I usually wrap up the year by reviewing the best books on self development that were published during the preceding 12 months. I thought I’d pull it forward a week or two this year though just in case you are wondering about last minute stocking fillers for friends and family.
Not only am I going to list my top 10 non-fiction books, but I’m also going to order them. Let’s face it, it doesn’t get more exciting than that, but please, no scrolling down to see what’s the greatest self-development book of 2010, you’ve got to allow the tension to build.
Disclosure: All the titles are hyperlinks to the books on Amazon (except one) and I can earn up to a staggering 6% commission if you buy one. Last month I earned enough for a latte and half a scone.
If you want to understand motivation more clearly, then Drive is a good starting point. Pink takes a look at lots of research and draws some interesting conclusions (one major one that I happen to disagree with, but that’s for another time) about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
I you have read Flow and either of Dan Ariely’s books I doubt much of this will be brand spanking new to you, but if you haven’t, then it should offer real value and a window into how you really motivate yourself and others.
Note: Don’t get the audiobook version, Dan Pink may possess the most boring monotone voice on the planet.
How ridiculous would it be to be to include a book in my top 10 that isn’t even out yet and I’m only one third of the way through?
Well yeh fairly ridiculous I admit. However, as this book is published between Christmas and New Year and thus wont be eligible for my much sought after and prestigious (in my mind) top 10 next year, I thought I’d include it now.
The book is really aimed more at a female audience, but I also think guys can take a lot from it too. If that is, they want to get a sneak peak into the female psyche, warts and all. And trust me there are lots of warts!
Bowman is brutally honest, admitting that her marriage was in tatters and she wanted her husband dead at one stage. There’s normally no coming back from a situation so desperate, but Alisa Bowman is a bit special and came back she did. She is also self effacing, charming, funny and very, very normal.
Great quote in the book “Don’t choose sadness now because you fear sadness later”
I was a tad concerned when I received this book because I like Michael Heppell a lot and I was worried that this books was just going to be gigantic reframe and full of filler.
I was delighted to find I was wrong and that Mr Heppell had put together a gem of a book to help anybody that wants to get more out of life by looking at things in a different light.
If I’m being honest it is aimed more at the mass market and relative self development newbies, but the reality is, that most people on the planet fit into that category and I can heartily recommend it.
Note: If your American, get the audio version and listen to Heppell’s accent, you’ll absolutely love it even when you can’t understand a damn word he’s saying. And anyway it looks like the book isn’t yet out in the US, sorry.
Any book that tells me there is no scientific proof that the ‘G’ Spot exists and as such it wasn’t my fault, is ok by me. Of course when I mentioned this in my post More Self Development Myths Exposed there were, not unsurprisingly, howls of derision from the women readers.
Leaving that aside, this is a great book if you really want to get your head around what is and isn’t true in the self development industry.
The only grouse I had with it was that it appears the authors named it before they started writing and then struggled to come up with 50 myths. I suspect most people don’t really think there is a spike in lunatic asylum admissions during a full moon.
A week or two ago I got a call from a prospective client. On answering the phone the women said to me “I need help with time management” and I replied “Yeh me too, let me know if you find anybody that’s any good”
Quite honestly time management as a subject bores the arse of me. With that in mind you can imagine I wasn’t whipping myself into a frenzy of excitement when I started reading Laura Vanderkam’s book.
What a revelation it turned out to be though and I not only learned some practical advice, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book too.
It’s not your Grandpa’s left-brained approach to time management, because this actually makes sense to right brainers too. 168 Hours will show you how some of the busiest people on the planet get so much done in a day and how you can too with a few tweaks here and there.
Dan Ariely’s previous book Predictably Irrational is one of my top 10 books of all time and this is an excellent follow up. I’m not sure that it hits the heights of its forerunner, but it’s not far behind.
For some while I have had a strong belief that money is a poor motivator, but I had no idea that large bonuses may actually impede performance. If you think the bonuses paid to the banking industry are obscene, this book won’t help you with the moral argument, but it will give you some hard data as to why they may have contributed to the recent economic collapse.
It will also explain why you will nearly always value the the ideas you have above those of other people. How incredibly useful is that in a Life Coaching context I wonder?
And speaking of coaching, it takes a look at how we can motivate people in the work place to perform better by giving their work more meaning. I don’t think Ariely’s conclusions in that area will shock anybody that has successfully managed people, but it is interesting to understand more fully the reasons behind such behavior.
If I had any criticism of The Upside of Irrationality it would be that very occasionally it gets bogged down in too much detail. But that is really nitpicking and if you liked Predictably Irrational you’ll not be disappointed with the follow up.
I was actually a tad disappointed by the authors previous book ‘Made To Stick’ after all the hype and only bought this on a firm recommendation from a friend and I’m so glad I did because it’s excellent.
The Heaths take and expand on the brilliant metaphor introduced by Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis that we all have an elephant and a rider inside our head.
Your elephant is your emotional hard wired side and if left to its own devices by your more pragmatic rider can run amok. The idea is whenever possible to have the rider and elephant wanting to go in the same direction. Otherwise even though your rider may gain small victories, the elephant is going to eventually overpower you and do its own, often destructive, thing.
A cool look at ‘Change’ and what you can do to facilitate it using storytelling.
This is quite simply the best book on spirituality I have ever read and one I intend to revisit again in 2011. As I told my newsletter readers, I found it almost impossible to review and it often left me feeling uncomfortable and frustrated.
That may sound like bad thing but nothing could be further from the truth because those states often arise when we are being dragged out of our comfort zone and Living As A River certainly did that.
Definitely for you if you like to stretch your thinking and ponder the bigger questions about life and existence.
Note: This book is 100% dogma free so if you subscribe to one particular religion and like it that way, Living As A River will not threaten that and it certainly won’t try and ram Buddhism down your throat.
If you take self development and/or Life Coaching seriously, then this book is an absolute must read. Not only is it in my top 2 for 2011, but it would also be in my top 5 of all time. My post Cannabis Is Better For You Than Multi-Tasking was heavily influenced by it and it is a mine of information on how the brain works and how you can get it to work even more effectively. A barnstormer of a book!
1. How To Be Rich and Happy – John P Strelecky and Tim Brownson
Just shut up, ok, shut up! It’s my blog and I’ll not only cry if I want to, but pimp the shit out of my own stuff too if I want to.
It’s brilliant honest, so go and buy a copy for everybody you know on the planet. Then relax in the knowledge that you are a beautiful human being that has just helped place multiple copies of the book into the hands of people that couldn’t normally afford it. Did I tell you we went over the $100,000 worth of books donated this week?