The 20 Best Entrepreneurship Books to Start, Grow & Run a Successful Business

Best Books on Entrepreneurship Cover

Following your passion while making a profit – that is the dream. Every year, millions of people become entrepreneurs in hopes of getting paid to do what they love.

Unfortunately, around half of all newly minted business owners fail within the first five years. What’s more, at least one in four must fail before eventually succeeding, which takes at least three years on average. How can you make sure you make it the first time around?

Starting a business requires taking risk, staying grounded, and facing many challenges. It can be our biggest struggle, but seeing our products make the world a better place can also be our greatest reward.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books, hundreds of them about entrepreneurship. Along the way, we’ve learned a few lessons, and we’ve discovered which ones are most worth spending your precious time on.

Being an entrepreneur is not the easiest job in the world, but if you want to learn the secrets of being a great founder or successful self-employed freelancer, this list of the 20 best entrepreneurship books is a good start.

Each book in this list contains our favorite quote, three takeaways, and a one-sentence summary. Scroll down a bit more, and you’ll find our main argument for why and when you might want to read the book. Use the handy table of contents below to jump to any section or book that seems particularly interesting to you.

Let’s hop right into the secrets of entrepreneurship!


Best Books on Entrepreneurship Overall

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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Favorite Quote

“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” — Eric Ries

The Book in One Sentence

The Lean Startup offers both entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs a semi-scientific, real-world approach to building a business by using validation, finding a profitable business model and creating a growth engine.

Why should you read it?

Are all start-ups prone to failure? Or are all the failures caused by some mistakes which can be easily prevented? According to Eric Ries, a startup deals with a wave of uncertainty, indeed, and business plans might not be the key to make things run smoothly. This book gives a scientific approach to the proper management of a startup, mostly by making use of innovation.

Key Takeaways

    1. Find a business model that works through validation.
    2. Use split-testing to tell value from waste.
    3. Never ever indulge in vanity metrics.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Zero To One by Peter Thiel

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Favorite Quote

“Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.” — Peter Thiel

The Book in One Sentence

Zero To One is an inside look at Peter Thiel’s philosophy and strategy for making your startup a success by looking at the lessons he learned from founding and selling PayPal, investing in Facebook and becoming a billionaire in the process.< /em>

Why should you read it?

You might think that we know everything by now and that there isn’t much to create at this point. That all the greatest inventions have appeared by now. And this is where you might be wrong: entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms that there are still countless ways for us to create something new. And all this can be done by making use of your power and asking the right questions in order to come up with the next innovation.

Key Takeaways

  1. The biggest leaps in progress are vertical, not horizontal.
  2. Monopolies are good, for both business and society.
  3. Founders need a vision to take their business from zero to one.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

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Favorite Quote

“The only thing that prepares you to run a company is running a company” — Ben Horowitz

The Book in One Sentence

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an inside look at the tough decisions and lonely times all CEOs face, before showing you what it takes to build a great organization and become a world-class leader.

Why should you read it?

It’s great to have your own business, indeed. Truth be told, though, it is rather hard to have a business and run it properly. Ben Horowitz provides us with key anecdotes in this book, derived from his success – which was not as easy to obtain, as people might think. Getting straight to the point, this book will answer all the questions you might have, no matter if you already have a business of your own or if you are thinking about starting one.

Key Takeaways

  1. The CEO should be the first one to shout when shit hits the fan.
  2. There are 2 types of CEOs.
  3. Great CEOs must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

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Favorite Quote

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Chris Guillebeau

The Book in One Sentence

The $100 Startup shows you how to break free from the shackles of 9 to 5 by combining your passion and skills into your own microbusiness, which you can start for $100 or less, yet still turn into a full time income, thanks to the power of the internet.

Why should you read it?

It’s important nowadays to live a life full of meaning and purpose, but what is also important is to earn a good living. This book is filled with key principles that will help you figure out exactly what it is that you have to do to live your life the way you want. And the best part about it is that it doesn’t get lost in generalities which might not give you the insight you need.

Key Takeaways

  1. Passion is only 1/3 of the equation, you also need skills and customers.
  2. If you want your passion to be more than a hobby, focus on income and costs.
  3. Keep your plans simple, because action beats them every time.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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5. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

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Favorite Quote

“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” — Michael E. Gerber

The Book in One Sentence

The E-Myth Revisited explains why 80% of small businesses fail, and how to ensure yours isn’t among those by building a company that’s based on systems and not on the work of a single individual.

Why should you read it?

Do you want to know how to grow your business productively? Michael Gerber has the answer for you in this book and walks you through all the steps you need to take in a business. And it is all sharp insight from his own experience, which will help you deconstruct all the myths regarding the way one should work when it comes to business.

Key Takeaways

  1. Having great technical skills does not mean you know how to run a business.
  2. Imagine your business as a nationwide franchise from day one, then build the first store.
  3. The franchise approach makes sure you build a business based on systems, not people.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship for Beginners

6. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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Favorite Quote

“There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.” ― Gary Vaynerchuk

The Book in One Sentence

Crush It is the blueprint you need to turn your passion into your profession and will give you the tools to turn yourself into a brand, leverage social media, produce great content and reap the financial benefits of it.

Why should you read it?

What would you do if you could transform your dream or hobby into something that could earn you money? This book gives you valuable insight into how you can turn your interests into a successful business, just by making use of the power of the Internet. And all of this by taking it step by step, in a world where both the Internet and the technological aspects are a very important part of our lives.

Key Takeaways

  1. In order to profit from your passion, you have to turn yourself into a brand.
  2. Pick a medium that fits you to tell stories people want to hear.
  3. Always be authentic in your content.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. The Art Of The Start by Guy Kawasaki

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Favorite Quote

“Positioning should be about what you do for your customers – not about what you want to become.” — Guy Kawasaki

The Book in One Sentence

The Art Of The Start is your guide to beginning a company and explains everything from getting the right people on board to writing a winning business plan and building your brand.

Why should you read it?

Sometimes, it just takes an idea to put together something new – and that requires having enough will to keep going, against all odds. If you feel like your idea might be hard to be transformed into action, this book will provide you with all the advice you need to keep going, all of it coming from nearly two decades of the author’s experience.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your first goal as an entrepreneur must be to create meaning, not make money.
  2. Prepare your Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks to have direction and purpose right from the start.
  3. Set yourself up for success by creating a business plan.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship With Minimal Resources

8. The Power Of Broke by Daymond John

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Favorite Quote

“Being broke is temporary but poverty of mind is permanent.” — Daymond John

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Broke shows you how to leverage having no money into an advantage in business by compensating it with creativity, passion and authenticity.

Why should you read it?

If desperate minds mean desperate measures, then innovation should also be added – because this is exactly what Daymond John did. What started as being a simple idea, ended up becoming a global phenomenon, and all of this while he was broke. This book tells you that sometimes, you just need to have a little bit of hope and to do your best to achieve success – who knows when the perfect opportunity might come knocking.

Key Takeaways

  1. If you have no money, you’ll automatically find resources others don’t look for.
  2. The power of broke helps in all four stages of growing a business.
  3. Starting a business gets easier by the day, so start now.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. Rework by Jason Fried

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Favorite Quote

“When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” — Jason Fried

The Book in One Sentence

Rework shows you that you need less than you think to start a business – way less – by explaining why plans are actually harmful, how productivity isn’t a result from working long hours and why hiring and seeking investors should be your absolute last resort.

Why should you read it?

Do you feel like all the old advice business books give you is not really what you need to kickstart your own business? What if there was an easier and better way to succeed in business, that didn’t involve writing down endless business plans, for example? This book makes use of an easy way to understand the approach and shows you the way towards not only productivity but also inspiration. Are you up for the challenge?

Key Takeaways

  1. Take a stand for something you believe in and then pick a fight with an incumbent.
  2. Screw big corporate marketing, stay honest, personal and nimble.
  3. Don’t let long hours and meetings prevail, they actually hurt productivity.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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10. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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Favorite Quote

“If you’re not 100 percent happy with your life today, it is never a waste of time to try something that could get you there.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

The Book in One Sentence

Crushing It is Gary Vaynerchuk’s follow-up to his personal branding manifesto Crush It, in which he reiterates the importance of a personal brand and shows you the endless possibilities that come with building one today.

Why should you read it?

Your brand is important nowadays, and you have to make use of that to be successful. And you can do that by making use of social media – Gary introduces us to those secrets in this practical guide, where he put together several experiences of people who have followed their dream and got exactly where they wanted to be.

Key Takeaways

  1. You don’t need a product to monetize a personal brand.
  2. A solid social media presence is built on seven principles.
  3. Don’t overthink creating content, just document your journey.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship Strategy

11. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur

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Favorite Quote

“Companies should focus on one of three value disciplines: operational excellence, product leadership, or customer intimacy.” — by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur

The Book in One Sentence

Business Model Generation teaches you how to start your own company by explaining the details of matching your customer’s needs with your product’s capabilities, managing finances, and everything else involved in the planning stages of entrepreneurship.

Why should you read it?

How would you describe your thinking when it comes to how businesses should be handled? Are you more oriented towards the “traditional” way or are you seeking modern solutions? This book makes use of practical examples that will help anyone in terms of improving their business models, regardless of their approach.

Key Takeaways

  1. Market channels, value propositions, and customer groups are the basis for a good business model.
  2. You need to know your customer’s relationship with you, how money is coming in, and what physical things that you need to run your company.
  3. Plan for what you’ll do from day to day, who you’re going to work with, and what your cost structure will be.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank

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Favorite Quote

“All new companies and new products begin with an almost mythological vision – a hope of what could be, with a goal few others can see.” — Steve Blank

The Book in One Sentence

The Four Steps To The Epiphany shows startups how to plan for and achieve success by giving examples of companies that failed and outlining the path they need to take to flourish.

Why should you read it?

Do you want a book that gives you simple, yet concrete examples in regards to how businesses work? Not all startups become successful immediately – and this book proves it. This simple, step-by-step guide could become essential to you, as it gives you useful insight into how you should organize all parts of your business for your startup to succeed, rather than fail.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of treating your startup like you would a big business.
  2. Find your market type first, then base your strategy around it.
  3. Early adopters are more important to consider when designing your product than the mainstream market.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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13. Built To Sell by John Warrillow

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Favorite Quote

“Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.” — John Warrillow

The Book in One Sentence

Built To Sell shows you how to become a successful entrepreneur by explaining the steps necessary to grow a small service company and one day sell it.

Why should you read it?

Is there any mistake entrepreneurs make when they start their business? According to John Warrillow, there is one mistake that might cost them more than they could ever imagine, and he presents this mistake under the form of a fictional small business, which has to be sold. Are you curious to see what happens to the business? You should probably find the nearest library and check it out!

Key Takeaways

  1. You will be more successful in business if you specialize in one service.
  2. If you’d like to one day sell your company, you as a founder need to work to make sure that you’re replaceable.
  3. Don’t rely on one big client, it’s risky and makes your business less attractive to those that may buy it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. Business Adventures by John Brooks

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Favorite Quote

“I don’t think money makes much difference, as long as you have enough.” — John Brooks

The Book in One Sentence

Business Adventures will teach you how to run a company, invest in the stock market, change jobs, and many other things by sharing some of the most interesting experiences that big companies and their leaders have had over the last century.

Why should you read it?

How do you run a company? If all businesses are different, why are some things so similar? Making use of stories about Wall Street, John Brooks has put together a reportage that looks at the history of some of the biggest disasters that have taken place on the American market. Is history bound to repeat itself, if people don’t learn from their mistakes?

Key Takeaways

  1. The three-day stock market crash and recovery of 1962 showed the world how irrational and unpredictable it is.
  2. If you want to know how not to launch a product, look to the example of the Ford Edsel.
  3. Having trade secrets doesn’t make it impossible for you to get a new job thanks to Donald Wohlgemuth.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship Culture

15. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey

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Favorite Quote

“If you as a leader allow people to halfway do their jobs and don’t demand excellence as a prerequisite to keeping their job, you will create a culture of mediocrity.” — Dave Ramsey

The Book in One Sentence

EntreLeadership provides you with a path to becoming a great leader in your company by identifying the necessary management and entrepreneurial skills.

Why should you read it?

We have all heard of a successful business that started in a garage or in a rather normal place. This informative guide gives you access to exactly that kind of story: from just a card table to a multimillion-dollar company. The advice in this book will get you even through the toughest of times, for both businesses and their leaders.

Key Takeaways

  1. The most successful heads of new companies combine the skills of an entrepreneur and a leader.
  2. To create a lucrative business, work on your marketing strategy.
  3. You get hardworking and loyal employees when you give generous salaries and bonuses.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas

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Favorite Quote

“There is no denying that today’s elite may be among the more socially concerned elites in the history. But it is also, by the cold logic of numbers, among the more predatory in history.” — Anand Giridharadas

The Book in One Sentence

Winners Take All helps you see the ultra-rich in a more accurate light by identifying their shady strategies, including using the idea of “making the world a better place” as a front that only serves as a way to solidify their wealth and power.

Why should you read it?

What does social justice have to do with entrepreneurs? Anand Giridharadas surprises us with this challenging book, by putting into perspective how improvements are not accessible to everyone. Small businesses end up fighting against monopolies and have to deal with a system where it might just be easier to deny certain benefits. So, how do we make the world a better place, for businesses and people?

Key Takeaways

  1. The elite control social progress, which we think is happening for our benefit but really only benefits them.
  2. Inequality is rampant because the “win-win” attitude of the ultra-rich is actually a lie to cover up their plans to only look out for themselves.
  3. Powerful people often deny their influence, which ironically just cements their status even further.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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17. Founders At Work by Jessica Livingston

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Favorite Quote

“I’d say determination is the single most important quality in a startup founder. If the founders I spoke with were superhuman in any way, it was in their perseverance.” — Jessica Livingston

The Book in One Sentence

Founders At Work shows you how to start a successful business based on the principles of the founders of some of the world’s most famous and accomplished startups.

Why should you read it?

If you are looking for a book that is not necessarily a guide, then this book might just be what you are looking for. Containing a collection of interviews with people who are currently living their dream, this book answers all the questions one might have: how it all started and how it is all going. Are you curious to see what makes a startup successful?

Key Takeaways

  1. Starting with an idea is good, but having a talented team is best.
  2. Too much investor money can actually hurt a startup initiative.
  3. Creating something of real value to others requires listening to your customers.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship Motivation

18. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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Favorite Quote

“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill

The Book in One Sentence

Think and Grow Rich is a curation of the 13 most common habits of wealthy and successful people, distilled from studying over 500 individuals over the course of 20 years.

Why should you read it?

A worldwide bestseller, this book is not just about ways in which you can become rich, as the title would suggest. It is about learning that each day is a new opportunity and both success and abundance come from how you think. If you want to learn about the ropes of success, this might just be the book for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use autosuggestion to build an unshakable belief in yourself.
  2. Be stubborn and always stick to your decisions.
  3. Join a Mastermind group to cut the learning curve.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. Arise, Awake by Rashmi Bansal

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Favorite Quote

“In any line of business, there is a steep learning curve. Like a pilgrim, you must climb that mountain with faith and fortitude – there is no ‘helicopter’ service.” — Rashmi Bansal

The Book in One Sentence

Arise, Awake will inspire you to move forward with your entrepreneurial dreams by sharing the inspirational stories of six Indian entrepreneurs and the lessons they learned on the path to success.

Why should you read it?

What would you say is the perfect age to start your own business? Should you be older, or younger? If you are still not convinced about your answer, then this book might give you a little bit of clarity, by presenting you with the stories of six entrepreneurs who have gone against the odds and started something of their own.

Key Takeaways

  1. Pay attention to serendipitous experiences, they are great sources for your entrepreneurial desires to flourish.
  2. If your first business idea fails, don’t give up, your experience is vital to making your next venture succeed.
  3. Determination combined with thinking outside of the box will help you start your business even when it seems impossible to do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

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Favorite Quote

“Most “necessary evils” are far more evil than necessary.” — Richard Branson

The Book in One Sentence

Losing My Virginity details Richard Branson’s meteoric rise to success and digs into what made him the adventurous, fun-loving, daring entrepreneur he is today and what lessons you can learn about business from him.

Why should you read it?

If you are interested in an autobiography, then Richard Branson has written the perfect book for you. A very unusual approach to business has brought Richard a success that many might have doubted: whenever someone said “don’t do it”, he would do it. Filled with major lessons, this book will keep you going, even when things seem impossible to deal with.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been born and bred as an entrepreneur.
  2. Always look out for the next thing, but take it one adventure at a time.
  3. The number one skill you should practice is creativity.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

We believe that these 20 titles are the best books about entrepreneurship. Start by reading the one most relevant to you, then go from there. 

Most of us dream about living a life in which we make our own rules. But are we ready to take responsibility for the things that will go wrong along the way? When you’re an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. Ultimately, you’re the one in charge. You’ll need commitment and perseverance to make things happen, but even if the road will be rocky in the beginning, that doesn’t mean you should give up.

Do you have what it takes? Whatever you feel might be missing, discover it in one of the books on our list. Learn how to be an entrepreneur, and make your dreams come true!


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

The 34 Best Psychology Books That Will Make You Smarter and Happier

Best Psychology Books

Psychology is a broad and diverse field that concentrates on studying how people, including you, behave and think. It covers emotions, personality, and so much more.

When you understand psychology, you will understand yourself and the people around you.

You’ll also make better decisions, handle tough situations more easily, and get closer to reaching your full potential much faster than you could have ever imagined.

This fascinating science will even help you understand why you and those you’re closest to act the way you do and how you can change for the better.

Our over 1,000 summaries here at Four Minute Books include hundreds about psychology. We’ve hand-picked our top 34 favorite ones for this list so that you can learn from them and understand yourself better so you can take advantage of the power of your own mind.

If you want to discover new levels of productivity, mental toughness, happiness, and so much more, these books are just what you’ve been looking for.


Best Books on Psychology Overall

1. Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow Book Cover (Best Psychology Books Overall)

Favorite Quote

”Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.” — Daniel Kahneman

The Book in One Sentence

Thinking Fast And Slow shows you how two systems in your brain are constantly fighting over control of your behavior and actions, and teaches you the many ways in which this leads to errors in memory, judgment and decisions, and what you can do about it.

Why should you read it?

Our minds are driven by two systems that influence the way we think. One system is fast and works on the emotional side, while the other one is a tad slower and makes more use of logic. These two systems work together to shape the way we think and to influence our decisions and Kahneman wants to reveal in this book how to cope with our brain.

Key Takeaways

    1. Your behavior is determined by 2 systems in your mind – one conscious and the other automatic.>
    2. Your brain is lazy and thus keeps you from using the full power of your intelligence.
    3. When you’re making decisions about money, leave your emotions at home.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” — Daniel Pink

The Book in One Sentence

Drive explores what has motivated humans throughout history and explains how we shifted from mere survival to the carrot and stick approach that’s still practiced today – and why it’s outdated.

Why should you read it?

There are many ways out there to make use of when motivating ourselves, but some of them might just be wrong. Daniel Pink has put together this persuasive book to help us figure out how to be high performers in any field of our lives, by making use of the need to direct our lives. This book will help you change your perspectives on motivation.

Key Takeaways

    1. The carrot and stick approach is dead.
    2. Extrinsic motivation destroys intrinsic motivation.
    3. Strive for the flow state in everything you do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The danger of expecting nothing is that, in the end, it might be all we’ll get.” — Dan Ariely

The Book in One Sentence

Predictably Irrational explains the hidden forces that really drive how we make decisions, which are far less rational than we think, but can help us stay on top of our finances, interact better with others and live happier lives, once we know about them.

Why should you read it?

We make decisions daily and sometimes, we might not even think about the mechanism behind them. Humans are considered rational beings, but certain behaviours might end up making them… irrational, but in a predictable way, according to Ariely. This book will help you better understand your patterns of thought and who knows, maybe even break them.

Key Takeaways

  1. We compare whatever we can, so give others easy comparisons to pick you.
  2. Free is really just another price, but a powerful one.
  3. You overvalue what you own.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson

Everything is F*cked Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness and depression. It is the source of all misery and the cause of all addiction.” — Mark Manson

The Book in One Sentence

Everything Is F*cked explains what’s wrong with our approach towards happiness and gives philosophical suggestions that help us make our lives worth living.

Why should you read it?

Even though we seem to have everything nowadays, from freedom to amazing technological discoveries, more and more people seem to drown in a feeling of hopelessness. A book concentrating on everything that is surrounding us, by putting things into perspective in a sharp, yet humorous way, it will make you consider things that you probably never even thought about before.

Key Takeaways

  1. Pure logic won’t help you make the best decisions, a balanced brain will.
  2. Hope won’t solve your problems, it takes acceptance and principles to do that.
  3. The solution to mental illnesses is not chasing happiness, it is to attain true freedom from our addictions and dependencies.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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5. The Wisdom Of Insecurity by Alan Watts

The Wisdom of Insecurity Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.” — Alan Watts

The Book in One Sentence

The Wisdom of Insecurity is a self-help classic that breaks down our psychological need for stability and explains how it’s led us right into consumerism, why that won’t solve our problem and how we can really calm our anxiety.

Why should you read it?

You would think that this age offers enough stability to human beings, but it sometimes seems to be exactly the opposite: we live in an age where things seem rather unstable and vulnerable. Alan Watts has put together this book where we put into perspective the idea that as much as we want to reach a perfect level of psychological security, many things make us go towards psychological insecurity.

Key Takeaways

  1. Without religion to tell us it’ll be okay, life can become very uncertain, and that’s terrifying.
  2. The happiness consumerism promises us is really just emptiness in a pretty wrapper.
  3. Pleasure and pain always come in one package, and embracing that will make you less anxious.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Psychology For Beginners

6. Do What You Are by Paul Tieger, Barbara Barron, & Kelly Tieger

Do What You Are Book Cover (Best Books on Psychology For Beginners)

Favorite Quote

“The right job enhances your life. It is personally fulfilling because it nourishes the most important aspects of your personality..” — Paul Tieger, Barbara Barron, & Kelly Tieger

The Book in One Sentence

Do What You Are will help you discover your personality type and how it can lead you to a more satisfying career that corresponds to your talents and interests..

Why should you read it?

Your perfect career is a… personality type away. This book will help you figure out what exactly it is that you are good at – by figuring out what your personality type is and which occupation is the best one for you, according to your result. By using different exercises and examples, this book will help you determine what path you need to follow to be satisfied with your life and career.

Key Takeaways

  1. Notice the ways you connect with the world to identify your personality type.
  2. Discover your optimal career path by considering your identity and what interests you.
  3. No matter how old you are you can always change your occupation to something more satisfying.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

The Happiness Hypothesis Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.” — Jonathan Haidt

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Hypothesis is the most thorough analysis of how you can find happiness in our modern society, backed by plenty of scientific research, real-life examples and even a formula for happiness.

Why should you read it?

If you want to understand happiness, but you are not sure where to start, this could represent a good starting point. There are many sayings out there regarding happiness that we might have used naturally, but are they still available today? Haidt’s book is provocative and puts under analysis the way traditional wisdom interacts with the modern world.

Key Takeaways

  1. Surround yourself with the people you love the most and live in accordance with reciprocity.
  2. Do work that matters to you.
  3. Find a partner who will stand by your side through sunshine and rain and allow yourself to be part of something greater.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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8. Influence by Robert Cialdini

Influence Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds.” — Robert Cialdini

The Book in One Sentence

Influence has been the go-to book for marketers since its release in 1984, which delivers six key principles behind human influence and explains them with countless practical examples.

Why should you read it?

Why do you, and other people, say ‘yes’? Is it because someone is persuading you or is there another reason? Robert Cialdini explains in this book six principles that will help us not only become better persuaders but also understand the psychology behind this act. These principles will also help you figure out what you need in order to achieve success.

Key Takeaways

  1. You can use the reciprocity bias to build up a massive good karma account.
  2. The scarcity bias works, because we hate to miss opportunities.
  3. Make a small commitment to trigger your consistency bias and reach your goal.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books For Sales And Marketing

9. The Psychology Of Selling by Brian Tracy

The Psychology of Selling Book Cover (Best Books on Psychology For Sales And Marketing)

Favorite Quote

“Help yourself warm up and prepare mentally by repeating, ‘I feel happy! I feel healthy! I feel terrific!’ It is not possible for you to talk positively to yourself, using words like this, without immediately feeling happier and more confident.” ― Brian Tracy

The Book in One Sentence

The Psychology Of Selling motivates you to work on your self-image and how you relate to customers so that you can close more deals.

Why should you read it?

How do you sell more? If this is a question that you still haven’t found an answer to, this book might be of good help, as it will provide you with enough ideas, strategies, and techniques to make you sell faster and more, all in a more efficient way.

