Below is a collection of book summaries, arranged in alphabetical order, that are primarily in the self-help category. Each book summary contains notes that convey the overall essence of the book, whilst some are more detailed, containing additional insights as well as takeaways.
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A Liberated Mind (2019), is a distillation of the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a type of behavioral therapy, with a core philosophy that revolves around (1) changing one’s relationship with their thoughts and feelings rather than trying to change their content, and (2) turning towards one’s suffering in a way that is non-judgmental and compassionate. The author, Stephen C. Hayes is a clinical psychologist.
A Guide to Rational Living (1975) suggests that it is our irrational thoughts and beliefs which are the root cause behind most of the emotional disturbances that we experience. The author, Albert Ellis (1913 – 2007) was one of the most influential psychotherapists to have lived. He pioneered Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) which gained widespread popularity in the 1960s and is the foundation of this book.
Calming the Emotional Storm (2012) is about how to bear emotional pain skillfully. The book distills the core teachings of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a branch of psychotherapy with the premise that (similar to CBT) your thoughts, emotions and behaviors are inter-connected and that by changing any one component, you can influence the others.
The author Sheri Van Dijk is an international speaker and psychotherapist with over fifteen years experience in the field of mental health.
The Fear Bubble (2019) was written by Ant Middleton, who is a former operative in the British special forces. In his book, Middleton explains the ‘Fear Bubble’ concept he developed during his time in the military that would enable him to thrive in the most physically and mentally challenging situations characteristic of modern warfare.
Harnessing scientific research and drawing from ancient wisdom, Becoming Supernatural (2017) explains how the average person can free themselves from self imposed limitations and transcend their lives. The author, Joe Dispenza is a doctor and educator -specializing in the fields of neuroscience, epigenetics and quantum physics.
Ego is the Enemy (2016) teaches the reader how to manage the toxic vanity that’s associated with ego. The book draws insights and wisdom from history to help us understand how we often are our own worst enemies and that by getting out of our own ways we can focus on what matters – doing our best work.
A former director of marketing at American Apparel and a columnist at The New York Observer, the author Ryan Holiday is a writer and marketing strategist.
Everything is Fucked (2019) leverages psychology and philosophy to explore the idea of hope and how it brings meaning in our lives whilst also attempting to provide the antidote for many of the existential dilemmas we face today. The author, Mark Manson is a personal development consultant, internet entrepreneur, blogger, and writer.
Everything is Figureoutable (2019) is an effective life philosophy that aims to inspire readers on adopting the fundamental mindsets and habits to figure anything out! Labeled as a thought leader for the next generation by Oprah Winfrey, the author Marie Forleo teaches artists, entrepreneurs, and people from all walks of life on how to dream big and achieve their goals.
Full Catastrophe Living (1990) introduces the reader to the concept of mindfulness. The author, Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor, and teacher who founded The Stress Reduction Clinic. In Full Catastrophe Living, Kabat-Zinn draws from decades of experience – combining personal stories along with a plethora of scientific evidence to teach us about the techniques and benefits of harnessing intelligent awareness.
The central theme of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016) is that when it comes to achieving success: one’s ability to commit to their goals and persevering in the face of obstacles matters more than their innate talent. The author, Angela Duckworth is a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
High Performance Habits (2017) presents findings from one of the largest studies conducted on high achievers around the globe. It explores six habits that have shown to be the most effective when it comes to achieving extraordinary results and sustained success. The author, Brendon Burchard is a high performance coach and personal development trainer.
Indistractable (2019) provides a framework that readers can use to improve their attention and eliminate distractions. The premise of the book is that much of the distractions that we encounter arise from within and that the distraction itself isn’t the problem, but rather, how we choose to respond to it. A former lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the author Nir Eyal is a writer and blogger covering topics in the field of technology, psychology, and business.
Master Your Emotions (2018) details the nature of emotions, how emotions affect you, and the ways you can gain control when negative emotions cloud rational thinking. Furthermore, the book contains powerful exercises that readers can implement for emotional thriving. The author Thibaut Meurisse, is a personal growth enthusiast and blogger.
Written by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, Mastering Fear (2018) breaks down one of the critical aspects of the human condition, fear. In his book, Webb teaches us that instead of wasting energy trying to overcome fear, you make it your ally by taking charge of the conversation in your mind.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006) highlights the importance of adopting a ‘growth mindset’ and demonstrates how an individual’s mindset plays a crucial part in determining how well they do in practically any domain of life. The author, Dr. Carol Dweck is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.
Practicing the Power of Now (2001) is a distillation of the core teaching of Eckhart Tolle’s best-seller ‘The Power of Now.’ In the book, readers are presented with the idea of reaching an elevated level of consciousness by learning to embrace the present moment. Eckhart Tolle is an author and spiritual teacher and is considered to be one of the most sought after spiritual influencer’s today.
Personality isn’t Permanent (2020) provides science-based actionable strategies to help individuals proactively create their ideal future selves. The book details compelling accounts of real-life transformations as well as research to support the premise that one’s personality is not a fixed trait but rather –is fluid and transitory. The author, Dr. Benjamin Hardy (PhD) is an organizational psychologist.
