50 Self-Development and Growth Books That Are Integral To Life

50 Self-Development and Growth Books That Are Integral To Life

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The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg

As humans we’re more likely to shift to bad decisions at the end of the day. It’s why Gilt decided to release their sales at 9PM and why infomercials are on so late at night — because your willpower muscle is more likely to be all used up. Shifting focus onto creating habits is easier than strengthening your willpower muscle. His tricks to shift your brain into cue->routine->reward, will have you making the right choice automatically. Here, I go into detail about how I use his tricks to help save. I think of the same thoughts each time, making it simple to decide to save. But you can use it for anything!


Moonwalking With Einstein: Joshua Foer

Foer first covered the US Memory Olympics in 2005, then went back a year later to win it. In the first 30 minutes of reading, I managed to memorize my entire grocery list without writing it down. I still remember the items in it today, and I read this book 6 months ago! Through usage of devices such as memory palaces, memorizing a deck of playing cards ($10,000 challenge by Tim Ferris), memorizing poetry (how many classes have you had to go to where you needed to memorize a presentation or piece of writing?), and more, it’s a worthwhile read. The tale is gripping and funny, with you realizing that in order to get to the top, you need mentors and a system.


Designing your Life: Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

In Financial Independence circles, you’re often told to design the life you want to live first, then save for it. Sure, you can read a 4 page blog article and try to figure out you want, but this highly detailed, actionable book has changed me for the better (and it will change you too!). Written by 2 Stanford Design School professors, this book is well-thought out and useful in personal growth. Figure out what you want from life and then apply the 4 % SWR rule to it.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Marie Kondo

The average American house has nearly tripled in size since 1950 and the fastest growing real estate market in America is self-storage. Why do we need so much stuff? Read this book so you can finally declutter you life. Retire 3 years earlier by cutting down your clothing consumption. Go through your entire house and sell off things that don’t bring you joy. At the end of it, you’ll be less cluttered and your wallet will be much happier.



The Secret Gratitude Book

This one is a book about feeling grateful for everyday life. Your attitude determines your happiness, and if you’re miserable and feeling unhappy because someone else has a nicer life, you’re going to be unhappy. Instead, focus on what you have and how lucky you are! You’ll find you’re much more productive with a change in attitude.



The Slight Edge: Jeff Olson

The boring way to achieve FI is by implementing a system that siphons small wins into the snowball effect of compound interest. Oftentimes, people themselves forget this, or when they try and prove this to someone else, they lack the sufficient words to convince someone else. The Slight Edge presents the concept of small, repetitive, boring tasks turning into a giant win. The FI journey is long, so a small reminder to keep on going is always a great book.


Smarter Faster Better: Charles Duhigg

I love Duhigg. Can you tell because he’s ended up on my 2017 list twice? This book continues on from The Power of Habit, his first book, and focuses on 8 more productivity concepts. His first book teaches you how to create habits, and this continuation teaches the 8 habits he believes are most useful in every day life. From teaching you how to set goals via the SMART method to biasing yourself towards action-based reactions and all the way to figuring out how a group reacts is more important than who is in the group, the book will enhance your productivity in your personal and professional life.


7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

Covey gives 7 incredibly effective strategies for people when they reach a decision point. Some of the strategies include always trying to find a win-win solution, engaging in empathetic communication to get someone on your side, how to actually accomplish a goal, etc. They’re all extremely actionable and simple strategies, it’ll make you wonder why you hadn’t though of the genius ideas first.




The Happiness Advantage

So many of us are trying to accomplish something, save up for something material, or have some kind of experience in order to be happy, but that shouldn’t be the norm. Happiness should be a frame of mind, instead of a goalpost we keep moving whenever we accomplish some task. However, studies have shown that once you’re happy, you’ll be more successful. The book shows how to reprogram your brain to be happier so that you can be more productive.



The Four Hour Workweek

You’ve heard of the Pareto principle, where 80 percent of your outcome comes from 20 percent of your input, right? Well, Ferriss takes that to the extreme, putting in 10 percent of the normal hours in a workweek while making the same amount of income.




