9 Self-Improvement Books That Will Change Your Life

9 Self-Improvement Books That Will Change Your Life

The following 9 self-improvement books have left an imprint on my life, and I think it will on your life, too. It’s time to read and reflect!

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I’ve always enjoyed the relatable storytelling and writing style of Dale Carnegie. He wrote this book in 1936 and its principles for building strong relationships still appeal today. The book inspires me to be genuinely interested in other people; to be a good listener; refrain from criticizing, condemning or complaining; to give honest and sincere appreciation; and to smile. Although the book is popular in corporate circles, its message applies to all personal relationships, too.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Carlson’s book is an easy-to-read guide on how to live with random, positive anecdotes thrown in. It was my first self-help book and has been a fixture on my bookshelf for over 18 years. As I wrote my book Redefine Yourself: The Simple Guide to Happiness, I always kept it in mind.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

While Chapter 16 in Redefine Yourself (Create New Habits) gives you some simple tools for change, The Power of Habit provides more insight on the creation of habits and how they rule our lives. The stories are interesting and make for a quick read.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Lehrer explores the neuroscience of our decision-making processes in this book. Don’t be intimidated by the research and references to anatomy—his writing style is appealing, enjoyable, and the insight fascinating. Lehrer’s explanation of mirror neurons will continue to resonate within me for a long time. If you’re interested in how our brain operates, you’ll want to add How We Decide to your book collection.

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Imagine is less technical than Lehrer’s earlier work, How We Decide. It steers my approach to creativity within my business. If you haven’t heard the creation story of the “Just Do It” slogan, you may want to read this today. It will change the way you approach any creative project.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Ferriss’ book on how to minimize life’s distractions and maximize efficiency in order to live more and work less may help you rethink your approach to life. If you can put aside some of his questionable marketing techniques, his tips and stories can help you create a more efficient life, both personally and professionally. I read the book at a time when I needed a push to finally do what I wanted most—it may influence you the same way.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

In Drive, Pink explores the role of motivation and purpose in both the classroom and the workplace. Without a doubt, it greatly influenced the chapters on control and purpose in my book, and I highly recommend Pink’s work for additional insight on these topics.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan is one of the leaders of the new nutrition movement. He appears in many documentaries about the food industry and is considered an expert in natural eating habits. In Defense of Food revolutionized my nutritional approach and changed the way I look at food. If you want to redefine the way you eat, this book is the perfect place to start.

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky

Sapolsky lightly spins humor with academic research in this book about anatomy and stress. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers has shaped my perspective on the body and stress.


Looking for other ways to redefine your life? Check out my recent article 50 Ways to Change Your Life Today too.


Michael Moody is the author of the self-improvement book Redefine Yourself: The Simple Guide to Happiness and the former fitness expert on NBC’s The Biggest Loser/MSN Chicago tour. The owner of the successful Chicago personal training business Michael Moody Fitness, his fitness and life-structure programs have helped his personal training clients lose more than 2,500 pounds since 2005. Michael has been featured in Muscle & Fitness and Today’s Chicago Woman magazines, among others. During his time as the official trainer for PBS’s The Whitney Reynolds Show, he also produced an inspirational segment about his travels in Guatemala.

Having researched emotion and coping behaviors in university-level studies, Michael has presented various fitness, motivation, body image, and stress-management programs at Illinois State University, DePaul University, corporations, high schools, and workshops.