Today, I want to share my list of the top 65 best personal development books of all time.
Many people have asked me what was the primary reason I became an author… a writer.
While there are many reasons, the main thing I can look back on that led me into the life of being a writer was my love of reading.
One day, a light bulb flickered in my brain that someone had to actually write all those books we read, and I have a responsibility to keep that going.
I felt a calling and I heeded that calling.
The Top Educational Means
If we were to look back on all that we have learned throughout time, I believe the majority of humans would have to recognize that much of their education came from reading.
I sometimes worry that books are disappearing and then suddenly I have sales on books I have published.
I realize that people still read.
When we study the top sellers in published books, it is evident that personal development is a leading subject.
Through various methods, I have decided to provide you with a list of the top 65 best personal development books of all time.
I must first mention that the top selling book of all time could and should be considered self development related, so I must say that the Holy Bible should be at #1.
I just had to tell you that because I cannot and shall not leave it off this list.
I have not read all of the books on this list; I am using many reviews, both online and offline to develop this extensive list.
Feel free to give your opinions and share any of the books you have read at the end of this post.
Okay, starting at #65, here are the top 65 best personal development books of all time:
#65: Mastery by Robert Greene
Published in 2012, Robert delves into the lives of great minds such as Darwin, Einstein and other “Masters.”
He puts together an excellent depiction that their paths to success followed a similar road with completely different success achievements.
Mastery hit #6 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
#64: The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
Originally published in 2004, this great author uses his life as inspiration and motivation to give you principles to gain success in life.
Jack is a great motivator and teacher.
Visit his website at: http://www.thesuccessprinciples.com/
#63: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
This book, published in 2005, delves into the psychological methods to develop our decision making into a successful, automatic mode.
This book has its critics but in my opinion, it is a great read.
#62: Getting Things Done by David Allen
Published in 2001, business coach, David Allen tells us some practical methods to use time to our advantage.
Are you productive or just busy?
I highly recommend this book.
#61: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Daniel, awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, published this excellent book in 2011.
It is a look at the 2 forms of thinking and decision making:
- Fast, automatic
- Slow, logical
This book can help you understand the thinking process.
#60: The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
Published in 2005, this great book has helped many stressed, fast-paced people manage their work and personal lives in a manageable way.
This best-seller has helped athletes and entertainers and can help you too.
#59: Drive by Daniel Pink
Published in 2009, Daniel shows us that what we think motivates us may not be the case.
While rewards and money are wonderful, most people seek:
- and Mastery
Published in 2007, there have been multiple critics of this book, but it has helped many escape the craziness their lives entail.
We did a review on this book, and I highly suggest you read this book.
#57: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
It was published in 1946 and as a prisoner in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl takes us into how our minds and thinking can take us through anything.
This is a great book to help you understand how to deal with setbacks.
#56: Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary published this in 2009, and is a great guide in using the internet to build your business far beyond any dreams you may have.
Use his methods to grow your business. You can check out our review of “Crush It” right here.
#55: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
This book was published in 2013 and has gained worldwide acclaim.
It has been used by many companies in training their sales force.
I suggest you use it too.
#54: Let Go! By Pat Flynn
It was published in 2013, and many reviews say that Pat showed them how to “Keep Their Eyes on The Prize,” and not allow adverse conditions to overcome them.
It is a great read and can also be read in an eBook.
Published in 2010, Darren dives into how even the simple decisions we make shape our destiny.
Learn how to make your small choices amount to great success. Read our review here.
#52: Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less by Steve Scott
Following daily habits can lead to success if they are habits made to lead you there.
Steve Scott published this book in 2014, and readers have loved it.
#51: Spark by John Ratey
Dr. Ratey shows how we can solve nearly any issue or problem simply with exercise.
Published in 2009, this IS a great personal development book.
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#50: Choose Yourself! Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher
Published in 2013, James shows us how in today’s world, it only makes sense to go it alone and make huge strides of success.
It is right in front of you; just reach out and get it!
#49: Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
When I first saw this title, I felt a great desire to read it.
It was published in 2008, and I love how Geoff takes us on a journey of understanding that few people are born with natural talent.
