Books for Your Self-Improvement Reading List

Kick off a new chapter of your life with these self-improvement books recommended by the fine minds at Tattered Cover.

Self-improvement books
Photo by Tom Visocchi.

1. Big Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

First she taught us how to feast our hearts out in Italy, India, and Bali in her book Eat, Pray, Love, and now she is back to help us paint our lives with creative colors. This exploration of human connection to inspiration invites readers to embrace a life driven by curiosity, not fear. Gilbert’s book, divided into six chapters—courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, and divinity—is a conversational read, skillfully weaving short sentences into astute insights.

2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

by Mark Manson

Less a self-help book and more a refreshing and satirical slap in the face, Manson argues that we should spend less time turning lemons into lemonade and more time learning to stomach lemons better. With chapters titled “You Are Not Special,” “The Value of Suffering,” “Failure is the Way Forward,” and “… And Then You Die,” the author (and immensely popular blogger) drives home the point that positivity can’t fix everything, but resilience can.

3. Designing Your Life

by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

The Silicon Valley innovator and Stanford University design educator have created an approachable guidebook to thinking like a designer. From laying the foundation to prototyping and reframing your expectations to building your future brick by brick, this engaging textbook breaks down your underlying thought process when it comes to big decisions, ensuring that you are always moving forward with curiosity, a bias toward actions, and radical collaborations with others.

4. Atomic Habits

by James Clear

Creating lasting change is a marathon, not a sprint. That is why Clear presents his proven framework for improving by 1% every day. In this operating manual, he guides readers through step-by-step instructions on building better routines—because if you are having trouble breaking bad habits, you’re not the problem, the system is. He lays down the laws that govern successful habit formation, including making it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.

5. Atlas of the Heart

by Brené Brown

Explore the 87 emotions that define our experiences and map out meaningful connections with five-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown. Here, she explores our connection with ourselves, embracing the ideas of vulnerability and courage, as well as our connections with others that rely on emotions like empathy and confidence. The book is also available as an audiobook with Brown as the narrator and a five-episode TV series, also starring Brown.