3 Essential Self Growth Books to Add to Your Nightstand

Reading is something that has become part of who I am.

That never used to be the case.

My sister was an avid reader all through childhood and into her adulthood. I on the other hand, was not. I can remember only reading a couple of books cover to cover. Towards the end of college is when I really began to fall in love with reading.

It took a couple of years reading different genres to find what spoke to me most; memoirs, autobiographies, biographies. This is what captured my attention and interest; people’s stories.

Nightstand books

These are the books that are the last thing you see before you fall asleep and they’re the first thing you see when you wake up. You keep them there long after you’ve already read them.

Why? Because they moved you. They’ve impacted your life in some way, shape or form. They are part of, or the catalyst to, your growth.

Here are 3 self growth books that have forever carved a spot into the being of who I am:

Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

– Mark Sanborn, Fred 2.0

This book is about a normal guy with a normal job. It’s a story on how Fred, a postman, delivered extraordinary service in simple but remarkable ways.

At the top of this blog you see meaningful work. Fred 2.0 is what I mean by meaningful work. It goes far beyond the roles and responsibilities that make up your job description; it’s more about your body of work that you put into your job.

Much like the journey of self growth, to be extraordinary you first must commit to becoming a Fred. It’s not a checklist of things you do, it’s the reinvention that occurs within you. It becomes part of who you are; providing greater service to others, building relationships and creating value.

The main takeaway from cover to cover is that your life is what you make it. Take life one day at a time, and make each day better than the last. It’s the Fred way.

The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective

Even your worst times have value and can become, in retrospect, your best times.

– Jones, The Noticer

The Noticer by Andy Andrews, is a story about Jones. He notices things that others just cannot see, even though it’s in plain sight.

Our brains our so wired to think a certain way, often times within narrow confines. It takes intentional effort to go away from that narrow space and think differently; to have an open mind and gain a new perspective.

Or, as how it’s told in the story, it takes a guy that randomly shows up at just the right time in people’s lives, to notice the things that they are overlooking. To shed light on a new perspective.

It doesn’t matter where you are on this journey of self growth, you will walk away from this book seeing things differently; the subtle everyday nuances in your own life (just like I did here).

It will give you the mental capacity to think, and see things, in a much broader view providing you the space to learn and grow.

See, the ‘small stuff’ is what makes up the larger picture of our lives. Many people are like you, young man. But their perspective is distorted. They ignore ‘small stuff’, claiming to have an eye on the bigger picture, never understanding that the bigger picture is composed of nothing more than—are you ready?—’small stuff.’

– Jones, The Noticer

The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing

The Noticer quote above is the perfect segue into this book; The In-Between by Jeff Goins

If you’ve read previous posts on this blog (here and here) you know by now that reading The In-Between is really the epiphany, or discovery, that went off inside of me. I learned to appreciate the in-between moments; the very moments that are ultimately defining who I am.

The In-Between is a story about slowing down life to live those precious mundane moments that reside between the major moments. It’s a call to embrace the extraordinary nature of the ordinary moments in our daily lives.

A life filled with movement, with constant motion and no rest stops, isn’t life at all. It’s tourism.

Jeff Goins, The In-Between

These are the books that I will read each year. There’s a piece of me that resides in each one of them. There’s part of my own story, of reinvention, that’s transcribed throughout those same pages.

They have impacted me tremendously and really serve as the basis, and fuel, for this journey.

What do you do with the books that move you and have a lasting impact on your life? What books are on your nightstand right now? Share in the comments below.

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Photo credit: aliza razell

About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.


  1. I regretted that I didn’t capture the moment when a book made an impact in my life. There are a lot.

    Now, whenever I am impacted by a book I read, I immediately jot down my feelings and thoughts.

    Thanks for the post, Eric.

    1. I love that Wan! Thanks so much for reading.

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