33 Best Life Coaching Books You Should Read (2021)

15 min read

So, you’re thinking of becoming a life coach. Or maybe you’re a practicing life coach who’d like to improve their practice.

This article is for you.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss 33 of the best life coaching books that you should read.

These books have been carefully selected for their practicality,  innovation, and relevance in today’s world. They’ll not only help you on your journey of becoming one of the best coaches out there; they’ll also give you strategies or techniques that can help improve both yourself and those with whom you work closely.

Here’s what you’ll learn

Contents hide
#1. Co-Active Coaching by Karen Kimsey-House, ‎Henry Kimsey-House and Phillip Sandhal

Let’s get right into it.

best life coaching books to read

Best Life Coaching Books

#1. Co-Active Coaching by Karen Kimsey-House, ‎Henry Kimsey-House and Phillip Sandhal

Written by three leading experts in the coaching field, this comprehensive book explores the concept of co-active coaching.

It explains what it is and why it’s essential for coaches to have this approach in their repertoire.

According to the book, co-active coaching entails establishing a collaborative relationship with your client, which helps to empower them to find their answers.

According to the authors, co-active coaching can only be achieved through listening, curiosity, and relying on your intuition.

The book also gives a concise overview of the principles that drive coaching agendas. Some of the central tenets mentioned include:

  • Fulfillment
  • Balance
  • Process.

#2. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Voted as one of the top five books that’ll change your outlook on life, The Gifts of Imperfection is a must-read for any life coach.

Written by human behavior research professor, Brene Brown, this book provides a guide to living wholeheartedly and without fear.

Most of the chapters in the book mainly focus on how we experience fear and shame.

Some of the main concepts discussed include

  • Cultivating authenticity and letting go of what other people think
  • Cultivating self-compassion and letting go of perfectionism
  • Cultivating your resilient spirit and letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  • Cultivating gratitude and joy while letting go of Scarcity and fear of the dark
  • Developing intuition and trusting faith while letting go of the need for certainty
  • Nurturing creativity and letting go of comparison
  • Cultivating play and rest while letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol
  • Cultivating calm and stillness while letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  • Facilitating meaningful work while letting go of self-doubt
  • Cultivating laughter, song, and dance while letting go of the need to always be in control

If you’re a coach whose practice entails helping clients live a more authentic life, this book is a must-read.

#3. The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay-Stanier

The Coaching Habit is a short and straightforward book that’s aimed at new and established coaches.

It offers seven key questions that you can use to coach yourself, your employees, or those around you. The questions are:

  • What’s on your mind?
  • And what else?
  • What’s the real challenge here for you?
  • What do you want?
  • How can I help?
  • If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
  • What was most useful to you?

According to the author, using these questions will allow you to cut to the chase, enabling you to coach people in 10 minutes or less.

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#4. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

This book is a staple for any life coach looking to help their clients achieve more success in their lives.

In this book, you’ll learn some of the traits that the most successful people on Earth demonstrate. These are:

  • Being proactive
  • Beginning with the end in mind
  • Putting first things first
  • Thinking win-win
  • Seeking first to understand then be understood
  • Synergizing and
  • Always looking to improve

If you work with a client looking to be more successful, using the tips in this book could help ensure increased chances of success.

#5. Barking up the Right Tree by Eric Barker

Eric Barker’s book, Barking up the Right Tree, takes a different approach to success. Rather than focusing on one way of looking at success, Barker looks at both sides of the coin.

In the book, Barker uses three main questions to analyze what it means to be successful in life. The questions are

  • Should I play it safe?
  • Should I be overconfident and fake extroversion?
  • Should I network more or practice my skills?

For each question, Barker examines both sides of the argument to develop a well-thought-out answer on what success means.

If you consistently work with clients who can’t define what success means to them, this is the book to read.

#6. Finding Your Own North Star by Marthe Beck

Do you work with clients who struggle to find their purpose in life?

Then Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Own North Star, is a must-read.

In the book, Beck provides a step-by-step coaching program that you can use to help clients discover their purpose in life.

In the book, you’ll learn how to help clients

  • Locate and read their internal life compass
  • Find the correct language to articulate their goals and desires,
  • identify negative beliefs and how they can repair them
  • Tap into their intuition.

#7. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman

Learned Optimism is a relatively controversial book.

Written by the father of psychology, Martin Seligman, the book argues that positive affirmations and positive thinking aren’t always helpful.

Rather than relying on affirmations and positive thinking, Seligman argues on the need to have an optimistic attitude that you have the power to change things.

By being optimistic, you become more in tune with looking for solutions.

It also argues that what matters most in our lives is not how good we are but how well we do with what life gives us.

According to Seligman, having a more joyful outlook in life results in enhanced wellbeing.

If you’re working with a client who has a pessimistic outlook on life, this is the book to read.

