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Self Developments Greatest Books For Free

Self development books have had an amazingly positive effect on me and my life. I’m pretty sure without them I wouldn’t be a Professional Life Coach, or at least not a very effective one!

Since I started blogging back in 2006 I have written lots of reviews and more than a few list posts such as The Greatest Self Development Books Ever Written and The Best Self Development Books Of 2011.

On a couple of occasions I have given some of my books away, or like last year, let people bid on them for charity.

Today though I want to do something completely different.

Rather than just give away books that I’m either not that bothered about or simply know I’ll never read/listen to again, I want to give away some of the best self development books ever written.

If you would like the books and audios below that I roughly calculate to be worth close on $500, here’s what you have to do:

  • Leave a comment recognizing just one book that has had the most positive influence on you in your life
  • Yes I said one book. No bleating it’s too tough, I know it’s tough!
  • Feel free to tell others why it was so important to you, but it’s not a necessity
  • Then either tweet this post or link to your Facebook account ( I will be checking the winner has done this)
  • Closing date is 9.00am EST on Monday 16th January when I will also close comments
  • I will throw all the names into a random name generator to ascertain a winner
  • The winner will be announced in the comments section, so it’s down to you to check back
  • The books can be gifted, but are not to be resold

My only other stipulation is that you must either live in the US, or be prepared to pay shipping (which will be a fortune if you are overseas). I will pay media mail shipping within the US (not Canada).

By the way. h = hardback and p = paperback. The * means the book is a publishers uncorrected proof, i.e. a review copy and somewhat rare.

Even if you live outside the US or only read books on Kindle, I still hope you’ll share your most influential book in the comments.

I’m sure you’re wondering what classic goodies are on offer, so without further ado, here they are:

1. Mans Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl (h)

I had this at #1 in my list of all time greatest self development books.

Need I say more about such an absolute classic?

Required reading for anybody with a victim mindset or who thinks their life is tough.

2. Your Brain At Work by David Rock (h)

This was my number 2 of all time and also my favorite self development book of 2010 that wasn’t called How To Be Rich and Happy.

To be honest if I didn’t have the audio version also, I wouldn’t be letting this beauty go because I regularly dig back into it and it has inspired numerous posts.

If you are a Life Coach and haven’t read this book you’re selling yourself short.

3. 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (p)

This actually made my list of most overrated self development books of all time.

However, that was probably a tad unfair (like I was with some of the other books in retrospect) and more a reflection that Covey could have delivered the ideas in about half the space than the quality of the advice.

If you have heard of the 4 quadrants, starting with the end in mind and sharpening the saw, then this is the book that all that good stuff came from.

4. The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (p)

If you want to know why change is always possible and how you can facilitate it, this book will help you and it’s also an accessible read.

Made my top 20 self development books of all time and is the book that brought the expression “neurons that fire together, wire together” into the public domain.

Not for members of PETA or people with an unnatural love of monkey’s because some of the research it refers to makes for unpleasant reading.

5. The Four Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss (audio)

I absolutely loved the first half of this book and was thinking it was a classic at that stage.

But then it seemed to hit a bit of a wall and Ferriss seemed to be resorting to padding it out to meet the publishers word count

Still worth a listen to though, especially if you fancy leaving corporate America and need a kick up the arse to do so.

This is the unabridged 7 x CD version.

6. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (audio)

It could be argued that this book kicked off the self development industry and is without doubt one of the most influential ever written.

Some of the material sounds a little bit dated now, but it is still an amazing resource

This is another unabridged audio that runs to a mind blowing 12 x CDs including a workbook and cost me a bloody fortune!

7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – Richard Carlson (p)

Another book that made my all-time top 20 and an outstandingly good read.

Simple wisdom that’s easy to read and implement. What more do you need to know?

Note: The layout for DSTSS inspired me with my first published book, Don’t Ask Stupid Questions so I may as well throw a copy of that in too.

8. Supercoach by Michael Neill (p)

If you want to hire me to be your Life Coach you will get plenty of change out of $1,000.

However, if you want to hire Michael Neill you’re probably going to need to take out a small mortgage.

This is the cheaper option and it’s also a very good book.

9. Awaken The Giant Within – Tony Robbins (p)

Probably the book that has had the most influence on me.

A tour de force of self development that repackaged NLP and delivered it to the masses.

Speaking of which…

10. The Rainbow Machine by Andy Austin (p)

In my opinion this is the greatest book on NLP ever written.

Austin is funny, highly intelligent and very, very, close to the edge a lot of the time.

Best read if possible with a little knowledge of NLP, but that’s ok because if you know nothing of NLP, you simply listen to this…

11. NLP: The New Technology of Achievement (audio)

This is the book (or in this case, the audio version) I have been recommending for years to people wanting to take a look at NLP because it is very easy to follow and understand.

This 6 x CD series cost me about $70 many years ago, but it was well worth it.

