ou walk into a bookstore and you see it: a broad display with numerous, popular titles for sale. Yet they’re not detective novels, literary fiction, or even biography. Rather, they’re self-help books for men. This surprises you. You think, aren’t women supposed to be into this?
You begin to see other men pick up copies, buying without shame. They’re confident and walk out satisfied. Maybe they are interesting. You then try to look without really “looking” like you are. Then you realize, this is really useful.
If you can identify with the little anecdote above, you’re not alone. It’s a proven fact that popular self-help books have been bestsellers for a long time. Yet we have to overcome this weird stigma about reading one. Like somehow, we think it’s a sign of weakness to self-improve.
Are we ashamed as men to ask or want help?
Guys, that’s lame. Who’s going to know if you order it online anyway?
We all need help here and there. Being ashamed by self-help books for men just gets in the way of a stronger, smarter, and better organized you. They’re like sitting with a drinking a beer and shooting the breeze. Our list of the top 16 self-help books for men also varies across several genres.
You’ll see Greek Philosophy mixed with Wall Street pointers and ways to reduce stress.
They use self-improvement as a journey, like a long hike to the peaks. You’re going to discover a lot about yourself and how you work. You’ll be able to use that information to become a better worker, boss, father, brother, whoever you are. It helps that someone’s already done all the legwork because it’s always harder to go it alone.
Do self-help books for men really work?
Maybe you’re not the type to need this kind of pep talk – you know that self-awareness can translate to happier relationships, less stress, and even a higher salary. That stuff isn’t in question. Maybe you look at the self-help books for men at the bookstore and think to yourself: sure, but are these really going to work?
It doesn’t help that most author photos on the cover remind you of snake oil hucksters either. Everyone’s saying their method is the best (or only!) way to find peace of mind, better sex, or an improved sense of well-being. Are they really just trying to sell us something?
The boom in the self-help market did open the floodgates to all kinds of feel-good shams and expensive goat-yoga courses. However, the reason why it became so popular in the first place is that people were (maybe unexpectedly) finding that their lives were changing.
There are hundreds of books that are written and forgotten each year, but every so often there’s a volume that makes such an impact that its remembered for generations to come. A number of the books on this list have been around for decades – sometimes for thousands of years.
That said, there’s a reason why the self-help book format has proven so useful over the years. So what are some of those ways?
Accessibility And Freedom:
By this, we’re not just talking about how you can order one online and receive an ebook within minutes. However, that’s incredibly true and may help some with the stigma of picking one up at the local bookstore. Yet we’re more thinking about how it’s a perfect middleman between seeing a professional and trying things out on your own.
Obviously having a mentor or life coach or therapist speeds things up quite a bit, but the advantage of reading a book instead is that everything happens at your own pace. There’s no pressure to make this or that change every week, and you aren’t paying someone to listen while you’re figuring things out.
You can put the book aside whenever you need, make some notes, go for a run, the works. You’re answering to no one but yourself, and that is a kind of freedom.
How They Deliver Information:
You’re not forced to read an academic article – even if the writers are professors, they’re publishing the book with a popular audience in mind. You don’t need to do a weekend retreat or take a course to understand the ideas involved.
Everything made to be as understandable as possible, and the authors usually had help from a team of editors to make that happen.
On top of this, you can always find another method if something doesn’t work for you. That’s why we’ve made such a broad list. One book is going to do the same thing for every man, and everyone has different roads to self-improvement.
So take a look at our list and see if anything resonates with you. If yes, great! If not, then keep reading and we’re sure you’ll see something that speaks to where you’re at and where you’re going.
Why read a self-help book when I can just read self-help articles online?
When you want to learn a new language, what do you think is going to be the best method? Picking up a dictionary and trying to learn the words by yourself, or finding a teacher who knows the language inside out and how to teach it as well.
Having someone who has experience in explaining what could otherwise be a complicated process is more than worth the hassle of finding such a person. When you choose a book for self-improvement over a few articles you can read online, you’re investing in a teacher.
