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The 21 Best Habit Books

Habits. Such a simple yet powerful word. It contains all the behaviors we perform without giving them too much thought. Our actions and decisions, all mixed in a specific ritual.

The most interesting part about habits is how different they all are for every single one of us. Habits can refer to anything; from reaching for your toothpaste and toothbrush each morning to what you eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Forming a specific habit means associating a specific thing or action with another one. Making the right associations can drastically improve your life from all perspectives: work, psychology, health, and even money.

Here at Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 800 books. It’s quite a number, and it has provided us with a bit of knowledge regarding habits. We’ve discovered the best books on creating better habits, breaking bad ones, and even using the concept of habits itself to your advantage. If you manage them well, your habits will guide you to success and happiness – seemingly on autopilot!

If you want to dive into the world of habits, regardless of the field, consider the following 21 books. We’ve sorted them by various categories. Each section includes our favorite quote, a one-sentence-summary of the book, and three key takeaways. As a bonus, you can also find some reasons why you might want to read the book. The clickable table of contents below will allow you to jump to any of the books or categories.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the 21 best habit books of all time!


Best Books on Habits Overall

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Best Habit Books 1

Favorite Quote

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” — James Clear

The Book in One Sentence

Atomic Habits is the definitive guide to breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps, showing you how small, incremental, everyday routines compound into massive, positive change over time.

Why should you read it?

You want to be better, but you don’t know where to start. Can you think of any good habits you might want to form and any bad habits you might want to get rid of? If the answer is yes, then this book is the right one for you, as it contains quite an impressive number of both examples and steps you can take when it comes to building habits. Giving even that 1% each day is important, or at least that’s what James tells us. And it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about reducing stress, losing weight, or winning a championship – Atomic Habits is the solution that will answer all of your questions.

Key Takeaways

    1. Every time we perform a habit, we execute a four-step pattern: cue, craving, response, reward.
    2. If we want to form new habits, we should make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
    3. You can use a habit tracker as a fun way to measure your progress and make sure you don’t fall off the wagon.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Best Habit Books 2

Favorite Quote

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” — Stephen R. Covey

The Book in One Sentence

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People teaches you both personal and professional effectiveness by changing your view of how the world works and giving you 7 habits, which, if adopted well, will lead you to immense success.

Why should you read it?

Life can sometimes become a rollercoaster and the simplest things tend to be overlooked. Things seem complicated when they are really not. And that is exactly what Stephen is telling us: the basic things might just be our key to success. Just to get you hooked on the book, I will give you one spoiler: prioritization is crucial. Sounds complicated, right? You might want to read the book to see how easy it actually is!

Key Takeaways

  1. Do the funeral test.
  2. Learn how to say no.
  3. Practice active listening.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. The Habit Blueprint by Patrik Edblad

Best Books on Habits 3

Favorite Quote

“Since you’re the biggest expert in the world on your behavior, I encourage you to take on the roles of both scientist and subject from this point forward. Let life become your experiment and the world your lab.” — Patrik Edblad

The Book in One Sentence

The Habit Blueprint strips down behavior change to its very core, giving you the ultimate, research-backed recipe for cultivating the habits you desire, with plenty of backup steps you can take to maximize your chances of success.

Why should you read it?

If you consider yourself the type of person that really needs a “how-to” kind of strategy, then this is the book for you. Times change and so do people, but in order to keep things running smoothly, people need to decide that they want to change and actually start doing it. Which can become overwhelming at times. Written by a certified mental trainer, this book is a quick and easy read that will determine you to actually jump from thought to action.

Key Takeaways

  1. Get a head start on your habit changes by picking a keystone habit first.
  2. Avoid fluctuating willpower by starting ridiculously small.
  3. Use the sunk cost fallacy to your advantage by building a chain of check-ins.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Best Books About Habits 4

Favorite Quote

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” — Gretchen Rubin

The Book in One Sentence

Better Than Before breaks down the latest research on how to break bad habits and develop good ones, in order to help you find your habit tendency and give you a few simple tools to start improving your own habits.

Why should you read it?

