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Beyond the Clichés: 7 Hidden Best Self-Improvement Books Worth Your Time in 2023

by Jennifer Richardson

best self improvement books

Most people I know don’t think they are perfect – they believe there is always room for improvement.

And one of the most accessible forms of helpful life advice nowadays comes in the form of books, particularly the ‘self-improvement’ genre.

So what are the best self improvement books to read to succeed? 

Many of us have heard about the usual suspects Rich Dad, Poor Dad, How to Win Friends and Influence People, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, etc. (even the ancient wisdom of The Art of War can be considered ‘self-improvement’ advice).  

There’s no introduction needed for these highly-successful books to most reading audiences.

So what else can keen self-improvement seekers add to their reading list?

Table of contents

  1. CAREER: Recommendation  – Pivot by Jenny Blake
  2. MONEY & FINANCE:  Recommendation – The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  3. RELATIONSHIPS: Recommendation  – I Hear You by Michael S. Sorenson
  4. HEALTH: Recommendation  – The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel van der Kolk
  5. MINDSET: Recommendation  – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  6. SPIRITUALITY: Recommendation  – Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse 
  7. GENERAL  ADVICE: Recommendation – Speed Cleaning by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming

Where to Start?

Unfortunately, the publishing world does not always publish what’s good – it publishes what sells (And yes, they are two different things sometimes!).

So finding who or which approach ‘speaks’ to you in a sea of new releases and hyped-up marketing can be challenging.

It’s not easy to find the right advice for the right situation.

Has a friend ever lent you a book that ‘changed their life’ yet you thought it was a load of nonsense? You’re not alone.

Some well-known self-improvement books are merely collections of other people’s ideas and thoughts. 

Of course, they still may be valuable to some people who find help and inspiration all neatly collated in book form.

But other people are searching for a new idea, a fresh approach.

Here’s my choice to help you find the latest self-improvement books (or just helpful books in general) across a selected range of categories to make your life better in 2023 –

  1. CAREER

Recommendation  – Pivot by Jenny Blake

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There are some heavy hitters in the Career section of the self-help bookshelves.

A hugely popular genre, there is no shortage of career advice books from mega-successful business people, niche industry guides, personality and career and helpful personal accounts.

But sometimes, we don’t all want to hear about how a less than 1% success story made it to the top from a privileged background (even if they don’t admit it) and made even more of a success! (It’s still an outstanding achievement, but not necessarily always relatable or reproducible).

One book that is sure to be helpful in your career self-improvement journey is Pivot.

Written by the co-creator of a popular career program for Google, this book is more relevant than ever, as technology is changing the nature of work and jobs faster than we can learn the skills!

I know what it’s like to try and pivot without a plan. It’s not ideal and takes time, which most people can’t afford.

But if you can be aware and plan in advance, you set yourself up for a better chance of success.

The book offers practical information and plans to create a new strategy while keeping your ultimate vision in sight. 

  1. MONEY & FINANCE

Recommendation – The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

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Many books in the money and finance genre have clickbait titles that involve some kind of trigger words like “millionaire,” “billionaire,” “rich,” “retire early,” “quick,” fast,” “intelligent”, etc.

And many of these books are huge sellers, receive great reviews, and undoubtedly help readers improve their lives.

However, one book that helps you to think about money and your decisions is The Psychology of Money. It discusses behaviour and how that can impact your financial decisions and success.

The book is extremely practical while offering people the ability to fit their own lives into the picture when deciding how to manage and invest money.

It’s a simple and short read. It is not supposed to be a deep dive into psychology and economics but an excellent introduction to orient yourself in the right direction by learning lessons from stories throughout the book.

  1. RELATIONSHIPS
Recommendation  – I Hear You by Michael S. Sorenson
self-development books for beginners

This book very much reflects what the founder of mensPyche, Harsh Kushwah, talks about every day – 

The vital skill of Listening.

I Hear You introduces the topic of ‘validation’ to those readers unfamiliar with the critical concept of communication and healthy relationships.

Learning how to listen and validate someone when we respond is a skill that can be used in any relationship – romantic partners, family, friends, colleagues or strangers.

As a self-help author myself, I would be delighted to receive the reviews and great feedback Michael has achieved for his highly important and useful book.

This communication and relationship information should be taught to everyone. For those who have trouble in the relationship department, I Hear You is a book that will enhance your life immeasurably.

  1. HEALTH
Recommendation  – The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel van der Kolk
 The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel van der Kolk

Health is my special subject, in as much as I research the topic regularly and completed my education in public health.

And one glaring problem in the health arena is that there is too much information, and that information is often conflicting!

It can be a complicated field for a professional to keep up to date, let alone for the average person to navigate.

Health information is also subject to change frequently and also, like many areas of life, can be somewhat affected by the source, funding or ‘agenda’ behind the information.

So instead of recommending a diet or exercise book, which probably requires you to experiment and see what works for your particular needs, I selected a book on the effects on the Body of traumatic stress.

The Body Keeps the Score could be considered an essential read for almost everybody to help you understand trauma, why our bodies respond as they do, and the devastating health outcomes from what is often an unseen injury.

This is one of the best self improvement books that can help you isolate the origin of what appears to be a physical illness but is, in fact, the Body’s stress response and something you simply would not have been able to identify yourself.

After this great read, many people will understand their health problems from a different and perhaps more meaningful perspective.

  1. MINDSET

Recommendation  – Thinking,  Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

best self-improvement books to read

Another biggie from the self-improvement genre is the books that try and assist you in approaching life more effectively by tackling your ‘mindset.’

It is a tough category to elect just one book to recommend.

Mindset is individual – a book that speaks to you may not speak to me, so it’s a matter of finding the author and ‘mindset’ approach that fits you and your stage of life.

Two successful examples are The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and a slightly more zen approach with Ikigai.

But there are so many great reads about attitudes, habits, motivation, thinking styles, psychology, etc., to meet your self-improvement goal if you can manage to select the most suitable one.

(Even the wrong one will teach you what you don’t want to follow!).

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of not-so-good examples offering all sorts of theories and strategies but they are marketed particularly well, so they appear to be successful. 

Our recommendation Thinking Fast and Slow, was selected because it addresses the underlying factor affecting most of us daily – why we think what we do. And this leads to the reason why we make the decisions we make.

It’s highly successful at helping us to highlight our blind spots and inherent biases.

It helps readers understand the science behind their day-to-day behaviour, so when you think about it, it’s almost essential reading for all.

The book also contains a fantastic array of fascinating and highly relevant, and useful examples throughout.

Yes, it’s written by a Nobel Prize winner, and no, that doesn’t always impress me! (But I’m learning that I should probably listen to this caliber of person occasionally).

  1. SPIRITUALITY

Recommendation – Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

best self improvement books

Spirituality can be a tricky space to navigate for some readers. 

It tangles with religion, history, psychology and all manner of cross-related topics.

This self-improvement recommendation is actually a novel that follows the story of a boy in the time of Lord Buddha on a quest for truth and his evolving understanding of the world and himself (what does this life mean?)

For those who like The Alchemist, this book covers similar territory.

The story is simply written but takes on powerful and meaningful spiritual life lessons. 

For those looking for self-improvement, the book may prevent you from over-intellectualising the world and over-reliance on logic.

It will help the readers understand the world as it is instead of going on a frustrating and never-ending search for the “truth.”

It’s simply written and easy to follow and is sure to stay with you long after reading. 

  1. GENERAL ADVICE

 Recommendation – Speed Cleaning by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming

Speed Cleaning by Shannon Lush

Okay, at first look, this seems like a weird choice for a self-improvement book recommendation.

Speed Cleaning is an excellent instructional cleaning book from Australia. It’s almost an applied science or engineering approach to cleaning! It’s all about systems – that’s the secret.

Anyone with any domestic skill level can learn to be clean and organised. 

But the inclusion on our list is because, apart from being a great step-by-step guide to cleaning your space, cleaning can be a metaphor for your life.

The fundamentals in Karate Kid were taught initially by a kind of cleaning method; Jordan Peterson uses the literal example of cleaning your room as a metaphor for your life, and learning to ‘clean up your mess’ can assist with issues like lack of perspective, entitlement and responsibility.

So what at first thought is a simple yet elegant cleaning book could be used as the basis for a self-improvement starting point and used throughout your entire life.

Self-Improvement for Better Lives

Our tagline at menPsyche is “Better Lives for Modern Men.

And we aim to share men’s stories and other helpful information with our audience to improve their lives.

Self-improvement is easy for some and difficult for others.

Reading is an excellent, affordable way to improve your life.

Please share your favourite self-improvement books in the comments for others.

(For those facing complex Life Crises who cannot find the right assistance, check out Volume 1 of my ‘Personal Disaster’ series here – Jennifer R).

best self-improvement books in 2023

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