Key Takeaways

  1. Utilize the power of your subconscious to become more successful.
  2. You will get more motivation and passion if you learn from the right people.
  3. Questions are the holy grail of unearthing customers’ needs and they will help you make more sales.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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10. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” — Malcolm Gladwell

The Book in One Sentence

The Tipping Point explains how ideas spread like epidemics and which few elements need to come together to help an idea reach the point of critical mass, where its viral effect becomes unstoppable.

Why should you read it?

It takes a tipping point to start something big, something that is rapidly adopted by people. Something that is an idea or a trend that spreads to the masses. And Malcolm Gladwell explains this idea in this bestseller, by analyzing diverse ideas and trends, to figure out what makes them so interesting, that people just seem to dive into them instantly.

Key Takeaways

  1. Once an idea reaches the tipping point, it spreads like fire.
  2. Three kinds of people are responsible for getting ideas to tip.
  3. Without stickiness, no idea will ever tip.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Emotions

11. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence Book Cover (Best Books on Psychology About Emotions)

Favorite Quote

“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.” — Daniel Goleman

The Book in One Sentence

Emotional Intelligence explains the importance of emotions in your life, how they help and hurt your ability to navigate the world, followed by practical advice on how to improve your own emotional intelligence and why that is the key to leading a successful life.

Why should you read it?

Does having a high IQ give you a guarantee that you are going to be successful? According to Daniel Goleman, it takes a bit more to get to the highest point of success, by looking at how the two sides of our brain work together – the rational and the emotional. This book shows us how emotional intelligence determines various aspects of our lives and how it is also a way of being smart.

Key Takeaways

  1. Emotional intelligence rests on self-awareness and self-regulation.
  2. A high EQ makes you healthier and more successful.
  3. You can boost your EQ by mirroring other people’s body language and thinking optimistically.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. Descartes’ Error by Antonio R. Damasio

Descartes' Error Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Willpower is just another name for the idea of choosing long-term outcomes rather than short-term ones.” — Antonio R. Damasio

The Book in One Sentence

Descartes’ Error will help you understand why the argument that the mind and body are disconnected is false by using neuroscience and interesting case studies to identify how the body and our emotions play a vital role in logical thinking.

Why should you read it?

“I think therefore I am” can be easily considered one of Descartes’ most famous proclamations. But since its appearance, it has made science concentrate more on the cognitive side of things, rather than the emotional one. Antonio R. Damasio has written a provocative book that makes use of case studies, to demonstrate that we need emotions not only for being rational but also for our behavior.

Key Takeaways

  1. Brain damage, like what Phineas Gage experienced when a rod went through his head, gives us clues about how the mind really works with the body.
  2. Emotions are vital to our mind’s ability to function properly and think logically.
  3. Your brain uses feelings from past experiences to construct somatic markers which help it make decisions faster.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Love And Relationships

13. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus Book Cover (Best Books on Psychology About Love And Relationships)

Favorite Quote

“When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences, then love has a chance to blossom.” — John Gray

The Book in One Sentence

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus helps you improve your relationships by identifying the key differences between men and women.

Why should you read it?

Men and women have different ways to communicate, even though they are both human beings. This book is based on years of successful counselling and can help you figure out how to communicate with the man or woman sitting beside you, without turning everything into a conflict. Is it all just about accepting each other’s differences? Let’s find out!

Key Takeaways

  1. Women want men to listen to them while men desire solutions to problems.
  2. Men are motivated when they feel useful, women are inspired when they feel loved.
  3. Women and men communicate differently and assign separate meanings to the same words.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. Attached by Dr. Amir Levine

Attached Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Most people are only as needy as their unmet needs.” —Dr. Amir Levine

The Book in One Sentence

Attached delivers a scientific explanation why some relationships thrive and steer a clear path over a lifetime, while others crash and burn, based on the human need for attachment and the three different styles of it.

Why should you read it?

What would you say is your attachment style, based on how you feel towards your partner? This book helps us understand our attachment style, giving us a little bit of insight into the science behind love. Understanding your behavior in relation to the other will help you build a stronger and more satisfactory bond with your significant other.

Key Takeaways

  1. Everyone needs attachment, it’s a prerequisite for a happy and healthy life.
  2. There are 3 different attachment styles, which one are you?
  3. Effective communication is the best way to guarantee your happiness in any relationship.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Personality

15. Personality Isn’t Permanent by Benjamin Hardy

Personality Isn't Permanent (Best Books on Psychology About Personality)

Favorite Quote

“The only thing ‘special’ about those who transform themselves and their lives is their view of their own future. The refuse to be defined by the past. They see something different and more meaningful and they never stop fueling that vision.” — Benjamin Hardy

The Book in One Sentence

Personality Isn’t Permanent will shatter your long-held beliefs that you’re stuck as yourself, flaws and all, by identifying why the person you are is changeable and giving you specific and actionable steps to change.

Why should you read it?

Do people change their attitudes and behaviors throughout their lives or do they constantly stay the same? According to psychologist Benjamin Hardy, the idea that people never change is rather wrong and it keeps us away from being who we need to be. Offering practical advice and basing everything on science, this book will certainly catch your attention.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are five destructive myths about personality that lead to mediocrity and support the fixed mindset that holds you back.
  2. Your goals determine your personality and are the tool you need to change your identity.
  3. No matter who you’ve been in the past or who you are now, you can upgrade how you see yourself and transform your future.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre

The Personality Brokers Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“To investigate the history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality inventory in the world, is to court a kind of low-level paranoia. Files disappear. Tapes are erased. People begin to watch you.” — Merve Emre

The Book in One Sentence

The Personality Brokers uncovers the true, yet un-scientific origins of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test.

Why should you read it?

There is a test out there that is used almost everywhere when it comes to determining someone’s personality – and that is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This book concentrates on figuring out how a personality indicator became such a huge success, while also trying to put into perspective all the things that could influence us to be ourselves.

Key Takeaways

  1. Katherine Briggs-Myers and her daughter Isabel Myers based their personality test on the questionable principles of Carl Jung.
  2. Briggs created her first personality test at a time when Americans were ready to receive it, thus beginning the era of self-help writing.
  3. Although scientifically unsound, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator does have it’s benefits and uses.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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17. The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron

The Road Back to You Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. It shows you the box you’re already in and how to get out of it.” — Ian Morgan Cron

The Book in One Sentence

The Road Back To You will teach you more about what kind of person you are by identifying the pros and cons of each personality type within the Enneagram test.

Why should you read it?

Human beings are all wired differently, but at the same, they all have positive and negative traits. This book concentrates on the Enneagram, which is an ancient personality typing system and can help you learn more about yourself. Filled with stories, this book will help you figure out how to get to a deeper knowledge of who we are as people, by diving into the spiritual side of things.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are nine personality types in the Enneagram.
  2. You might feel that your personal traits fall into multiple types, and that’s why the test has what are known as wing numbers to give you additional clarity.
  3. Each number in the test has corresponding stress and security numbers to help you better understand how you react in different circumstances.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Anxiety And Depression

18. My Age Of Anxiety by Scott Stossel

My Age of Anxiety Book Cover (Best Books on Psychology About Anxiety And Depression)

Favorite Quote

“It is a fact – I say this from experience – that being severly anxious is depressing. Anxiety can impede your relationships, impair your performance, constrict your life, and limit your possibilities.” — Scott Stossel

The Book in One Sentence

My Age Of Anxiety is your guide to understanding an aspect of mental illness that most of us don’t realize is so severe, showing it’s biological and environmental origins and ways to treat it.

Why should you read it?

When would you say that you heard the term ‘anxiety’ for the first time? You might get to the conclusion that thirty-something years ago, this was not considered a diagnostic, while nowadays, it has become one of the most common mental illness diagnostics. Stossel gives us a bit of insight into how anxiety affects people and how to control it at the same time.

Key Takeaways

  1. This disease can make life difficult and embarrassing.
  2. Anxiety comes from evolution but is also a result of our experiences in childhood.
  3. To treat this form of mental illness, you can use drugs and therapy.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Lost Connections Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The more you think life is about having stuff and superiority and showing it off, the more unhappy, and the more depressed and anxious, you will be.” — Johann Hari

The Book in One Sentence

Lost Connections explains why depression affects so many people and that improving our relationships, not taking medication, is the way to beat our mental health problems.

Why should you read it?

One of today’s most common mental illnesses is depression. Even though there are many people out there suffering from depression, it is still rather unclear what causes it: is it a chemical imbalance or is it the way we live today? Lost Connections shares different stories, from different groups to help us have a better understanding of how depression works and how we can fight against it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Depression is not the result of a chemical imbalance.
  2. There are nine main causes of depression, and they all have to do with difficult life circumstances.
  3. Social prescriptions help people feel valued and connected while medication does not.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?” — Matt Haig

The Book in One Sentence

Reasons To Stay Alive shows you the dangers and difficulties surrounding mental illness, uncovers the stigma around it, and identifies how to recover from it by sharing the story of Matt Haig’s recovery after an awful panic attack and subsequent battle with depression and anxiety.

Why should you read it?

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel – or at least, this is one of the most important things that people have to understand. Living with depression is not an easy thing to do, whether it is you that is affected or someone close to you – and Matt Haig knows that, as he also suffers from depression. He has written this frank, yet encouraging book that reminds us that the little things do count and that life should be lived, for the better or the worse.

Key Takeaways

  1. If you’re depressed, reading books to get out of your own head can help.
  2. There are some benefits to mental illness, which even some of the world’s greatest leaders experienced.
  3. Recovery won’t be as straightforward as you think, but it is possible.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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21. A First Rate Madness by S. Nassir Ghaemi

A First Rate Madness Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“In times of crisis, we are better off being led by mentally ill leaders than by mentally normal ones.” — Cal Newport

The Book in One Sentence

A First-Rate Madness shares the stories of many world leaders and explains how they prevailed despite their mental illnesses and struggles, showing you how to turn your psychological disadvantages into leadership strengths.

Why should you read it?

The world has had many notable leaders up to this point – but what do they all have in common when there is a critical moment unfolding? Analyzing leaders such as Gandhi, Churchill, or JFK – and not only – Ghaemi has figured out that what is seen as a mood disorder can be a very important quality for a leader. Are you curious to find out more regarding this subject?

Key Takeaways

  1. Depression and bipolar disorder have benefits that may be helpful in leadership positions.
  2. Historical leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, and JFK had disorders that helped them make better decisions..
  3. Knowing the upside of mental illness can help us remove the stigma around it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Society

22. Social by Matthew D. Lieberman

Social Book Cover (Best Psychology Books About Society)

Favorite Quote

“It’s hard to find meaning in what we do if at some level it doesn’t help someone else or make someone happier.” Matthew D. Lieberman

The Book in One Sentence

Social explains how our innate drive to build social connections is the primary driver behind our behavior and explores ways we can use this knowledge to our advantage.

Why should you read it?

Human beings are social creatures, and that is a well-known fact. But what is a less known fact is to what extent we can be considered “social”. According to Matthew Lieberman, the need for humans to connect seems to be even more fundamental than the need we have for shelter or food. If you want to find out more about our need to be social and connect with other people, this book could be the best for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. We were programmed to connect socially, which is why social pain hurts so much.
  2. The ability to understand the feelings and thoughts of others helps us succeed in life.
  3. Kindness, not money, will buy you happiness and health.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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23. The Social Animal by David Brooks

The Social Animal Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“People who succeed tend to find one goal in the distant future and then chase it through thick and thin. School asks students to be good at a range of subjects, but life asks people to find one passion that they will follow forever.” — David Brooks

The Book in One Sentence

The Social Animal weaves social science research into the story of a fictional couple to shed light on the decision-making power of our unconscious minds.

Why should you read it?

What would you say about a blend of fiction and non-fiction? Because that is exactly what David Brooks is doing in this book: he creates a couple that lives their lives to the fullest. By making use of diverse scientific references, Brooks analyses the traits of both characters and puts into perspective the elements that made them who they are and what drove them towards it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Learning is not linear, it is a process of forward, backward, and side steps.
  2. Changing your environment is more effective than willpower when cultivating new habits and behaviors.
  3. Humans follow seven unconscious structures, so-called if/then rules, when framing a decision.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Language

24. Words Can Change Your Brain by Andrew B. Newberg

Words Can Change Your Brain Book Cover (Best Psychology Books About Language)

Favorite Quote

“Choose your words wisely, because they will influence your happiness, your relationships, and your personal wealth.” — Andrew B. Newberg

The Book in One Sentence

Words Can Change Your Brain is the ultimate guide to becoming an expert communicator, teaching you how to use psychology to your advantage to express yourself better, listen more, and create an environment of trust with anyone you speak with.

Why should you read it?

People spend a lot of time with other people, daily. But that does not necessarily make them the best communicators, as there is always something more to learn about how we can get our points across. This book will help you improve your communication skills, in order to be happy and successful, no matter which environment you have to use them.

Key Takeaways

  1. If you want to connect with others better when talking, make sure that your mind is relaxed, present, and quiet.
  2. Utilize the power of happy memories to get your smile just right.
  3. You must listen well, speak slower, and even say less to understand others better and have them understand you.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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25. The Secret Life of Pronouns by James W. Pennebaker

The Secret Life of Pronouns Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“If you want to find your true love, compare the ways you use function words with that of your prospective partners..” — James W. Pennebaker

The Book in One Sentence

The Secret Life of Pronouns is a collection of research and case studies explaining what our use of pronouns, articles, and other style words can reveal about ourselves.

Why should you read it?

The way we talk gives a bit of insight into who we are and how we think. Or at least, that’s what Pennebaker has found out in his research – the words we use have a deeper meaning and can carry enough meaning to let us dive into the feelings we have and not only. If you are curious to figure out how the words we use are related to our ways of thinking, The Secret Life of Pronouns could help you out.

Key Takeaways

  1. The manner in which you use style words reveals a lot about your social skills.
  2. Your choice of pronouns reflects your upbringing and ways of thinking.
  3. Examining function words can tell whether people are compatible with one another.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Happiness

26. Stumbling On Happiness by Dan Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness Book Cover (Best Psychology Books About Happiness)

Favorite Quote

“The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.” — Dan Gilbert

The Book in One Sentence

Stumbling On Happiness examines the capacity of our brains to fill in gaps and simulate experiences, shows how our lack of awareness of these powers sometimes leads us to wrong decisions, and how we can change our behavior to synthesize our own happiness.

Why should you read it?

We imagine a lot of things daily, but we mostly imagine the future – creating scenarios, mostly. Using the latest discoveries in psychology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience, Daniel Gilbert provides us not only with a brilliant but also accessible book that will put into perspective the fact that we tend to know very little about us and the people surrounding us.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your brain is really bad at filling in the blanks, but it keeps on trying.
  2. You should always compare products based on value, never on past price.
  3. Bad experiences are better than no experiences.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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27. Flourish by Martin Seligman

Flourish Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“I’m trying to broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face. Happiness is just one-fifth of what human beings choose to do.” — Martin Seligman

The Book in One Sentence

Flourish establishes a new model for well-being, rooted in positive psychology, building on five key pillars to help you create a happy life through the power of simple exercises.

Why should you read it?

How can you flourish? Well, the answers you are looking for might be right in the pages of this book, written by Martin Seligman, a founding father of what is called “the happiness research”. Concentrating on positive psychology, this book will help you realise that psychology is more than helping people with their suffering – it is a tool to help you build your life for the better.

Key Takeaways

  1. Seligman’s PERMA model for happiness is the key to a life of profound fulfillment.
  2. Simple positivity exercises can have life-changing effects, like these two.
  3. IQ isn’t everything – success is based on character traits, not just intelligence.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Decision-Making

28. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink Book Cover (Best Psychology Books About Decision-Making)

Favorite Quote

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” — Malcolm Gladwell

The Book in One Sentence

Blink explains what happens when you listen to your gut feeling, why these snap judgments are often much more efficient than conscious deliberating, and how to avoid your intuition leading you to wrong assumptions.

Why should you read it?

What is behind every decision that we make? Why do some people choose something in the blink of an eye, while others spend a lot of time figuring out what to choose? Blink helps us understand the mechanism behind decision-making and the decisions themselves. If you want to have a better understanding of your mind and mechanisms, Malcolm Gladwell’s book will help you out.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your unconscious is the world’s fastest filter of information.
  2. Stress can lead your gut astray.
  3. Put up screens in situations where you can’t trust your intuition.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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29. The Paradox Of Choice by Barry Schwartz

The Paradox of Choice Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The secret to happiness is low expectations.” – Barry Schwartz

The Book in One Sentence

The Paradox Of Choice shows you how today’s vast amount of choice makes you frustrated, less likely to choose, more likely to mess up, and less happy overall, before giving you concrete strategies and tips to ease the burden of decision-making.

Why should you read it?

We live in a world where choice is no longer a problem: at least from the perspective of quantity. And that is where it gets tricky: this abundance of choice can make us feel overwhelmed and can even lead to anxiety. So, how do we end up making the right choices? Barry Schwartz offers us practical advice that not only will help us make the right choice, but also be happy about the choices we made.

Key Takeaways

  1. The more options you have, the harder it gets to decide, and to decide well.
  2. The more options you have, the less happy you will be, no matter what you decide on.
  3. Good enough is the best – become a satisficer.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Human Behavior And Cognitive Biases

30. Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me by Carol Tavris
Mistakes Were Made Book Cover (Best Psychology Books About Human Behavior And Cognitive Biases)

Favorite Quote

“History is written by the victors, but it’s victims who write the memoirs.” — Carol Tavris

The Book in One Sentence

Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me takes you on a journey of famous examples and areas of life where mistakes are hushed up instead of admitted, showing you along the way how this hinders progress, why we do it in the first place, and what you can do to start honestly admitting your own.

Why should you read it?

Ever since we are young, the one thing we do is hide. Of course, it’s not just about the hide and seek game, but the hiding of mistakes. Even as adults, we hate admitting that we have made a mistake. But the question is why do we act like this? This book will take you through the mechanisms in our brains that make us not admit our mistakes and provides enough advice to help you man up and admit your mistakes.

Key Takeaways

  1. You make up self-justifications to deal with the cognitive dissonance your mistakes create.
  2. Confirmation bias can lead you to change your entire morals.
  3. Stop thinking you’re stupid for making mistakes.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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31. The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The more cashless our society becomes, the more our moral compass slips.” — Dan Ariely

The Book in One Sentence

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty reveals our motivation behind cheating, why it’s not entirely rational, and, based on many experiments, what we can do to lessen the conflict between wanting to get ahead and being good people.

Why should you read it?

Are people 100% honest or do they all have at least a bit of a tendency to cheat? Dishonesty is this book’s main concern and according to bestselling author Dan Ariely, there is some motivation behind cheating and it is sometimes not rational. Fascinated by how human beings make decisions, Ariely has once again looked into how irrationality might influence what we do, even in terms of cheating.

Key Takeaways

  1. You don’t decide to cheat based on rational thinking.
  2. You’re more likely to cheat when there’s a psychological distance between you and cheating.
  3. Don’t wear fake designer clothes. Ever.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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32. Switch by Chip & Dan Heath

Switch Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Knowledge does not change behavior. We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors.” — Chip & Dan Heath

The Book in One Sentence

Switch is about how you can lead and encourage changes of human behavior, both in yourself and in your organization, by focusing on the three forces that influence it: the rider, the elephant and the path.

Why should you read it?

Change might not be the easiest thing to do. Sometimes we cannot do it, because it’s not something depending on us, while other times we refuse to do it because we are scared of the outcome. Chip and Dan Heath have written this book that addresses exactly that challenge: the one of changing, and they want to help us understand what we can do when change is hard, in an entertaining and engaging way.

Key Takeaways

  1. Focus on one specific, critical aspect of the change, so the rider doesn’t have to decide.
  2. Get the elephant moving with a powerful emotion.
  3. Make the path of change easy to follow, because human behavior is highly situational.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Psychology Books About Negative Thinking

33. The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman

The Antidote Book Cover (Best Psychology Books About Negative Thinking)

Favorite Quote

“The effort to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes us miserable. Constant efforts to eliminate the negative, that is what causes us to feel so insecure, anxious, uncertain or unhappy.” — Oliver Burkeman

The Book in One Sentence

The Antidote will explain everything that’s wrong with positivity-based self-help advice and what you should do instead to feel, live, and be happier.

Why should you read it?

How happy would you say you are right now? How happy would you be if it started raining or snowing? These two questions are just two examples from a long line of questions regarding happiness – we are all looking for it, but it seems to be quite a hard thing to achieve. And according to Oliver Burkeman, positive thinking might not always be the answer. Are you ready to try some of the unconventional methods this book proposes?

Key Takeaways

  1. Thinking explicitly about happiness and pursuing it directly are actually counterproductive.
  2. Imagining the worst-case scenario makes you resilient, not depressed.
  3. Setting goals is just as likely to lead us into misery as it is to bring happiness.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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34. The Upside Of Your Dark Side by Todd Kashdan

The Upside of Your Dark Side Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“When we are open to new possibilities, we find them. Be open and skeptical of everything.” — Todd Kashdan

The Book in One Sentence

The Upside Of Your Dark Side takes a look at our darkest emotions, like anxiety or anger, and shows you there are real benefits that follow them and their underlying character traits, such as narcissism or psychopathy.

Why should you read it?

Are the positive things happening in your life the only ones meant to take you far and help you live a better life? Or is it necessary for us to also go through negative emotions and learn how to embrace our sadness or anger? Making use of years of research, this book helps us understand that the full range of emotions can help us change our lives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Happiness can interfere with your performance.
  2. Guilt is good, shame is shit.
  3. Mindfulness takes a toll on you.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

We love psychology because it is one of the most practical fields you can study. Human relationships live entirely in the realm of psychology. Therefore, everything you learn about it will help you deal better with other people and yourself. Our lives have changed for the better after studying these books. We know yours will too.

It’s not easy to understand your thoughts and emotions. But when you do, you unlock a new potential for better living that you never imagined possible. The more you learn about psychology, the better you’ll get at recognizing the thoughts and feelings that pull you down so you can learn how to overcome them and live happier and healthier.

What would be the first thing one should know in terms of psychology and how would it benefit themselves and others? Let us know!


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

The 33 Best Self-Help Books of All Time to Read at Any Age

Best Self Help Books

Self-help books are all about change. A change of habits, character traits, or your physical appearance – you name it. The thing is, you have to make the change yourself.

Every New Year’s Eve, you commit to another version of “new year, new me.” But how does it look a few months later? Has it ever happened to you that you ended up resolving to make the same changes again the next year? Two years, three years, four years in a row? Inevitably, we’ll ask ourselves: How many times do I have to try this to succeed?

The honest answer is “Forever” – because there’ll always be new changes you want to make, a new person you’ll want to become. That’s perfectly okay. Growth is what life is all about. When it comes to making a certain set of new habits stick, however, there are proven methods, tools, tips, and tactics you can use. That way, you won’t get stuck trying to make a single transformation over and over again.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books, most of them in the self-improvement category. In the process, we’ve learned a thing or two about habits, and we’ve also discovered which books are most efficient at helping us adjust our behaviors to better serve our goals.

 

All in all, we’ve found 33 books that’ll support you in making the changes you want to make and achieving your full potential. In this list, we’ve curated them all – the 33 best self-help books of all time. These are the hardest hitters. They’ll drastically improve your life, no matter how old you are.

Self-help can be a tricky thing initially, but if you embrace it and stick with the process for the long run, it’ll yield great rewards. Changing yourself is a never-ending process. The books in our list will be a great starting point for your journey.

If you want to live your best life and become your most powerful self, here are the 33 best books you should dive into. Discover their secrets and make it happen!


Best Books on Self-Help Overall

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist Book Cover (Best Self-Help Books)

Favorite Quote

“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho

The Book in One Sentence

The Alchemist is a classic novel in which a boy named Santiago embarks on a journey seeking treasure in the Egyptian pyramids after having a recurring dream about it and on the way meets mentors, falls in love, and most importantly, learns the true importance of who he is and how to improve himself and focus on what really matters in life.

Why should you read it?

This novel presents a simple story, yet filled with wisdom. Concentrating on the theme of destiny and integrating mysterious characters, as well as important lessons, it compels the reader to wonder constantly and to come to the conclusion that destiny is what we make of it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Listen to your heart if you want your dreams to come true.
  2. Your fear is holding you back more than anything else.
  3. “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” — James Clear

The Book in One Sentence

Atomic Habits is the definitive guide to breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps, showing you how small, incremental, everyday routines compound into massive, positive change over time.

Why should you read it?

What does it take to form a habit? There is a lot of information out there in regards to this, but sometimes you might just not have the time to go through all of it. James Clear has put together this useful and practical book, for you to achieve more good habits and avoid the bad ones.

Key Takeaways

    1. Every time we perform a habit, we execute a four-step pattern: cue, craving, response, reward.
    2. If we want to form new habits, we should make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
    3. You can use a habit tracker as a fun way to measure your progress and make sure you don’t fall off the wagon.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it” — Daniel Kahneman

The Book in One Sentence

Thinking Fast and Slow shows you how two systems in your brain are constantly fighting over control of your behavior and actions, and teaches you the many ways in which this leads to errors in memory, judgment and decisions, and what you can do about it. /em>

Why should you read it?

The human mind is a wonderful, yet still undiscovered place. But what Kahneman can tell you is that two systems form our thinking. If you are looking for a curious conversation about the human mind, this book will not only get you thinking but also transform the way you think.

Key Takeaways

  1. The biggest leaps in progress are vertical, not horizontal.
  2. Your brain is lazy and thus keeps you from using the full power of your intelligence.
  3. When you’re making decisions about money, leave your emotions at home.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive – the risk to be alive and express what we really are…” — Don Miguel Ruiz

The Book in One Sentence

The Four Agreements draws on the long tradition of the Toltecs, an ancient, indigenous people of Mexico, to show you that we have been domesticated from childhood, how these internal, guiding rules hurt us and what we can do to break and replace them with a new set of agreements with ourselves.

Why should you read it?

Our lives are usually conducted by a set of beliefs, and they can sometimes limit us and keep us away from our true calling. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, four agreements could help us transform the way we live our lives and experience its joys to the fullest. And if you are passionate about ancient wisdom, then this book might just be what you need.

Key Takeaways

  1. We’re domesticated from a young age and it leaves us living by a set of rules we haven’t chosen ourselves.
  2. What people say and do to you is a reflection on them, not you. Know who you are and you won’t take things personally.
  3. There are three ways to break your old agreements and live with new ones you choose yourself.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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5. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” — Stephen R. Covey

The Book in One Sentence

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People teaches you both personal and professional effectiveness by changing your view of how the world works and giving you 7 habits, which, if adopted well, will lead you to immense success.

Why should you read it?

Taking control of your life might seem like a difficult thing to do without the proper advice. But Covey has put together a few pieces of advice to help people achieve exactly what they want, from proactivity to success in both their professional and personal lives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Do the funeral test.
  2. Learn how to say no.
  3. Practice active listening.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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6. Best Self by Mike Bayer

Best Self Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.” — Mike Bayer

The Book in One Sentence

Best Self will help you become the hero you’ve always wanted to be by teaching you how to be honest with yourself about what you desire, identify your toxic anti-self, and discover the traits of the greatest possible version of you that you can imagine.

Why should you read it?

Do people change in order to become happier? If you are unsure how to answer this question, Coach Mike’s book might be a good starting point, as it will help you put into perspective where exactly your life is. Knowing where you stand can show you what you need to do and where to head to live a better life. Has this book made it to your “must-read” list yet?

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t worry if you never learned how to reach your full potential, simply start now by defining the version of yourself that would make you happiest.
  2. Don’t worry if you never learned how to reach your full potential, simply start now by defining the version of yourself that would make you happiest.
  3. Help yourself first so you can take great care of other people.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for” — Mark Manson

The Book in One Sentence

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck does away with the positive psychology craze to instead give you a Stoic, no bullshit approach to living a life that might not always be happy, but meaningful and centered only around what’s important to you.

Why should you read it?

Nowadays, wherever you turn your head, you hear that positivity is the key to living a happy and fulfilled life. But according to Mark Manson, this might be a flawed way of thinking and he will tell you that in a raw voice that will make you rethink all that you know about living a happy life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Values you can’t control are bad values to follow.
  2. Don’t believe you know anything with certainty, for it keeps you from improving.
  3. Trying to leave a legacy might ruin your life.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books for Women

8. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face (Best Self Help Books for Women)

Favorite Quote

“You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” — Rachel Hollis

The Book in One Sentence

Girl, Wash Your Face inspires women to take their lives into their own hands and make their dreams happen, no matter how discouraged they may feel at the moment.

Why should you read it?

Women deal with a lot of things that might not be visible to other people. In this book, Hollis makes use of a soft, yet empowering tone that helps women remove themselves from any mentality that might destroy their self-confidence and helps them stay on top of things, even when they seem to crumble. A book that is filled with honesty and humor, as well as precious advice.

Key Takeaways

  1. Build the habit of keeping your promises to yourself because breaking them pulls you down.
  2. Rather than fighting the river of chaotic home life, learn to embrace it.
  3. Visualize your dreams and focus on them in detail to stay motivated to make them happen.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.” ― Jen Sincero

The Book in One Sentence

You Are A Badass helps you become self-aware, figure out what you want in life and then summon the guts to not worry about the how, kick others’ opinions to the curb and focus your life on the thing that will make you happy.

Why should you read it?

Improving your life might sound like a tedious thing to do, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. Jen Sincero has written this book exactly for those people – the ones who want to change their lives, but not in a hard way. Making use of stories and pieces of advice, as well as easy exercises, this book promises to be a good starting point in your life-changing journey.

Key Takeaways

  1. Decide you’ll stop caring what other people think. Right. now.
  2. Figure out what you want but don’t obsess about how you’ll get there.
  3. If your habits, surroundings and friends don’t support you, it’s time to change them.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books for Men

10. 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson

12 Rules For Life (Best Self Help Books for Men)

Favorite Quote

“It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable.” — Jordan Peterson

The Book in One Sentence

12 Rules For Life is a stern, story-based, and entertaining self-help manual for young people that lays out a set of simple principles that can help us become more disciplined, behave better, act with integrity, and balance our lives while enjoying them as much as we can.

Why should you read it?

Sometimes, life can get rather chaotic and some things just don’t seem to make sense. Not to mention those burning questions that nobody seems to have an answer to. But according to Dr. Peterson, there are some things everybody should know and he explains them in a humorous and informative way in this stunning book.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sweep in front of your own door before pointing out the street is dirty.
  2. Treat yourself like a child you’re responsible for.
  3. Aim to do what is meaningful, not convenient.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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11. The 48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.” — Robert Greene

The Book in One Sentence

The 48 Laws Of Power draws on many of history’s most famous power quarrels to show you what power looks like, how you can get it, what to do to defend yourself against the power of others and, most importantly, how to use it well and keep it.

Why should you read it?

What constitutes power? Is it a set of black and white moral views? Or is it a set of gray moral views, the ones that some people never really talk about? This challenging book puts into perspective a synthesis of philosophies and historical legacies that might be surprising to the reader. Are you curious yet?

Key Takeaways

  1. Always make superiors look smarter than you.
  2. Confuse competitors by acting unpredictably.
  3. Don’t force others to do what you want, seduce them instead.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books for 20-Somethings

12. The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

The Courage to Be Disliked (Best Self Help Books for 20-Somethings)

Favorite Quote

“The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness.” — Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

The Book in One Sentence

The Courage to be Disliked is a Japanese analysis of the work of 19th-century psychologist Alfred Adler, who established that happiness lies in the hands of each human individual and does not depend on past traumas.

Why should you read it?

Is it that easy to liberate our real selves and be happy, despite past experiences and doubts that might have shaped us differently? This book offers precious insight in terms of what we need to do to let go of any burdens that might keep us away from who we truly are.

Key Takeaways

  1. It’s dangerous to believe that your past determines your future.
  2. If you focus on what’s wrong with you, you might be looking for reasons to hate yourself on purpose.
  3. Most of what we think of as competition is just made up and hurting our happiness.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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13. Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Man's Search For Meaning Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” — Viktor Frankl

The Book in One Sentence

Man’s Search For Meaning details holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s horrifying experiences in Nazi concentration camps, along with his psychological approach of logotherapy, which is also what helped him survive and shows you how you can – and must – find meaning in your life.

Why should you read it?

Do you ever wonder what is exactly that people are pursuing? Could it be anything we find meaningful or is it just something that brings us happiness and pleasure? Written by a psychiatrist, this book wants to inspire us to find something meaningful not just when it comes to things, but when it comes to your life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sometimes the only way to survive is to surrender to death..
  2. Your life has its own meaning and it’s up to you to find it.
  3. Use paradoxical intention to make your fears go away.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember: Life is too short to be little.” — Dale Carnegie

The Book in One Sentence

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living is a self-help classic which addresses one of the leading causes of physical illness, worry, by showing you simple and actionable techniques to eliminate it from your life.

Why should you read it?

Do you feel like you are constantly worrying and that this is taking its toll on you? This book might help you cope with those feelings, by making use of simple, yet effective techniques that can bring you peace. You might also find out the golden rule for conquering any kind of worry – but that will not be spoiled here.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use a 3-step approach to deal with confusion and you’ll eliminate the worry caused by it.
  2. Put a stop-loss on stress and grief.
  3. Take criticism as compliments.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books for Self Esteem

15. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Daring Greatly Book Cover (Best Self Help Books for Self Esteem)

Favorite Quote

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” — Brene Brown

The Book in One Sentence

Daring Greatly is a book about having the courage to be vulnerable in a world where everyone wants to appear strong, confident and like they know what they’re doing.

Why should you read it?

Embracing our vulnerabilities can be a difficult thing to do, but once we learn how to do that, we find out that we can dare to do anything. Dr. Brene Brown has come up with a powerful vision that encourages us to do exactly that: overcome our insecurities and learn how to live our lives fearlessly.

Key Takeaways

  1. Vulnerability means strength, not weakness.
  2. Understand and verbalize your shame to make it go away.
  3. Children can only become who you are, so be a role model.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

The Book in One Sentence

Big Magic is the book that’ll give you the courage you need to pursue your creative interests by showing you how to deal with your fears, notice ideas and act on them and take the stress out of creation.

Why should you read it?

Inspiration is a mysterious thing, but that’s what makes it so interesting. And Elizabeth Gilbert knows that, which is why she has written this book. In Big Magic, she tries to show us how to embrace who we are and to find those hidden things inside us, which can help us accomplish wonderful and unimaginable things. Filled with wonder and with a sense of joy, this book might be what you need to let go of your fears and live in a way that inspires you to change.

Key Takeaways

  1. Let your fears coexist with your passions.
  2. Give yourself permission to create.
  3. Keep your day job to fuel your creative affair.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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17. Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” — Susan Cain

The Book in One Sentence

Quiet shows the slow rise of the extrovert ideal for success throughout the 20th century, while making a case for the underappreciated power of introverts and showing up new ways for both forces to cooperate.

Why should you read it?

There are people in the world who prefer to listen, rather than talk. Or people who have greater results on their own, rather than inside a team. And those people are most likely introverts. Susan Cain presents us in this book with stories about those quiet people and promises to give us a different perspective in regards to how we perceive these quiet people.

Key Takeaways

  1. Whether you like small talk or not is part of your personality type.
  2. Western cultures portray extroversion as the ideal of success.
  3. Companies need to adjust their workplaces to introverts as well.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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18. The Magic Of Thinking Big by David Joseph Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking Big Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Do what you fear and fear disappears.” — David Joseph Schwartz

The Book in One Sentence

The Magic Of Thinking Big gives you several starting points to develop and strengthen the most important trait of successful people: believing in yourself.

Why should you read it?

What do you need in order to become successful? Is it talent or intellect or is it just a habit of thinking in such a way that all you’ve ever wanted will be sitting right in front of you? Dr. Schwartz has put together a few useful methods to achieve all those things you want but never dared to get: from a good job to a good life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Always be open to new ideas.
  2. Learn something new whenever you can.
  3. Ask yourself “How can I do a better job today?” every day.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books About Relationships

19. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Best Self Help Books About Relationships)

Favorite Quote

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” — Dale Carnegie

The Book in One Sentence

How To Win Friends And Influence People teaches you countless principles to become a likable person, handle your relationships well, win others over and help them change their behavior without being intrusive.

Why should you read it?

Making things work to your advantage doesn’t have to be just a dream. All the things you have in mind can happen and all you need is to follow the solid advice Dale Carnegie has to offer in this bestseller. How to make friends, how to win people by making use of the way you think. and how to change people – these are all things you will encounter in this book.

Key Takeaways

  1. You can make a great first impression just by smiling.
  2. To be interesting to others, talk about their favorite topic: themselves.
  3. If you want to convince people, get them to say yes a lot.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The 5 Love Languages Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“True love cannot beging until the “in love” experience has run its course” — Gary Chapman

The Book in One Sentence

The 5 Love Languages shows couples how to make their love last by learning to recognize the unique way their partner feels love.

Why should you read it?

Love is a curious thing, and it can even be deemed as challenging sometimes. But there is a secret to keep things going and this book contains it. Filled with practical examples, Dr. Chapman’s approach will help you experience a deeper connection with your partner and also discover the love language of both you and your partner, through a Couple’s Personal Profile assessment.

Key Takeaways

  1. As your relationship matures, communication is key.
  2. There are 5 different ways people give and show love.
  3. Identify your and your partner’s love language to deepen intimacy.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books About Productivity

21. Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep Work Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive – no matter how skilled or talented you are.” — Cal Newport

The Book in One Sentence

Deep Work proposes that we have lost our ability to focus deeply and immerse ourselves in a complex task, showing you how to cultivate this skill again and focus more than ever before with four simple rules.

Why should you read it?

There is a valuable skill out there that could you get the best results in whatever you do. Being able to focus without being distracted can seem like a difficult thing to do, but it is a very powerful skill that could help you achieve your goals and unexpected results. If you want to find out more about this skill, Cal Newport’s book might be a good starting point.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are four strategies for deep work, all of which require intention.
  2. Productive meditation can help you work deeper, even while you’re taking a break.
  3. Stop working at the same time each day.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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22. Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” — David Allen

The Book in One Sentence

Getting Things Done is a manual for stress-free productivity, which helps you set up a system of lists, reminders and weekly reviews, in order to free your mind from having to remember tasks and to-dos and instead let it work at full focus on the task at hand.

Why should you read it?

Things change daily and that can sometimes become overwhelming and even frustrating. But that doesn’t always have to be the case, as David Allen depicts. Filled with methods that will help our productivity reach its peak, even in the case of stressful situations, this book will help you get things done, under any circumstances.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use a “collection bucket” to store things outside your mind and stay focused.
  2. Create a “next actions” list for all your projects to avoid thinking in the moment.
  3. Do a weekly review of everything, or else!

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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23. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” — Spencer Johnson

The Book in One Sentence

Who Moved My Cheese tells a parable, which you can directly apply to your own life, in order to stop fearing what lies ahead and instead thrive in an environment of change and uncertainty.

Why should you read it?

This is not your usual guide, but rather an amusing story that will put things into perspective. You are in a maze and there’s a block of cheese in front of you. Your life is the maze and the cheese is the prize, but there is a tricky thing about it – you constantly have to chase it. Just as it is in life, this story puts into perspective the challenges we have to deal with in order to reach our goals. But what’s the moral of the story? You’ll discover it when you read this book!

Key Takeaways

  1. Thinking too much about your cheese might paralyze you, so just start looking.
  2. Nothing lasts forever, so keep your eyes open for approaching changes.
  3. You can always find new cheese, and the minute you start moving things will get better.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books About Money

24. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad (Best Self Help Books About Money)

Favorite Quote

“The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play not to lose. They don’t play to win.” — Robert T. Kiyosaki

The Book in One Sentence

Rich Dad Poor Dad tells the story of a boy with two fathers, one rich, one poor, to help you develop the mindset and financial knowledge you need to build a life of wealth and freedom.

Why should you read it?

As a child, growing up, your views and thoughts are usually shaped by your parents. And in this book, Robert tells the story of how his views about money and how they were shaped by his two dads, one of them being his real father and the other one, his best friend’s father. Money makes the world go round, but how do you deal with them? Read this book to find out.

Key Takeaways

  1. Get a real financial education if you ever want to exit the “rat race” and stop living paycheck to paycheck.
  2. Stop saying “I can’t afford it” and instead focus all your energy on answering the question “how can I afford it?”
  3. Get more assets, which are anything that brings in more money, and pay off all liabilities, which are anything that takes your money away.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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25. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill

The Book in One Sentence

Think And Grow Rich is a curation of the 13 most common habits of wealthy and successful people, distilled from studying over 500 individuals over the course of 20 years.

Why should you read it?

In life, you have to take certain steps to achieve your goals and there is also a point where you have to avoid certain steps to be successful. Filled with timeless information and pieces of advice that might take you far, this book is a must-read for your personal development.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use autosuggestion to build an unshakable belief in yourself.
  2. Be stubborn and always stick to your decisions.
  3. Join a Mastermind group to cut the learning curve.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books for Business

26. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek Book Cover (Best Self Help Books for Business)

Favorite Quote

“Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.” — Tim Ferriss

The Book in One Sentence

The 4-Hour Workweek is the step-by-step blueprint to free yourself from the shackles of a corporate job, create a business to fund the lifestyle of your dreams, and live life like a millionaire, without actually having to be one.

Why should you read it?

The world keeps changing, but some things seem to always stay the same. If you feel that your business is trapping you in a life that is not the best for you or if you just feel overworked, while other people seem to be doing very little and are living their lives to the fullest, you might want to dive into this book and find out exactly what you might be doing wrong.

Key Takeaways

  1. Be effective, not efficient.
  2. Validate all of your business ideas.
  3. Charge a premium to make your life easier.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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27. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from” — Malcolm Gladwell

The Book in One Sentence

Outliers explains why “the self-made man” is a myth and what truly lies behind the success of the best people in their field, which is often a series of lucky events, rare opportunities and other external factors, which are out of our control.

Why should you read it?

Are those considered high achievers different from the rest of the world? Malcolm Gladwell answers this question and not only, in a book that puts into perspective the background of those high achieving people. According to him, being that kind of person is not just about what you are like, but so much more. Are you curious to find out the secrets of all these great people?

Key Takeaways

  1. After you cross a certain skill threshold, your abilities won’t help you.
  2. The month you’re born in matters.
  3. Asians are good at math, because where you come from matters.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books for Positive Thinking

28. The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive Thinking Book Cover (Best Self Help Books for Positive Thinking)

Favorite Quote

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.” — Norman Vincent Peale

The Book in One Sentence

The Power of Positive Thinking will show you that the roots of success lie in the mind and teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by taking control of your thoughts and changing your attitude.

Why should you read it?

You usually hear people saying that you should have faith in yourself, and that alone will bring you to the point you want to reach. But what if you had more faith in action? Filled with practical advice, this book will help you clear your mind and realize that sometimes, you just have to let yourself believe.

Key Takeaways

  1. Start with confidence and watch your problems shrink.
  2. Your world is nothing more than the thoughts you have about your experiences.
  3. In order to live worry-free, first imagine a worry-free life.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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29. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.” — Rhonda Byrne

The Book in One Sentence

The Secret explains how the law of attraction governs your thinking and actions, and how you can use it to achieve whatever you desire in life.

Why should you read it?

The world is a magical place and it is filled with secrets that can make us understand our power and how to properly use it. All these secrets form what is called The Secret, which contains words of wisdom and powerful wisdom which will help you overcome any difficulties you might encounter in your life.

Key Takeaways

  1. The law of attraction is one of the most prevalent principles in the world.
  2. To use the law of attraction, you must think about what you want, not what you want to avoid.
  3. The three steps of the law of attraction are asking, believing, and receiving.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books About Stoicism

30. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Meditations Book Cover (Best Self Help Books About Stoicism)

Favorite Quote

“Put an end once for all to this discussion of what a good man should be, and be one.” — Marcus Aurelius

The Book in One Sentence

Meditations is a collection of 12 books written by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who’ll introduce you to Stoic philosophy, the concept of logic, self-discipline and give you faith that the course the world runs is a good one.

Why should you read it?

A remarkable collection of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, this book will help you realize that simple and true ideas might be the most important things to live life to the fullest extent. Things are temporary, and so are people and their feelings, but what is not temporary is the work we put into developing ourselves. An enlightening read, this book will provide you with some challenging beliefs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Logic doesn’t always make sense, but everything happens for a reason.
  2. Life is too short to complain.
  3. The only pain you suffer is the one you create yourself.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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31. The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle is the Way Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” — Ryan Holiday

The Book in One Sentence

The Obstacle Is The Way is a modern take on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, which helps you endure the struggles of life with grace and resilience by drawing lessons from ancient heroes, former presidents, modern actors, athletes, and how they turned adversity into success, thanks to the power of perception, action and will.

Why should you read it?

You might ask yourself, is there a way to transform obstacles into actual opportunities? Ryan Holiday shows us in this book that there is a way for us to turn different situations into victories, as impossible as they might seem at the beginning. And all of this, by making use of different philosophical principles.

Key Takeaways

  1. Imagine you’re advising yourself as a friend to keep an objective perspective.
  2. Large obstacles have large weaknesses – identify them and use them against them.
  3. Use your will to accept what you cannot change and change the things you can.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Self Help Books About Mindfulness

32. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now Book Cover (Best Self Help Books About Mindfulness)

Favorite Quote

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” — Eckhart Tolle

The Book in One Sentence

The Power of Now shows you that every minute you spend worrying about the future or regretting the past is a minute lost, because really all you have to live in is the present, the now, and gives you actionable strategies to start living every minute as it occurs.

Why should you read it?

Is living in the present moment the key to a happy life? According to Eckhart Tolle, this might just be what we need – to be conscious and to live in the moment. Employing useful information and ideas which prove to be inspirational, this guidebook will inspire you to change your life for the better. < h3>Key Takeaways

  1. Life is just a series of present moments.
  2. All pain is a result of resistance to the things you cannot change.
  3. You can free yourself from pain by constantly observing your mind and not judging your thoughts.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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33. The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” — Marie Kondo

The Book in One Sentence

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up takes you through the process of simplifying, organizing and storing your belongings step by step, to make your home a place of peace and clarity.

Why should you read it?

Your environment dictates your mood. And it also applies to your home – if your home is cluttered with all sorts of things, your mood might be affected by it. Tidying up your house might help you reach a feeling of calmness and to change your mindset – all for the better.

Key Takeaways

  1. Move from easy to hard items when considering what to keep.
  2. YODO – you only declutter once (if you do it right).
  3. Ask yourself a few simple questions for each item.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

That concludes our list of the best self-improvement books. We hope we managed to give you a bit of insight into what self help means and how to do it right. We’re confident that these 33 books will help you figure out where to start and how to become the person you want to be.

Letting go of certain beliefs or ideas might be scary, but when you take a leap, you’ll discover parts of yourself you never knew existed. Knowing yourself and changing yourself is not a piece of cake, but it will bring out your most remarkable sides.

What idea spoke most to you in our list? Which book presented it the best? Take that idea and put it into practice, and you’ll find yourself improving immediately!


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

The 21 Best Habit Books

Best Habit Books Cover Image Social Media Sharing

Habits. Such a simple yet powerful word. It contains all the behaviors we perform without giving them too much thought. Our actions and decisions, all mixed in a specific ritual.

The most interesting part about habits is how different they all are for every single one of us. Habits can refer to anything; from reaching for your toothpaste and toothbrush each morning to what you eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Forming a specific habit means associating a specific thing or action with another one. Making the right associations can drastically improve your life from all perspectives: work, psychology, health, and even money.

Here at Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books. It’s quite a number, and it has provided us with a bit of knowledge regarding habits. We’ve discovered the best books on creating better habits, breaking bad ones, and even using the concept of habits itself to your advantage. If you manage them well, your habits will guide you to success and happiness – seemingly on autopilot!

If you want to dive into the world of habits, regardless of the field, consider the following 21 books. We’ve sorted them by various categories. Each section includes our favorite quote, a one-sentence-summary of the book, and three key takeaways. As a bonus, you can also find some reasons why you might want to read the book. The clickable table of contents below will allow you to jump to any of the books or categories.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the 21 best habit books of all time!


Best Books on Habits Overall

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Best Habit Books 1

Favorite Quote

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” — James Clear

The Book in One Sentence

Atomic Habits is the definitive guide to breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps, showing you how small, incremental, everyday routines compound into massive, positive change over time.

Why should you read it?

You want to be better, but you don’t know where to start. Can you think of any good habits you might want to form and any bad habits you might want to get rid of? If the answer is yes, then this book is the right one for you, as it contains quite an impressive number of both examples and steps you can take when it comes to building habits. Giving even that 1% each day is important, or at least that’s what James tells us. And it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about reducing stress, losing weight, or winning a championship – Atomic Habits is the solution that will answer all of your questions.

Key Takeaways

    1. Every time we perform a habit, we execute a four-step pattern: cue, craving, response, reward.
    2. If we want to form new habits, we should make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
    3. You can use a habit tracker as a fun way to measure your progress and make sure you don’t fall off the wagon.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Best Habit Books 2

Favorite Quote

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” — Stephen R. Covey

The Book in One Sentence

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People teaches you both personal and professional effectiveness by changing your view of how the world works and giving you 7 habits, which, if adopted well, will lead you to immense success.

Why should you read it?