80/20 Principle

Koch highlights the Pareto Principle, which is where 20 of your effort produces 80 percent of your outcome. He goes through many examples of the 80/20 principle and how you can apply it to your business and personal lives. Though this principle could be explained in a few minutes,






Gladwell argues that we shouldn’t focus on the qualities of successful people, but the circumstances of their journey. His main argument is that mastery at a certain task takes repetition and continous improvement for 10,000 hours. He has great arguments for the privilege people are afforded, but doesn’t seek to make it political. The book is eye-opening in things you hadn’t even thought of.




As a child, teachers would tell us “You’re so smart!” instead of “You’re so hard-working”. The former reinforces the fact that you were born with a certain amount of intelligence and can skate through. The later requires you to work hard, even when things get tough. Duckworth argues that grit is very necessary for achieving success and shows you how to learn that quality.




Have you ever done something and realized that it was something an adult probably wouldn’t do? That it was common sense but no one had ever told you or you never realized that? Adulting goes over some very common mistakes we make as adults, but in a fun and enlightening way. Seriously, even if you think you’re the most mature adult, you should probably read this book — you’d learn something new.




Made to Stick: Chip Health

Made to Stick is a book about communicating your ideas in a way that “sticks” to someone else’s mind. When your boss does a yearend review, which presentation and skills does he remember of yours? Want to convince someone else to do an activity? What are the psychological tricks companies use to trick you into spending and not saving? Learn how to make your ideas and thoughts stickier so others will remember and how to avoid psychological traps.



Smarter Faster Better: Charles Duhigg

I love Duhigg. Can you tell because he’s ended up on my 2017 list twice? This book continues on from The Power of Habit, his first book, and focuses on 8 more productivity concepts. His first book teaches you how to create habits, and this continuation teaches the 8 habits he believes are most useful in every day life. From teaching you how to set goals via the SMART method to biasing yourself towards action-based reactions and all the way to figuring out how a group reacts is more important than who is in the group, the book will enhance your productivity in your personal and professional life.



Ray Dalio shares his principles of living and how he built the world’s largest hedge fund through radical transparency and the will to achieve meaningful work. Dalio argues all decisions can be simplified down to rules like an algorithm and shows he utilizes technology to get further than others. His book is also chock full of what he did during financial crisis, which teaches us important lessons without us having to experience it.



Expert Secrets

Brunson basically goes through educating us on how a sales funnel works. A genius part of this is that the book is actually part of his funnel. With the rampant amount of courses that sell for $100+, this book is a steal.






The Signal and the Noise: Nate Silver

Nate Silver rose to fame when he predicted 49 of 50 state’s outcomes in the presidential election of 2008. His website uses statistics to delve into politics, economics, and science. Throughout the book, he visits the most successful forecasters — particularly interesting to FI’ers is the chapter on the stock market. The most successful ones aren’t always right, but they have enough information to use probability to get a correct answer a higher percentage of times greater than their competition.


Naked Statistics: Charles Wheelan

Wheelan does a great job of making stats interesting. His stories will train you to spot inconsistencies regarding real life, without having to actually take a stats class or run a regression. At times, he will focus on not what something has in common, but what sets it apart — a kind of thinking that school does not teach you regarding math. Wheelan introduces the different stats concepts through a Sherlock Holmes-esque story. Ever realize you’ve gone through life and still don’t understand the Monty Hall problem? Wheelan explains that in laymans terms really well.


Incerto: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is made up of 4 books (Fooled by RandomnessThe Black SwanAntifragileThe Bed of Procrustes). The titles are ranking in order of favorites, so if you don’t want to read them all, take a shot at the first book to see if you’d like him. I love Taleb for his focus on statistics and probability — the data for the stock market has only been around for a little longer than a century, so when you say the 2008 crash was a 10 standard deviation event, it assumes a lot. The books also focus on behavioral finance and how human psychology is a big factor in what happens in the market. Overall a thrilling read for those who rail against the status quo.


Misbehaving: Richard Thaler 

Thaler is a Nobel laureate, who is actually quite funny. His studies delve into behavioral economics, before it was even called that. Conventional economics assumes rational parties, who always behave to their best interests. In the real world, this isn’t the case. Have you ever gotten so competitive in a game you made a decision to wound someone as payback even though another decision would’ve been better? Bought in bulk for a cheaper price even though you won’t ever use it all? Bought clothes on sale even though you probably won’t wear them? Or basically any other form of irrational behavior. Discover your irrationality and be cognizant of it, so next time you react better.


