There are so many self-help and personal development books around these days, where do you go if you want to make a good investment of your time and money? I’ve recommended the books below because I have read them (some many times) and found them to be useful.

Here is a list of some of the books I would recommend you take a look at next time you find yourself in a bookshop. You can also order them direct from Amazon, just click on the cover. Enjoy!

NLP & General Personal Development


Principles of NLP

This is a short book in the Thorsons ‘Principles of…’ series, yet it contains a good explanation of what Neuro Linguistic Programming is and gives you some immediate stuff you can use to enrich your life. Taking the NLP presuppositions as a starting point, they show you how to start understanding body language and achieving excellence to name just a couple of things.


Peak Performance Through NLP

One of the DK Essential Managers series this is NLP in the style of Dorling Kindersley – plenty of pictures, summaries and colours. If you are looking for how NLP can help with being a manager, this is a useful little book to dip into. Has a test for Emotional Intelligence in the back.


Don’t Think of Purple Spotted Oranges!

The manual you were meant to get with your brain. Bright, visual and very accessible. Great introduction to NLP. Buy it and use it now!


Tao of Coaching

Another short book packed with ideas that will have a radical effect on your management style. Hints, tips, exercises and above all, a philosophy about how to develop the people around you, that is easy to use. The main thrust is that developing your effectiveness as a leader and helping others to grow are two sides of the same coin. Great for new leaders.


Unlimited Power

This is Tony Robbins masterpiece that contains a full explanation of most of the NLP practioner and master practitioner techniques. Packed with useful stuff that will change the way you think. Gives good examples of the practical applications of NLP with a big emphasis on increasing your personal power. Try Robbins other books (Awaken the Giant Within, Giant Steps,) for the same stuff in a more easily digested format.


Notes from a Friend

This short easy read distils the stuff from Robbins bigger books down to the essential lessons. It has a workbook style and enough information to change your life.

The Winner’s Edge

The difference between first and second place is often very small but what is it that gives winners that edge? This motivational book is about developing the self-image and attitude that can give you this edge. A useful book if you would like a healthy relationship with yourself or would like to find out how winners think.


The Magic of Thinking Big

A consistent bestseller that drives home a message about the size of your thinking. It is the size of your thinking that affects the size of your life, success, results etc. Written in the late 1950’s, some of the examples are ancient but the advice is timeless and if you apply it, revolutionary.

More on NLP


Influence: Science & Practice

When I read this book it literally took my breath away. Robert Cialdini has clearly laid out, for anyone to use, all the principles of how to influence people with numerous examples and case studies. A bestseller and will repay itself many times over. Add it to your library.

Magic Of NLP Demystified

This is a very readable introduction to the models of the world, representational systems and the Meta Model. Very practical, with an emphasis on how to use this information every day.


My Voice Will Go with You

Full of the teaching tales used by Milton Erickson, perhaps the greatest exponent of indirect hypnosis ever. Erickson was one the three original wizards modelled by Bandler and Grinder at the start of NLP. Although slightly old fashioned in style, if you like stories then you’ll like these.


Training with NLP: Skills for Trainers…

I have always found this book tedious but it is still a reasonable source of information for using NLP as a manager, trainer or communicator. There is a lot of good stuff buried in this book somewhere. One for dipping!


Presenting Magically

A really great book, useful, stimulating and designed to help you be a better presenter (whatever the context). The authors also run a 3 day training with the same title but this book is much cheaper. A brilliant contrast to Training With NLP, I use stuff from this book every time I do a presentation. Especially good on the use of metaphors and non-verbal communication.


Hypnosis: A Comprehensive Guide

Does exactly what it says on the tin. A comprehensive, readable introduction to hypnosis and using hypnosis in your life. Has a number of useful exercises and scripts that you can adapt for your own use.



A brilliant book. This is a transcript of several hypnosis trainings given by the creators of NLP. If you would like to find out how to use language to benefit yourself and others then grab one of these. They change hands for about £50 second-hand on Amazon. Your library might have a copy.

Business and Career Development


Moments of Truth

This is the story of how Jan Carlzon turned a loss making public airline (SAS) into a customer focussed high performing company. Many of the lessons are directly applicable in your organisation and this is a short book and good read as well. Good stories to reflect on if you are looking to help teams become more customer driven.


The 80/20 Principle

Imagine working only 3 days a week but being over twice as effective as you are now? Most of us waste our time investing in the low-grade activities that won’t pay off. Don’t read this unless you want your ideas about how to spend your time turned upside down. Has some very interesting stuff on time management that can all be applied straightaway. Read my review of this book on



At Semco in Brazil, teams recruit their managers, set their own pay and their own targets. This is the story of how Ricardo Semler took a rigid, functional bureaucracy (sound familiar?) and turned it into one of Latin Americas fastest growing companies. Could it happen here? Why not read his story and decide for yourself?


How to Write Sales Letters That Sell

I’ve met Drayton and worked with his company on sales campaigns. The advice in this book is easy to apply and works in all sorts of communications, not just sales. A good, readable book if you are interested in using written communications to get a result.


Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions

There is a lot of good stuff in here that you can use for internal and external interviews. Also some good advice if you are doing the interviewing plus, of course, some really useful questions you can use. Good tips on how to dress, body language and what to ask at the end. Plus a useful chapter on how to get a pay rise.


The Perfect Interview

The best little books on interview techniques and CV preparation that I have seen. I’ve used this books a lot personally and with coaching clients. I highly recommend these.

Life / Business Principles - wider reading


The Prince (Oxford World Classics)

Lots of people quote Machiavelli but few have read his treatise on politics and government. Written in the 1500’s as an analysis of the way men seize, retain and lose political power. Worth reading for a strong view on the nature of power and how it is wielded in big organisations.


The Art of War

Said to be the handbook that Napoleon used so successfully, this is another ancient text on how to fight wars. The main message is about how to avoid conflict by knowing yourself and knowing your enemy very well. You should be able to draw out some applications to work or you may find it completely irrelevant! Watch which translation you pick as some contain very little of the original material.

Understanding Organisations

More of a textbook than Handy’s other books, this one looks at motivation, roles, leadership, power, groups, cultures and politics. Used as a set book on the OU Business School Diploma in Management, this is not a light read but worth a look if you would like to brush up on management theory.