Personal development is a lifelong process that involves assessing your skills, finding your purpose, and forming your identity. Often, those who speak on personal development teach others how to improve in five main domains: social life, emotional health, physical health, education, and spirituality.

Let's take a look at the best personal development books so you can find the right ones to read.

Best Personal Development Books

Below are the top 12 books on personal development, and how they can help you get closer to your full potential. 

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

When it was first published by Random House, this New York Times best-seller became an instant classic. In this, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg explains the science behind habits and how we can change them. By reading The Power of Habit, you’ll be introduced to a new framework regarding human potential.

As it turns out, our potential is never as low as we make it out to be. According to Duhigg, our most simple yet challenging goals, such as losing weight or being more productive, lie in how much we understand habits. 

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2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

You can’t take shortcuts toward real personal development, but enacting the 7 habits of highly effective people can help you speed up the process of reaching your full potential. In this, Stephen Covey explains how to be productive while pursuing your goals, which also put it high on our list of best productivity books as well. The main factor: aligning yourself with your values. 

With over 25 million copies sold worldwide, this timeless classic goes into how one can balance the external world's principles and internal values. Covey teaches the reader how to cultivate a win-win mindset, be understood by understanding others, and how to continually improve throughout all areas of life.

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3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Since it was published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich has remained one of the most talked-about personal development books ever written. Inspired by Andrew Carnegie, Napoleon Hill shares his wisdom on the money-making secrets that can change your life. Throughout 20 years of his experience, Napoleon Hill interviewed over 500 successful people and identified recurring patterns in the wealthy's mindset. All of these are reasons why this book also made it onto our list of best books for success, as well.

By reading Think and Grow Rich, you’ll learn how to increase your wealth by manifesting your grandest visions. 

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4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People remains one of the most popular personal development books to date. With over 30 million copies sold worldwide, Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece won #19 in Time’s list of most influential books in 2011. This life-changing guide to building better relationships deals with the fundamental techniques of handling other people and gives readers advice on how to never criticize, condemn, or complain. 

The central epiphany: you can change other people’s behavior by simply changing your own. This book will teach you how to understand people, be more likable, and win others over through influencing behavior. You’ll be able to make friends quickly and easily by winning other people over to your way of thinking. Carnegie offers rules that apply to every opportunity that will allow you to win people over by making them feel good and invest in relationships for paramount success. 

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5. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive Thinking is a practical guide to mastering the problems we encounter every day. In this, Norman Peale provides case studies of positive thinking and practical instructions for implementing optimism in our lives. To achieve a permanent and optimistic attitude, this is the book for you.

With over 5 million copies sold, this book is guaranteed to help you deal with difficult situations and difficult people. Your confidence and performance will be improved, positively impacting a wide array of aspects in your life. 

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6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

This best-seller has remained on Amazon’s top 10 list for months, proving to be life-changing for many readers. With over 1 million copies sold, Atomic Habits explains how you can transform your life by implementing small changes in behavior. While many believe that thinking big is required to transform your life, the power of implementing little habits must never go under-estimated. 

In addition to his ground-breaking advice, James Clear explains how minuscule changes can turn into life-altering outcomes. After all, your life is defined by how you spend each day. Each day that you spend is made up of small habits.

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7. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Named one of the greatest personal development books of all time, The Magic of Thinking Big provides several starting points for developing the most essential trait of successful people: believing in yourself. The majority of people do not think big. They merely hope to get a decent job, rather than one they’re passionate about. But thinking big is just the first step in becoming a success, and if you do not enact other factors such as working hard and smart, you are delusional. That said, if you do not have big visions for your future, all else will fail. 

Schwartz teaches you how to eliminate excuses, get rid of a victim mindset, and believe that you are deserving of success.

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8. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene 

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Best-seller with over 1.2 million copies sold in America, The 48 Laws of Power teaches readers how to acquire power and avoid being manipulated by others. Basing his observations on relevant historical and contemporary figures of authority, Greene gives examples of how each law has been successful and how each has been a failure. He claims that power is amoral: neither good or evil. Further, to acquire power, you must always make those above you feel comfortably superior. 

This book is unique because you’re free to read it in any order, indulging yourself in the laws that interest you most. 

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9. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown 

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Expert on vulnerability and shame, Brené Brown goes into vulnerability: the most explicit path to courage. She explains how vulnerability can make you a more genuine and open person. Reading Daring Greatly will allow you to take risks and succeed in a world where everyone pretends to know exactly what they’re doing. 

You’ll learn how to challenge difficult emotions like shame, fear, and grief, and understand why these emotions are actually the birthplace of love and belonging. 

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10. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

In this classic book on personal development, Tim Ferriss explains how you can escape the 9-5 and build the lifestyle of your dreams. From the educational activist and entrepreneur himself, Ferriss has created the ultimate blueprint for anyone looking to gain more freedom, whether it be more of a work-life balance or gaining more profit from business.

This step-by-step guide includes Tim’s own story, and how he went from $40,000 per year, working 80 hours a week to $40,000 per month, working 4 hours a week. He’ll teach you how to eliminate workload, negotiate your salary, and deal with unpredictable economic times. 

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11. Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell 

Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell

Some people seem like they’re born to be successful while others seem to inevitably fail. Are successful people just lucky and blessed with high morals and a carefree childhood? In Failing Forward, John C. Maxwell explains the difference between ordinary people and those who are high-achievers. One of the most crucial elements to success is turning failures into stepping stones toward achievement. It’s all about taking risks, and avoiding failure is a failure in and of itself.

Maxwell teaches you how to cultivate the right mindset and embrace the inevitable failure. Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s the road to it. According to Maxwell, the number of times you’ve failed in the last 12 months is a direct indication of how successful you will be in the next few years. Blame yourself for the outcomes of your actions, not external circumstances. While we’ve been conditioned to fear failure and believe it indicates low intelligence, failure in the real world is an indication of progress. Even the most talented fail, and they take responsibility for all failures, even if it wasn’t directly their fault.

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12. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch 

The Last Lecture by Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture is a famous, heart-warming book about the pursuit of childhood dreams. Growing up shouldn’t mean abandoning your childhood aspirations. Randy Pausch goes deep into his thoughts on death, and how to affirm life by relentlessly pursuing your dreams. This book is perfect for anyone searching for a sense of purpose and will introduce you to the power of becoming aware that your time here is finite. 

Personal development is all about reaching your full potential. In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch explains how you can live up to your full potential and happiness by achieving your childhood dreams. 

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Final Thoughts: Best Personal Development Books

All in all, reading about personal development will put you one step closer to becoming the best version of yourself. You’ll be able to get more done in less time, maintain an optimistic attitude, and spend time doing things you love. Picking up a book and learning more about personal development is a significant step to growth.

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