Find the best books for New Year’s resolutions that will help you change your life and achieve your unique goals this January and all year long. These are both my personal favorite self-help books AND the best books to read in the new year for your resolutions, categorized by exactly what new habits YOU are working on, so you can easily find a match.

books and champagne glasses

This list of best books for New Year’s resolutions focuses on New Year’s resolution books for the most popular of all goals, which you can read on your own, with an accountability partner, or as part of your book club reading.

Enjoy this guide to the best books for New Year’s resolutions!

Best Books for New Year’s Resolutions

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

  • Over 20 million copies sold
  • #1 New York Times bestseller for several years running

Best for those resolving to work on your love life

The 5 Love Languages gives you the keys and the power to transform your relationships by understanding how you and a special person in your life perceive love: physical affection, words of affirmation, acts of service, time spent together and/or receiving gifts.

By recognizing another person’s love language, you can act in ways that they will feel loved, or you can better understand their actions as acts of love.  You can also better understand your own needs.  

A simple bit of knowledge and mindfulness about a person’s love language can help you communicate better and strengthen any relationship. This is a book I personally refer to in my daily life, and it’s easily the top book I recommend to anyone looking to improve his or her personal relationships.

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

  • Nearly 2 million copies sold
  • Audible’s #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year
  • Amazon’s 6th Most-Read Book of the Year
  • 100,000 five-star reviews
  • Published in 33 languages
  • Millions of lives changed

Best for those resolving to finally take action on something

The 5 Second Rule has a simple premise that has the power to change your life. I know this because it changed mine!

It’s a book that forces you out of your head and into action. This means ignoring all those limiting thoughts in your head, like you don’t have time to do something or you aren’t smart enough.

I used The 5 Second Rule when I started this website as a hobby/side hustle and now it’s my full-time job! So, I definitely recommend it to anyone really struggling to get over those mental roadblocks to achieve a particular goal.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

#1 New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to work on their anxiety and/or meditate more

10% Happier is both a memoir and self-help book by the famed ABC news journalist Dan Harris, whose mental health was crippled by anxiety and restored through meditation.

It both helps you feel seen AND try meditation in your own life. I personally enjoyed reading it and felt like I learned a lot about the power of meditation, and I also personally know people who swear by his meditation content even beyond the book (podcast, etc.).

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Celebrating its 25th Anniversary

Best for those resolving to discover and/or follow your true purpose

The Alchemist is the beloved modern classic fable about following your dream, with depth unlike any other “self-help” text I have read, and it resonated with me deeply in why I created this website.

It centers around an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his home in Spain to the desert of Egypt to search for buried treasure near the Pyramids but ends up discovering treasure within.

It’s a quick read that’s mystical and wise, with lush writing and buried universal truths about the importance of our dreams and listening to our hearts. This “self-help” is far from hokey or surface level — it’s soulful and spirited, loaded with purpose and meaning, and transformative power.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • Over four million copies sold

Best for those looking to form a new or better habit

Atomic Habits is a popular New Year resolution book for a reason — it will completely change how you see them and how you form them.

The underlying principle is that there is a massive compounding effect with repeated 1% improvements. And in order to make these micro-improvements there are four “laws” of behavior to follow.

It cuts right to the heart of habits unlike any other book I’ve read AND it gives advice that is not just motivational, but extremely practical, whether you’re looking to give up something or do something better or more often in the new year.

For these reasons, it’s also an excellent book to start a reading habit!

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to develop their creativity

Looking to write that book, open a painting studio, or learn to play guitar this year? Big Magic is one of the most unique self-help books for New Year’s resolutions by the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love.

It draws upon Gilbert’s own experiences with creativity, how to get started, what works, and what doesn’t (and why) to help you learn and grow in your creativity too.

It’s so good that I know numerous people who read it yearly. Personally, I still remember so many of the anecdotes within.

Business Minded by Carly Riordan

Best for those resolving to start a business and/or be a more mindful business owner

Business Minded draws from lifestyle blogger Carly’s years as a successful businesswoman and business school graduate who also learned to also focus on well-being over the years to provide insight on how to start a business and be mindful of it at the same time.

The first half talks about the business side of things and, as I took this website from a hobby/side hustle to a full-time job it helped me think about things like how to write a business plan.

And the second half talks about maintaining your mental health at the same time, which became something that was always top of my mind in my first year of full-time business, as it can get extremely overwhelming in all aspects of your life.

It also shares practical tips and advice from other successful female business owners that are both helpful and motivational.

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

#1 New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to improve their leadership and/or culture at work

Brené Brown is the beloved and renowned “shame” researcher sharing new research about leaders, change-makers, and culture shifters in Dare to Lead. More importantly, she teaches you how to put those ideas into practice so you can meaningfully lead.

In a post COVID-19 world, this is something many businesses and leaders are focusing on changing, and this is exactly the book that will help you do so. It encourages leaders to choose courage over comfort in order to make a difference in a culture that’s defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty. This means working on empathy, connection, and vulnerability.

I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Brené and the research-backed work she has done, which she delivers in her unique Southern twang to make us better people from the inside out, so I highly recommend Dare to Lead.

Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee

Best for those resolving to break away from “hustle” culture

Do Nothing is the one book about New Year’s resolutions that truly changed my perception of work, time, and efficiency.

I expected a book that broadly argued, “Work less and live more!” But, Do Nothing went so far deeper than that in showing how history and culture have shaped the way that we, particularly Americans, view work, for better or for worse. And, most importantly, how to fix it.

Reading this book was absolutely instrumental in my decision to quit my full-time job and make this website my career. It’s completely jam-packed with information and historical research that those looking to slow down will think deeply about as you make changes.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Instant New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to improve your time management

Four Thousand Weeks is an interesting take on time management. We all know time is limited. We all have endless to-do lists. And we are all presented with “life hacks” for managing it all. But is this the best want to view our time?

This book draws upon the teachings of psychologists and philosophers to provide a different kind of time management guide, focused on living a meaningful life, mindful of the limitations of traditional views of time and time management. It’s definitely worth reading and thinking about!

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to practice gratitude

The Gratitude Diaries is one of the best books for New Year’s resolutions that actually begins on the New Year. One New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan promised to have a year of gratitude and look on the bright side of whatever happens.

Along her journey, she documents advice from psychologists, academics, doctors, philosophers, and celebrities, including Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld.

It’s a compilation of both personal experiences and data-driven research, exploring how the act of gratitude can transform your life, from marriage and friendship to money and ambition, and health and fitness. It’s a perfect start for those looking to develop a practice of thankfulness this year.

The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case

Best for those resolving to work on self-discovery

The Honest Enneagram makes it fun and easy to learn about the Enneagram, a 7-type personality tool that really digs into how each person’s most basic fears motivate their actions for better and worse.

The Enneagram gets who you are at your core and exposes your innermost worries.   This is where real work can be done to lean into your core strengths and better yourself when it comes to your weaknesses.

While there are many great books about the Enneagram, after about an hour into listening to a library copy of this particular one, I went online and bought myself a hard copy to have forever.  It’s that good.

While reading the book, I learned so much about other types, and I was able to pinpoint people in my life who fell into each one. But most importantly, the author provides action steps each type can take to better themselves. 

This was immensely helpful to me personally and in relating to others in my life.  I can’t think of anything more potentially life-changing and simply can’t recommend this book more highly. 

How Not to Diet by Michael Greger M.D. FACLM 

New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to eat better

There are many helpful different nutrition and diet books out there, but the one I follow most closely is How Not to Die (and the follow-up How Not to Diet).

The focus is on how different foods affect your health for better or for worse, so it’s definitely a more educational approach to eating better and/or losing weight.

But, on a practical level, it also teaches you the most important foods to eat every day for better health.

While I don’t follow it strictly, this author’s books and cookbooks are always top of mind (and part of my weekly meal plan). I think it’s great for those looking to eat clean AND learn why it matters.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

#1 international bestseller

Best for women resolving to improve your career

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In became an instant catchphrase empowering women. She pulls from her own experience as an employee of the world’s most successful businesses and opines as to how women can make small changes in their work-life that can effect change for working women on a universal scale.

Lean In is quite simply a must-read, particularly if you are a woman looking to climb the corporate ladder this year. (It also makes an excellent book gift for graduates!)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • Named one of the most influential books of the decade by CNN

Best for those resolving to get organized

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as part of my Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge a few years ago back when the book was all the rage, thanks to the author’s popular Netflix show based on the book. And, I’m here to tell you, I STILL use a lot of the organizational advice taught in the book. So, yes, it really is life-changing after all!

It’s the kick in the pants we all need to get rid of what we don’t need and store what remains in ways that make better sense. The advice is both simple and practical to implement in real life, which is (I think) why it remains so successful.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to set better boundaries

Set Boundaries, Find Peace is so good that I call it “The Boundaries Bible.” I utilized it myself one New Year and it absolutely changed my life and helped me implement boundaries in ALL aspects of my life (a) that work and (b) without guilt.

I wish I could scream from the rooftop how amazing this book is at teaching you about setting boundaries. If this is your New Year’s resolution, then suffice it to say that this is your book. It’s been especially popular with readers of The Literary Lifestyle.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

  • New York Times bestseller 
  • Over four million copies sold

Best for those resolving to get better control of your finances

While there are so many money books for New Year’s resolutions, The Total Money Makeover by the popular money guru Dave Ramsey was the one that changed how I managed my own money, so it’s the one I’m recommending to you.

It’s a great “starter” book for those working on paying off debt and building their savings for a more secure future, particularly by budgeting. It was so instrumental in my life that I still use Ramsey’s budgeting app years later.

I recommend it to those starting with the basics of money management.

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes

Instant New York Times bestseller

Best for those resolving to make time and space for yourself

The Year of Yes is the memoir of tv show creator Shonda Rimes who resolved to say “yes” for one full year to things outside of work and motherhood, which had so often compelled her to say “no.”

Along the way, she gives speeches, loses weight, and even learns to say “no” better.

Beyond being motivational, it’s extremely relatable, and that’s because Rimes writes in a way that makes the reader feel like they know her and are welcomed into her mind. 

I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a “friend” so to speak to go on a journey of self-importance with.

Those are all the best books for New Year’s resolutions based on your unique goal for the New Year.

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