Spotlight On…Self Help Classics You Never Got Around To Reading

RFPL has some great books to help you communicate, be creative, work on relationships, and contemplate your best self.

It’s great to keep up with all the newly released books, but there are some really great classic self-help books as well. You may recognize many on this list, but how many have you really read? Browse through and see if any of these self – help and motivational titles will help you reach your New Year’s goals.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. – publisher summary

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

Once upon a time Martians and Venusians met, fell in love, and had happy relationships together because they respected and accepted their differences. Then they came to earth and amnesia set in: they forgot they were from different planets.

Using this metaphor to illustrate the commonly occurring conflicts between men and women, Gray explains how these differences can come between the sexes and prohibit mutually fulfilling loving relationships. Based on years of successful counseling of couples, he gives advice on how to counteract these differences in communication styles, emotional needs and modes of behavior to promote a greater understanding between individual partners. – publisher summary

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction. A newly designed love languages assessment will help you understand and strengthen your relationship. You can build a lasting, loving marriage together.- publisher summary

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

In the original Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937, Hill draws on stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate his principles. In the updated version, Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D., a nationally known author, lecturer, and consultant in human resources management and an expert in applying Hill’s thought, deftly interweaves anecdotes of how contemporary millionaires and billionaires, such as Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, Dave Thomas, and Sir John Templeton, achieved their wealth. Outmoded or arcane terminology and examples are faithfully refreshed to preclude any stumbling blocks to a new generation of readers – publisher summary

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. –publisher summary

Also try: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. –publisher summary

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, this book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live. The narrator’s relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning;the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, this classic is a touching and transcendent book of life.– publisher summary

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change. – publisher summary

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams. – publisher summary

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The author describes his transition from despair to self-realization soon after his 29th birthday. Tolle took another ten years to understand this transformation, during which time he evolved a philosophy that has parallels in Buddhism, relaxation techniques, and meditation theory but is also eminently practical. In The Power of Now he shows readers how to recognize themselves as the creators of their own pain, and how to have a pain-free existence by living fully in the present. Accessing the deepest self, the true self, can be learned, he says, by freeing ourselves from the conflicting, unreasonable demands of the mind and living present, fully, and intensely, in the Now. – publisher summary

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

In The Four Agreements don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. – publisher summary


Let us know in the comments if any of these were helpful for you!

Mary Ann’s November Recommendation

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead : Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life by Charles Murray

Mary Ann says : “A terrific book about how to present yourself in the workplace.
I especially recommend the chapters:
–Excise the word “like” from your spoken English
–Stop “reaching out” and “sharing” and other prohibitions (includes “incentivize” )

It it no nonsense, honest advice for everyone.  Murray says about his advice, “Unfair?  Maybe.  But that won’t keep us from writing you off.”

3 Similar Reads

Pitch Perfect : How To Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan

As We Speak : How To Make Your Point and Have It Stick by Peter Meyers

Basic Black : The Essential Guide For Getting Ahead at Work (and In Life) by Cathie Black


Weekly Spotlight on: September Self-Improvement Month

Try out some reads that inspire and instruct you on the various ways to improve your self – mind, body, and spirit. September is Self-Improvement Month.

Included in the list are some classic titles mixed in with more current ones. Some are biographies of individuals who have improved themselves, so you can be inspired to make your own journey!

Never Going Back: Winning the Weight-Loss Battle for Good by Al Roker

never goin back“The popular television personality discusses his battle with weight loss, describing his initial successes after bypass surgery, his efforts to get back on track after regaining lost weight, and his confrontation with goal-compromising childhood issues.” – Summary

The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

4 hour body“Thinner, bigger, faster, stronger… which 150 pages will you read? Is it possible to: Reach your genetic potential in 6 months? Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours? Lose more fat than a marathoner by bingeing? Indeed, and much more. This is not just another diet and fitness book. The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body. It contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation. From Olympic training centers to black-market laboratories, from Silicon Valley to South Africa, Tim Ferriss, the #1New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, fixated on one life-changing question: For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results? Thousands of tests later, this book contains the answers for both men and women. From the gym to the bedroom, it’s all here, and it all works.” – Summary

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

flow“Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.” – Summary

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

a short guide to a happy life“In this treasure of a book, Anna Quindlen, the bestselling novelist and columnist, reflects on what it takes to “get a life”—to live deeply every day and from your own unique self, rather than merely to exist through your days. “Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us,” Quindlen writes, “because unless you know the clock is ticking, it is so easy to waste our days, our lives.” Her mother died when Quindlen was nineteen: “It was the dividing line between seeing the world in black and white, and in Technicolor. The lights came on for the darkest possible reason….I learned something enduring, in a very short period of time, about life. And that was that it was glorious, and that you had no business taking it for granted.” But how to live from that perspective, to fully engage in our days? In A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen guides us with an understanding that comes from knowing how to see the view, the richness in living.” – Summary