12. The Art Of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn (audio)

The late great Jim Rohn was the man who Tony Robbins credits with inspiring him to get his shit together when unemployed, overweight and broke.

A 6 x CD audio program from Nightingale Conant of live material that demonstrates why so many people, me included, consider Jim Rohn to be the true Godfather of self development.

13. Life Is What You Make It by Peter Buffett (h)

One of the best self development books of 2011 and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Peter Buffet.

Buffett didn’t settle for a life living of his fathers name, rather he got off his arse and made his own name!

Apologies that there are some highlight marks and comments from yours truly.

14. Situations Matter by Sam Sommers (p)*

I only just finished this and it’s a brilliant book and will almost certainly make it into my top 3 books of 2012.

I’m sure Sam would want to kick my arse for saying it’s a self development book, but any book that helps me to think differently is self development as far as I’m concerned, so let the ass kicking commence!

Check out my interview with Sam Sommers to learn more.

Update: Sorry people I screwed up, I was reminded last night that I’d promised a friend that I’d give him my copy of Situations Matter by Sam Sommers.

Awkward dilemma time, so what I’ll do it stick to my promise to him, but I’ll replace it with Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World which has already made the list as one persons favorite.

Hope that’s ok, and it is isn’t please e-mail me your complaint to :-)

15. 168 Hours – Laura Vanderkam (h)

Did I ever tell you about the time a woman called me and when I answered said, “I’m looking for somebody that’s good at time management”

“Yeh so am I” I replied “Do you know anybody?

Needless to say she didn’t hire me.

Laura Vanderkam knows about time management and this is the best book on the subject I’ve ever read.

One of my best self development books of 2010 and if you want to know why a time management expert has 30,000 e-mails in her inbox, this book will tell you.

16. Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields (p)*

And yet another of my favorite books of 2011 from one of my favorite bloggers.

A must for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs with a splash of self development.

17. Drive by Daniel Pink (audio)

I thought that ‘A Whole New Mind’ by Dan Pink was the second most overrated and over-hyped book of the last 5 years.

‘Drive’ however is much, much, better.

I’m not sure that it’s paradigm shattering as the blurb on the back claims, but it is an interesting insight into what motivates people and how to tap into your own motivation more easily,

5 x CD unabridged version

18. Project Happily Ever After by Alisa Bowman (p)*

Another book that made my list of top self development books of 2011.

If you have a rocky relationship, this book can help.

19. Aligning With Your Core Values  by Tim Brownson

I couldn’t finish without throwing my own offerings into the pot including my latest book, Aligning With Your Core Values.

This retails for $35 and you get access to the PDF, the Kindle version, the audio book and all the forms.

So if you have been wondering what I’m incessantly wittering on about values since the dawn of time, now’s your chance to find out

20. How To Be Rich and Happy by Tim Brownson and John P Strelecky (p)

Recently published in France and Netherlands and soon to come out in China and Germany.

It really is quite good and I’ll even throw in a copy of Johns book ‘Life Safari’ in hardback

That’s your lot, and a very nice lot it is too.

Now it’s your turn to tell me the one book that has had the most positive influence on you, and no, it doesn’t have to be a self development book if you don’t want. No porn though!

The Winner

I just threw the names at and here’s how they came out. Apparently UTC is the same as Greenwich Mean Time, so that’s why it says 16.30, I do not have a time machine.


176 comments to Self Developments Greatest Books For Free

  • For me it has to be The Tao of Daily Life by Derek Lin. It illustrates has to live a ‘good’ life in today’s modern world in accordance with the Tao through a series of short stories/parables which are explained from a Tao perspective.

    I recommend anything of Lin’s…especially his translation of the Tao (annotated and explained), it corrects a lot of common misinterpretation found on the net.

    • I know what’s going to happen here, I’m going to get all frustrated by people mentioning books I haven’t read and now want to do so!

      Score one to MB for kicking that off!

  • Anonymous

    The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. If you’ve read it, you know why…..

    • My least favourite self-help book of all time.

      • Yeh, I also thought it wasn’t all that.

        Are you telling me you thought it was worse than What If?

        if so I’m glad I didn’t recommend it to you! ;-)

        BTW, thanks for the links yesterday mate!

        • Anonymous

          The Power of Now seems like one of those books that people either love intensely or think is complete gobbledygook. Personally, it blew my mind at the time I first read it and I credit it as one of the first books that loosened my mind up enough to consider a different way of looking at life than I previously had. I still re-read it once in a while to remind me to not take my monkey mind so seriously :)

          • Lynn Hess

            Whoops, Tim, that was me…forgot to put my name in the boxes before hitting send!

            • I didn’t hate it, I just found it mind-numbingly repetitive. OTOH, I was also listening to the audio, and Tolle has the most boring monotone voice in the history of the world

              • Lynn Hess

                Yeah, he’s not exactly Mr. Charisma. I was going to suggest maybe trying the print version sometime…but I think, given this column, your reading queue might be full for quite some time!!

  • The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. The title pretty much tells all lol

  • The Rainbow Machine by Andy Austin is my choice.

    It definitely wasn’t the book that started off all this, as for that I attribute to Tony Robbins’ work, but the book that helped me think different, do different and get different results is going to be Andy Austin’s The Rainbow Machine.

    Well, Tim is the one who told me about the book during my training with NLP and let me tell you, I was cracking up story after story. And it was from these stories, that I started using NLP differently as well to produce great results.

    I would read a story, notice what he did in it, and then took the risk to do the same or slightly different from him. The book taught it that you can have fun (and safe) whatever you do in life.

    • Yeh, TRM is a must for ANY NLP Practitioner because it shows the application of NLP rather than just the theory behind it.

      • I agree. During training, to new and old alike,I talk about the book often and share stories and ideas from it.

        And like you mentioned, the one part of love about it, you see how it is being used in a real world setting.

        Heck, I am still waiting for my chance to dress as the devil :)

        And for those who are reading this comment, if you want a simple and practical book of NLP, I would actually suggest Get The Life You Want by Richard Bandler. It is not just concepts, it is step by step broken into 3 categories:

        Matters you want to “get over”.
        Matters you want to “get through”.
        Matters you want to “get to”.

        I liked how Bandler broke it up this way and though many of the practical advice are repeated over and over again through out, it is still a good simple practical NLP book.

        After that, you can definitely get The Rainbow Machine. Really a favorite of mine.

        • I hated that book when I was reading it, but on reflection I think that was because there was little new in it and very repetitive. For a newbie it would be a great starting place you’re right Roy.

          • I am in agreement with the repetition and a lot of the reviews on the book agree with that.

            At first found it boring and still do BUT when I get to walk away with some practical steps I can use for myself and others, plus repetition being the mother of all skills, then I am happy I read the book. In addition, I just “hear” Bandler voice and can see his attitude which makes the reading bit more fun.

            And of course, for the stories in them. Me love stories.

            BTW, on the topic of “boredom”, I recently quit a online life coaching program due to the fact that it was boring. 4-5 weeks in, I really didn’t walk away with anything practical PLUS, I dreaded even going to the class.

            The people behind it are GREAT people, the people taking the course are good people. No doubt there. I just wasn’t their target. (Which leads me to thinking David Rock’s Rapid Results which has a new name now but I forget, may be the best choice for me).

            THEREFORE, when it comes to books, I often wonder who are they writing this book for and what one thing I can walk away with to use in my life.

  • “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey

    Had it not been for this book my family and I would not be able to live the life we do and I would have not found what I believe to be my calling and that is a Financial Coach.

  • Debi

    The Miracle of Mind Dynamics by Joseph Murphy – published in the 60s, it’s NLP before NLP, though a bit on the theological side.

  • “Think Your Way To Happiness” by Dr Windy Dryden & Jack Gordon. This book introduced me to REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, similar to CBT) and was recommended to me by a relationship counselor.

    This book helped me to cut down my unhelpful emotions by something like 90%. Before this book I used to experience low moods for several days or weeks at a time. Not any more.

    It’s a tremendously practical book and I use its techniques every day.

    In a nutshell, thanks to this book I’m more rational, emotionally stable and, best of all, happy! Oh and it improved my relationship with my wife significantly too – the relationship counselor was right!

    Great idea for a post, Tim!

  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Once I got past the intro, I really enjoyed the rest of the book. So simple and easily applicable to situations that arise almost daily. The two Agreements I probably come back to the most are “Don’t take it personally” and “Never make assumptions.” Good stuff, imho.

  • david

    My first thought is an 12-step book be it The Big Book of AA, NA, SA, DA etc. However, after thinking on which one truly captured the essence of what the Steps are meant to do it would have to be Richard Rohr’s Breathing Underwater, which forced me to dis deeper into the Steps making the transition to real transformation.

  • Creating a life worth living. I wouldn’t have created my life without it.

    • Not familiar with it, who wrote it Deanna?

      • Carol Lloyd. It has concrete action steps, but it caters to people who are creative, artsy or otherwise right-brained. So many books I read while trying to figure out what to do with my life didn’t address the need to create. Or they told me what I already knew.

        Amazon’s blurb is here:
        Dreaming is easy. Making it happen is hard. With a fresh perspective, Carol Lloyd motivates the person searching for two things: the creative life and a life of sanity, happiness and financial solvency. Creating a Life Worth Living is for the hundreds of thousands of people who bought Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, but who are looking for more down-to-earth solutions and concrete tasks for achieving their goals.
        Creating a Life Worth Living helps the reader search memory for inspiration, understand his or her individual artistic profile, explore possible futures, design a daily process and build a structure of support. Each of the 12 chapters, such as “The Drudge We Do For Dollars” and “Excavating the Future,” contains specific exercises and daily tasks that help readers to clarify their desires and create a tangible plan of action for realizing dreams. The book also provides inspiring anecdotes and interviews with people who have succeeded in their chosen fields, such as performance artist Anna Devere Smith, writer Sally Tisdale and filmmaker R. J. Cutler.

        The pursuit of one’s dreams is one of the great joys in life but also one of the most terrifying. Creating a Life Worth Living is an invaluable road map for this journey, guiding readers as they take the first tentative steps that are necessary before they can fly.

  • Nah.. this is pretty easy.. the book that has made the most difference in my life..its controversial…it’s banned in some countries… its probably the biggest selling book and still maintains that lead… it has one basic rule that I try to follow.. yup, it’s my personal choice… the Bible. I mean, it is a classic….

  • “The Rainbow Machine by Andy Austin”

    It’s a very valuable read for anyone interested in NLP and Hypnosis and entertaining too.

  • I have to say the best one I read was probably the first one I read. Working the night shift I went searching in someone’s desk and found How To Win Friends and Influence People. I couldn’t stop reading it. I still pick it up and read it every once and awhile. It really hit home for me. Small things can make huge differences.

    • I *think* that was probably the first self development book I ever read, and it was a long time before I got into the field. Definitely a classic and I’m wondering whyI can’t see it on my shelves to add. Hmm, maybe I lent it somebody.

  • Wow. I honestly didn’t think you’d have so many of my absolute favorites! Now I really do have to pick one.

    My personal favorite is Tony Robbins’ slightly less-popular book, “Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement.” This book was my introduction to a new life. I had just been fired from my job at the end of 2006 (on my birthday, no doubt). I had been laid off a year prior to that and had gone through a terrible depression, so when this new 2006 development happened, I decided I would NEVER fall back into that depression again! I went to the library and had HEARD of Tony Robbins, so I picked up UnPo. It was my introduction to NLP, and though it took years to change some of my thought patterns, it hurled me in a new direction.

  • Lynn Hess

    It’s a dirty trick making us pick just one, Tim! I read a cluster of books during a certain time period of my life that all worked together to change my outlook completely. It’s hard to separate their influence. But since I have to choose ONE, I’m going to have to say “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. That one changed everything, and I still feel its influence on my life every single day. In the years since reading it and putting it into practice, it’s virtually impossible for me to having anything “bad” happen to me without my mind automatically reframing the situation to look for whatever gifts the situation contains.

    And there are several books on your list and in the comments that I now must check out immediately. Thank goodness for the Amazon gift card I got for Christmas!

    • Hurrumph, I haven’t read that either, or any of BK’s work, although I hear good things.

    • “The Work” actually does, well, work! I truly enjoy the perspective that the questions and turn-arounds provide, the automatic distancing from issues – at 1/4 inch away from the eye, a mouse can resemble an elephant (gray, fills field of vision) – I heartily recommend her work to anyone who has trouble with “just letting go”.

  • I feel like the most recent helpful book I’ve read is always the best for me. The last one was a self-help book in the management arena, so I hope it counts The Positivity Pulse
    uses a Nurtured Heart Approach (a system of helping children) with staff and it’s wonderful. It could be too Social Workey of me, but I am a Social Worker, so… :)
    I’m not sure how to link the fact that I linked to my FaceBook account.
    Be well!

    • Definitely does count Ron, thanks!

      • Awesome, it’s funny how everyone just drinks up being positively reinforced. And how hard it is to remember! Sherry Blair has a great way of writing too, and kind of pays an homage to the “big time” management books with how she set this one up.
        Plus I really want to win your prize Tim. ;)

  • Tiffany M.

    Honestly, I am just beginning my self discovery journey….I am quickly approaching 30 and still have no clue what I want to do in life. I have a great husband and two wonderful kids, a wonderful home, an education….I have what some would call “it all,” but how come it still feels like something is missing? This lead me to do some soul searching, but I needed help, which lead me to your blog.

    I know it’s not a “book,” but your blog is seriously helping me on my journey. It is packed with good information and some humor. Thank you!

    • Ya know Tim, Tiffany has a great idea here. You have been blogging for some quite time and perhaps putting together all the posts into a Kindle book would be beneficial. Hey, Seth Godin did it and I enjoyed it a lot, and I know I would and many others would find it useful as well.

      • $$$$ Roy.

        It would probably take me a couple of days to compile, plus then I’d have to have the book designed. In terms of my time and actual $’s it would cost me the best part of $1k and I doubt I’d be able to actually sell it.

        I already give my goals and quotes book away for free and at this stage not sure I want to do any more.

        • WHOA.

          Didn’t expect it to be costly. WOW.

          And I too agree you should stop giving away free books too :) Well, this is a giveaway but you know what I mean.

  • Wendy W

    This may seem a bit off topic for most, but my favorite has been Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a bit of a fluffy read, but gave me much needed perspective on how not to fear my own anger.

