a success mind-set. It’s seriously brilliant stuff. Has anyone else read Norman Doidge’s “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science” or Nekesa Ouma Namulu’s “The Michelangelo Effect: Keys to Extraordinary Success for Ordinary People”? Also brilliant is the TED talk by Michael Merzenich: Growing evidence of brain plasticity. It’s self-help folks, but not as we know it! Would love to hear other’s thoughts.

  5. Comment by Katie Smith

    Katie Smith Reply November 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you for your list! Have you read “Mentor Me” by Ken Poirot? I just finished it and I thought it was the best self-help book I have read so far. I think it deserves to be on your list.

    The author’s background is very interesting…science, business, sales, financial services, management. He writes in a very conversational, warm, and friendly tone I found inviting and better than so many books in this genre written from the ivory tower. In contrast, I found this book to be so practical and it has an immediate positive impact on my life. Please add it to your list!

  6. Comment by John

    John Reply October 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks for the great list Myrko!

    I finally decided to improve my way of life. I just finished reading John Maxwell’s Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. This is a great book by a great author.

    I am so happy that I came across your blog. More power to you, sir!

  7. Comment by Ron Thibault

    Ron Thibault Reply August 19, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Myrko, i have read the Secret, and Think and Grow Rich. Two great books that have already changed my life. I have just started on How To Win Friends and Influence People, but just having gotten an upper hand on a life long battle with depression, am looking for any extra info, knowledge, or tricks to keep focused and motivated. I appreciate any help!

  8. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply August 17, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Thanks a lot Etienne, this means a lot to me!

  9. Comment by ETIENNE

    ETIENNE Reply August 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I can’t stop thanking you Myrko . You are such an inspiration to me. This is my first year in a personal development and I am really learning a lot from you and I can see myself achieving my goals soon as long I follow you.
    You are really changing the world!!

  10. Comment by yatin

    yatin Reply July 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    One of the best ever personal development books, for anybody looking to improve multiple aspects of his life, is and has always been the The Psycho-Cybernetics, (1960)by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. The 2001 updated edition, The New Psycho-cybernetics is highly worth reading too!!

  11. Comment by Kara

    Kara Reply June 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

    My number one spot (of the books from your list that I’ve read) would probably be a tie between “Think and Grow Rich” and “The 4 Hour Workweek.”

    My number two spot would be one that is not on your list yet (I think it came out after you wrote this post). It’s “Simply Successful” by Evan Dorren. It does a great job of tying together the concepts that most personal development books seem to agree are components of success – things like personal responsibility and accountability, understanding desire, building belief, taking action, and shaping our day to day environments. Would definitely recommend it.

    Thanks for the great list.

  12. Comment by Bastiaan

    Bastiaan Reply May 20, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Hello Myrko,

    Thanks for sharing this great selection of books. My personal favorite is the 7 habits. This book really changed my life and got me on the right track.

    Do you also read books of Anthony Robbins? I love reading his book Awaken the Giant within. Any way, a nice list and a nice site. I will keep following you!

    I also have a list of my favorite books (together with my girlfriend). You can check it out at: http://want2discover.com/best-self-help-books/
    (sorry for the shameless link, but it’s a great selection of book). You’re also more than welcome to have a look around at our blog!

  13. Comment by Todd

    Todd Reply February 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I would read Napoleon Hill and his “Outwitting The Devil” as it was written a year after ‘Think And Grow Rich”
    Think And Grow Rich was the most influential book I have ever read until “Outwitting The Devil”3 Which was buried by his wife and family till well after his death and only released within the past few years. After you read it you will see why.
    Awesome Read!!!
    Your #1 and #2 recommendations are now on my list of books to read.Thanks


  14. Comment by IRAFASHA FELICIEN

    IRAFASHA FELICIEN Reply December 22, 2013 at 10:44 am


  15. Comment by Jane Gagarin

    Jane Gagarin Reply November 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you for these recommendations. I will pick up a copy of The Power Of Now. I just finished reading Joy Chudacoff’s What’s Next? http://whatsnextthebook.com/
    Certainly gets my top recommendation for this year and a strong contender for position in any list.

