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15 of the Best Personal Growth Books That Match This Moment

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Sarah S. Davis

Staff Writer

Sarah S. Davis holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master's of Library Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sarah has also written for Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, Audible, Psych Central, and more. Sarah is the founder of Broke By Books blog and runs a tarot reading business, Divination Vibration. Twitter: @missbookgoddess Instagram: @Sarahbookgoddess

Today’s best personal growth books reflect the unique stresses of the world: social media and the quest for selfie perfection; staying balanced in a politically charged climate; and living with our values in mind when they are under attack. Far from the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus days of my childhood, the personal development books hitting the shelves today rise to the moment. No matter what area of your life you want to work on, there’s a book to match it in this list of 15 of the best new personal growth books. Get ready to get happier with these recommendations for self help, motivation, meditation, and more.

Average Is The New Awesome: A Manifesto for the Rest of Us by Samantha Matt

With people living Insta-perfect lives on social media, it’s no surprise that may of us feel less than satisfied, like we can’t measure up. In Average Is the New Awesome: A Manifesto for the Rest of Us, writer Samantha Matt argues that rather than reject our averageness, we should embrace it as an authentically awesome experience. Matt’s witty book cuts through the misleading “perfection” promoted in the arts, the media, and in our social media feeds with this empowering, actionable manifesto.

Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice by Michelle Obama

Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming was a publishing sensation and one of the best personal growth books of the year. But if you haven’t had a chance to read the memoir yet, don’t worry, you can still enjoy personal growth with Obama’s Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice. In this beautiful journal, inspiring quotes and thought-provoking questions will help you on your own process of becoming. A transformative tool, Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice is the perfect companion on the path to discovering your values, passions, and purpose.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Feeling overwhelmed? Unstoppable sister team Amelia Nagoski, DMA, and Emily Nagoski, PhD, are here to tell you that there is a way through burnout, a phenomenon that manifests differently in women and men. Readers of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle learn how to fight internal stumbling blocks and external challenges to take back their lives against burnout. In this enlightening, engrossing book that was a Book Riot pick for Best Books of 2019, the Nagoskis offer hope for how women can survive the toxic cycles of stress, intense emotions, all-consuming exhaustion in their personal and professional lives.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster

For readers of Alyssa Mastromonaco and Mindy Kaling, Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies is a great blend of humor and insight about living your best life as a young woman. Tara Schuster rocketed high in her career while still in her 20s as a TV executive who had worked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Key & Peele. But, as she shows with hilarious effect in Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, that didn’t mean her life was gloriously perfect…in fact, as she writes, far from it. In this debut, relatable everywoman Schuster offers advice on “The Chaos Rituals,” a set of mind, body, and relationship rituals to level up your life and find better balance and more satisfaction.

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

It’s true: mindset is everything. With the right attitude, we stand a good chance at overcoming the odds. And nobody knows that better than David Goggins, whose inspirational story of beating depression, attaining U.S. Armed Forces success, and achieving athletic prowess makes him the perfect teacher to help readers transcend mental and physical obstacles. In his latest book, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, Goggins explains how we usually only access 40% of our abilities and offers ways to unlock the other 60% of our potential. If you need a good kick in the a** to get motivated, Can’t Hurt Me is essential reading.

Edge: Turning Adversity Into Advantage by Laura Huang

“What’s their secret?” It’s a question we often ask about successful people, particularly when we’re comparing ourselves to them and wondering what they have that we don’t. In Edge: Turning Adversity Into Advantage, Harvard Business School Professor Laura Huang gifts us a master class in how to find the “edge” that sets you apart and makes you uniquely qualified for success. Huang explains it’s not that the most successful among us are perfect, but rather that they know how to convert adversity in their lives into advantages. The good news is you can, too, with Huang as your guide.

The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed As You Are by Alicia Menendez

It’s a loaded subject that comes up far too often in book world: do female protagonists have to be “likable”? Many women know that the pressure to be “likable” and nice extends beyond the pages of fiction but into everyday life. The remedy we need is in Alicia Menendez’s The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed As You Are. MSNBC anchor and podcaster Menendez explodes the double standards that make women feel that they should bow to the pressure to be nice, docile, and likable. Instead, Menendez argues that women should embrace their authentic qualities and personalities, likable or not, and offers empowering tips on how to get there.

