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Personal Growth Books Which Helped Transform My Life

Non-Fiction Edition

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

― John Green

I read a lot. I would love to read even more but life’s responsibilities get in the way of that sometimes. While I don’t have a large collection taking up space like in the photo, I cycle through good old-fashioned hardcover and paperback books and trade them in at a local bookstore to get more. I also have a lot of digital books on my Kindle and have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. My problem is there are too many books and not enough time. I guess that’s not really a problem, though.

I always tell myself I’m not going to purchase more books until I get through the ones I have, but I’m just lying to myself. At least I can spot the lie, I guess? So I end up purchasing more books even before I get through my current read. However, I’m also not one to waste time on a book just to say I read it. If I’m not into it, I quit reading. It’s that simple.

Anyway, I like top 10 lists for some reason. I like to see what other people put in their top 10 of things no matter the subject. I wrote a list of my favorite running books a while ago and also participated in the 10 things you didn’t know about me craze on Medium.

So why not do a book list? It’s a no lose situation in my book (pun intended). And while these are all non-fiction, I think I will also do a fiction edition one day.

There are hundreds of incredible books I could put on this list, but these are the personal growth books which have had the most impact on my life and my mindset. They have helped me learn more about myself and how to be a better person. I’ve grown through reading these books. I’m hoping they will help you, too.

Personal Growth Books

personal growth books
“books on brown wooden shelf” by Susan Yin on Unsplash

While they may not fit into the strict personal growth book category, these books have had an incredible impact on my personal growth. In no particular order, here are my top 10 books which have helped transform my life, along with my favorite quote from each:

  • Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop — This book spoke to my soul because I was f*cked up, to be honest. And I had to unf*ck myself to be able to move forward. It was eye-opening and is one book I go back to often. Favorite quote: “You have the life you are willing to put up with.”
  • Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristen Neff — For those of us who are hardest on ourselves, this book will change you. It made me realize having compassion for myself was just as important as having compassion for others. I just had to work on it a little more. I am currently going through the associated workbook as well. Favorite quote: “Compassion is not only relevant to those who are blameless victims, but also to those whose suffering stems from failures, personal weakness, or bad decisions. You know, the kind you and I make every day.”
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown — My most recent read, this book helped me learn about vulnerability and shame. It’s amazing how allowing yourself to be more open can be transformative. Favorite quote: “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.”
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz — Another book I return to often, it was the first book I read which started me on the path to change. Written in 1997, it still holds immense value in today’s world. Favorite quote: “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.”
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown — Showing up twice on my list, Dr. Brown is one of my favorite authors in the field of personal growth. This book helped me learn to embrace my flaws and understand we are all perfectly imperfect. Favorite quote: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
  • You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh — A Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Hanh is the author of numerous books on mindfulness and how to live in peace. This book taught me all I really have is the present moment, and to be present in whatever I’m doing. Favorite quote: “Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”
  • The Essential Marcus Aurelius by Jacob Needleman & John Piazza (and Marcus himself, of course). A Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, Aurelius wrote about many things including his private thoughts on what constituted a good life. Favorite quote: “Stop philosophizing about what a good man is and be one.”
  • On the Shortness of Life and Moral Letters to Lucilius by Seneca — Also a Stoic philosopher, Seneca taught that life is long but we waste so much of it on meaningless pursuits. I’ve included two books because the first is short, and the second is free to download. Favorite quote: “You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.”
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl — Based on his time in Nazi death camps, Frankl recounts his experiences in this classic book. It should be required reading in school. One of the main points is we cannot avoid suffering but we can learn to find meaning in it. Favorite quote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed — An incredible read, Wild is the story of the author hiking the Pacific Crest Trail all while healing and finding herself along the way. It is certainly about hiking, but more about life and change. And I think we could all use a little change. Favorite quote: “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”(In the same vein, I also recommend Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer).

While there are many other books which have impacted me and my personal growth, these are the ones which come to mind first. These are the books I re-read and frequently reference. I’m hoping this list will give you a bit of inspiration and help in your transformation.

Disclosure: Most of the links to the personal growth books above are an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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