7 Books That Will Change Your Life

It should be no surprise to you by now that I’m a huge fan of personal development books. I’m constantly harping on the benefits of self-improvement and self-discovery here at Boho Berry, and I firmly believe that the best way to improve your quality of life is to focus on becoming the best version of yourself every single day. (I even included a reminder of that in my personal mission statement for 2016!)

Every now and then, I pick up a book that has an immediate and lasting impact on my life. It shapes the way I see the world, the way I interact with others, and the way I choose to live my life.

These are almost always personal development books, although sometimes they cross the realm into semi-fictional narratives of self-discovery and adventure. Because let’s face it — who doesn’t love a good tale of self-discovery and adventure?


“You can’t pour from an empty cup” ~ Unknown

Before we dive into the list, let’s talk about the importance of personal development for a minute, shall we? If you’re anything like me, then you have a lot of responsibilities in your life. People that you love and take care of, chores to do, a job to go to, and schedules to manage.

I get asked all of the time how I manage to keep up with everything and still provide quality content here on the blog on top of everything else. Well, the answer is simple. I keep my “cup” topped off so that I can always “pour” a little more into the lives of others.

That little quote up there is one I heard YEARS ago, and one of the main reasons that I focus so much on personal development. One of the things that brings me the most joy in life is to inspire and help others. I can’t expect to do that if I’m not constantly learning and improving myself, right?

THAT, my friends is why I just love personal development books!

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I'm sharing my top 7 personal development books! These books have had a HUGE impact on my life, and I hope they'll do the same for you :)

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>> 1. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Why I love it:

I won’t go too in depth here as I have already written about my Miracle Morning experience here and then again here. The bottom line is that by creating a morning routine using 6 of the most proven self-improvement methods, my life has been absolutely and unequivocally changed!

I now rise earlier than the sun each day. I spend time in silent reflection, time reading, time exercising, and time planning out my day. I get more done in the first 2-3 hours of my morning than I used to get done in an entire day!

>> 2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Why I love it:

Written by a shamanic teacher and healer, The Four Agreements is a quick, easy read that presents a code of conduct of sorts. A guide to living a more free and happy life.

The Four Agreements are: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.

Don Miguel Ruiz’s explanation of how and why to do these things is what makes this a MUST read!

>> 3. It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

Why I love it:

Many of you probably remember following along with my Whole30 Challenge last Summer. This is the book that started it all.

While it’s not a personal development book per se, it is definitely a book that changed my life! This book taught me SO much about the food that goes into my body, and what effects it has on my life as a whole.

This book will put you on a path to a more natural, healthy way of eating.

>> 4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Why I love it:

Again, not really a personal development book, but definitely a book that had a huge impact on my life!

Reading through Liz Gilbert’s path of self-discovery awakened a yearning in me to create the life that I have always wanted. Of course, reading about her travels also sparked my wanderlust but that’s a story for another day ;)

This is one that I have read so many times that I can now open to any page and glean some inspiration because I already know the context.

>> 5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Why I love it:

You have probably seen Marie Kondo’s organizing method all over your Facebook feed recently… The KonMari Method has caught on, and for good reason! It really works!

The basis of the method is to sort through your belongings one by one, asking yourself: “Does it spark joy?”. If it does, you keep it. If not, out it goes. Sounds simple, right?

I started my own KonMari Journey last year, and let me tell you… it feels good!

>> 6. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Why I love it:

If there is ONE book that has just blown me away this year, it’s Big Magic. Author Elizabeth Gilbert makes her second appearance on my list with this amazing book.

She’ll walk you through breaking out of your creative ruts, finding fulfillment in your work, and above all getting past your fear of starting.

PS: I own the hard copy of this book, but I also downloaded the Audible version. Why? It’s narrated & read by Liz Gilbert herself! Talk about powerful stuff!

>> 7. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Why I love it:

In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown breaks down the core elements of vulnerability. One of my favorite quotes from the book sums it up perfectly: “Vulnerability is courage in you but inadequacy in me.”

How often do we praise vulnerability in others yet are terrified to be vulnerable ourselves? Daring Greatly is a mix of research and storytelling that will have you laughing, learning, and sometimes even crying. I came away from this book with so many “Aha!” moments, and I’m sure that you will too!

What are some of the personal development books that have had the greatest impact on YOUR life? I’d love to know, so drop me a line in the comments below, will ya?



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Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy - Boho Berry Paperie.
  • Melissa Haag

    I have read Miracle Morning, Daring Greatly, and the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Big Magic is on my “to read” list, I will have to check it out! Some of the books I have really loved this year are Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (not new, but new to me), and the OOLA book.