The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Restless Age by Bina Venkataraman

Former Obama administration climate advisor and journalist Bina Venkataraman makes a compelling case for thinking ahead in her book The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Restless Age. In her work helping businesses and communities prepare for the imminent influence of climate change, Venkataraman realized how few or us understand how best to anticipate changes in society and in our own lives. The Optimist’s Telescope distills Venkataraman’s experience into observations and recommendations to be more forward-thinking based on a fascinating array of case studies.

I Really Needed This Today: Words to Live By by Hoda Kotb

Sometimes just a few insightful words can make a big impact on our lives. In I Really Needed This Today: Words to Live By, readers find a collection of 365 powerful quotes curated by Today show co-host Hoda Kotb. Start your day off right with one of the best personal growth books, which will help you get in the habit of taking a breather each day. Drawing from a range of sources, Kotb introduces the day’s quote with a personal reflection and prompts for how to live with the quote’s lesson in mind.

Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide for the Rest of Us by Justin Michael Williams

I don’t know about you, but my meditation game could use some help…especially because it’s basically nonexistent right now. Fortunately, Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide for the Rest of Us by author and personal transformation expert Justin Michael Williams is the perfect book for learning how to meditate. But Stay Woke is more than just a guide on how to breathe; rather, Stay Woke is tailored to our turbulent times, situating self-care, meditation, and mindfulness within a world where it seems almost impossible to find peace, balance, and harmony. With Williams’s trademark candor and wit, readers learn how to be part of a mindful and woke resistance.

Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday

Bring a little more philosophy into your daily life with Ryan Holiday’s Stillness Is the Key. In this actionable book grounded in Buddhism and Stoic philosophy, Holiday introduces readers to the rewards of remaining steady while a frantic world orbits around you. Holiday calls this concept “stillness” and offers an interesting mix of historic figures who have maintained stillness, like Anne Frank, Winston Churchill, and more. By the end of Stillness Is the Key, readers will be well-armed with defenses against the noise.

Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams by Gabrielle Bernstein

Keep stumbling into the same mistakes over and over again? Feel like you’re cursed or mired in bad luck? Overall feel adrift and lacking purpose? In Super Attractor, bestselling author and spiritual guru Gabrielle Bernstein welcomes readers to live a more fulfilling life in harmony with the Universe. Bernstein shows us how to align our lives with broader cosmic forces like energy, manifestation, and the law of attraction. Readers will learn how to define their own spirituality and where to find guidance from the Universe for when we hit tough spots.

Tiny Habits: The Small Habits That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and daunted by a change you want to make in your life. Just the thought of achieving something like running in a marathon or becoming fluent in a language or teaching yourself to code can seem far too big to even start. Fortunately, in Tiny Habits: The Small Habits That Change Everything, BJ Fogg, PhD, helps you learn to break down these bigger goals into smaller, more manageable steps. Dr. Fogg, a renowned expert in formatting habits, teaches readers how to identify the smallest tweaks in our habits that can lead to the biggest changes. Tiny Habits is a must-read for anyone who wants to make improvements but is unsure how to start.

The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life, and Leadership by Dr. Mandeep Rai

What are your values—and are you living in a way that reflects them? Those are crucial but big questions, to be sure. In The Values Compass, broadcast journalist Dr. Mandeep Rai of the BBC takes readers on a trip around the world to find how 101 countries live in harmony with their values. Dr. Rai’s eclectic journey finds Compromise in Morocco, Impact in Slovakia, and Justice in Guatemala, among others. Along the way, Dr. Rai draws insight from these countries that readers can apply to their own lives. Bite-sized chapters make this book an easily digestible personal growth book to dip in and out of at your leisure.

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

In an age of distraction, it’s even harder than usual to speak and be heard. The fact is, listening is on the decline. Our hyper-polarized time has caused communication breakdowns as people stop listening to each other. Plus, devices with their “look at me!” notifications cipher off our attention when we should be concentrating on what others are saying. In You’re Not Listening, journalist Kate Murphy highlights this problem, situating the issue in cultural contexts. Murphy’s book also provides helpful suggestions on how to be a better listener and how to better express oneself.

Looking for more of the best personal growth books? Check out more of Book Riot’s recommendations in these articles: