Top Personal Development and Spiritual Growth Books for Newbies

The other day on Facebook, I posted this question:

what is your favorite intro personal/spiritual growth book you recommend to a person fresh on the path?

The responses where a wide range from Dr Suess to Ken Wilber. And, there’s some great suggestions in here. I numbered the responses so that you can recommend a number or two to a person and refer them to this list.I also left the comments there as some folks had helpful things to say.

Here’s the list:

  1.  Zen mind, beginner’s mind.
  2. or something from alan watts.
  3. or even siddhartha by herman hesse.
  4. zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
  5. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.
  6. Chop Wood, Carry Water…
  7. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  8. Fresh on the path? I would say something by Dr. Suess
  9. The Book. Alan Watts.
  10. When love meets fear” by David Richo
  11. Books by Pema Chodron or Cheri Huber
  12. “loving what is” by Byron Katie,
  13. Diamond Heart Series by A.H. Almaas
  14. The Alchemist
  15. ‎”The Work,” Byron Katie.
  16. Malidoma Some – Of Water and Spirit
  17. The Laws of the Spirit by Dan Millman… it’s good start on what could be difficult and esoteric kind of subject matter and it’s an easy entertaining read.
  18. Poetry by Mary Oliver, or
  19. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  20. Conversations With God (Book 1) by Neale Donald Walsch
  21. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism – Chogyam Trungpa
  22. There Is Nothing Wrong With You by Cheri Huber
  23. Pretty much anything by Richard Rohr. Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go is probably a very good choice.
  24. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.
  25. Conversations With God – Walsch….popped into my head
  26. On The Road. Jack Kerouack!
  27. The Power of Intention.
  28. Codependent no more
  29. One Dharma by Joseph Goldstein
  30. Letters to a Young Poet” -Rainier Maria RIlke
  31. Hands down: Dancing in the Eye of Transformation, 10 Keys to Creative Consciousness by Sylvia Brallier one of the most approachable and easy-to-digest resources for personal and spiritual growth I’ve ever seen while still be thorough with a bit of a sense of humor!
  32. Siddartha
  33. Conversations with God…changed my life!
  34. The 4 Agreements would be another major one that is really easy to read and digest.
  35. Any Joseph Campbell, I love The Power of Myth. “Follow Your Bliss”
  36. Since it is their path i would consider going with them to a bookshop and let them choose what calls more to them. Its nice to gather people to discuss their impression on a book that was also important to us, but that is another idea. I would say let them choose and them share what they got out of it 🙂
  37. Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman
  38. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Codron If their path was open to it 🙂
  39. I agree with Allison on the power of now! It has taken a hundred times of listening to it to start to understand, but i think It’s great stuff
  40. 7 Habits by Covey. That said, I just read the power of TED and it seems like it’s easy to digest for newbies.
  41. Dharma Punx by Noah Levine.
  42. Thinking back on it, though…the 3 books that did it for me were required reading for a Freshmen English class I begrudgingly took: “Freedom from the Known” by Jiddu Krishnamurti, “The Myths We Live By” by Joseph Campbell, and – surprisingly, or not – “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller.
  43. To add a few how about be here now ram dass, celestine prophecy, and the ordinary magic compilation…..
  44. What a great list!! I am so going to write down all of these and re-read or check out new ones I’ve not read! I’ve been caught in that pre-occupation of life thing again and reading through these titles reminds me of a time when all this was new and I was a huge sponge taking it all in. Thinking back, the Celestine Prophecy was my very first read that put me on my path to following my own bliss nearly 20 years ago. Then Richard Bach, Dan Millman, Alan Watts, David Abram and more. But Joseph Campbell is my hero! ♥ him
  45. Prometheus Rising” by Robert Anton Wilson; also, a few of those already mentioned, and “Dancing Wu-Li Masters”
  46. I noticed a distinct lack of Leo Buscaglia shout-outs
  47. Any Pema Chodron book
  48. Wilber’s Brief History of Everything.
  49. And the 4 agreements.
  50. That Cheri Huber book is pretty great.
  51. Trungpa’s Shamballa.
  52. Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  53. Core Transformation by Connirae Andreas.
  54. The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck
  55. Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina

Any others? Please comment below and include why you like the book. Over time, I’ll add your comments to the list.






  • le mec

    Reply Reply August 23, 2011

    Having had what one would call a “Spiritual Emergency” about ten years ago and then having various run-ins with the void since then, I would say Alan Watts is probably the one who helped/helps me the most.  I saw a few suggestions on here and “The Book” is excellent, but would say that “The Wisdom of Insecurity” is the one that helped me a lot when I found myself flipped upside down.  His recorded talks are also great and are available online via a variety of sources.  I've read a lot of Krishnamurti, but sometimes he is way over my head.  Also, Thich Nhat Hanh, Hermann Hesse, a bit of Jung, Robert Anton Wilson.  Cheers!

    • Jayson

      Reply Reply August 24, 2011

      Excellent suggestions. I find Alan Watts a bit too heady, but brilliant for sure. Never heard of the Wisdom of Insecurity. Sounds like I could have used that during my emergency. Thanks!

    • Joshua Bond

      Reply Reply October 8, 2014

      Having read half a dozen Alan Watts books, I recently read his autobiography. Fascinating. In it you will find what was going on in his personal life when he wrote his various books. Perhaps not surprisingly “The Wisdom of Insecurity” was written at a time when he was in-between jobs.

  • Guest

    Reply Reply August 31, 2011

    Sham  by Steve Salerno and Fools Paradise by Justman.  Sham in particular goes a little overboard in it's cynicism and sarcasm, but the whole self help/personal growth industry (and it is very much an industry) is for the most part as cynical an enterprise  as it gets.

  • Shamrock

    Reply Reply October 14, 2011

    Almost ANYTHING by Thomas Merton…

    He acknowledges (and then cuts through) all the BS that we think life is all about.  VERY, VERY spiritual…academic without being “preachy”.

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