Best Motivational Books

Down on your luck? Need some motivation to get out of bed? How about grabbing a book? Let us guess: you would, but you’re out of ideas regarding its author or title.

Worry not: we’re here to help!

Just bookmark this article, and you’re covered for the whole of 2019; even if need less than three days to read a 300-page book! Whether it is self-improvement you’re interested in or books about personal growth, whether you want the best motivational books for women or the best motivational books of all time – they are all here.

And we’ve provided a brief, unique summary/review for each of them, and categorized them on ten different self-explanatory shelves.

So, seriously, bookmark this article: it’s that useful

Without further ado – let’s roll.

The 101 Best Motivational Books List

(Click a title below to go to the respective shelf)

1. Basics of Motivation
2. Rules for Life
3. Power of Positive Thinking
4. You Are a Badass
5. Great Lecture
6. Why Would You Give a Damn
7. Fables and Fiction
8. Inspirational Biographies
9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
10. Show Me the Money
Wildcard

1. The “Basics of Motivation” Shelf

You can’t motivate yourself without learning what motivation is. Want to do that? Well, these 10 books offer a great philosophical and theoretical framework!

The Motivation Manifesto1.1 Brendon Burchard – The Motivation Manifesto

About the Book: What better way to start a list of the 101 best motivational books you should read in 2019 than with a motivation manifesto? And Brendon Burchard’s really lives up to its name! His “9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” will energize you to your very core! This is one you should keep on your bedside table. Or even under your pillow. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Without making the actual attempt, without trial and strife, there can be no true knowledge, no progress, no high achievement, and no legend.

Find Your Why1.2 Simon Sinek – Find Your Why

About the Book: In Start with Why, Simon Sinek proposed to the world – in his very own words – “the world’s simplest idea.” Namely, that why you are doing what you’re doing is more important than how you’re doing it or even what it is that you’re doing. In Find Your Why Sinek teams up with Peter Docker and David Mead and gives us the book we’ve all been waiting for: a practical guide to discovering that why. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.

Drive1.3 Daniel H. Pink – Drive

About the Book: The subtitle of Daniel H. Pink’s thought-provoking 2011 bestseller, Drive – “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” – tells you everything you need to know about this book. First of all, it explores the roots of motivation; and secondly, it reaches unexpected conclusions. In a nutshell, that money doesn’t motivate us; what does is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Drive
Favorite Quote:

Pay your son to take out the trash — and you’ve pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free.

The Power of Habit1.4 Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit

About the Book: We are creatures of habit, and Duhigg knows that the real power of this insight lies in the fact that “your habits are what you choose them to be.” However, as you know full well, it’s not easy to choose them: you are intrinsically motivated to do some things much more than some others. And though it’s not easy to change them as well, you can actually do it: just replace the routine but keep the initial cue and the final reward. Apparently, this works 100% of the time! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Power of Habit
Favorite Quote:

The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.

Switch1.5 Chip and Dan Heath – Switch

About the Book: Speaking of habits and how to change them – here’s another classic in the field: Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch. According to the Heath Brothers, all successful changes follow the same pattern. Namely, people who change all have a clear direction, plenty of motivation, and a supportive environment. Or to use the Jonathan Haidt analogy they use: you need to direct the rider; motivate the elephant, and shape the path. You’ll know what we mean: just see 9.7 below. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Switch
Favorite Quote:

Change is hard because people wear themselves out.

Thinking, Fast and Slow1.6 Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow

About the Book: Daniel Kahneman is a world-renowned psychologist with – get this – a Nobel Prize in Economics. So, basically, he already knows about you more than you’ll ever know about yourself. Thinking, Fast and Slow is a summary of his life-long research, exploring the dichotomy between fast and slow thinking. We don’t think that you’ll place that much value in your own judgment after reading this book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Favorite Quote:

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.

David and Goliath1.7 Malcolm Gladwell – David and Goliath

About the Book: Even in his forties, Malcolm Gladwell was already one of the most influential thinkers of our times. Now at 55, he is nothing less than an icon. Even though – like all of his books – a New York Times bestseller, David and Goliath may be his least famous book. But, in our opinion, it may be his most motivating one. Because it can show you why – and how – you can win, even when all odds are against you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

David and Goliath
Favorite Quote:

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times, and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The Power of Myth1.8 Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers – The Power of Myth

About the Book: People have found different ways to motivate themselves to endure and succeed ever since the beginning of times. In The Power of Myth – a book based on the six one-hour conversations taken between journalist Bill Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell in the last year of Campbell’s life – you can see why (and how) these most ancient strategies still work. “Follow your bliss,” says Campbell, “and doors will open where there were no doors before.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.

How Will You Measure Your Life?1.9 Clayton Christensen – How Will You Measure Your Life?

About the Book: Clayton Christensen is a Harvard-based scholar most famous for his theory of “disruptive innovation.” However, in How Will You Measure Your Life? – co-authored with James Allworth and Karen Dillon – rather than giving us another analysis of Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, he gives us a book more in the tradition of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture (see 5.10). And we should be grateful for it! Because How Will You Measure Your Life? introduces the “hygiene-motivation theory,” according to which, it is not money, but work conditions and job security, combined with recognition, personal growth, and sense of responsibility that are the true motivating factors of existence. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does1.10 Susan Fowler – Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does

About the Book: Motivation, according to Susan Fowler, is a skill. Meaning, like all other skills, it can be taught and acquired. However, misunderstanding what motivation is leads to a “misapplication of techniques to make it happen.” For this reason, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does sets before itself an objective to dispel all myths about motivation. Here you’ll learn how external undermine internal motivators and how, in order to be motivated, you need to live under an ARC of Freedom. We’ll let you find out what ARC stands for. But we’ll tell you that “people who experience ARC are thriving. They do not need something or someone else doing the driving.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere.

2. The “Rules for Life” Shelf

There are some people who can tell you how you should live your life. And usually, they are smart enough to pack their lifetime of knowledge in several rules. Your job: to merely follow them!

12 Rules for Life2.1 Jordan Peterson – 12 Rules for Life

About the Book:  By all accounts, Jordan Peterson is “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.” His 12 Rules for Life are both humorous and revelatory. And they cover everything – from standing up straight with your shoulders back and putting your house in order to be precise with your speech and – yes! – petting a cat when you encounter one on the street. It’s Peterson, so of course there’s more to it; and of course, it’s as motivating as hell! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.

The Four Agreements2.2 Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

About the Book: In his “practical guide to personal freedom,” Mexican neo-shaman Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the four tenets of true joy and happiness. Though fairly simple – as all wisdom is – the four agreements will probably affect you in a life-changing, world-shattering kind of way. Want to immediately find out what are they? Read here. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read the best quotes from the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The world is very beautiful and very wonderful.  Life can be very easy when love is your way of life.  You can be loving all the time. This is your choice.

Just Shut Up and Do It2.3 Brian Tracy – Just Shut Up and Do It

About the Book: You already know that Brian Tracy is a no-excuses kind of guy. Hence the title. In Just Shut Up and Do It he presents his 7 steps to conquer your goals. So, you can learn how to: surmount the biggest obstacle to success; take charge of your life; dare to go forward; decide what you really want; overcome procrastination; become a lifelong learner; and never give up. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Brian Tracy | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Top people build learning into each day. They read thirty to sixty minutes each morning—approximately one book per week.

Emotional Habits2.4 Akash Karia – Emotional Habits

About the Book: Akash Karia is a peak performance coach and a celebrated NLP trainer; and in Emotional Habits, he shows how Subtitled “7 Things Resilient People Do Differently and How They Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life,” this book is “a quick read that can have immediate and long-term benefits.” (Phil Barth) Not the least because it includes spot-on practical executrices. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The goal of building emotional strength is not to somehow make every situation in life happy and rosy.

Simple Rules2.5 Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt – Simple Rules

About the Book: Life is difficult as it is to make it even more unbearable by adhering to complex rules. If you are – then this book is for you. Drawing on hundreds of studies and more than a decade of research, in Simple Rules Sull and Eisenhardt show how simple rules are the deal and how, armed with just a few of them, “you can tackle even the most complex of problems.” And thrive. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Simple Rules
Favorite Quote:

Investing the time up front to clarify what will move the needles dramatically increases the odds that simple rules will be applied where they can have the greatest impact.

The Daily Stoic2.6 Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman – The Daily Stoic

About the Book: Another obligatory bedside-table – or even under-the-pillow – book. Compiled by one of the leaders “for the charge of stoicism,” Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic contains “366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance and the art of living” – one for each day of the year, for the rest of your life. And they are all commented upon by Holiday who has a knack for illustrating how relevant this ancient school of philosophy is for our modern world. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Serenity and stability are results of your choices and judgment, not your environment.

Ignore Everybody2.7 Hugh MacLeod – Ignore Everybody

About the Book: Hugh Macleod (of gapingvoid.com) is a pretty creative guy; so, when he publishes a book sharing a list of his 40 keys to creativity, it is bound to make a splash. A paean to originality and nonconformity, Ignore Everybody is both a humorous and engaging read; not to mention inspirational. By the end of the book, you’ll definitely want to take your kindergarten crayons back. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.

The Art of Nonconformity2.8 Chris Guillebeau – The Art of Nonconformity

About the Book: Chris Guillebeau has lived a pretty unconventional life, volunteering with Mercy Ships, founding a $100 startup, and visiting all 193 countries of the world by the age of 35. So, in a way, he has mastered the art of nonconformity. Based on his popular online manifesto, “A Brief Guide to World Domination,” this book shares what he learned throughout the process. And can help you learn not only how to set your own rules and live the life you want, but also how to change the world. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Unreasonable, unrealistic, and impractical are all words used to marginalize a person or idea that fails to conform with conventionally expected standards.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success2.9 Deepak Chopra – The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

About the Book: In the eyes of most people – yes, we’re looking at you, mums and dads – dreams are an antonym of reality. However, in the eyes of Deepak Chopra, reality and dreams are interconnected, and “the same laws that nature uses to create a forest, a star, or a human body can also bring about the fulfillment of our deepest desires.” A pocket-sized practical guide to the fulfillment of dreams, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, shares the whys and the hows; and it’s both motivating and enlightening. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Favorite Quote:

The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present.

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind2.10 Vishen Lakhiani – The Code of the Extraordinary Mind

About the Book: True, many books can claim to contain “10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms,” but Vishen Lakhiani’s bestseller actually does. There’s a high chance that you’ve encountered upon none of them (at least in the form they are shared here) in any other book you’ve ever read. And yet, from law #1 (“transcend the culturescape”) through law #7 (“live in blissipline”) to law #9 (“be unf*ckwithable”) – they all make sense and are helpful! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

3. The “Power of Positive Thinking” Shelf

Science has repeatedly shown that glass-half-full people live longer and happier lives than the rest of, well, us. These books show why. And how you can become one of them.

As a Man Thinketh3.1 James Allen – As a Man Thinketh

About the Book: Published more than a century ago, As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay by James Allen, one of the first which deals “with the power of thought, and particularly with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues.” Described by Allen himself as “a book that will help you to help yourself,” As a Man Thinketh is one of the earliest self-help books; and it is still one of the best. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

The Power of Positive Thinking3.2 Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking

About the Book: Even though published fifty years after James Allen’s masterpiece, The Power of Positive Thinking is usually credited as the book which started the “positive thinking” revolution. Justly so, bearing in mind the fact that it’s written in a simple, yet engaging, style, and that it compiles an extensive list of case histories to go with the practical instructions. A classic. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture.

The Secret3.3 Rhonda Byrne – The Secret

About the Book: Rhonda Byrne doesn’t hide the fact that The Secret is directly inspired by the ideas of Norman Vincent Peale – or those by Wallace Wattles (10.1), Napoleon Hill (3.8 & 10.2) or Helena Blavatsky. And, indeed, The Secret doesn’t offer any new insights. But it does explain the law of attraction in the simplest manner possible – which is why the book sold over 30 million copies and was translated into 50 world languages. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Secret
Favorite Quote:

The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life, but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.