#8. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

This is one of the most factual books on the topic of happiness.

The author, Dan Harris, shares his journey with meditation and how it changed his life.

In the book, Dan Harris shares what happened to him after a panic attack on Good Morning America and talks about how he dealt with his anxiety and came to terms with the idea of happiness through meditation.

He doesn’t claim meditation will result in an entirely blissful life. He however believes that achieving a 10% improvement in your life is worth putting effort into.

Some of the most endearing lessons in the book include

  • Understanding that your ego and why it’s never satisfied
  • Letting go of ego and not being a pushover
  • Meditation as a way to increase your mindfulness and compassion.

#9. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: Carol S. Dweck

One of the strategies life coaches use to help clients achieve their goals is by encouraging a change in mindset.

Carol S. Dweck’s book, Mindset: The new psychology of success, is one of the best books to read when looking for ways to encourage your clients to change their mindset.

In this book, Dr. Dweck explains that the key to success in life is not about how great you are but rather about how well you do with what life gives you.

What matters most is your attitude towards hardships and failures – a mindset.

According to the book, the difference between people who succeed and those who don’t boils down to two mindsets: growth or fixed.

Those with a growth mindset believe that skills can be developed through hard work, motivation, good learning strategies, and constructive feedback. Those with the fixed mindset believe their abilities are fixed and cannot be improved beyond a certain skill level.

So, if you work with clients who struggle with the wrong mindset, this is the book to read.

#10. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Do you work with clients who are tired of their daily lives and are looking to make audacious changes in their lives?

Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass, should be a must-read.

Written from his experience as a success coach, Sincero argues that most people live their lives based on what others tell them to do or what they think they are supposed to do.

This shouldn’t be the case.

Sincero suggests that people should be doing what they want to do. The book argues that you’re more likely to be happy and fulfilled by doing what you love.

With what you learn from this book, you’ll be able to help clients

  • Identify self-sabotage beliefs and behaviors they have and how to change them
  • Learn how to start making real money from their passions
  • Authentically create the life they’ve always wanted. 

#11. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a bestselling book by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

In this book, the author explains how our brain works and why we make irrational decisions.

Kahneman explains that there are two decision-making systems.

System one, which mainly relies on emotions, is fast and more intuitive. System two is slower and more logical. Decisions made using system two are more rational and are less likely to be affected by moods.

If you work with clients who have problems making decisions, this book is a must-read.

And here’s the best part!

You can also recommend this book to your clients.

#12. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg chronicles the story of how habits take shape in individuals, organizations, and society. The book is divided into three sections:

  • The Habits of Individuals
  • The Habits of Successful Organizations
  • The Habits of Societies

In the first section, the author explores new scientific research to explain why habits exist, how they are built, and how we can change them to impact our lives positively.

The second section is focused on how habits impact business in successful organizations. The last section looks at the role that habits play in society.

This book aims to teach people skills they need to make changes on their own and in their communities.

As a coach, this book will provide you with the tools to help your clients make lasting changes in their lives.

#13. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

The Willpower Instinct is a book by Kelly McGonigal that aims to help readers understand how willpower works and why it sometimes doesn’t.

If you’re interested in how the science of self-control can change what people believe about what willpower is, this is the right book for you.

The book’s goal is to teach people that willpower isn’t just a virtue or a force that can be used up.

The author also teaches her readers how to improve their willpower through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. In addition to teaching, you about willpower, the author provides lessons on not letting past good behavior serve as an excuse for present bad behavior.

If you’re working with a client who struggles with self-control and willpower, this book will help you learn strategies to help such a client.

life coaching books
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

#14. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Born from personal experience, Grit is one of the best books on the topic of perseverance.

In this book, author Angela Duckworth talks about why some people succeed, and others fail?”

The research in the book combines stories from high-achieving individuals, interviews with successful people, and studies on talent and achievement. Duckworth explains that what drives success is not just about talent, connections, or luck but a potent mixture of passion and long-term perseverance.

To cultivate this trait called Grit in oneself or a child, she offers three guiding principles:

  • Don’t rely on talent alone;
  • Rethink your definition of success
  • Take on challenges that seem just out of reach.

#15: The Life Coaching Handbook by Curly Martin

If you’re looking for a great introduction to the business of life coaching, then Curly Martin’s book, The Life Coaching Handbook, is the book to read.

In the book, you’ll learn:

  • What Life Coaching is,
  • How to coach yourself and others
  • Establishing and sustaining a thriving coaching practice that’ll help your clients feel better and more productive in life.

The Life Coaching Handbook also introduces you to NLP-based techniques that you can use in your coaching practice, increasing your client’s ability to make changes on their own.

While a bit UK-centric, you can read the book and apply the concepts in any setting globally.

#16. Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean

Written by Jeremy Dean, who’s also the founder of PsyBlog.com, this book takes a scientific approach to how we create habits.