  16. Comment by Yuval Perry

    Yuval Perry Reply November 1, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Definitely the Power Of Now, is one of the best, it really gave me inspiration to change my life

  17. Comment by Boni Lonnsburry

    Boni Lonnsburry Reply June 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Myrko,

    LOVED this article and your website. I think the bottom line, as some of your readers have pointed out, is: “has my life changed, because of this book”. THOSE are powerful endorsements.

    I would be interested to see what you think of this book: http://amzn.to/18PyR6n

    It has helped many already, despite it’s not even a month old. Let me know if you’d like to read it. I’d love to send you a copy.


  18. Comment by zafar

    zafar Reply May 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

    they are really seen good books. But they are on cost, i can’t buy them.would somebody shares with if posible. I will be thankful.

  19. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply May 27, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Yes Jor Barrie, TPON can help and open eyes on many levels. Not only spiritually, but also psychologically. Thanks for your insight here.

  20. Comment by Jor Barrie

    Jor Barrie Reply May 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Great list, Myrko!

    For me it’s definitely ‘The Power Of Now’, as it really helped me to live with ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ and even seriously reduce its effect on me. Very highly recommended, also because its easy to read and understand.


  21. Comment by Michael

    Michael Reply May 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    One definitely on my list is “Freedom from the Known” by J. Krishnamurti

  22. Comment by Erald Kumrija

    Erald Kumrija Reply April 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Hello Myrko

    Thank you for compiling this list. I find it really helpful. Another life-changing book I would recommend is the classic Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.

    Keep up with good work

    Erald from Albania.

  23. Comment by Sam

    Sam Reply March 9, 2013 at 3:38 am

    And also THE SHADOW EFFECT by Debbie Ford, Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson.

  24. Comment by Sam

    Sam Reply March 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Hi Myrko,
    Bless you for helping people get out of the deep dark hole of depression by sharing your story!
    Love your site !
    I would like to add to the list : Zero Limits by Joe Vitale

  25. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply January 2, 2013 at 5:47 am

    @Rita Watts, perfect! Yes, “As A Man Thinketh” is a favorite of mine too! Maybe it should be on this list as well!

    Thanks for a great and inspiring comment, Cinderita! :)

  26. Comment by Rita Watts

    Rita Watts Reply January 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I am really enjoying & appreciating your site! VERY interesting & VERY helpful! I’ve read most of the books & commend you on your choices, & I have to make mention of the BEST book I have ever read,..’As A Man Thinketh’ … sooooo short, too! Simple, yet, definitely mind-altering in a wonderful way! I am grateful also, for ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’, for IT, taught me HOW to focus, actually FOCUS, therefore, also ‘allowing’ me to choose & control my mind, rather than it always ‘controlling’ me!! (& I have been very ADHD all of my life,- that’s probably WHY I found it so Powerful,- I learned how to STOP my continuously speeding mind!! ) yayeeeeee! :)
    I LOVE your site!!
    Thank you!!!
    Cinderita :)

  27. Comment by Caroline@inner-outerbeauty.com

    Caroline@inner-outerbeauty.com Reply November 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I totally agree with you on the three last ones, and most of the others of those I’ve read. I also think that The monk that sold his ferrari in its simplicity also has some good points, or better called reminders since there’s nothing new, but a very easy and uplifting read. I also really like Sonia Choquettes Love yourself, live your spirit. It has a clue (self-love) to much in life. Without self-love (hard sometimes) we won’t get much further withourselves.
    I really like your web site! Thx for sharing!
    xo Caroline from Sweden

  28. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply November 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Caroline from Sweden, thanks for your additions to the list. Yes, I think those are great ones, especially The Monk.

  29. Comment by Suhel

    Suhel Reply November 29, 2012 at 5:58 am

    @Myrko: *sighs* thats an awesome addition. ok before you add anything “again”, just log off and put this article about “how to read” in your TO-DO list ;)

  30. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply November 29, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Ok, nice it made sense to you (I also just edited in one more paragraph into the comment above).

  31. Comment by Suhel

    Suhel Reply November 29, 2012 at 5:31 am

    @Myrko: “one thing is to check your motivation for reading the book. Then select the best parts and integrate them in whatever you do in your life.”….

    Thanks mate, I never thought it that way. I’ll be waiting for your article. Thanks again for replying.. :)

  32. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply November 29, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Hm interesting perspective Suhel. I never thought about that problem before. What it really is is how to understand and internalize the points that strike a chord in you, isn’t it? You said you highlight points made in the books. That means that those points made an impression on you.