Ask, Believe, Receive

3.4 David Hooper – Ask, Believe, Receive

About the Book: Byrne’s The Secret may be inspired by Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, but Ask, Believe, Receive is a direct sequel to The Secret. Inspired by the fact that “The Secret exposed the world to the Law of Attraction in ways James Allen, Earl Nightingale, and others hadn’t,” David Hopper wrote this book to complement it with a practical guide. It is a “step-by-step formula, actually five of them, to help you achieve what you want in specific areas of your life – money, relationships, health, employment, and business.” In seven days. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The Law of Attraction won’t enclose you in a cushy cocoon, so you never have to deal with problems again – but it can give you greater control over how many of those problems you experience.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life3.5 Brian Tracy – Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

About the Book: A list of 101 best motivational books is bound to include quite a few Brian Tracy entries; after all, he is a powerhouse – if not the powerhouse – in the world of motivational speakers. In Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, Tracy provides a step-by-step blueprint on how to transform your ways of thinking about yourself and your potential and, thus, change your life for the better. If not – for the best. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very best way to predict the future is to create it.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind3.6 Joseph Murphy – The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

About the Book: “I have endeavored to explain the great fundamental truths of your mind in the simplest language possible,” writes Joseph Murphy in the introduction to his ultra-popular The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. And he does. The result? The best book on the “miracle-working power of your subconscious mind” and its ability to “heal you of your sickness” and “make you vital and strong again. “ (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.

You Can Heal Your Life3.7 Louise L. Hay – You Can Heal Your Life

About the Book: Just like is the case with most of the books in this category, the premise of You Can Heal Your Life is quite simple: everything is connected, and you can use this to your own benefit. However, if the other books explore the links between your mind and the universe, Louisa L. Hay’s perennial bestseller is mainly focused on the interconnections between your mind and your body. The main takeaway: most diseases are actually mental diseases; and they can be cured via your mind. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude3.8 Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone – Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

About the Book: After the Second World War, the godfather of self-help books and New Thought guru, Napoleon Hill, teamed up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude is the final result of their collaboration. “These two men,” commented upon it none other than Norman Vincent Peale, “have the rare gift of inspiring and helping people… In fact, I owe them both a personal debt of gratitude for the helpful guidance I have received from their writings.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude
Favorite Quote:

Whatever your mind can conceive and can believe, it can achieve.

The Road Less Traveled3.9 M. Scott Peck – The Road Less Traveled

About the Book: It’s been half a century since The Road Less Traveled was first published, so it may be a bit difficult today to understand the spiritual impact this book exerted upon publication. Read it, and you’ll instantly see why it sold almost 10 million copies long before books of its kind became mainstays of the bestseller lists. Exploring the topics of discipline, love, religion, and grace, Peck’s book will etch in your mind such truisms as “laziness is the ultimate sin” and “love is not a feeling, but an action.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

The Power of Now3.10 Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now

About the Book: Translated into more than 30 languages and recommended by Oprah Winfrey on numerous occasions, The Power of Now is one of the best manuals you’ll ever find on how to conquer your ego and let go of your worries. A mixture of Buddhism, mysticism and New Age, Eckart Tolle’s masterpiece suggests that about nine-tenths of your anxieties come not from things which are happening, but of things which have happened or might happen. And this is something you can – and should – change. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Power of Now
Favorite Quote:

As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle to dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.

Best Motivational Books

4. The “You Are a Badass” Shelf

As the story itself demonstrates, there’s a Goliath in every David; in other words: it’s all in the state of mind. The biblical David had God as his guide; we are positive that these ten great motivators can serve the same purpose in your transformation from a David to a Goliath.

Rising Strong4.1 Brené Brown – Rising Strong

About the Book: In the world of motivational thinkers, Brené Brown is all but a legend. And Rising Strong is her call for “a critical mass of badasses who are willing to dare, fall, feel their way through tough emotion, and rise again.” And the rising process she suggests is a simple 3R procedure. First, you reckon with your emotions; then you rumble with your stories; and, finally, you revolutionize your existence. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.

You Are a Badass4.2 Jen Sincero – You Are a Badass

About the Book: Hilarious and inspiring, You Are a Badass is the debut book of Jen Sincero, a motivational coach who has helped numerous people worldwide transform their lives and finally experience happiness. It is a 250-page tour-de-force of inspiration, shared out in 5 parts and 27 chapters. Through quite a few inspiring stories, wise advices, and simple exercises, Sincero goes on a mission to teach you “how you got this way,” “how to embrace your inner badass,” “how to tap into the motherlode,” and “how to get over your b.s. already.” You know, the lot which will help you learn “how to kick some ass.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.

Grit4.3 Angela Duckworth – Grit

About the Book: Angela Duckworth is University of Pennsylvania’s Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology and a 2013 MacArthur Genius Fellowship awardee. So, it’s safe to say she knows some things about human nature. In her debut, Grit, she claims that talent is only one part of the equation for success. Moreover, that it may even be the least important part. As she repeatedly shows in this great book, the ones who succeed are rarely the ones who are the best. It’s the ones who are the grittiest. Or, to clarify that a bit, the ones with the passion and the perseverance to succeed. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Grit
Favorite Quote:

With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.

The Power of Self-Confidence4.4 Brian Tracy – The Power of Self-Confidence

About the Book: Oftentimes, average players can become great overnight; the only thing that’s changed in the meantime: their confidence. Brian Tracy’s book shows the extent to which self-confidence is the secret ingredient to success; and teaches you how you can attain it so that you can become unstoppable, irresistible, and unafraid in every area of your life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

Girl, Wash Your Face

4.5 Rachel Hollis – Girl, Wash Your Face

About the Book: It’s not you: nobody has life figured out. Rachel Hollis, for example, has four children, owns an ultra-popular blog, and is the CCO of a company she has founded. How does she do it? Well, actually, she doesn’t: she has merely let the chaos of her life spur her onwards. In Girl, Wash Your Face she shares the tips and tricks. Oh, yes: if the title wasn’t a giveaway, guys, turn away – this one’s for the girls only. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.

Year of Yes4.6 Shonda Rhimes – Year of Yes

About the Book: Among other things, Shonda Rhimes was the creative force behind one of the most popular TV shows ever: Grey’s Anatomy. She was also a workaholic with barely a minute to spare on her three children or dearest friends. That all changed in 2015, her “Year of Yes.” This book chronicles her experiences of that year; and can certainly inspire you to do something and start creating some of your own. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

Choose Yourself4.7 James Altucher – Choose Yourself

About the Book: Rife with insightful interviews and astute life lessons, Choose Yourself is one of the best self-improvement and motivational books you’ll ever read. The basic premise is (once again) quite simple (just see the title), but the way it’s related and the sheer force of the arguments is compelling. Because, as Altucher says, if there ever was a time in history when you could choose yourself – that time is today. Make the most of it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.

Awaken the Giant Within4.8 Tony Robbins – Awaken the Giant Within

About the Book: Tony Robbins is a motivational powerhouse. In fact, just seeing him or hearing him talk is enough for one to realize that he’s all kinds of a powerhouse. Awaken the Giant Within, a massive 600-page book, is perhaps his still best-known and best-loved work. As you’ll find out in it, getting rid of your old limiting belief systems is a painful process; but if there’s someone who can inspire you to endure the pain necessary to develop an empowering belief system, well, Robbins is your guy. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Awaken the Giant Within
Favorite Quote:

I truly believe we all have a sleeping giant within us.

Now, Discover Your Strengths4.9 Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton – Now, Discover Your Strengths

About the Book: As its title suggests, Now, Discover Your Strengths is a sequel to Buckingham’s debut, First, Break All the Rules, with the sole aim to help you – and we do mean you – realize your innate potential. It does this via the Internet-based StrengthsFinder Profile, based on a multimillion-dollar 25-year-long study. Once you buy the book, you’ll discover your unique number to use the program. And after going through the internet analysis and discovering your strengths, you are advised to come back to the book and find the best way to use them. Very unique, Now, Discover Your Strengths is not only groundbreaking but also an extremely useful book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you stop investigating yourself for fear of how little you might find, you miss the wonder of your strengths.

Finding Your Element4.10 Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica – Finding Your Element

About the Book: If you don’t know who Ken Robinson is, then there’s a high chance that you don’t know what TED is either; because Robinson’s 2006 speech, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is by far the most viewed TED Talk of all time. Finding Your Element builds upon that speech and its prequel-book (The Element), which taught us that the Element is the point at which “natural aptitude meets personal passion.” Here you’ll learn how to discover it and transform your life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Finding your Element is vital to understanding who you are and what you’re capable of being and doing with your life.

5. The “Great Lecture” Shelf

Regardless of who you are or who you’ll become, a large part of it (for better or for worse) will always be the aftereffect of your professors’ lectures. We can only wish that some of them looked like these ten.

5.1 Elbert Hubbard – A Message to Garcia

About the Book: On February 22, 1899, Elbert Hubbard, an American philosopher and publisher, was irked by a lazy worker. That very night, he wrote this 32-page essay in an attempt to expose “the imbecility of the average man” and his “inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it.” His starting point for comparison: a certain soldier named Andrew S. Rowan, who, just prior to the Spanish–American War, was tasked with carrying a message from President William McKinley to the Cuban insurgents’ leader, Gen. Calixto García, “somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba—no one knew where.” Hubbard’s main point: Rowan asked no questions; he just took the message and delivered it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The hero is the man who does the work.

This Is Water5.2 David Foster Wallace – This Is Water

About the Book: Due to his problems with depression and anxiety, David Foster Wallace lived a famously secluded life. In fact – and unfortunately – the only public speech he ever gave in his life was the commencement speech delivered on May 21, 2005 to the graduating class at Kenyon College. An unforgettable lecture on awareness and empathy, the speech was published in a slightly extended version as this book in 2009, a year after Wallace decided to end his life. Regardless of whether you’ll listen to the speech or read the book, Wallace’s messages will most certainly remain with you for many years to come. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Listen to the speech)

Favorite Quote:

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Harvard Commencement Speech5.3 J.K. Rowling – Harvard Commencement Speech

About the Book: Back in 1994, J. K. Rowling was a single mother of one, diagnosed with clinical depression and as “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” A year later, 12 publishing houses rejected her manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Today, she is one of the bestselling authors in history. In her 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech Rowling looks back at it all and shares the two lectures she wishes she had been taught at university: the importance of imagination and the usefulness of failure. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.

Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach5.4 Atul Gawande – Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach

About the Book: Atul Gawande is an exceptional American surgeon and public health professor. In this TED2017 speech, he explains that, regardless of his level of expertise, he still needs a coach to get better – or at least not to regress. Athletes have been aware of this fact ever since the beginnings of sport. Even a Michael Jordan or a Garry Kasparov needs a coach. Doesn’t that mean, by implication, that we all do? (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Great coaches…are your external eyes and ears, providing a more accurate picture of your reality.

The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage5.5 Susan David – The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

About the Book: There are objective facts and events; and, then, there are also our emotional reactions to them. It is the latter which actually shape our lives, everything from our health through our relationships and careers to the genuineness of our happiness and contentment. That’s why it’s exceptionally important to develop emotional flexibility; and Susan David’s speech will tell you how you can achieve that. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Diversity isn’t just people; it’s also what’s inside people, including diversity of emotion.

Make Your Bed5.6 William H. McRaven – Make Your Bed

About the Book: The title of this book is the first of Admiral William H. McRaven’s ten life lessons. It’s a different way of saying “start your day with a task completed.” The other nine are the following ones: you can’t go it alone; only the size of your heart matters; life’s not fair – drive on; failure can make you stronger; you must dare greatly; stand up to the bullies; rise to the occasion; give people hope; and never, ever quit. Funny and inspiring, McRaven has a host of personal anecdotes to illuminate each of these suggestions; and to inspire you to dare greatly. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.

You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems5.7 Tapiwa Chiwewe – You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems

About the Book: “Even if you’re not an expert in a particular domain,” says Tapiwa Chiwewe in this endlessly unassuming and infinitely inspiring speech, “your outside expertise may hold the key to solving big problems within that domain.” In his case, it was his background in computer engineering that helped him solve an ecological problem. What will the combination be in your case? The combinations are endless. And that’s the point. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Sometimes just one fresh perspective, one new skill set, can make the conditions right for something remarkable to happen.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are5.8 Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

About the Book: The second most watched TED Talk in history, Amy Cuddy’s Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are can be summed up in a single sentence: strike a “power pose” (think Wonder Woman) and your body will start releasing hormones to boost your feelings of confidence. In other words, regardless of whether you’re actually confident or not – you can trick your body to trick your mind that you are. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Read some Amy Cuddy quotes | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it…Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize it.

Tuesdays with Morrie5.9 Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie

About the Book: Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor, was Mitch Albom’s favorite teacher at Brandeis. However, even though he had promised him the opposite at his graduation day in 1979, Mitch (now a nation-famous sportswriter) had not corresponded with Morrie for the next 16 years. And then he learned from an interview with Schwartz on the TV show Nightline that his university professor is dying from ALS. He called him immediately and for the next fourteen weeks, Mitch Albom spent every Tuesday with Morrie Schwartz. This book describes their discussions, covering everything from family to religion to the meaning of life. And it’s everything you’d expect it to be: poignant, heartbreaking, life-changing. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie5.10 Randy Pausch – The Last Lecture

About the Book: What if you suddenly find out that you have barely a few months left to live on this planet? We know what you’re thinking: there are so many things I’d do, so many dreams I have yet to achieve. Well, what’s stopping you now? In a nutshell, that’s the question Randy Pausch thinks is the most important one you can ask yourself. And the question he tried to answer in a poignant and inspiring one-hour talk, which he gave before a packed audience, merely 8 months before he passed away. This book grew out of that talk. And it’s so wonderful that we can honestly say to you this: if Pausch can’t motivate you to start achieving your dreams today, well, we don’t know who can. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

We cannot change the cards we are dealt; just how we play the hand.

6. The “Why Would You Give a Damn” Shelf

You know what? You worry about too many trivial things in your life. And that’s what stopping you from being happy. Here are ten books which can teach you how to give less damn about, well, almost everything.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living6.1 Dale Carnegie – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

About the Book: Published in 1948, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie – the godfather of self-improvement – is widely considered a self-help classic and one of the best books on the topic ever written. Carnegie wrote it because, in his own words, he “was one of the unhappiest lads in New York.” And these are the time-tested methods which helped him recognize and overcome his worries. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck6.2 Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

About the Book: Mark Manson is not a guy who’ll ever try to sugarcoat his words or his messages. And, albeit The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck cites quite a few academic studies, very early on you get the feel that this book is the best (unsubtle) proponent of the message he’s trying to relate to his readers. Namely, that life is unfair and that no matter how much you try to make it right, it will certainly find a way to hit you with a hammer at the least convenient moment. Your job is to find a way to absorb the blow. And not giving a damn about 99% of the things you are – is the best way to do it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Favorite Quote:

Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.

Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff6.3 Richard Carlson – Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff

About the Book: Profoundly believing that “stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness,” Richard Carlson — a renowned psychotherapist and motivational speaker — spent almost all of his (unfortunately short) life studying the ways to overcome it. And the trademark-titled Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff is his best-known book on the subject. It shows marvelously how important is to simply calm down and chill out in life. True, the idea is simple, but so is Carlson’s style. Which makes both for an enjoyable and an inspiring read. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We deny the parts of ourselves that we deem unacceptable rather than accepting the fact that we’re all less than perfect.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck6.4 Sarah Knight – The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

About the Book: “The life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck,” writes Sarah Knight in this “practical parody” of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “is all about prioritizing. Joy over annoy. Choice over obligation. Opinions vs. feelings.” Hilarious and stimulating, Sarah Knight’s profane language, coupled with her blunt honesty, will teach you “how to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do.” Don’t like it? Well, Knight couldn’t care less about it. It’s there on the first page: this is “a no f*cks given guide.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I call it the NotSorry Method. It has two steps: 1. Deciding what you don’t give a f*ck about; and 2. Not giving a f*ck about those things.

Ego Is the Enemy6.5 Ryan Holiday – Ego Is the Enemy

About the Book: At first glance, the title of this book says it all. What it doesn’t say, however, is that Ryan Holiday is a modern-day Stoic (see 2.6) and that, for him, ego is not merely a clinical term in Freudian theory, but a word to describe “an unhealthy belief in your own importance.” And this belief is something you must get rid of, Holiday says, going over a host of killing-the-ego-related positive anecdotes – as well as cautionary tales – to make his point. Some of the great historical and contemporary figures mentioned in his book are George Marshall, Christopher McCandless, Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as Larry Page, Paul Graham, and Steve Jobs. See why. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Ego Is the Enemy
Favorite Quote:

Be lesser, do more. Imagine if, for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you.

The 4-Hour Workweek6.6 Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Workweek

About the Book: Before he became the world-famous entrepreneur that he is today, Timothy Ferriss was not much different from you; in other words: he worked about two-thirds of the day – and slept away the last one. There must be more to life – he thought to himself one day while on a 3-week sabbatical to Europe. And that’s when he stopped checking email and started outsourcing assignments. The result? Well, see the title. If that seems like a stretch, we guarantee you at least this: stick to Ferriss’ advice and you will at least undoubtedly escape the boring 9-5 lifestyle that’s draining all of your energy. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The 4 Hour Workweek
Favorite Quote:

Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is not laziness.

Why Men Love Bitches6.7 Sherry Argov – Why Men Love Bitches

About the Book: A practical “from doormat to dreamgirl” guide for women, Why Men Love Bitches answers the rhetorical question from the title in an example-rich and emphatic fashion. We’ll let Argov’s definition of what being a bitch actually means give you a taste of what to expect from this brilliant New York Times bestseller: “A woman who won’t bang her head against the wall obsessing over someone else’s opinion – be it a man or anyone else in her life. She understands that if someone does not approve of her, it’s just one person’s opinion; therefore, it’s of no real importance. She doesn’t try to live up to anyone else’s standards – only her own. Because of this, she relates to a man very differently.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Be an independent thinker at all times, and ignore anyone who attempts to define you in a limiting way.

What If It Does Work Out?6.8 Susie Moore – What If It Does Work Out?

About the Book: If you’re anything like us, the first question you ask yourself every time you come up with an idea for something big is “what if it doesn’t work out?” Well, it’s time for a why-worries paradigm shift: in What If It Does Work Out? Susie Moore takes you on a step-by-step journey of how to transform your side hustle into cash; and, by way of proxy, your mediocre present of whys and what-ifs into a bright future of passion and fulfillment. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You are not your job. You are much bigger than and not restricted by whatever your job title says you are – even if you love your current career.

Braving the Wilderness6.9 Brené Brown – Braving the Wilderness

About the Book: In the words of Joseph Campbell (see 1.8): “if you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” So, “stop walking through the world looking for a confirmation that you don’t belong,” Brené Brown joins in (see 4.1). “The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” And no one can teach you to stop worrying about the world and brave the wilderness inside you better than Brown. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I have started to believe that crying with strangers in person could save the world.

When Things Fall Apart6.10 Pema Chödrön – When Things Fall Apart

About the Book: Almost any book illuminating the principles of Tibetan Buddhism can teach you to worry less and accept more. This one – one of our favorites – is written by a Berkeley-educated disciple of that crazy sage, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche; and abounds with piercingly beautiful pieces of counterintuitive “heart advice for difficult times.” The bottom line: you can overcome any pain by embracing it; and Pema Chödrön has a knack for choosing the right words in teaching you how. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.

top motivational books

7. The “Fables and Fiction” Shelf

“I give you the truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” informs us Tom Wingfield at the beginning of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. And that’s what great fiction always does; and that’s why you can learn more about real life from these ten fictional stories than you can from, well, real life itself.

Allegory of the Cave7.1 Plato – Allegory of the Cave

About the Book: Imagine a group of prisoners incarcerated in a cave and chained in such a manner that they are merely facing a blank wall; and on the wall: nothing but shadowy projections of people and things passing in front of a fire burning behind them. And yet, since they can perceive nothing else, the shadows are what constitutes reality for these prisoners. According to Plato, in this unforgettable excerpt from The Republic, it is the job of the philosopher to break away from the chains and inspire others to see that there’s more to reality than mere projections; and it is a job he did flawlessly. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light.

The Alchemist7.2 Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

About the Book: Inspired by an old folktale (search for the Peddler of Swaffham), Paulo Coelho’s most-celebrated book, The Alchemist, follows the journey of a young shepherd named Santiago, from the pastures of Andalusia to the pyramids of Egypt – and back again. The reason for this journey: a recurring dream which promises the poor boy treasure. In the end, he finds it; but it’s not where he expected it to be; and, moreover, it’s not what he expected it to be. Oh, just when will they finally release that Idris Elba-starring movie adaptation? (Read a brief summary of the book | Read the best quotes from the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The Greatest Salesman in the World7.3 Og Mandino – The Greatest Salesman in the World

About the Book: According to Norman Vincent Peale (see 3.2), The Greatest Salesman in the World is “one of the most inspiring, uplifting, and motivating books” in existence; and, according to Matthew McConaughey, it profoundly changed his life. A parable set in the last years of the first century before Christ, this tiny booklet weaves mythology and practical tips in a way which makes life much more graspable and the act of selling (in the words of Daniel H. Pink) an inherently human – and humane – endeavor. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.

TheMonk Who Sold His Ferrari7.4 Robin Sharma – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

About the Book: In a novelistic fashion, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari retells the story of Robin Sharma’s actual real-life transformation. A motivational fable, it is presented in the form of a conversation between two friends, Julian and John, during which the first one, a successful trial lawyer, recounts to the second one how he sold his Ferrari and his holiday home after suffering a heart attack. And how that decision was the best in his life, because it funded a Himalayan journey which, ultimately, changed his whole perception about himself – and life itself. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Life has bigger plans for you than you can possibly know.

Who Moved My Cheese?7.5 Spencer Johnson – Who Moved My Cheese?

About the Book: A very short 32-page barely illustrated story, Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw). They live in a maze and are in a constant pursuit for cheese. After they find a whole bunch of it, the little people seem quite content with the discovery, while the mice are already thinking about the day they’ll have none. Sure enough, that day comes. And the little people have no choice but to learn how to deal with the scarcity of food. One of them deals with it better. And tries to motivate the other. And, much more importantly, by way of proxy, you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you do not change, you can become extinct.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull7.6 Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull

About the Book: What can a story about an outcast seagull who prefers mastering the art of flying to, well, eating, tell you about how you should live your life? Surprisingly: a lot. It is not for nothing that the book is dedicated to “the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.” Critically acclaimed Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury once wrote that Richard Bach “does two things: he gives me Flight. He makes me Young. For both, I am deeply grateful.” We are too, Ray, we are too. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.

Siddhartha7.7 Hermann Hesse – Siddhartha

About the Book: Profoundly influenced by Western (Jungian) psychoanalysis and Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy and written in the simplest and most lyrical of styles, Siddhartha is one of the all-time classic novels of self-discovery and enlightenment. Siddhartha, a contemporary of the Buddha, experiences everything from the silence of asceticism through the pleasures of sex to the emptiness of loss – only to ultimately realize that life is actually what happens deep within ourselves. Let Hermann Hesse guide you on this very same path through the pages of this absolutely mesmerizing book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.

