If you’ve had a look at the top ten lately, you’ll have seen that essential self-help books and financial guides are occupying many of the higher positions at the moment. There are many classic and timeless books of advice that remain important to the book-buying public and, given the current climate, there are more cropping up all the time.
At Bargain Books, we make sure to stock a wide range of books for the practically-inclined — for those looking to improve on their finances, give their businesses a boost, marshal their brain power and, you know, just figure out how the world works — and to this end there are a handful that we ensure are always available. These special titles are among the most illuminating and broadly helpful books out there, and you can find six of our favourites below.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Published back in 2011, and having remained a mainstay of behavioural economics and decision-making pretty much ever since, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a bestseller that illuminates the mind as few others can.
Kahneman here breaks down the two systems that govern our thinking. The first system is fast, intuitive and emotional while the second system is slower, logical and more deliberate. Through this fascinating tour of our mental capacities, he reveals the pitfalls and biases of the first system and encourages the benefits of employing slow thinking, all the while explaining how they work together and the impact that their interplays can have on everything from holiday planning to corporate strategy, from cognitive biases in everyday life to long-term investments. The book is essential for both personal decisions and approaches to business; a work that exposes the brain glitches that can so easily derail us and provides a heap of techniques and guidance for overcoming them.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
This one from 2012 is one of the rare self-improvement books that is a true distillation of neuroscience and cutting-edge research, rather than one that simply presents us with thumb-suck pseudo-scientific conjecture… as so many do.
It’s not easy to overstate the importance of habit in our lives. They can govern all sorts of things. Having the wrong ones can have terrible consequences, having the right ones can make all the difference and, most importantly, having the ability to understand and change them can transform our lives. The Power of Habit explains that habits are not immutable, that they are scientific phenomena residing in the brain and accessible should we know how to find them. It’s a fascinating book. Intellectually serious but lively and readable, The Power of Habit is as essential as they come when it comes to self-improvement. Whatever you want to stop or start doing, this book can facilitate just about any life transformation.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Ever since it came out in 2008, this one has been very famous. And with good reason too. Gladwell’s work doesn’t truly fall into the self-help category, because it usually sets out to inform and to entertain more than it does to actually “help”. Outliers is an anecdote and fascination-rich look at the true, statistically proven and scientific factors that determine success. It doesn’t give advice, as such, which makes it a good fit for readers who are interested in achieving more and are fed up of being told that a good attitude and positive thoughts are all you need. In fact, most of Gladwell’s books work this way, and all of them are worth reading.
From musical megastars to scientific geniuses, Outliers reveals that there’s more to success than we might have imagined… but not in the way we probably suspect. The facts are surprising, and actually quite uplifting — so much so, that there’s a good chance you’ll finish the book feeling more special than ever before, and certainly less bewildered.
Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg
Similar in content to The Power of Habit, but geared more toward implementing change in your daily life, this 2019 book zeroes in on positive behaviour modification, outlining a simple formula that can be applied to any situation and can prompt you toward whatever change you wish to make to your life. The message, essentially, is: start small.
BJ Fogg is a research scientist and innovator who devotes his energies to what he calls “behaviour design”, which sounds a little new-age-y but is actually a well-formed science that deals with understanding human behaviour, developing ways to implement that understanding and creating solutions based around changing these patterns for the better. As far as becoming healthier and happier goes, Fogg’s extensive research into behaviour and influence (specifically when it comes from technology) is a good place to start because it makes sense and can be approached systematically.
Start With Why – Simon Sinek
Originally from 2009, this book occupies a special place within modern books on leadership. Its message is clear, even from the title: it isn’t what businesses and organisations do that makes them successful so much as it is why they do it.
Start With Why is a simple and elegant work of inspiration, a work that examines great leaders of the past and identifies the common denominator that allowed them to so engage with people and impel such action: they all began by asking themselves why they wanted to influence change or effort rather than simply fixating on what it was that they wanted done. Having identified this pattern among the most inventive and successful companies in the world, Start with Why provides you with a framework on how to spark similar greatness in your own endeavours.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
A true giant of personal finance literature, Rich Dad Poor Dad scarcely needs an introduction. Published way back in 1997, it has spawned numerous specifically tailored editions and continues to crop up on bestseller lists (you’ll have seen it slipping in and out of our top ten for what must be years now). Its premise is simple: financial literacy and financial independence are the greatest factors when it comes to financial success.
The issues that it usefully tackles include:
- The myth that you need to earn a high income to become rich.
- The truth about whether or not your house is an asset.
- The proper definitions of asset and liability.
- The things that the school system can’t teach kids about money.
- What you should teach your kids to ensure that they grow up with a secure future.
More than twenty years down the line, Rich Dad Poor Dad’s teachings are just as relevant today as they were then… and in the 20th anniversary edition (the copy you’re most likely to find instore) Kiyosaki makes sure to personally address the ways that the economy has changed over the years to keep his advice current and applicable.