Nowadays, one of the most asked questions is related to change. And this New York Times bestseller is trying to answer that exact question with a very simple answer. The way in which we spend our time basically dictates how our lives flow. And maybe even those daily habits you might not necessarily take into consideration have a bigger impact than you might think. If you need doable approaches or concepts that can take you a long way, this book can help you achieve that.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are 4 different habit tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.
  2. Track and plan your habits with two simple tools to make sure you follow through: a calendar and a habit tracker.
  3. Make good habits easy to do and bad ones unattractive.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books About Habits for Beginners

5. The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Best Habit Books 5

Favorite Quote

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” — Charles Duhigg

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Habit helps you understand why habits are at the core of everything you do, how you can change them, and what impact that will have on your life, your business and society.

Why should you read it?

Human nature might be difficult to understand sometimes and scientific discoveries regarding it never ceases to amaze us. If you are looking for an enjoyable book, that gives you a bit of insight into how exactly habits work and how they can be changed, then this book might be your winner. Habits govern our life, whether they’re good or bad. Starting or breaking a habit might be difficult, but knowing exactly how and why they are formed can save us a lot of time and give us a lot of control.

Key Takeaways

  1. Habits work in 3-step loops: cue, routine, reward.
  2. You can change your habits by substituting just one part of the loop, the routine.
  3. Willpower is the most important habit, and you can strengthen it over time with 3 things.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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6. Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg

Best Habit Books 6

Favorite Quote

“After you put your feet on the floor in the morning, immediately say this phrase, ‘It’s going to be a great day.’ As you say these seven words, try to feel optimistic and positive.” ― B.J. Fogg

The Book in One Sentence

Tiny Habits shows you the power of applying small changes to your routine to unleash the full power that habits have to make your life better.

Why should you read it?

Times sometimes get really chaotic and have a greater effect than imagined on us. And at one point, we can all agree that change is not the easiest process out there, as it has a lot of elements that form it. The world’s leading expert B.J. Fogg agrees with this idea, which is why the main focus is on breaking a “habit” into a set of “little habits”, which can allow you to make small, but sure changes. If taking things step by step is your way to go, then this book should be all yours.

Key Takeaways

  1. Starting embarrassingly small is the secret to keep you going through the boring days and beyond to finally reach your goals.
  2. Motivation doesn’t work for long-term growth, you need to tap into the potential of behavior.
  3. To unlock the power of action, connect your habits with prompts that are already in your daily routine.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. Mini Habits by Stephen Guise

Best Books on Habits 7

Favorite Quote

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.” ― Stephen Guise

The Book in One Sentence

Mini Habits explains how you can get the most out of the fact that 45% of your behavior happens on autopilot by setting ridiculously small goals, relying on willpower instead of motivation and tracking your progress to live a life that’s full of good mini habits.

Why should you read it?

This book dives into the idea that you can change and make these changes last. Do you want a motivating, but rather quick read? Hop right on, but don’t go too fast. Keeping a rather lower profile and going slower might be the key elements to success. Also, if you want a bit of the author’s personal touch, a book that will make you think: “That makes so much sense and it is exactly what I was thinking!,” then you might have made an important discovery with this title.

Key Takeaways

  1. Set a super easy goal to start, because chances are you’ll keep going once you’re off.
  2. Use some kind of system to track your habits and progress.
  3. When you beat your goal, don’t increase the standard, or you’ll fall off the wagon.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books About Habits for Work

8. The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth

Best Habit Books 8

Favorite Quote

“We don’t realize how many of our fixed views of the world are based on limited samples of reality.” — Bernard Roth

The Book in One Sentence

The Achievement Habit shows you that being an achiever can be learned, by using the principles of design thinking to walk you through several stories and exercises, which will get you to stop wishing and start doing.

Why should you read it?

Written by the Academic Director at the Stanford d. School, this book dives into the powerful methods of design thinking. Do you usually find yourself stuck in situations or moments in which you shouldn’t be? This book offers enough tips to help you remove yourself from such a situation by rewiring the way in which you think about a problem. And the best part about this book? You can find quite a few strategies that are not only creative but will also help you when you feel like you are stuck.