The Connection Of A Book Outweighs That Of An Article:
We don’t want to say that articles aren’t interesting or useful (heck, most self-help authors pen articles all the time) so much as that they’re short. Condensed. Many of them are written after they publish a book, and they’re meant to give a brief taste of a much larger picture.
When you read a self-help book, you’re choosing to spend a specific amount of time with that author, their concepts, and their vision of the world. You can obviously just take as many pages of the article and read those instead, but there’s not a greater structure connecting them.
Each article doesn’t build on the last in the same way that each chapter follows the next.
When you’re knee-deep in a writer’s lingo, your brain starts making connections between the concepts. It builds a mental map of everything that’s being said and starts applying it to day-to-day life. This kind of deep-dive isn’t possible when you’re reading articles, unfortunately.
You could even think of switching between articles, especially if they’re on radically different subjects, as similar to hopping between channels on a Wednesday night. You get glimpses of a lot of different things, maybe you’ll learn something you wouldn’t know by watching one program all the way through.
However. generally speaking, it’s not the best idea if you’re wanting to learn something deeply.
Articles Are About What You Know, Books About What You Need To Learn:
Most of the stuff that everyone already knows about is written on for articles. Authors simply bring their concepts to help someone into the piece. When to take breaks while working, for example, or what kinds of sleep rhythms work for different people.
These are the types of topics you’ll often see in article-form.
However, when someone makes a discovery based on years of research, they’re going to want to put it behind some kind of paywall. They need to make money, after all, and by paying for a book you’ll also be paying for someone’s best research.
As said above, the kinds of articles on The Guardian or The New York Times are always just a snippet of the book’s content. That said, if you want something game-changing, you’ll have to fork out the cash for it.
Besides all this, reading a book all the way to the end (especially if you’re not the most avid of readers) is a reward in itself. In fact, it starts building the kind of discipline you’re probably using the book to find. There can also be the fun of getting the guys together and talking about the book over a beer.
Once you’re nose-deep into the book, you’ll get the hang of it and start enjoying yourself.
Plus, interesting self-help books usually take a whole Ph.D. (or even a life) to write. Reading the book, you’ll get the goods over a couple of weeks. If that’s not value, what is? Just call us Professor or Dr. Men’s Gear for the rest of this article. Okay, maybe not….
1) Awaken The Giant Within
Tony Robbins is a world-renowned author in the areas of personal growth, motivation, and financial control. In Awaken the Giant Within, he focuses on individual success and what it means to take control of one’s destiny.
Like all effective self-help books for men, Robbins focuses on the incremental changes that are easiest to maintain and provide long-term growth and development. His clients have included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, NHL Great Wayne Gretzky, Academy Award-winning actor Hugh Jackman, and more.
In this book, Robbins divulges the kind of insight that goes on to make champions.
Ideas explored in the book include:
-the necessity of raising one’s personal standards if you want to see a dynamic change in your life.
-adapting current belief systems so as to tap into our inherent confidence and meet said higher standards.
-how not only to make changes but gauge which changes can incrementally be implemented for truly sustainable, long-term change.
2) 12 Rules For Life – An Antidote To Chaos
No title on this list has generated more buzz this year than this self-help book Jordan Peterson released in early 2018. Having ascended to the status of what some have called an “academic rock star,” Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life weave ancient wisdom with practical advice.
This book addresses some of our most pressing challenges today. Don’t let the chapter titles fool you, missives like “pet a cat on the street” and “don’t bother children when they skateboard” are used like open door examples. They examine the big questions of parenting, politics, self-development, and even happiness.
While millions have enjoyed Peterson’s words (and his impressively prolific YouTube channel), there are those who might raise an eyebrow at some of the political claims made in the book and elsewhere. Read the book by all means, but it might be useful to read up on some of the controversies this volume seeks to address.
Regardless of political belief, it’s terrific and one of the best self-help books for men today for a reason.
