Self-improvement books frequently top bestseller lists for a reason.
There is something so compelling about realizing truths about ourselves.
They can also help you view the world more positively. Reading positive and inspiring messages can help you view yourself as more creative and increase your own self-esteem.
Perhaps most importantly, self-improvement books can inspire you to make positive changes in your life. Many of the books included in our list feature exercises, questions, or prompts to get you thinking about the choices you’re currently making and how you might implement the teachings of the book in your life.
Whether you’re seeking guidance through a period of transition or hoping to drive personal growth, here are some of the key takeaways from 10 of our favorite self-improvement books, and the best products that can help you start changing your life today.
If you want to achieve your goals…
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Considered one of the most influential business books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People centers around the idea that the way we see the world is based wholly on our own perceptions, so in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.
The seven habits Covey lays out include: being proactive, having an outcome-oriented mindset, maintaining weekly planning sessions to help prioritize, sharing expectations and accountability across your team, taking time to fully understand an issue and give thoughtful feedback, seeking out new and different solutions to problems, and utilizing each team member to their full potential.
Weekly planning sessions full of thoughtful and honest reflection are a key tenet of the Ink+Volt planner. By breaking big goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks, you can achieve every goal you set for yourself and become a highly effective person.
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
The Magic of Thinking Big is one of the most popular self-improvement books for a reason. The author, Dr. David J. Schwartz is considered a motivation expert, and the methods he shares aim to help readers get the most out of their jobs, marriages, family lives, and communities. The book tackles overcoming the fear of failure, how to think and dream creatively, the power of self-image, how to think like a leader, and how to use (big) goals to achieve growth.
The idea of making big ideas happen is one that’s at the heart of the Hatch Notebook — a system to brainstorm, keep track of ideas, evaluate their merits, decide which ones to pursue, and then plan and execute. The notebook helps break down grand ideas into smaller, realistic pieces and action items, and is the perfect companion to The Magic of Thinking Big.
If you want to be a little happier…
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin Manuel Miranda
If you’re not already following the Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda on Twitter, I highly encourage you to do so immediately — he begins and ends each day with uplifting affirmations that are a delight to read. This practice was the inspiration behind this self-improvement book, illustrated by Jonny Sun, filled with positive messages that will help you start each day on the right foot, or turn a bad day around.
Pair this book with these affirmation cards (or these created specifically for work!), for 50 cards filled with fun illustrations, positive thoughts, and inspiring messages, and you’ll be well armed with your own personal cheerleaders, motivating you to get through even the toughest days.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project was inspired by Rubin’s realization that “the days are long, but the years are short. Time is passing and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” As a result, she spent a full year on her “happiness project,” trying out current scientific research, pop culture ideas, as well as ancient wisdom about how to be happier.
One of Rubin’s (many) recommendations for increased happiness is practicing gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is a scientifically backed way to be happier every day. This journal has 60 blank daily entries, plus 10 weekly gratitude challenges to help you kickstart and enhance your gratitude practice.
If you want to revitalize your creativity…
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
From the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love comes this self-improvement book, intended to help people unlock their creative potential. Whether you’re hoping to become a full-time artist or explore a new creative pursuit, with this book, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need to live our most creative lives.
If you’re picking up Big Magic, we’d recommend pairing it with this creativity journal by Jenny Ronen. The Wake Up Your Imagination activity book contains beautiful, colorful paintings on each page and more than 30 whimsical prompts designed to rejuvenate your art practice.
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
The only fiction book on this list, The Alchemist is nevertheless a bestselling self-improvement books. The story follows an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago whose dream is to travel in search of treasure, but the messages readers take away are important learnings about the importance of listening to your heart, recognizing opportunity, and to follow your dreams.
Pair this book with a beautiful, soft-cover journal you can carry with you everywhere so you can start writing down flashes of inspiration that will help you recognize and achieve your dreams.
If you want to get organized…
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Japanese cleaning consultant, Netflix star, and lifestyle phenomenon Marie Kondo’s theory is simple: decluttering your home will change your life. Using the KonMari method, readers will understand how to simplify and organize their belongings category-by-category, determine what “sparks joy,” and uncover the motivated mindset that tidiness inspires.
Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
The Danish philosophy of Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) has become a lifestyle phenomenon, built on valuing comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.”
Fuzzy socks and warm blankets are Hygge. An intimate candlelight gathering of friends is Hygge. Sending snail mail is Hygge. Embrace the concept of Hygge and pair The Little Book of Hygge with this adorable stationary so you can remind your friends and family how much they mean to you.
If you want to be a better manager…
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
The idea behind Radical Candor is that leaders should care personally about their teams, but also challenge directly. Too often, she says, we fall back on the age-old idea that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” when really honest, direct feedback is sometimes exactly what’s needed to take your team to the next level.
As a manager, Scott says, not only is it your job to provide feedback, it’s your obligation.
A big component of caring about your team is truly listening to them and synthesizing what they’re telling you. The Ink+Volt Meeting Notes notepad will help you to stay on track during a discussion and make sure you don’t miss an important takeaway — crucial for having open and honest conversations with your team.
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace
This self-improvement book from the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios (yes, the studio behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Inside Out) is a manual for creative leadership. Ed Catmull walks readers through the founding of the company and the unique environment he and his colleagues created for their teams, founded on philosophies of openness, creativity, and embracing failure.
Experimenting with new things is a key factor in Catmull’s advice for leaders. To embrace this philosophy, try bullet journaling! The hyper-flexible form of goal-setting and journaling encourages practitioners to flex their creative muscles and create something all their own.