I highly recommend this book.
#48: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
Published in 2009, you may think of this as a college textbook in psychology, but it is well written and easy to understand.
Learn how to control your positive state of mind.
#47: Stop Acting Rich by Dr. Thomas Stanley
Published in 2011, Dr. Stanley has studied those who are millionaires and billionaires.
There are many who you would not know are so rich if you were to meet them on the street.
Learn how to be a millionaire instead of acting like one.
#46: 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class by Steve Siebold
It was published in 2004, and is still being bought by many readers.
Learn the secrets of mental strength that will lead you to success no matter your calling.
#45: Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Many may question how this can fall into the area of personal development.
Just learning how this great man rose to heights unheard of in South Africa for a black man will give you inspiration that you can also rise to greatness.
This is a great autobiography.
#44: Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward L. Deci and Richard Flaste
Published in 1996, Deci and Flaste did multiple studies on how people motivate themselves and their loved ones.
This is a great book to help you understand how to motivate yourself.
#43: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
This biography of the great, and late Steve Jobs was published in 2011.
A great way to learn the ways of one of the greatest entrepreneurs to grace the Earth, I highly recommend this book.
#42: Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business by Chris Ducker
Published in 2014, this book will lead you down the road of using virtual assistants and freelancers to make your business grow immensely.
#41: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
It would be impossible to tell you the exact time of publishing, but this is a series of notes from a Roman emperor on his personal development.
I read this in High School and I believe everyone should read this book.
#40: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini
Originally published in 1984, the revised edition was published in 2006.
You will be amazed when you use Dr. Cialdini’s methods, how people will want to say yes.
#39: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
This is another book I read in High School and I believe everyone should read it.
I know it helped me realize the possibilities.
It was published in 1970.
#38: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Dr. Neil Fiore
Procrastination can be an entrepreneurs greatest enemy.
This book published in 1989 can help you defeat that enemy.
#37: The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Dr. Daniel Levitin
Published in 2014, this book hit #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
The Dr. goes through personal development of your mind so you can take in the important and discard the garbage.
This is a GREAT book!
It was published in 1926 and is still a book that can teach us great means of handling our personal finances.
It is a series of parables that were based in ancient Babylon.
You really should read this. Read our review of “The Richest Man in Babylon.”
#35: Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
Published in 2015, this book is an excellent lesson in how to keep your brand alive and strong.
Blackberry did not keep up with the competition.
We can learn from failure.
#34: The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying by Suze Orman
Published in 2006, Suze takes a completely different view on managing finances looking at the emotions that guide us.
This personal development book will guide you into a stress-free financial management system.
#33: Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work by Whitney Johnson
Published in 2015, Whitney learned the key of disruption in stock trading and realized that this method can be used by anyone.
When life flows smooth, change seldom happens; everything either stays even or drops.
But disruption can drive high levels of success or low levels of failure.
Learn how to use disruption as an asset.
#32: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This book was published in 1989.
This book is excellent, as it takes you through various habits so you can discover personal and business success.
#31: Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry
One of the newest books on this list, being published in early 2015, the authors researched over 12,000 humans to discover how stress and pressure effect them.
Learn how to work your best under pressure. (Just what I need to meet the deadlines I have!!!)
#30: Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
Published in 1980, this book has been a hit worldwide.
It is part autobiography and part fiction, and it is great.
#29: Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes
This book published in 2015 will make you think.
To be confused can be used for your success.
#28: The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
First published in 1928, Napoleon Hill had written 16 separate lessons on success.
This outline to success has been used by many successful people all through the years.
#27: Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows
Published in 2009, I honestly considered having this book higher on this list.
This book has helped me decide on systems that make me a better business person as well as a better person in general.
Published in 2009, the authors bring the spiritual side to personal and business success.
This is a wonderful book that should be read by all. Read our review of “Acres of Diamonds.”
#25: The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh
Published in 2014, many are discovering that this is a great book on the management of people.
Be it employees or contract labor, this book gives you many insights.
#24: Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed by Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy has been motivating people for years.
This book of his was published in 1993 and still sells in huge numbers.