3) Man’s Search For Meaning
While a number of the titles on this list of self-help books for men are for productivity, this revered classic takes on the question of life’s meaning itself.
Viktor Frankl was a psychologist who, during the worst of WWII, was taken to the Dachau concentration camp. Here, Viktor was witness to some of the worst atrocities known to the 20th century. From this place of suffering, he found that the drive to find meaning in life can help any man press through the darkness.
While the book is ultimately (and profoundly) life-affirming, it would still be good to know what you’re walking into. There are very frank discussions about the Holocaust and the nature of suffering that some are bound to find disturbing.
However, for those unafraid to ask themselves the big questions, this book will prove a perennial gift.
4) Willpower Doesn’t Work
Some of the most popular self-help books for men are those that help us simply get things done. It’s such an easy concept to “get things done,” right? Yet we often overlook how hard this can actually be for several things. As such, a number of these volumes deal with how to improve or strengthen your willpower or grit.
Benjamin Hardy, on the other hand, says this is the wrong way to approach things altogether.
Instead of focusing on how to ‘white-knuckle’ your way to success, Hardy looks to the environmental factors that might be keeping us away from our goals. In his book Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, we’re looking at the details in our lives and asking ‘is this distracting me or leading me to success?’
Hardy shows us how to build environments that encourage us to go after our dreams and never settle for less.
For the man who’s frustrated with fruitless calls to grin and bear it, Hardy’s words will come both as a relief and as a breath of fresh air.
5) The Five Minute Journal
Has the thought of keeping a journal seemed mostly like a chore? Do the words ‘self-reflection’ make you panic? Do you want to create a daily writing habit but have no idea where to start?
Like the best self-help books for men, the Five Minute Journal offers immediate and practical ways to jump-start your day and become a more positive person. Using insights from positive psychology, the journal delivers concrete prompts for reflection every day.
If you’re the type who needs a bit of structure to flourish, then this is the tool for you.
Men who already have solid journaling habits might balk at the thought of rigid prompts for set amounts of time. However, trying something new can provide a new way to approach an old habit.
6) Outliers – The Story of Success
So many books have been written about succeeding or trying to do so that it’s hard to find a niche in which to write something new. Malcolm Gladwell, with his mega-bestseller Outliers, does just that by turning a typical question on its head.
He asks, why do we focus so much on who successful people are versus what shaped them?
One thing that separates Gladwell’s entry from many other self-help books for men is the emphasis he has on storytelling. While some might find this trite, he packs every chapter full of stories. These illustrate the points he makes about the impact of family, culture, and upbringing on the incredibly successful.
By making connections to your own individual experience, Gladwell can make various interesting claims that make sense. Claims like instead of leaning into the formulas for success, you need to figure out what sets you apart.
Taking from his experience as a staff writer for The New Yorker, this book is not only informative – it’s supremely entertaining as well.
7) Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
The second of Malcolm Gladwell’s books to make this list: while Outliers focuses on what makes the ultra-successful different from you and me, Blink narrows in on a particular mystery that we all share. The brain, that is, and how it makes quick decisions that we may not immediately understand.
Instead of just looking at our mind’s black box and hoping for an answer, Gladwell unpacks just how much stands behind our intuitions. As it turns out, a simple, split-second decision might be anything but.
If you’re a man who wants to be more decisive, or who wants to better understand the decisions you make, then picking up this volume might be precisely what you’ve been looking for.
Part of what makes Gladwell’s self-help books for men so easy to read is his ability to make complex ideas accessible for the average reader. No matter if you only have a few minutes on the way to work, you will find it incredibly easy diving into the prose and ideas of Blink.
8) How to Win Friends and Influence People
This is the grandpappy of all self-help books for men. Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic struck on such a profound chord that not only has it never been out of print, but today copies continue to fly off the shelves. Its successful formula has been based around two core pillars.
First is becoming the kind of person people are drawn to. Rather than a series of popularity tips, Carnegie suggests deep-seated changes like looking to cultivate sincere appreciation or finding ways to make other people feel important.
