7 Unconventional Self-Help Books for Men to Read in 2023

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

Love or Hate them, self-help books are the most efficient way to make more out of your life. You need to pick the best books, though. There are many lists of the best self-help books for men out there, but rather than give you another long list of personal development books, this curated list of seven books addresses different aspects of life.

This list contains some great books that are usually overshadowed by their “classic” counterparts. Compare them with the classics of each genre and decide for yourself. I hope these life-changing books motivate you toward a personal transformation.

Table of Contents

You could easily read all seven this year and make balanced progress, completely changing your life. Self-improvement is more than just about improving your bank balance. There are different aspects like personal growth, mindset, and destroying procrastination.

So you can’t just read one self-help book and think you’re good. But there’s also little use in choosing another self-help book that covers the same topic. You need to apply what you read. Use this 4 step process to make the most out of self-improvement books, life-changing advice, and best-selling audiobooks from Audible.

  1. Pick the right book and build a strong reading habit
  2. Take notes while you read
  3. Process your notes and expand the lessons learned
  4. Chose one thing from your notes to apply in your life

The Fallacy of More Knowledge

If more knowledge were what people needed, humanity would have peaked the second the internet went online. But despite the availability of more information than ever before, many people are still living unfulfilled lives.

It turns out that more knowledge, books, podcasts, or YouTube tutorials aren’t the answer. Rather it’s to apply what we already know. So, for example, of the millions who read The Bullet Journal Method, only a tiny fraction still maintain their journals; the same is true of those who read Napoleon Hill, Dave Ramsey, or Tony Robbins.

Why, then, am I giving you another list of books to read?

These seven books each cover a single aspect of being a better man. So for anyone unsure of where to start improving themselves this year, pick one of these books, take notes, and then block out all other opinions until you have thoroughly explored and tested the ideas.


The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards

When it comes to self-development, few things are of higher priority than financial freedom, but like most aspects of life today, there is so much advice and content designed to teach financial success that it’s easy to go numb, not knowing which book to read or workshop to attend. Even when you do settle on a book, some give so much advice that you come out more confused than you were when you started.

Nothing is more motivational than a simple financial plan, and that’s precisely what The One Page Financial Plan gives you. It’s a must-read.

Finance can be complex, but it can be straightforward if you let it. It comes down to increasing the amount of money coming in and reducing the amount of money going out. It only needs a single page to create a plan to help you achieve your financial goals, so don’t overcomplicate it.

“Focus on the big picture, rather than getting bogged down in the details.”

Reading this book, you will come away with a single-page plan including the:

  • Realistic financial goals
  • A budget that aligns with your values and priorities
  • A money-saving strategy
  • An investing plan

Classics of the genre

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill


The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian 1647

The Art of Worldly Wisdom might be an odd addition to a list of self-help books for men in 2023 but hear me out.

So much of what we read today is just the rehashing of old ideas, so why not go back to the source? Often touted as one of the first-ever self-help books, The Art of Worldly Wisdom was written by a 17th-century Jesuit priest and philosopher, Baltasar Gracian, in 1647.

The book has a modern feel, however, because instead of pages and pages of dense reading, it contains 300 short sayings or self-help maxims. Reading Gracian, it almost feels like he’s tweeting these applicable sayings at us from the past.

The wisdom in the book covers philosophy, politics, love, wealth, and friendship, but the main takeaway for me was how to better adapt to circumstances and avoid making mistakes that cost you.

Here are three examples from the book:

  • “It is better to make a weak man your enemy than your friend.”
  • “Never contend with a man who has nothing to lose.”
  • “Better mad with the rest of the world than wise alone.”

Classic of the genre:

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl


The Power of Resilience: by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein

Resilience is a foundational skill that every man needs to develop. But, unfortunately, it’s also the most challenging skill to develop. Resilience is won on the battlefield of challenge. Doing hard things is the key.

In The Power of Resilience, the authors argue that for well-being a success in the face of the stressors of modern life, resilience is essential. Defining it as the ability to bounce back and adapt in the face of adversity, they give many good strategies for men to become the most resilient versions of themselves.

“The ability to focus on what is positive in life is one of the most powerful tools for building resilience.”

“Self-care is an important component of resilience, and it is essential to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

“Managing stress is essential for resilience.”

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Exercise

Classics of the genre:

  • Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
  • The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson


The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: by Vishen Lakhiani

Books on how to achieve success are everywhere in the culture, but this thought-provoking self-help book for men is different. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind is where woo-woo and bro science meet. However, something to take away from this unconventional book is the concept of “bending reality.”

Want to be happier? Then get over the matrix-style language used in the book because there are some excellent lessons to be learned in building a much more fulfilling life.

“Deconstructing reality is the first step to unlocking the power of the extraordinary mind.”

At first glance, it’s easy to scoff at the phrase “deconstructing your reality.” Still, the pseudoscientific language actually points to some concrete actions you can take to start turning your life around.

  • Question and examine your beliefs about the world
  • Identify limiting beliefs
  • Take note of societal conditioning

“Designing your personal myth is the key to creating the life you want.”

According to the author, you’ll need to replace your constructed reality with a new one you create. He calls this your personal myth. This new narrative will promote ideas and beliefs that align with your values and goals.

Other chapters cover adjacent topics which are often read in self-help books for men, such as:

Classics of the genre:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins


The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

The courage to be disliked gives a distinct nod back to the ancient Greek philosophers in the style and structure of the book. It centers around a conversation between a philosopher-teacher and a student. This is the perfect book to read during monk mode.

Drawing heavily from 19th-century philosopher Fredrick Neitche, The Courage to Be Disliked teaches men to take personal responsibility, which will steer them away from dissatisfaction and existential crisis.

The idea is picking up steam now, with many high-profile proponents, such as Jordan Peterson and Andrew Tate. The book outlines how low self-esteem is causing men to live lives of quiet desperation, filled with anxiety, fear, and unhappiness. Societies’ advice to increase pleasurable activities and reduce stress only worsens it.

Instead, the book advises, “The key to happiness is to take responsibility for your own life.” Even when this means being disliked by others. Other topics covered in the book include:

  • Breaking free from societal expectations
  • Communicating effectively
  • Building self-esteem

Classics of the genre:

  • Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink
  • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero


Making It All Work by David Allen

Forget the Law of Attraction, and get on GTD!

Making It All Work is David Allen’s follow-up to his industry-changing magnum opus “Getting Things Done,” and the best self-help book ever published in my opinion. Anyone with even a passing interest in becoming more productive is aware of GTD, but few realize that the ideas in the original book were expanded, clarified, and distilled to create Making It All Work.

I have read this book over 100 times in the past two decades and always come away with a new helpful take on my evolving life situation.

Rather than reading Getting Things Done, I advise most people to jump straight to Making It All Work which promises a complete system for overseeing every aspect of life and work, not just a subsect of it like most productivity philosophies. Flexible enough for anyone to use, yet robust enough to satisfy the largest companies and busiest people on the planet.

Making It All Work proposes a system based on these five principles:

  1. Capture
  2. Clarify
  3. Organize
  4. Reflect
  5. Engage

Classics of the genre

  • The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


The Power of Authenticity by Robert V. Taylor

According to Robert Taylor in The Power of Authenticity, Figuring out who you are and then living a life in line with what you discover is vital to living your best life.

Jordan Peterson, author of Wall St. Journal bestseller 12 Rules for Life, also makes this point. “If you know what you want to do and don’t do it, but do something else instead, are you really living your own life? And if you’re not, whose life are you living?”

The author’s argument follows a similar line: to feel fulfilled in life, you must fulfill and manifest your values and beliefs. That is authenticity.

The argument is simple enough to accept, but following through and acting it out is so challenging it’s almost impossible. However, the author offers sound advice to help you harness the power of authenticity.

  • “Building self-confidence and authentic relationships are essential for living an authentic and fulfilling life.”

Classic of the genre:

  • The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Go Pick One Up

Adding these books to a list in your note-taking system isn’t going to give you any results. You have to go read one for yourself. Or continue your personal development journey with one of these related posts.