Principles: Life and Work (2017) contains a set of unconventional principles that individuals can use to achieve their goals. The book was written by billionaire investor and philanthropist Ray Dalio who founded ‘Bridgewater’ –one of the largest hedge fund companies in the world. In 2012, Dalio was ranked by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Psycho Cybernetics (1960) provides a framework of how the mind operates as a goal striving mechanism. The book draws insights from both machine principles and self image psychology to help readers understand this system of ideas so as to incorporate them to improve their own self image and achieve their goals.
The author, Maxwell Maltz was a cosmetic surgeon who also wrote several books both fiction and non-fiction, with Psycho Cybernetics being the forerunner and a foundation of many of the self help books published today.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012), explores the psychology of 2 distinct personality types, that is, introversion and extraversion and explains how cultures tend to undervalue introverts. The author, Susan Cain is a writer and lecturer who co-founded ‘Quiet Revolution,’ a company with a mission to ‘to unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of us all.’
Radical Compassion (2019) introduces readers to a 4-step meditation tool called R.A.I.N, which can be incorporated as a mindfulness program and is aimed to help individuals cultivate compassion and bring greater presence in their life. The author, Tara Brach is a psychologist, author, and renowned spiritual teacher who founded The Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C.
“I had two fathers, a rich one and a poor one,” writes the author, Robert Kiyosaki. Although well educated, his biological father (poor dad) struggled financially whilst his best friend’s father, whom Kiyosaki refers to as ‘rich dad,’ dropped out of middle school but eventually became a millionaire. The book Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997) examines the perspectives of both his father’s as well as how they helped shape his thoughts regarding money, investing and life in general.
Think And Grow Rich (1937) is one of the most popular self-books to have ever been written. The author, Napoleon Hill (1883 – 1970) spent more than two decades studying over 500 individuals of great wealth and success; the likes of which include Theodore Roosevelt, F W Woolworth, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. In his book, Hill explains a set of principles that he claims are the 13 steps towards riches.
Think Learn Succeed (2019) contains valuable insights on mindsets and stresses how adopting an effective mindset can be the differentiating factor as to the levels of success and well-being that one attains in life. Furthermore, the book distills a great deal of neuroscientific research on the processes of learning as well as memory formation -helping readers to gain a better understanding of their own unique style of thinking.
The author, Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist, her research, for the last 30 years being mainly on the mind and body connection.
The Upside of Stress (2015) explains that it is our mindset that determines the impact that stress will have on us. The book also provides evidence to suggest that embracing stress can actually have a positive impact on our mental and physical health.
The author, Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist at Stanford University. She is widely known for her work in ‘science help’ which combines insights from psychology, neuroscience, medicine, and biology to provide strategies that support overall health and well-being.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) written by Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012) details 7 habits, which are based on principles that help readers develop what the author describes as a strong ‘character ethic.’ A graduate from Harvard Business School, Covey was a teacher, writer, speaker, and a businessman.
The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind (1963) explains the inner workings of the mind, mainly –the subconscious mind and postulates that our thoughts, feelings and imagery is what largely influences the outer world that we experience. The author, Dr. Joseph Murphy (1898 – 1981) was a writer and minister of the ‘New Thought’ movement.
The premise of the book The One Thing (2013) is that at any given point in time, your success in any domain will depend on prioritizing all your efforts in identifying and working on that one particular thing, by harnessing what the author Gary Keller calls the ‘Focusing Question.’
Unbeatable Mind (2015) by Mark Divine outlines a framework to help readers cultivate grit and mental resilience. The book also provides tools for effective leadership, attaining peak performance, and reaching higher levels of consciousness.
The author, Mark Divine, is a retired Navy SEAL Commander, author, and entrepreneur who founded SEALFit – a fitness program that helps train individuals for mental as well as physical toughness.
What To Say When You Talk To Yourself (2017) explores the principles behind self talk. In the book, the author Shad Helmstetter provides examples of the various levels of self talk as well as precise self talk scripts that readers can use to improve their inner dialogue and optimize their lives towards success.
Who Moved My Cheese (1998) by Spencer Johnson is a fable that revolves around four characters; two mice named ‘Sniff’ and ‘Scurry’ and two humans ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw’ who are referred to as little-people.
In the fable, the mice and the little-people make their way through a maze in search of cheese. The ‘Cheese’ is used as a metaphor for the things that we desire in life such as a house, good health, achievements or activities like jogging or tennis. The ‘Maze’ represents the places that we spend time searching for our ‘cheese’ (what makes us happy) such as our workplace, our home, or the community.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do (2017) tells us how to cultivate mental resilience. In the book, the author Amy Morin who is a social worker and psychotherapist, recounts how she was able to summon the strength to deal with the sudden demise of her mother and husband at a young age.
“Avoiding these thirteen habits,” she writes, “isn’t just what will help you through grief. Getting rid of them will help you develop mental strength, which is essential to dealing with all life’s problems—big or small.”
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth (2012) contain helpful insights, bite-sized anecdotes, and wisdom that emphasizes the importance of growth as well as how readers can apply principles to catapult their inner development. Having written multiple self-help books that have reached best-sellers lists including the New York Times, the author John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert.