Reading before bed can be one of the more relaxing parts of a given day. It allows a person to reflect on the events of the day that has just passed and to gameplan for the next day and beyond. Not only is reading before bed a great way to relax, it is also a nice chance for some self-reflection.
While some may prefer non-fiction works of history and other narrative fiction, there are a lot of books that are written as daily reads for those looking to make positive changes in their lives. These books take different approaches to making these changes; forming new habits, breaking old ones, coming to terms with certain blockages, and inspiring new ways of thinking. Because these books are meant to be helpful, it is important to find out which one might be the most impactful. We’ve compared some leading texts to see how they stack up:
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World
- Incremental improvements. This book focuses on the mentality of starting off the day with a task that can be easily completed, like making the bed. From there, readers use that sense of accomplishment to inspire more positive decisions.
- Navy Seal mentality. The author bases the book off of his experiences as a Navy Seal. Methods of leadership, problem-solving, and self-motivation that are taught to Navy Seals are passed on to readers.
- Response to criticism. Readers will find many words that help illustrate what can be done to bounce back from criticism and not let it derail ambitions. This is great for those needing to learn resilience.
- Echoes his speech. This book is inspired by a speech the author gave at a commencement. The content doesn’t expand much beyond what was said in that speech.
- Repetitive. While some readers will enjoy the cadence of this book, others may find it repetitive. For those getting a lot from this text, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven is an inspiring book that is meant to help readers accomplish their goals and feel proud of those accomplishments. Written by a Navy Seal, this is an easy read for those looking for motivation.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
- Easy to understand. This author has simplified some complex theories into a digestible read that a wide range of readers can apply to their lives. Reading this book can go by quickly.
- Draws from different disciplines. A great part of this text is that there are theories and practices from a wide collection of different areas of study. Neuroscience, biology, and psychology are prevalent.
- Practical. This book can apply to almost anyone; most people have some bad habits. This book offers a practical way of tackling bad habits and creating good ones.
- Dry. Some readers may find the text a little dry and not as entertaining other self-help books. The anecdotes are sweet but not laugh-out-loud funny.
- Author’s experience. While the author is known as a habit-breaking guru, there are other authors who have more specific experiences the relevant sciences.
Atomic Habits by James Clear focuses on breaking bad habits and forming good ones. Drawing from different realms of thinking and research, this book is an easy read with practical advice.
The Art Of Saying NO
- Strategies for saying no. This book provides not only advice on how to determine boundaries, but how to politely but confidently say no to others’ requests and expectations.
- For people pleasers. This book was written by a self-professed people pleaser. Those who seem to put others needs over their own should be interested in this book.
- Cost. Those interested in reading this text are not taking that big of a risk. It can usually be found for around or less than $10.
- Not much science. This book is more inspirational and motivational than a scientific exploration of the topic. Those looking for an academic text should look elsewhere.
- Tough situations not explored. The author doesn’t touch on some of the more difficult situations people may be in where they need to say no.
This book by Damon Zahariades is a simple exploration of why it is hard to say “no” to some people, what that says about the reader, and how to confidently set boundaries. This is an affordable book for those looking to take back some of their personal time and energy.
A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage
- Daily affirmations. This text is written to provide readers with a daily dose of positive thinking through the use of affirmations. It has one concept per day for the reader to ponder.
- Efficient. The author has endeavored to create an efficient and powerful text. Those not wanting to read a lot of fluff will enjoy her straight-forward approach.
- Evergreen. A great part of this book is that the reader can use the ideas presented in this book at any time and in many ways. Readers can use the book to meditate, provide journaling prompts, or as a point of discussion with loved ones.
- Cliches. Some people may consider some of the daily affirmations as more of cliches. There may be some duplication for those who already subscribe to daily affirmations.
- Coarse language. This book employs the use of some swear words. Customers should be aware of this when giving as a gift.
This book by Cyndie Spiegel is a comprehensive collection of thought-provoking affirmations that can help a person create a personal culture of positive thought. It is well-written and economical in its language.
Best for Beginners
30 Days: Change Your Habits, Change Your Life
- Timeline. A great aspect of this book’s approach is that there is not only an actionable plan, but a timeline for readers to follow. This is great for those eager to start making changes in their lives.
- Holistic. This text highlights not only ways one can improve one’s own sense of self, but includes chapters on improving posture, extending kindness to others, exercise, and journaling.
- Gratitude. This book is refreshing in that it focuses on gratitude; acknowledging what comforts, achievement qualities, and relationships one already has.
- Lots of ideas, not in depth. Though this book covers a lot of helpful ideas, they aren’t really explored in great detail.
- No thread. The chapters don’t quite follow each other naturally; the author skips between topics at times.
This book by Marc Reklau provides inspiration and exercises for those hoping to make some structural, behavioral, and mental changes to their lives. It is an easy read that can help a wide range of people.
How We Picked
Reading before bed can be a great chance to check in on oneself with reflection and to decompress from the day’s events. Rather than revisit and chew on recent memories without a positive action plan, there are texts that can provide help and guidance for those hoping to level up and improve each day. These books can be very helpful, but there are certain attributes that can make certain ones stand out:
In a text like this that doesn’t rely on invented characters or true tales from history, the reader is almost entirely dependent on the author’s point of view and tone. Finding a writer that can communicate in a way that not only is easy to digest but thought-provoking is one of the greatest challenges in finding a book that is to help someone make changes.
Often the author’s personal experience will resonate with a particular reader. Authors who have exceptional experiences, either personal or professional, may have some perspectives that stand out. Further, some authors in this field are simply good communicators in general, and can write to a general audience in a way that makes it seem personal to each reader.
These sort of books that are meant to help improve someone’s day to day functioning have a lot in common. Usually positive thinking and positivity in general are paramount. However, how the authors recommend making positive thinking into positive action is where these texts differ.
Some authors focus on habits; this involves identifying personal habits that are detrimental and finding ways to form new habits. This can be helpful as a day-to-day improvement plan. Other books try to find specific areas where someone can improve, not only within themselves but in how they interact with others. Depending on which parts of one’s life they have identified as having room for improvement, certain books will be more helpful than others.
Readers will have different expectations and varying needs as far as how they want to approach any sort of self-improvement plan. Certain authors have created texts that are meant to be evergreen; the reader can glean from it whatever they find useful, and at any time. These books are great for those who like to sprinkle affirmations and action-provoking prompts throughout their weekly routines.
There are certain books that have a definitive plan. These books provide daily challenges and exercises for someone to really take seriously day in and day out. Some books even have a shorter timeline, say 30 days, to really help someone who is interested in making changes immediately.
Not sure which book is right for you to read before bed? Take a look at some of the tips we’ve compiled:
- Are you generally a reflective person?
- Some people already take a lot of time to process and digest their days when they are in bed. These sort of books can help harness that energy into action.
- For those who don’t reflect much, these books can provoke new ways of thinking. Some encourage journaling as well.
- Have you read motivational books before?
- For those who have read several texts that promote self-improvement before, it may be wise to find a book with a specific slant or perspective.
- Those who are new to this genre of daily improvement may want to check out a more general book that broadly covers a range of areas for someone to work on.