Key Takeaways

  1. Stop giving reasons, they’re just another form of excuses.
  2. Swap “but” for “and” in everything you say.
  3. Don’t network, make real friends instead.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Best Books on Habits 9

Favorite Quote

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” — Twyla Tharp

The Book in One Sentence

The Creative Habit is a dancer’s blueprint to making creativity a habit, which she’s successfully done for over 50 years in the entertainment industry.

Why should you read it?

Creativity is often seen as a gift, as something magical, a spark some people are born with, while others without. But what if it’s all about effort and construction? This book is not your usual “manual” or practical kind of book – it is more an insight into how Twyla Tharp stays on top of her game. If you are looking for strategies that could be considered rather high-level and could help you be the most creative person out there, this would be a great starting point.

Key Takeaways

  1. Design a starting ritual for your creative process.
  2. Use a project box to prepare your work and ground yourself.
  3. Always end right in the middle of work for an easy entry the next day.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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10. The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey

Best Habit Books 10

Favorite Quote

“People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.” — Stephen R. Covey

The Book in One Sentence

The 8th Habit is about finding your voice and helping others discover their own, in order to thrive at work in the Information Age, where interdependence is more important than independence.

Why should you read it?

A sequel to his previous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this one challenges readers to put everything they have learned so far in the proper perspective and flourish from there. If you are on the lookout for simple, yet useful insights to help you be more effective, Stephen has them for you. And one of the best parts is that these principles can be integrated into any part of your life – be it private or public life, all in order to make a difference.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your freedom to choose is the biggest gift you were born with.
  2. Build trust by being friendly, knowing when to say sorry and following through on your promises.
  3. Empower others by giving up control and handing them responsibility.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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11. The Now Habit  by Neil Fiore

Best Habit Books 11

Favorite Quote

“The choice is not working or not working, but which type of work; even feeling guilty because of procrastinating takes some effort.” — Neil Fiore

The Book in One Sentence

The Now Habit is a strategic program to help you eliminate procrastination from your life, bring fun and motivation back to your work and enjoy your well-earned spare time without feeling guilty.

Why should you read it?

Having sold over 100.000 copies, this book tackles the idea of overcoming procrastination through a comprehensive plan. There are quite a few books on the market that usually tell you that procrastination can be overcome if you make a list or just… start working. But this book does not give you those reasons over and over again. It starts by explaining why people procrastinate and as you might have guessed it, it is not because they’re lazy. But not to give any spoilers, information is key in this book and it opens the lock to all your time barriers.

Key Takeaways

  1. Procrastination is trained into us.
  2. Try to unschedule your life.
  3. Record your distractions to block them.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. Switch  by Chip & Dan Heath

Best Books About Habits 12

Favorite Quote

“Knowledge does not change behavior. We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors.” — Chip & Dan Heath

The Book in One Sentence

Switch is about how you can lead and encourage changes of human behavior, both in yourself and in your organization, by focusing on the three forces that influence it: the rider, the elephant and the path.

Why should you read it?

Best-selling authors of Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath have returned with a delicate subject: how do you change when it’s not so easy to do so? Are you also looking for complex subjects explained in a simple manner? This book comprises a metaphorical sense that helps with all the concepts that are presented. Changing is not an easy task, but knowing exactly how to kickstart the mechanics behind change can help you achieve quite a lot. And it might never be the easy way out, but it will definitely be the best way out.

Key Takeaways

  1. Focus on one specific, critical aspect of the change, so the rider doesn’t have to decide.
  2. Get the elephant moving with a powerful emotion.
  3. Make the path of change easy to follow, because human behavior is highly situational.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Habit Books About Money

13. Millionaire Success Habits by Dean Graziosi

Best Habit Books 13

Favorite Quote

“It doesn’t matter where you come from. It only matters where you are and where you want to go.” — Dean Grazios

The Book in One Sentence

Millionaire Success Habits will teach you the habits you need to become financially successful and make a big difference in the world along the way.

Why should you read it?

