9 Books to Help You Become the Person You Want to Be 


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The right book at the right time can help us feel a little less alone. That’s especially true with nonfiction written by someone who once struggled with the same issues you’re struggling with today. The books below are on some of the most powerful desks in the world, and they’re frequent bedtime reading as well. Whether you’re looking for a pep talk or a detailed action plan, these books will help you envision a new future and grow into the person you want to be.

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown
This is the kind of book you’ll want to schedule a personal retreat to read each year. Its principles have guided the work of CEOs, teachers, creatives, and others who want to use the limited time we have to do work that matters. With sections on play, rest, and making choices, the book goes beyond traditional definitions of work to address the learning and work we can spend our whole lives doing.

The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
Researcher Dr. Brene Brown’s work includes talking with thousands of people about shame, worthiness, and fear. Then she analyzes those conversations and transforms them into simple lessons we can all use to live more wholeheartedly. She’s worked with executives, military leaders, parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and more, giving people the language and tools to feel worthy, overcome fear, and live their best lives. This book is a great introduction to her work.

My Friend Fear, by Meera Lee Patel
This gentle invitation to see fear in a new way is filled with wisdom and gorgeously illustrated in Patel’s self-taught watercolor style. Throughout the book, she shares her own struggles with insecurity and self-doubt. Quirky diagrams, personal stories, and luminous quotes all work together to prompt readers to see fear as a sign they’re doing something new, not something wrong. Keep this one on your bedside table and read it anytime you need a little reassurance or confidence.

Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
With her frank, commonsense voice, Rubin attracts readers who are eager for a no-nonsense approach to making all areas of life a little better than before. Whether you’re struggling with weight loss, exercise, work-life balance, decluttering, personal relationships, or one of the other areas that make us humans feel a little too human, Rubin offers sensible, tested advice. She’s an expert on habits and encourages readers to find what works for them, while offering loads of practical advice. Grab this book whenever you’re ready to tackle a new project or personal bugaboo.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
We’re taught that the relationship between work and success is linear. Try harder, do better, be happier. But life proves time and again that idea is actually just a recipe for feeling crazy and crabby. Manson offers real talk about what’s actually in our control and how we can focus on what matters. It’s a refreshing approach to happiness and finding meaning, and after reading Manson’s work, you’ll find yourself drawn to contentment and feeling grounded rather than in hot and heavy pursuit of joy. This is a book you’ll give a f*ck about.

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is the sort of book that’s loaned, gifted, whispered about, and exclaimed over with friends. It’s one to turn to when you’re feeling stuck, longing to shrink down, and to maybe never think the words “I have an idea” again. In this modern classic, Gilbert tackles the fear that every artist faces during the creative process with wisdom, sharing the personal practices and mindset shifts that helped her write several bestselling books. And if you’re thinking you’re not an artist, she’ll help you see yourself in a new way too!

Stillness Is the Key, by Ryan Holiday
Holiday has positioned himself as a modern Stoic teacher, and his lessons are popular with leaders, thinkers, and warriors of all types. His latest book offers a counterintuitive premise: slowing down is the key to succeeding. With rewards like taming your temper and developing self discipline and creativity, Holiday makes a strong argument for getting quiet and turning inward, even when the world around us is spinning.

Eight Dates, by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman
If you’re eager to deepen your relationship with your significant other, Eight Dates helps couples prioritize time together and know what to do with that time once they’re on an actual honest-to-goodness date, so they’ll grow closer and fall more in love, rather than come home fighting. From the team that predicts divorce rates with a 94% accuracy rate, the book is packed with scientific research and personal stories. There’s actionable advice and suggested dialogue to make it as easy as possible to transfer the best practices for successful relationships to your own life.

12 Rules for Life, by Jordan Peterson
This wide-ranging book touches on science, nature, philosophy, mythology, and more, all while feeling personal and thoughtful. Written by a psychologist who has spent his life thinking about how to make the world a better place and help people find meaning, the 12 rules are meant to lead readers toward a more moral existence. Does the book accomplish its goal? Reviewers and thought leaders from all walks of life have both celebrated and rejected Peterson’s work. Read it for yourself to join the conversation.

What books would you recommend to readers hoping to become the person they want to be?

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