The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

In economics, there’s a concept of a Giffen good, where the more expensive something is, the more people want it. Why the hell is Damien Hirst’s stuffed shark $12 Million? The book goes through the perceived value of goods and how value is stored in them at the highest ranks of society. Though an extreme example, you could say the lessons taught here apply to everyday life. After all, that amazing Apple computer? You probably could’ve gotten the same software for 10x cheaper with Linux (which is free, btw).


BogleHeads Guide To Investing

John Bogle, who is the founder and former CEO of Vanguard, writes a book advocating for passive investing in a well diversified portfolio. He wants you to maximize your tax advantaged accounts, and stop listening to the advisors on Wall Street who get paid for investing advice you could pick up on the internet (or this blog).




A Random Walk Down Wall Street

This book exhibits a similar tone towards investing as John Bogle does. It posits that the prices of stocks exhibit patterns of a random walk and that no one can continue to outperform the market. The book advocates that everything eventually regresses toward the mean of returns. While I’m all for passive investing, I do believe there are those that can outperform — it’s just rare, and your odds of finding that one manager are small, so it’s up to you to decide if you want to try.



Your Money Or Your Life

Vicky Robin is credited with starting the movement behind FIRE with this book. If you’re into financial independence, this is one book you need to read. They just updated it for 2018 so the current version is much more relevant to today. The book is about maximizing your life, sustainability for the environment and your future, and how to get your financial life together.



When Genius Failed

Lowenstein writes a captivating tale of the rise and fall of Long Term Capital Management. Nearly 2 decades ago, a group of Nobel prize-winning and other highly intelligent scientists came together to form a hedge fund that nearly brought down the financial system. The story is a tale of risk management and a warning for the institutions that try and mimic their strategy without learning their lessons.




Zero To One: Peter Thiel

This isn’t a FI related book, as the book advocates ideas that entirely new to the present, but I think it’s a great mentality of thinking for people. A lot of society seems to think that you can’t really create anything new — leading to a defeatist mentality of not being able to get ahead. Stop that, and believe you can. If you’re one of the FI’ers who want to create a startup or work on innovative projects after you’ve become financially independent, then you should really read this book on that mentality.



Elon Musk

Musk is the most revolutionary person in the tech/engineering sector. I was elated to find an autobiography about him. He went through a tough childhood and though he’s successful now, there were times where he had to sell his car in order to keep Tesla going. Critics say he’s never delivered anything on time, but he eventually delivers — hey, landing the refuse of a rocket on a tiny little barge in the middle of the ocean is hard, ok? His newest venture, the boring company might one day in the very, very, very distant future help our traffic problems. Seriously, driving underground would reduce traffic by more than half. Don’t forget the Hyperloop!


Tools of Titans

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferris, and how he loves to optimize his life. Here he asks famous people of his day for advice, tips, and tricks, and bundles it all into on giant book. I’ve gone through this once and bookmarked my favorite people and pieces of advice. I suggest you do the same. It helps you get into the entrepreneur mindset and think of which side-hustles are really important to you so you can reach financial independence earlier. Keep in mind that most of the material from Tools of Titans is free from his podcasts, and just transcribed here. For me, it’s easier to reference this than listening to the podcast again.

Tribe of Mentors

Another Tim Ferris Book, with basically the same concept as Tools of Titans, but just new content not released on any of his podcasts. It’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes and experience.





Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training

Recommended by a friend who has broken the 1,000 club (bench + deadlift + squat > 1,000 pounds), this book teaches you the basics of strength training. There’s too many YouTube videos doing it wrong and personal training is expensive! If you’re looking to learn strength training on your own, check this out. It’s an interesting read even if you’re super powerful.



5 Love Languages

This book teaches you that people communicate and show love in different ways. For example, you might need cuddling to feel loved while your partner needs small physical gifts once in a while to feel loved. The book goes through the 5 different love languages and shows you how to communicate what you need and how to show someone else you love them with their love language.