Where could you situate yourself in life as we speak and where do you want to end up? This book might just have the answer you are looking for. Informative and impressive – these are probably the best words to describe this book. And sometimes, the smallest shifts can produce the biggest effects. And that, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in. It just takes a bit of courage to apply any of the wisdom shared in this book.

Key Takeaways

  1. Find your why by doing the seven levels deep exercise and your motivation and energy will skyrocket.
  2. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses, if you want to be happier and more productive.”
  3. Wake up the hero inside of you and let them take charge of your life.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. Dollars And Sense by Dan Ariely & Jeff Kreisler

Best Books About Habits 14

Favorite Quote

“Thinking a lot about money would be fine if by thinking more about it we were able to make better decisions.” — Dan Ariely & Jeff Kreisler

The Book in One Sentence

Dollars And Sense explains why it’s so hard to manage money and teaches you how to combat false cues and natural desires so you can manage your dollars in better ways.

Why should you read it?

Money is just a collection of numbers, or so we think, but sometimes, we judge these numbers with our hearts, and not our heads. How would you describe your relationship with money and how would you describe your spending habits? Behavioural economist, Dan Ariely has partnered up with writer Jeff Kreisler to explain how instincts work in our relationship with money. Knowing exactly how and when certain behaviours are instilled can help us reconsider our daily financial decisions. You might be surprised to find out that a lot of our money-related decisions are actually just a bias.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fundamental human characteristics make it hard to manage our money.
  2. Use emotional connections and “Ulysses Contracts” to boost your self-control.
  3. Get rid of your complex budget and make a simple one.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Habit Books for Health

15. Rewire by Richard O’Connor

Best Habit Books 15

Favorite Quote

“You know very well what the right choice is, yet you keep making the wrong one.” — Richard O’Connor

The Book in One Sentence

Rewire explains why we keep engaging in addictive and self-destructive behavior, how our brains justify it and where you can get started on breaking your bad habits by becoming more mindful and disciplined.

Why should you read it?

Written by a psychotherapist, this book gives you a number of tools that will help you not only understand those bad behaviours you might have but also change them. People have a tendency to “repeat mistakes”, which might just be bad habits that die hard. This book will also go deeper into the roots of a certain problem, in order to put things into a certain perspective and will help you overcome any destructive behaviour with the help of exercise. A short book, but packed with a lot of valuable information!

Key Takeaways

  1. You have two selves that influence your actions – a conscious one and an automatic one.
  2. Repressing your emotions can cause you to become self-destructive.
  3. You can start breaking your bad habits by faking it and training mindfulness.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. You Are Not Your Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

Best Habit Books 16

Favorite Quote

“Your mind is your biggest ally” — Jeffrey M. Schwartz

The Book in One Sentence

You Are Not Your Brain educates you about the science behind bad habits and breaking them, giving you an actionable 4-step framework you can use to stop listening to your brain’s deceptive messages.

Why should you read it?

This 4 – Step Method book, written by two neuroscience experts can help you change those bad habits once and for all. More and more people seem to dive into an unhealthy way of thinking, which affects them from every perspective. But this can be overcome, as it is explained in this book. Your brain might push you into thinking in a certain way, but your mind can become your biggest ally against destructive thoughts or actions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Self-directed neuroplasticity is your go-to weapon to change your habits.
  2. Hebb’s law and the quantum zeno effect.
  3. There are 4 steps you can take to break a bad habit.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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17. The Joy Of Movement by Kelly McGonigal

Best Habit Books 17

Favorite Quote

“The right playlist can transform your experience of exercise.” — by Kelly McGonigal

The Book in One Sentence

The Joy Of Movement is just what you need to finally find the motivation to get out and exercise more often by teaching you the scientific reasons why it’s good for you and why your body is designed to enjoy it.

Why should you read it?

Many books will tell you why you should get up and start moving around in your house. Dance, sing, jump – do whatever your body tells you to. Now, do you feel all pumped up? Because this book will have you all pumped up as well and it will show you how to start enjoying moving around! If you want to have a better understanding of the science behind movement and how it makes us feel all better, you might want to run to the nearest store and find this book.

