Looking for a fun leisure activity? Well, if you’re not already a reader, I highly recommend trying it out. I promise that it’s fun, especially when you’re reading something you love (not a dry textbook!) and can do so in a relaxing environment. If you decide to pick up this hobby (or if you already have), below are some books that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and now recommend.
Understandably, our interests may not be the same. I’m passionate about personal development, growth, practical knowledge, and motivation/inspiration. Many of the books below will have some or all of these themes, but everything I post will be out of a genuine endorsement of the book’s quality and impact. I value my time, and I value yours. These are books that I’ve personally read and consider worthy of the time it takes to read them.
*One final note: I’m not selling these books or receiving anything if you buy them. I’m not even linking them to an online bookseller. These are just my personal recommendations. The rest is up to you!
Here we go!
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie, 290 pages. This is the most recommended book on this list. Dale Carnegie is quite the diplomatic fellow, and he has mastered the art of skillfully dealing with people. Luckily for us, he wrote this book as a way to share his very best tips and practices. He claims that these principles work like magic, and I attest that they do. If you want healthier relationships, vastly improved people skills, more friends, more meaningful interactions, more enthusiasm, and so on, I cannot recommend this book enough.
2. Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill, 320 pages. Widely considered one of the most influential books of all time, this is a classic that I really enjoyed reading and greatly benefited from. We’ve all been told that if we want to be rich we need to work hard, save money, invest it, and so on (and those things are extremely important!). But this book reminds us that it’s not just about those things. It’s about desire, too. It’s about training our minds to attract the things we want. It’s about focusing our thoughts on what’s important. It’s not just an act, either; it’s a lifestyle.
3. Awaken the Giant Within. Anthony Robbins, 544 pages. Tony Robbins is certainly not known for being concise, but I think this book is well worth the read. A lot of meaningful perspectives, advice, suggestions, and cool little charts are continually offered throughout the pages. There are also points of interaction, with space set aside in the book for you to write in your responses to his prompts. I found this helpful in clarifying my own thoughts and felt a deeper connection to the work.
Fight for Your Dreams. Les Brown, 204 pages. This is a collection of powerful stories that will inspire you to fight for your dreams and fulfill your life’s calling. I actually read this book last summer during a period of enormous internal conflict. I was contemplating switching my major but felt at home and secure in my current one. I knew that I wasn’t living out my dream, though, and I couldn’t decide what to do. I consider it a major blessing that this book fell into my hands during that time. It really helped me clarify my dreams and inspired me to pursue them with everything I have.
4. The New Testament. Various authors, 192 pages. Regardless of your faith, The New Testament has some of the best advice for sound living that I’ve ever come across (and I read a lot of self-help books). In fact, most of my favorite quotes for life/success/happiness/peace/achievement/perseverance/discipline come from this book and many do not even mention God or Jesus. Of course, if you are a Christian, I recommend it even more highly: nothing is worse than being in church and completely lost! Plus, reading this has helped me develop my own spirituality and connection with God.
5. The Paradox of Choice. Barry Schwartz, 236 pages. America has a lot of choice, and most of our decisions come with a buffet of options and alternatives to choose from. Before reading this book (and watching the author’s TEDTalk), I would have thought that more choice is always better. But not anymore. Now I’m aware of the paralyzing effects of excessive choice and the psychological toll it can take on us. A very interesting book to read.
6. Predictably Irrational. Dan Ariely, 247 pages. This book challenges the assumption that we are in control of our decisions. Ariely has conducted a number of studies that he shares in this book, all of which suggest that we are not as rational as we may have previously expected. Many of the findings were quite surprising and left me wondering about the “hidden forces” that have been shaping my own decisions.
7. The Time is Now, the Person is You. Nido Qubein, 81 pages. This is a tiny little quote book that you can read in an afternoon. I personally love quotes and found a lot of good ones in here, on a variety of subjects.
8. Life’s Golden Ticket. Brendon Burchard, 203 pages. An exciting story about a man given a second chance to make his marriage work and to improve himself. The setting is primarily at an amusement park where the main character meets a number of rather interesting people who all have something to offer him on his journey of personal growth.
9. The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho, 197 pages. This is captivating story about boy on a journey who finds much more that he was originally looking for. Without spoiling it for you, the story contains themes of faith, ambition, and spiritual guidance (among others). A lot of powerful ideas and advice are offered within these pages. The fact that they’re woven into an enthralling novel makes it almost impossible to put down.
10. The Apology, Phaedo and Crito of Plato, Golden Sayings of Epictetus, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Translators: Benjamin Jowett, Hastings Crossley, George Long, 345 pages. For all of you philosophy lovers, thinkers, and intellectuals out there, this is a great book for you. It contains three separate parts (made clear by the title) all of which can be found individually. Socrates’ apology was awesome, and I love how persuasive he is! Epictetus was great too; it was filled with dozens of highly meaningful and thought provoking messages. Lastly, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are brain-food for a lifetime. Many of his thoughts I’ve re-typed as quotes of my computer for easy reference. All three of these men are extremely intelligent and so much can be learned from them. Definitely a powerful read.
11. The Quick & Easy Way to Effective Speaking. Dale Carnegie, 220 pages. The title says it all for this one. Even though we might not all be public speakers, effective speaking is still an essential skill for most jobs and even for just maintaining relationships. Plus, we all become story-tellers at some point. The advice in this book can benefit anyone from beginner to expert and provides a lot of memorable tips for use in future speaking situations.
12. Leadership: Promises for Your Work Week. John C. Maxwell, 215 pages. In his 52 different sections (one for each week), Maxwell offers short, 3-4 page explanations of various action steps to becoming a better leader. I think the advice is clear, concise, and easy to read. It is also based heavily on the Bible, which I enjoyed and thought added to the content and examples he offered.
13. It’s Called Work for a Reason. Larry Winget, 236 pages. The thing I love most about Larry Winget is how clear and concise he is. He uses simple language and gets right to the point; there is no fluff at all in this book. As far as the content is concerned, Larry offers a lot of valuable insight about being an honest, hard-working person of integrity. He challenges us to live up to and demand high standards from ourselves and others in the workplace.
14. Creating Affluence. Deepak Chopra, 106 pages. In this short book, you won’t find any money-making tips or investment strategies. No, this book isn’t about monetary affluence (although it could be used for that). This book is about becoming affluent in all areas of life, and creating a life full of abundance. With each letter of the alphabet, Chopra offers a variety of words and expressions that he believes can manifest affluence in our lives if we act upon them. It’s a short read and will certainly get some ideas flowing in your head. Also a great book to flip through every now and again.
15. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Deepak Chopra, 115 pages. This is a powerful little book. The Seven Laws that Chopra offers are all clearly articulated and explained. The connection from the laws to success is addressed by means of countless examples and logical thought processes. At the end of each section (each law) he gives clear, numbered steps that one can take to act on the law. I found this very helpful, as it served as both a mini-summary and as a guide on which I (or anyone) could take immediate action.
16. Rich Dad Poor Dad. Robert Kiyosaki, 201 pages. Kiyosaki had two dads growing up, one rich and one poor. Naturally, both of his dads gave him advice and offered their own viewpoints on various issues. In this book, Kiyosaki points out the fundamental differences in the philosophies of his two dads and what made one rich and one poor. He also shares a generous amount of his own advice, and outlines clear, money-making ideas and strategies that I found rather helpful.
17. Blink. Malcolm Gladwell, 254 pages. This book is about snap judgements: instant or near-instant decisions. Gladwell makes a strong case that these snap-judgements are often superior to the thought-out, time consuming, analytical judgements we make. Along the same lines, he argues that many times, only a small amount of information is needed to draw the same conclusions that sometimes eons of research is needed to produce. A lot of cool examples are given and it’s an interesting perspective to consider.
18. The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude. Jeffrey Gitomer, 199 pages. Picture a typical book. This is not that book. Instead, Gitomer uses a variety of fonts, colors, bold, italics, quotes, and pictures to make reading a lot more exciting than I had been used to. I found his advice to be very good, and I loved the emphasis he put on his key maxims (through font and color changes). There are also attitude tests within the book to help you asses your own attitude. Lastly, Gitomer offers countless action steps you can take immediately to develop a YES! Attitude. Keep this one handy!
19. The Power of Positive Thinking. Norman Vincent Peale, 218 pages. Looking for a heavy dose of positive? Look no further! Reading this book is like sending your brain to an all-day excursion at the positive spa. It’s relaxing, hopeful, and encouraging to say the least. The author states, “This book teaches applied Christianity; a simple yet scientific system of practical techniques of successful living that works.” He uses examples of faith and quotes the bible frequently. I happened to read this as I was finishing up the New Testament so the references were especially helpful.
I will be continuously adding to this list, but please comment with any books that you personally recommend and I’ll add them to my reading queue! Thanks