Sometimes the “personal development” category gets a bad wrap. A lot of guys wouldn’t be caught dead in the self-help section at the bookstore.
But I’ve personally gotten a lot of value out of these types of books. Becoming a man and continuing your development as a person is a constant process of refinement and reflection. Along the way, we need guidance, perspective—and wisdom from those who’ve been there before.
And when you don’t have a sage old wise man to ask questions of, the next best thing is a great book. There are tons of other personal development books that people swear by, and I’m sure many of them are excellent. But I wanted to focus a handful of books that I can pretty much guarantee will be worth the read. I’ve gotten loads of great advice and pleasure out of these, and I think you will too. Note: this list isn’t in any particular order—these are all great books. Also, these are Amazon affiliate links, so I do get a small commission (at no increased cost for you) if you buy any of them. However, I only do affiliate links for things I really believe in. All these books are pretty much worth their weight in gold. By keeping the list so small, I expect that I’ve missed a book someone else is really passionate about. That’s okay, please chime in with any recommendations in the comments section below.
So, without any further ado, here are 10 personal development books every guy should read:
1.The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal Amazing insights about how performance in any field can be optimized by oscillating between work and rest. Authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz include some great examples of professional athletes were able to maximize their performance—and how this can translate into your daily life.
2. How to Win Friends & Influence People The classic by Dale Carnegie that teaches you how to really be a great listener, conversationalist, and how to handle people in general. When I finally began reading it, I knew it would be helpful, but I was shocked at how entertaining all the stories and examples were.
3. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living A lesser known but equally valuable book by Dale Carnegie. It’s a great read full of colorful anecdotes and helpful tips on overcoming fear and anxiety—so you can get on to more important things.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change Another classic, this book by Steven Covey methodically lays out the core principles of how to set yourself up for greater success. One my favorite nuggets is his definition of management vs. leadership: management is climbing up the rungs of the ladder; leadership is making sure the ladder leaning on the right wall.
5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business In this recent book by Charles Duhigg, you learn how pervasive and influential habits are in people’s lives and how you can “hack” them to change course. Learn how recognizing habits can help you break out of old patterns, and how habits can even influence groups of people.
6. The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life An eye-opening read from Leo Babauta of one of my favorite blogs, Zenhabits that focuses on how eliminating the inessential and focusing on the truly important can boost productivity and change your life. When I was in my ad agency job, this book profoundly affected the way I approached my work, with great results.
7. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion This landmark work by Robert Cialdini explores surprising psychological principles that effect all of us. It lays out some of the core tenants of persuasion, each one backed up with fascinating research and examples.
8. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich If there’s any book that will awaken your inner entrepreneur and make you want to get out of the rat race, this is it. This book from Tim Ferriss has achieved nearly cult-like status. It covers a lot of ground, from thinking about your own “lifestyle design” to online business ideas and productivity tactics.
9. The Magic of Thinking Big In the back of The 4-Hour Work Week. Tim Ferriss includes a list of 4 books he would recommend to anyone considering being an entrepreneur. This book, by David J. Schwartz, is one of them. Originally published in 1959, this gem focuses on how you can only be as be as great as you allow yourself to believe. A perfect book to have by the bedside when you lose your mojo and need some encouragement.
10. How to Cook Everything Wait, what? Why a cookbook in a list of personal development books? I know, I know. Just bear with me. This cookbook by Mark Bittman gives you more than just recipes—it helps you learn cooking techniques and an overall philosophy on cooking. Many of the core recipes include the basic approach followed by variations, so you start small and build on your knowledge. If you eat food (which hopefully you do) and you are student of life, this book is food for the soul.