Key Takeaways

  1. The “runner’s high” comes with any type of physical exertion, is a protection against anxiety and depression, and can even make you more social.
  2. Exercise can give you a hit like drugs would, but with a whole lot of positive side-effects instead of the negative ones that come from substance abuse.
  3. If you don’t like the idea of steroids but want to enhance your performance, use music to reach your peak state while exercising.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Habit Books on Psychology

18. Willpower by Roy Baumeister

Best Habit Books 18

Favorite Quote

“For most of us, the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them” — Roy Baumeister

The Book in One Sentence

Willpower is a blend of practical tips and the latest scientific research on self-control, explaining how willpower works, what you can do to improve it, how to optimize it and which steps to take when it fails you.

Why should you read it?

Roy F. Baumeister, an influential psychologist, teamed up with a science writer, John Tierney, in the writing of this book. And what did they find out? That self-control might be a well-kept secret for a better and successful life and that this secret can be easily mastered. This book is filled with tips and different techniques that can help you build a better life, without using too much magic.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your willpower works like a muscle – if you exercise it too much, it gets worn out.
  2. Willpower begets willpower, so you can train it by using it.
  3. Set compatible and clear goals, but leave leeway for your willpower.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. Drive by Daniel Pink

Best Habit Books 19

Favorite Quote

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” — Daniel Pink

The Book in One Sentence

Drive explores what has motivated humans throughout history and explains how we shifted from mere survival to the carrot and stick approach that’s still practiced today – and why it’s outdated.

Why should you read it?

This New York Times bestseller surprises readers with a new view in regards to motivation. An easy read, that gets straight to the point and allows the readers to aim not only for self but also for business improvement. Times change and things evolve, and so do we – so how do we reach that point of true motivation? This unique book will provide you with clever and simple techniques that will take you far.

Key Takeaways

  1. The carrot and stick approach is dead.
  2. Extrinsic motivation destroys intrinsic motivation.
  3. Strive for the flow state in everything you do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Habits Of A Happy Brain by Loretta Breuning

Best Habit Books 20

Favorite Quote

“You can increase your pleasure if you’re willing to do things that don’t feel good at first.” — Loretta Breuning

The Book in One Sentence

Habits Of A Happy Brain explains the four neurotransmitters in your brain that create happiness, why you can’t be happy all the time, and how you can rewire your brain by taking responsibility for your own hormones and thus, happiness.

Why should you read it?

Is it revolutionary if I tell you that this book will help you boost your happiness in just… 45 days? Our brain makes use of four neurotransmitters in order to create happiness and these happy chemicals can be released with just a few activities, presented in this book. This pleasant read will help you retrain your brain in order to live a more fulfilled life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unhappy chemicals are just as important as happy ones.
  2. Nothing will make you happy forever.
  3. To live means to choose constantly, so it’s important that you do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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21. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Best Habit Books 21

Favorite Quote

“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.” — Kelly McGonigal

The Book in One Sentence

The Willpower Instinct breaks down willpower into 3 categories, and gives you science-backed systems to improve your self-control, break bad habits and choose long-term goals over instant gratification.

Why should you read it?

Written by a health psychologist, this book concentrated on self-control and how we can use it to the fullest in order to improve our lives. Based on recent research and making use of precious insights from psychology, neuroscience, and not only, this book concentrates on breaking down willpower and giving an answer to all the questions surrounding it: what, why, and how.

Key Takeaways

  1. Willpower comes in 3 different shapes and sizes.
  2. Your willpower instinct can also be called the pause-and-plan-response.
  3. Don’t let past good behavior be an excuse for present bad behavior.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

So far, we 800 books have been summarized, and as depicted above, quite a few are about habits and how they affect our lives. We believe that these are the best books about habits that you can read this year.

We all have this desire for a better life, but our busy schedules and the way we think might sometimes get in the way of that. Learning how to deal with self-control, understanding our spending habits, and starting with the simple things are just a few of the numerous tips these books have for us. Figuring out which ones work for you will definitely lead you on the path to a better and calmer life.

Habits define us. But we can also define them. What’s your habit… or book of choice today?


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here’s an index of all book lists we’ve made so far:

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