A new school year is full of potential for every collegiette; it’s a chance to build on the successes of last year, or leave last year in the past and start over with a fresh notebook and a blank slate. Here is a list of self-improvement books to help you bring your A-game this year and realize that potential. Get out your highlighter—you’ll definitely want to take notes.
And because the beginning of a new school year can also be stressful, most of these books are easily digestible, or simply come in shorter packages (ie. Youtube videos). So don’t worry, I got you.
1. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Refreshing and quippy, Jen Sincero cuts the crap on all the self-doubting and menial ways we try to improve our lives (hands up if you have a list of Instagram quotes saved on your phone). The 27 short chapters are packed with funny anecdotes and practical exercises to help you get past your roadblocks, get out of your own way, and just do the damn thing.
2. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven
We all know the army is famous for its high expectations and intense discipline. McRaven turns the challenges of Navy SEAL training into simple life lessons and sage advice to get you through the everyday slog, and likewise inspire others around you. This book is based on McRaven’s University of Texas commencement speech delivered to the graduating class of 2014, so you can listen to the 20-minute speech or this 6-minute excerpt, then hop to it, Soldier!
3. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Throwing it back to the early 20th century, this is a series of 10 letters between Bohemian-Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, and a 19-year-old cadet attending Rilke’s alma mater. In these letters, the cadet reaches out to a successful poet seeking advice on how to improve and become a successful poet in his own right. For those of you with artistic ambitions, or even just the desire to succeed in a specific field, this tiny and eloquent book will mentor you into finding the courage to get inspired by your surroundings and seize the day.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
You probably knew this one was coming. Covey’s 7 Habits has been around since the 1980s, and has been adapted and shared so widely that you’ve likely come across some of this advice already, maybe without even knowing it. If you’re short on time, here’s a great animated book review that illustrates each habit so you can incorporate them into your daily life.
5. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative by Austin Kleon
Again, this book is primarily written for those with artistic ambitions, but will suit anyone who can’t resist a little booklet full of eye-catching graphics. Kleon knows that creativity is required no matter what path you choose to follow, and how daunting starting from scratch can be. Kleon’s advice is gentle but honest, as he breaks down the creative process for the 21st century go-getter living in the digital age. You can also check out his 11-minute Tedx Talk, then go forth and create!
Now that you’ve got your motivation, go make this year count!