Getting Things Done by David Allen

getting things done“In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to: apply the “”do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it”” rule to get your in-box to empty; reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations; plan projects as well as get them unstuck; overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed; and feel fine about what you’re not doing. From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.” – Summary

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

artists way“The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. Still as vital today — or perhaps even more so — than it was when it was first published one decade ago, it is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work. In a new introduction to the book, Julia Cameron reflects upon the impact of The Artist’s Way and describes the work she has done during the last decade and the new insights into the creative process that she has gained.” – Summary

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

a walk in the woodsStretching from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail offers some of America’s most breathtaking scenery. After living for many years in England, Bill Bryson moved back to the United States and decided to reacquaint himself with his country by taking to this uninterrupted “hiker’s highway.” Before long, Bryson and his infamous walking companion, Stephen Katz, are stocking up on insulated long johns, noodles and manuals for avoiding bear attacks as they prepare to set off on a walk that is both amusingly ill-conceived and surprisingly adventurous. John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Peter Jenkins never took a hike like this. A Walk in the Woods showcases Bryson at the height of his comic powers. Meeting up with characters such as Beulah and her fearsome husband, “Bubba T. Flubba,” readers risk snakebite and hantavirus to trudge through swollen rivers, traipse up mountainsteps, and develop a new reverence for cream sodas and hot showers. But Bryson also uses his acute powers of observation to conjure a poignant backdrop of silent forests and sparkling lakes, thereby making a gentle but unforgettable plea for the ecological treasures we are in danger of losing. Fresh, illuminating, and uproariously funny, A Walk in the Woods is travel writing at its very best.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

the power of nowMuch more than simple principles and platitudes, The Power of Now takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light. In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, “the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” Only after regaining awareness of Being, liberated from Mind and intensely in the Now, is there Enlightenment.

This is How by Augusten Burroughs

this is howIf you’re fat and fail every diet, if you’re thin but can’t get thin enough, if you lose your job, if your child dies, if you are diagnosed with cancer, if you always end up with exactly the wrong kind of person, if you always end up alone, if you can’t get over the past, if your parents are insane and ruining your life, if you really and truly wish you were dead, if you feel like it’s your destiny to be a star, if you believe life has a grudge against you, if you don’t want to have sex with your spouse and don’t know why, if you feel so ashamed, if you’re lost in life. If you have ever wondered, How am I aupposed to survive this?   This is How.

Sue’s July Recommendation

The As If Principle: the Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life by Richard Wiseman

the as if principleI don’t necessarily read a lot of self-help books, but I have always been curious about why some people appear to maintain a more positive outlook on life.  I enjoyed reading about Wiseman’s theory that instead of thinking one’s way to stopping smoking, losing weight, etc., and changing behavior, it’s more effective to act “as if” one already has overcome that problem or reached a particular goal. He focuses on specific behaviors people can make in the arenas of willpower, relationships, mental health, and more in order to reach a their goals in those areas.  In his words, “Forget positive thinking; try positive action.” – Sue

3 Similar Reads

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine

Sue’s January Recommendation

The Happiness Project, Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the
Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally
Have More Fun
by Gretchen Rubin. 

The Happiness Project“I received this book as a gift right after the holidays and it was just what I needed to kick start my new year.  Rubin is funny and honest and her writing style is familiary and relaxed.  Rubin asserts that everyone has to define their own version of ‘happiness’, but by sharing her trials and tribulations, she makes me want to work harder at keeping my focus on things that are truly important in life.”  Julia recommended this book exactly one year ago! Click here to see what Julia had to say.

Read about or request this title from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Year of Yes: A Memoir by Maria Dahvana Headley

Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine

Mennonite In A Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Escape by Barbara Delinsky

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

Julia’s January Recommendation

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

“This is the perfect book to read if you are thinking about your new year’s resolutions and wondering how you will keep them. Author Gretchen Rubin describes her year-long project of figuring out how to live a happier life. She focuses on different themes each month beginning in January with how to increase her energy. I really enjoyed this book and found many great ideas to apply to my own life. Happy New Year!”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog

Victoria’s November Recommendation

If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living With and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married by Jenna McCarthy

“Jenna McCarthy presents an uproarious but insightful peek behind the curtains at the unholy state of matrimony. With ballsy wit and bawdy humor, she explores everything from male domestic idiocy and the frustrating misfires in spousal communication to how to stay true to the peskiest of vows: forsaking all others. Part in-your-face guide, part brutal confession, this book is a must-read manifesto on surviving marriage in an age when everyone seems to live forever and getting a divorce is as easy as ordering a latte.” (Amazon Book Summary).

Read about it or request it from the library catalog