  • Cindy

    My pick would be Simple Abundance by Sarah B. Breathnach. I read it a very long time ago but it left an impression. It gave me a certain calm, teaching me how to live in the moment, and was spiritual without being preachy. Most importantly it taught me how to say “no” guilt-free….in fact, I’m going to pull it off my bookshelf and read it again!

    • Saying no, guilt free is a skill fewer people possess than we realize.

    • Jen

      Good pick. I, too, read this years ago and while it made a great impression, I wasn’t in a place where I could truly relate. Now, years later, life has gotten much more complicated and I just pulled it out to read over 2012. It’s just what I needed.

  • i am an admitted self-development glutton. my insatiable appetite creates LOTS of consumption, so i will have to choose the most recent impactful book i read, which is… uncertainty by jonathan fields. his relaxed style and clarity deliver a message you can’t miss, despite how hard it is to hear. becoming comfortable with fear of judgment and rejection is my Everest.

  • sudan gautam

    Hi Tim!
    you have got few amazing list. I highly recommend four hour work week. I enjoyed Your erroneous Zone by Wayne dyer.These days i don’t enjoy much reading self-help genre but i would love to read “personal development for smart people” by steve Pavling and “Art of exceptional living” by Jim Rohn. I couldn’t find it in my city (Kathmandu, Nepal) Tim can you send me any of this two books? Happy new year 2012. Keep sharing what you are reading.

    • The only way I could do that Sudan would be to buy them for you and then ship them. To be honest, I’m going to say no on that one and as per the comment above, I won’t feel guilty about it ;-)

  • Lola

    The one book that has had such positive influence in my daily life is Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach, it is an absolute must read for women!

  • I’d definitely say _Your Money or Your Life_ by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. It totally changed the way I looked at my work/life balance.

  • Lisa McLaurin

    Hello Tim! Thanks for this wonderful opportunity! I have to say that YOUR “Aligning With Your Core Values” is the BEST book I have read since I was 17 and read “Love is Not Enough” because of my teenage broken heart. (FYI, that was MANY years ago)

    I have been struggling for years with low self-esteem and have fallen into some really bad habits with a recent divorce and a new, incredibly frustrating job. I became a tornado of irritability, frustration and anger. (My children dubbed me “Monster Mommy” during hectic, rushed times)

    You would not expect after reading the above that my whole life I’ve been known as “Smiley” and “Sunshine” and the best compliment of all, that I “Walk in the Light”.

    I was feeling powerless, stressed beyond any measure, desperate and living in soul-sucking agony. Yup, that sums it up.
    Then, I read your book.

    “Aligning With Your Core Values” showed me why I was in this dark pit. I saw that I was in conflict with every single one of my core values. Every. Single. One.

    Your words illuminated the heart of my issues and showed me the way back to a solid foundation. A way that allowed me to take control of my life again. I had let go of my control by conforming to other people’s expectations based on my life’s SITUATIONS. I had become lost.
    You made clear what my soul already knew and gave me a map. I am lost no more!

    To sum it up in your own words, “Figuring out and then understanding your values is the single most powerful thing you can do for yourself and it is at the very core of successful self-development”.

    Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for writing this life-changing book. (And my kids thank you too because “Monster Mommy” was not fun)

    • You silver tongued temptress.

      Glad you liked AWYCV!

    • Wow! Tim, when you get feedback like that, it must remind you exactly why you got into this game. Nice one buddy, that’s incredible!

      And FWIW, Lisa, I agree with you that Tim’s book is excellent. The change it made for me wasn’t as dramatic as you’ve described, but I think that almost everyone who reads “Aligning With Your Core Values” will get a strong sense of understanding who they are, why they do the things they do, and what’s important to them.

      I STILL confirm I’m NOT a spammer.

  • Anna

    I was unfortunately raised to have the quality of learned helplessness. Although I know the cause, knowing only helps me to find the right solutions; it does not absolve me of the responsibility to live my life with, well, responsibility. So, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is one book that has had a positive influence on me. If he can choose his response to a concentration camp, then I can choose my responses in my life. Two of his quotes:

    “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

    “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.”

  • i would have to say In the Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant. She really made me stop and think of having a true relationship with myself. I still look at it from time to time.

  • Regina Brett writes for the Plains Dealer newspaper in Cleveland, OH. A few years ago, she compiled her “50 best life lessons” into a book… the list went viral in 2010, but the book takes it to a whole new level. Some chapters are “When in doubt, just take the next right step”, “Pay off your credit cards each month”, and “Burn the candles, use the nice sheets… Today is special enough”. She aptly titled it after a chapter in the book – “God Never Blinks”.

  • Julia Rosenstein

    I loved reading Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter Levine. It was reccomnded to me by 2 of my instuctors to read to help me get through my garbage. It encouraged me to work in the field of trauma as a massage therapist.

