Words By Tara Wagner

The Top 7 Books on Habits + The Best Order To Read Them

A man seated criss-cross applesauce on a wooden floor with a book opened in his right hand

There are a lot of great books on habits right now. And a lot of them are definitely worth reading.

But there are seven books on habits that I have found to be the most influential and life-changing. Especially for leaders and entrepreneurs. Scroll down to read more about the seven best habit books. 

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There’s a particular order in which to read them, to make sure they make the biggest impact possible. Let’s go through them one at a time. 

Here are 7 Books on Habit + The Best Order to Read Them:

#1 The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The book titled the Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The title is in blue and black with a white hard copy cover.

Now The Slight Edge is not directly related to habits, but it is probably the number one book I’d recommend for most people to read. 

It’s also a great mindset book as well.

Jeff Olson is going to get you committed to the process of developing your habits, and really mastering them. 

He will help you stick with your habits long enough to get to the results. 

However, I’m not going to talk a lot about The Slight Edge because this is my favorite book and my top recommendation in so many categories.

I actually have a video dedicated to this book. So, if you have not read it yet, be sure to check out that video next. 

#2 Triggers: Creating Behaviors That Last – Becoming The Person You Want To Be by Marshall Goldsmith

Next, is an essential book about the internal and external things that determine our behaviors and how to change both the internal and the external. 

The book is really about understanding yourself, understanding what makes you tick, what drives your behaviors, and how to make adjustments to it. 

So where The Slight Edge is going to get you committed to the process, Triggers is going to help you understand yourself enough to start implementing the process. 

However, I don’t find that there are as many action items like things to really implement in this book. So once you’re done with Triggers, you’re going to want to read book number three. 

#3 Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Okay, so, Switch and Triggers are really similar, but you’re going to have different takeaways when you read it from these two different perspectives.

The thing that I love the most about Switch is it gives you a really simple analogy to help you understand what needs to be taken into account while working on your habits.

Switch is specifically going to talk to you about the rider, the elephant, and the path.

The three things that you need to address when you’re working on yours. 

The rider, the elephant, and the path

To give you a little insight… 

  • The rider is the logical mind, the part of you that knows what it wants to do. It’s the part that makes the plans. 
  • The elephant is the emotional part. It’s the part that actually has to follow through on all the plans that the rider creates.
  • And the path is the obstacle or thing that might get in the way. This is more of the external that Triggers talks about. 

We’ve got to make sure that the rider, the elephant, and the path are all conducive to our goals. 

If we want to make sure that we can reach those goals; we must change the habits that will allow us to get there. 

#4 The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Yellow paperback book with red border. In red text is reads Habit. There are stick figures looping around a red ferris wheel.

This book is going to help you understand why everything you want in life or business is on the other side of mastering your habits. 

These can be tangible habits or intangible habits. 

If you’re short on time, you could easily go from book #1 to book #4, but I do have another recommendation for you in the event that you’re short on time. 

I’ll talk about that one after The Power of Habit.

The Slight Edge gets you committed to the process of figuring this out while The Power of Habits gets you:

  • Committed to the process of habits
  • On board
  • Understanding the power of habits
  • Understanding why habits are so important
  • Mentally ready to understand why so much time and energy needs to be spent here.

The Power of Habit is also going to introduce the habit loop. What is the habit loop? It’s: 

  • Cuing
  • Craving
  • Routine setting
  • Rewarding

Then, it’s going to talk to you about strategies to help you navigate each one of those things. This occurs within the habit loop in order to break old habits and create new ones. 

However, I think that The Power of Habit is most useful at getting you really on board with this topic.

Book #5 is the one that’s going to really help you master the habits. 

#5 Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Of course, this is probably the most popular and definitely the quintessential book on habits.

Gold and beige paperback book that reads in bold gold font "Atomic Habits" placed on top of a multicolored rug

Atomic Habits is where you’re going to take all of your learning, commitment, and readiness from all of the other books and apply it. 

You’re going to really put it into action. 

This is one of the most tangible, actionable books on habits that you could possibly read.

It’s going to walk you through that habit loop again. But it’s going to go much deeper into each stage of that habit loop so that you can really figure out the right strategies to master each one. 

