top of page

Top 10 Personal Development Books for Students | Summer Reading

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Want to learn how to unlock the secrets to motivation and willpower? Or maybe you're interested in becoming more influential? Daniela's latest Summer Reading blog has 10 books which you'll love.

Motivated student after reading

The decisions you make early on will influence all aspect of your life on the long term. Take choosing your degree subject, for instance. Finding that fine balance between living in the moment and making the best investment for your future, using the fast pace of the modern world to your advantage and keeping a focused mind to achieve greatness in what you do– all these come in shape of skills that can be acquired.

If these topics feel too complex or you are looking for a place of inspiration, here are a few must read personal development books.

“There's an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it's probably the worst thing you'll do all day"
"Using 'eat that frog' as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day - the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life - Eat That Frog! shows you how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize your day. You'll not only get more done faster, but get the right things done”

This book is the result of more than thirty years of study on distribution of time. The author focuses on decision, discipline and determination as being vital to effective time management and gives practical tips on leaving your comfort zone and achieving solutions to complex problems. In short, there is nothing you can’t achieve if you work with maximum efficiency. Take heed GCSE students!

“Around the globe, people are facing the same problem - that we are born as individuals but are forced to conform to the rules of society if we want to succeed. To see our uniqueness expressed in our achievements, we must first learn the rules - and then how to change them completely”

A step-by-step guide on how to learn new skills outside the classroom and becoming a master in a field that you’re passionate about, from novice to expert level. This is a well-researched book, with the author showing plenty of examples from history’s greatest experts. A powerful book on how to start living by your own rules, building perfectly on the author’s best-selling strategies from his own “The 48 Laws of Power”.

Achieving success in anything is a matter of developing the right habits, and that’s not just a fortunate coincidence. The science behind these can help you transform your life, but also the life of the ones around you. This book aims to give you an insight into who you are, what is out of your control, and how a simple system of effective habits can help open any door.

“In ‘The Power of Habit’, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg translates cutting-edge behavioural science into practical self-improvement action, distilling advanced neuroscience into fascinating narratives of transformation. Why can some people and companies change overnight, and some stay stuck in their old ruts? The answer lies deep in the human brain, and ‘The Power of Habits’ reveals the secret pressure points that can change a life"
"From Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps to Martin Luther King Jr., from the CEO of Starbucks to the locker rooms of the NFL, Duhigg explores the incredible results of keystone habits, and how they can make all the difference between billions and millions, failure and success – or even life and death

This book is an excellent guide to educating willpower and finding the right balance between giving into temptation and too much self-control. Another practical read, the book includes plenty of advice and exercises to help achieve your goals, whether it is managing your focus, less procrastination, better productivity with studying or improving your health. This would be perfect for students looking to build up their motivation.

“Based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal's wildly popular course ‘The Science of Willpower’, ‘The Willpower Instinct’ is the first book to explain the science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity"
"Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, ‘The Willpower Instinct’ explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters. Willpower is a mind-body response, not a virtue."

“'Deep work' is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. Coined by author and professor Cal Newport on his popular blog Study Hacks, deep work will make you better at what you do, let you achieve more in less time and provide the sense of true fulfilment that comes from the mastery of a skill. In short, deep work is like a superpower in our increasingly competitive economy”

In a world that encourages superficiality, the author takes the reader through memorable stories and practical advice, emphasising the need of extended periods of uninterrupted concentration for achieving productivity. Practising being bored, keeping distractions under control, such as emails and social media, will help you sharp your visions and achieve a work balance in the modern world.

“Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counsellors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw first-hand as a member of Yale's admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to ‘practical’ subjects like economics, students are losing the ability to think independently. It is essential, says Deresiewicz, that college be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success in order to forge their own paths.”

This book might be focused on the American culture, but that doesn’t make it less relevant for the British students as well. The author speaks directly to its audience, and encourages students to make college their own experience, and not that of their parents, peers, school or society. That is the way to stop being a top student “performing sheep” and really think for yourself. In the words of the author, “The only real grade is this: how well you’ve lived your life.”

Don't just be an 'excellent sheep'!

“Contemporary culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Clinical psychologist Dr Meg Jay argues that this could not be further from the truth. In fact, your twenties are the most defining decade of adulthood. The Defining Decade weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with real-life stories to show us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood.”

This book is a very practical guide to making the most of the years that we cannot afford to miss. Split into three parts: Work, Love and The Brain and The Body, the author offers real life examples to back up the importance of how making the right choices in your twenties will create beneficial patterns that will influence the rest of your life, in all aspects of it. If you feel you’ve lost perspective, give this book a try.

“In ‘The Art of Learning’, Waitzkin offers an inside look at two of the world's most intense subcultures while also sharing the principles at the core of his success. One must focus on long-term goals, Waitzkin argues, instead of the immediate thrill of victory or crush of defeat, enduring the difficult periods that result in growth to reach higher levels of achievement. As the details of his life are unfolding, Waitzkin explains how these principles apply to his own story, creating a narrative that is as inspiring and instructional as it is gripping.”

This book is a great combination of lessons to be used when learning, but also principles that can be applied long term. Cultivating presence of mind, bringing your unique self, developing a growth mindset are only a few of the author’s strategies on learning how to be a better self-educator, vital for revising ahead of exams.

This is a classic self-help book that is still relevant today. No matter where you are at in your life right now, knowing how to connect with people is probably one of the biggest assets that you can have, particulalry for budding politcians! In the superficial world of social media and online influencers, knowing how to make meaningful conversations with anyone you talk with and win people over could prove one of the biggest lessons you can learn.

“In ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding. His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to make friends quickly and easily, increase your popularity, persuade people to follow your way of thinking, become a better speaker, boost enthusiasm among your colleagues”

This is an interesting read for anyone wanting to educate themselves financially or in economics. The author shares his experience of growing with two father figures with opposite views of finances and money. Both earn well, but one of them manages to invest in his lifestyle and children, whilst the other struggles with money all his life. The author narrows it down to six fundamental lessons that aim to transform the way you handle finances for the rest of your life.

“The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you”

Blog Post Crafted by Daniela

Daniela holds a BA in Drama from the University of Bucharest. Fascinated by film, she moved to London in 2015 to study Acting for Screen at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Since graduating, she has been dividing her time between acting and tutoring. With a passion for languages, Daniela speaks Romanian, Dutch and English, and hopes to soon add Spanish and Italian to the list. Outside of work, Daniela can be found climbing, dancing, running, and (when she manages to stay still) at the cinema, devouring the latest movies — although she’s mainly there for the candy. 



bottom of page