  • Roberta Bly

    I am new to all of this and am finding myself in a middle management position at work and as a female at conflict with myself. I am an emotional person with the pressure to hide that all under the professional persona. That is what has led me to all the self help books I can absorb. I have written down 5 as I scroll down through!!!

  • 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil was the first book that gave me a plan AND showed me that I could consciously be in charge of my thoughts, desires, and appetites.

  • What I’ve found with a lot of these books is that it is more about what you’ll put into it.

    For me, “Awaken The Giant Within” was my first exposure to this field and the most influential by a landslide. The content is great but it was my first exposure to these concepts which are largely restated, reframed and recycled. So having it be my first exposure coupled with the fact that ATGW is one of the most comprehensive and well written, added the fact that I gave the most to this book, made it a transformative read for me.

    Robbins didn’t invent the stuff but he is a masterful communicator, the best I’ve seen. The order, the aggregation, the stories he narrates to illustrate the concepts, the metaphors, and the quotes he selects, wow, the book is worth a lot just from the quotes alone.

    I recommend taking 2-3 months with this book and doing the exercises. Read a little, reflect a little, do the exercises and come back to it the next day. Block out 30-40 minutes each morning, 20 for reading, 20 for writing and reflecting, Changed my life forever…

    • Robbins takes a lot of flak, some of it maybe justified, but a lot not. We’re sharing a brain on this one because I’d probably pick the same book.

    • I am with you on taking one’s time with the book. It is really not a read in one sitting book, meant more like a workbook and perhaps more like his seminars.

      Going through his Personal Power 2, The Ultimate Edge, his books, and soon to his UPW and Date With Destiny, a lot of what he says are being said again and again but you know what, that is OK as it really ingrains in you.

      I would even suggest people reading Unlimited Power first and then Awaken The Giant Within to see the contrast and how he himself grew in the time being. Definitely a book worth going through, for the quotes as you mentioned, the stories which I love and the exercises.

  • “There Is Nothing Wrong With You” by Cheri Huber: Finding and reading this book when I did saved my life. I desperately needed to hear the title as I was convinced there was almost nothing *right* with me, after reading the first 3 pages I experienced some deep catharsis (grown man crying in the aisle of a used book store? necessary at the time).
    I know, you said only one, but it’s already been mentioned above, so… Byron Katie’s Work (from “Loving What Is”) actually works.

  • Galina Angelova

    I can not recommend enough the book “Be Your Own Life Coach: How to Take Control of Your Life and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams” written by Fiona Harrold. I love it. It has influenced me on different levels.

    • Interesting because I didn’t rate that book that highly at all, although I think her kicking it off by misattributing the Marianne Williamson quote (Mandela never said it) got me off on the wrong foot.

  • I love Charlotte Kasl’s books and have especially benefitted from “If the Buddha Got Stuck.” I tend to get my brain clogged and overwhelmed and she writes in short, digestible chapters how to get out of that mire.

  • Linda Secretan

    It all began with my grandfather reading me “Ode on a Grecian Urn” when I was 13. Now — well into my seventh decade — it’s no wonder that “beauty and appreciation of excellence” is still near the top of my core strengths.
    (After that we moved on to Emerson and “Self Reliance.”)

  • Adriana

    AWAKEN THE GIANT WITHIN reminds me how important is to force the action to happen, to promote the change by reprogramming our thoughts.

  • AD

    The Dance of anger by Harriet Lerner – Examines each person role in the cycle of anger and how best to deal with it or circumvent the cycle. I think the full title says it for women but men and women can benifit from reading this book.

  • Dawn

    The Four Agreements
    Simple and Timeless!

  • For me it’s Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I’ve had my copy for 15 years and it’s the one I’m always going back to. My second most read book is Tao, it’s history and teachings by Osho. I make it an annual read!

  • Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck

    This is a review I wrote:

    “This book is life changing: it makes you change your life. Your “social self” is the part of you that’s out to please everyone else and to be as normal as possible, and it succeeds by suffocating your “essential self.” So the work you undergo is rediscovering your essential self, which is the only way to figure out who you really are. It may seem a little woo-woo to some, but push through. You will discover dreams you never knew you had, and the tools to make them a reality. It’s about re-inventing yourself, the cycle of change, and developing your intuition. It’s about being a child again. Waking up to yourself. Your values and your core beliefs. Your insecurities. Your emotional compass. You.

    You don’t read it once and forget about it. You finish, and read it again and again. You change your ways of thinking. You learn to trust yourself.”

  • casey leclaire

    “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman.
    This book showed me that to be the best you must follow the best. A truely spiritual and humbling journey. A must read for anyone who os serious about self improvement.

  • CLewis

    What a terrific post and reading list! Enough to last the rest of the year, I think. I have to add another vote for Frankl, this book had a tremendous impact on me on first and subsequent readings.

    I also like Barbara Sher’s _Refuse to Choose_. It helps to know that I’m not the only person out there constantly juggling multiple interests.