There are so many strategies. It’s going to teach you things like:

  • Habit stacking
  • Temptation bundling
  • The two-minute rule

The only complaint anybody can have about this book is that it’s a lot. 

In fact, Atomic Habits is so much that I had a hard time remembering most of it to put into this review – which is where my sponsor Shortform comes into play.

shortform example on iphone

Shortform is like a book summary platform on steroids with dozens of genres to choose from including favorites like entrepreneurship, motivation, and productivity. 

Shortform’s book guides are more like having a conversation with somebody who knows it so well, and with a clear explanation. 

They reorganize any complicated concepts so that they’re easy to understand. Ultimately tying the concepts into things taught in other books. 

Example of shortform app on iPad and cell phone

They even offer interactive exercises and ways to engage with others so that you can go deeper on the topic. 

Plus, they publish new book guides every week based on subscriber votes. 

One of my favorite ways to use Shortform is to review personal development books I’ve already read. Or get the concepts of books that friends or clients are reading. 

Although they won’t completely take the place of a good book; it will help me figure out which books are worth my limited time. 

If you like five of the seven books on habits that we’ve listed already get a free five-day trial to Shortform.

Okay. So what are books six and seven? 

We’ve talked about books to get you…

  • committed to the process
  • on board with the idea of building your habits
  • better understanding yourself, and your habits

What could possibly be next? 

These next two books are specifically for entrepreneurs and leaders. 

#6 The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

This book is specifically going to help you build mindset habits around the way you’re thinking and approaching things.  

So, books like Atomic Habits are not going to help you implement these habits, but all the other books you read up to this point are definitely going to help you to master this.

The seven habits that he talks about are:

  • Be proactive 
  • Begin with the end in mind 
  • Put first things first 
  • Think win-win 
  • Seek first to understand then to be understood 
  • Synergize 
  • Sharpen the saw

These books are going to help you understand yourself. They will also help you understand anything that might get in the way, as well as, keep you committed to the process.

If you want to be successful either in life or in business, I highly recommend you read this book. 

It’s going to help you change the way you approach some important areas of your life.

Now books, number #1, #5, and #6 probably had the biggest impact on me outside of book #7.

#7 High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard

This book talks about the six personal and professional habits to increase your own performance. 

Grey paperback book with yellow font as the title that says High Performance Habits

Burchard makes sure that you are doing things in the best, most effective, most powerful way possible. 

 These six habits are:

  • To Seek Clarity 
  • Generate Energy
  • Raise Necessity 
  • Increase Productivity 
  • Develop Influence 
  • Demonstrate Courage

I would say Raising Necessity is really about getting yourself committed or maybe even getting other people committed. 

Whoever needs to be committed to see that vision through must be productive at the right things.

You could say the habit to Develop Influence is really about how you’re relating to other people involved. And Demonstrating Courage would be how you relate to yourself and the goal itself. 

But there is a lot to each of these habits, including prompts, exercises, or even tips on where to start.

I recommend reading High-Performance Habits last. 

Once you’ve gone through all the other books you will learn more about yourself, learn how to master habits, and position yourself into the right place with the right habits. 

Forming positive habits for your business is essential.

You’re going to be able to use all of that to really help you fine-tune the areas in your life. 

That could be with: your own goals, your own business, your own leadership, or whatever it is that you’re wanting to really master your habits for. 

If you have a favorite book on habits that is not on this list, be sure to let us all know what it is.

 And, if you plan to check out Shortform for yourself be sure to follow me there and gain even more insights to more books on habits. 


Entrepreneurs that are ready to scale need this free PDF download for Effective Entrepreneurial Habits. 

Download my checklist to learn the 7 business + personal habits and systems successful bosses have in place to break past the 5-figure plateau and scale their business (without scaling their time or stress).


I’d love to hear your favorite book on habits. What book is missing from this list?


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*This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclaimer here.


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Tara Wagner

Tara Wagner

I’m Tara Wagner, creator of the Breakthrough Boss®. I help small biz owners overcome burnout and create part-time schedules with full-time profits. Not with some new marketing strategy, but with a holistic approach to how you operate. Click here to learn more.
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