Paul Abraham: Self-improvement books – worth the read?

Paul Abraham, speaking at Bramley Lawn.

By Paul Abraham of

As someone who left school with no qualifications to having a coaching career for thirty years, I have spent decades trying to find books to inspire, motivate and improve myself.  

Some have been educational, some have been thought-provoking and some have been a waste of ink and paper.  

The four books listed below are four of the overall best-sellers of all time.  

The one thing the books have in common is that it made the authors successful and very rich! Many people view these books like bibles to success and a great number of readers will indeed have changed their own lives through integrating the beliefs in to their own life philosophy.  

My personal view is that each book has it’s own merits but in the modern life we lead we need to take a broader view and select parts from self-help books which we can relate to.  

The book that changed my life was cricketer Richard Hadlee’s “At the Double”, which explained how he achieved his ultimate cricket goals with the use of positive quotes and specific short-medium-long term goals, again it is a book which will inspire some and leave others cold.  

Like everything in life, self-improvement books or courses, there is no one size that fits all, so check out the classics by all means but make your choice based on your own personality and what you feel comfortable with.

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (over 80 million copies sold)

First published in 1937 and top of the best-selling self-help books list sits this classic. Hill interviewed highly successful business moguls of his time and identified key laws and habits that drive success. Among these were desire, faith, persistence, and the suppression of doubt and negativity.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (over 25 million copies sold)

Among one of the most popular self-improvement books, Stephen R. Covey’s book highlights essential practices for those seeking to be better—and live life effectively. In order to change one’s situation, one must change his or her perspectives. The book describes specific habits that facilitate such shifts and enable greater personal effectiveness.

3. The Power Of Positive Thinking (over 20 million copies sold)

If quality of life and personal satisfaction is your goal, this book offers a strategy to achieve just that. Through affirmations and visualisations, Norman Vincent Peale demonstrates in his book how positive thinking can be cultivated. It has remained one of the most popular self-improvement books since its release in 1952.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People (over 15 million copies sold)

Published in 1936, this book has been among the best-selling self-help books for a long time now. Dale Carnegie provides insightful approaches and strategies based on honesty and sincerity to help people deal with differing views. The key is in being able to see other perspectives while expressing one’s own views with respect.


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