    • Awesome, thanks Melissa! Looks like I’m going to be adding to my “Books to Read” list today as well :)

  • Ruby Naz

    I have 4 of these books, and I love Brene Brown! I love personal development books. The one on decluttering – I haven’t read that but I’ve heard about it. I’m interested in Miracle Morning now…:) One of my favorite books is The Language of Emotions because it goes into the main emotions and why they present themselves. Really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Ruby! Adding The Language of Emotions to my list as we speak :)

  • Elizabeth Logan

    I’ll have to add some of these to my list! Mindset by Carol Dweck and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Heath are my two favorite personal development books. They really helped me grow into a more positive person.

    • Thanks for the recommendations, Elizabeth! Adding them to my list right now :)

  • Petra Trowbridge

    I have all of them except for the last two. I want to get Big Magic.

    • Do it! You’ll love it :)

      • Petra Trowbridge

        Do you buy books or download them? Silly question, just curious. I actually find I enjoy reading more since I can download them and I can enlarge the pages and see them better. But recently I’ve also started missing the actual “books” and have several new real books. My daughter is a first grade teacher and refuses to get a Kindle. She Love the real books!! And she’s a huge reader (I on the other hand typically hate to read, I read all day for my job and it’s the last thing I want to do at the end of the day but I am trying to add reading to my list of daily to do’s)

        • I do a mix of both! To me, there’s nothing quite like holding a real book in my hand but if it’s something that I want to get my hands on right away I’ll typically download it on my Kindle and start reading. I also love to listen to audiobooks while I’m doing chores, crafting, and exercising… helps me to kill two birds with one stone so to speak :) Hope that helps!

  • Lisa Jacobs

    I’ve had Marie Kondo’s book on my wish list for way too long already. I was reading through your list & thinking, “I’ll buy it as soon as I finish the book I’m on …” and then I just went ahead and bought it before I put it off any longer!

    I *MUST* throw in my 2 all-time favorites of 2015: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse & Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! by Denise Duffield-Thomas – I LOVED! I too loved Miracle Morning and The Four Agreements. Great list! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Lisa! I actually just got Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! from your recommendation last week! It’s sitting on my desk waiting for me to dive into it this evening when I’m winding down from my day… can’t wait :)

  • Joanna Desormeaux
  • Karli Kuharik

    Now I’m itching for a trip to the bookstore!

  • Liset

    Yes to Eat, Pray, Love! Right after I read it I went to the bead store and made myself a mala. I use it to say affirmations, and it helped me during labor and when I’m feeling negative! It has really changed how I approach anger and sadness! :)

    I recommend Tuesdays with Morrie. I would say that Morrie is my favorite teacher, in all areas of love, death, and living. When times are tough for me and I have no one to turn to, I ask myself, what would Morrie say?

  • Christa Allan

    Have to start reading Brene Brown. In fact, I’ve seen her mentioned so many times, I do believe the universe is trying to tell me something! Have you read any of her other books?

  • I love all of these books! And I have to say that I was particularly impressed with Big Magic. I did not expect to be taken on such a bold and inspiring journey about creativity and the life that she leads. The concept of having ideas come and look for human partners is so extravagant, yet so beautiful and so different. I was immediately smitten. I’ve been thinking about ideas in this way ever since, and have noticed how some ideas will knock on different doors at the same time, waiting for who is best suited for them. :)

  • Ellie BusyBee

    I have to say one book that i go back to every year is Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I also see spiritual development as self development, I am a Buddhist and a constant go to book for me is Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, What Makes You Not a Buddhist, it is written in a really approachable way by an amazing teacher

  • A book that changed my thinking around food is Skinny Bitch. Well worth a read!

  • Amy Holmstrom Lemaniak

    Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfections was the book that changed my 2015! Love her!

  • Becki Strain

    I would have to say the book that has inspired me the most would be Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover”. Organizing my finances has actually helped me get organized in other areas of my life as well.

  • Andreina Garban

    Love your book list. For my list this year I already have Daring Greatly. I’m reading currently Big Magic and loving it! Thank you so much. I can’t imagine my life without books!

  • Hey Kara! I am not much of a reader (Something I am working on changing) however suddenly felt motivated when reading your post to get the audio version of Miracle Morning. I now have something to listen to on my journey into work each morning for the next few days! Thanks and awesome blog!!!

  • I’ve seen so much about Big Magic ever since it was released. I definitely need to read this one soon!

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  • Pippin Schupbach

    I love Brene Brown’s book the Gift of Imperfections. I have on my nightstand and read parts of it almost every day. This book helped me stop beating myself up for not being perfect. I think you would enjoy that book.

    • I’ve got it on my list, Pippin! I’m already a huge fan of Brené Brown so it’s a no-brainer! Thanks :)

  • Kristina Behner

    The book that changed my life most profoundly was Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Committment by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. It changed the way I look at relationships for ever. Do you have any relationship related books you can recommend?