  • It was number 7, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…I think I bought 3-4 copies to share with my family and friends. It was just one of those books that at the time, gave me so many A-ha moments and it, well, it just made me feel good! :)

  • Dave

    “Atlas Shrugged” Ayn Rand

  • HB

    Therapist as Life Coach by Patrick Williams and Deborah C. Davis. It has opened by eyes to a whole other world of possibilities.

  • What a great list and great comments, everyone. Definitely some new ones to add to my Kindle app.

    I’m shocked nobody has mentioned my favorite yet.

    Hands down, without a doubt, for me it’s The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Packs so much importance into a very quick, engaging read. Steve defines and explains how to conquer “The Resistance”, this invisible force that keeps us all from becoming our best selves.

    It’s absolutely a must read. You’ll finish it in under an hour and it will change your life.

  • Wendy

    Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose was the first book to show me that it is ok to be me. I am not as faulty as I have been led to believe. I may not be like you, but that’s more than OK. Anything that I achieve in my life, although time is ticking away a lot faster than I’d like, will probably be attributable to this book in some way.

  • Are we getting close to your highest number of comments ever, Tim? Certainly this is the most that I can ever remember seeing.

    Maybe I can help you get even more comments if I offer to give away at least 10 of my own self-help books to anyone that wants them. I’ll even throw in a cute cuddly toy!

    BTW, if I win your competition, I’ll settle for a signed photo of yourself that I can add to my shrine of you.

    And yes, I confirm (again) that I’m NOT a spammer (though I must be getting close.

    • I have TWO copies of “The Power Of Now” (don’t ask) if anyone wants them. Warning: you really need to be more of a hippy type than a scientist type to enjoy it.

      I’m still NOT a spammer.

      • I’ve never read the book The Power of Now, but some rave about it and others say “makes no sense”.

        I think the main issue people have with it is that there’s no practical framework to work with.

        Again, I am just repeating but would love to get a copy!

        Thanks Rob!

        • LMAO, it would cost Rob more to mail it you from the UK than you could buy it for!

          • Ha. Then in that case, no worries.

            I will get to reading it eventually. Got other books to read as I am pounding them lately.

            Thanks Rob anyway. And Tim, I am going to agree with Rob, I am not a spammer.

            New feature?

          • rob collins

            A better use of the money I’d send on postage would be to strap them to a massive firework and explode them over nearby farmland.

            • That would almost certainly go viral if you posted it to YouTube and make you a star whilst blasting ET into the stars.

              Ironic initials eh?

              • Rob Collins

                Lol, and that other author I loathe, Eldon Taylor, has the same initials! Just a coincidence?! Unfortunately if I blast his book into space it will be very expensive. I have the Kindle version.

    • I seem to remember Carl Harveys guest post on binaural beats getting about 130 if I’m not mistaken, but other than that, only passed the 100 mark a handful of times

  • Lefteris Kokkinhs

    Well,I have to be honest.

    It is a very good gesture indeed and a great post obviously,but I have to admit that I haven’t found the book that totaly altered the way I think YET.The sad thing is that most of these books cannot be found here in Greece but I will not stop searching for them,I promise you that!

    If I can at least say about a series of books that made me realize who I am and in what I believe in,then I will point to the books about Middle Earth.I know they are not self development books but I said from the begining that I will be honest :D

  • For me it has to be Love Life, Live Life by Sue Stone.

    Great for those not already on board with being in charge of thoughts & direction. It the first book of this ilk I read and it absolutely changed my world.

  • Lisa McLaurin

    WOW, there is an immense amount of love reflected here with these life-changing books! This blog post with comments should go viral so the world can self-improve!

    And Rob, OF COURSE everyone wants your self-help books too!

    Clay, I’m get the War of Art TODAY. Maybe I’ll finally conquer the me that’s standing in my way.

    Thanks for this, Tim, you’re brilliant! :-)

  • Tim, I’ve given this a great deal of thought for a couple days. It’s always difficult for me to choose one book. But that’s part of the fun with this. So I settled on Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson. It showed me a new way to think, a new way to question, and how so much of what we have running between is more important and easier to control then I ever thought. It turned me onto NLP, Hypnosis, philosophy,meditation, and more. I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

  • I have so many favorites and many have already been mentioned, so I’ll go with my most recent love:
    The Skinny on Willpower: How to Develop Self Discipline by Jim Randel
    …because it is all about implementing what we read in the other amazing books.

  • Debbie

    Per your recommendation “Living As a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change” by Bodhipaksa has profoundly changed the way I deal with my world.

    By the end of the book it is nearly impossible to not come to your own realization, that the only stable thing in this world is: that the world is in a constant state of change and its been happening all along. Soooo might as well give it a big warm hug, wet sloppy kiss, offer it a drink and make nice nice.

    • YES!