The second is about how to influence (or change) people without having them come to resent you. While for some people the goal might come off as manipulative, the advice is as universal as anything else. It works toward an appeal to people’s nobler motives.
These are things like being generous with your attention, avoiding pointless arguments, and more.
The most popular and interesting self-help books for men are always the ones that have universal applicability. Carnegie’s volume is a model of just that. Nearly a hundred years after its initial publication and many successful entrepreneurs still swear by it.
9) Making a Good Brain Great
Most books for self-improvement focus on a particular part of your life. Daniel G. Amen’s book takes as its start the assumption that the brain is like any other muscle in the body – it can be trained, taken care of, or even wasted. While he says that, more often than not, we leave the brain to itself when we can be working to improve it.
This knowledge can help us get ahead and care for our minds.
Breaking things down into separate areas of care, things like:
- are you using your brain?
- Giving it enough nutrients?
- Caring for it in times of great stress?
Amen makes concrete, actionable steps that readers can take when thinking about being good to our brains. His book called Making a Good Brain Great seems compelling in a title. Yet it does not ask a question, it simply offers what it wants to do right there on the cover.
It’s no shock that it has become one of the most popular self-help books for men around.
The author takes from his experience as a clinical neuroscientist with decades in the field (and managing his own clinic). Amen then formulates a set of exercises and rules of thumb that will have you thinking broadly and clearly well into your golden years.
10) How To Be Rich
While we’ve been flooded with countless get rich self-help books for men over the decades, Paul Getty’s classic How To Be Rich formed the template of them all. Taking the crown of “America’s Richest Man” from the Rockefellers and Henry Ford, Getty explains the tactics and mindset needed to become rich in the 20th century.
While the book is over fifty years old, and while the world has changed in nearly every way, Getty’s approach proves uncannily relevant to this day.
For the man looking to dig deep into proven financial wisdom, How To Be Rich proves solid bedrock for the taking.
By far the oldest book on this list, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius was written nearly two thousand years ago. It still packs a punch to this very day. Collecting the wisdom of one of the most famous Roman emperors in history, this edition presents Aurelius’ thought on a wide-ranging number of subjects still relevant to the modern man.
The Meditations continues to be one of the most effective self-help books for men, as it’s written not for the purpose of self-help initially. Rather, just in how he used his wisdom to solve problems or make things happen.
To understand what Marcus goes over, one has to understand the philosophy of stoicism or the search of serenity through enlightened detachment.
The idea was that the greatest joys and satisfaction are not to be found in passing things. Aurelius sets readers up for resilience, balance, and order in the face of inevitable loss.
While that might sound like a downer, this book has been a treasure to millions over history. Most find comfort and personal development through the thoughts of a man distant in time yet as relevant today as ever.
12) As A Man Thinketh
Another book that’s lasted the test of time, James Allen’s As A Man Thinketh has proven its worth time and again as a proto-entry in the positive psychology genre. Some might be surprised at the book’s short length, as it comes in at 26 pages in the edition mentioned above.
However, Allen’s goal was to create a simple guide to the everyday man, one that could fit in a pocket.
While many of the entries on this list are self-help books for men that discuss things like productivity or wealth, this book focuses in on the power of the human mind. In this discussion, we read about how to shape our impressions and relationship to the world.
We are shown how to focus on (and having the eyes to see) the things that are good and beautiful in the world. With this, Allen suggests that we have the possibility to reshape our way of engaging with our jobs, our relationships, and our connections.
By taking responsibility for the way our minds think, you’ll find yourself with the power to address your mindset and behaviors at their very roots.
14) Unfu*k Yourself
The title says it all: Gary John Bishop is on a crusade to liberate the modern man from his complexes, his negative thoughts and all the baggage holding him down. By going through and revisiting core assumptions that block your success, Bishop encourages replacing them with relatable, hilarious new truths.
You are willing, You are relentless, and You got this.