Life can sometimes become a rollercoaster and the simplest things tend to be overlooked. Things seem complicated when they are really not. And that is exactly what Stephen is telling us: the basic things might just be our key to success. Just to get you hooked on the book, I will give you one spoiler: prioritization is crucial. Sounds complicated, right? You might want to read the book to see how easy it actually is!

Key Takeaways

  1. Do the funeral test.
  2. Learn how to say no.
  3. Practice active listening.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. The Habit Blueprint by Patrik Edblad

Best Books on Habits 3

Favorite Quote

“Since you’re the biggest expert in the world on your behavior, I encourage you to take on the roles of both scientist and subject from this point forward. Let life become your experiment and the world your lab.” — Patrik Edblad

The Book in One Sentence

The Habit Blueprint strips down behavior change to its very core, giving you the ultimate, research-backed recipe for cultivating the habits you desire, with plenty of backup steps you can take to maximize your chances of success.

Why should you read it?

If you consider yourself the type of person that really needs a “how-to” kind of strategy, then this is the book for you. Times change and so do people, but in order to keep things running smoothly, people need to decide that they want to change and actually start doing it. Which can become overwhelming at times. Written by a certified mental trainer, this book is a quick and easy read that will determine you to actually jump from thought to action.

Key Takeaways

  1. Get a head start on your habit changes by picking a keystone habit first.
  2. Avoid fluctuating willpower by starting ridiculously small.
  3. Use the sunk cost fallacy to your advantage by building a chain of check-ins.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Best Books About Habits 4

Favorite Quote

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” — Gretchen Rubin

The Book in One Sentence

Better Than Before breaks down the latest research on how to break bad habits and develop good ones, in order to help you find your habit tendency and give you a few simple tools to start improving your own habits.

Why should you read it?

Nowadays, one of the most asked questions is related to change. And this New York Times bestseller is trying to answer that exact question with a very simple answer. The way in which we spend our time basically dictates how our lives flow. And maybe even those daily habits you might not necessarily take into consideration have a bigger impact than you might think. If you need doable approaches or concepts that can take you a long way, this book can help you achieve that.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are 4 different habit tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.
  2. Track and plan your habits with two simple tools to make sure you follow through: a calendar and a habit tracker.
  3. Make good habits easy to do and bad ones unattractive.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books About Habits for Beginners

5. The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Best Habit Books 5

Favorite Quote

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” — Charles Duhigg

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Habit helps you understand why habits are at the core of everything you do, how you can change them, and what impact that will have on your life, your business and society.

Why should you read it?

Human nature might be difficult to understand sometimes and scientific discoveries regarding it never ceases to amaze us. If you are looking for an enjoyable book, that gives you a bit of insight into how exactly habits work and how they can be changed, then this book might be your winner. Habits govern our life, whether they’re good or bad. Starting or breaking a habit might be difficult, but knowing exactly how and why they are formed can save us a lot of time and give us a lot of control.

Key Takeaways

  1. Habits work in 3-step loops: cue, routine, reward.
  2. You can change your habits by substituting just one part of the loop, the routine.
  3. Willpower is the most important habit, and you can strengthen it over time with 3 things.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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6. Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg

Best Habit Books 6

Favorite Quote

“After you put your feet on the floor in the morning, immediately say this phrase, ‘It’s going to be a great day.’ As you say these seven words, try to feel optimistic and positive.” ― B.J. Fogg

The Book in One Sentence

Tiny Habits shows you the power of applying small changes to your routine to unleash the full power that habits have to make your life better.

Why should you read it?

Times sometimes get really chaotic and have a greater effect than imagined on us. And at one point, we can all agree that change is not the easiest process out there, as it has a lot of elements that form it. The world’s leading expert B.J. Fogg agrees with this idea, which is why the main focus is on breaking a “habit” into a set of “little habits”, which can allow you to make small, but sure changes. If taking things step by step is your way to go, then this book should be all yours.

Key Takeaways

  1. Starting embarrassingly small is the secret to keep you going through the boring days and beyond to finally reach your goals.
  2. Motivation doesn’t work for long-term growth, you need to tap into the potential of behavior.
  3. To unlock the power of action, connect your habits with prompts that are already in your daily routine.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. Mini Habits by Stephen Guise

Best Books on Habits 7

Favorite Quote

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.” ― Stephen Guise

The Book in One Sentence

Mini Habits explains how you can get the most out of the fact that 45% of your behavior happens on autopilot by setting ridiculously small goals, relying on willpower instead of motivation and tracking your progress to live a life that’s full of good mini habits.

Why should you read it?

This book dives into the idea that you can change and make these changes last. Do you want a motivating, but rather quick read? Hop right on, but don’t go too fast. Keeping a rather lower profile and going slower might be the key elements to success. Also, if you want a bit of the author’s personal touch, a book that will make you think: “That makes so much sense and it is exactly what I was thinking!,” then you might have made an important discovery with this title.

Key Takeaways

  1. Set a super easy goal to start, because chances are you’ll keep going once you’re off.
  2. Use some kind of system to track your habits and progress.
  3. When you beat your goal, don’t increase the standard, or you’ll fall off the wagon.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books About Habits for Work

8. The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth

Best Habit Books 8

Favorite Quote

“We don’t realize how many of our fixed views of the world are based on limited samples of reality.” — Bernard Roth

The Book in One Sentence

The Achievement Habit shows you that being an achiever can be learned, by using the principles of design thinking to walk you through several stories and exercises, which will get you to stop wishing and start doing.

Why should you read it?

Written by the Academic Director at the Stanford d. School, this book dives into the powerful methods of design thinking. Do you usually find yourself stuck in situations or moments in which you shouldn’t be? This book offers enough tips to help you remove yourself from such a situation by rewiring the way in which you think about a problem. And the best part about this book? You can find quite a few strategies that are not only creative but will also help you when you feel like you are stuck.

Key Takeaways

  1. Stop giving reasons, they’re just another form of excuses.
  2. Swap “but” for “and” in everything you say.
  3. Don’t network, make real friends instead.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Best Books on Habits 9

Favorite Quote

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” — Twyla Tharp

The Book in One Sentence

The Creative Habit is a dancer’s blueprint to making creativity a habit, which she’s successfully done for over 50 years in the entertainment industry.

Why should you read it?

Creativity is often seen as a gift, as something magical, a spark some people are born with, while others without. But what if it’s all about effort and construction? This book is not your usual “manual” or practical kind of book – it is more an insight into how Twyla Tharp stays on top of her game. If you are looking for strategies that could be considered rather high-level and could help you be the most creative person out there, this would be a great starting point.

Key Takeaways

  1. Design a starting ritual for your creative process.
  2. Use a project box to prepare your work and ground yourself.
  3. Always end right in the middle of work for an easy entry the next day.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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10. The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey

Best Habit Books 10

Favorite Quote

“People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.” — Stephen R. Covey

The Book in One Sentence

The 8th Habit is about finding your voice and helping others discover their own, in order to thrive at work in the Information Age, where interdependence is more important than independence.

Why should you read it?

A sequel to his previous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this one challenges readers to put everything they have learned so far in the proper perspective and flourish from there. If you are on the lookout for simple, yet useful insights to help you be more effective, Stephen has them for you. And one of the best parts is that these principles can be integrated into any part of your life – be it private or public life, all in order to make a difference.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your freedom to choose is the biggest gift you were born with.
  2. Build trust by being friendly, knowing when to say sorry and following through on your promises.
  3. Empower others by giving up control and handing them responsibility.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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11. The Now Habit by Neil Fiore

Best Habit Books 11

Favorite Quote

“The choice is not working or not working, but which type of work; even feeling guilty because of procrastinating takes some effort.” — Neil Fiore

The Book in One Sentence

The Now Habit is a strategic program to help you eliminate procrastination from your life, bring fun and motivation back to your work and enjoy your well-earned spare time without feeling guilty.

Why should you read it?

Having sold over 100.000 copies, this book tackles the idea of overcoming procrastination through a comprehensive plan. There are quite a few books on the market that usually tell you that procrastination can be overcome if you make a list or just… start working. But this book does not give you those reasons over and over again. It starts by explaining why people procrastinate and as you might have guessed it, it is not because they’re lazy. But not to give any spoilers, information is key in this book and it opens the lock to all your time barriers.

Key Takeaways

  1. Procrastination is trained into us.
  2. Try to unschedule your life.
  3. Record your distractions to block them.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. Switch  by Chip & Dan Heath

Best Books About Habits 12

Favorite Quote

“Knowledge does not change behavior. We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors.” — Chip & Dan Heath

The Book in One Sentence

Switch is about how you can lead and encourage changes of human behavior, both in yourself and in your organization, by focusing on the three forces that influence it: the rider, the elephant and the path.

Why should you read it?

Best-selling authors of Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath have returned with a delicate subject: how do you change when it’s not so easy to do so? Are you also looking for complex subjects explained in a simple manner? This book comprises a metaphorical sense that helps with all the concepts that are presented. Changing is not an easy task, but knowing exactly how to kickstart the mechanics behind change can help you achieve quite a lot. And it might never be the easy way out, but it will definitely be the best way out.

Key Takeaways

  1. Focus on one specific, critical aspect of the change, so the rider doesn’t have to decide.
  2. Get the elephant moving with a powerful emotion.
  3. Make the path of change easy to follow, because human behavior is highly situational.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Habit Books About Money

13. Millionaire Success Habits by Dean Graziosi

Best Habit Books 13

Favorite Quote

“It doesn’t matter where you come from. It only matters where you are and where you want to go.” — Dean Grazios

The Book in One Sentence

Millionaire Success Habits will teach you the habits you need to become financially successful and make a big difference in the world along the way.

Why should you read it?

Where could you situate yourself in life as we speak and where do you want to end up? This book might just have the answer you are looking for. Informative and impressive – these are probably the best words to describe this book. And sometimes, the smallest shifts can produce the biggest effects. And that, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in. It just takes a bit of courage to apply any of the wisdom shared in this book.

Key Takeaways

  1. Find your why by doing the seven levels deep exercise and your motivation and energy will skyrocket.
  2. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses, if you want to be happier and more productive.”
  3. Wake up the hero inside of you and let them take charge of your life.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. Dollars And Sense by Dan Ariely & Jeff Kreisler

Best Books About Habits 14

Favorite Quote

“Thinking a lot about money would be fine if by thinking more about it we were able to make better decisions.” — Dan Ariely & Jeff Kreisler

The Book in One Sentence

Dollars And Sense explains why it’s so hard to manage money and teaches you how to combat false cues and natural desires so you can manage your dollars in better ways.

Why should you read it?

Money is just a collection of numbers, or so we think, but sometimes, we judge these numbers with our hearts, and not our heads. How would you describe your relationship with money and how would you describe your spending habits? Behavioural economist, Dan Ariely has partnered up with writer Jeff Kreisler to explain how instincts work in our relationship with money. Knowing exactly how and when certain behaviours are instilled can help us reconsider our daily financial decisions. You might be surprised to find out that a lot of our money-related decisions are actually just a bias.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fundamental human characteristics make it hard to manage our money.
  2. Use emotional connections and “Ulysses Contracts” to boost your self-control.
  3. Get rid of your complex budget and make a simple one.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Habit Books for Health

15. Rewire by Richard O’Connor

Best Habit Books 15

Favorite Quote

“You know very well what the right choice is, yet you keep making the wrong one.” — Richard O’Connor

The Book in One Sentence

Rewire explains why we keep engaging in addictive and self-destructive behavior, how our brains justify it and where you can get started on breaking your bad habits by becoming more mindful and disciplined.

Why should you read it?

Written by a psychotherapist, this book gives you a number of tools that will help you not only understand those bad behaviours you might have but also change them. People have a tendency to “repeat mistakes”, which might just be bad habits that die hard. This book will also go deeper into the roots of a certain problem, in order to put things into a certain perspective and will help you overcome any destructive behaviour with the help of exercise. A short book, but packed with a lot of valuable information!

Key Takeaways

  1. You have two selves that influence your actions – a conscious one and an automatic one.
  2. Repressing your emotions can cause you to become self-destructive.
  3. You can start breaking your bad habits by faking it and training mindfulness.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. You Are Not Your Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

Best Habit Books 16

Favorite Quote

“Your mind is your biggest ally” — Jeffrey M. Schwartz

The Book in One Sentence

You Are Not Your Brain educates you about the science behind bad habits and breaking them, giving you an actionable 4-step framework you can use to stop listening to your brain’s deceptive messages.

Why should you read it?

This 4 – Step Method book, written by two neuroscience experts can help you change those bad habits once and for all. More and more people seem to dive into an unhealthy way of thinking, which affects them from every perspective. But this can be overcome, as it is explained in this book. Your brain might push you into thinking in a certain way, but your mind can become your biggest ally against destructive thoughts or actions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Self-directed neuroplasticity is your go-to weapon to change your habits.
  2. Hebb’s law and the quantum zeno effect.
  3. There are 4 steps you can take to break a bad habit.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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17. The Joy Of Movement by Kelly McGonigal

Best Habit Books 17

Favorite Quote

“The right playlist can transform your experience of exercise.” — by Kelly McGonigal

The Book in One Sentence

The Joy Of Movement is just what you need to finally find the motivation to get out and exercise more often by teaching you the scientific reasons why it’s good for you and why your body is designed to enjoy it.

Why should you read it?

Many books will tell you why you should get up and start moving around in your house. Dance, sing, jump – do whatever your body tells you to. Now, do you feel all pumped up? Because this book will have you all pumped up as well and it will show you how to start enjoying moving around! If you want to have a better understanding of the science behind movement and how it makes us feel all better, you might want to run to the nearest store and find this book.

Key Takeaways

  1. The “runner’s high” comes with any type of physical exertion, is a protection against anxiety and depression, and can even make you more social.
  2. Exercise can give you a hit like drugs would, but with a whole lot of positive side-effects instead of the negative ones that come from substance abuse.
  3. If you don’t like the idea of steroids but want to enhance your performance, use music to reach your peak state while exercising.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Habit Books on Psychology

18. Willpower by Roy Baumeister

Best Habit Books 18

Favorite Quote

“For most of us, the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them” — Roy Baumeister

The Book in One Sentence

Willpower is a blend of practical tips and the latest scientific research on self-control, explaining how willpower works, what you can do to improve it, how to optimize it and which steps to take when it fails you.

Why should you read it?

Roy F. Baumeister, an influential psychologist, teamed up with a science writer, John Tierney, in the writing of this book. And what did they find out? That self-control might be a well-kept secret for a better and successful life and that this secret can be easily mastered. This book is filled with tips and different techniques that can help you build a better life, without using too much magic.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your willpower works like a muscle – if you exercise it too much, it gets worn out.
  2. Willpower begets willpower, so you can train it by using it.
  3. Set compatible and clear goals, but leave leeway for your willpower.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. Drive by Daniel Pink

Best Habit Books 19

Favorite Quote

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” — Daniel Pink

The Book in One Sentence

Drive explores what has motivated humans throughout history and explains how we shifted from mere survival to the carrot and stick approach that’s still practiced today – and why it’s outdated.

Why should you read it?

This New York Times bestseller surprises readers with a new view in regards to motivation. An easy read, that gets straight to the point and allows the readers to aim not only for self but also for business improvement. Times change and things evolve, and so do we – so how do we reach that point of true motivation? This unique book will provide you with clever and simple techniques that will take you far.

Key Takeaways

  1. The carrot and stick approach is dead.
  2. Extrinsic motivation destroys intrinsic motivation.
  3. Strive for the flow state in everything you do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Habits Of A Happy Brain by Loretta Breuning

Best Habit Books 20

Favorite Quote

“You can increase your pleasure if you’re willing to do things that don’t feel good at first.” — Loretta Breuning

The Book in One Sentence

Habits Of A Happy Brain explains the four neurotransmitters in your brain that create happiness, why you can’t be happy all the time, and how you can rewire your brain by taking responsibility for your own hormones and thus, happiness.

Why should you read it?

Is it revolutionary if I tell you that this book will help you boost your happiness in just… 45 days? Our brain makes use of four neurotransmitters in order to create happiness and these happy chemicals can be released with just a few activities, presented in this book. This pleasant read will help you retrain your brain in order to live a more fulfilled life.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unhappy chemicals are just as important as happy ones.
  2. Nothing will make you happy forever.
  3. To live means to choose constantly, so it’s important that you do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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21. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Best Habit Books 21

Favorite Quote

“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.” — Kelly McGonigal

The Book in One Sentence

The Willpower Instinct breaks down willpower into 3 categories, and gives you science-backed systems to improve your self-control, break bad habits and choose long-term goals over instant gratification.

Why should you read it?

Written by a health psychologist, this book concentrated on self-control and how we can use it to the fullest in order to improve our lives. Based on recent research and making use of precious insights from psychology, neuroscience, and not only, this book concentrates on breaking down willpower and giving an answer to all the questions surrounding it: what, why, and how.

Key Takeaways

  1. Willpower comes in 3 different shapes and sizes.
  2. Your willpower instinct can also be called the pause-and-plan-response.
  3. Don’t let past good behavior be an excuse for present bad behavior.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

So far, we’ve summarized more than 1,000 books. As depicted above, quite a few are about habits and how they affect our lives. We believe that these are the best books about habits that you can read this year.

We all have this desire for a better life, but our busy schedules and the way we think might sometimes get in the way of that. Learning how to deal with self-control, understanding our spending habits, and starting with the simple things are just a few of the numerous tips these books have for us. Figuring out which ones work for you will definitely lead you on the path to a better and calmer life.

Habits define us. But we can also define them. What’s your habit… or book of choice today?


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

The 33 Best Happiness Books

Best Books on Happiness Cover

Each year, a group of experts gathers to assess the global state of happiness. The result, the World Happiness Report, is released on March 20, the International Day of Happiness.

This sounds like a positive thing, but, since 2005, overall happiness is decreasing while negative feelings like sadness and anger are on the rise. What’s worse is the trend of more young people experiencing mental illness, addictions, and their consequences. To an extent, this is understandable.

It’s tough to stay afloat mentally with everything going on in the world these days. No wonder we can crack at the slightest problem. But then we feel bad for not knowing how to handle it all and slip even deeper into unhappiness.

How do we stop this spiral? How can we actively combat our common enemy? What do we need to stop doing? And which habits will allow us to harness the power of happiness?

Dozens of books can help educate ourselves about happiness from a multitude of perspectives. We can take the view of science, of history, of philosophy, mindfulness, and spirituality.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve hand-summarized over 1,000 books. In the course of doing so, we’ve learned a thing or two about happiness, and we recorded which experts and books have the most potential to add more joy to your life.

If you want to be happier, consider the following 33 books, sorted by category. For each one, we’ve included our favorite quote, a one-sentence-summary, our three key takeaways, and a few points on why you might want to read it. Use the clickable table of contents below to jump to any book or category.

Here are the 33 best happiness books of all time – they’ll change your life forever!


Best Happiness Books Overall

1. Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat

Best Books On Happiness 1

Favorite Quote

“If you can afford the brain cycles to worry about the future, then by definition you have nothing to worry about right now. Right now, you’re okay.” — Mo Gawdat

The Book in One Sentence

Solve For Happy lays out a former Google engineers formula for happiness, which shows you that it’s our default state and how to overcome the obstacles we face in remaining in it.

Why should you read it?

Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to understand happiness is a choice. Mo Gawdat knows. He lost his 21-year-old son Ali. He taught himself to choose happiness instead of sadness regardless. What made Gawdat’s choice an obvious one was the formula that he and Ali had been working on for years: “Happiness is equal to or greater than the events of your life minus your expectation of how life should be.” This incredible book shows you why your perspective, more than anything else, determines your happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your inner voice is not the real you.
  2. Many cognitive filters prevent you from seeing the whole world around you.
  3. No matter if life is good or bad, staying in the present always makes you feel more content with it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Stumbling On Happiness by Dan Gilbert

Best Books On Happiness 2

Favorite Quote

“The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.” — Dan Gilbert

The Book in One Sentence

Stumbling On Happiness examines the capacity of our brains to fill in gaps and simulate experiences, shows how our lack of awareness of these powers sometimes leads us to wrong decisions, and how we can change our behavior to synthesize our own happiness.

Why should you read it?

This book examines how your brain tries to lie to you, specifically about what will happen in the future. Dan Gilbert’s years of research show just how our minds trick us into worrying, which makes us unhappy with our decisions even before we make them. It turns out that a big key to happiness is figuring out how to tell the difference between fact and fiction!

Key Takeaways

  1. Your brain is really bad at filling in the blanks, but it keeps on trying.
  2. You should always compare products based on value, never on price.
  3. Bad experiences are better than no experiences.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Best Books On Happiness 3

Favorite Quote

“I could care less about whether it’s half full or half empty — as long as I can fill it up.” — Shawn Achor

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Advantage turns the tables on happiness by proving it is a tool for success rather than of the result of it, sharing seven actionable principles you can use to increase both.

Why should you read it?

Shawn Achor’s research reveals the lies in the conventional idea that hard work and success lead to happiness. He’s identified, with science, that happiness comes first, then you will become successful. This book points to several ways that you can start being happier right now.

Key Takeaways

  1. Happiness comes before success, not after it.
  2. You can train yourself to be optimistic with the “Tetris Effect.”
  3. Fall up instead of down.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

Best Books On Happiness 4

Favorite Quote

“Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.” — Jonathan Haidt

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Hypothesis is the most thorough analysis of how you can find happiness in our modern society, backed by plenty of scientific research, real-life examples, and even a literal formula for happiness.

Why should you read it?

This book dives into the neurological aspects that contribute to happiness with a twist. Instead of getting lost in medical terms, Haidt employs the memorable analogy of a rider on an elephant. The metaphor shows how we can harness our brains to make us happy. More importantly, you’ll learn how to build thinking and relationship habits that will lead to long-term happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Surround yourself with the people you love the most and live in accordance with reciprocity
  2. Do work that matters to you.
  3. Find a partner who will stand by your side through sunshine and rain.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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5. Flourish by Martin Seligman

Best Books On Happiness 5

Favorite Quote

“I’m trying to broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face. Happiness is just one-fifth of what human beings choose to do.” — Martin Seligman

The Book in One Sentence

Flourish establishes a new model for well-being rooted in positive psychology, building on five key pillars to help you create a happy life through the power of simple exercises.

Why should you read it?

Martin Seligman is the father of positive psychology. Prior to his work, brain science was based solely on the problems with the mind. Seligman changed that with his research. He is one of the best sources for beating dysfunctional thinking patterns. This book stands out with simple but powerful exercises you can do immediately to improve your happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. A life of profound fulfillment is built on the acronym PERMA.
  2. Simple positivity exercises can have life-changing effects.
  3. IQ isn’t everything — success is based on character traits, not just intelligence.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books about Happiness for Beginners

6. The Power Of No by James Altucher

The Best Books On Happiness 6

Favorite Quote

“When you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy.” — James Altucher

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of No is an encompassing instruction manual on using the power of a little word to get healthy, rid yourself of bad relationships, embrace abundance, and ultimately say yes to yourself.

Why should you read it?

Ultimately, this book is not about saying no, although you’ll get a lot of tips on how to do that. The benefit of this book lies in learning to eliminate unnecessary things from your life so that you can say yes to yourself. It’s packed with practical tips for ridding your life of that which pulls you down, which will make you feel freer and happier.

Key Takeaways

  1. Rate your regulars to say no to the wrong people.
  2. Stop doing things you don’t like, and everyone will be better off.
  3. Say no to scarcity to go beyond “glass half full.”

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Best Books On Happiness 7

Favorite Quote

“Success is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.” — Richard Carlson

The Book in One Sentence

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (… And It’s All Small Stuff) will keep you from letting the little things drive you insane, like your email inbox, rushing to trains, and annoying co-workers, and help you find peace and calm in a stressful world.

Why should you read it?

This book spent 100 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. If you’ve ever rushed in traffic only to end up next to the same person you passed a couple of miles back, this book might change your life. It’ll open your mind to the idea of letting go of the unimportant things that society has trained us to think of as vital. The author left a great legacy that lives on in this good book.

Key Takeaways

  1. Remember that your life isn’t an emergency.
  2. Give others a break, especially when they don’t deserve it.
  3. Don’t procrastinate on relaxing.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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8. Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin

Best Books On Happiness 8

Favorite Quote

“I am living my real life, this is it. Now is now and if I waited to be happier, waited to have fun, waited to do the things that I know I ought to do, I might never get the chance.” — Gretchen Rubin

The Book in One Sentence

Happier At Home is an instruction manual to transform your home into a castle of happiness by figuring out what needs to be changed, what needs to stay the same, and embracing the gift of family.

Why should you read it?

This book is a result of the author feeling homesick while standing in her own kitchen. Knowing it was time to make some changes, she worked hard for the next nine months to improve her home and family life. She investigates four themes that make for a happy home: time, possessions, parenthood, and marriage and family. Reading this book will help you feel happy at home.

Key Takeaways

  1. Get rid of clutter.
  2. Underreact to problems.
  3. Meet your neighbors.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie

Best Books On Happiness 9

Favorite Quote

“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember: life’s too short to be little.” — Dale Carnegie

The Book in One Sentence

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living is a self-help classic that addresses one of the leading causes of physical illness - worry - by showing you simple and actionable techniques to eliminate it from your life.

Why should you read it?

This book is a classic in identifying roadblocks to happiness and how to eliminate them. Nobody likes worrying, it’s a killer of joy, but it has several different causes. Having sold six million copies, this book can help you deal with all kinds of negative emotions like confusion, stress, grief, and criticism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use a 3-step approach to deal with confusion, and you’ll eliminate the worry caused by it.
  2. Put a stop-loss on stress and grief.
  3. Take criticism as compliments.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books about Happiness for Advanced Learners

10. Happiness by Richard Layard

Best Books On Happiness 10

Favorite Quote

“Competition for status is a zero sum game.” — Richard Layard

The Book in One Sentence

Happiness will teach you how our desire for it developed, what its benefits are, why money actually hurts our happiness and where it really comes from, and how Western countries could easily increase their happiness with a few changes.

Why should you read it?

The author of this book has researched happiness for almost 50 years. He takes a holistic approach to this emotion we all seek. You’ll learn the history of happiness in mankind, what money has to do with it, and why higher taxes might, counterintuitively, be a good thing.

Key Takeaways

  1. Our capability to feel happiness is a result of evolution, we weren’t always able to feel happy.
  2. More money actually makes you less happy, unless you live in poverty.
  3. One of the simplest ways for Western countries to increase happiness would be to raise taxes.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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11. Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson

Best Books On Happiness 11

Favorite Quote

“Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness and depression. It is the source of all misery and the cause of all addiction.” — Mark Manson

The Book in One Sentence

Everything Is F*cked explains what’s wrong with our approach towards happiness, providing philosophical suggestions that make our lives worth living.

Why should you read it?

Despite the clickbait title, Mark Manson delivers on his promise. This is “a book about hope.” Manson argues trying to avoid pain and discomfort makes us more unhappy than simply accepting and dealing with the negatives in our lives. He shows us it’s okay for not everything to be awesome all the time, and that having a more detached attitude will make us happy without depending so much on externals.

Key Takeaways

  1. Pure logic won’t help you make the best decisions, a balanced brain will.
  2. Hope won’t solve your problems, it takes acceptance and principles to do that.
  3. The solution to mental illnesses is not chasing happiness, it is to attain true freedom from our addictions and dependencies.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy by Dr. Raj Raghunathan

Best Books On Happiness 12

Favorite Quote

“Although happiness is a very important goal for most people, they also seem to devalue it as they go about their lives. That is, people seem to routinely sacrifice happiness for the sake of other goals.” — Dr. Raj Raghunathan

The Book in One Sentence

If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy walks you through the seven deadly sins of unhappiness, which will show you how small the correlation between success and happiness truly is and help you avoid chasing the wrong things in your short time here on earth.

Why should you read it?

This book follows the most popular course on the online learning platform Coursera in 2015. The author, Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan, went on a quest to find out why so many of his intelligent friends were unhappy. He found out that we must not de-prioritize happiness, but that we also can’t be too desperate in chasing it. This book sums up his insights and findings.

Key Takeaways

  1. The first step on the path to happiness is not devaluing it.
  2. Don’t be desperate in your quest for love and strong relationships.
  3. Happiness is knowing what you want yet being okay with not getting it for a while.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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13. A Guide To The Good Life by William B. Irvine

Best Books On Happiness 13

Favorite Quote

“The easiest way for us to gain happiness is to learn how to want the things we already have.” — William B. Irvine

The Book in One Sentence

A Guide To The Good Life is a roadmap for Stoicism, showing you how to cultivate this ancient philosophy, why it’s useful, and what Stoics are really about.

Why should you read it?

We’re not the first humans to think about what it takes to be happy, and we certainly won’t be the last. This book dives into the ancient philosophy of Stoicism and how it can help us live better. The author gives many firsthand examples on how these principles are improving his life, and in practicing it for several years, both Luke and I have found the same.

Key Takeaways

  1. The two primary values of Stoicism are virtue and tranquility.
  2. Learn to want what you already have.
  3. Immediately accept things that are outside of your control and focus on what you can do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Happiness Books (Positive Thinking)

14. The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

Best Books On Happiness 14

Favorite Quote

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget yourself, think of others. Try this for a week. You will be surprised.” — Norman Vincent Peale

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Positive Thinking will teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by mastering your thoughts and changing your attitude.

Why should you read it?

This book was on the New York Times bestsellers list for 186 weeks. For 48 of them, it held the top spot. It was translated into 40 languages and has sold five million copies. Peale uses affirmation and visualization to develop a positive mental attitude, practices which are just as sound today as they were in 1952, the book’s original year of publication. An “old but gold” read.

Key Takeaways

  1. Start with confidence and watch your problems shrink.
  2. Your world is nothing more than the thoughts you have about your experiences.
  3. In order to live worry-free, first, imagine a worry-free life.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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15. Loving What Is by Byron Katie

Best Books On Happiness 15

Favorite Quote

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” — Byron Katie

The Book in One Sentence

Loving What Is gives you four simple questions to turn negative thoughts around, change how you react to the events and people that stress you out, and learn to love reality as it is.

Why should you read it?

Byron Katie had a powerful realization at 43 years old. She’d been battling mental illness and anger issues for 10 years. One morning, she woke up and asked: What if I didn’t believe my own, negative thoughts? With a few simple questions, like “Is this thought true?” and “Who would I be without this thought?” she completely turned her life around. After she gave up destructive thinking patterns, all that was left was joy and gratitude to be alive. A powerful case study and proof that we can all change — even in a single day.

Key Takeaways

  1. You can overcome stress by dissecting your thoughts with four simple questions.
  2. Give yourself more options to think differently by turning thoughts around.
  3. You can’t change reality by being frustrated about it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

Best Books On Happiness 16

Favorite Quote

“By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience — even the comfort in a single breath — you’ll turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure.” — Rick Hanson

The Book in One Sentence

Hardwiring Happiness tells you what you can do to overcome your negativity bias  – focusing on and exaggerating negative events  – by relishing, extending, and prioritizing the good things in your life to become happier.

Why should you read it?

It’s easy to obsess over the negative. If you assess what’s going on in your mind right now, you’ll quickly find several things that are “not working.” In identifying why we linger on bad events and feelings so much, Hanson helps us change these patterns. He suggests our brains are like velcro for bad experiences and like teflon for good ones. His tips will make your happy memories stick, with negative ones sliding away like water off a duck’s back.

Key Takeaways

  1. The reason you react stronger to bad things is that you (might) have a “sad amygdala.”
  2. Start a “Good Year Box” to remind yourself of positive events all the time.
  3. Create an infinite stream of positivity from your memories, small details, and being generous.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Psychology)

17. The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

Best Books On Happiness 17

Favorite Quote

“Motivation doesn’t cause action. Action causes motivation.” — Neil Pasricha

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Equation reveals nine scientifically backed secrets to happiness to show you that by wanting nothing and doing anything, you can have everything.

Why should you read it?

This book does away with unimportant factors of life that we think are vital. Pasricha teaches us to love the little things in life that have big potential to make us happy. In total, it includes nine different tips to help you become happier. Some you might have heard of before, but their unique delivery makes even those a good reminder.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Germans invented retirement, and the Japanese found a cure for it: ikigai.
  2. Take something called “the Saturday Morning Test” to fix the relationship with the most important person in your life: you.
  3. Ignore most advice, including that from this book.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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18. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Best Books On Happiness 18

Favorite Quote

“The days are long, but the years are short.” — Gretchen Rubin

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Project will show you how to change your life without uprooting it, thanks to the findings of modern science, ancient history, and popular culture, which the author tested for a year.

Why should you read it?

One day, Rubin realized she was working hard but not on what would ultimately matter to her at the end of her life. She hit pause and did happiness experiments for a year. The result is this amazing book full of practical advice.

Key Takeaways

  1. Clean up your house and your brain, because all clutter wears us down.
  2. Accept that you can only change yourself and that what you do every day matters most to build better relationships.
  3. Money is like health — it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be happy but not having to worry about it makes your life a lot easier.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Best Books On Happiness 19

Favorite Quote

“To paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers of our time, Winnie the Pooh, when asked how to spell a certain emotion: ‘You don’t spell it, you feel it.’” — Meik Wiking

The Book in One Sentence

The Little Book Of Hygge is about how you can cultivate the hard-to-describe, yet powerful Danish attitude towards life, which consistently helps the country rank among the happiest in the world.

Why should you read it?

Meik Wiking is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute. He’s also from Denmark, which ranked #1 in the World Happiness Report from 2013–2016. Hygge might sound strange, but this noun, adjective, and verb represents a way of life for the Danish — or, rather, a way of happiness. Wiking takes us through all the meanings behind this word and explains how Danish culture has made it the happiest place on earth.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hygge is a special approach to happiness: a mood, a feeling, an activity even.
  2. Atmosphere is a big part of hygge, so you should make a conscious effort to create the right environment for it.
  3. You can live and experience hygge anywhere and anytime, it is unlimited.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Habits Of A Happy Brain by Loretta Graziano Breuning

Best Books On Happiness 20

Favorite Quote

“You can increase your pleasure if you’re willing to do things that don’t feel good at first.” — Loretta Breuning

The Book in One Sentence

Habits Of A Happy Brain explains the four neurotransmitters in your brain that create happiness, why you can’t be happy all the time, and how you can rewire your brain by taking responsibility for your own hormones.

Why should you read it?

Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin. These are the four chemicals that regulate our moods and greatly contribute (or detract from) our happiness. This book does explains them in a way we can understand them and, more importantly, use them to become happier.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unhappy chemicals are just as important as happy ones.
  2. Nothing will make you happy forever.
  3. To live means to constantly choose, so it’s important that you do it deliberately.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Happiness Books (Work)

21. The Happiness Of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

Best Books On Happiness 21

Favorite Quote

“It’s your life, so why not be intentional about it?” — Chris Guillebeau

The Book in One Sentence

The Happiness Of Pursuit is a call to take control of your life by going on a quest which will fill your life with meaning, purpose, and a whole lot of adventure.

Why should you read it?

Chris Guillebeau wrote this book after visiting every country in the world. Can you imagine how much you’d learn on such a journey? Guillebeau made note of the people he met that were on a mission of their own. After his return, he wrote this book to help you find yours and become happier by doing so.

Key Takeaways

  1. When the world calls out to you, listen.
  2. Adjust your life to accommodate your quest.
  3. Your quest will give you purpose because it is a reward in and of itself.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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22. Ikigai by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles

Best Books On Happiness 22

Favorite Quote

“Essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” — Hector Garcia Puigcerver

The Book in One Sentence

Ikigai explains how you can live a longer and happier life by having a purpose, eating healthy, and not retiring in a traditional sense.

Why should you read it?

The book identifies how Japanese people use the principles of ikigai to build happy lives through purpose and health. What’s remarkable is that some of the oldest people in the world never retired. Instead, they built healthy habits, good relationships, and a meaningful career. This book explains how to start doing the same with a few simple questions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Having a purpose is a vital component of longevity and happiness.
  2. If you want to live a long life, follow the advice of some of the oldest people in the world.
  3. To stay healthy throughout your life, make sure you are moving enough.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Mindfulness)

23. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

Best Books On Happiness 23

Favorite Quote

“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” — Robin S. Sharma

The Book in One Sentence

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a self-help classic telling the story of fictional lawyer Julian Mantle, who sold his mansion and Ferrari to study the seven virtues of the Sages of Sivana in the Himalayan mountains.

Why should you read it?

After fictional lawyer Julian Mantle has a stress-induced heart attack, he realizes he doesn’t need his Ferrari and sells it. Instead of pursuing worldly possessions, he begins seeking wisdom. What he eventually learns can teach us how to live happier lives by changing our focus to what really matters. As of 2013, this book had sold over three million copies.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use the “Heart of the Rose” exercise to guard your mind against unwanted thoughts.
  2. Develop a simple 10-step morning routine with the “Ten Rituals of Radiant Living.”
  3. Selflessly serving others counterintuitively leaves you better off too.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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24. The Miracle Of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

Best Books On Happiness 24

Favorite Quote

“In mindfulness, one is not only restful and happy but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

The Book in One Sentence

The Miracle of Mindfulness teaches the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness and how living in the present will make you happier.

Why should you read it?

Depression is living in the past. Anxiety is living in the future. Peace, then, is living in the present. This great book is a helpful introduction to the world of mindfulness and the huge impact it can have on your happiness. The author is a world-famous Vietnamese monk and zen master. You’ll learn straight from the master of mindfulness himself.

Key Takeaways

  1. Learn how to breathe correctly to begin practicing mindfulness.
  2. Set aside one day each week to be mindful the entire day.
  3. Mindfulness is more than mere resting; to reap its full benefits, it requires the same attention as driving a car.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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25. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Best Books On Happiness 25

Favorite Quote

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” — Eckhart Tolle

The Book in One Sentence

The Power of Now shows you that every minute you spend worrying about the future or regretting the past is a minute lost because we can only live in the present and act in every moment as it occurs.

Why should you read it?

One late night, Tolle had deeply depressing thoughts, wondering what made his life so difficult. In a lightbulb moment, he realized the answer was in his “I” — the picture of himself that his brain had created. When he woke up the next day, he felt reborn. He’d finally let go. His advice on how to better focus on the present is contained in this multi-million-copy bestseller.

Key Takeaways

  1. Life is just a series of present moments.
  2. All pain is a result of resistance to the things you cannot change.
  3. You can free yourself from pain by constantly observing your mind and not judging your thoughts.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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26. Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best Books On Happiness 26

Favorite Quote

“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity, which at bottom is not about trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else but simply to realize where you already are.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Book in One Sentence

Wherever You Go, There You Are explains what mindfulness is and why it’s not reserved for zen practitioners and Buddhist monks, giving you simple ways to practice it in everyday life, both formally and informally, while helping you avoid the obstacles on your way to a more aware self.

Why should you read it?

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a legend in the mindfulness space. He studied under other experts, like Thich Nhat Hanh. As zen and intriguing as the title sounds, the book connects the power of mindfulness to science. The advice in it is simple and powerful and easy to implement immediately.

Key Takeaways

  1. Deliberately ignore your phone.
  2. If someone takes something from you, don’t let them take your mind too.
  3. Focus on your body and senses during automatic behaviors.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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27. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Best Books On Happiness 27

Favorite Quote

“There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change and no point being unhappy about things you can.” — Dan Harris

The Book in One Sentence

10% Happier gives skeptics an easy “in” to meditation by taking a very non-fluffy approach to the science behind this mindfulness practice and showing you how and why letting go of your ego is important to living a stress-free life.

Why should you read it?

Former ABC News correspondent Dan Harris snapped under the pressure of his job. After having a panic attack on live television, he looked into what was really important. The Westerner thoroughly investigated mindfulness and then reported on useful ways even skeptics can embrace it to be happier.

Key Takeaways

  1. The problem with your ego is that it’s never satisfied.
  2. Be simple, not a simpleton — why letting go of your ego won’t make you a pushover.
  3. Meditation increases your mindfulness and compassion by giving you a fourth habitual response – non-judgment.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Happiness (Spirituality)

28. The Art Of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama

Best Books On Happiness 28

Favorite Quote

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama

The Book in One Sentence

The Art Of Happiness is the result of a psychiatrist interviewing the Dalai Lama on how he personally achieved inner peace, calmness, and happiness.

Why should you read it?

According to one of the world’s most celebrated leaders, the Dalai Lama, happiness comes from training our minds and hearts to respond appropriately to the experiences we have. This book is the kind of message that anyone can learn from, religious or not.

Key Takeaways

  1. You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.
  2. The only constant thing is change.
  3. Know your limits.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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29. Trying Not To Try by Edward Slingerland

Best Books On Happiness 29

Favorite Quote

“The conscious mind, ungrounded by the wisdom of the body, is remarkably incapable of taking care of business.” — Edward Slingerland

The Book in One Sentence

Trying Not To Try explores ancient, Chinese philosophy to break down the art of being spontaneous, which will help you unite your mind and body, reach a state of flow, and breeze through life like a leaf in a river.

Why should you read it?

Sometimes, it feels like you’re hacking at the branches of a problem instead of getting at the root. When it comes to happiness, there are a lot of “hacks” that only work at a surface level. This book takes a deeper approach to analyze which philosophy will make us the happiest. It’s not the end of the journey but a useful first domino in a long chain of events that’ll make us happy.

Key Takeaways

  1. The concept of “flow” has long existed in traditional Chinese philosophy, and is called “wu-wei.”
  2. Wu-wei is directly connected to “de,” and, together, the two can lead you towards a good life.
  3. To attain wu-wei, you must be honest, especially with yourself, and then relentlessly act on it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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30. Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson

Best Books On Happiness 30

Favorite Quote

“Only we humans worry about the future, regret the past, and blame ourselves for the present.” — Rick Hanson

The Book in One Sentence

Buddha’s Brain explains how world-changing leaders like Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Gandhi, and the Buddha used the power of their minds to become more positive, resilient, mindful, and happy people and how you can do the same.

Why should you read it?

This book combines thinking tactics, mindfulness techniques, spirituality, and neuroscience. It includes something for everyone, whether you’re deep into mindfulness already or don’t like meditating. Most of all, this book will give you permission to catch your breath and not worry so much. It’ll free space in your life so you finally have some room for peace and happiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Stop throwing “second darts” by not dwelling on your pain.
  2. Practice composure to not live in a state of constant desire.
  3. Don’t identify with so many things to reduce your suffering.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Happiness Books (Minimalism)

31. The More Of Less by Joshua Becker

Best Books On Happiness 31

Favorite Quote

“Our excessive possessions are not making us happy. Even worse, they take us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.” — Joshua Becker

The Book in One Sentence

The More Of Less teaches you how to declutter your time, mind, and physical spaces to give more attention to the people and experiences that matter most.

Why should you read it?

The premise of this book is simple: You own too much stuff. That stuff makes you unhappy. Get rid of it, and you’ll become happier. Going further, the book explains how to get out of our consumerist habits and why doing so will give us the space we crave to deal with the things that really matter to us.

Key Takeaways

  1. Minimalism is about getting rid of the things that get in the way of what’s important.
  2. Advertisements have a powerful effect on our spending habits.
  3. We can reject endless consumerism by donating our unwanted stuff, which will make us happy.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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32. Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Best Books On Happiness 32

Favorite Quote

“You needn’t settle for a mediocre life just because the people around you did.” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

The Book in One Sentence

Minimalism is an instructive guide to the philosophy of less, explaining how it helped two guys who had achieved the American dream let go of their possessions and the depressions that came with them.

Why should you read it?

Ryan and Josh worked hard for their nice jobs, cars, and houses. None of it made them happy. Instead, the debt burden crushed them. As a challenge, they changed their lifestyle, got rid of the stuff that held them back, and became happier. This book is the result. It’ll help you follow in their steps to live better.

Key Takeaways

  1. Debt goes first. Get rid of your financial crutches to finally feel free.
  2. Use the Tolerate-Accept-Respect-Appreciate (TARA) method to become more accepting of other people in your life.
  3. You are not your job. Don’t let your work define you.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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33. The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Best Books On Happiness 33

Favorite Quote

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” — Marie Kondo

The Book in One Sentence

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up takes you through the process of simplifying, organizing, and storing your belongings step by step to make your home a place of peace and clarity.

Why should you read it?

Konmari’s mega-bestseller has sold over six million copies world-wide and led to her own TV show. The power of behind this global phenomenon lies in the simplicity of its mantra: “Does this spark joy?” According to Marie Kondo, this single question can greatly improve our lives and homes.

Key Takeaways

  1. Move from easy to hard items when considering what to keep.
  2. YODO — you only declutter once (if you do it right).
  3. Ask yourself a few simple questions, like “Does this spark joy?” for each item you consider throwing away.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

We’ve summarized over 1,000 books to date, many of them about happiness. In our opinion, these are the best happiness books to read this year.

Let go of material possessions, focus on the people around you, learn the science of happiness, and practice some of the tips from these books. In finding out which ones work for you and which ones don’t, you’ll be well on your way to a happier life.

Don’t wait. Happiness is an urgent matter. Start reading some of the best books on happiness today!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” — Dalai Lama XIV


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

The 14 Best Finance Books of All Time

Best Finance Books Cover

In 2018, a study found that 58% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings in the bank. It gets worse: Over half of those people don’t just have less than $1,000 but $0! That’s bad.

It’s not bad because “you should save money,” but because having no emergency fund puts you in a vulnerable position. What if someone crashes into your car? What if you break a few bones? Things outside of our control can force us to pay up. You don’t want to come up short when that happens.

That’s just the most pressing example of why you should learn to manage your finances. There are others: Retiring in peace without stressing about money, having enough to invest in a new venture, giving freely to friends, family, and charity — money does make our lives easier up to a certain degree.

Thankfully, there are a lot of good books to help us become financially smart. At Four Minute Books, we’ve reviewed and summarized over 1,000 books to date, and we think the best finance books come down to three things:

  1. Practical advice. Money is a tangible thing, so whatever tips authors give should be easy to implement for you right away.
  2. Relevant information. Depending on your situation and goals, you might need a beginner’s book or a more advanced one.
  3. Inspiring stories. If a book is boring, it won’t motivate you to take action. The easiest way to change is to listen to a good story.

Based on these three criteria, we’ve selected the 14 best finance books for you to read. If you want to become savvy with your finances, be smarter in how you spend and save, and learn to invest your money to build freedom, consider these books.

Our list includes our favorite quote, a short summary, three key lessons, and few arguments for why you may want to read each book in question. Each of them is available on Four Minute Books, so you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

 

To make navigating this page easier for you, we broke the list down into different categories and created a table of contents. You can also jump back up here with the little arrow in the bottom right corner of the page.

Whether you’ve been unlucky, have bad financial habits, or just aren’t good at math, these books may finally change your financial life for the better. Here are the best finance books!


Best Finance Books Overall

1. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Best Finance Books Rich Dad Poor Dad

Favorite Quote

“The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play not to lose. They don’t play to win.” — Robert T. Kiyosaki

The Book in One Sentence

Rich Dad Poor Dad tells the story of a boy with two fathers, one rich, one poor, to help you develop the mindset and financial knowledge you need to build a life of wealth and freedom.

Why should you read it?

This book is controversial, but in getting you to actually do something, it just works. It’s based partially on Kiyosaki’s life, who learned two different ways of handling money from his dad and that of his best friend. The lessons are a mix of how to approach money as a concept, basic knowledge of accounting, budgeting, and investing, and how to manage your money so it works for you. By the time you’re done with the story, you’ll enjoy implementing the tips.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use your money to acquire assets, not liabilities.
  2. Manage risks instead of avoiding them.
  3. Work to learn, not to earn.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Money: Master The Game by Tony Robbins

Best Finance Books Money Tony Robbins

Favorite Quote

“You either master money, or, on some level, money masters you!” — Tony Robbins

The Book in One Sentence

Money: Master The Game lays out seven simple steps to financial freedom, based on the advice of the world’s best billionaire investors, interviewed by Tony Robbins.

Why should you read it?

Tony Robbins dedicated ten years of research to this book. After the financial crisis of 2008, he decided to help average people secure a good future. After interviewing several billionaire financial legends, such as Ray Dalio, Warren Buffett, Jack Bogle, he put together their best strategies. The book contains everything from mindset changes to saving tips to asset allocation. The transcripts of the interviews are worth the price of the book alone.

Key Takeaways

  1. Never underestimate the exponential power of compounding interest.
  2. Pick one of three financial goals to show yourself that financial freedom is within reach: basic expenses, basic + fun, or financial independence.
  3. Diversify your investments by using a 3-bucket system: A security bucket, a growth bucket, and a dream bucket.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Finance Books For Beginners

3. The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

Best Finance Books The Barefoot Investor

Favorite Quote

“You can continue living in the past, beating yourself up about the money mistakes you made when you were younger, telling yourself you’ve left it too late…or you can rise up and make yourself proud.” — Scott Pape

The Book in One Sentence

The Barefoot Investor is an Australian farm boy’s no-BS guide to taking charge of your personal finances with a simple system to eliminate debt, live in the now, and still retire in peace.

Why should you read it?

Scott Pape is Australia’s most trusted personal finance expert. His book has sold over 1,000,000 copies. Despite growing up on a farm, Pape wanted to get rich by trading stocks. That didn’t work out. He went back to his farm and now uses the simple life as a metaphor for managing your money. The book helps you take control in three phases: plant, grow, then harvest your money. He balances easy tips with radical advice. A great book for beginners.

Key Takeaways

  1. Simplify your money management by using different bank accounts.
  2. Shred your credit cards first, then start paying off your debt.
  3. Automate some of your retirement planning with index funds.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards

Best Finance Books The One-Page Financial Plan

Favorite Quote

“People who understand interest earn it. People who don’t pay it.” — Carl Richards

The Book in One Sentence

The One-Page Financial Plan makes financial planning stop feeling like a burden for the less disciplined by helping you plan your entire financial future on a single page.

Why should you read it?

Carl Richards has spent more than 40,000 hours over the last 20 years as a financial advisor, working at Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch and others. Some of his sketches he shares on Instagram went viral. They illustrate the ideas that helped him and his wife plan their finances on just one piece of paper. His book shows you how to do the same.

Key Takeaways

  1. Set some goals but stay flexible and fine-tune along the way.
  2. Turn budgeting into a game to make saving fun.
  3. View paying off debt as an investment in your future.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Finance Books For Investors

5. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

Best Finance Books The Intelligent Investor

Favorite Quote

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — Benjamin Graham

The Book in One Sentence

The Intelligent Investor explains value investing, which is focused on generating steady, long-term profits by ignoring the current market and picking companies with high intrinsic value.

Why should you read it?

Warren Buffett says this is the single greatest book on investing ever written. It’s based on Benjamin Graham’s classes, which Warren Buffett took as a young student. Value investors find companies with great fundamentals and buy their shares at a discounted price. After that, all they have to do is wait. Eventually, their real value will unlock. A true, timeless classic.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are 3 principles to intelligent investing: analyze for the long term, protect yourself from losses, and don’t go for crazy profits.
  2. Never trust Mr. Market, he can be very irrational in the short and medium term.
  3. Stick to a strict formula by which you make all your investments, and you’ll do fine.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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6. The Little Book That Beats The Market by Joel Greenblatt

Best Finance Books The Little Book That Still Beats The Market

Favorite Quote

“Choosing individual stocks without any idea of what you’re looking for is like running through a dynamite factory with a burning match. You may live, but you’re still an idiot.” — Joel Greenblatt

The Book in One Sentence

The Little Book That (Still) Beats The Market is a step-by-step tutorial to implement a simple, mathematical formula when buying stocks which guarantees long-term profits.

Why should you read it?

Joel Greenblatt is an investing legend. His investment company Gotham Funds had an annual return of over 40% for 20 years, from 1986 to 2006. With his simple formula, Joel has managed to turn Benjamin Graham’s value investing approach into a system that only needs to be updated once a year. In 2005, he wrote it down to pass it on to his children. If you’re looking for a specific, low-hassle investment approach, this is your best bet.

Key Takeaways

  1. Look at earnings yield and return on capital to evaluate stocks.
  2. Rank and combine these two factors to find winning companies.
  3. Be patient, it’s what makes this formula unpopular, but effective.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Finance Books For Entrepreneurs

7. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco

Best Finance Books The Millionaire Fastlane

Favorite Quote

“Many people want to change their life, but they are not willing to change their choices, and ultimately this changes nothing.” — MJ DeMarco

The Book in One Sentence

The Millionaire Fastlane points out what’s wrong with the old “get a degree, get a job, work hard, retire rich” model, defines wealth in a new way, and shows you the path to retiring young.

Why should you read it?

This book must have the world’s most misleading title. It’s not a get-rich-quick-scheme at all. Instead, it’s a story of persistence, boldness, risk-taking, and unconventional thinking. After seeing a man in a Lamborghini when he was a teenager, MJ DeMarco knew he wanted to be rich, but he didn’t want to slave away for 40 years to get there. After launching, selling, and re-buying his own company, he retired at age 33 as a multi-millionaire. An inspiring read!

Key Takeaways

  1. Wealth stands for 3 things — and money isn’t one of them: health, relationships, and freedom are what truly matters.
  2. At some point, you must make your income independent of your time.
  3. Think like a producer, not like a consumer.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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8. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Best Finance Books Think and Grow Rich

Favorite Quote

“The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill

The Book in One Sentence

Think and Grow Rich is a curation of the 13 most common habits of wealthy and successful people, distilled from studying over 500 individuals over the course of 20 years.

Why should you read it?

This might be the most popular book about success in the world. After steel magnate Andrew Carnegie himself put him on to the task, Napoleon Hill interviewed successful individuals for 20 years. The result, was published in 1937 and has sold 70 million copies. It’s a book about thinking, vision, and doing what it takes to succeed. If you’re a young entrepreneur, this is for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use autosuggestion to build an unshakeable belief in yourself.
  2. Be stubborn and always stick to your decisions.
  3. Join a Mastermind group to cut your learning curve.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Finance Books For Saving Money

9. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Best Finance Books I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Favorite Quote

“Getting started is more important than becoming an expert.” — Ramit Sethi

The Book in One Sentence

I Will Teach You To Be Rich helps you save money on autopilot while allowing yourself to spend guilt-free on the things you enjoy.

Why should you read it?

Ramit Sethi’s blog started in his dorm room in 2004. After selling an ebook for a few dollars and seeing the magic of earning online, he doubled down. 15 years later, GrowthLab makes millions in annual revenue with online courses. His New York Times bestseller will help you cut costs in every area of life, splurge on the things you enjoy, and automate your retirement planning. A down-to-earth perspective from someone who’s done it.

Key Takeaways

  1. You’re the only one responsible for your financial problems.
  2. Know how much money you have coming in and then automatically direct it where you want it to end up.
  3. Start investing today, even if it’s just $1.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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10. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Best Finance Books The Total Money Makeover

Favorite Quote

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” — Dave Ramsey

The Book in One Sentence

The Total Money Makeover shows you how to stop accepting debt as normal, eliminate it forever in small increments, and build the financial future you deserve in seven steps.

Why should you read it?

The Dave Ramsey Show is one of USA’s most popular radio shows ever. Ramsey helps people become debt-free, at which point they go on his show to talk about the experience. He also helps them with the emotional issues of tackling money and goes beyond mere mathematical tips. Ramsey encourages you to tackle your debts from small to large, then slowly start saving, and only invest after you’ve covered the basics. A rock-solid approach to finance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Before you do anything else, put away $1,000 in an emergency fund.
  2. Start paying down your debts, beginning with the smallest.
  3. Grow your emergency fund until you have at least a three-month buffer.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Finance Books For Retirement

11. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

Best Finance Books The Automatic Millionaire

Favorite Quote

“The fact is, none of us really has a choice: We are all playing the money game whether we want to or not. The only question is: Are we winning?” — David Bach

The Book in One Sentence

The Automatic Millionaire is an actionable, step-by-step plan for building wealth without being disciplined by relying on fixed percentages, small payments, and automated transactions.

Why should you read it?

When he was seven years old, his grandma took David Bach to McDonald’s. Over lunch, she told him there are three types of people in the world: those who eat at McDonald’s, those who work at McDonald’s, and those who invest in McDonald’s. Wow! Later, Bach became a vice president at Morgan Stanley. Today, he runs a consultancy and publishes books. 7 of 12 are New York Times bestsellers, and this one is his most practical template for building wealth.

Key Takeaways

  1. Saving a little every day will go a long way.
  2. Pay yourself first to take care of your financial future.
  3. Automatic payments allow you to invest in a disciplined manner without being disciplined yourself.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley

Best Finance Books The Millionaire Next Door

Favorite Quote

“Whatever your income, always live below your means.” — Thomas J. Stanley

The Book in One Sentence

The Millionaire Next Door shows you the simple spending and saving habits that lead to more cash in the bank than most people earn in their life while helping you avoid critical mistakes on your way to financial independence.

Why should you read it?

Stanley and his co-author William Danko studied people with normal incomes and high net worths for decades. The book helps you avoid becoming a UAW — an under-accumulator of wealth. Most people could save half their income. This book shows you why that’s worth the effort in the long run.

Key Takeaways

  1. Save responsibly from the moment you first start earning more than you need to live.
  2. Use a simple net worth formula to calculate if you’re falling short of your financial potential.
  3. Avoid economic outpatient care — spending too much money supporting others — to reach your goal.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Finance Books For Financial Freedom

13. Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker

Best Finance Books Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind

Favorite Quote

“If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible.” — T. Harv Eker

The Book in One Sentence

Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind suggests our financial success is not determined from birth and shows us what to do to break through mental barriers and acquire the habits and thinking of the rich.

Why should you read it?

After an absolute rollercoaster of building, selling, losing, and failing at over a dozen businesses, T. Harv Eker analyzed his own relationship with money. He found he’d just emulated his parents’ financial strategies, and so do most of us. This book will help you undo the damaging aspects of that wiring and replace it with solid financial thinking and habits.

Key Takeaways

  1. You naturally tend to replicate your parents’ income strategies.
  2. If you want to control your finances, you first have to realize you’re the one at the wheel.
  3. Don’t despise rich people or you’ll never become rich yourself.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. The Richest Man In Babylon by George Clason

Best Finance Books The Richest Man In Babylon

Favorite Quote

“Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you only take what is worth having.” — George S. Clason

The Book in One Sentence

The Richest Man In Babylon gives common-sense financial advice which you can apply today, told through tales and parables from the times of ancient Babylon.

Why should you read it?

George S. Clason, a soldier, businessman, and writer, was smart when he published this book in 1926. Instead of giving boring advice without any credibility, he wrapped his lessons into stories from the Babylonians. Generally believed to be an astonishing people, they lent George the power to transfer these lessons to us. The advice is as sound today as it was back then.

Key Takeaways

  1. Live below your means.
  2. Learn how to be lucky.
  3. Never take on debt.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

We’ve summarized over 1,000 books to date, many of them about money. In our opinion, these are the best finance books of all time to start mastering money in your life.

Whether you’re recovering from an unlucky turn of events, suffering from bad financial habits picked up in childhood, or just not good at math, after diving into these books, you’ll soon create more financial breathing room in your life.

Improve your financial knowledge, reduce your spending, start saving and investing, and you’ll be well on your way to financial independence.

When it comes to taking control of your finances, the most important part is to start today.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin


Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

The 7 Best Inspirational Books That Will Light Your Inner Fire

Inspirational Books Header

Here’s why we read:

“What we call following our gut is really us being subconsciously guided by every piece of information we’ve ever consumed, shaping our instincts and ideas and forming us.” 

Joan Westenberg


Besides reading to feel, most of us read to learn. We want to know what we need to know when we need it, and so we keep pushing the number of books. Higher. One more. Just one more.

We read books recommended by billionaires, books validated by bestseller status and books our idols tell us to read.

I didn’t read 365 books last year. But I learned from 365 different ones. After around 250, one thing became very clear:

“I don’t need more information. I need to do more stuff.”

It’s an all too familiar face on our list of end-of-year regrets: “I wish I’d read more books.” But it’s never first on that list. It doesn’t come before “I wish I’d started that company” or “I wish I’d written that book” or “I wish I’d told her I loved her.”

Our top regret always comes in different shapes, yet in the same size:

“I wish I’d done more stuff.”

A lot of smart people tell us to read more. They may be right about the what, but we might be wrong about the how.

Reading isn’t just learning. Reading is also running. Sometimes, that’s running away from doing stuff.

What if, instead of reading to know, we read more to do? To do great things, small things, more things, all things.

You know who’s never not motivated to do stuff?

Kids.

Children don’t read articles like this one. Children can’t spell regrets. They don’t need to. They’re too busy being the hero of their own story. That’s why we love to make them the heroes of our stories.

Tom Sawyer, The Little Prince, Ali Baba, Oliver Twist, and, of course, Alice In Wonderland.

Kids, kids, kids. But they’re all heroes too. Because they make us feel. Because they make us do.

Here are 7 inspirational books to relight your inner child.

The Top 7 Best Inspirational Books

1 — The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”

I read The Alchemist in 2012, while studying abroad in the US.

This is a book about destiny.

It inspired me to think. To think until I could think no more.

I woke up at 5 AM every day, watched every sunrise and every sunset. I wandered around the woods for hours. Thinking, thinking, always thinking.

What kind of college kid does that? A kid who, by the end of it, knew who he wanted to be.

Inspirational Books The Alchemist

2 — Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

“Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

Inspirational Books Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament

Nothing highlights the pivotal role of this book better than the fact that J.K. Rowling changed her mind about the title — twice.

Until 12 days before print, the already published title was “Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament.”

Changing the title wasn’t easy. But it was the right choice.

Before, Harry stumbled into things, and, by looking out for himself, somehow ended up saving the day. In Goblet of Fire, he stops trying to be normal and takes responsibility.

This is a book about integrity.

Harry must fight. For love, for friendship, for what he believes in. Even for his life.

When you’re 14, this book might change who you are. When you’re older than 14, you’ll see even 14-year olds have to decide between what is right and what is easy. And so do you.

Inspirational Books Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

3 — Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

Pippi Longstocking is 9 years old, has superhuman strength, and lives in a rainbow-colored house with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and her horse Old Man.

This is a book about possibility.

Pippi is living proof that you can make your own rules and thrive. She always comes out on top. Not in spite of her sheer intolerance for what adults consider as normal, but because of it.

Inspirational Books Pippi Lifts Old Man

Pippi makes you question a lot of the ideas we grow up with. Astrid Lindgren published this book in 1945. Imagine how much the world needed it at the time. And we still need it today.

Inspirational Books Pippi Longstocking

4 — Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

“Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.”

Artemis Fowl is the opposite of Pippi, yet quite the same. He is a genius, a millionaire, a criminal mastermind, and…12.

This is a book about humility.

Artemis taught me that all humans make mistakes. Even child prodigies. Suddenly, being a dorky nerd who breezed through school, but got teased a lot, was bearable.

One day, we all learn to be humble. Some of us learn it the hard way. Others choose to be. The sooner, the better. Especially when you’re trying to turn your crazy dream into reality.

Inspirational Books Artemis Fowl

5 — Holes by Louis Sachar

“When you spend your whole life living in a hole, the only way you can go is up.”

In 7th grade, we had to pick a book we liked and present it in class. My friend Toby picked Holes. It’s a bizarre story about Stanley’s eternal struggle against his family history.

This is a book about courage.

Despite never getting anywhere, Stanley keeps doing stuff. Even in the worst of times, he has the courage to believe in karma and the endurance to act when it’s not there.

In Latin, our teacher wrote a quote on every test:

“Fortes fortuna adiuvat.” — Fortune favors the bold.

This book helps you be bold.

Inspirational Books Holes

6 — The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever.”

Catching Fire plays a pivotal role in the Hunger Games trilogy, as it transforms Katniss’s struggle from one of survival to one of self-actualization.

This is a book about perseverance.

After finding a sense of purpose in The Alchemist, I bolted through this series and part two taught me that life truly can be short. It gave me a sense of urgency, because death is ever-present.

Fate sometimes throws more than one terrible blow, but Katniss and Peeta will teach you that even when it looks like there’s no possible way to go on, you can still go on.

Inspirational Books Hunger Games

7 — Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

“Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.”

Bookbinder Mo and his daughter Meggie’s journey inside the fantastic worlds of their favorite books sent me on a spiral into my own.

This is a book about hope.

The two believe beyond belief, and so Inkheart captures the underlying hope of all books: that after we finish reading, we will be better human beings.

Inspirational Books Inkheart


Here’s why we really read:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

When I point to these inspirational books, I’m not pointing to resources. I’m pointing to memories. For every single one of them, I can tell you a time and a place. More importantly, I can tell you a feeling it left me with.

What you’re reading right now, my body of work, is built on those feelings. And I can bring them back whenever I need to, just by thinking of the books. That’s worth more than even the best piece of how-to advice.

Of course you don’t have to read books to feel inspired. There are heroes all around you. Follow their journey. Venture down the rabbit hole. Fall for their story. Fall in love.

Once you feel inspired, stop. Turn the page, shut the book, close the tab and then…

Get up and do stuff.


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The 31 Best Motivational Books Ever Written

The 31 Best Motivational Books Ever Written Header

Do you know that glowing feeling you get after you finish the last couple pages of a really inspirational book?

You know, that sense of wonder, the goosebumps, the moment when your creativity seems to know no limits and you imagine yourself facing all of your challenges – and succeeding.

I think you should have that feeling more often.

Recently, when I was scouring the web for motivational books, none of the lists I found really made me want to pick up one of their books, mostly because:

  • I knew all the books already,
  • the books were only for a specific demographic (entrepreneurs, women, etc.), or
  • they didn’t even tell me why the book was going to motivate me in the first place.

What’s more, every single list I found was limited to either fiction or non-fiction books only. So I thought: “Why not create one with both?”

To keep it fair and square, I limited myself to include only books I either have read, or am currently reading. This way I make sure I only present you with books I have a solid understanding of, and, which are, to my best, 25 year old knowledge, utterly motivating.

After digging deep (and I mean really deep, I even called my Mum), I’ve come up with a list of what I believe to be the 31 best motivational books ever written, that’ll unleash your inner greatness.

 

For every book I’ve included:

  • title
  • author
  • year of publication
  • an image of the cover (with a link to the book on Amazon)
  • number of copies sold
  • a curious fact
  • a summary
  • the best quote from the book
  • a shareable image with the quote
  • why it’s so motivational
  • two ways to share the book, depending on whether you’ve already read it, or not

…and of course a link to read its summary right here on Four Minute Books. For the fiction books I’ve included Amazon links, since I only read non-fiction for this site.

Note: Don’t be surprised to see quite a few children’s books and books for teenagers. Since I’m only 25 years old, I still remember a lot of those. Plus, kids are the most motivated human beings on this planet. As adults, we’ve lost most of that lighthearted, curious, motivational mojo, and these books are a great way to get it back.

Now, without further ado, enjoy what I think are the top 31 motivational books of all time!

The 31 Best Motivational Books Ever Written

To make navigating this post super easy, you can jump right to any book that sparks your interest from the table of contents below. Below the box containing each book, you’ll find a “back to top” link to come back up here and pick the next one 🙂

Hidden Bonus:

#31: Secret Bonus Book

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Title: The AlchemistBest Motivational Books 1 - The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1988

Number of copies sold: ~150 million

Curious fact: The book has been translated into 80 different languages, making Paulo Coelho the Guinness World Record holder for being the most translated living author in the world.1

Best quote from the book: 

When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.

Summary: A young shepherd boy in Southern Spain has the same dream about a hidden treasure in Egypt, over and over again, which eventually leads him to investigate it. He learns that one day, everyone finds out what their destiny is and that it requires passion and desire to make your destiny become a reality. Along the journey to find the treasure he meets new and strange people, some of which become his friends and touch his heart. The combined teachings of his companions finally lead him to a realization that is much bigger than even the treasure itself.

Top Motivational Books Quote 1 - The Alchemist

Why is it such a motivational book? 

The book’s core theme is destiny. This is combined with many mysterious characters and deep, thoughtful lessons, often in the form of riddles and puzzles. Yet, the book uses such plain language, that anyone can understand it. That’s how this book constantly speaks to your curiosity, without making you feel overwhelmed. It’s impossible to put down, leaves you with a sense of wonder and gratitude about the world and gives you an incredible drive to explore your own destiny.

I remember finishing it in very few sittings, over the course of which I started going to bed at 9 pm (even though I was studying abroad in the US at the time, with 5 party animals as roommates), waking up at 5, watching the sunset, walking around in the nearby forest a lot, and beginning to think about what I really want out of life. That’s the power the book has: it makes you think. A lot.

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Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireBest Motivational Books 2 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Author: Joanne K. Rowling

Type: Fiction

Published in: 2000

Number of copies sold: ~55 million

Curious fact: J.K. Rowling changed her mind about the title – twice. Until 12 days before it was published, the already publicized working title was “Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament”.2

Best quote from the book:

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.

Summary: In his fourth year at Hogwarts, the school hosts the legendary Triwizard Tournament, for the first time in 202 years, where three wizards from three schools compete in grueling trials for fame and glory. Technically too young to compete, Harry mysteriously ends up as the fourth participant, and soon has to face challenges he doesn’t feel remotely ready for. With luck, friends, bravery and skill he perseveres until the end, only to find he finally has to take responsibility not only for who he is, but also for the entire wizarding world.

Top Motivational Books Quote 2 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Why is it such a motivational book?

First, I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, so sue me. That said, the reason this book stands out to me among the series, is that it lets Harry go through a pivotal transformation. In the first three books, he sort of stumbles into things, and, by looking out for himself, somehow ends up saving the day. While he’s thrown into cold water in this book once again, he makes the decision to stop trying to be normal, and instead takes responsibility. This is a crucial part of seeing him succeed in all the tournament challenges, which, by the way, are much tougher than all of the things he faced in the three previous books combined.

This is a book about the things in life worth fighting for, not only because Harry finds love for the first time, but also because things become (deadly) serious. For teens, this is an identity-shaping books, but I’ve re-read it multiple times over the years, because it teaches you that there’s always a choice between what is right, and what is easy, and makes you want to take responsibility for taking the path you feel is right.

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Title: Pippi LongstockingBest Motivational Books 3 - Pippi Longstocking

Author: Astrid Lindgren

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1945

Number of copies sold: ~80 million (series total for 3 books + 3 picture books)

Curious fact: The main character in Stieg Larsson’s 3-book series of Millennium novels is based on what he believed to be an adult version of Pippi Longstocking. The series has sold 80 million copies – just as many as the Pippi Longstocking books.3

Best quote from the book:

I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.

Summary: Pippi Longstocking is an estimated 9 years old (though no one knows for sure), has superhuman strength, and lives in a rainbow-colored house with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and her horse Old Man. She takes care of herself entirely, as her father, a famous seafarer, has been lost at sea for a few years, after dropping her off in the village, because he thought life at sea was too dangerous for her. Although Pippi has no manners, can’t do math and neither read, nor write, she lives an extraordinary life, filled with adventures, mostly involving the neighbors’ kids and shows that living by the world’s rules is hopelessly overrated. She never ceases to shock adults, but is living proof that you can make the world what you want it to be, without fitting any template the world would call normal.

Top Motivational Books Quote 3 - Pippi Longstocking

Why is it such a motivational book?

This is a Swedish book and much more widely known in Europe than overseas, so you might never have heard of Pippi and her stories. I especially loved the TV movies and series (1969 version) as a kid, because it made me believe that anything is possible. Even the intro song suggests it, among its lyrics are the words “two times three is four widewidewid and three makes nine.” The constant conflict between the adults, who try to get Pippi to conform to what they think is normal, and Pippi’s sheer intolerance for anything that doesn’t match her idea of fun, happiness and adventure, in which Pippi always comes out on top, really makes you question a lot of the ideas we grow up with.

Pippi refuses to grow up, and when you start to look at all the things you’ve slowly let go of and given up on over the years, you’ll see that maybe it might be time to bring a little bit a lot of that childish, inexperienced, unbiased, bold, let’s-do-it attitude back to your own life.

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Title: Artemis FowlBest Motivational Books 4 - Artemis Fowl

Author: Eoin Colfer

Type: Fiction

Published in: 2001

Number of copies sold: ~21 million (across all 8 books in the series)

Curious fact: When asked to describe his own book series, Colfer needed only four words to hit the nail on the head, saying Artemis Fowl was “Die Hard with fairies.”4

Best quote from the book:

Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.

Summary: Artemis Fowl is just 12-year old, but is already following in his father’s footsteps as a notorious, underground crime lord. Driven mostly by greed, he kidnaps a fairy police officer, in order to blackmail the fairies into giving him their gold. But as he gets to know his prisoner, it is slowly revealed that there is a deeper meaning behind his seemingly evil plan. The battle between good and evil is not as black and white, as it seems, and starts to transcend the borders of fairies vs. humans.

Top Motivational Books Quote 4 - Artemis Fowl

Why is it such a motivational book?

Some people called this “the new Harry Potter”, but that’s not what this is. To me it feels like mixing Wall Street, the 1980s movie, with Lord of the Rings. First, this book is motivating because of Artemis’s vast accomplishments and genius thought patterns, especially given he’s just 12 years old. Second, it grounds you, because above all, the book shows that Artemis is human, and therefore makes human mistakes. Greed and being torn between good and evil is something we’re all prone to, and even child prodigies are no exception.

Most importantly though, this book gives you one thing: hope. It makes you believe that there’s good in all of us, and that there’s something you can speak to in others, which is incredibly comforting. Especially when you’re trying, against all odds, to turn your dream into reality.

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Title: The Adventures of Tom SawyerBest Motivational Books 5 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Author: Mark Twain

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1876

Number of copies sold: ~20 million (an estimate, since book sales weren’t tracked before 1895)

Curious fact: Although Tom is the main character of this book, he serves as a foil in Twain’s just as famous “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” This means he’s introduced in the beginning of the book, and then only occasionally appears as a steady, stagnant figure, so readers can contrast him with the main character, Huck, and see how Huck has evolved from previous chapters.5

Best quote from the book:

The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.

