top 5 influential self help books

Top 5 Influential Self-Help Books – The Classics

Self-help books have been a popular genre for decades, providing readers with insights and guidance on how to improve their lives. Over the years, several self-help books have become timeless classics, inspiring countless individuals to take charge of their lives and achieve their goals. Keep in mind that books are as individual as you are. What might resonate with one person won’t work at all for another. That being said, if you want to read the classics, here they are. Following is a list of the top 5 most influential self-help books and a brief summary of each.

When creating a list like this, it could be determined by highest sales volume, longest time on the best seller list, length of time in circulation, or any number of other ways. This list is based on influence – a very subjective approach. It’s based on how many people list the books as one of their top picks. There are many, many other influential and impactful self-help books. From a personal perspective, I’d say these are classics.

Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

Originally published in 1937, “Think and Grow Rich” remains one of the most popular and influential self-help books of all time. The book outlines a step-by-step approach to achieving success, emphasizing the importance of persistence, creativity, and self-belief. Hill also emphasizes the power of the mind, claiming that our thoughts shape our reality and that we can achieve anything we desire if we focus our thoughts on it consistently.

You’ll find many of the following books share this common theme of getting your thoughts in the right place as the key to success. Success is a relative term, yet having the right thoughts is necessary regardless of how you personally view success. It all starts with beliefs.

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You can find all My Favorite Personal & Professional Development Books here.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

Published in 1989, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a practical guide to personal development and leadership. Covey emphasizes the importance of developing a strong sense of self-awareness and using this awareness to make intentional decisions and build healthy relationships. The seven habits include being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win-win, seeking first to understand then to be understood, synergizing, and sharpening the saw.

One of the many things I love about this book is they branched out and created a version for teens. I had my daughter read this while she was in high school and she still refers to it today. There is also an add-on book called “The Eighth Habit” and another called “First Things First.” While I read all of these books, the 7 Habits had the greatest impact.

When it comes to productivity and living a life with meaning, I can’t recommend this book enough. While some of the other books on this list of top 5 most influential self-help books changed my mindset and helped me to envision possibilities, this book provided a road map to get there. It’s been 25 years since I read the book and I still practice the tools provided on a daily basis.

Time Blocking Examples

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How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a classic self-help book that focuses on improving social skills and building relationships. Carnegie emphasizes the importance of listening actively, showing appreciation, and avoiding criticism, among other strategies. The book is filled with practical advice and anecdotes that illustrate the power of these principles.

While today we focus on the term Emotional Intelligence or EQ in corporate – Dale Carnegie provided insight into the single quality most people struggle with in the workplace. I personally struggled through this book the first time I attempted it due to the language used. But the concepts provided are solid and today, more than ever, we need to re-learn how to communicate more effectively.

The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale

Of the top 5 influential self-help books provided in this list, The Power of Positive Thinking is a personal favorite. Published in 1952, “The Power of Positive Thinking” is a self-help classic that emphasizes the importance of optimism and positive thinking in achieving success. Peale argues that our thoughts shape our reality and that by focusing on positive outcomes and visualizing success, we can overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. The book provides practical tips and exercises for cultivating a positive mindset and building self-confidence.

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This was the first book that started my personal journey into self-development and it changed my life. I can’t begin to tell you how much it changed my life. You can read more about that here: My Top 3 Self-Help Books

Awaken the Giant Within, by Tony Robbins

Published in 1991, “Awaken the Giant Within” is a comprehensive guide to personal development and growth. Robbins emphasizes the importance of taking control of our lives and achieving our full potential. The book covers topics such as goal-setting, time management, relationships, and communication, providing readers with practical tools and strategies for achieving success in every area of their lives.

Time Management Tips for Busy People

This is another book that changed my life personally. I’ve re-read it more times than any other book I own. It’s amazing to me how I learn something different each time I read it. While it’s dated now, I have not found another book that speaks to me at the same level.


These five self-help books have had a profound impact on millions of readers worldwide (this author included). They offer practical insights, tips, and strategies for personal and professional growth, encouraging readers to take charge of their lives and achieve their goals. Whether you’re looking to build your self-confidence, improve your relationships, or achieve financial success, these books offer timeless wisdom and guidance that can help you reach your full potential.

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