Anticancer: A New Way of Life

Anticancer tells you how to live a healthier life so you get a smaller chance of getting cancer by keeping your body healthy through exercise, the food you eat, and mental exercises like meditation. The book goes through basic nutrition principles, which kinds of exercise are important and efficient, and how to make sure your frame of mind is healthy.



The Art of Happiness

It doesn’t matter which religion you belong to, the Art of Happiness is a great read. The Dalai Llama gives great advice on how to live a happy and fulfilled life, and shows you how to cope with the events in your daily life. It has a theme of positive psychology, so you can take away those negative thoughts.





Nearly two millennium ago, Marcus Aurelius wrote Meditations – a reflection on his life and virtues, which are grounded in Stoicism. The book is somewhat difficult to understand, but carries wisdom that has carried throughout the ages.




Changing Your Mindset

How To Win Friends and Influence People

This book teaches some of the best strategies for how to communicate and interact with others. Carnegie’s book has been a best seller for nearly a century and continues to be relevant to this day. Human behavior hasn’t changed.




Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill describes the stories of titans of industry during his time in order to show you how to think and grow rich. Carnegie, Edison, Ford and other millionaires make an appearance in the book. Society tends to tell us that a desire to make money isn’t a good thing, and depicts those that go after it as greedy or unwilling to help others. Hill turns that mindset around so that you won’t be afraid to succeed.




Thinking, Fast, and Slow

Kahneman, a nobel prize winner, argues that thinking slow and reacting instead of just succumbing to our first urges is a better strategy in the modern era than what we’ve been wired to do for centuries. We’re no longer running from physical predators, but mental games. The book teaches you how to recognize your own cognitive biases and turn them around into the logical, rational, response.



Man’s Search For Meaning

Humans need meaning, something that we don’t think about as much in modern times. We’re too busy distracting ourselves with the latest video from Youtube or scrolling through social media. The book is an inspirational read, telling us that we need to find some kind of meaning, and how to do that, in order to survive. The book is written with stories of WWII concentration camps, of which Frankl was the only one in his family to survive. It’s a very heavy read, and not for the faint of heart.




Power of Now

This book shows you how to connect to your innermost self and use meditation and enlightenment to be mindfully present now. If you’re doing Headspace or Calm and starting meditation, you should consider this book as a supplement.






The Highly Sensitive Person

This book is written for sensitive people and/or introverts. Dr. Aron shows you how to realize your deficiencies in this area (at least because we need to deal with people on a daily basis for work) and tips on how to react better to some of these scenarios.





Though the book specifically mentions women, this book would help anyone who is even slightly introverted and afraid to get involved. Sandberg’s book is the best in figuring out how to get ahead and be promoted and has plenty of actionable advice.





Have you ever had issues with motivation? Pink shows you that the most common approach, either a reward or punishment is wrong. Our main motivation comes from our desire to be in control of our lives.





Have you ever met someone who was so effective at getting people to say yes, but couldn’t be persuaded to do anything they didn’t want to do? This book teaches you their skills so that you can use them as well in your daily life.





Guns Germs and Steel: Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered why Europe was building multi-level stone buildings, while developed Asian countries at the time were mostly only one story? Why does technology expand to some regions and not others? The title is a playful hint at the innovations that catapulted societies into their next age. Essentially, Jared Diamond produces a theory of why nations developed the way they did. Though written in 1997, this book is still incredibly relevant and ranks as the top 10 books someone in international relations, or just curious about why history went the way it did, should read.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

If you love history and Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, you’d like this book as well. Sapiens discusses history around modern cognition instead of biology or evolution. He also goes into the necessity of spiritual beliefs for the progression of mankind.




Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.

If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.

One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.

6 thoughts on “50 Self-Development and Growth Books That Are Integral To Life

    1. Yup! But I’m sure if you come up with your own list you will have read all of them too, so it is biased haha. I think each teaches you a little and that snowballs!

  1. Hey great reading list you got there Olivia. I read about a quarter of them and going to read Bogleheads Guide to investing next week.
    I loved reading Duhigg’s Power of Habit and looking into his other book you have on here, ‘Smarter Faster Better’.
    Definitely gonna to bookmark your post as reference for other books I could check out.

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