Paulo Coelho Quotes & Biography

Paulo Coelho QuotesIf the name Paulo Coelho doesn’t ring any bells, perhaps you need to do some reading.

How to describe his style of expression? – All of his books fly in the faces of the conventional methods and embrace a path that is filled with uncertainty and adventure.

Paulo Coelho Biography

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian-born writer, novelist, and dreamer. Same as everyone else, his parents had high hopes for him, and they sent him to a Jesuit school to follow in his father’s footsteps.

From a young age, Paulo expressed his love for the sanctity of the written word, but his family was not supportive.

They tried to undermine his talent and passion for writing by imposing other traditional standards.

The culmination of his rebelliousness ultimately cracked wide open at the 17, when Coelho’s self-examination and isolation contributed to him being locked in a mental institution.

He escaped on numerous occasions and was released by the time he was 20 years old. From today’s perspective, Paulo doesn’t blame his parents for their methods. He merely indicates that they were not aware of his potential and orientation.  

In 1980, he got married to Christina Oiticica – a Brazilian artist. Both of them together embarked on a journey to change their little world without necessarily neglecting their souls. Now, they reside in Genève.

In 1982, Paulo wrote his book first book – Hell Archives. These early years were not that great for Coelho, but his passion blossomed.

Afterward, or precisely in 1986, he hit the road with an intention to make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. A year later he published The Pilgrimage.

His best work arrived in 1988 when Paulo wrote The Alchemist or O Alquimista in Portuguese.

This may come as a shock to you, but the Alchemist doesn’t fall into the category of split-second bestselling books. Published by a small publishing-house, it didn’t have the effect Paulo was hoping for.

The real deal happened in France when in the 90s, the book became a bestseller overnight. Since then, it has been translated into more than 50 languages, capturing the attention of many readers worldwide.

He later wrote, Frases, Eleven Minutes, Brida, Veronica Decides to Die, The Fifth Mountain, The Zahir, Manual of the Warrior of Light, etc.

He is the receiver of many international rewards, for his immense contribution to society through bright ideas and pure wisdom. He continues to be an inspiration for many people all around the globe and has a huge base of loyal followers and readers.

Paulo Coelho Quotes – Top 10

No one can lie, no one can hide anything when he looks directly into someone's eyes. Click To Tweet Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. Click To Tweet Life was always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act. Click To Tweet When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It's very simple. Click To Tweet When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Click To Tweet The more violent the storm, the quicker it passes. Click To Tweet You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it. Click To Tweet Love is a trap. When it appears, we see only its light, not its shadows. Click To Tweet Writing means sharing. It's part of the human condition to want to share things - thoughts, ideas, opinions. Click To Tweet We have lost contact with reality, the simplicity of life. Click To Tweet

All the masterpieces written by Paulo Coelho are etched into the hearts of many generations and continue in the same fashion. The key takeaways are elaborated in the text in a way that most people cannot absorb the criticism, deriving from each sentence.

We leave you to contemplate on this one, while we move on with more quotes extracted from the rich collection of Paulo Coelho.

Quotes by Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.

Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.

Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.

Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.

Quotes by Paulo Coelho – Eleven Minutes

Now that she had nothing to lose, she was free.

I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.

No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.

The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.

Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant.

Don’t listen to the malicious comments of those friends who, never taking any risks themselves, can only see other people’s failures.

Profound desire, true desire is the desire to be close to someone.

I’m not a body with a soul, I’m a soul that has a visible part called the body.

In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel.

The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with.

Quotes by Paulo Coelho – The Fifth Mountain

If you have a past with which you feel dissatisfied, then forget it, now. Imagine a new story for your life and believe in it.

Focus only on the moments when you achieved what you desired, and that strength will help you to get what you want.

Sadness does not last forever when we walk in the direction of that which we always desired.

Stop thinking about life and choose to live it.

Make whatever decision you wish but never forget one thing: all of you are much better than you believed. Take advantage of the chance that tragedy has given you; not everyone is capable of doing so.

Although I have the colors, only the Lord can mix them with such harmony.

All life battles teach us something, even those we lose.

Life is made of our attitudes. And there are certain things that the gods oblige us to live through. Their reason for this does not matter, and there is no action we can take to make them pass us by.

But no one can lose sight of what he desires. Even if there are moments when he believes the world and the others are stronger. The secret is this: do not surrender.

The Lord heareth the prayers of those who ask to put aside hatred. But he is deaf to those who would flee from love.

Quotes by Paulo Coelho – Brida

None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still, we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.

Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it.

Don’t bother trying to explain your emotions. Live everything as intensely as you can and keep whatever you felt as a gift from God. The best way to destroy the bridge between the visible and invisible is by trying to explain your emotions.

When you were in love, you were capable of learning everything and of knowing things you had never dared even to think, because love was the key to understanding all of the mysteries.

Finding one important thing in your life doesn’t mean you have to give up all the other important things.

Being human means having doubts and yet continuing on your path.

Even if it is only for a matter of moments because those moments bring with them a Love so intense that it justifies the rest of our days.

The night is just a part of the day.

Final Notes

It’s up to you to select the best ones and hopefully live your life according to them.

Paulo is aware of the importance of giving back to the global community. In return, he only expects to see a few happy faces – it’s not lost to ask!!

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The Alchemist Quotes

The Alchemist QuotesA young shepherd boy Santiago is really enjoying the freedom of going from one place to another with his sheep.

He believes that independence is an essential asset in keeping one’s spirit on a high level. One day, he decides to take a rest under a tree nearby a ruined church – there Santiago has a repeating dream.

In this moment of unconsciousness, he is “pulled” by various forces to find a fortune buried to an unknown location.

A child points to the Egyptian pyramids, and Santiago visits a gypsy woman to solve this puzzle.

Afterward, Santiago bumps into a man, who portrays himself as king – King of Salem.

Santiago realizes that this mystical man has the power to enter his mind and read his thoughts. Melchizedek encourages Santiago to follow his heart, and he’ll ultimately find this place.

Santiago sells his flock to finance his adventure to Tangier and embarks on a long journey.

After the arrival there, Santiago is robbed, and the thief takes all of his money. The shepherd boy now has to decide how to return home.

He faces a crossroad, whether to follow his dreams and cross the Sahara Desert with a caravan or to return back to Andalusia and buy sheep. He makes up his mind and joins a caravan that is traveling to Egypt.

On the way to Egypt, Santiago comes up against a man, who is interested in discovering the secrets of alchemy.

Turning any metal into gold is not a straightforward process, but he is eager to meet a renowned alchemist who lives in an oasis.

Santiago is worried about a sight he laid eyes on earlier. Two hawks fighting is a bad omen, because he had a vision of an army attacking the caravan.

Although this seems like an obvious violation of certain Desert principles, Santiago remains confident in his vision and presents it before the local chieftain.

Santiago reaches the Egyptian pyramids and starts digging, trying to locate the treasure. After a while, he realizes that there’s nothing valuable buried in the ground.

Heartbroken and sad, this young adventurist decides to hit the road and return home to Andalusia.

Upon his arrival, he goes to the church where he had that dream and starts contemplating. He begins digging beneath the tree and finds a substantial amount of treasure buried in there.  

The treasure was there all along; he didn’t realize it.

The Alchemist Quotes – Top 10

And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it Click To Tweet When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. Click To Tweet It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. Click To Tweet The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times. Click To Tweet One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving. Click To Tweet The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them. Click To Tweet Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own. Click To Tweet Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart. Click To Tweet No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it. Click To Tweet There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. Click To Tweet

The prowess to go for big scores is sometimes the only that separates success from failure. The people who have the courage of following the voice of the heart can never drift off course.

Choose your agenda wisely, because even if your victory is not etched into the minds and hearts of many, you will always know that you never gave up on your dreams.

If you have business to attend to – do it, but never stop dreaming and hoping that every action carries a dose of magic. Perhaps, this may be construed as a figment of your imagination, but it’s the actual reality most people fail to see.

It’s not over; we have a lot more to give:

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you.

We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.

If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.

You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.

Life will be a party for you, a grand festival because life is the moment we’re living right now.

In fact, the life is generous with who lives his personal legend.

The closer one gets to realizing his destiny, the more that destiny becomes his true reason for being.

Life doesn´t come with any guarantees. You have to risk it to get the biscuit.

Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.

Where your treasure is, there also will be your heart.

I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.

Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.

The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.

I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can always concentrate on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival because life is the moment we’re living now.

People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.

Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.

If you start by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire to work towards getting it.

Final Notes

Paulo Coelho as a novelist and award-winning lyricist surely has the know-how to help you to thrive on myriad challenges.

We felt a profound sense of urgency while exploring this book, and we can say with some confidence that “The Alchemist” is not going to be a waste of time.  

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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.

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#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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BEST The Alchemist Summary – Paulo Coelho

MicroSummary: The Alchemist Summary by Paulo Coelho is proving to be one of those books you wouldn’t want to end. As a bestseller, it already has a huge fan base of readers, who reported miracles and inner changes as a result of the tips included in it. We give our thumbs up and recommend this amazing masterpiece to all people throughout the world.

Classical literature or self-improvement guide? Portuguese novel or international writing? Defying cultural paradigms, through his allegorical novel – The AlchemistPaulo Coelho brings in the front line the most disturbing and challenging topic that concern humanity: destiny.

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