Best Self Help Books

This Is NOT Your Typical List of Self-Help Books.

If you’re an avid reader of self-help books, the titles in this list of books might be rather unexpected.

However, you should never judge a book by its cover.

A book doesn’t have to be on a shelf labeled self-help, personal development, or self-improvement to deliver the best advice on how to tackle the challenges in your life, right?

As self-help is such a wide subject, when selecting the books in this list we focused on a very narrow subject.


TIME. How we use it, abuse it, and what happens when we feel we don’t have enough of it, and how our reasoning is impacted by this perception (hint: Daniel Kahneman says it’s negatively impacted beyond your wildest imagination. And he proves it. He must be right. He’s not a Nobel Prize for nothing.)

Our personal development is largely impacted by how we perceive time.

The first 5 books in this list will show you WHY you need to slow down, WHAT you need to do, and some practical advice on HOW to do it. Something to reflect upon when you’re lying on the beach (instead of thinking about that work email you weren’t supposed to read because you’ve promised yourself to really really disconnect).

The last book on our list of self-help books has been selected for you to get a taste of how it feels when you slow down, take your time and enjoy the moment.

Even if not labeled as such, these might be some of the best personal development books we have read lately.


A List of Self-Help Books to Help You Grow


How Proust Can Change Your Life

by Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton combines two unlikely genres–literary biography and self-help–in the hilarious and unexpectedly practical How Proust Can Change Your Life. Read it on Amazon

Why I read it: Because of what Proust evokes: leisurely feelings of vacationing in a warm, colorful, and incredibly full of fragrances Provence, on one hand. On the other hand, the incredibly (again) painful experience of reading through the original book – Proust managed to put 192 words in one phrase.

Alain de Botton’s book style has nothing to do with Proust writing. It’s funny and upbeat. It’s full of wisdom and a pleasure to read.

Why I put it on the self-help books shelf: Because it inspires us to find beauty in the small things of every day’s life. And, to slow down.


A Brief History of Human Kind

by Yuval Noah Harari

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human”. Read it on Amazon

Why I read it: Because of the reviews. Not always a good idea, but in this case, it was totally worth it.

Why I put it on the self-help books shelf: Because it puts our own lives in a larger context and it helps us gain perspective.

Thinking Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics takes us on a tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think: System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. You wouldn’t expect this to be a personal development book (not in the sense of a self-help book, for sure), but the insights this book gives you on the way you think you think will make you stop and reflect a little more next time when you are faced with an important decision Read it on Amazon

Why I read it: Because of the title. Thinking fast is desired in this fast moving world we’re living in, but why thinking slow could bring anything good? The answer is in the book.

Why I put it on the self-help books shelf: Because it helps to understand the advantages of reasoning with the right tools. The gut feeling may be good, but not always. The proof is in the pudding.


The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

by Daniel J. Levitin

The information age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we’re expected to make more—and faster—decisions about our lives than ever before. Read it on Amazon

Why I read it: Most of the times, a catchy title is nothing more than a successful marketing ploy. But not in this case.

Why I put it on the self-help books shelf: The author uses brain science to give you practical advice. It may be tiny things like how to organize your homes, workplaces, and time, but, by applying his advice, you’ll realize that all of the sudden you have a lot more energy and time to do the things that matter.


The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

by Jim LoehrTony Schwartz

We live in a digital era. Our pace is rushed, rapid-fire, and relentless. Facing crushing workloads, we try to cram as much as possible into every day. We’re wired up, but we’re melting down. Time management is no longer a viable solution. Read it on Amazon

Why I read it: Because I was looking for a better way to manage my time.

Why I put it on the self-help books shelf: Improving the way we manage our time and energy should be part of our personal development plans. So, maybe, this book really belongs to the self-help books category.


The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed the Window and Disappeared

by Jonas Jonasson

A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it’s not too late to start over . . . Read it on Amazon

Why I read it: A friend said she couldn’t stop laughing while reading it. I know, curiosity killed the cat. Not this time.

Why I put it on the self-help books shelf: It’s never too late to start a new chapter of your life. And, fully enjoy it. Plus, it’s a fun way to learn history (even though the historical events happened and the historical characters are real, the author has a hysterically funny way to retell what happened.)


They might not be the best personal development books ever written, but they will surely make you stop and think. And if you start questioning your assumptions, it means we reached our objective.

What would you add to the list? What was the one book that left a lasting mark on you, on the way you see the world? A book that helped you without being in the most famous self-help books list.




You may like:

quotes on change management

Quotes on Change Management from 15 Famous Change Makers

A collection of 15 wise change management quotes from some of the most well-known change...
Leadership Books - The Busy Lifestyle

5 of the Best Leadership Books – Older but Not Obsolete

When you choose the next book to read, do you choose the newest and shiniest...
Lean manufacturing principles

From Lean Manufacturing to Lean (Almost) Everything

You can argue that the Lean Manufacturing concept had its glory days, and that there are a lot of limitations to it (some of them resulting from our own limited understanding of the fundamentals of the concept), but still: it’s not all bad.

