Top 10 Self-improvement Books Of All Time

| Updated: October 3, 2021 12:42 pm

Over time the perception of self-help/ self-improvement books has changed substantially. What started as an impulse purchase at an airport stall has now become the source of people’s life philosophies and mantras. Nuggets of wisdom are readily available through the condensation of the author’s life or astute observations. It offers an alternative path and often a solution to people’s problems, allowing a way out of the metaphorical rut we often find ourselves in. 

The 7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen r Covey – 

One of the bestselling self-improvement books of all time, it is a classic of the genre. As the title suggests, it isn’t merely about the seven habits one can inculcate to become an effective person. It also focuses on looking inward and working your way from within to become a whole integer person to achieve any measure of success. 

Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Hector Garcia and Frances Miralles– 

Ikigai translates to a ‘purposeful life’, and that is precisely what the book does. It gives you the necessary tools to lead a meaningful life, one aligned with the ‘state of flow’. Decoding the secret of longevity of the residents of Okinawa, Japan, their simple life one in tune with the rest of the community has enabled them to live past a hundred years. 

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne-

This is the book that started the mass hysteria about the law of attraction school of thought. It talks about the energy and vibes you put out in the world and its direct correlation to your life experiences. If you can dream it and believe it is yours, the universe will conspire to give it to you. That is the secret.

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero-

Often self-help books suffer from being dry and preachy; Sincero’s book combines humour with the practical advice of getting to the root cause of the insecurities holding you back in life. To face the challenging situations with humility and actively work on changing the unpalatable situations while acknowledging the badass you are.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert t Kiyosaki–

It is a classic financial self-improvement book emphasising the importance of financial literacy. Tacking the negative perception of the trappings of wealth, it speaks about how rich people can make money work for them versus simply working for money. Rich Dad Poor Dad is written in a set of parables, ostensibly based on Kiyosaki’s life.

The Power of your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy  –

Reading this book is almost like going into a meditative state, with its unique ability to calm frazzled nerves. It focuses on the power of the subconscious and positive affirmations and their ability to make our dreams a reality. It isn’t enough to simply want something, but you must visualise it already being yours. If you genuinely believe this, it will echo through the universe and eventually become yours. It is a book that needs to be reread to grasp its layered nuances fully. 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up By Marie Kondo–

Before the Netflix series by the same name was the book that became an instant sensation. “Get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy.” The premise is simple, look at any materialistic thing you own and ask yourself does this bring me joy? If it doesn’t, then discard it. It focuses on the importance of decluttering your life to declutter your mind. 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo –

A self-help book masquerading as a novel or a novel masquerading as a self-help book? The Alchemist is about the journey of protagonist  Santiago, who leaves home to search for an unknown treasure. Soon this journey metamorphosises into a spiritual one and becomes one of discovering the treasures that lie within. 

How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie- 

Written in 1936, this is the book that gave birth to the entire genre. Carnegie wrote that in order to be likeable, one must be nice to other people. It is essential to make people feel appreciated, and making small efforts on their part will go a long way to exert influence. This book’s timeless principles have kernels of wisdom hidden in plain sight, which are integral for effective communication. 

The 5am Club by Robin Sharma–

The semi-fictional book by Sharma focuses on the importance of gaining inner power to get outer achievement. And the key to developing this inner power is through daily rituals. The 5am club focuses not only on the need of waking up early but the impact it has on the rest of one’s day. It is a pill of wisdom covered in a coating of a fictional story making it palatable even to the firmest anti-self-help readers.

Devanshi Shanay Shah

Devanshi Shanay Shah, our in-house expert on books and parenting, is currently working on her debut novel. She has a Masters in literature and writing from the University of Cambridge. A voracious reader, she has an appetite for fiction and poetry. In the weekends, she loves to play scrabble, and sip oolong tea while watching old black and white movies. Devanshi is mother to one-year-old Ayesha who doesn’t give her much time for any of the things mentioned above. Please write to her at

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