After a challenging second half of 2023, I decided to indulge in what Katherine May terms “wintering” for a couple of months. During the darkest days of winter here in Copenhagen, I’ve taken time to rest, recuperate, and reassess – and that’s been such a good decision.
Now I feel my energy coming back, I’ve been turning to personal growth books to give me an extra boost of motivation and guidance. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent new self-improvement books to enjoy reading this year.
Featuring recent releases from late 2023 as well as anticipated books to preorder and read in 2024, here’s my selection of the best personal growth books of 2024 if you’d also like to kick-start new habits, inspire daydreams, and motivate action…
The best personal development books 2024
Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset and Rewire Your Habits to Thrive with Enough by Michael Easter
Michael Easter’s bestseller The Comfort Crisis is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in the last decade. But what about his new book for September 2023, Scarcity Brain? Fortunately, I loved it too.
As the book shows, we really are hardwired to crave more, thanks to the “scarcity loop” that kept our ancient ancestors alive by constantly seeking and consuming more.
Spanning the globe and with insights from scientists and innovators at the cutting edge (from slot machine designers to artisanal coffee-roasting Benedictine monks), Easter explores how we can replace scarcity with an abundance mindset for satisfaction and contentment in our modern world.
Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential by Brian Johnson
Although it was only released in November 2023, Areté already has a tribe of supporters and thousands of 5* reviews. (At the time of writing this, it has a 4.9 rating on both Amazon and Goodreads.)
Combining ancient wisdom, modern science, and practical tools to activate your “Heroic destiny” (lots of words are capitalized in Areté), this is one of the most motivating books you can read in 2024, especially if you feel lost, stuck in a rut, or living and working outside your “zone of genius”.
Early on in the book, author Brian Johnson explains how he wanted to write a book that was structurally between The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Which is bold, absolutely, but with the 451 snappy chapters packed into a massive 1,000+ pages, it makes sense.
Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout by Cal Newport
Hearing about a new book by Cal Newport always brightens my day, and Slow Productivity is set to be one of the most exciting new personal growth books for 2024. Available from March 5, this is Cal’s new guide to pursuing meaningful accomplishment while avoiding overload.
With timeless lessons from the routines and habits of history’s most creative and impactful writers, artists, philosophers, and scientists, Newport explores the key principles of “slow productivity” in an age of pinging notifications and overflowing inboxes. If you loved reading Atomic Habits, add this to your preorder list.
Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You by Ali Abdaal
As Dr. Ali Abdaal explores in Feel-Good Productivity, his bestselling new personal growth book from December 2023, productivity doesn’t have to be at the expense of your mental health. In fact, with feel-good productivity, you can get more done while feeling better than ever.
Together with inspiring stories of founders, Nobel Prize-winners, and Olympians, Ali draws on decades of psychological research to show that the secret to productivity and success isn’t hustle and grind – it’s feeling good.
Live for a Living by Paula Caligiuri and Andy Palmer
Several excellent books about putting life ahead of work were published in 2023, starting with Simone Stolzoff’s fantastic The Good Enough Job: What We Gain When We Don’t Put Work First.
Also in this vein is Live for a Living, Paula Caligiuri and Andy Palmer’s inspiring guide to “career planning for a happier life”, helping you identify your career goals and use actionable tactics to plan your journey and create momentum. If you want to work happier, not harder, this one’s for you.
Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results by Shane Parrish
As the founder of Farnam Street, the popular blog about smart decision-making and mental models, Shane Parrish knows what’s behind effective thinking.
With Clear Thinking, Shane’s guide to decision-making, learn how to master a skill that has the potential to transform your trajectory in life and business. Unlike many personal growth books, there are so many new and valuable tactics here – it’s one of the best books you can pick up this year.
Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier by Kevin Kelly
Excellent Advice for Living is one of the best personal development books I read in 2023, and if you haven’t read it yet, it’s absolutely worth picking up this year. If you’re anything like me, your copy will soon be covered in highlights and annotations.
Full of ideas, proverbs, and inspiring snippets by Kevin Kelly, technology thinker and co-founder of Wired, the idea for the book began on Kevin’s 68th birthday, when he began to write down for his young adult children what he wish he knew earlier about life. It’s an indispensable treasure trove of wisdom for living well.
Infectious Generosity: The Ultimate Idea Worth Spreading by Chris Anderson
Head of TED Chris Anderson has written a couple of books before, but his new read for January 2024, Infectious Generosity, is the one that’s grabbed my attention.
Inspired by game-changing talks by the world’s boldest thinkers at TED, Chris Anderson believes that one of humankind’s most fundamental virtues will help us build a hopeful future: generosity.
This page-turner will inspire you with incredible stories and a playbook for creating your own infectious generosity – generous acts so inspiring that they can self-replicate and even change our world.
Optimal by David Goleman
Written by David Goleman, the bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, Optimal is one of the best personal development books to help you be at your best in 2024.
As of January 9, pick up this anticipated read to learn how to tap into your inner resources and enter an optimal state of performance and satisfaction while avoiding burnout.
The Three Question Journal by Intelligent Change and Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
I often talk about how much I love Intelligent Change journals, and the new Three Question Journal created with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee is a lovely addition for 2024.
Following the huge success of The Five-Minute Journal, this new guided journal is designed to help you cultivate gratitude, relieve stress, and nurture growth.
Beautifully clothbound with premium eco-friendly materials, the journal will guide you through these questions each day:
- Morning: What is one thing you deeply appreciate about your life? What is the most important thing you have to do today? What quality do you want to show the world today?
- Evening: What went well today? What did you do for someone else today? What can you do differently tomorrow?
The Life Brief: The Simple Tool to Unlock What You Really Want from Life by Bonnie Wan
If you want to make big changes this year, one of the best personal development books to read is The Life Brief. In this new book for January 2024, leading strategist Bonnie Wan distills the practice of brand strategy into its purest form to help you realign your path with your dreams.
First, Get Messy and see what’s possible. Then, Get Clear on what you truly want. Finally, Get Active and make it a reality. As Bonnie explains, you cannot have it all, but you can have all that matters.
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