It takes a different approach from the seven habits of highly effective people by saying that building new habits takes an average of 66 days, not 21.

The first section of the book talks about the anatomy of habits and dispels myths about habits. The second section talks about everyday habits and how they affect us. Part three is about habit change and how to go about breaking negative habits.

#17. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Shwartz

This is one of the best life coaching books for anyone looking to start their coaching profession.

This book explores the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to improving your life.

Rather than focusing on one aspect, the book talks about working on all aspects of your life. These are

  • Spiritual
  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Emotional

As a coach, this book provides a guide on strategies you can use with clients to ensure holistic growth.

#18. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Dan Pink

The book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Dan Pink is a fascinating read. In the book, Dan Pink argues that timing is a science more than an art.

Pink uses different research studies to teach how best to live, work and succeed.

He also talks about the need for breaks and how to turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start.

Pink also talks about the ideal time to quit your job, switch careers, or get married.

If you work as a life coach or career coach, this book should be a staple in your library.

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#19. The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

The Brain That Changes Itself is a book by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge.

In the book, Doidge talks about how the human brain is constantly changing.

He uses examples of people whose brain changes. In one of the examples, he mentions a woman who was born with half a brain. In time the brain rewired itself to perform all functions.

And that’s not all!

Doidge also uses the examples of people whose brains rewired or changed after a life-changing accident or event such as blindness.

If you work with clients who claim that they can’t change their lives due to certain situations, this is the perfect book to help you guide them in making the necessary changes in their lives.

#20. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Of the books in this list, this is one of the oldest and most profound.

Written by a Holocaust survivor. Man’s search for meaning uses the examples of Holocaust survivors to explain that finding purpose in life is better than positive thinking.

In the book, Viktor Frankl notes that Holocaust prisoners focused on the meaning of their lives in the concentration camps and outside had higher chances of survival than those who were trying to think positively.

This book is a must-read if you work with clients looking to find meaning and purpose in their lives.

#21. Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen 

The book Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen is about the science and research of meditation.

It covers how meditation and mindfulness affect the brain resulting in a happier, calmer, more compassionate state.

The author uses examples of historic thinkers such as Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Gandhi, and the Buddha who have altered their brains to affect world-changing thoughts.

Some concepts that are covered include:

  • Stop throwing second darts by not dwelling on your pain,
  • Practicing composure to not live in a state of constant desire, and
  • Not identifying with so many things to reduce our suffering.

For Life Coaches who already teach meditation for clients, this book provides additional knowledge about what is going on in the brain during meditation.

#22. The Structure of Magic Vol 1 by John Grinder and Richard Bandler

Do you use Neuro-Linguistic program in your coaching program?

If you answered yes, then John Grinder’s and Richard Bandler’s book, The Structure of Magic, is a must-read.

Having been the first book on NLP, this book forms an excellent foundation for any NLP practitioner.

It presents a method that professional therapists can use for dealing with their clients and resolving issues of conflict and growth.

The book is an excellent resource for Life Coaches who want to understand the language of their clients.

This book will also give Life Coaches an understanding of how different people create inner models of the world to represent their experience and guide their behavior.

#23. The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb

Have you ever had a client who came to you and said that their life was in a constant downward spiral?

If you answered yes to this, then Alex Korb’s book, The Upward Spiral, is a perfect read for you.

In the book, Korb takes a neuroscientific approach to explain how to escape the downward spiral and start feeling better again.

In the first part of the book, Korb does an excellent job by making the neuroscience for depression understandable to the ordinary person. He explains the neuroscientific reasons for depression and how we unintentionally feed that depression by our actions, inactions, and thoughts.

The second part of the book gives realistic suggestions on getting out of the downward spiral and making real changes.

With this book, you won’t tell your client to get over their depression. Instead, you’ll know exactly what to do to help them get out of their downward spiral.

#24. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Tony Robbin’s book, Awaken the Giant Within provides you with a blueprint to achieve the life of your dreams.

If you’re a success life coach, this book is a must-read.

In it, Robbins breaks down the common patterns that hold people back from achieving their goals and systematically shows you how to beat those barriers.

Robbins is famous for his high-energy speaking style, which comes out in this book as well.

#25. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

What makes humans different from other animals?

Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness, answers this question.

According to Gilbert, Humans can think and plan for the future. However, the ability to think about the future comes with a wide range of biases which often result in inaccurate predictions.

He discusses how our tendency to ignore these biases sometimes makes us prone to making the wrong decisions and suggests ways to adjust our behavior to synthesize happiness.

The main takeaways from the book are:

  • The human brain is terrible at filling in missing information with its personal biases.
  • Each person’s happiness is constantly changing due to the presence of these biases.
  • Bad experiences will always outweigh no experiences.