The main takeaway here is that the world isn’t standing in your way, rather, you are. Outlining proven tools to stop being your own worst enemy, Bishop goes into the nuts and bolts of what personal transformation really looks like.
Too many self-help books for men pull punches for the sake of the niceties or political correctness, but not in this book. Made for the man too concerned with his own growth and potential to care about a couple choice words thrown here and there, Unfu*k Yourself has been taking the world by storm.
It’s hard to overlook self-help books for men with a title such as this. Especially when so many want to do exactly as the title suggests.
14) How To Stop Worrying and Start Living
Dale Carnegie’s other classic from the first half of the twentieth century, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living continues to be a relevant guide for how to overcome anxiety. Packed with tools and life lessons that have helped millions reach new levels of peace and well-being, this is a read for any man looking to invest in a more harmonious life.
Long considered one of the best self-help books in American history, Carnegie uses a simple (if sometimes dated) language to help readers address some of the most pressing problems in their lives. His wisdom has helped businessmen overcome work-related worries as well as financial anxiety.
By managing one’s energy (and optimizing one’s waking hours), Carnegie directs readers to find the best, most productive version of themselves. Self-help books for men like these seem to help several, even some women. That said, we cannot recommend it enough.
15) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
This is arguably one of the self-help books for men that re-started the craze for the genre back in the late 1980s. This self-help book Stephen Covey penned has gone on to spawn sequels, workbooks, and a whole minor industry in itself.
Praised by businessmen, church leaders, thought pioneers, and entrepreneurs alike, Covey’s wisdom has proved to have as much staying power as his accessible prose and anecdotal examples.
He goes over things well, such as first starting with breaking down the elements of productivity into steps. This includes gaining self-mastery. This is the art of being proactive and how to put first things first. Things that matter for the better good of you, your business, or even family. It also teaches interdependence and a win-win thinking concept.
This even comes with discussing how we should focus on constant improvement. Readers have found more than enough material to take action on and improve their lives.
By focusing on a mindset of abundance, Covey’s principles have gone on to help countless men abandon win-lose mindsets that are the fruit of scarcity. Millions of readers have discovered what it means to live out of this abundance and with this updated version of a modern-day classic so will you.
16) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Another modern classic, this entry from David Allen has gone on to redefine the productivity industry since its release in 2006. Praised as the ultimate book on task management, Allen’s principles have gone on to inspire seminars, workshops, and entire shelves of copies.
While there have been many powerful tools developed over the past fifteen years, Allen’s book continues to be the reference point. Being near the top in the self-help books for men category is difficult to manage, but not when your message is timeless.
Allen simply figured out the best ways to manage this.
An understandably common theme among self-help books for men is productivity. To no surprise, many men are seeking growth namely in their career and business lives. Financial interdependence and even independence are the big payoff(s) for proper and effective business practices.
His message made this book a bestseller, to the shock of no one.
Now in an updated form, the books found on shelves today come with new material included from the author. This includes fresh insights from productivity developments over the past decade and a shows more on the tried, tested, and true system of Getting Things Done.
Help is at Hand
With countless volumes being produced every year, it can be hard for a man to know where to turn first. This and the constant emergence of new ‘it’ fads season after season. Each can make it hard to know which techniques are solid and which ones will fade with time.
Thankfully, our list collects the best and the brightest from wisdom both ancient and modern.
This collection of readable self-help books for men that range from the ancient wisdom of Marcus Aurelius to the lasting words of Dale Carnegie. All the way to the powerhouses that are Stephen Covey and Jordan Peterson. All have something for every man.
The amount of material found in these self-help books for men that can be useful might very well be endless. Many include support in the face of struggle to aide in arranging one’s day. Others include the best mind-hacks when it comes to being effective at work.
Overall these volumes have changed lives the world over.
No matter where you’re thinking of directing your next bout of self-improvement, do yourself a favor and learn from the best. With these top 16 self-help books for men in 2019, you’ll most assuredly be on your way.