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Kristina! I don’t read many relationship books so I can’t offer any advice in that area, but I’ll definitely be looking into Conscious Loving… it sounds intriguing :)

  • Emily Wolfe

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your suggestion of audio books. I just download Audible and started listening to Big Magic, and you’ve changed my life in multiple ways! First, AUDIO BOOKS! Yes. And second, Big Magic is giving me CHILLS. I just finished the part where Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert realized they had transferred their idea of the amazon jungle story when they first met and I had GOOSEBUMPS. Literal goosebumps. And that’s not the first time I’ve had them while listening to this novel.

    • I’m totally with you on all of those goosebumps, Emily! I love that you got the audio version… it is SO powerful :)

  • I’ve read the life changing magic of tidying up, and based on your recommended list I just purchased The Miracle Morning.

  • I’ve read the life changing magic of tidying up, and based on your recommended list I just purchased The Miracle Morning.

  • Thanks Nicola! The only book reading goals I have currently is to read one new personal development book each month this year. I love to read, and it’s a part of my morning routine to read a few pages. :)

  • Looks like I’m on a similar book evolution path! I’ve read 4 of those books :) Big Magic was such a fun book! I appreciate her lighthearted and non-attached approach to creativity…and that no one needs to suffer like a matryr and be a tortured artist to create something. Here’s to happy creating!

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  • lady_leopard

    I am new to all of this personal development stuff…but I am totally hooked already. My journey began with the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne followed by The Magic (same author) all I can say is WOW!! I have since purchased The Power and The Hero but not read them yet. I have spent so long looking out for everybody else I completely lost myself. My goal for 2016 is to find myself again and you have given me some fabulous ideas on how to continue my journey. Thank you :-)

  • Deborah Starling

    Thanks for sharing this list. I think 2015 was a really good year for business and personal development books! I have added a few of these to my TBR pile The book that I think should be considered a must read for 2016 is “Leading For Results” by leadership development expert and author Joan Bragar (http://bostonleadership.com). I liked it because it has 5 practices that can be used professionally and in your personal life. It’s a book that makes you feel like you’re a part of a workshop or your very own leadership course. At the end of each chapter there are exercises for you to perform and apply to your own leadership scenario. I also liked the book because it’s for people who want to make a difference in the world; not just get rich and step all over the little guy. I think it’s a must read for sure. Thanks again and happy 2016!

  • I am going to read Big Magic and The Four Agreements as soon as possible!
    One book that really changed my life is Better Then Before by Gretchen Rubin. It really is a great book for habit building.

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  • I am going to read book nr 5! Very interesting!

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  • I love this list so much, Kara! I read almost all of them. The book that I would also add is The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. Life changing! And also 7 sprititual laws of success by Deepak Chopra and How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie.

    Btw, your blog is so beautiful and full of great information! (just found it) ;)

    • Thanks Tiasha! I’ve read all of those except The Mastery of Love… I’ll add it to my list now :)

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  • Alyce Dunstan

    I think I’ll be reading at least a few of the books on this list. Earlier this year I read “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero and it was absolutely earth shatteringly life changing for me!

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  • Lisa-Marie Cuspard

    The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, talk about life changing with a good fictional story to help you enjoy the self help enlightenment. It is a book that i have revisited often.

  • Gina

    I immediately went and searched my local library’s website for Daring Greatly and Big Magic, and they had both! Can’t wait! I loved Eat, Pray, Love and I don’t care that some people scoff at it. It was wonderful, and definitely sparked the wanderlust! Thanks for the recommendations!

  • JenFL

    I’ve noticed in some of your videos that we have similar interest in reading material. It was a great find when I decided to search for your book recommendations and found them! Are there any books you would recommend since posting this article? I love your articles and videos. You have been a true inspiration and I’m truly grateful for all your efforts. Keep spreading the love and creativity.

  • Big Magic and Eat Pray Love are on my life changing list. The Four Agreements is on my TBR list.

    The only other one I’d add is Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh which I finished last month. Great read!

  • Hunni Daniels

    Another good read for personal development, growth and self-love is “Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self” Sarah Ban Breathnach. She also has an illustrated discovery journal to go along with the book.

  • Erin Modlin

    I have a mantra very similar to your quote, but with a slight tweak. “Drink as you pour.” I love the imagery it invokes, and it speaks to taking action. Whereas, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” leaves room for the option of simply not pouring, to drink as you pour, implies that you are already doing it and can continue to do so! I love it. Thank you for sharing this list.

  • Hjertelykke

    Presence and positivity the new energy sources of the 21st century by Victor Hagen….. best book ever

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