For those who still wonder what lean manufacturing is

Lean manufacturing (or lean) is a systematic way of reducing waste while continuously improving the quality of the product, in accordance with the values desired by the customer.  

The origin of lean manufacturing

Surprisingly, Henry Ford was not the initiator of the lean manufacturing.

The origins of lean manufacturing go back as far as 1450s at the Arsenal in Venice.

In the modern era, Henry Ford brought back to life the idea of integrated manufacturing processes, by standardizing the parts and the sub-processes involved, and creating the “flow production” – the (in)famous assembly lines.

The lack of variety in his product-offering was one of the reasons Ford’s model worked so well.

As soon as companies were trying to add some variety in their production processes, this model started to show its limits.

Taiichi Ono and Kiichiro Toyoda were those who found a way to put the two elements together: increased product complexity without compromising the quality of the final product and insuring the continuity in the process flow.

They called their invention the Toyota Production System.

James P. Womack analyzed the thought process that created the lean concept in The Machine That Changed the World.


The 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles

Later, in his other book Lean Thinking, he identified the 5 lean principles as follows:

1. Identifying and defining the value desired by the customer

2. Mapping the value stream (and trying to eliminate the waste-generating process steps)  
time management tips

Time Management Tips – 19 Busy Leaders Share Theirs

You're doing a good job managing your busy schedule. You know by now a lot of time management tips and tricks. But there are moments when you feel like you could do an even better job if you knew how to improve your time management techniques.

So you start reading books. The books give you the time management tips, strategies and resources you are looking for. And they even work, sometimes, and most of the times, not that much.


But there is still this nagging question:

What is the time management tip that could make your time management strategy the perfect one?

What do others do? What do busy leaders do? How do they manage their time to be able to balance their personal and professional lives? By adding more value to their lives and professional activities.


We have asked 19 business leaders and entrepreneurs these 2 questions:

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

They will be talking about business development, understanding the needs of their customers, networking, reading, learning, improving themselves so they can better improve their business, "me" time, family time, quiet time, "off-the-grid" time, health, balance, and, quite unexpected from busy people, physical exercise.


Because the answer might be that, instead of squizing more activities inside your day, you should be selective with the activities you focus your attention on. And by selecting the most important activities, and doing them on a regular basis, you could add more value to your life and professional activity, than by just mindlessly adding more activities to your to-do list.

Think of this as time management tips with a twist.


1. Susan Goldsworthy

Founder, Goldswolf & Associates

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

Continuous, connected, curious learning - gifts from caring, daring & sharing with others.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

3Ms - Mini Mindfulness Moments


2. Guillaume Pahud

CEO and Founder, Dot Stories

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

The main activity that brings value to the company is the social media - posting, looking at what people and prospects are saying online.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

I go out and run - I try to stay fit and go out running a few times per week.


3. Arnaud Barray

Ambassador and Partner, uKonect

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

I think about our product and what problems we are solving for our customers. It helps me to make sure we have a market and to see if our product is fit to answer the needs of our users.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

The activity that I do on a regular basis is networking. Whether online or through events or meetings you learn from people and it is a way to improve yourself and your business. Meeting new people will always bring us more opportunities.


4. Tafsir Ba

Co-Founder, Wild Dots

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

The biggest problem I face is the fact that, too often, one ends up drifting into non added value tasks that drown resources without generating opportunities.

Entrepreneur mindset - the busy lifestyle

Entrepreneur Mindset: You Fight Stress by Knowing Its Sources

The entrepreneur mindset is a way of life. It's not easy going, it's not glamouros. It's fulfilling, but it's also incredibly stressful.

Stress as an entrepreneur is different from stress in the office, but it's stress nevertheless.

If you are an entrepreneur, you already know entrepreneurs are stressed too. You might have been experiencing all of them by now (and some more). Even if your entrepreneurial mindset says you can cope with it, sometime it's worth identifying where stress is coming from, so you can better fight it.

For those dreaming about an idyllic life as a start-up entrepreneur, the reality is a little different. The purpose of this post is not to dissuade you from becoming an entrepreneur. It's just a warning sign for what lies ahead.


This is article is also meant to be a warning sign for those who dream about becoming an entrepreneur one day.

It might be a good idea to compare the sources of stress in the office and the sources of stress for an entrepreneur. Before jumping ship, ideally.


1. Financial matters

Finding funding, collecting receivables, payroll, burn rate, cash flow.

All are very well known expressions for the entrepreneur. And also, all are very well known sources of stress.


2. Sales issues

And all the factors affecting sales: economic downturn, a customer loss, finding new customers, dealing with demanding customers, etc.