33 Best Life Changing Books to Read in 2024

Are you looking for the best life changing books to read? Add these incredibly inspiring and life-changing books to your reading list.

Although it might seem like an exaggeration, reading really can be life-changing. Sometimes it feels like authors are talking directly to you, and their ideas and experience give you a fresh outlook on yourself and the world. The must-read authors in this list offer life-changing insights into dozens of different fields, such as mental health, philosophy, politics, the environment, and even financial well-being.

The great thing about the 33 life-changing books in this list is that they include both non-fiction books that present you with data-driven theories and fiction books that tell relatable and eye-opening stories. So, add a few of these titles to your book list if it needs some more life-changing literature.



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Most Life-Changing Books to Read

Best life changing books

1. The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a magical fiction book that tells the story of a young shepherd called Santiago from Andalusia who lives a humble life until he begins to have visions of a grander fate.

The young man sets off on a life-changing journey that leads him all the way to Egypt, where his visions have told him that a greater treasure is hidden. Along the journey, Santiago befriends a mysterious alchemist who becomes a sort of spiritual guide for the young man.

Paulo Coelho is a legendary Brazilian writer. As with all of his books, his narrator-driven stories are littered with deeper meanings that encourage the reader to question their beliefs and choices.

The Alchemist has been translated into dozens of languages and sold over 60 million copies

“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.”

Paulo Coelho

2. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning tells the harrowing story of the authors suffering during the Holocaust in a Nazi concentration camp.

The first-person account explores the brutality and sheer inhumanity that Frankl and others faced at the hands of the Nazi regime. Although the book has a huge amount of value in terms of historical documentation, it’s also one of the best life-changing books.

Frankl was able to use his book to delve into the idea of how a prisoner in the camp reflected on what was going on around them. He identified three specific psychological effects that everyone suffered:

  • Shock
  • Apathy
  • Depersonalization and disillusionment

The book is thought-provoking. It will teach you about how people react under the most horrific circumstances and force you to reflect on the value of your own life.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl was published in 1946 and has sold over 16 million copies. The book has made Frankl one of the most respected Jewish authors in the world.

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. ”

Viktor Frankl 

3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey via Wikipedia, Public Domain

7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a life-changing book that focuses on helping the reader examine core habits that relate to honesty, integrity, and interpersonal relationships.

Written by Stephen Covey and published in 1989, the book quickly became New York Times bestseller selling over 40 million copies in several languages.

Covey laid out seven habits that can be used to improve your everyday life:

  • Be proactive
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Put first things first
  • Think win-win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • Synergize

The book details all seven points and offers step-by-step guidance on how to implement them into your life. If you’re looking for a great book that will help you improve your habits, consider adding 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to your book list. Are you searching for books to give to someone? Check out our round-up of the best authors like Yoko Ogawa! You can also search for our best book guides using our search bar.

“It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.” 

Stephen Covey

4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a fascinating book that can change your entire life through a unique system for organizing your home and belongings.

Marie Kondo is a Japanese author and TV presenter who developed the KonMari organization method. Her method advocates for six basic organizational rules:

  • Commit yourself to tidying up.
  • Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  • Tidy by category, not by location.
  • Follow the right order.
  • Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

The six-step system is explored in detail in the book. Marie guides you through the process of changing the way your order your home and how adopting her method can help you ‘spark’ more joy in your life.

The book has sold over 8 million copies since it was published in 2010. If you’re generally a messy person looking to become more organized and, in the process, improve your general lifestyle, then consider adding this non-fiction book to your reading list.

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. ”

Marie Kondo

5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Yann Martel
Yann Martel via Wikipedia, Public Domain

You’ve probably heard of Life of Pi, as the original book by Yann Martel was adapted into a blockbuster film. The story follows a young Indian boy called Pi Patel, who grows up in a humble family of zookeepers. In search of a better life, the family board a Japanese cargo ship destined for the Americas, but the ship sinks.

Stranded on a lifeboat, floating with no direction in the infinite ocean, Pi soon discovers that he isn’t alone on the small craft. Several animals, including a zebra, a hyena, and a powerful Bengal tiger, appear on the boat’s deck.

Pi’s interactions with the animals explore some of the fundamental questions about life and our relationship with nature. If you’re looking for a great book written beautifully that will make you question some fundamental aspects of life, add The Life of Pi to your book list.

“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”

Yann Martel 

6. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Little Prince is one of the most widely read books in the world. It’s been translated into hundreds of languages and dialects and is, without a doubt, one of the most life-changing books ever written.

The book tells the story of a little prince who visits several different planets. On one of the planets, the little prince encounters a pilot who’s crashed in a desert. The little prince tells the pilot his story and, in the process, explores fundamental human emotions such as love, loss, and freedom.

This book has sold over 100 million copies and continues to change people’s lives to this day. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s ability to uncover raw human emotion through simple metaphors and easy-to-digest prose makes him one of the most revered writers of all time and The Little Prince an absolute must-read.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

7. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari via Wikipedia, Public Domain

One of the most life-changing questions we ask ourselves is where we came from and, more importantly, why we are here. In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, you’ll develop your understanding of how humanity’s story has developed.

Yuval Noah Harari brilliantly explains our story, starting all the way from the earliest humans to modern society. Throughout the book, Harari provides his own theories on human development and the factors that have driven the success of our species.

He is constantly provoking the reader to question humanity and its future. If you want to get a better understanding of where we came from and where we might end up, this is a great book that will have you pondering the meaning of life.

“As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet Earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual.”

Yuval Noah Harari

8. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport is a must-read book for anyone looking to improve their productivity in both their professional and personal life. The world is constantly becoming distracting, and as a result, carrying out deep work for a long period of time can be very difficult.

In his book, Cal Newport gives the reader four clear rules to follow that will help you change your life for the better. By following the steps, many readers have become more successful people as their ability to focus has seen dramatic improvements.

The book is broken down into two halves; the first is ‘The Idea,’ which covers the theory behind deep work, and the second is ‘The Rules’, which are used to achieve higher levels of concentration. Newport offers plenty of easy-to-follow advice and anecdotes to help you implement the rules into your everyday life. The book has sold millions of copies and dominated the Amazon #1 seller ranking for several weeks, suggesting plenty of people have benefited from Cal Newport’s life-changing advice.

“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.” 

Cal Newport

9. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank
Anne Frank via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is one of the most moving World War II books. The tragic story written by Anne during her time in hiding in occupied Holland has been one of the most valuable books in educating the world about the horrors of the Holocaust and the Nazi concentration camps.

The diary was written during their family’s two years in hiding. Eventually, her family was discovered by the occupying forces. She was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp while her parents ended up in Auschwitz. Her family was killed shortly after her arrival, and she died shortly after from typhus.

Anne Frank’s story is a heartwrenching read and one of the most life-changing books ever written, as it gives a unique first-hand insight into the horrific treatment of a young girl and her family by a ruthless regime. The book will make you question human morality and examine both the good and bad that can be found in people.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”

Anne Frank

10. Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death & Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life & Living by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler

Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death & Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life & Living is a book that aims to help the reader live a better, more fulfilling life.

The book was published in 2000 and focuses on offering practical advice for dealing with life and death. The authors use their own experiences and knowledge as psychiatrists and other case studies to develop an engrossing narrative around the concept of death.

The book is broken down into two dozen chapters that focus on the various emotions that we associate with death. By understanding the emotions, the reader is able to improve their reactions to death and explore their relationships with loved ones.

The authors use examples of people who have faced death to help the reader get to explore their own emotions of grief, fear, and love. If you want to get more in touch with your emotions or better understand feelings of grief following the death of a loved one, then this could be a great read.

“We think sometimes we’re only drawn to the good, but we’re actually drawn to the authentic. We like people who are real more than those who hide their true selves under layers of artificial niceties.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

11. Own Life: How to Show Up With Confidence and Take Control of the Future by Todd Eden

Own Life: How to Show Up With Confidence and Take Control of the Future is a must-read self-help book that looks at how we can benefit from improving our understanding of the past. Todd Eden’s book helps the reader change their life by achieving four targets:

  • Understanding the past and accepting it.
  • Developing a clear understanding of direction.
  • Improving your resilience to negative emotions and events.
  • Improving your self-esteem and confidence

Eden’s goals are obtained by following an eight-step process he walks the reader through using his own insights and research. Although step-by-step guides can often be a drag to read, Eden has been widely praised for writing in an engaging manner, often throwing in funny anecdotes to keep the reader focused. If you’re looking for a self-help book that aims to change lives by improving people’s understanding of their past, then this could be a good book to add to your reading list.

“Compared to every other species, human brains are born ‘underdeveloped.’ But it is this unfinished nature of the brain that is also our most significant strength — because it makes us adaptable.”

Todd Eden

12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Kite Runner is set in Afghanistan and follows the story of Amir and follows his life during a particularly tragic period in the country’s history which saw the Soviet Union and the United States invaded.

The global bestseller was written by the Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini who crafts a painful narrative that explores poverty and injustice in modern Afghanistan.

Themes of guilt, tragedy, and redemption are central to the story, with the characters often forced into making tough choices by brutal external factors.

When we read stories that tell us about tragedy and resilience, we often find ourselves questioning our own abilities and wondering if we can change the way we face adversity.

The Kite Runner has sold millions of copies and helped people worldwide gain a glimpse into the suffering that many innocent children face in Afghanistan every day.

“When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

Khaled Hosseini

13. A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan Didion
Joan Didion via Wikipedia, Public Domain

A Year of Magical Thinking is a touching non-fiction that story that Joan Didion wrote a year after her husband’s death. She bravely tells the story of how she coped with the grief of her husband’s death and how she continued to care for their young daughter.

Her husband’s death led Didion to re-evaluate her life and relationships. By openly talking about the darkest period in her life, Didion helps the reader reflect on their own trauma and pursue a path that will help them potentially change their own lives for the better.

This non-fiction book has been a huge success. It has sold over a million copies and won Didion won the Pulitzer Prize for the best Biography.

“We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind.“

Joan Didion

14. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

James Clear

James Clear is regarded as one of the top experts in habit formation training. His book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones is an Amazon bestseller and a must-read for anyone that wants to improve their habits.

James Clear firmly believes that small everyday changes to habits can add up to create life-changing differences. He’s created an easy-to-follow guide with this book as it breaks down the process of changing habits and adopting new ones.

The underlying argument of the book is that successful people don’t come out on top based on one big action. On the contrary, their success is a product of dozens of smaller habits they repeat daily.

In addition to providing a guide to improving everyday habits, the book has several extra chapters that cover more specific areas of life, such as work and parenting.

Atomic Habits has sold over 40 million copies and has been translated into dozens of languages. If you want to improve your daily habits, it could be a good title to add to your reading list.

“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”

James Clear

15. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now is about self-reflection. In the modern world, we are constantly being dragged away from the ‘now.’ We are checking emails, social media, and watching Netflix distracting ourselves from our own thoughts and the people closest to us.

Eckhart Tolle wrote The Power of Now to try and help us reconnect with ourselves and take the time to appreciate our lives.

Tolle argues that our emotional issues are often products of the fact that we have lost the ability to live in the moment and instead dwell on past pains and worry about future possibilities.

The book doesn’t just point out the problems facing us it also helps you become better at living in the moment. Tolle teaches the reader various methods of meditation and relaxation that will help you stop worrying about the past and future.

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

Eckhart Tolle

16. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir written by a neurosurgeon called Paul Kalanithi, who wrote the book as a memoir about his experience with lung cancer.

He wrote the book as cancer took over his body and slowly drained him of life. In it, he talks openly about his life as a medical student and his regrets.

The book was published after he died and has since been read by people looking to get a unique perspective on death from a man who spent his life-saving people as a doctor only to die in the hospital himself.

When Breath Becomes Air has won several awards since being published in 2016, including the Jan Michalski Prize, and it is also a New York Times bestseller.

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

Paul Kalanithi

17. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret is a pseudoscientific book that argues we can change our lives through laws of attraction which are dictated by our thoughts. Rhonda Byrne uses case studies based on people who claim to have used laws of attraction to achieve health, wealth, and happiness.

She argues that by thinking about something, it can be manifested. To achieve manifestation, she teaches the reader a three-step process based on the Bible passage: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Naturally, the book received mixed reviews as some people see it as pure pseudoscience nonsense, but others firmly believe that Byrne’s book has helped them improve their lives. The Secret has sold over 30 million copies and has been translated into dozens of languages.

“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

18. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is a personal account of a life-changing 1,100-mile hike that Cheryl Stray walked solo in the 90s.

The epic walk gave Stray massive amounts of time to reflect on her life and the meaning of her existence. Listening to her story allows the writer to get into the mindstate of a solo traveler learning about herself as she tries to find her way along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Cheryl Stray brings her past experiences into the memoir, often describing flashbacks in vivid detail as her mind wanders during the walk.

The story is gripping. Her life had been complicated, to say the least. Her mother died of cancer, her father was absent, and she’d been gripped by an addiction to heroin. She set off on the walk with no hiking experience, and it changed her life forever.

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”

Cheryl Stray

19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky
Stephen Chbosky via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a classic coming-of-age story that follows a young man called Charlie, whose introverted nature often results in him being a mere observer while his peers experience the ups and downs of young adulthood.

The story takes place in Pittsburgh and covers the typical coming-of-age themes such as love, heartbreak, sexuality, and mental health. Stephen Chbosky spent years developing the characters, which gives true depth to the narrative and makes the story that much more relatable.

The book is a great read for anyone who feels they’re at a turning point in their life. In 2012 Chbosky’s already popular book became even more well-known after it was adapted into a film. Looking for more educational books to binge on a weekend? Check out our round-up of the best authors like Yalom! You can also search for our best book guides using our search bar.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Stephen Chbosky

20. Natives: Class and Race in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

Akala via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Natives: Class and Race in the Ruins of Empire is a must-read book for anyone interested in learning about the role that class and race continue to play in shaping British society.

Akala is a best-selling author, activist, and hip-hop artist who was born to a Scottish mother and a Jamaican father. In the book, he explores the history of race and class in Great Britain. His critical analysis of socio-economic realities is eye-opening and, in many ways life-changing.

Akala is brutally honest throughout the book. He writes without bitterness or anger. Instead, his story is constructively explaining why racism and classism continue to hold back British society and how we can work together for a brighter future. The book became a Sunday Times bestseller and received several awards, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

“The concept of whiteness goes hand in hand with the concept of white supremacy – hence why the progress against white supremacy that has been made so far feels, to some white people, like an attack on their identity.”


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

Mark Manson
Mark Manson via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is one of the most popular 21st-century self-help books. The book argues that the self-help industry is generally obsessed with making everything seem positive when in reality, negative events can often help us improve ourselves and our lives.

Mark Manson writes honestly with a touch of realism you will rarely find in the self-help industry. He intelligently argues for focusing our attention on important values that we can control and letting go of values we have no control over.

In a sense, Mark Manson’s writing borrows from the ancient Chinese Daoist ideas that encouraged people to go with the flow and avoid the pitfall of trying to control everything. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a New York Times bestseller and a different approach to self-help written by an author who isn’t afraid to say it how it is.

“Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another.”

Mark Manson

22. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck is another self-help book that focuses on helping the reader ignore things that don’t really matter and take more joy from variables they can control and achieve.

Sarah Knight has created a step-by-step guide that will help the reader mentally declutter by reducing the amount they spend worrying. Being able to focus better and reduce your general anxiety can be fundamentally life-changing, and Knight’s book has received plenty of positive reviews from people who found her guide helpful.

“You may not realize it, but the number of f*cks you personally have to give is a finite and precious commodity.”

Sarah Knight

23. Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith

Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change is a book about dealing with trauma and changing for the better. By telling her personal stories and reflecting on how they impacted her life, Maggie Smith provides the reader with several points for self-reflection.

Smith uses the Japanese art of ‘Kintsugi,’ which involves fixing broken ceramics with gold, as a metaphor for rebuilding parts of ourselves that have been broken into something beautiful. The book has proven particularly popular among people who are dealing with difficult life events and want to build their resilience to future events.

“When life held your hand in the flames, it taught you something about the kind of burning you can endure. You survived: don’t forget that, and don’t diminish it. KEEP MOVING.”

Maggie Smith

24. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
A portrait of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago is a harrowing tale of the savage conditions of prisoners in Soviet gulags.

The book’s author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, is widely regarded as one of the most influential 20th-century authors, and The Gulag Archipelago is arguably his most important piece of work.

The Nobel Prize-winning author tells his personal experience of spending a decade in a forced labor camp. The story is one of shocking abuse and a complete lack of regard for human rights, combined with forced labor and routine executions.

Solzhenitsyn’s story reminds the reader of the brutality that many people suffered in Europe less than a century ago. It forces the reader to appreciate the importance of democracy and ponder the power of human resilience even in the face of awful circumstances. The book has been translated into over 30 countries, sold over 30 million copies, and continues to feature on reading lists for political science and history students.

“To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

25. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee
Harper Lee via Wikipedia, Public Domain

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most important pieces of 20th American literature. The novel was published in 1960, and the story takes place in 1936, Alabama when racism in the southern US states was one of the most pressing societal issues.

Harper Lee’s novel provides a hard-hitting glimpse into the lives of African-Americans in Alabama during the 1930s. The story follows the case of a local African-American man called Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of rape. The protagonist’s father, Atticus Finch, agrees to represent Robinson in court despite the threats directed toward him and his family.

The legal case spills out into the community, and in the process, the depth of injustice and prejudice becomes clear to the reader. The book is a must-read in schools in the US. It has sold millions of copies and won Lee the Pulitzer prize.

The book gives you a powerful perspective on compassion and understanding and, in the process, has the potential to change the way you see the world and others.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Harper Lee

26. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Fight Club is mostly known by people due to the blockbuster film adaptation that stared Brad Pit and Edward Norton. However, what many people don’t know is that the film was preceded by the book.

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is a short but life-changing read. The story follows a nameless narrator whose insomnia drives him to join an underground fight club where people beat each other to a pulp every night just to feel something. The story is about more than violence as it touches on themes such as masculinity in the modern world, suffering, loneliness, and consumerism.

The sometimes chilling story slams a question mark on our modern way of living and constantly provokes doubt about the values of modern life that many appear to accept blindly.

“The things you own end up owning you.”

Chuck Palahniuk

27. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari
A portrait of Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus explores the future of humanity, focusing in detail on how the technologies of the future will shape our existence and change our lives. Yuval Noah Harari’s book is a combination of history, science, philosophy, and economics. He weaves together a grand narrative of the human story.

Harari sees technology fusing with humanity in the not-so-distant future through biotech. Eventually, humans will become more like gods than animals as we are enhanced using technology.

However, despite his belief that we are on track to move beyond being mere mortals, several hurdles are in our way, and in addition, the way we use the technologies of the future will determine if they are net positive or negative for society. Homo Deus is a life-changing book as it puts the future of the human race into a fascinating perspective where we become something beyond ‘human.’

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”

Yuval Noah Harari

28. 1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell
A portrait of George Orwell

George Orwell is one of the most famous authors in the world, and his book 1984 is one of the most widely read pieces of political fiction from the 20th century.

The dystopian novel takes place in a future Great Britain where a brutal dictatorship led by a cultish figure known simply as ‘Big Brother’ monitors every move and every thought of the population.

Primarily, the story is a reflection on the politics of Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany which throws up questions of freedom, stability, and loyalty. On another level, the book has a great deal to say about love as the protagonist Winston juggles his creeping doubts about the political regime and his love for a younger woman.

1984 has sold millions of copies, and some of the vocabulary Orwell invented for the book has been absorbed into the English language.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell

29. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger
A portrait of J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a life-changing book that covers some hard-hitting themes such as loss, innocence, identity, and depression through the perspective of a unique narrator who details his thoughts regarding complex events in detail.

J.D. Salinger’s novel is a classic coming-of-age book that has been read by adolescents worldwide and sold millions of copies.

The story follows 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, who has recently been expelled from school. The young man proceeds to rebel against the adult world, which he sees as hypocritical and lacking in authenticity.

Holden’s life becomes increasingly more complex as the reality of growing up begins to uproot his life. Holden’s perspective of age and adulthood are gripping and life-changing at the same time.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

J.D. Salinger

30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel published in 1953 and set in an unspecified US town. The story follows Guy Montag, a fireman who is regularly called on to burn books that the government has banned. Ray Bradbury’s book was a harsh critique of the US government in the 50s, which was leaning heavily towards censorship under the leadership of Senator McCarthy.

The story is a reflection on the importance of freedom and the fundamental power of the written word. Reading it gives you a sense of duty to protect everyone’s right to read whatever they want and to pen their thoughts without fear of backlash from the state.

