Life can be confusing.
We want the best for ourselves and those we love. But sometimes the results are mixed.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a manual for life? To be able to access reliable and high-quality guidance on living well?
We are in luck—some amazing people have left us their best life lessons.
Missing Manual for Life
I’ve spent a good part of the last 10 years looking for the best books on living the good life.
And here they are: my 10 best self-help books for men.
Different books from the list would appeal to you depending on where you are in life. So feel free to pick and choose.
Or go in order, from 1 to 10. I’ve arranged them in the form of a curriculum, where the next book would build on the foundations of the previous one.
(The links to the books are affiliate links. So when you buy a book using one of my links, I earn a commission. This is at no extra cost to you.)
1. The Secret (by Rhonda Byrne)
Start Believing in Yourself Today…
The Secret has sold over 30 million copies. You, probably, have heard of this one.
The basic idea is simple and is repeated throughout the book: no matter how terrible your circumstances and how hopeless you feel, you can turn things around.
The Secret forces you to take the first and crucial step to happiness—thinking deeply about your goals.
Along the way, it will teach you concepts from positive psychology, such as visualization, gratitude, and optimism.
Life Lesson: life isn’t impossible. Believe in yourself.
2. Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (by Nathaniel Branden)
Build a Healthy Mind…
Nathaniel Branden is the father of self-esteem.
That is sufficient reason to consider his book. Self-esteem determines how we operate in the workplace, with whom we would fall in love, and how much we will achieve.
Where The Secret was an impassioned appeal to believe in yourself, The Six Pillars gives you psychological principles to trust your mind.
Life Lesson: of all the judgements we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen Covey)
Be Effective in Attaining Your Goals…
This one was published the year I was born, sweet!
Unfortunately, these are not 7 quick-fixes but 7 lifelong habits to grow into independent individuals and, finally, into interdependent individuals (with mutually beneficial relationships).
Fortunately, these 7 habits are effective in achieving personal and professional goals. Time magazine included it on its, ‘25 Most Influential Business Management Books.’
Life Lesson: success comes from values (integrity, patience, etc.), not from techniques (smile more, dress nice, etc.)
4. The Power of Now (by Eckhart Tolle)
A Spiritual Journey to Yourself…
Put your focus on the present moment.
This is probably a concept that you have heard before. But what is amazing about The Power of Now is how it almost forces you into presence.
The mind is the greatest tool we have got. Sadly, an out of control mind can also be a terrible prison. The Power of Now is the key.
Life Lesson: control your mind; don’t let your mind control you.
5. The Game (by Neil Strauss)
One for the Shy Guys…
The Game can be understood at different levels.
On one level, it’s an entertaining documentary about the underground seduction community. On another, it’s a story about a bunch of guys (lonely and frustrated) trying to understand what the problem is and how to fix it.
Ultimately, it’s about Strauss trying to understand women but becoming an expert on himself, instead. If you are a shy guy, like I was, The Game is for you.
Life Lesson: if you want to be with a particular girl, learn to be good with women in general.
6. The Fountainhead (by Ayn Rand)
Awaken the Independent Thinker in You….
The purpose of your life is the pursuit of happiness.
A powerful counterpoint to The Power of Now, The Fountainhead reinforces the importance of the individual. It’s a philosophical argument for living a life that is free and uncompromised.
Rand’s ideas are unique, and her book has always been controversial. Take a look, and see what you think.
Life Lesson: it’s important for society that you follow your dreams.
7. The Selfish Gene (by Richard Dawkins)
Solve the Mystery of Your Existence…
Our own existence presents one of the greatest mysteries.
Wonder no more because Darwin solved this mystery ages ago. Sadly, the theory of evolution through natural selection is still not a part of the curriculum at school.
Understanding how human brains evolved would explain a lot of things—our dating strategies, why we love sugar, why we overreact to stress.
Life Lesson: to make sense of your present, understand your past.
8. Spiritual Enlightenment, the Damnedest Thing (by Jed McKenna)
Move Beyond Your Ego…
If you’ve always wanted a spiritual teacher who plays video games, skydives, and rides mountain bikes, you may be in luck.
McKenna is not your typical guru. In his own words, “orgasmic euphoria, orgiastic bliss, obscene wealth and perfect health” are not to be expected.
You may, however, find the Truth and lose your ego.
Life Lesson: life is a dream.
9. Integrative Nutrition (by Joshua Rosenthal)
Build a Relationship With Your Body…
The best life advice is also the simplest—eat healthy.
Eating poorly can lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and other mood disorders.
But what constitutes a healthy diet is a topic of much debate—there is no one-size-ﬁts-all diet. Integrative Nutrition is a balanced guide to the major nutritional theories which will help you find the one that works for you.
Life Lesson: don’t depend on medicines for your health.
10. The 4-Hour Work Week (by Tim Ferriss)
Escape the 9-to-5…
Not everybody loves their job.
Some do and that’s great. But I was waiting for a retirement that was a few decades away. And, honestly, I got tired of always complaining.
When I finally decided to quit my job, The 4-Hour Work Week was my go-to resource. The No.1 New York Times Bestseller is the bible for anyone seeking an alternative lifestyle.
Life Lesson: life doesn’t have to be so damn hard.
These Books Won’t Work Unless…
I’ve shared the 10 self-help books that have helped me the most in my journey. They have helped me understand myself, the people around me, and the nature of life, itself.
I hope you find value in this list.
But these are just books—they won’t work unless you do the work. Apply these ideas to your life, and see what results you get.
Which books have had a positive impact on your life?