Summary: The book begins with the legendary white picket fence painting punishment, which Tom turns into a fun afternoon of hustling his friends out of their little treasures and belongings, in order to let them paint the fence for him. He then courts his classmate Becky, witnesses a murder with his best friend Huck, becomes a lonely pirate on an island, returns to start a treasure hunt and gets himself and his crush into serious danger. Though he faces social and moral issues and crises all through his adventures, he’s still led to the conclusion that his way of approaching things might not be so bad at all.

Top Motivational Books Quote 5 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Why is it such a motivational book?

This book is another exercise in creative thinking. The fence story is worth the price of the book alone, but this goes deeper. In contrast to Pippi Longstocking, Tom doesn’t break or disregard the rules of society – he bends them. Being raised rather comfortably, compared to his best friend Huck, he tries to adhere to society’s rules, but finds this increasingly difficult to unite with his own values. He learns that most of what our society suggests is actually hypocritical, and that there can be freedom in social isolation (=not giving a damn).

Therefore, this book not only gets your imagination juices flowing, it also makes you more effective, because you’ll want to start to take an 80/20 approach to life, follow conventions only, if they make sense, and thus become happier and likely better at what you do.

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Title: The Little PrinceBest Motivational Books 6 - The Little Prince

Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1943

Number of copies sold: ~140 million, making it the third best-selling book of all time (in 250 languages)

Curious fact: Even though the name of the asteroid the prince claims to be from, B-612, was entirely made up, a real asteroid was named in honor of the book – 46610 Bésixdouze. 46610 means B-612 in hexadecimal notation and Bésixdouze is a French way of pronouncing “B six twelve.”6

Best quote from the book:

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Summary: After a short introduction the narrator ends up stranded in the desert, because his airplane crashes. He meets a strange little boy, who came to earth after traveling around the universe and exploring several asteroids. As the days go by and the narrator tries to fix his plane, the prince recounts stories from his travels and his former life on his own asteroid, which highlight and critique lots of elements of society, all the while showing the identity crisis many of us go through at some point, exactly because of those less-than-good parts of society.

Top Motivational Books Quote 6 - The Little Prince

Why is it such a motivational book?

Much like The Alchemist, due to the philosophical and poetic nature of this book, many things won’t seem to make sense as you read along – at first – and then miraculously fall into place later on. The gift of inspiration hides in so many places here, like the hand-drawn illustrations from the author, or simple, yet deeply profound sentences, which will almost stand out visually.

The beginning and end of this book make one key point: you need to listen to your heart, in order to see the world clearly. Everything in-between fuels this message, while giving you many other insights along the way.

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Title: Measuring the WorldBest Motivational Books 7 - Measuring the World

Author: Daniel Kehlmann

Type: Fiction

Published in: 2005

Number of copies sold: ~6 million

Curious fact: A German Humboldt biographer was lead astray by Kehlmann’s fictitious description of the scientist, writing in an official treatise, that Kehlmann’s novel “exactly reflects historical events.” Oops!7

Best quote from the book:

That was the moment when he grasped that nobody wanted to use their minds. People wanted peace. They wanted to eat and sleep and have other people be nice to them. What they didn’t want to do was think.

Summary: This incredibly funny and ironic novel re-invents the lives of Carl Friedrich Gauß, famous German mathematician, and Alexander von Humboldt, biologist, adventurer, scientist and explorer. It does away with boring facts and figures, and quickly tells the stories of their discoveries, most of which with humorous (and made up) twists. The narrative perspective switches between the two, eventually having them meet and become long-term pen pals.

Top Motivational Books Quote 7 - Measuring the World

Why is it such a motivational book?

I’m 95% sure you’ve never heard of it before, because it’s a German book and was only later translated and published internationally. Yet, there are several things that make this book inspiring and one of my favorites, which is what makes it all the more worth sharing with you.

One, much like Artemis Fowl, this shows you that even the greatest minds of our time make mistakes and have their quirks, so your own become less of an obstacle on your journey. Second, it teaches you to always question your actions and that finding the best way is a constant process, which makes you fret less about adjusting and changing your mind. Third, it shows you that there’s no wrong approach when trying to get what you want. Some of us are introverts, like Gauß, and would prefer a quiet life at home with deep thinking, while others are happy to follow in Humboldt’s footsteps and travel the world, meet people, and learn everything from experience.

Nevertheless, both of them share a huge urge to figure out the world and make it a better place. Some of that spirit is bound to rub off on you.

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Title: The Da Vinci CodeBest Motivational Books 8 - The Da Vinci Code

Author: Dan Brown

Type: Fiction

Published in: 2003

Number of copies sold: ~80 million

Curious fact: When sued for plagiarism by another author, the judge leading the case (and voting in Brown’s favor), added his own little Da Vinci code at the beginning of the 71-page judgment ruling, saying he’d confirm if someone (correctly) cracked the code. This happened some time later, when a lawyer and writer for The Guardian approached the judge, received a few hints and then successfully deciphered the hidden message.8

Best quote from the book:

Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.

Summary: When the curator of the famous Louvre in Paris is murdered, Harvard professor and expert in symbolism and cryptography Robert Langdon is called to help. Against the French police’s efforts, who suspect Langdon to be the murderer, and thanks to the help of local police cryptographer Sophie Neveu, the two are soon lead to a safety deposit box at a bank, which contains a cryptex, yet another mysterious item containing more riddles and codes to crack. The chase after the seemingly religious killer, who seeks to find the Holy Grail for his master, leads them to Britain, Scotland and the point where friend can’t be told from foe. They finally discover that there’s a much bigger plot in progress, which might erase the world’s most powerful church, and, as it comes full circle, brings them right back to the beginning.

Top Motivational Books Quote 8 - The Da Vinci Code

Why is it such a motivational book?

First of all, don’t watch the movie and then read the book. That’s bad. Do it the other way around. Like Measuring the World, this book speaks to the explorer in you. So many elements and figures are shrouded in mystery, that it not only sparks your curiosity, but also makes you think hard about the skill level one needs to figure out such mysteries.

I can’t think of any other author’s novels, which have more plot twists, sudden story turns and baffling endings, which are likely to leave you with an open mouth, but also get you to believe that fate’s paths are inexplicable and that the goals we fight for often require us to take a leap of faith.

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Title: A Christmas CarolBest Motivational Books 9 - A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1843

Number of copies sold: 6,000 copies in the first 5 days (which was huge, back then), by now millions of copies in thousands of variants and adapted forms, including thousands of movies, theater plays, public readings, radio programs, recordings and operas.

Curious fact: This book is the reason you say “Merry Christmas” today. The greeting with the word “merry” meaning jolly, happy or jovial, is dismissed by Ebenezer Scrooge at first, but eventually becomes his phrase of choice after his transformation. The book was instantly popular and Christmas was just establishing as an annual tradition again, so the phrase stuck – until today.9

Best quote from the book:

There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.

Summary: Ebenezer Scrooge is rich beyond measure. Sadly, the only thing the old man is preoccupied with is turning money into more money, which leaves him roaming the streets alone, clenching his fists, yelling at workers, children and the less fortunate. That night, the ghost of his former business partner appears, warning him of the terrible (same) fate he is about to suffer, if his habits of greed and selfishness don’t change. He tells him that he’ll be visited by the three ghosts of Christmas (past, present and future), which then take him on a tour of various Christmas scenarios. The grief and horror he witnesses transform him over night, and he decides not to waste another second and right his wrongs, feeling blissful at having been granted another shot at life.

Top Motivational Books Quote 9 - A Christmas Carol

Why is it such a motivational book?

I am exactly as sure that you’ve heard this story in one form or the other, as I am that you don’t know Measuring the World. This never gets old. The one thing, above all, that this book’ll give you is hope. Hope, that it’s not too late to chase your dreams. Hope, that the best days of your life haven’t even happened yet. Hope, that there’s good in everyone.

Here’s a good thinking exercise: After you read the book, imagine what the ghosts would tell and show you, if they arrived at your doorstep this Christmas. Would they congratulate you? Or show you a future just as bleak as Scrooge’s? This book is a wonderful way to measure how virtuous the life you live actually is and at the same time a great reminder that it’s never too late to struggle to get there.

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Title: The Hunger Games: Catching FireBest Motivational Books 10 - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Author: Suzanne Collins

Type: Fiction

Published in: 2009

Number of copies sold: ~19 million just for this second book in the trilogy, total sales of the series are 65 million for the US alone.

Curious fact: This was one of the first commercially successful book series that spread digitally. By 2012, Collins was the best-selling Kindle author of all time, with almost one third of the top highlights coming from her books.10

Best quote from the book:

I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever.

Summary: After both Katniss and Peeta make it out of the 74th Hunger Games alive, they’re supposed to visit all the districts of Panem on a victory tour. This instantly turns dark, as people seem to take inspiration in how Katniss broke the rules to make it possible for two people to win, instead of just one, and a rebellion dwells underneath the surface. To nip this in the bud, the Capitol comes up with a terrible twist: All participants for the next year’s Hunger Games are to be drawn from a pool of previous victors, dragging Katniss and Peeta right back into the arena. Deadlier and trickier than ever before, the struggle for survival forces the tributes to join forces, and once again the grand scheme only unfolds to Katniss (and the reader) in the final pages of the book.

Top Motivational Books Quote 10 - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Why is it such a motivational book?

If anything, these books show you that life is short. Death is ever-present in them, lurking behind every corner. Katniss and Peeta must fight for the ones they love, including each other, all the time. There’s a sense of urgency in this book, that you can’t really shake, which makes you want to get off your butt and do stuff.

The reason I picked this book over the first one is that it’s pivotal, similar to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Before, Katniss landed in the games by chance and had plenty of luck to help her get through. But fate sometimes throws more than one terrible blow, so when she ends up as a participant again, the stakes and her approach change. Even when it seems there’s no possible way to go on, Katniss always finds a way to persevere, and if what you do matters, then so should you.

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Title: InkheartBest Motivational Books 11 - Inkheart

Author: Cornelia Funke

Type: Fiction

Published in: 2003

Number of copies sold: ~3 million worldwide

Curious fact: Cornelia Funke based Mo, one of the main characters of the book, on famous actor Brendan Fraser, whom she mailed a copy of the book, once it was established that a film would be produced. Fraser had no idea who she was, so the first thing he did was Google her. He eventually fell in love with the book himself and ended up taking the role of Mo in the movie.11

Best quote from the book:

Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.

Summary: When Meggie spots a stranger in front of her father Mo’s house, who’s a bookbinder, weird things begin to happen. Dustfinger, as the stranger and apparently old friend of Mo is called, seems to be a troublemaker, whom aunt Elinor isn’t happy to see, when the three arrive at her house full of books, where Mo has some work to do. Soon Meggie discovers that the perpetual presence of books in her life is no coincidence, as her father can make them come to life when reading out aloud.

His past mistakes with this incredible ability slowly start to catch up with the family when the evil Capricorn Mo once freed resurfaces, bringing everyone into great danger. As the story unfolds, Meggie learns she has inherited her Dad’s ability, and must master it, if she wants to save everyone, all while discovering her family’s history, including why her mother’s been gone for 9 years…

Top Motivational Books Quote 11 - Inkheart

Why is it such a motivational book?

A book about books. Perfect! I’m a strong believer that the answer to any question is always in a book. Therefore, anything that’ll make you pick up more books makes me happy. If anything, that’s what this book does. It’s not only an against-all-odds display of astonishing perseverance, but also reignites your spark of consistent learning.

If I had to describe this book in just two words, I’d say it’s both magically human, while also humanly magical, truly a tribute to readers all over the world. You have to read it, to grasp it. Plus, I’m pretty sure since it’s another book of German origin, you won’t have heard of this before.

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Title: The Great GatsbyBest Motivational Books 12 - The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1925

Number of copies sold: ~25 million

Curious fact: F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing he was a failure and that his work would be forgotten, since the book never sold well or made it past the image of “a contemporary piece” during his lifetime. 1942, only two years after he died , 155,000 copies of the book were distributed to soldiers in WWII overseas, boosting the book’s public image (a great lesson in marketing to the right people, since two of the main characters are WWI veterans). A mere three years later the book was already believed to be a classic. Today it continuously sells 500,000 copies a year and is part of many school curriculums (including yours truly, I did a thorough analysis and presentation of the book in 12th grade).12

Best quote from the book:

Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.

Summary: In 1922, Nick Carraway takes a new job and moves to West Egg, a fictional village on Long Island. When he visits his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom, he meets the attractive, but cynical Jordan Baker, and soon finds out that the lavish lifestyle they all lead comes at many a terrible price, including infidelity, depression, alcoholism and identity crises. The mysterious millionaire owner of the mansion next door, Jay Gatsby, soon invites Nick to one of his extravagant parties, which Jay himself never attends. When Nick discovers they all have a shared history of romance, including his cousin Daisy and Jay, he tries to help reunite two estranged lovers, which ends in disaster.

Top Motivational Books Quote 12 - The Great Gatsby

Why is it such a motivational book?

When I picked this book to read it for a school project, I had entirely different expectations, and didn’t understand many aspects of it as I read it the first time. Only when I started researching the book’s themes, did I slowly get what it’s about.

First and foremost, it’s an enormous warning sign. You might get everything you’ve ever dreamed of in life, only to find it wasn’t what you’re looking for and doesn’t make your life easier in the slightest. It shows you that there’s plenty to be happy about right now and that you really have all you need. Plus, it’ll help keep your feet on the ground once you reach whatever you define to be success for you.

Second, this is contrasted by the insane wealth the characters have amassed, though some un-earned or attained with illegal measures. The 2013 movie with Leonardo DiCaprio will give you a good visual grasp of it. Feeling like Artemis Fowl for adults, this book will inspire you to view life as a balancing act of human achievement and virtue. Its motivational capacities are very subtle and not as obvious as in some of the other books on this list, but it still makes you want to do the right thing.

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Title: Sherlock Holmes: A Study in ScarletBest Motivational Books 13 - Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1887

Number of copies sold: ~60 million for the most popular book of the series ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes‘, which contains 12 short stories, which puts this one (the first of only four full-length novels featuring Holmes) easily into the millions of copies sold as well.

Curious fact: When I ask you: “What are the tools of a detective?” you’re likely to mention a magnifying glass as one of the first few items that come to mind. That’s this book’s fault. A Study in Scarlet was the first work of fiction to mention a magnifying glass being used as an investigative tool (even though Watson didn’t understand it at the time he noted Holmes using it) – a symbol that’s become a detective trademark and has been ever since.13

Best quote from the book:

What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done.

Summary: This book introduces Sherlock Holmes and his companion and biographer Dr. John Watson, starting off with them meeting via a mutual friend and deciding to share the flat at 221B Baker Street, in order to save money. Next to Holmes obvious quirks, like experimenting with drugs and playing the violin in the middle of the night, Watson notices many guests come and go, who turn out to be Holmes’s clients.

When a Scotland Yard messenger arrives and requests help with a new murder case, Watson eventually persuades Holmes to investigate the crime scene and Holmes invites him to tag along. As the two analyze and interpret the odds and ends of the murder, the plot thickens and a second murder takes place. The hunt finds a sudden end in Holmes’s apartment, with the second part of the novel explaining the entire story leading up to the murderer’s malicious actions and capture, including how Holmes deciphered minute details and thus identified the suspect.

Top Motivational Books Quote 13 - Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet

Why is it such a motivational book?

Really? Do I need to explain this? How can you not be inspired by Sherlock Holmes? This is the ultimate piece of fiction writing to show you the value of deliberate practice, which combines effort with thorough feedback analysis to make you world-class at what you do. Yes, at first Sherlock’s genius seems like something you can only marvel at from a distance, but the more you read, the clearer it becomes that you can, and must, cultivate an intense focus to detail in your work yourself.

If you’re looking for a book to make you stop fretting and complaining about your work, so you can become a true craftsman on your journey to 10,000 hours of skill training, this is it. Also, Holmes’s great sense of humor and irony shows you that you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously, in spite of being an absolute professional.

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Title: The Richest Man in BabylonBest Motivational Books 14 - The Richest Man in Babylon

Author: George Samuel Clason

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1926

Number of copies sold: ~2 milllion

Curious fact: This book didn’t really start as a book at all. Instead, Clason wrote a series of informational pamphlets, to educate readers about personal finance issues. Banks and insurance companies handed out the pamphlets (how’s that for financial education by the way – today all you see is brochures for stupid products, which usually make the seller rich, and not you) and due to their popularity, the best ones were eventually bundled up and published as a book.14

Best quote from the book:

Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you only take what is worth having.

Summary: Since the book is a collection of short stories, it’s divided into 9 major parts, many of which have sub-chapters, the first and foremost being the story giving the book its title. It reveals how Arkad, the richest man in Babylon, owes much of his wealth to simply saving 10% of his income each year. This is followed by the “Seven Cures for a Lean Purse”, a series of seven lessons on how to save money and “The Five Laws of Gold”, which lay out a simple philosophy for investing.

Then, “The Clay Tablets from Babylon” draws lessons from the fictional translation of five ancient, Babylonian tablets by an English archeology professor. It turns out he used them to pay off his debts and save for his own retirement, a story he shares in a fictional letter. The other five parables are more singular in their nature and each hold one or two more lessons to be learned about building wealth.

Top Motivational Books Quote 14 - The Richest Man in Babylon

Why is it such a motivational book?

This is probably one of the most compelling personal finance books of all time, due to the power of storytelling. Setting the lessons in this ancient context and disguising them as life lessons from an old, rich man, makes them really seep into your brain. Most of the ideas repeat themselves, and since they’re simple to begin with, they stick.

This is a book about the power of habits, showing you that incremental progress compounds. So even if all you can do right now is take baby steps, by all means, take them. We often don’t really feel in control of our finances, but actually we are (or at the very least, we can get it back). This is the book to put you back in the driver’s seat.

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Title: Around the World in 80 DaysBest Motivational Books 15 - Around the World in 80 Days

Author: Jules Verne

Type: Fiction

Published in: 1873

Number of copies sold: ~millions (?), sadly I could not find any source of how many copies this book has sold to date, but seeing there are hundreds of thousands of ratings and reviews online alone, I’m confident that sales numbers lie in the millions, especially given that the book has been translated into

Curious fact: If you’ve seen any of the many movie adaptations of this book, you’ll likely imagine the companions traveling in a hot air balloon. However, this isn’t part of the book. The idea is brought up, but dismissed by the characters as being too dangerous. Yet, many book covers and movie posters today show a hot air balloon, and it’s one of the few things most people know about the story, though technically wrong (and only owed to the fact that a 1956 movie went rogue and ran with this idea).15

Best quote from the book:

Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.

Summary: Phileas Fogg is a rich English gentleman of the old school, with discipline like clockwork and few pleasures, one of which is engaging with his friends at the Reform Club. When his friends discuss an article in The Daily Telegraph, stating it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days, thanks to a new railway line in India, he takes a £20,000 (£1.6 million today) wager and sets off with his newly hired valet, Jean Passepartout (whose last name translates to “passport”). Using mostly trains and steamboats, the two make new friends, face lots of setbacks, get lost, find each other again, and even gain an entire day (which eventually helps them win the bet), returning to London at the same time, exactly 80 days later.

Top Motivational Books Quote 15 - Around the World in 80 Days

Why is it such a motivational book?

This is a book about possibility. Until Roger Bannister broke the four minute mark for running a mile in 1954, people thought it was impossible for more than a decade. Anything is impossible, until one man or woman does it. All of a sudden what’s possible is redefined (someone else ran a mile in less than four minutes a month after Bannister). Sometimes we just need someone to step up, take charge and say: “Alright, this is worth failing at, so I’ll do it.” This book makes you want to be that person.

Also, this book shows you the power of stakes. This depends on your personality, but if the risk of losing something, like a big sum of money, gets your butt in gear, then maybe taking a bet up front might be what motivates you. For example, sites like Go Fucking Do It make it easy to put some money on the line in order to get yourself to make something happen.

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Title: Managing OneselfBest Motivational Books 16 - Managing Oneself

Author: Peter Drucker

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 1999

Number of copies sold: ~in the millions, since it was initially published in Harvard Business Review, which reaches a global audience

Curious fact: Drucker invented what would become the foundation of how we have been managing people for the past 50 years. It’s called “management by objectives” and is based on setting concrete goals, to move forward in small increments. This has gotten him the name “the founder of modern management.”16

Best quote from the book: 

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

Summary: This might be the most concise book of all time. Peter Drucker has kept it so short and to the point that you can read it in less than an hour. It asks you a whole bunch of questions and gives you examples, so you can become self-aware about how you learn and work, and then directly apply that in your career. Some sections of the book are “What are my strengths?”, “How do I perform?”, “Where do I belong?”, “What is my contribution?” and “The Second Half of Your Life.”

Top Motivational Books Quote 16 - Managing Oneself

Why is it such a motivational book? 

You can read this in 45 minutes and take notes as you go along, which makes it one of the most actionable books of all time. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which is also 45 minutes long. I’ve listened to it multiple times on various car drives, and find I always learn something new. It’s so motivational because it’s very simple, even just by thinking about some of the questions from the book you become a lot smarter and aware of how you tick.

This book feels like a fog is lifted, and your entire communication and thinking become clearer, and you’ll likely want to march into work the next day with some of the ideas from the book in hand, ready to improve the crap out of your career.

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Title: Choose YourselfBest Motivational Books 17 - Choose Yourself

Author: James Altucher

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2013

Number of copies sold: ~350,000 as of May 2015

Curious fact: About 2 weeks before the official launch, James made the book available to buy via the digital currency Bitcoin – exclusively. It was the first book to be available ONLY via Bitcoin.17

Best quote from the book: 

Honesty is the only way to make money in today’s world.

Summary: The world as we know it is about to fade. Simple jobs are outsourced, automated, or filled with cheap temp staffers. A college degree no longer guarantees a safe career. Work, retirement, politics, it’s all unstable now, because the middlemen are disappearing left and right. People can publish their own books, make their own TV shows and release their own music. Gigantic industries disappear over night – and all of this is great news. Now you can choose yourself. You don’t need to be picked. You can pick yourself. James shows you how, both on the outside, and the inside.

Top Motivational Books Quote 17 - Choose Yourself

Why is it such a motivational book? 

James is one of the most openly vulnerable human beings ever, and it makes you relate to him instantly. Not only will you be able to identify yourself with the book, but also laugh a lot – James is funny. If you feel out of control, this book will show you that the wheel of your life is in your hand. James explains his simple daily practice, a few basic habits that’ll make sure you’re healthy and emotionally well. Then he lines up many practical ways to choose yourself, most of which you’ll instantly want to try for yourself.

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Title: The War of ArtBest Motivational Books 18 - The War of Art

Author: Steven Pressfield

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2002

Number of copies sold: I’m assuming well over a million copies, based on all the ratings, reviews, and the time passed since publishing, but this is nothing more than an educated guess, since I couldn’t find actual sales numbers.

Curious fact: Steven Pressfield is one of very few authors, who’s had successful books in both fiction and non-fiction. His very first book, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron in 2000.18

Best quote from the book: 

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

Summary: If you’ve ever tried to create anything ever, you have faced it. Writer’s block, painter’s block, talker’s block, or whichever other creative block people face when they create what you were making. Steven Pressfield has written this with some tough love, and makes it a wake-up-call for artists. He introduces the universal concept of Resistance, which is mostly based on fear, and then helps you identify your biggest sources of procrastination, so you can cut them off at the source.

Top Motivational Books Quote 18 - The War of Art

Why is it such a motivational book? 

I like to think of Steven Pressfield as a friendly Spartan. Just as disciplined, but not out to kill you in any way. The anecdotes from his own struggles with writing make this book a must-read for aspiring writers, but even if arranging words isn’t your craft, this’ll give you a solid kick in the butt. You’ll become less anxious about all those future problems and learn to focus on the process and creating every day. Before you know it, your small, daily habits will lead you to realize you’re standing on a tall mountain of accomplishments.

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Title: Start With WhyBest Motivational Books 19 - Start With Why

Author: Simon Sinek

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2009

Number of copies sold: Based on his Amazon rank, number of reviews for the book (>1,000) and his TED talk views, I expect this to have sold at least 100,000 copies (a very conservative estimate).

Curious fact: Long before writing the book, Sinek ventured to find his own why, because he was deeply unhappy, in spite of owning a very successful business. Once he did and told his friends, they’d all ask him to help them find their why too. For years, Simon said down with his friends and friends of friends, 1-on-1, for several hours, workshopping their why with them. Only when he was asked to speak and share his idea in front of more and more people, did he start thinking about writing a book.19

Best quote from the book: 

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

Summary: The book first explains the status quo and how we currently live in a world that just assumes you know why anyone’s doing anything and therefore instantly jumps to the carrots and sticks approach. Then Sinek introduces his idea of the golden circle and how we should communicate it from the inside out, in order to appeal to the way we’re biologically trimmed to make decisions. Lastly, the book explains how you can start a movement to find those, who believe what you believe, and, through communicating your why clearly, figure out the how and the what of how you’ll bring change to the world.