Walden7.8 Henry David Thoreau – Walden

About the Book: Remember how John Keating motivated his students in Dead Poets Society? Well, this is the book he used to do that. And if you want to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” – it is certainly the book you should read as soon as possible! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

The Old Man and the Sea

7.9 Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

About the Book: Ernest Hemingway had written quite a few immense novels adored by literary critics before he penned The Old Man and the Sea in 1951 in Cuba, but it seems that both the Nobel Prize Committee and the general public of the world really made note of him as a writer because of this novella. A story about a Cuban fisherman and his exhausting fight with a 5.5-meter-long marlin and quite a few hungry sharks, The Old Man and the Sea reads as something even more than an unforgettable allegory: a modern myth. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Man is not made for defeat… A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven7.10 Mitch Albom – The Five People You Meet in Heaven

About the Book: Killed in an amusement park accident while trying to save a little girl from a falling cart, 83-year-old Eddie awakes uninjured in heaven. He is afterward taken on a journey through all five levels of it, meeting, at each step, a person whose life had been interrelated with his own while on earth. A timeless tale, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is as profound and as moving read as Tuesdays with Morrie (see 5.9); and at least as life-altering. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.

8. The “Inspirational Biographies” Shelf

Some lives can be just as inspiring as any book or movie; the least they deserve is to be put on paper or adapted for the big screen. Here are our ten choices.

Man’s Search for Meaning8.1 Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

About the Book: Voted one of the ten most influential books in the United States, Man’s Search for Meaning is a once-in-a-lifetime life-changing book. Written by Viktor Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor, the book is not merely a haunting memoir of his soul-crushing experiences in the concentration camp (something which would have been enough to earn this book a place on this list in itself), but it also introduces a psychotherapeutic method which has helped numerous people around the world to overcome any kind of difficulty in their own lives. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Man’s Search for Meaning
Favorite Quote:

So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!

The Diary of a Young Girl8.2 Anna Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl

About the Book: Here’s another memoir straight from the depths of despair and the abysses of human evil. Arguably the most famous among many written against the background of the horrors of the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s Diary chronicles the last two years of her prematurely ended life. However, what has really made this book “one of the most enduring documents” of the 20th century is Anne Frank’s “triumphant humanity in the face of unfathomable deprivation and fear.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

What Is the What8.3 Dave Eggers – What Is the What

About the Book: What is the What is subtitled “The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng” which may even sound a bit strange if you don’t know Dave Eggers’ aptitude for combining fiction and non-fiction to create unforgettably imaginative novels firmly rooted in reality. Yes, that means that Valentino Achak Deng is a real person and that Dave Eggers is essentially writing his story in his place. And what a story it is! One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, battling being orphaned, starvation, soldiers and lions (yes, lions!) only to finally be offered a new life in the United States and end up discriminated. Remind us, Primo Levi: what does it mean to be a human? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Humans are divided between those who can still look through the eyes of youth and those who cannot.”

When Breath Becomes Air8.4 Paul Kalanithi – When Breath Becomes Air

About the Book: Paul Kalanithi was an Indian-American neurosurgeon with an MA in Literature and a bright future ahead of him when he was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV lung cancer. He passed away two years later, a month shy of his 38th birthday. Behind him he left a loving wife, a newborn daughter and a thought-provoking book which will undoubtedly enthuse you with a new-found love for life; whilst, expectedly, bringing quite a few tears to your eyes. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.

Unbroken8.5 Laura Hillenbrand – Unbroken

About the Book: Adapted in a 2014 Angelina Jolie-directed movie, Unbroken tells the story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, the youngest US Olympian in history and a World War II hero. After suffering a plane crash, Zamperini survived 46 days drifting in the ocean before landing on the occupied Marshall Islands and ending up a Japanese prisoner of war. And he overcame everything to die peacefully in the 97th year of his life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.

The Glass House8.6 Jeannette Walls – The Glass House

About the Book: Back in 1963, Jeannette Walls set herself on fire while trying to cook herself some hot dogs on the stovetop because her mother was too busy painting to bother making her lunch. The most frightening part of that story: she was merely three years old. Still under the impression that you had a bad childhood? Walls’ remarkable memoir, The Glass House, is here to shatter for you that impression, all the while redefining the meaning of some words such as “family” and “love.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Things usually work out in the end.’ ‘What if they don’t?’ ‘That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.

Long Walk to Freedom8.7 Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom

About the Book: “Do not judge me by my success,” said Nelson Mandela once. “Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Long Walk to Freedom, his autobiography which served as the basis of the similarly titled 2013 movie adaptation, documents all of his pre-1994 falls and, more importantly, ascends. History has already judged them; by taking a bow. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior8.8 Dan Millman – Way of the Peaceful Warrior

About the Book: Based upon the author’s early life, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior tells the story of the life-changing meeting between a hurt world champion gymnast and a powerful old warrior/gas station attendant nicknamed Socrates. It may sound stranger than fiction, and yet, it’s all but. The 2007 movie adaptation was dubbed “Rocky for the soul,” and Eckhart Tolle (see 3.10) praised it with the words: “Watch it and be transformed.” Let us paraphrase him: read the book and change your outlook on life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Shoe Dog8.9 Phil Knight – Shoe Dog

About the Book: Phil Knight is currently worth more than $30 billion; and yet, just fifty years ago, he was basically a penniless entrepreneur with a risky idea. Namely, to strike an exclusive deal for the US distribution rights of the Tiger shoes with the Japanese Onitsuka company by presenting himself as a representative of Blue Ribbon Sports. The trick is: Onitsuka is a giant, and Blue Ribbon Sports is located in Knight’s parents’ house and has only him as the sole employee. Shoe Dog tells the rest of the story. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Shoe Dog
Favorite Quote:

Let everyone else call your idea crazy… just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.

Losing My Virginity8.10 Richard Branson – Losing My Virginity

About the Book: If not the favorite, Richard Branson is certainly the most colorful and least boring of all great entrepreneurs (Elon Musk comes close second). Judging by the quote below, you can easily guess why. Losing My Virginity is the first part of his autobiography – and it’s as outrageous and inspiring as you would expect! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.

9. The “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Shelf

According to most philosophers, happiness is the ultimate goal of human life; in fact, according to Aristotle, it is the only thing human beings desire for its own sake. But should it be? Find out with some of the most motivational books on the subject of happiness ever written.

Stumbling on Happiness9.1 Daniel Gilbert – Stumbling on Happiness

About the Book: “If you have even the slightest curiosity about the human condition,” writes Malcolm Gladwell (see 1.7), “you ought to read this book.” And you really should! Written by a Harvard psychologist, it is witty and engaging, wide-ranging and thoroughly researched. Not to mention it answers some of the most troublesome questions of your life! Like, for example, why does the grocery store line slow down the very moment you join it? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people.

The Happiness Project9.2 Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project

About the Book: If there’s one thing that Gretchen Rubin is famous for – other than long, long subtitles – is her interest in all topics happiness-related. In this case, she explains why she spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean her closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun. And how that all worked out. By the way, the project had a sequel in Happier at Home which was all about kissing more, jumping more, abandoning a project, reading Samuel Johnson – and some other experiments in the practice of everyday life. So be sure to check that one as well! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

The Art of Happiness9.3 Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler – The Art of Happiness

About the Book: Who better to tell you how you should live a happy and worry-free life than the man a large part of the world population considers the most enlightened human being currently treading the earth? In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, shares his simple philosophy on the art of happiness – all the while providing you with a multipurpose handbook for living. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

The How of Happiness9.4 Sonja Lyubomirsky – The How of Happiness

About the Book: It’s easy to experience a moment of happiness; what’s difficult is sustaining it for the long run. The How of Happiness by Russian-born American psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky – justly advertised as “a scientific approach to getting the life you want” – is focused on this letter part of the equation. And for a reason: according to studies, 40% of your happiness depends on your intentional activities and only 10% on the circumstances. True, the other half is genetically determined, but look at it this way: even in the worst-case scenario, you’re responsible for at least half of your own happiness. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

People have a remarkable capacity to become inured to any positive changes in their lives.

Happiness9.5 Richard Layard – Happiness

About the Book: One of the preeminent economists of happiness today, Richard Layard has been fascinated for most of his life with something called the Easterlin paradox. Namely, it seems that people’s happiness depends on their income only until a certain point – after which, money has no effect whatsoever on their wellbeing. The interesting thing: the paradox is as factual as Napoleon’s date of birth. Richer societies? Oh, no – says Layard in Happiness. We need to strive for happier societies. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The more television people watch, the more they overestimate the affluence of other people. And the lower they rate their own relative income. The result is that they are less happy.

The Happiness Equation9.6 Neil Pasricha – The Happiness Equation

About the Book: In the words of Susan Cain, author of Quiet, Dale Carnegie (see 6.1) was last century, Stephen Covey was last decade, but Neil Pasricha is what’s now. And after earning himself a name with The Book of Awesome series and giving one of the most inspiring TED Talks ever (“The 3 A’s of Awesome”), Pasricha is back again with the simplest of all happiness equations: want nothing + do anything = have everything. Believe it or not – it is not a contradiction in terms. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Motivation doesn’t cause action. An action causes motivation.

The Happiness Hypothesis9.7 Jonathan Haidt – The Happiness Hypothesis

About the Book: In The Happiness Hypothesis, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines – in as many chapters (not counting the conclusion) – ten ancient ideas about what it means to be happy; and he extracts the most applicable parts of them all. The main metaphor he uses – that of the dichotomy between the rider (the conscious mind) and the elephant (the unconscious mind) – has been reused by many authors during the last decade – the finest evidence in favor of the popularity and significance of this book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.

The Happiness Advantage9.8 Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage

About the Book: An advocate of positive psychology, Shawn Achor is a Harvard-educated researcher in happiness and the presenter of one of the most popular TED Talks on the platform, “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” And someone whose books would fit just as nicely on our third shelf. Because his main thesis is that it isn’t success which brings happiness, but, the other way around: it’s happiness which brings success. His seven principles of positive psychology are as thought-provoking as funny-named. And we bet you want to immediately find out what does “Tetris effect” and “Zorro Circle” stand for. Please do. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We tend to miss what we’re not looking for.

The Little Book of Hygge9.9 Meik Wiking – The Little Book of Hygge

About the Book: According to almost every study ever conducted, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. According to Meik Wiking – who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and is, of course, Danish – this is because the Danish have mastered the art of hygge. Wikipedia defines it as a “mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment;” Wiking has the details. And a bunch of practical tips. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happens but seldom.”

Feeling Good9.10 David D. Burns – Feeling Good

About the Book: As we told you in 9.4 above, about half of happiness is genetically determined; which means that there are numerous people on this planet who are, simply put, almost incapable of being happy. Most of them suffer from depression. David D. Burns’ Feeling Good is specifically written for them. Drawing on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism (see 2.6), Burns provides readers with a problem-focused and action-oriented mood treatment which actually and undoubtedly helps. It is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and it is widely believed to be as effective as psychoactive medications. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your thoughts create your emotions; therefore, your emotions cannot prove that your thoughts are accurate.

10. The “Show Me the Money” Shelf

As hinted in 9.5 above, money can’t buy you happiness; but, as Clare Boothe Luce, once quipped, “it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable.” Need some motivation to start earning? Then have a look at these ten books!

The Science of Getting Rich10.1 Wallace D. Wattles – The Science of Getting Rich

About the Book: The book which directly inspired Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret (see 3.3), The Science of Getting Rich is a century-old classic on the subject of wealth attraction. “There is no reason for worry about financial affairs,” claims Wattles. “Every person who wills to do so may rise above his want, have all he needs, and become rich.” Just follow Wattles’ rules, and you will become rich; with – and this is a direct quote – “mathematical certainty.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

Think and Grow Rich10.2 Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich

About the Book: Written in 1937, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is the ultimate classic in the genre. Inspired by a suggestion from none other than Andrew Carnegie – at the time the richest man in the world – the book lays out the 13 principles of the Philosophy of Achievement: desire, faith, autosuggestion; specialized knowledge; imagination; organized planning; decision; persistence; power of the mastermind; the mystery of sex transmutation; the subconscious mind; the brain; the sixth sense. It’s difficult to argue with any of them. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Think and Grow Rich
Favorite Quote:

One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average person’s familiarity with the word ‘impossible.

The Richest Man in Babylon10.3 George S. Clason – The Richest Man in Babylon

About the Book: Advertised as “the most inspiring book on wealth ever written,” The Richest Man in Babylon is yet another of the undisputable all-time self-help classics. Just like Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, George Samuel Clason imparts his wisdom and knowledge through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend.

Rich Dad Poor Dad10.4 Robert T. Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Poor Dad

About the Book: Just like Clason’s classic, Robert T. Kiyosaki’s bestseller – according to many lists, the #1 personal finance book of all times – is also written in a simple style abounding in immediately comprehensible parables. Its wisdom boils down to something that should be a truism: you can’t become rich without a proper education; and your school doesn’t provide it; neither your proper-education-bereaved poor or middle-class family. Let Kiyosaki. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Rich Dad Poor Dad
Favorite Quote:

Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.

MONEY Master the Game10.5 Tony Robbins – MONEY Master the Game

About the Book: After publishing Awaken the Giant Within in 1991 (see 4.8), Tony Robbins published just one book in the next 23 years: the incremental-changes guide Giant Steps in 1994. And then, two decades later, inspired by the financial crisis, he came up with this exceptional “7-step blueprint for securing financial freedom.” “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for investment books,” noted at the time a review in Forbes magazine,  “this one would win, hands down.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

MONEY Master the Game
Favorite Quote:

Money can have the power to create or the power to destroy. It can fund a dream or start a war.

The Total Money Makeover10.6 Dave Ramsey – The Total Money Makeover

About the Book: Dave Ramsey is the common-sense financial guru of millions of Americans. And most of them will tell you that The Total Money Makeover is essentially their Money Bible. Time to make it yours. Why? Because it will help you create a plan for paying off all of your debt; because it will dispel for you the most dangerous money myths out there; and, finally, because it will inspire you to take control of your financial freedom. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

Retire Inspired10.7 Chris Hogan – Retire Inspired

About the Book: Chris Hogan is Dave Ramsey-approved (“In my opinion, Chris Hogan is the voice of retirement in America today.”) And that should tell you enough. In Retire Inspired, he teaches that retirement isn’t an age, but a financial number. Which means that if you follow his advice – based on the amount of money you need to start living out your dreams – you can retire at any age you like; all you need to be is reasonable. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s hard to live your dream in your golden years when you’re trying to make it on an income that’s actually below the poverty line.

The Millionaire Next Door10.8 Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko – The Millionaire Next Door

About the Book: If you are like most people, you don’t become rich by suddenly obtaining lots of money; you become rich by consistently spending less than you earn. It’s that simple. And Stanley and Danko’s comparison of UAWs (under accumulators of wealth) and PAWs (prodigious accumulators of wealth) is ample evidence in favor of this. The bottom line: the rich are your neighbors, and status items are for showoffs. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Whatever your income, always live below your means.

The Power of Broke10.9 Daymond John – The Power of Broke

About the Book: From time to time, it’s good to have someone turn things on their head. If the power of money won’t do the trick for you – says Daymond John – The Power of Broke undoubtedly will. Published only recently, John’s manual for start-up entrepreneurs gives all the details on “how empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The easiest thing to sell is the truth.

Tools of Titans10.10 Tim Ferriss – Tools of Titans

About the Book: Once he successfully limited his workweek to four hours (see 6.6), Tim Ferriss started The Tim Ferriss show, “the first business/interview podcast to pass 100,000,000 downloads” and “generally the #1 business podcast on all of Apple Podcasts.” For it, he had the privilege and honor to interview over 200 world-class performers. Tools of Titans reveals their secrets, in a structured, easy-to-read and easier-to-apply manner. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Tools of Titans
Favorite Quote:

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

The Wildcard

The Little Prince101. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – The Little Prince

About the Book: Some books manage to sell 2 million copies overall, and are considered exceptional successes; The Little Prince sells as much on a yearly basis for the past 70 years! Translated into more than 300 – yes, 300! – languages, this is one of the best-selling books ever published. Also: one of the very best. Fortunately, it just entered the public domain, so now everybody can read it. And everybody should. Because just like Ancient Greek myths or Jesus’ parables, it is timeless; and just like them – you can enjoy it – and understand it differently – regardless of your age. (Read the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.

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Braving the Wilderness PDF Summary

Braving the Wilderness PDF SummaryThe Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

It’s Brené Brown once again!

Meaning: we don’t have to introduce her at all.

Ever since her TED Talk on vulnerability became one of the Top 5 Talks of all time, Brené Brown has basically become a cultural icon!

You know her, you love her, you want to hear her thoughts on everything.

So, join her as he shares her most valuable lessons on:

Braving the Wilderness.

Who Should Read “Braving the Wilderness”? And Why?

By now, you should be already familiar with most of Brené Brown’s interests: vulnerability and courage, humiliation and pride, belonging and being an outsider.

In Braving the Wilderness she tackles once again all of them, mostly focusing on the last one of these dichotomies.

And, just like most of her other books, this one also analyzes the problems in a way which should attract both students of social sciences and common folks who just need someone to talk to.

Well, hurting people, Brené Brown is certainly someone you’ll enjoy having a chat with.

About Brené Brown

Brené BrownBrené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and New York Times bestselling author.

She has spent over two decades studying under-researched topics such as vulnerability and courage, empathy and shame, and is widely considered one of the world’s most read and beloved experts on these subjects.

She is the author of half a dozen books, most of which we’ve summarized here: I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) (2007); The Gifts of Imperfection (2010); Daring Greatly (2012); and Rising Strong (2015).

Braving the Wilderness was published last year (2017) and Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. – Brown’s most recent book – just four days ago.

Brown’s 2010 TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” has been seen over 36 million times (as of October 2018) and is one of the five most viewed TED Talks in history.

“Braving the Wilderness PDF Summary”

We all live in a bubble.

And no, we’re not talking about multiverses or Bitcoin or any other kind of scientific or economic bubble.

No.

We’re talking about something that, based on urgency, may be even more serious.

Namely, the filter bubble.

Put simply, the filter bubble is a state of intellectual isolation caused by personalized searches. They make your life easier, of course, but they also make humanity’s future bleaker.

Why?

Because instead of using the Internet to connect with other people with different experiences and worldviews, you are using it to reinforce your previous beliefs and disconnect from everything else!

The Internet was supposed to usher us into an age of interrelatedness; instead, it is merely making us lonelier by the minute.

Enter stage Brené Brown.

Brené Brown, the Outsider

You see her now all smiling and vivacious and you are immediately overwhelmed by the feeling that she has her life all figured out.

And then you hear her sharing some of her past experiences and you realize that she may have already had more problems than you ever will.

In fact, most of Brené Brown’s childhood was marred by a crushing fear that she doesn’t belong anywhere.

As a little girl, she was oftentimes marginalized by everybody. It was a poisonous racially segregated environment and the white girls at her school didn’t like her African-sounding names: Brené and Cassandra (Brown’s middle name); on the other hand, her African-American friends of hers were somewhat afraid to hang out with her.

So, she was neither here nor there for most of her childhood.

Thigs got only worse in high school where she badly wanted to become part of her school’s cheerleading team, the Bearkadettes. Just like her mother – who had met her father in this manner. (Stop guessing: her father was indeed the star of the football team).

Brown did everything within her power to become a member of the Bearkadettes; unfortunately, neither the liquid diet nor her perfect routine didn’t help her make it.

And to top this off, her parents were disappointed in her for not making it to the team.

To fight pains such as this, Brené started to drink. So much, in fact, that she had to join the AA.

Guess what?

They didn’t want her there either, suggesting her to try the Co-Dependents Anonymous group instead!

Brené Brown Discovering Herself

Most of the people you know have gone through what Brené Brown did in her early years.

And it always boils down to the same problem:

We put a lot of energy to belong to something; read between the lines and that means that you are, in fact, putting a lot of energy to be something that, deep inside, you are not.

Back in 1987 Brené Brown was at one of the worst stages in her life. She spent most of her time drinking and smoking, partying even when she had no energy for it.

That was her way of forgetting about herself.

And then she met Steve, the man she would eventually marry.

The best part about Steve?

He saw through Brené’s attempts to belong somewhere; and started guiding her toward self-belonging. Three decades later Brown would explain to the world how she managed to do this, as a guest on Oprah.

Namely, permission slips.

Suddenly, next to Steve, Brené realized that she could permit herself to be the person she actually was. No conventions, no exhausting liquid diets you need to go through so that you can be accepted.

Just herself.

In fact, her fist permission slip stated: “Be goofy, have fun and enjoy life.”

And she has tried doing that ever since.

Brave the Wilderness Inside You

You are such a unique individual that no one has ever lived a life like the one you’re currently living.

That’s as close to a fact as an opinion can get.

So, it’s only natural that conventional wisdom may not work: your own self is a one-of-a-kind wilderness.

Whatever you do – treat it as such.

Of course, this means that your path through it is also unique and that you need to find it on your own. But, believe us – you will!

Because, deep down inside you, you actually know that walking inside it is what life is all about. “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step,” advised Joseph Campbell, “you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

And Campbell was one of the smartest and most inspiring people of the 20th century.

So:

Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.

Key Lessons from “Braving the Wilderness”

1.      The First Lesson of Self-Belonging: Brave the Wilderness Inside You
2.      The Seven Traits of Trustworthy People
3.      Tackling Loneliness and Ways to Burst the Bubble

The First Lesson of Self-Belonging: Brave the Wilderness Inside You

There’s a reason why everybody wants to belong to someone or something.

And that reason is quite obvious: it’s quite difficult to go through life alone. Men are social beings – and that’s exactly what Aristotle thought was their defining trait.

However, it is difficult to belong somewhere if you don’t know who you are. In that case, all of your attempts to become part of a group are actually wild guesses, shots in the dark. “Be careful who you pretend to be,” warned us once Kurt Vonnegut. “You might forget who you are.”

Well, Brené Brown is here to update this advice.

The best way to forget who you are, she says, is to never understand yourself completely in the first place.

And if you want to do that, be prepared to make some steps in the wilderness:

Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness — an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. The wilderness can often feel unholy because we can’t control it, or what people think about our choice of whether to venture into that vastness or not. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.

Look at it this way: nobody belongs to this place more than you.

Even if a wilderness, your self is a very unique place: your very own, personal Shangri-La.

And nobody can explore it better than you!

The Seven Traits of Trustworthy People

Self-belonging is not as easy as it sounds.

It means making yourself open to your traumas and pains and vulnerable to other people’s opinions and judgments.

But it’s worth it!

Especially if you can find trustworthy people you can talk to, dependable friends ready to listen to your

According to Brené Brown, these people share these seven traits:

1. They are reliable, which is self-evident;
2. They own their mistakes which is something people rarely do nowadays;
3. They are capable of respecting boundaries, meaning they know that they should leave you alone when you want to be alone, even if that means going to the cinema without company;
4. They are capable of keeping confidential information safe; so, be wary of people who can’t keep your secrets because the betrayal of trust is one of the most traumatic experiences one can go through;
5. They are capable of making decisions with integrity; integrity is underrated in a world of lies and money;
6. They are non-judgmental; they know that we all make mistakes and that pointing them out repeatedly helps no one;
7. They are generous; with everything; meaning: with them, you’re never the only one who shares.

Tackling Loneliness and Ways to Burst the Bubble

If you’re feeling that people are too divided, then be aware that it’s not exactly a feeling: it’s a fact.

For example, only a quarter of Americans supported a specific candidate overwhelmingly back in 1976; however, just a few years ago, more than four fifths were either strongly for Trump or strongly for Hillary Clinton! And, in the meantime, the number of people who describe themselves as lonely more than doubled!

We explained at the beginning of our summary why this is happening. The same mechanism applies to both examples. Put simply, we live in a world designed to keep us inside a bubble.

We don’t experience anything out of our comfort zone, because it’s so easy to stay inside it: personalized ads, personalized searches, and even personalized channels.

The solution spells itself: do the opposite of what Google or YouTube or your inside voice suggests you! Experiment! Experience the difference! And see for yourself whatever suits you best.

At a certain point during your journey, you’ll undoubtedly come across a place, a person, a point where it will all make sense.

Congratulations: you’ve found your way through your inner wilderness.

Now you belong to yourself.

The side-effect?

You already belong to others as well.

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“Braving the Wilderness Quotes”

You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great. Click To Tweet But what we know now is that when we deny our emotion, it owns us. When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain. Click To Tweet Sometimes the most dangerous thing for kids is the silence that allows them to construct their own stories—stories that almost always cast them as alone and unworthy of love and belonging. Click To Tweet Courage is forged in pain, but not in all pain. Pain that is denied or ignored becomes fear or hate. Click To Tweet We want to be part of something, but we need it to be real - not conditional or fake or constantly up for negotiation. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“It is inevitable —we will fall,” notes Simon Sinek in a review of Braving the Wilderness. “We will fail. We will not know how to react or what to do. No matter how or when it happens, we will all have a choice—do we get up or not? Thankfully,” he adds, “Brené Brown is there with an outstretched arm to help us up.”

Just like most of Brown’s books, Braving the Wilderness does feel as if an outstretched arm. It is both compassionate and empowering. Add to that mixture a lot of goodhearted humor and few mantras you’ll never forget – and you have a reason why you should read this book as soon as possible.

Especially if you feel like nobody understands you.

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I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) Summary

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) SummaryMaking the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”

It is not just you!

Everybody feels shame.

In the following summary, you will become more aware of it. So stay with us as we discuss this complicated feeling, its roots, and try to search for ways in which you can heal.

Who Should Read “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)”? and Why?

Making “reaching perfection” our life’s purpose is wrong and exhausting.

And yet, we are always reminded by society whom we need to be and what we need to do to become “adequate.” In this struggle, we learn to hide our imperfections, and hence, our true selves.

In “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)”, bestselling author Brené Brown shows us the importance of our imperfections in building healthy relationships with others and with our own selves.

We recommend this book to people who look for the roots of their shame, for those who get angry for no reason, and those who want to work on their empathy skills.

About Brené Brown

Brené BrownBrené Brown is a bestselling author and a research professor at the University of Houston. Her TEDXHouston Talk is one of the videos with the highest number of views on TED.com.

“I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) Summary”

Can you think back to a past situation when you did something embarrassing?

You surely can.

Now, if you found a moment like that, then you are probably already wishing for the earth to swallow you as you cannot stop yourself from replaying the situation over and over again in your mind.

Do not worry; we have all been there.

What you are feeling now – it is a shame.

There is a wide array of topics of conversation that we feel uncomfortable with, and as a result, most of us try to avoid.

But nothing beats discussing shame.

However, avoiding talking about shame means that not everyone understands what it is. That is what we are here to explain.

Indeed, the exact characteristics of shame are hard to describe, so it is no wonder most people do not recognize its roots. However, what we can say for sure is that at its core, shame is connected with the feeling or thought of not being good enough.

But when and how do we experience shame?

In most cases, shame happens when people search for compassion but experience the exact opposite: rejection.

As you can see, we did not pose the question “who experiences shame?” since all of us do.

Knowing that none of us is immune to shame brings us to the conclusion that the important thing is not stopping shame from occurring (since it cannot be done), but learning how to manage it.

As far as we know, there is one antidote to shame: empathy. But, receiving compassion is not everything – in fact, it is just as vital for you to empathize with others as well.

Most of us feel empathy when we share some sort of painful experience with another person, and see that they get what we are talking about.

Merely knowing that there is someone who understands what you are experiencing and the emotions you are feeling, makes you see that your situation is not unusual, and as a result, you feel less isolated.

In fact, you even feel accepted.

However, achieving this kind of comprehension is not easy. To do that, you need to possess the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and see things from their perspective.

You have to forget about judgment and be fully present in the moment, and aware of the other person’s words and emotions.

Key Lessons from “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)”

1.      Becoming Aware of Shame
2.      Reacting to Shame
3.      The Role of Anger

Become Aware of Shame

You cannot deal with anything if you do not recognize its existence first.

Shame manifests through various symptoms: red face and shaking, difficulty swallowing, and even more extreme ones like the inability to even get out of bed.

However, regardless of its forms of manifestation, to be able to overcome shame, you need first to comprehend what triggers it.

Now, we need to underline that there are no universal causes of shame. Everyone connects the feeling with his or her own negative experiences from the past.

Reacting to Shame

Whenever we feel ashamed or hurt, we usually close up to the outer world.

However, that is wrong, since bonding with others is essential to healing shame.

The opposite feeling of shame is self-esteem. Most people think that a successful career or a great body is crucial to have high self-esteem, but the reality is entirely different.

The only way to beat shame is having friends and support networks with whom we can share our experiences without being judged.

The Role of Anger

Many times, when we feel hurt, we get angry at the people who hurt us.

There is an explanation for this common reaction. Anger and shame are connected since people tend to point fingers whenever they want to avoid confronting their feelings.

At its core, this is a way for people to regain control over their “weak” emotions by showing power.

However, if we allow ourselves to get trapped into a constant avoidance of our true feelings, we are bound to become more alienated.  

So, instead of becoming a victim of these unhealthy patterns, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and seek for the empathy you need in order to heal.

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“I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” Quotes

Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change. Click To Tweet If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal! Click To Tweet Compassion is not a virtue -- it is a commitment. It's not something we have or don't have -- it's something we choose to practice. Click To Tweet We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can't use shame to change ourselves or others. Click To Tweet Nothing silences us more effectively than shame. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“I Though It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” is a book that speaks right to your heart. It is relatable and comprehensive, and will help you understand why you are feeling like you are, and how to change it.

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Rising Strong Summary

Rising Strong SummaryThe Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.

Of course most of them are going to tell you discover your weaknesses as soon as possible, because somebody is going to use them!

After all, it’s a jungle out there! And when things get competitive, you’re either intelligent and gain an advantage, or weak and lose everything!

Fortunately, there are authors like Brené Brown out there who would beg to differ. Book after book, she has tried to convince the world that it’s good to be vulnerable and courageous to be weak.

And “Rising Strong” is not an exception – аs our summary will prove to you shortly.

Who Should Read “Rising Strong”? And Why?

One thing you can’t take away from Brené Brown is certainly her openness and sincerity. In fact, that’s the element which strikes readers primarily and profoundly. And, combined with her humor, it’s what has resulted in her 2010 TED Talk being one of the Top 5 most viewed TED Talks in history.

“Rising Strong” is for everybody who has enjoyed Brown’s “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection”. It’s a book about those who are willing to let a little more tenderness into their lives.

But, above all, it’s a great inspirational work about tackling the difficult times in your life. And about being compassionate to others who might not have the power to recover.

About Brené Brown

Brené BrownBrené Brown is a Research Professor at the University of Houston. She has spent most of her life studying the virtues of vulnerability and compassion. Because of this, she is considered one of the foremost experts on the roots of human connection.

Brown is the CEO of Brave Leaders Inc. She has written four #1 New York Times Bestsellers, the last one being her most recent book, “Braving the Wilderness.”

“Rising Strong Summary”

If you know anything about Brené Brown, you probably know this: that she’s great at storytelling and even better at coining mnemonics.

Do you remember the 3C sequence from “The Gifts of Imperfection”?

Of course you do! And you fire away instantly: the three Cs stand for courage, compassion, and connection!

Well, our dear little intelligent reader, Brown has another mnemonic in her new book. And this one is all about the letter R.

The reckoning; the rumble; the revolution.

That’s the subtitle and that’s what the whole book is all about. And those are the three steps you need to remember, whether you want to come to terms with your grief, failures, or setbacks.

Reckoning is Brown’s way of telling you that you need to tell your story in order to understand it. No matter what they teach you, life is not about denying how you feel. Because people are not making it easier for anyone, by shielding themselves from their selves.

It’s about digging deep, and formulating your emotions into comprehensible language. This is not merely a process of sharing with the others, but it’s also necessary so as to be able to understand it. You know how people who write down things suddenly experience a eureka moment?

There’s a reason for that and it’s implanted in the way your brain works. Namely, your brain usually likes to protect you from traumas, by misshaping the memories, by telling you to adapt and look forward. However, this means slowly losing a part of yourself.

So, face it!

That’s what the rumble is. Obviously, the process doesn’t end with you telling the story. In fact, that’s merely the beginning. Now, comes the difficult part. And it’s the part where you retell the painful story, visiting it over and over again. Challenging it; facing it; reality-checking it.

And taking the blame.

Because only perpetual self-examination and introspection can help you rise above the circumstances. Because grief is bad when repressed; and because grief is good when dug through, turned upside-down. It leads to discoveries. It leads to peace.

“Wisdom arises from suffering” – believed the Ancient Greeks.

And rightly so.

That’s the revolution. It’s the moment you transform your beliefs and ideas. And the moment you stop looking at the world through the looking glass.

The revolution happens when there are no more “it isn’t fair”-s and “I deserved better”-s. Moreover, when the world is no longer divided into two groups of people: the worthy and the “sewer rats.” Your brain is misleading and tricks you into doing this partition, because it wants to make you more selfish.

That’s evolution for you right there.

But, don’t listen to it. Face your vulnerability and cry from time to time.

Help around. And you will be helped.

Key Lessons from “Rising Strong”

1.      The Three-Steps Rising Strong Process
2.      Fall. Get Up. Try Again.
3.      Learn What Yoda Speaks You Should

The Three-Steps Rising Strong Process

We already went through it. And you already know it. Time to start practicing it.

First, reckon: dig deep for your emotions and shape them into stories. Then, rumble: tell others those stories; check and recheck them; cry, shriek, hurt; take the blame. Finally, welcome the revolution: your attitude towards life is transformed.

You are, as Brown would say, a badass.

Fall. Get Up. Try Again.

In the “Introduction,” Brown notes that her work has progressed in three stages.

Namely, the main message of “The Gifts of Imperfection” was “Be you.” Then, “Daring Greatly” suggested us to “be all in.”

Finally, “Rising Stronger” shouted from the rooftops: “Fall. Get Up. Try Again.” That’s how trying becomes doing.

And that’s how you remain you all the way.

Learn What Yoda Speaks You Should

Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda said that.

“Yoda is right!” – Brené Brown says that.

You can be a Luke Skywalker and say “I don’t believe it.” But Yoda – and Brown – have some smart words for that as well: “That is why you fail.”

As cartoonist Stephen McCranie once said: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” Nobel-Prize winner Samuel Beckett was even more wordy:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

And I’m sure Brown would want to quote that!

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“Rising Strong” Quotes

The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up. Click To Tweet We need a critical mass of badasses who are willing to dare, fall, feel their way through tough emotion, and rise again. Click To Tweet Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them. Click To Tweet There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise. Click To Tweet We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

It takes some courage to not be touched by Brené Brown’s words. Because even when she gets a little loose as in “Rising Strong” and moves away from somewhat more rigorous scientific work into the world of the folksy and the spiritual.

She tends to be repetitive once again, but with ideas we are comfortable hearing about over and over again. Nevertheless, she does have some new concepts to share with us, and she shares them in her familiar unpretentious, relaxed manner, which abounds with quotes from both academics and blockbusters.

And stories you’ll like to read and will probably not forget anytime soon.

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Top Inspiring Books

Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. 

Suddenly, something happens, and out of nowhere, our perfect little lives start to crumble. Or – maybe, even worse – even though the thing that happens isn’t too earthshattering at first glance, it opens up our eyes to the unfulfilled life we’ve led up to that moment.

And at moments like that, we need some inspiration. To take back things from our loss or reimagine ourselves in more happier versions of us.

Here are 15 of the best inspirational books which can certainly work as your guides on your personal journey to fulfillment. Embark on it as soon as possible.

And stay inspired.

#1. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist Summary“The Alchemist” was published in 1988. Three decades later, it’s still widely read and widely beloved.

An international bestseller, the book has been translated into almost half of the world languages, and it has made Brazilian author Paulo Coelho a global superstar.

A profound and poignant narrative, “The Alchemist” is an inspiring novella which tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy. Santiago believes that he has dreamt a dream of significance; a dream which should help him find a big treasure somewhere around the Egyptian pyramids.

And, indeed, the dream turns out to be prophetic. But not in the way Santiago expects it to be. Nor in the way, you, the spellbound reader, would be able to anticipate at the beginning.

Let’s just say, for the time being, that the greatest treasures, though immaterial, are much weightier than all the gold and money in the world.

#2. “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture SummaryIn September 2007, Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was invited to take participation in “The Last Lecture” series of talks. Little did the organizers know that, in the case of Pausch, the series’ title was not merely a metaphor.

Namely, just one month before that, Pausch was given a terminal diagnosis. And he knew that he had no more than half a year left on this planet.

Now, you’d expect a beautiful and touching lecture from such a person. But, you wouldn’t expect an optimistic, upbeat one-hour talk labeled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” and viewed by 20 million people on YouTube.

“The Last Lecture” is the book version of this talk. It’s longer and even more fascinating. So much so, in fact, that it has become part of many school curricula.

And for many good reasons.

#3. “Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!” by Tony Robbins

Tony RobbinsAwaken the Giant Within Summary is a name which has grown to be synonymous with “motivational speaker.” Watch any of his videos on YouTube, and you’ll see why! Sometimes, one wonders if he’s right in what he’s saying or is he merely so convincing that the things come true afterward.

Either way, he does his job well enough that many people see him as something of a personal guru and guide. And with religious devotion, might we add.

“Awaken the Giant Within” is an enormous book, both in terms of its influence and in terms of its sheer length. It’s almost 600 pages – so there’s a lot to take away from it!

If it was a novel, the subtitle would have been a spoiler. Because, “Awaken the Giant Within” is a step-by-step program of self-mastery, aiming to teach you the whys, and the hows of your life.

And, of course, the how-tos of making it better.

#4. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull Summary“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” was published in 1970 to rave reviews from the general public. Just like its main character, the book quickly soared to the top of “The New York Times Bestseller” list, and it remained there for the next 38 weeks.

And even half a century later, it is still lovingly cherished and highly ranked.

Originally a three-part novella (Richard Bach added a fourth part in the 2013 edition), “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” tells the story of the seagull from the title. A non-conformist, he ignores his daily duties and passionately tries to learn to fly. As a result, he is banished from his community, but he is unwavering in his determination to be the best flier there ever was.

Soon, the tables turn, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull learns that he was “a one-in-a-million bird” from the very beginning.

You may be too. And this book may show you why.

#5. “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret SummaryWhen Rhonda Byrne’s father died in 2004, depression took over her life. She wasn’t able to do her job as an executive producer for Australian television the same way as before. She wasn’t even capable of functioning properly in her day to day activities. Her life, as she says, collapsed around her.

And that’s when she started reading. Soon enough, she discovered “The Secret.”

Even though the reception of the book may suggest some groundbreaking findings, Rhonda Byrne claims that she, in fact, isn’t saying anything new. She’s merely demonstrating how the secret is something every great person from history knew and employed in his or her life. Plato, Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven, Edison, Einstein – practically anyone you can think of!

Of course, Rhonda Byrne doesn’t stop there. She makes the secret much simpler and explains how you can use it, whether you want to earn more money, be in a better relationship or live a healthier life.

You want to learn the secret? Read the book!

#6. “Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Great Lessons” by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie SummaryIn 1995, Mitch Albom was a popular sports columnist for the “Detroit Free Press,” when a friend of his told him about Morrie Schwartz’s then-recent interview on ABC News’ “Nightline.” He watched the interview. And he was devastated.

You see, Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor at Brandeis University, was Albom’s most beloved college teacher. Unfortunately, Albom stopped keeping in touch about a decade and a half before the TV interview. And what did he learn from it?

That Schwartz was suffering from ALS, a terminal disease, the one Stephen Hawking is suffering as well. So, he decided to reconnect with his old teacher. And, soon enough, he started visiting him every Tuesday, for discussions about life and death.

You know – for the last lectures.

Word of mouth made “Tuesdays with Morrie” – published after Schwartz’s death – a global phenomenon. It became one of the top selling memoirs ever and was translated into 45 languages.

And, finally, Oprah Winfrey produced a movie which won four Emmys in 1999!

#7. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars SummaryThere’s something about near-death experiences that makes life worth living. And there’s something about other people’s stories concerning the lessons they took out from it that can inspire us to live better and more fulfilled lives.

And John Green, unfortunately, heard many of them. In fact, that’s what inspired him to become an author. He originally wanted to become a priest, but while working in a hospital with children suffering from life-threatening diseases, he decided that there’s another way he wanted to reach people.

And that’s what his beloved sixth novel, “The Fault in Our Stars,” did – both as a book and, later, as an award-winning film. The story is about two teenagers afflicted with terminal diseases, meeting and falling in love while attending a support group.

But, it’s also so much more! It’s a book about triumphing over the pain and the suffering, a tear-jerker about courage and the ultimate heartbreaks. Utterly beautiful.

#8. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince SummaryIf you thought it’s astonishing that the first book on our list has been so far translated into half of the world languages, you’ll probably never believe us if we told you that this little classic is translated in practically all of them!

Selling about 2 million copies each year, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is probably the 4th best-selling book ever written. And it was voted the best 20th-century book in the French language!

A poetic novella, “The Little Prince,” is a children’s book about adults. It tells the story of a pilot stranded in the desert who meet the eponymous prince, a visitor from a tiny asteroid. And through him, he learns of the absurdities of our ways.

And how beautiful life can be even if its whole point is cultivating a rare rose.

#9. “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese SummaryNowadays, it’s quite difficult to understand the impact “Who Moved My Cheese” – a 32-page scantily illustrated motivational fable – had on the business world when it first appeared two decades ago.

Spending almost a year on “Publishers Weekly’s” bestseller list, it managed to sell almost 30 million copies worldwide, and earn numerous accolades, before being turned into a cartoon and becoming the subject of many parodies.

It tells the story of four characters, two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw). They all live in a maze and are in a constant pursuit for cheese. However, they have a different way of finding it, and, moreover, keeping it once they do locate it.

Halfway down the story, the reader realizes that the mice will be fine. And that it’s the people who have to be a bit more organized and less afraid.

And that’s where “the writings on the wall” come in handy.

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#10. “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet SummaryOne of the most beloved modern poets, Kahlil Gibran, was born in Bsharri, then the Ottoman Empire, modern-day Lebanon. His family emigrated to the United States when he was young. It was there that he started learning art and literature. And it was there that he became the originator of the inspirational fiction genre.

Written in English, “The Prophet,” a small volume consisting of 26 prose poems, was originally published in 1923 and has never been out of print. Its style and philosophical depth have made it a perennial favorite and a popular gift.

The frame narrative of “The Prophet” is fairly simple. Almustafa, the prophet from the title, is stopped by a group of people before boarding a ship which should carry him home. The people ask him questions, and Almustafa’s answers are the 26 prose poems we mentioned.

The topics covered are as many, and range from love and marriage to freedom and time, to religion and death. And you’ll know more about each of them.

#11. “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny” by Robin Sharma

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari SummaryJust like many of the motivational writers you’ve grown to love, Robin Sharma worked an ordinary job (a litigation lawyer), before deciding that he’s much more interested in techniques for self-perfection.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” isn’t his first book (it’s his second), but it is the one which retells his personal story in a most inspiring manner. The book is a motivational business fable and is basically a conversation between two friends, Julian and John.

The former (a fictional version of Sharma himself) was a successful trial lawyer, before experiencing a heart attack while arguing his case in court. Fortunately, as he explains, this heart attack would turn out to be one of the best things that could have happened to him.

Because it would initiate a spiritual journey that would enable him to finally live a life of passion and purpose.

#12. “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements SummaryIn Don Miguel Ruiz, we have once again a man utterly transformed by a near-death experience. And once again, a writer whose lessons will subsequently transform you because of it.

Already a successful surgeon, Ruiz decided to become a shaman’s apprentice after barely surviving a serious car accident. Afterward, he spent few years exploring the Toltec wisdom and mind-elevating techniques.

His debut book, “The Four Agreements” is the best introduction to what he ultimately learned.

Advocating absolute freedom and living-in-the-moment mentality, “The Four Agreements” explores a fourfold code: “be impeccable with your word,” “don’t take anything personally,” “don’t make assumptions,” and “always do your best.”

A decade later, Ruiz will team up with his son to add a 5th agreement: “be skeptical, but learn to listen.” And that’s another fairly inspirational book.

#13. “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brené Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection SummaryA research professor at the University of Houston, Brené Brown made a name for herself when in June 2010 she gave a talk at TED Houston, titled “The Power of Vulnerability.” Still one of the most viewed TED talks in history, it would form the basis of her next book, “Daring Greatly,” already featured in our top 15 self-help book list.

And, really, both there and here, we could have included almost any of Brown’s eight books, and we wouldn’t have made a mistake. They are all inspirational, down-to-earth, caring, and hopeful.

“The Gifts of Imperfection” maybe most of all. Featuring ten guideposts to tackle the pressure each of one faces on a daily basis, the book aims to help everybody by teaching him or her that he/she doesn’t need to be anything else than he/she already is – just to please people.

Because with courage, compassion, and connection – he/she can be happy in the face of every obstacle.

#14. “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat Pray Love SummaryWe’ve already written about Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic.” However, here we’ve opted for her debut memoir, “Eat Pray Love;” not because of its status, but much more because of the way it has affected many people we know.

And because, well, not many books have been featured on two episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show”!

An autobiographical account, “Eat Pray Love” follows the eye-opening spiritual odyssey of a 31-year-old Elizabeth Gilbert. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she decides to embark on a year-long journey around the world to gain some perspective.

And she gets – in three chapters! First, she eats and enjoys life in Italy for a period of four months; then, she spends three months praying in India; finally, she falls in love with a Brazilian businessman in Bali.

The book has it all. And you can also watch its 2010 movie adaptation. It received lukewarm reviews, but, then again, Julia Roberts is in it!

#15. “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Option B SummaryTwo weeks after her beloved husband, David Goldberg, suddenly died, Sheryl Sandberg faced the unbearable task of having to prepare her child for a father/child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, replied with some very wise words: “Option A is not available.”

The only thing Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook’s COO and the author of “Lean In,” a book we’ve featured in our top leadership books list – was left with was trying to make the best out of Option B: living without her husband.

And that certainly wasn’t an easy task. She was, as she writes herself, in a void, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.”

And “Option B” is a book about everyone who feels that he’s not really living the life he’s supposed to be. Especially, if due to some life-shattering loss.

It’s a sort of “manual for resilience.” And it may just help you regain some joy and faith.

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Top Self Help Books

In 1859, Samuel Smiles, a little-known Scottish government reformer, published his second book, a haphazard manual for reaching your highest potential. For its title, he chose the unassuming “Self-Help”, adding “with Illustrations of Character and Conduct” as a subtitle.

Overnight, he became a celebrity, “a leading pundit and a much-consulted guru.” Little did he know that he had started both a genre and a revolution.

One and a half century later, it’s safe to say that self help books are all the rage. Whether they strive to help you become a millionaire or a happier person, they come by the dozens on a weekly basis. So, how would you know which are the best ones?

That’s where we come in! We’ve rummaged through our database, memory and tens of booklists to choose the best self help books. So, you can just start reading them!

#1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success” by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People SummarySamuel Smiles might have been the first one to write a self-help book, but Dale Carnegie was certainly the first one to take writing self-help books seriously and make it a full-time job.

Published in 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a classic sold in over 30 million copies. The fact that it was recently included in “Time Magazine’s” top 20 of list of most influential books in history speaks volumes about its timelessness.

Read this book to learn the six ways to make people like you. And, while you’re there, have a look at the nine ways you can change them. Or, maybe, the twelve ways to convince them that you’re right!

Don’t worry: they’ll think that it was the other way around!

#2. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich SummaryJust one year after Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” another book you’re probably already familiar with was making the rounds. It still is, almost a century after it was first published.

Inspired by a 1908 meeting with Andrew Carnegie, Napoleon Hill started a few-decades’ long investigation into the habits and philosophies of the rich and the successful.

His 1937 masterpiece, “Think and Grow Rich” is based on this research and the interviews he conducted over this period. And it’s essentially a 13-step philosophy of success.

The themes the book covers are the following ones: desire, faith, autosuggestion, specialized knowledge, imagination, organized planning, decision, persistence, power of the master mind, the mystery of sex transmutation, the subconscious mind, the brain, and the sixth sense.

Pervading throughout the book is the idea of the power of “positive thinking”. Which, as you may already know, is quite a popular genre nowadays by itself.

#3. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People SummaryWe fast forward half a century to the first non-fiction book to sell more than one million copies of its audio version: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It’s one more self-help book focusing on success, and one of the many where there’s an exact number of life-changing actions you’re expected to take.

In this case, Stephen R. Covey opts for these seven habits: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first; think win-win, seek first to understand, then to be understood, synergize; sharpen the saw.

You may have noticed that we used two semicolons to organize Covey’s habits. Of course, there’s a reason why we did that. Namely, Covey thinks that the first three habits help develop your independence, while the second three furnish your interdependence skills. The final is the bridge.

Fifteen years later, Covey would add another habit to this list. And “The 8th Habit” was almost as popular as this chart-topper.

#4. “The Power of Now: An Incredible Masterpiece of Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart TolleThe Power of Now Summary‘s The Power of Now” didn’t become an instant bestseller after its 1997 publication. But, after it was republished two years later, and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and Meg Ryan in 2000, what was by that moment a word-of-mouth phenomenon, turned into one of the most sold and beloved self-improvement books in history.

The book blends psychology and spiritualism to give the old-age Zen Buddhist ideas a New-Age spin. And it seems that it does this in a brilliant manner since its philosophy resonates with readers from start to finish, from U.S. to Europe to Japan.

Its basic premise is the belief that, in order to be happy, you need to overcome your you’re your greatest enemy. You can do this through meditation and mindfulness, positive thinking and acceptance of suffering.

And you should start doing it as soon as you finish reading “The Power of Now.”

#5. “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture SummaryIf you had one last lecture to give before you died – what would that lecture be?

Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, didn’t need to imagine the answer to this question. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he knew that he had barely few months left on this planet, when he was asked to talk at his alma mater.

The one-hour lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” has been viewed by almost 20 million people at YouTube; but, really, should be watched by millions more. Because, it’s so upbeat and inspiring, so gentle and wisdom-infused, that we bet few – if any – will remain unaffected and untouched.

It’s the same with the book. Randy Pausch spent the last few months of his life writing it, so you know he had some important things to share with you.

And if that’s not enough, take this into consideration as well. Just few years after it was published, this book became part of the English 100 curriculum of many schools. There are just too many “because” to list them.

#6. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino

The Greatest Salesman in the World SummaryOg Mandino was an unsuccessful insurance salesman on the brink of suicide, when his life was profoundly changed by a self-help book. So, he decided to help others in the same way.

In fact, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” is sometimes subtitled in this manner. “You can change your life with the priceless wisdom of ten ancient scrolls handed down for thousands of years.”

Of course, the history of the scrolls is fictive, but their lessons are not.

They start with an awe-inspiring dictum: “I will form good habits and become their slave.” And the pronouncement is followed by two similar ones in the third and the fourth scroll: “I will persist until I succeed” and “I am Nature’s greatest miracle.”

Scattered around these mottos, there are few life-changing advices by Mandino. These are: “greet each day with love in your heart,” “live each day as if it were your last,” “laugh,” “master your emotions,” “multiply your value every day,” and “pray to god for guidance.”

Because, as he writes in the inspiring ninth, “all is worthless without action.”

#7. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist Summary“The Alchemist” is actually a novel. But, probably, you already knew this, because – hey, who hasn’t read “The Alchemist”?

An international bestseller translated into 80 different languages, the book made Paulo Coelho a household name. Its lessons may be not as explicit as those of some other self-help books, but this makes them all the more profound and touching.

“The Alchemist” follows the journey of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy with a recurring dream he believes is prophetic. A Romani fortune-teller tells him that he’s right and that the dream prophesizes that he should discover a great treasure at the Egyptian pyramid.

That’s when the journey begins. Thousands of kilometers and few adventures later, it ends with an unforgettable lesson.

You may already know a part of it: “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

#8. “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers SummaryOne more book we’ve already featured in another list. (In this case, its’ the top psychology booklist: check it out if you haven’t)

But, who can blame us for including it in another? It’s one of those books about which people talk about over and over again, in many different contexts, about various of its aspects.

After all, there’s no other book in the world which compares Bill Gates to first-rate football players, or the Beatles to successful fighter pilots. And, we certainly haven’t encountered upon any which explains why Asians are math-wizards and why there are so many Jewiish lawyers.

Outliers” is the third of Malcolm Gladwell’s five “New York Times” bestsellers (if you didn’t know, he has published as many books!) And it’s his most applicable one.

Because, basically, it claims that success comes after 10,000 hours of practice. And he has a thousand stories to prove this.

#9. “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive Thinking SummaryNapoleon Hill may have initiated “the positive thinking” mindset, but it was Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” which actually started the revolution.

Published in 1952, the book remained on “The New York Times” bestseller list for over three and a half years, and inspired thousands of similar volumes. (Spoiler alert: we’ve featured the most famous two in this booklist; see above, at #8, and… well, you’ll figure it out yourself).

“The Power of Positive Thinking” basically claims that many of the things which happen in your life happen due to things you’re unable to control. What you actually can control is your reaction to them. And positive thinking is always the right way to go!

The book shares many practical bits of advice on how to eliminate negative thoughts and how to transform the alike energy into an outburst of positivity.

And, just like that, positive thoughts will make positive things happen.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

#10. “The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth” by M. Scott Peck

The Road Less Traveled Summary“Two roads diverged in the wood and I,” wrote America’s darling Robert Frost in 1916, “I took the one less traveled by; and that has made all the difference.”

The title of M. Scott Peck’s classic comes from Frost. Its content is an interesting mixture of original thought, psychological research, and Christian dogma. The last one is reserved for the last two of the four parts this book is divided in, and, in our opinion, it’s the first two parts which really make the case for including “The Road Less Traveled” in our list.

And those two talk about the virtues of discipline and love. Concerning the latter, M. Scott Peck tackles some of the most common misunderstandings and arguments for love being more of an ego-transcending action, rather than a passive feeling.

As for discipline, Peck advises everyone to practice delayed gratification and responsibility acceptance – as the surefire way to living a healthier and happier life.

#11. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown

Brené BrownDaring Greatly Summary made her name in June 2010, when, at a TEDxHouston conference, she delivered one of the greatest TED speeches in history. The numbers tell only part of the whole story: with 30 million views, it’s the 4th most watched TED speech ever.

The rest of the story is in the speech itself: titled “The Power of Vulnerability,” it defends the counter-intuitive notion that living a better life goes hand in hand with embracing flaws and humiliation, shame and vulnerability.

That’s the meaning of the title of the longer and better researched version of this speech, “Daring Greatly.” It comes from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt, in which Roosevelt advises people to accept vulnerability by daring greatly.

And Brown shows the unlikely connection between vulnerability and courage. And that’s merely the beginning: it seems that vulnerable people are also more caring and happier.

#12. “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel RuizThe Four Agreements Summary, Mexico’s “National Heirloom,” was born in the rural parts of the country as the youngest of 13 siblings.

A near-fatal car accident made him rethink his career as a surgeon. Soon, he became a shaman’s apprentice. “The Four Agreements” is based on his experiences during this period and, supposedly, on authentic Toltec spiritualism.

A spiritual descendant of Carlos Castaneda’s “The Teachings of Don Juan,” “The Four Agreements” is a book which advocates absolute freedom through a total annihilation of the ego. The eponymous four agreements are: “be impeccable with your word,” “don’t take anything personally,” “don’t make assumptions,” and “always do your best”.

Just like Covey (our #3), Don Miguel Ruiz will not resist to add a fifth agreement a decade later. It’s “Be skeptical, but learn to listen,” and we’ve written about it extensively.

#13. “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret SummaryRhonda Byrne was an executive producer for television and led quite an ordinary life in Melbourne, Australia. But, when her father Ronald died in 2004, she became so depressed, that she was even thinking about suicide.

And just like Og Mandino – our #6 – she found new meaning in life after reading a self-help book; in her case, Wallace D. Wattles’ “The Science of Getting Rich.” Soon, she was deep into the “positive thinking” movement, and came to the conclusion that she had discovered one of the greatest secrets in history.

Soon after its publication in 2006, “The Secret” was met with overwhelmingly positive reaction from the general public. Even Oprah Winfrey said that its message was exactly the one she was trying to share with her viewers for over two decades.

And the secret?

Think positively and positive things will happen. And you can get everything you want in three steps: ask – believe – receive. It may seem too simple, but millions claim that it works.

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

Grit SummaryYou may think that it’s talent which makes the difference between the successful and the not-so successful.

Well, Angela Duckworth claims that you are gravely mistaken. And she is an academic with a MacArthur Genius Fellowship and a Ph.D. in psychology, so maybe you should trust her more than your intuition.

In “Grit” she explains that the ones who succeed are not the most talented or the most capable ones; it’s the grittiest. And if you already know what is actually denoted by this superlative, you have Duckworth to thank: she made the word popular.

If not “grit” is, as the subtitle says, a combination of power and perseverance. Or, in layman’s terms, the thing which makes you get up the eighth time, after you’ve fallen seven times before.

This book is loaded with stories by people who’ve done that. And you can learn a lot by reading them.

#15. “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power SummaryYou can’t really consider a million-copies book neither a cult classic, nor a wildcard; but, analysts do the former and we’ll take our right to think the latter.

Published in 2000, “The 48 Laws of Power” is the debut book by Robert Greene, a life-long researcher into subjects such as seduction, strategy and power.

Drawing on the lives and worldview of figures as diverse as Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, Queen Elizabeth and Henry Kissinger, it lists – you’ve guessed it – 48 laws of power, together with examples of the laws being observed, transgressed, and reversed.

The book was an immediate success, especially in the prison inmates’ and hip hop community. So much so, in fact, that its semi-sequel was co-written by Greene and – wait for it… – 50 Cent! Because of the latter, it’s called “The 50th Law.”

We guess they didn’t care they skipped one.

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8 books for a happier (and healthier) life

8 books for happy & healthy life

Ever told yourself that tomorrow you’ll make a change, do something that will make you happier? But then tomorrow comes and you don’t think you’ve got the time, so again you promise yourself you’ll do it “tomorrow”. Maybe you’re scared of making a change, or you don’t know how to go about it.

Luckily for us plenty of people went through the same struggles and wrote about them, sharing their stories. And now we’ve put together our favorite books on the subject of making your life happier and healthier.

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10 must-read personal development books

 

personal development

Want to better your life? Whether you’re looking to develop a talent, learn the art of public speaking, improve your productivity or conquer your fears, these are the best books on the subject. We’ve picked the ones that truly changed the way we think and act, and we know they’ll do the same for you.

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The Gifts of Imperfection PDF Summary

Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

To be or not to be perfect?

That is the question now!

And if you ask Brené Brown, the answer is as straightforward as answers can get:

A resounding “Not to be.”

Because, she says, “The Gifts of Imperfection” are abundant – and you are missing them.

For a very wrong reason.

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