If you work with clients who struggle with anxiety and thoughts of the future, this book is a must-read as it provides an in-depth view of how the brain works.

#25. Helping People Change by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten

This book is a must-read whether you’re a beginner or advanced practitioner looking to succeed as a coach.

Written by three coaching and human behavior experts, this book introduces you to the concept of “coaching with compassion.”

This concept explains that the only way to help someone learn is by connecting with the person’s lifelong dream and goals. While it’s essential to focus on the problem, connecting with the client plays a more pivotal role in coaching.

If you’re a coach who prides himself in helping clients deal with the problem and not the symptoms, this book is a must-read.

#26. The Portable Coach by Thomas J. Leonard

Of all books on this list, this is one of the most fun to read.

Written by the founder of Coach University, Thomas Leonard, this book presents 28 strategies you can use to help your clients achieve business and personal success.

After reading this book, you’ll be able to help your clients:

  • Discover what matters most to them
  • Stop chasing success and let it find them
  • Clean up their finances
  • Organize their lives

If you are a law of attraction coach or a positivity coach, this book is a must-read.

#27. Effective group coaching By Jennifer J. Britton

Does your coaching practice involve group sessions?

If so, Jennifer Britton’s book, Effective group coaching, should be in your library.

In the book, Britton explains what group coaching is and the core skills required to handle group coaching.

From this book, you’ll also learn the different dynamics that occur in a group setting, as well as best practices on how to handle group coaching sessions.

Despite being written before the proliferation of online coaching, the concepts in this book are still invaluable and can be applied in online and mobile coaching sessions.

#28. Coach the Person, Not the Problem by Dr. Marcia Reynolds

If you’ve been looking for a book to help supercharge your results with clients, Dr. Marcia Reynolds’s book, Coach the person, not the problem, is the perfect read for you.

In this book, you’ll learn how to be more present and effective with coaching clients.

In the book, Marcia first discusses why coaching is essential and addresses some of the unhelpful beliefs that coaches have.

From the book, you’ll also learn five essential practices to help supercharge your impact with clients.

With the skills you learn from this book, you’ll be able to transform your practice from basic coaching to a more robust and transformational coaching.

#29. The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

As a coach, you’ve probably encountered people with different definitions of what they think happiness is. And in most instances, these assumptions are wrong.

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book is an excellent read if you’re looking for ways to help your clients demystify the various myths about happiness.

Lyubomirsky argues that a lot of people have false assumptions about happiness and unhappiness. They believe that any difficult circumstance will lead to sadness.

This isn’t always the case.

She argues that life doesn’t fall under one category, and there are plenty of ways in which an individual can be happy no matter what the circumstances may be.

#30. Walks Of Life by Jill Fratto

As a beginner coach, the book is an invaluable read.

Written by Jill Fratto, this book provides a realistic and relatable learning experience that any coach can implement in their practice.

In this book, you’ll learn all you need to know to pass the ICF exam.

The book also provides a guide on how you can successfully set up your coaching business. This includes tips on time management, staying on task, and developing the financial literacy to run a business.

#31. The HeART of Laser-Focused Coaching by Marion Franklin

Want to be a more effective coach? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut within your coaching business?

Then this book is the book to read

This book comes with lots of examples to help illustrate how you can become a laser-focused coach.

And that’s not all!

The book comes with tons of questions to help you reflect on what you learned and apply it to your coaching practice.

#32. The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo

Are you looking to be a more entertaining coach? Maybe you’re looking to become a motivational coach who speaks in front of thousands of people.

This is the book to read.

The Storyteller’s Secret, written by Carmine Gallo, teaches you how to tell powerful stories that connect with your audience.

The book takes examples of speeches and stories told by famous leaders and illustrates the different aspects of storytelling.

Whether you’re a seasoned storyteller or just starting your speaking career, this book will help you unlearn tips that don’t work and incorporate more effective storytelling strategies.

#33. Becoming a Professional Life Coach by Diane S. Menendez and Patrick Williams

Finally, is Becoming a Professional Life Coach by Diane Menendez and Patrick Williams.

In the book, Patrick and Diane talk about everything coaching. This includes any new information on coaching ethics and competencies required. They also explain how neuroscience and positive psychology help to inform the coaching practices today.

This book doesn’t only discuss fundamentals.

From this book, you’ll also learn advanced ideas such as:

  • How to help clients identify their life purpose
  • How to align your values and actions
  • How to gain and maintain a positive mindset
  • How to recognize and combat obstacles in your career
  • How to live a life of integrity.

Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced coach, this book is a must-read.

best life coaching books
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What Next?

There you go.

A list of 33 life coaching books for you to read.

Which of these books have you read? Which of these books will you add to your library? Please tell us in the comment section below.

Do you know of any other life coaching books? Please tell in the comments below.

And if you’re wondering where to get coaching work, check out our article on life coaching directories.

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