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

Ray Bradbury

31. The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

Peter Frankopan
A portrait of Peter Frankopan

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World is a must-read book for anyone who wants to better understand the global history and the role that major Eastern countries such as China and India played in shaping it. For anyone that was educated with a heavily Eurocentric twist uncovering the central role Eastern countries played in global history can be life-changing as it completely changes your perspective of how the world works.

In his best-selling book, Peter Frankopan creates an enthralling historical narrative that follows the ancient silk road that connects China to Europe through central Asia and parts of the middle east. A central theme in the book is the idea that Western dominance of the global economy is a blimp in the general trend that has seen China and India dominate trade for most of the past two thousand years. He argues that the world is shifting again as the East rises economically and militarily.

“A talent for following the ways of yesterday’, declared King Wu-ling in 307 BC, ‘is not sufficient to improve the world of today.”

Peter Frankopan

32. Journey by Moonlight by Szerb Antal

A Journey by Moonlight is one of the greatest pieces of Hungarian literature. It tells the story of a wealthy Hungarian man called Mihaly who travels to Italy on his honeymoon. The honeymoon unravels as Mihaly’s inability to adapt to modern upper-class Hungarian life becomes increasingly hard for him to hide.

Szerb Antal’s novel follows Mihaly through an existential crisis as he wrestles with concepts of identity, love, and a longing for the past. Antal’s ability to paint a vivid image of a man desperately lost drags the reader into a confusing world where some of Mihaly’s thoughts begin to feel relatable. A Journey by Moonlight has been translated into several languages, including English, and received positive reviews from critics all across Europe.

“Love preserves one moment for ever, the moment of its birth. The beloved never ages.”

Szerb Antal

33. Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker
A portrait of Steven Pinker

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress is a multi-disciplinary non-fiction book that dives into the progress humanity has made through science and reason. Steven Pinker argues that despite the constant negativity we see in the media, overall, human has made huge leaps forward in recent history. Despite short-term issues overall, we have never been wealthier, happier, or freer than today.

The book is broken down into chapters that analyze specific psychological, philosophical, and political issues. It also examines the future and how humanity can, and probably will, continue to see improvements in living conditions. It’s easy to forget how much progress humans have made in the last 500 years, and Pinker’s data-driven theories offer a welcome change to the usual doom and gloom narrative.

“As we care about more of humanity, we’re apt to mistake the harms around us for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen.”

Steven Pinker

Final Word on the Best Life Changing Books To Read

Even though the books in the list come from a wide range of genres, they all have in common that they offer the reader information that can change their lives for the better. While some of the self-help books, such as The Power of Now, help you improve your habits by changing your everyday behavior, others, like To Kill a Mockingbird, guide you towards profound realizations about the world and society. The more you learn about life, habits, history, and death from people who have gone through unique experiences, the more you can apply this knowledge to your everyday life for practical results, so add a few of the 33 books in this post to your reading list.

FAQ About the Most Inspiring Books to Read

What is the best self-help book to read?

One of the best self-help books to read is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. This book challenges positive thinking and offers readers practical ways to improve their lives by thinking outside the box.

What is the best coming-of-age book to read?

Many coming-of-age books inspire young adult readers in high school or college to make the most of their lives. Arguably, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is one of the best contemporary coming-of-age books to date, painting a painfully accurate picture of what growing up in an American high school is like. The book was adapted to the big screen in 2012 with a movie of the same name, now a gritty cult classic.

What is the best book to read about mental health?

Mental health is a sensitive subject on which there are numerous books written. We’ve Been Too Patient: Voices from Radical Mental Health – Stories and Research Challenging the Biomedical Model by L.D. Green takes a unique look at the failings of today’s mental healthcare system through the eyes of the patients themselves.

What is the best self-improvement book to read?

Self-improvement books can help readers take practical tips and real advice and apply it to their unique situations to improve them. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie teaches readers how to be the best version of themselves and use these strategies to win the favor of others.

What is the best inspiring book to read during high school?

High school is the perfect time to read life-changing books that can motivate and excite you about the future and going out into the world. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel in which books are banned and burned. The tome explores what it’s like to live in a society that forbids independent thoughts and ideas.

  • Peter is an experienced journalist and tech-lover who has spent years hunting for the best writing software. He firmly believes that we all need a helping hand crossing our Ts and dotting our Is and takes great pride in sharing his opinions on the best writing software out there.