Six Self-Development Books To Read This Summer

Emma Hodgson   |   04-08-2023

There’s no better time to pick up a book than when you’re lying poolside or on the beach over the summer months. Here’s a round up of some of our favourite self-development books, so you will leave your holiday feeling levelled up, as well as refreshed. 

Atomic Habits – James Clear 

First published in 2018, this critical text has become the go-to book for those looking to reframe their habits and transform their life. The book offers practical and actionable advice on how to build and break habits effectively.The core premise of the book revolves around the idea that making small, incremental changes in our behaviour can lead to significant and lasting improvements over time. James Clear introduces the concept of “atomic habits,” which are tiny, almost imperceptible changes that accumulate to bring about substantial transformations in our lives. Clear introduces four laws that can help individuals build good habits and break bad ones. These laws are: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy and make it satisfying. Throughout the book, Clear uses practical examples, scientific research, and engaging stories to illustrate his points and make the concepts easy to understand and implement. He emphasises the idea of focusing on the process of habit change rather than solely on the desired outcome, highlighting that continuous improvement and small wins are vital to achieving lasting change.


Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker 

“Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” is a best-selling book written by Matthew Walker, a prominent sleep scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. In the book, Walker presents a compelling case for the significance of sleep in our lives. He shares research findings from various fields, including neuroscience, biology, and psychology, to highlight the essential role that sleep plays in nearly every aspect of human functioning. Topics covered include the strong link between disease and poor health, with poor quality of sleep. The important role of sleep in cognitive performance and memory retention, as well as how different substances can be detrimental to our quality of sleep and therefore our overall health, particularly our brain health. Walker’s writing style is accessible and engaging, making complex scientific concepts understandable to the general reader. He provides practical tips on how to improve sleep quality and offers advice on developing healthy sleep habits.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a *****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson

This self-help book was first published in 2016, the book quickly became a bestseller and gained widespread popularity for its no-nonsense, straightforward approach to personal development and finding meaning in life. The central premise of the book revolves around the idea that happiness and fulfilment are not achieved by pursuing constant positivity or trying to avoid negative experiences. Instead, Manson argues that embracing the inevitability of suffering and choosing which problems to care about is the key to a more meaningful life. Throughout the book, Mark Manson uses a mix of personal anecdotes, humour, and practical examples to convey his message effectively. 


Consolations of Philosophy – Alain de Botton 

Alain de Botton is one of the most popular modern philosophers and the author of a slew of philosophy-come-self-development texts. “Consolations of Philosophy”, first published in 2000, explores the teachings of several great philosophers from history and how their ideas can offer consolation and guidance for the challenges and difficulties of modern life. The central theme of the book is to provide readers with philosophical insights that can help them navigate the complexities of human existence, offering comfort and understanding in times of trouble. The works of six philosophers are examined in the book, namely:  Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Michel de Montaigne, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche.


The Course of Love – Alain de Botton 

Another celebrated text by De Botton is  “The Course of Love” is a self-development novel and philosophical text written by Alain de Botton and published in 2016. Unlike his other books, which are primarily non-fiction and philosophical in nature, “The Course of Love” is a fictional narrative that combines storytelling with philosophical insights about love and relationships. The text offers great reflections on modern day relationships, and can help in self-reflection and the development of healthy relationships and expectations of loved ones. The book has been praised for its insights into the human condition and its ability to resonate with readers on a deeply emotional level.


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead –  Brené Brown 

Brené Brown is a renowned researcher, author, and public speaker. The book was published in 2012 and quickly became a bestseller, propelling Brené Brown into the spotlight as a leading expert on vulnerability, shame, and human connection. The central theme of “Daring Greatly” is the transformative power of vulnerability and how embracing it can lead to more authentic and wholehearted living. Brené Brown draws upon her extensive research on shame and vulnerability to provide insights into how vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather a source of strength and connection. Since the publication of “Daring Greatly,” Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability, shame, and empathy has had a profound impact on individuals, organisations, and communities worldwide. Her TED Talks and subsequent books have further solidified her reputation as a leading expert in the field of emotional well-being and personal development.

Image credit: Hector J Rivas