      I LOVE that book and the man himself (in a very manly way of course). So glad you enjoyed it and when I have my weekly meditation session with Bodhipaksa on Thursday I shall let him know your thoughts!

  • If everybody could please stop writing and/or suggesting books now until about 2019 that would be great because my queue is chock-a-block!

  • My favorite self-help book may be thought of as a business book, but it really made such a profound change in my life. It’s the reason I quit a nice government job to open my own consulting practice. Escape from the Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim. I actually read it 3 times before I got the nerve to say ‘adios’ to the 9 to 5. It taught me to fight that lizard brain.

  • Ask & it is given, by abraham hicks , is a my favourite, after you read this you will understand everything about who we are, and how we can achieve what we want. its all about youre energy, and the vibrational frequency of youre energy and what you can attract when you get this right, has anyone read any other books by abraham hicks??

    • I’m not sure about Esther and Jerry Hicks stuff to be honest. Of course she may be channeling Abraham, but she also uses a lot of artfully vague language and it’s a bit ‘out there’ for me.

  • Maggie

    It is very hard to sift through the many good books I’ve read over the years (many still in my basement and increasingly on the shelves of second-hand stores)and pick just one that was more influential than the others. On the one hand, I learned most of what I know about people from reading good literature. The psychology books tend to focus on pathology and the self help books are mostly derivative. I’d have to say, the other hand, that Carl Rogers’ ‘On Becoming a Person’ really changed the way I deal with my self and others in a positive way: become empathetic, understanding, genuine rather than competitive, judgmental or theoretical. I underwent a ‘sea change’ that is still a core part of who I am in both work and personal situations. Without it, I’d probably be a lawyer…..

  • Jennifer

    Hey, Tim.
    Just want to start off by saying I always love what I read here, so I am very glad Tony Teegarden recommended your book!
    And speaking of How to be rich and happy, that book is my answer to your question of what book has impacted me most. While I still need to finish it (bad Jenn! ;) ) it has helped me pinpoint something major I would have probably never done otherwise. In doing the exercise about values and anti-values I realized that money is a motivator for me but as a way to avoid that anti-value of poverty. I’ve been monetarily poor for so long that I am sick of it. I want more for my family and I..and I will continue to work towards finding a balance to help us live well and happy. I can’t think of a better investment I’ve made in a purchase in a very long time.
    I see there are a lot of entries, so you seem to have hit a hot spot with this give away. Good luck to everyone!

  • Kelley Rexroad

    Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World. Was good at 18. Better at age 22 and now I get it at. Well more those ages : only other one worth a mention is Gift From the Sea.

    Thanks. I plan on reading the ones I haven’t. Appreciate the insight.

  • Update: Sorry people I screwed up, I was reminded last night that I’d promised a friend that I’d give him my copy of Situations Matter by Sam Sommers.

    Awkward dilemma so what I’ll do it stick to my promise to him, but I’ll replace it with Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World.

    Hope that’s ok, and it is isn’t please e-mail me your complaint to :-)

  • Lisa McLaurin

    I don’t know why, but my email to that mailbox bounced back to me……hmmmm. lol

    BTW, Sorry Natasha, but I thought Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck was awful too.

    Holy Cow, Tim, if this hasn’t gone viral yet people are sleeping. I know I put it out on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, G+ and Tumblr.

  • Laura

    Living Enlightenment by Parahamsa Nithyananda. Absolutely life changing, it’s the book that inspired me to finally believe in myself enough to truly invest in this personal development passion and potential future of mine, despite the pressures of society and my family.

  • I’m not entering your draw for the books as it would cost a fortune to post to Botswana, but I just wanted to share a book that changed my life. Look out for The Art of Possibility by Ben Zander. As a music teacher and conductor, his words and experience really spoke to me, as well as enabling me to apply the more general lessons of ‘giving yourself an A’ and ‘how fabulous!’ to all other areas of my life. It changed how I operated as a teacher, as a daughter and as a person. This is one to re-read as many times as you can and dip into when you feel down.

  • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

    Love this book – have read it many times over, and still end up reading it a few time every year :)

  • I have read some self help books and I was able to apply it to my own life. They are packed with incredible content that would help anyone depending on the book. There are many to choose from and should be read.

  • Ok, people I am about to close the comments. Below is the list of people I have that appear to have met the criteria.

    I’ll remind you that you need to live in the US or pay shipping and that will be at least $100 if it’s overseas and probably not much less than that to Canada.

    I’m going to throw all the names below at and it can sequence them. The name at the top of the list will get the books.

    I will then go back into the actual post and announce the winner, so pop back later to see if it’s you!

    Lynn H
    Roy N
    David Beach
    Ron R
    Wendy W
    Jason B
    Lisa M
    Julia R
    Roberta Bly
    Linda S
    Lynn G

  • The winner has not contacted me yet.

    I’m going to give them until 6.00pm today when if I haven’t heard I’ll do the draw again.