Top Motivational Books Quote 19 - Start With Why

Why is it such a motivational book? 

This book doesn’t speak to your mind. It speaks to your heart. It’s a business book, but it doesn’t feel like one for even a second. It turns your view inward and makes you feel like you’ve been wandering the world upside down, talking to it through a megaphone you’re holding backwards – and then sets you straight while showing you how to hold the megaphone.

This book is full of aha-moments and the many examples help cement those, so you’ll intuitively start approaching things from a purpose perspective a lot more often. This is a much more sustainable way to find motivation in your work, which is what makes this book so helpful in finding motivation that lasts.

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Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleBest Motivational Books 20 - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen R. Covey

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 1989

Number of copies sold: ~25 million

Curious fact: In 1992, Stephen Covey was at an event where most people were preoccupied with badmouthing Bill Clinton, who was running for president at the time. Covey didn’t say a bad word, because “he might one day have a chance to influence him,” and didn’t want to show up as a hypocrite, in case he did. After winning the election, Bill Clinton called him a few months later, admitting he had read this book twice and wanted to incorporate the 7 habits into his presidency. Soon after, Covey visited Camp David and taught Bill Clinton some of his principles.20

Best quote from the book: 

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

Summary: You might have guessed it, but the book describes 7 habits, which will make you a very effective person. However, there is a progression in the book, starting with the status quo, where your life depends on others. By acquiring the first three habits, you switch to an independent mindset and take control of your life. The second three habits then take it one step further and help you thrive in a world of interdependence, by improving the way you interact with others. The last habit stands alone, serving to renew your energy so you can improve at the other six. The 7 habits are:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

Top Motivational Books Quote 20 - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Why is it such a motivational book? 

Much like Start With Why, this book views success as something that is developed from the inside out. Most self-help books focus on principles, which Covey says only determine what happens if you behave in a certain way (like a law of nature). The problem is that knowing the consequences doesn’t get you to change your behavior, because your behavior is determined by your values. That’s why this book focuses on aligning your own, unique values with some of the universally valid principles, which means it has the potential to actually change your behavior.

It’s focused on the ethics of character, so it’s super adaptable to you, no matter what your values are. This book focuses on you as an individual, and speaks directly to your deepest beliefs, giving it an incredible power to motivate.

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Title: When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m DeadBest Motivational Books 21 - When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead

Author: Jerry Weintraub

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2011

Number of copies sold: Tens of thousands of copies.

Curious fact: Never having been a big fan of education, Jerry refused to publish a biography for many years, even though everyone told him to. But when he hit 70, he changed his mind, saying that “if an old man is not a teacher, he’s not doing his job.” Jerry died in 2015, at the age of 77. Alluding to the (perfect) title of the book, he joked that he even doubted whether he’d shut up after his death and already promised a second book ‘Dead, But Still Talking’.21

Best quote from the book: 

The person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit.

Summary: The book starts with Jerry’s childhood adventures in New York City, his fathers talent for selling, running away from home, and his time in the army, when his cunningness and sense for business already started to shine. Determined to break into the entertainment industry, Jerry jumps from one job to the next (and you won’t believe how he gets some of them), but his quick rise is followed by a steep fall. Starting again from zero, he bothers Elvis’s manager long enough (365 days in a row, to be exact) until he agrees to let Jerry take the king on tour, and that’s when things start to get really crazy…

Top Motivational Books Quote 21 - When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead

Why is it such a motivational book?

When I read this book I was constantly laughing, nodding, shaking my head in disbelief and my jar dropped in awe more than once. This is a book that elicits real feelings, I can still remember lying in bed reading it, and it’s these kinds of books that we remember. I’ll never forget the most memorable sentence from the book, which is the quote I picked.

Jerry’s incredible hunger for life shows you that we must make every minute count, since we’re all just given this short time on earth. Even if you’re the complete opposite of Jerry and, like me, an introvert, maybe especially then, you can learn a lot. Jerry’s life was an unforgettable tribute to fun, passion and persistence, which makes the lessons from this book impossible to forget. They’ll ring in your ears long after you’ve put down the book and thus have everyday motivation power.

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Title: The Happiness of PursuitBest Motivational Books 22 - The Happiness of Pursuit

Author: Chris Guillebeau

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2014

Number of copies sold: ~100,000+, according to Chris’s LinkedIn profile.

Curious fact: The book marks the end of Chris’s biggest, personal quest so far: visiting every country in the world. When he started to track it publicly, by starting a blog, his grandma initially made up 40% of his readership (due to having signed up twice for his email newsletter). This quest took him 10 years to accomplish, and is something he’s grown into in stages, wanting to see more and more countries the more he’d already visited. He completed it in 2013, which immediately sparked the beginning of his next quest – writing this book.22

Best quote from the book: 

Not everyone needs to believe in your dream, but you do.

Summary: The book is divided into three parts: the beginnings of your quest, the journey, and arriving at the destination. The first explains where quests originate from, and how they often result from discontent with the status quo and answering a calling. If you then have the courage to pursue your quest, your journey will force you to become self-reliant and cultivate a sense of everyday adventure. Chris shows you how you can adjust time and money to make any quest practical and shines a light on some of the people he encountered in his own quest, so you can see that the long road is worth traveling. The last part explains the transformative powers of a quest and how to get through the common post-quest funk by, well, setting a new one!

Top Motivational Books Quote 22 - The Happiness of Pursuit

Why is it such a motivational book? 

This book has such a fun and upbeat spirit, it’s just contagious. Riddled with examples, it shows you that no dream of yours is unfeasible, and that, with some adjusting, any quest can be made a reality. Chris is a craftsman, he’s much more about the process than about basking in the sun of his own success, and his “let’s go get it” attitude rubs off on you.

The best part about this book is that you can pick it up again, and again, and again. Every time you complete a quest, you just leaf through it again, and will find yourself scribbling down the next rough draft or sketch of your next adventure.

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Title: Rich Dad Poor DadBest Motivational Books 23 - Rich Dad Poor Dad

Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 1997

Number of copies sold: ~26 million

Curious fact: Both Kiyosaki and the book are highly controversial, not least because Kiyosaki has declared bankruptcy himself multiple times (last in 2012). Even though the book is always listed as non-fiction, Kiyosaki has insinuated multiple times that his “rich dad” never existed.23

Best quote from the book: 

When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.

Summary: The book starts with Kiyosaki re-telling the story of his childhood. His real dad, whom he considers to be his “poor dad” was an academic, who earned a decent living, but, according to him, never really understood some of the most important principles of money. He explains how the father of a friend took the two kids under his wings and taught them how businesses and money work, by having them work in one of his stores for next to nothing, but educating them about money in his spare time. The book then takes a turn and explains what “financial literacy” looks like, how you should approach your personal finances and work, what you can do to leverage taxes and laws to your advantage, before it ends with a few very practical first steps you can take.

Top Motivational Books Quote 23 - Rich Dad Poor Dad

Why is it such a motivational book? 

Some people love this book, others hate it. I love it. The story of Robert’s childhood (invented or not) is super inspiring, making the book worth a read regardless of the financial advice. Yet, the way it approaches personal finance is very simplistic, which gives you a sense of relief. Yes, his definitions of assets and liabilities might not be 100% accurate, but if you’ve never even understood them before, this’ll help.

It’s more of a beginner’s book for sure, but it gets you in the right mindset for financial success, and shows you what you can do right now to start building wealth. For example, I used the book’s “pay yourself first” principle to instantly put away 10% of my income, and that alone felt pretty good.

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Title: The DipBest Motivational Books 24 - The Dip

Author: Seth Godin

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2007

Number of copies sold: ~100,000+ copies

Curious fact: Seth was one of the few people with very early access to the internet (when a 24-hour line still cost $400/month), and has been blogging ever since. He’s published something every day for nearly 20 years, initially sending his ideas out via email, then moving to Blogger, Google’s blogging platform. To date, over 6,000 (!) blog posts are on his site, which attracts millions of readers every month, and is often regarded as the #1 marketing blog in the world. Finding it is easy. Just type ‘Seth’ into Google.24

Best quote from the book: 

You have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.

Summary: This is a book about choices. Two choices, really. It’s about the decision between quitting, or trying to be the best in the world. It starts with introducing you to the idea that being the best in the world is very underrated. On any top 10 list, number one gets far more than just its fair share of 10% (for example, the top result in Google gets ~40% of all clicks).

But isn’t it almost impossible to become the best in the world today? No, because according to Seth, both “the world” and “best” are two very flexible terms and highly depend on what you do. He uses a few graphs and curves to explain when it’s time to make one of the two choices, and underlines them with several examples so you can get a better grip of which one to make when it’s your turn (and it’s always your turn). The book ends with a series of questions to help you figure out which dip to pursue, and which dead ends it’s time to quit.

Top Motivational Books Quote 24 - The Dip

Why is it such a motivational book? 

This book has had the biggest impact on me all year. It tells you that it’s okay to quit, that it’s actually important to do so, which makes this an unbelievably liberating book. All of a sudden, you won’t feel compelled to keep up with the digital and physical Joneses in your life, whether it’s that extra Twitter account that pulls at your attention, or the vain chase for the next promotion at a company you’ll never lead.

The Dip is a call to greatness in a world of mediocrity. But greatness always entails sacrifice. Luckily, this book also gives you the courage and confidence to happily make those sacrifices, figure out your true mission, smile and return to work that matters.

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Title: Sam Walton: Made in AmericaBest Motivational Books 25 - Sam Walton: Made in America

Author: Sam Walton

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 1992

Number of copies sold: ~100,000+ copies, based on the number of reviews and the age of the book.

Curious fact: When visiting Brazil for business, Sam disappeared for a while one afternoon. Soon his host received a call from the local police that Sam was in jail. When they came down to bail him out, local police explained that they’d found “this crazy old man, crawling around on his hands and knees in a store.” Sam had been measuring the aisle width with a tape measure, to figure out whether Brazilian retailers knew something he didn’t. Crazy? Yes. But a great anecdote to show what a modest, relentlessly growing man he was.25

Best quote from the book: 

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

Summary: Since it’s a biography, the book begins with Sam’s childhood and where he got his sense of entrepreneurship from initially. After an 18-month stunt at J.C. Penney, Walton’s only “job” and a brief intermezzo with the army, Sam took a loan from his father-in-law to start his own retail store in Arkansas. Having missed a clause in the rental contract, the owner of the building didn’t renew Sam’s lease in year three, forcing him to start all over again.

Sam then explains how he built out a chain of 16 stores (all but one under the Ben Franklin franchise), integrated family and business, started the first Walmart in 1962 (due to Ben Franklin franchise disapproving of his discount policy) and slowly grew the team, until eventually taking the company public in 1970 and using the money from the IPO to grow it further. He then explains various aspects of growing the company into the largest retailer of the world, including employee policy, his basic principles, and handing over the reigns. The book concludes with his idea of giving back and his 10 rules for building a successful business.

Top Motivational Books Quote 25 - Sam Walton: Made in America

Why is it such a motivational book? 

Hate Walmart or not, you can’t help but admire this man. Since this book covers a long history, it gives you a good sense of what a privileged world we live in today. The adversities Sam had to go against to make his dream become real would seem insurmountable today, where all we need is a laptop and a domain name to get started. It makes you feel humbled, and cuts right through the excuses you might have about not starting to chase your dreams just yet.

Sam didn’t know that his company would become the biggest retailer in the world, and he never let the money go to his head, which goes to show all you need to be successful is a humble attitude and an itch for adventure. I highly recommend keeping his 10 rules for building a successful business around and looking at them every once in a while.

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Title: The 4-Hour WorkweekBest Motivational Books 26 - The 4-Hour Workweek

Author: Tim Ferriss

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2007

Number of copies sold: ~1.8 million copies

Curious fact: Though alluring, the title of the book is much more the result of Tim’s scientific attitude of testing everything, rather than a description of how he spends his days. Tim “works” far more than four hours per week, though he might not call it that, because by now what he does is just fun to him. Technically describing with how much effort he could have run his then-company BrainQUICKEN, he tested the book title next to a few others, such as “Broadband and White Sand” and “Millionaire Chameleon”, using Google AdWords, and went with the one with the best click-through rate. Smart!26

Best quote from the book: 

People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

Summary: Tim uses an acronym to describe his 4-step process of removing himself from his own company without having it collapse, and how you can apply the same tactics to your own job, business and career. DEAL stands for definition, elimination, automation and liberation.

The first section explores how you can kill the fears that will inevitably creep up in your mind about applying all of this, for example by visualizing your worst-case scenario. It also shows you that nobody needs a million dollars to live a luxurious life and how you can crunch the numbers in your favor. Elimination highlights some ancient, minimalistic, almost Stoic principles of productivity, like a low-information diet and how to deal with interruptions at work. Automation is where the rubber hits the road. This part shows you how to outsource most of your life and create a “muse” that’ll finance your future ventures. Liberation is the next logical step to take so you don’t end up spending all your precious time managing your muse, and can spend your newly found time in a meaningful way, for example with mini-retirements.

Top Motivational Books Quote 26 - The 4-Hour Workweek

Why is it such a motivational book? 

If you’re looking for an IKEA style manual for your entire life, this is as close as you’re gonna get. It feels liberating to just turn off your head and follow Tim’s instructions. This isn’t a thinking book. It’s a doing book. On my first read I instantly downloaded all templates, spreadsheets, and filled them in right after reading each chapter. Planning your life goals and calculating how much money you actually need to drive a fancy BMW (I’m coming for you, 2013 335is convertible) is progress you can feel see.

The productivity section is one of the most helpful I’ve read to this day, because it’s rock solid and there’s hardly anything more motivating than the feeling of having enough time. Yes, you’ll likely get stuck at the automation part, because the rules of the passive income game have changed a lot, but you’ll already know which book to turn to 10 years later, when the cash is flowing while you sleep, but you somehow still don’t spend as much time in bed as you then should.

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Title: So Good They Can’t Ignore YouBest Motivational Books 27 - So Good They Can't Ignore You

Author: Cal Newport

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2012

Number of copies sold: ~100,000+ copies, estimated from the fact that his previous three books have sold a combined number of 125,000+ copies, but this being his most popular one by far and has one a bunch of awards the year it was published, which has surely driven sales a lot.

Curious fact: The book is as much a reminder for Cal as for anyone else, if not more. He initially wrote it to answer his own question of whether to pick a teaching job, or go join the industry, and the answer not only surprised him, but also made his choice fairly easy and almost irrelevant.27

Best quote from the book: 

What you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

Summary: This book is broken into four rules. The first rule says don’t follow your passion and breaks down why letting your passion guide you into a job is a bad idea. It uses Steve Job as the most prevalent among many examples of how, contrary to what we’re often told, passion is something you acquire as you get better, and not a pre-existing condition that’ll show you what type of work you’re meant to do.

The three following rules then outline what it actually takes to end up doing work you love, based on Daniel Pink’s assertions from “Drive” that describe motivation as the result of autonomy, mastery and purpose. Rule two addresses mastery by showing you how to cultivate a craftsman mindset, with which you acquire career capital (=valuable skills). You can then leverage this career capital into autonomy, by gaining more control over your work, for example by turning down promotions and avoiding other control-sapping traps, which Cal describes in rule three. He finally concludes with how you can find purpose in your work, thanks to your new skills and by going on new missions, which you can test with experiments and little bets.

Top Motivational Books Quote 27 - So Good They Can't Ignore You

Why is it such a motivational book? 

This is a book about where motivation comes from, so, need I really say more? Okay, I’ll say a bit more. If you’ve fallen for the passion presumption (haven’t we all?), you might have an initial knee-jerk reaction to this book. If you do, keep reading. It’s nothing short of a liberation once the gears click and the message falls into place. It shows you that you can bring motivation to whatever work you’re already doing, and that you’re not a lost cause if you haven’t found your passion at age 42.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You takes all the pressure off choosing a career, and puts it on how you decide to approach it instead – which makes you feel a lot more in control. It doesn’t make finding meaningful work easy, but less mystical and moves it a lot closer within reach.

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Title: The Miracle MorningBest Motivational Books 28 - The Miracle Morning

Author: Hal Elrod

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2012

Number of copies sold: ~300,000+, which is an estimate based on the book’s number of ratings, Hal’s bestseller rank, the book’s bestseller status and size of his platform, and the time it’s been out, but I could easily understand if this had sold north of 500,000 copies or even a million by now.

Curious fact: Hal often tells the story of how he was dead for 6 minutes after a car crash and woke up from a coma, being told he’d never walk again. Most people think that’s when he came up with the Miracle Morning and that he pulled himself from that hole with it, but that’s not true. The Miracle Morning is the result of how he dealt with a severe case of depression, due to losing half of his six-figure income, his house, and being $50,000 in debt after the economy crashed in 2007. Facing a grand total of $425,000 in debt, he took a friend’s advice for a run, which sparked his morning practice and would be the turning point of his life. This eventually led to the Miracle Morning book.28

Best quote from the book: 

The moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.

Summary: The book starts with Hal’s story of the accident and the events leading up to his depression and discovery of the morning ritual, including a tip on how you can stop hitting the snooze button (which might be your biggest problem at first). Then he breaks down the six steps of the Miracle Morning in detail, with several options and tips on how to practice each in the best way. The six steps are:

  1. Silence
  2. Affirmations
  3. Visualization
  4. Exercise
  5. Reading
  6. Scribing (=Writing)

If you read the first letter of each step in a downward row, you can discover the acronym Hal created to remember his practice better: SAVERS. Hal suggests taking around 60 minutes each morning for your Miracle Morning, but he then also presents a 6-minute version for time-strapped people (like Four Minute Books readers). He gives a few customizing ideas and options and then transitions into how you can make your new morning routine a proper habit by joining his 30-day transformation challenge.

Top Motivational Books Quote 28 - The Miracle Morning

Why is it such a motivational book? 

Hal writes like he talks, and if you’ve ever heard him talk, you’ll know that in itself is motivating. His optimism seems to know no boundaries, and it spills over, right into your heart. You can feel that he really believes in you and that life has a lot more in store for you. It’s one of the few books that makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with a friend. I confirmed a lot of his questions or answered them in my head as I was reading. Plus, you can immediately put his practice to the test, there’s no delay between learning and trying.

This book is simple, light, highly practical, not in the slightest overwhelming and instantly actionable. It could help you improve your own motivation tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after that, and everyday henceforth (as opposed to just motivating you once). Thus, it puts the power to motivate in your own hands, which is what makes it one of my favorites.

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Title: Zero to OneBest Motivational Books 29 - Zero to One

Author: Peter Thiel

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2014

Number of copies sold: ~1.25 million as of January 31st, 2016, according to a tweet by Blake Masters.

Curious fact: Peter Thiel never intended to write a book. In 2012 he taught a class at Stanford, where one student, Blake Masters, took very detailed notes, and put them up online, for the world to see. And boy, did the world see. The notes have been shared almost 650,000 times and were quoted in The New York Times, leaving Thiel thinking that maybe this was something to start a wider conversation about after all. He and Masters then worked together to condense the notes, and make Thiel’s message clearer, which led to the publication of the book. The notes are still online, and you can look at them for free.29

Best quote from the book: 

What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

Summary: In short, this book answers the question: “If Peter Thiel were to start another startup, how would he start?” and then digs deeper from there. Peter Thiel isn’t concerned with good businesses, he only cares about great businesses. But great businesses always start out as insane ideas – visions which no one but the founders can see.

That’s why Thiel kicks off finding an idea with the question posted above (and below), before establishing that we can’t rely on the past to tell us what the future should look like. Then he picks apart the economics of competition, arguing that monopoly is not only good for business, it’s actually crucial for great business. He continues by discussing a variety of topics startup founders have to deal with, including mindset, money, ideas, marketing and relationships, before ending with a call to sustainability and vision.

Top Motivational Books Quote 29 - Zero to One

Why is it such a motivational book? 

Similar to some of the other books on this list, this feels both limiting and liberating at the same time. If you pay close attention while reading, you’ll probably realize that you neither want, nor need to found a startup – at least that’s what I hope most people learn, because they’re not meant to. However, whether you join a startup, that’s a whole other conversation. If you are cut out for the startup world, this book is even more important. But really, it’s not the career advice that makes this book great.

It’s that it makes you feel hopeful. Hopeful, that the world is in better hands than you think it is. That we can rise to the challenges ahead of us. And that many of the best things in your life haven’t happened yet. That alone makes it a winner for me.

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Title: The Power of LessBest Motivational Books 30 - The Power of Less

Author: Leo Babauta

Type: Non-fiction

Published in: 2008

Number of copies sold: ~10,000+ copies, an estimate based on his Amazon rank, number of reviews of the book and ratings on Goodreads.

Curious fact: It’s hard to justify selling a book when you’re promoting a concept of “uncopyright”, a culture of free and frugality on your blog about minimalism, so initially Leo struggled with releasing this through a traditional publisher, as opposed to just making it available for free on his blog, for example. He shared his thoughts and reasons for his decisions in a blog post shortly after the book came out.30

Best quote from the book: 

Limit yourself to fewer goals, and you’ll achieve more.

Summary: This book is divided into two parts: the principles and what they look like in practice. In the first part, Leo walks you through why less is better in the first place and how you can internalize the principle of setting limits in everything you do. After this little mindset upgrade, he then helps you pick the essential things to focus on, and shows you how to cultivate that focus by changing your habits – with very small steps and in very small increments. Part two then details how to bring this new attitude of simplicity to a variety of things, such as goals, projects, tasks, time management, email, internet, your daily routine, your commitments, your home and even your health and fitness. The book concludes with a chapter about motivation.

Top Motivational Books Quote 30 - The Power of Less

Why is it such a motivational book? 

Now, before you think this is another book that’ll make you feel free and lighthearted by simply cutting back on the things you’re doing (which it totally is), let me make another point: This book accounts for your sense of accomplishment. By doing 3 projects instead of 7 your chances of finishing all 3 of those successfully and in time go way up, meaning you do more, relatively speaking. A project 80% done doesn’t make you feel proud. It makes you feel bad. But a project shipped out the door does, giving you more confidence to take on the next one.

That’s what this book is great at. More accomplishments, which you can draw motivational fuel from for bigger challenges. Plus the liberating part of course.

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Title: ?Best Motivational Books 31 - Your Favorite Book

Author: ?

Type: ?

Published in: ?

Number of copies sold: at least 1 🙂

Curious fact: This book motivates you more than any other book in the world, for one simple reason: it’s your favorite. Nobody else might know it, it might have sold only 17 copies, or you might even have written it yourself. But none of that matters, because it’s your favorite story in the world. Nobody can take that away from you, and whether you read it for the first or 50th time, every time you close it you feel inspired, confident, and ready to work on the goals that matter the most to you.

Best quote from the book: 

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. ~ Haruki Murakami

Summary: I bet your gears are already spinning. “Hm, what is my favorite book?” Here are some indicators to help you figure it out and “sum up” the book.

It’s the book you’ve read at least three times. You know the blurb on the back and the flap text by heart and can somehow find a quote from it to fit any life situation. If there’s a movie for this book, you’ve seen it not only in your own language, but also in English and potentially Korean with English subtitles, just because. You’ve raved about this book to at least 50 people, some of whom have already gotten annoyed at how obsessed you’re with it. You’ve given this book as a gift at least once, or your copy is all weathered and wrinkled, because you’ve passed it around so much.

Most importantly, even after years and years, you never feel like a second of time is wasted when you open it again. Like Oscar Wilde said: “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

Top Motivational Books Quote 31 - Your Favorite Book

Why is it such a motivational book? 

The answer is simple: because you picked it. The biggest power to motivate you comes from within yourself, and by picking this book as your all time favorite you’ve bestowed an infinite capacity to motivate you upon it. How we respond to different stories is very subjective. Therefore, there are as many motivating books as there are people, because every book’s power to motivate a person is unique to them. Your favorite book speaks more to you than anyone else because of when you read it, how many similarities you discovered between yourself and the hero of the story, what you were going through at the time, how others perceived you while you read it, and so on. Millions of little factors come together in a single experience, the sum of which makes it your favorite book of all time.

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What are YOUR favorite motivational books?

You might be asking yourself:

“Wow, that’s a lot of books. Which one do I pick up first to not lose time and get the most out of this list?”

No worries, I’ll help you 🙂 Enter your email below, and I’ll send you a snazzy PDF with the 10 very best books from this list. That way, you can not only keep it for future reference but also take your first pick from a smaller selection!

Enjoy, and may inspiration always be with you!

 

Other Book Lists

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far: