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Books can serve so many different purposes, from entertainment to education, but self-help books are designed to help us improve a specific aspect of our lives. Though the very idea of “self-help” books used to conjure mental images of cheesy lectures and impractical advice, the best self-help books actually offer a new perspective for readers to explore habit building, emotional growth, or gain a deeper understanding of the world.
Goodreads is the largest platform in the world for readers to rate and review books, so we turned to Goodreads reviewers to rank the best self-help books to read in 2022. From classics like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to Susan Cain’s “Quiet,” these self-help books include business books, memoirs, philosophy reads, and so much more.
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Mark Manson is a popular blogger who aimed to defy the norm of “positivity” in self-help books by acknowledging that, sometimes, life sucks! In his book, Manson encourages readers to recognize what is worth caring about and adjusting our perspectives based on our goals.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.98
“Atomic Habits” is a practical self-help book that helps readers change bad habits and develop good ones. With an abundance of practical examples, any reader can develop a system of change with James Clear’s suggestions and motivational writing.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.99
With over 700,000 ratings and averaging at 4.21 stars, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is the best self-help book according to Goodreads members. Selling over 15 million copies since its original publication in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s book includes his tried-and-true principles to help readers in their personal and professional lives. There are six principles to help people like you, 12 to help people understand your way of thinking, and nine to encourage change in others.
Available at Amazon, from $12.53
With over 15 million copies sold since its first publication in 1989, this self-help book uses 7 fundamental habits that guide readers toward an independent, successful, and fulfilling life. Using psychological principles, this book begs to be opened over and over again, refreshing readers with life mantras that will lead them to greatness.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.95
After studying patterns across a variety of success stories, Charles Duhigg presents why habits exist — and what we can do to change them. He argues the key to reaching any of our goals lies with understanding how habits are formed and uses researched principles to help readers change habits in order to transform their lives.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.58
With a book and Netflix series that changed how we organize and stay tidy, Marie Kondo is a professional organizing consultant who presents the KonMari method of organizing. In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo introduces readers to her approach to cleaning, including the idea of only keeping items that “spark joy”.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.45
This best-selling self-help book uses anecdotes and exercises to help readers break down the mental barriers that are keeping them from achieving their goals. It’s an inspirational, motivational, and funny read that aims to instill self-confidence and leave readers feeling refreshed and ready to accomplish anything.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.74
In this spiritual self-help book, Don Miguel Ruiz pulls from Toltec wisdom to present four principles that, when applied in harmony with each other, can offer new experiences and happiness in our lives. This book challenges readers to apply four simple truths to their lives: Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.51
“The Power of Now” is a spiritual self-help book that proclaims living in “the now” is the ultimate path to happiness. More a practical guide than a traditional narrative, Tolle aims to inspire readers to become conscious of the thoughts and challenges that prevent us from living in the present moment.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.89
Introverts have been widely overlooked in American society. In this psychology book dubbed a favorite self-help read by Goodreads reviewers, Susan Cain uses stories from successful introverts to explain how invaluable introverts are to our community and help introverts value themselves more. To learn more about this book, check out our review of “Quiet.”
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.47
Brené Brown’s 2010 self-help bestseller is still a favorite amongst Goodreads reviewers for the revelations and impacts her reflections have had on their lives. In this book, Brown explores the psychology behind releasing our expectations of living a “perfect” life and offers 10 benchmarks readers can follow to embrace a more authentic life.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
Based on 12 years of research, “Daring Greatly” is a self-help book that encourages readers to embrace vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness. With personal anecdotes and plenty of examples, this book demonstrates how vulnerability can open new avenues to courage, connection, and creativity.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99
“Deep Work” is a self-help book about productivity that aims to help readers understand how to reach a “deep work” state where we can focus on a mentally demanding task without distraction — a skill that has become harder and harder to master in an increasingly distracted world. Cal Newport argues the importance of deep work and presents four rules readers can follow to transform their productivity habits and reach more focused success.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.57
“The 5 Love Languages” is a self-help book whose concepts have permeated many relationships as its popularity grows. In this book, Dr. Gary Chapman proposes that there are five main ways in which people give and receive love. By understanding your and your partner’s love language, you can enrich your relationship by showing love more effectively.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.17
First published in 1998, “Who Moved My Cheese?” is a self-help book in the form of a motivational fable of four characters who live in a maze, looking for cheese. Representing anything we may want in life, the cheese is constantly moving and only when one character successfully navigates change to reach the cheese does the reader discover how to navigate change in their own lives.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11
Written after the hit movie of the same name in 2006, “The Secret” is a self-help book that outlines the law of attraction, a concept Rhonda Byrne claims can change or redirect a person’s entire life. With this concept, Byrne encourages readers to find the power within themselves to apply “The Secret” to every aspect of life and achieve nearly anything.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.29
This psychology book has helped readers understand the way we think by separating our thought processes into two systems: one that is intuitive and one that is deliberate. By knowing how these two systems work separately and together, we can better understand how we make choices and think about thinking. To learn more about this book, check out our review of “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.18
Though “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is usually seen as a business or finance read, Goodreads reviewers love it as a self-help book as well for its lessons on how to make your money work for you. Author Robert T. Kiyosaki grew up with two dads — his own and his best friend’s dad — who shaped his views on money and investing in very different ways. In this book, Kiyosaki explains different financial theories to change how many readers view finances.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.19
When Gretchen Rubin realized she wasn’t focusing on the things in her life that truly mattered, she decided to dedicate a year to her “happiness project.” This autobiographical self-help book is a 12-month chronicle of her journey as she tried new things, focused on improving herself, and embraced happiness while encouraging others to take time and do the same.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.38
In a self-help book that aims to inspire creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert offers an honest look at the creative process — with all of its challenges and unrealistic expectations. This book reminds readers that creativity isn’t linear or clean and we can be any degree of an artist, writer, or musician that satisfies our soul.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.99
“Man’s Search for Meaning” is a memoir that begins with psychologist Viktor E. Frankl’s experiences in Auschwitz during World War II and how he coped with suffering in order to not just survive it, but move forward with purpose. With psychological, philosophical, and sociological influences, this moving read offers self-help advice through the author’s inspirational personal account of searching for a guiding meaning in life. It’s also a book that therapists recommend to read if you want to build more empathy.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.39
Aiming to help readers escape the confines of a 9-5 job, “The 4-Hour Workweek” encourages a restructuring of our lifestyle to find fulfillment now rather than once we retire. Born of the author’s three-week break from his company, this self-help book is modeled after his series of lectures on entrepreneurship given at Princeton University.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.29
While many self-help productivity books encourage readers to work harder, “Getting Things Done” proposes that our productivity is directly linked to our ability to relax, as we can only reach our greatest potential when our minds are clear and organized. This book offers core principles, tricks, and advice to help readers streamline their effectiveness, overcome challenging situations, and avoid the burnout that often comes with an overwhelming workload.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.55
Dr. Carol Dweck is a psychologist who, after decades of research, has discovered just how powerful and affecting our mindset can be in every aspect of our lives. In this book, she demonstrates how we can influence our success by adopting a growth mindset — and how changing the mindset of a community or organization can inspire incredible success.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.94
In this personal development read, Malcolm Gladwell highlights successful “outliers,” the best and brightest of our society — from the Beatles to Bill Gates — and what makes them so successful. Gladwell presents the histories of our heroes, their rise to excellence, and how their beginnings carefully positioned them for success.
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