15 Best Inspirational Books to Read

The best inspirational books are a great way to expand your thinking, change your life’s trajectory, and soothe the soul, whether on a podcast, Kindle, or print. 

Inspiring self-help books, audiobooks, and other texts offer people a plethora of new ideas along with the motivation to get started. When life seems to be grinding to a near halt, and you seem to be stuck in a rut, an uplifting new book can be exactly what you need to dig yourself out. 

Here are several book inspirational books to read for high school and beyond to help you build good habits and improve your personal life. If you are hungry for more reading material when you finish here, check out our list of the best self-help authors.

Best Inspirational Self-Help Books

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is considered one of the best-selling self-help books in the world. Author Covey is recognized as one of the top 25 most influential people in America. This book remains a big seller because it emphasizes the enduring ideals of justice, morality, truth, and human decency rather than on fads and pop culture psychology.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can help you deal with real-world issues in difficult circumstances. You’ll discover how to concentrate on things you can control rather than what you cannot, how to organize and accomplish your most critical objectives, how to measure your success, and more.

″The more people are into quick fix and focus on the acute problems and pain, the more that very approach contributes to the underlying chronic condition.″

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
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  • Covey, Stephen R. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

2. You Are a Badass

You Are a Badass

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero is a funny, captivating how-to with information on how to identify and alter self-limiting beliefs and create a life you’re in love with. Jen Sincero offers over 26 chapters of funny, inspirational stories, words of wisdom, simple activities, and a ton of personality in this refreshingly captivating how-to, supporting you with identifying and eliminating self-limiting behaviors and beliefs that prevent you from living life to the fullest. You’ll learn why you behave the way you do, how to find peace with things you can’t change, and practical ways to change what you are able to. 

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

Jen Sincero
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
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  • Sincero, Jen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 04/23/2013 (Publication Date) - Running Press Adult (Publisher)

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a must-read guide that helps people learn how to make others like them, how to persuade them, and how to change the thoughts and beliefs of others without them resenting you afterwards. This book teaches readers how to reach your utmost potential and how to make success happen, even when dealing with difficult people. 

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

Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie Books)
  • You can go after the job you want—and get it!
  • You can take the job you have—and improve it!
  • You can take any situation—and make it work for you!
  • Carnegie, Dale (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

4. Own Life: How To Show Up With Confidence and Take Control Of the Future

Own Life: How To Show Up With Confidence and Take Control Of the Future

Own Life by Todd Eden is a collection of four books that details a four-step self-reflection program designed to guide readers through the process of self-discovery on their own terms. This guide offers readers with practical advice to help them learn and own their identities, develop good habits, how to learn and practice radical self-acceptance, and how to confidently take charge of their own futures. The included 8-step program is comprehensive, effective, and easy to follow. 

“What others see in you isn’t you. It’s a combination of what you’re projecting (perhaps unconsciously), and what they notice (which depends on them, not you).”

Todd Eden
Own Life: How to Show Up with Confidence and Take Control of the Future
  • Eden, Todd (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 337 Pages - 12/31/2019 (Publication Date) - Bluestag (Publisher)

Best Inspirational Audiobooks

5. Greenlights


Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey is a #1 New York Times bestselling memoir that takes a unique approach to brutal honesty about life’s toughest lessons. McConaughey writes about the highs and lows in beautiful prose, sharing nuggets of wisdom along the way. Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, also on this list, speaks highly of Greenlights, saying “McConaughey’s book invites us to grapple with the lessons of his life as he did—and to see that the point was never to win, but to understand.” 

“We cannot fully appreciate the light without the shadows. We have to be thrown off balance to find our footing. It’s better to jump than fall. And here I am.” 

Matthew McConaughey
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Matthew McConaughey (Author) - Matthew McConaughey (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/20/2020 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

6. Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is a must-read memoir about one woman’s journey across India, Indonesia, and Italy for the first time after her divorce. She explores the concepts of serving God while simultaneously learning how to enjoy living in today’s emotionally taxing world. Readers journey with Gilbert through three engrossing, beautiful cultures that teach both the author and the audience about themselves in new ways. 

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Elizabeth Gilbert (Author) - Elizabeth Gilbert (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

Best Inspirational Books By A Bestselling Author

7. Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich

Written in 1937, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of the most popular self-help books to date and uses important historical figures to teach readers how to identify and work towards their personal goals. The tome has sometimes affectionately been called “The Grandfather of Motivational Literature” and its author Hill has arguably become one of the most well-known teachers worldwide. To demonstrate his concepts, Hill uses the stories of Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and other great minds of his time to inspire and motivate audiences. 

“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.” 

Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Napoleon Hill (Author) - Erik Synnestvedt (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/16/2007 (Publication Date) - Gildan Media, LLC (Publisher)

8. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and It’s All Small Stuff)

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, Ph. D. reframes the reader’s perspective on life’s little stressors and helps them to develop better interpersonal and distress tolerance skills. The author gives readers actionable advice to help them select their battles wisely instead of burning out while trying to fight them all. Readers gain a better understanding of how to live in the present and let others take the credit sometimes. 

“Effective listening is more than simply avoiding the bad habit of interrupting others while they are speaking or finishing their sentences. It’s being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond.” 

Richard Carlson, Ph. D.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and It's All Small Stuff
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Richard Carlson (Author) - Richard Carlson (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/16/1999 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

9. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz exposes the truth behind self-limiting beliefs, revealing their causes and how to combat them using wisdom and advice from the ancient Toltec people, a pre-settlement Mesoamerican culture in Mexico. Readers learn how to keep their word, how to stop taking things so personally, the dangers of making assumptions, and how to always put in a good effort. 

“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.” 

Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements
  • Audible Audiobook
  • don Miguel Ruiz (Author) - Peter Coyote (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/27/2005 (Publication Date) - Amber Allen Publishing Inc. (Publisher)

10. Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life

Change Your Schedule, Change Your life

Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar and Michelle Seaton delves into the science of circadian rhythms and how they impact a person’s work and sleep schedule. The book teaches readers how to emphasize good habits and get rid of bad ones by making small tweaks to their daily schedules. 

“Many of our most common physical complaints are created or exacerbated by a modern schedule at odds with the body’s needs. [Chronobiology] offers insights about how you can set a daily schedule that will keep you healthy and energized.” 

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar with Michelle Seaton and foreword by Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life: How to Harness the Power of Clock Genes to Lose Weight, Optimize Your Workout, and Finally Get a Good Night's Sleep
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar (Author) - Lesa Lockford (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/30/2018 (Publication Date) - Dreamscape Media, LLC (Publisher)

11. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World
  • "Should be read by every leader in America...a book to inspire your children and grandchildren to become everything that they can." --Wall Street Journal
  • "Powerful." --USA Today "Full of captivating personal anecdotes from inside the national security vault." --Washington Post
  • Hardcover Book
  • McRaven, Admiral William H. (Author)

Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven is a surprisingly poignant, uplifting book that offers practical, actionable advice for small things readers can do on a daily basis to change their lives for the better. While one of these things is making your bed, the book includes a long list of other equally simple but impactful things that can change the lives and outlooks of people from all walks of life. 

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”

William H. McRaven

12. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo took the world by storm, helping people from all walks of life declutter and organize their homes. Kondo illustrates a unique, one-step-at-a-time approach that has worked for even the messiest home. Kondo helps readers break emotional bonds with objects that no longer serve them in their homes so they can declutter and destress, transforming their homes into peaceful, organized sanctuaries. 

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Marie Kondo
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Marie Kondo (Author) - Emily Woo Zeller (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/06/2015 (Publication Date) - Tantor Audio (Publisher)

13. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F*ck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson eschews positive thinking in this radically different self-help book. Instead of passing out cheap platitudes, Manson offers a stick-to-your-ribs narrative that sugarcoats nothing yet provides immense value. The author teaches readers not to shy away from their fears and uncertainties and instead to lean into their human flaws. This guide helps people carve out rewarding lives filled with success, albeit sometimes success that looks a bit different than what you initially expected. 

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

Mark Manson
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Mark Manson (Author) - Roger Wayne (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/13/2016 (Publication Date) - HarperAudio (Publisher)

14. Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us The Mysteries of Life and Living

Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us The Mysteries of Life and Living

Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler shares lessons the pair have learned during their lifelong work with terminally ill individuals to help readers take control of their lives in the here and now. Readers will gain insight into their lives from the stories of people who are living in their last days, learning to face their fears and bolster their hopes to live life to the absolute fullest each day. 

“On these journeys we may be given a lot, or just a little bit, of the things we must grapple with, but never more than we can handle.” 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler
Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living (An Inspiring Guide to Life)
  • Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 08/12/2014 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

15. The Secret

The Secret

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is an international bestseller that details the law of attraction like no text before it. Readers learn how to use the law of attraction in every area of their lives to improve it. This book presents an age-old theory in a different light, making it more accessible by the modern world. The Secret has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, and reached #1 on both the Amazon DVD chart and the New York Times bestseller list. 

“There is a truth deep down inside of you that has been waiting for you to discover it, and that truth is this: you deserve all good things life has to offer.”

Rhonda Byrne
The Secret
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Byrne, Rhonda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 220 Pages - 02/26/2007 (Publication Date) - Atria Books/Beyond Words (Publisher)

Final Word on Best Inspirational Books

If you love books that are uplifting or inspiring, start with this list of inspirational books to read. Whether you’re interested in getting on board with better self-care habits or want to wake up refreshed every morning, you can dive into a new book and get the answers you’re looking for. For more lists like this, check out our guide to the best self-help books.