#23: Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
Published just this year, Laszlo heads people operations at Google.
We can learn so much from how work is made to be fun and exciting even if it is monotonous.
#22: The Seasons of Life by Jim Rohn
In 1981, Mr Rohn published this wonderful book about how our lives are similar to the changing seasons.
It is a must read.
#21: The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker
A master in business management, Peter Drucker published this in 2008 to help us all understand what he learned over many years.
Learn everything you need about business management in this one book!
#20: See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar
Published in 1975, the late Zig Ziglar was blunt, and to the point!
I have read this book 4 times and I think I will read it again when I finish this article.
#19: The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun, It’s Not Worth Doing by Richard Branson
Published in 2015, the founder of the Virgin Group gives us an insight into having fun becoming successful.
Even in failures, Richard had fun.
#18: Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell
John published this book in 1993, and many recognized leaders claim they read and learned from this great leader.
I highly recommend this personal development book to help you no matter your leadership calling.
#17: Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
Published in 1960, these two great men give us wonderful insight in how our attitudes can control our outcomes.
Just because it is an old book doesn’t mean it isn’t still useful.
I dare you to read it.
#16: The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
Published in 1982, this book has had its share of criticism, but I believe it can help you become a better leader all around.
It is a short, easy read.
#15: Chicken Soup for the Soul Series by Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen
It is not just one book, but a whole series.
Starting in 1993, there has been a wide range of these personal development books published.
See the website: http://www.chickensoup.com/
#14: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by James Collins
Published in 2001, the author shows how companies can go from good to great, but most don’t.
It will give you wonderful insight on managing your business.
#13: The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource by Jeffrey Gitomer
This book has been updated and revised several times, and many sales managers purchase copies for sales people.
It is exactly what it says, it will teach you the best sales techniques.
#12: The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach
Since first published in 2003, this book has helped even the worst financial handling people learn to handle their money properly and finish rich.
It is a great book; I recommend it to all.
Nearly everything we do in life involves selling.
Og published this book in 1968.
It is about Hafid who starts poor and finishes rich using the art of salesmanship.
It was published in 1997, and Robert still travels the world teaching the principles he provided in this book.
Learn how you can gain financial success from one of the best.
#9: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Published in 2008, Malcolm takes some very complex success theories and research, and lays it out in an easy to understand book.
While I have not yet read the book, it is highly acclaimed by many.
#8: Who Moved My Cheese? By Dr. Spencer Johnson
Change can be a difficult thing to handle.
Published in 1998, Dr. Johnson gives us a look at how we can actually appreciate change.
You WILL love this book.
#7: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Published in 1936, if you have not yet read this book, you absolutely need to.
You will have a complete new outlook on how to deal with other people.
#6: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
This excellent book was published back in 1903.
Using the Book of Proverbs in the Bible as the main base, James gives us an easy outlook on how we can manage our personal lives through thought.
#5: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Published in 2012, this book gives us a look at how powerful introverts can truly be in business.
A must read by both introverts and extroverts!
#4: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This was published in 1937 and is still quite popular reading.
To publish a book with this title during the Great Depression was on the verge of crazy, but many people discovered that Mr Hill hit the nail on the head.
#3: The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
Published in 1959, this personal development book explains how setting your goals high and then using positive thoughts to attain them will gain you huge success.
There is MAGIC in thinking big!
#2: Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial by Tony Robbins
I had this book given to me in 2008 when I was facing major trials in my life.
It helped me have a new outlook.
Tony published it in 1991, and I suggest you get a copy!
#1: The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
By far, this 1952 book by one of the best leaders in personal development is top of the list.
I suggest you get a copy and read it and take notes.
It changed my life and it will change yours.
Here are some quotes from Dr. Peale:
“Anybody can do just about anything with himself that he really wants to and makes up his mind to do. We are all capable of greater things than we realize.”
“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”
“To go fast, row slowly.”
I hope you enjoyed this lengthy post and please tell us your favorite books on the list.
You can leave all comments and questions below.
About the Author
Greg Boudonck is a freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He writes on many different topics, but business subjects are one of his primary areas of writing expertise. See Greg’s biography here.