My Biggest Takeaways from 15 of the Best Self Help Books

For the last few years, I’ve been keeping track of every book I read on Goodreads. I haven’t gone all out with this. I give a star rating and then move on.

That’s not to say I didn’t keep track in other ways. Since I read the vast majority of my books on Kindle, I make use of the highlight and notes feature.

This has always allowed me to go back and get a nice refresher on my favorite quotes and lessons. I don’t re-read many books (something I might change), so this was my method.

Until recently.

When I started this site, I began actually writing down short summaries on the books I read each month. It’s helped make me a deeper reader. I know once I finish a book I know I’ll have to write a summary on it. So it makes me pay a bit more attention or think a little deeper while I’ reading.

But now I can’t help but think about all those books that I’ve given star ratings but never actually reviewed. I thought this post might go a little way to solving that.

I’m picking a handful of books in various topics and sharing my biggest takeaway or a favorite quote from them. So consider this a primer, or an easy way to get the gist of a few best sellers in 10 minutes or less.

This one is all about some of the best self-help books out there.

The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy 


There is no easy way to change your life. You need to make small tweaks to your routine over time. Have patience and play the long game, all those changes will add up.


A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller


“If you think about it, an enormous amount of damage is created by the myth of utopia. There is an intrinsic feeling in nearly every person that your life could be perfect if you only had such-and-such a car or such-and-such a spouse or such-and-such a job.”

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull


It takes real commitment, time and energy to make an organizational change. Managers need to be willing to let people tap into their creativity and embrace risky decisions.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson


Life sucks and then you die. The key to actually enjoying the ride a bit is to learn how to handle life when the shit hits the fan. Part of that means choosing what it is you deeply care about, and ignoring the rest.


Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill


“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”


The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird


Great thinkers aren’t always born, instead, they can be made. Teach yourself to embrace mastery of topic by going deep on the basics and building from there. Expect that failure happen ten times before you see any success and learn from your mistakes.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes


There will come a time when you’ve said no to so many things people will stop asking. You need to confront your fears and say yes to things that scare you because that’s where you’ll grow. It’s ok to realize you can’t ‘have it all’ at least in the way society tells you.


Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher


“…no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care. Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.”


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck


People with fixed mindsets are stifling themselves by being resistant to growth and challenges. A growth mindset allows people to become more resilient, be willing to fail, and see that mastery comes through effort. If you do have a fixed mindset, you can change it.


The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller 


In a world full of never-ending distractions, those who learn how to focus on one thing deeply will be happier. The key is to figure out what your one big thing is and take real action to go deep and master it over the long run.


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg


Bad habits can be changed, you can choose to change them. First, you need to identify what the habit is, the cue, the routine, and the reward, then you can change them. Small wins build up over time and add up to transforming habits, they also help build your willpower.


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown


“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”


Like this? I’ll continue and make it a series. If not, I hope you gleaned a few takeaways from some of these books. Got anything to add? Share your thoughts in the comments.