top of page

Top 7 Must Read Books for Personal and Professional Development

My love of reading goes back to elementary school when I just couldn’t get enough of The Boxcar Children books. Before that it was Junie B. Jones. And before that it was The Berenstain Bears.

I was always the kid in school that was SO excited to go to the library and I couldn’t wait to get a new book to take home.

As I got older, my love for reading fizzled a bit, but I could always get behind a good series – like Twilight, of course. (Team Jacob all day.)

After I graduated college and in my first job, I discovered the world of personal development and that’s when things really started to change for me.

A lot of people view personal development as self help, but call it what you want, it literally changed my life. I attribute reading personal development books to being the thing that helped me calm the heck down in my life (aka not feel so anxious all the time) and develop a healthy outlook and mindset.

Since about 2019 or so, you can almost always find a new personal development book on my desk as I’m digging into my read of the month.

My bookshelf is full of good reads, but when I think back on the books that I truly remember and still refer to, 7 come to mind.

Before I give you that list, I want to preface this by reminding you about #10 of the 27 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in My 27 Years of Life: reading a certain number of books every year doesn’t matter unless you retain and implement what you learn.

While my bookshelf is full of books I’ve already read, there’s a good handful of them that I really don’t remember and I should probably read again before I order anything else on Amazon.

So just remember that retaining the information and implementing what you learn is way more important than meeting your goal on Goodreads – no matter how good it feels!

Anyways, back to that list in case you’re in need of something new.

7 Must Read Books for Personal and Professional Development

At the start of this year (2023), I found myself in a major flop era and felt like I just couldn’t get it together. I felt unmotivated, my routines were off and overall I just felt in a funk.

When I get like this, I try really hard to become aware of the things I’m doing so that I can hopefully identify what’s causing the off feeling.

Almost every single time I find myself in a funk, I can link it back to not reading. It’s super common for me to get lax with my routines during the holidays, so naturally I wasn’t picking up a book as often as I like during November and December of last year.

And that most definitely started to show in January. When I realized this, I remembered that one of my besties had gifted me Kendra Scott’s Memoir, Born to Shine and it had been sitting on the shelf and let me just tell you… I was missing out on GOLD! ✨

By this point it was February and I had decided we were going to make the new month a slay and this book felt like a safe bet.

I truly had no clue how much I would learn from Kendra’s story. If you’re unfamiliar, she’s the CEO behind Kendra Scott Jewelry and the book alone made me want to go buy something.

I personally love to read other people’s stories and she has a plethora of them filled with so many life and business lessons that was just the motivation I needed to get things moving back in the right direction!

A favorite quote from the book that I keep coming back to: “When you know who you are, you don’t just know what you want, but what you DON’T.”

This is a book I’ve had on my Book Bucket List for quite some time and it worked out perfectly when this book was chosen for Book Club in my coaching program – The TRIBE with Jenn Boughey.

If you consider yourself to be a high achiever that is constantly after more, more, more, you need this book in your life!

After highlighting half of the INTRODUCTION paragraph, I realized I really needed this book 10 years ago, but I’m so thankful I discovered it this year.

As a high achiever, it’s easy to measure your success against what you haven’t achieved, instead of celebrating what you have. We all have an “ideal” whether it be a goal or result we want that acts as a moving target that’s always out of reach.

The book teaches that when you measure yourself against the ideal, you’re thinking in the gap, but when you measure yourself against your previous self, you’re in the gain.

It’s truly an incredible perspective shift and I can’t recommend it enough!

A favorite quote from the book that I highlighted right away: “When your happiness is tied to something in the future, then your present is diminished.”

Another favorite read from this year that’s also been on my Book Bucket List for a while is The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and I’m sure you can guess from the title, it’s about slowwwinggggg down.

Again, the concept of slowing down can be hard for high achievers and I’ll be the first to admit that patience isn’t something that comes easily for me.

When I want something… I want it immediately and it can be so hard for me to focus on the present moment.

Reflecting back on most of my life, I recognize how I always tend to rush through things – not necessarily in my work – but more so in the plans that I have for myself.

I constantly want to be on the go and working toward the next goal, but this year I’ve really been trying to be more intentional with enjoying the moment, soaking in the present, and trusting that all good things will come with time.

A favorite quote from the book that really got me thinking: “There is a healthy kind of busyness where your life is full with things that matter, not wasted on empty leisure or trivial pursuits. The problem itself isn’t when you have a lot to do; it’s when you have too much to do and the only way to keep the quota is to hurry.”

As a certified celebrator, this book is an all time FAVE! My mom actually gave me this book and it’s worth reading solely for the examples in the chapters alone.

It’s truly like a masterclass in human psychology and my favorite lesson from this book is how as humans we tend to remember the best moment, worst moment, and last moment of an experience and forget the rest.

They call them the peaks and the pits and it’s truly so fascinating to see!

This book inspires me to be more thoughtful in my own business and work to intentionally create small, thoughtful moments along with larger ones along the way.

A favorite quote from the book that I always remember: “In life, we can work so hard to get the kinks out that we forget to put the peaks in.”

This is a true classic that probably falls on every other “must read” book list, but for good reason.

Atomic Habits is one of those books that helps you get back to a baseline when you’re feeling off track and really start creating intentional habits in your life little by little.

What I love so much about James Clear’s approach is that he doesn’t encourage you to overhaul your life when you want to start something new. Instead, he’s big on the 1% rule.

A favorite quote from the book that I keep coming back to: “If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you'll end up 37X better by the time you're done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, you'll decline nearly down to zero.”

  • Any John Maxwell book

I really tried to narrow it down to one John Maxwell book, but honestly all of the lessons that I learn from his books all start running together at some point.

John Maxwell is a king of personal development and I’ve read quite a few of his books that always give me some sort of value that I need at the time.

From personal relationships, effective communication and leadership lessons, John has it all, so if you’re looking for someone to learn from and better your life altogether, he’s a good one!

If I had to choose one book for you to start with, I’d say Intentional Living.

A favorite quote from that book that I try to live by: “If you want to live a life that matters, don’t start when you get good; start now so you become good.”

I wasn’t going to include this on the list since I’m currently reading it, but it’s SO good, it had to be on the list.

The author, Jeff Henderson, a previous Chick-fil-A employee that worked under Truett Cathy (that’s when I knew this would be good), talks about how in business we must shift the focus of our messaging and marketing to be customer-centric in order to truly see the results we want to see.

One of my favorite lessons so far is the concept of creating raving fans. You hear that talked about all the time in business, but Jeff flips that and says NO – don’t focus on creating raving fans. Focus on BEING a fan of your customers and be FOR them.

That’s when you can create a business that thrives and has raving fans as a benefit – not as something that’s your sole focus.

A favorite quote I highlighted just the other day: “When you talk more about the customer than you do the business, the customer talks more about your business.”

Let me know if you give any of these a shot – and while you’re at it, I’d love to hear YOUR book recs!

I’m always adding to my Book Bucket List and love to hear what everyone else has on their bookshelf.

Connect here to let me know what I should add! 📖

P.S. Good books aren’t the only thing I love to read – I’m also a fan of binge-worthy blogs (go figure 🤣) and I have a few tried and true favorites that you might enjoy too!

CLICK HERE for my go-to business blogs.

Beyond blogs and books, I’m also a sucker for a good newsletter. I have a folder in my G-mail called “Good Reads” and each week I save my favorites to this folder so I can refer to them later.

To find out what qualifies a newsletter as a “good read” and get a list of my favorites, subscribe to Notes From Natty – I’m spilling it all THIS Friday, August 11th. 💌

bottom of page