    I personally usually read to solve a problem or get an insight that gets me ahead in some way. This is the motivation I use to start reading and the points highlighted will help me. Then I WANT to use those points and test/integrate them in my own life. I know that I will profit from them in some way. So one thing is to check your motivation for reading the book.

    Then select the best parts and integrate them in whatever you do in your life, which is another key. Don’t just consume the knowledge passively, but question and compare what you read with your current knowledge and beliefs and see how the new information adds to it. Doing so, you work with the new knowledge and improve your mindset, while avoiding to add knowledge that did not pass your internal questioning (and therefore may not be right for you at the moment).

    Really good knowledge has the power to transform you, to make you grow, even if you only read it it will influence you. But you have to be open and really understand it of course, so it can become part of yourself.

    I also found that writing a review about the book helps a lot. I wrote reviews on The Power of Now, 7 Habits and The Art of Happiness and many more in my personal journal. It shows if you understood the key parts and helps you to reflect on it. This again internalizes the knowledge important for you. The saying “you only really have understood something if you can teach it someone else” reflects that idea.

    Thanks for the input, yes I really might write a post about that. Something like “How to read, understand and use new knowledge” …

  33. Comment by Suhel

    Suhel Reply November 29, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Hi Myrko,

    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and I’ve been reading it for few days now.

    I came across this post.

    The Irony is I’ve already read the top 4 but still I didnt get any benefits from them.

    The problem being that I’m not a reader. I usually read to finish the book. I highlight something that catches my attention but I never return back to it.

    I really want some tips (why not you write an article?) about how to read well and grasp things. Like how do you read? do you have a notebook while you read so that you can jot good points or something?

    Waiting for your reply :)


  34. Comment by yaz

    yaz Reply October 26, 2012 at 3:59 am

    One book that’s a must read, the most read book in the planet is: The Koran, check it out, its life changing

  35. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply September 15, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Thx Mike, A New Earth is a great book as well, yes. I didn’t put it on the list since I had The Power of Now already (ranked as #1) in it. But I would recommend A New Earth for sure as well!

  36. Comment by Mike Keller

    Mike Keller Reply September 15, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Thank you Myrko for the great list. I would like to add two books to the list:

    Eckhart Tolle’s” A New Earth”. This book totally changed my life. My ego was in total control of my life. I now realize that “it is not about me”. I now enjoy helping others and encouraging them to be their best.

    I read “The Power of Now” after reading “A New Earth”.

    Jack Canfield’s “The power of focus”. This book is a great roadmap for anyone who is motivated to pursue their dreams.

  37. Comment by Becky

    Becky Reply August 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks Myrko. I hope you enjoy Oelsner’s book as much as I did.

    • Comment by Myrko

      Myrko Reply August 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      I’ll let you know :)

  38. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply August 26, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Becky, yes I really love Covey’s book as well. Thanks for your addition, I’ll also look into Oelsner’s book.

  39. Comment by Becky

    Becky Reply August 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I’m glad to see Steven Covey’s book, “Seven Habits,” on the list. I found this book to be extremely helpful to me in my life. Another one that has been helpful to me, not mentioned on this list, “A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive” by Geoffrey Oelsner. It has taught me that we can influence the natural world positively through attunement, meditation, prayer, intention, loving presence.

  40. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply August 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Spot on DSG, I think that’s a big positive factor of the book, the language is very simple and easily understood. Nothing more than needed.

  41. Comment by Zen Presence - Journey to a Quiet Mind

    Zen Presence - Journey to a Quiet Mind Reply August 20, 2012 at 11:00 am

    The Power of Now helped me to understand what 20 years of Asian Zen literature had been trying to tell me. Tolle speaks in a manner more easily understood by western people. It is changing my life.


  42. Comment by Jon

    Jon Reply August 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Great list of books, I’m looking into them now!

  43. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply August 17, 2012 at 3:24 am

    dauzon, yes glad I could find you on Facebook. I’m looking forward to connecting on Facebook more in the future!

  44. Comment by dauzon ypon

    dauzon ypon Reply August 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    im glad and surprised viewing you on my wall sir myrko thum.i consider knowing you as one of my life blessngs,as one of my lifes coaches. im looking forward a better relationships w/ you on the net.god bless you always mr myr thum…

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