22 Best Motivational Books Worth Reading

Discover our guide with the best motivational books to help readers overcome everyday challenges. This article rounds up a selection.

Motivational books are great tools to guide us on the path to success. Whether you are an entrepreneur or corporate employee or need a boost, motivational books can uplift you and encourage newfound interests and success.

Often in times of self-doubt, motivational quotes and writing has helped me overcome obstacles that stem from within. By reading the books on our list, you can build your confidence, expand your knowledge, and aim high. The sky’s the limit. Create the ultimate reading list and look for the best inspirational books.

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1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

11 of the best motivational books worth reading

This is one of the most popular self-help books of all time. Sadly Covey passed away in 2012. His book lays out seven habits for finding success at work and in your personal life. A companion workbook is also available. I found the book quite inspiring in that it addresses managing problems at work and home, which is unusual in a genre like this. The seven habits are:

  • 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

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This bestselling self-help book was published in 1936, and it has sold over 30 million copies and is still in print. It addresses topics like increasing your popularity and earning power, becoming a better public speaker, and winning people over to your way of thinking.

The book is full of wisdom that’s still useful today. Examples include: don’t criticize, condemn or complain; give honest and sincere appreciation; and arouse in the other person an eager want. The author writes about encouraging people to like you by smiling, becoming genuinely interested in their problems, and being a good listener.  

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This self-help book dates back to 1937, and surprisingly, the advice still applies to difficult times today. Hill offers readers fourteen principles to help them find spiritual and material wealth. For this motivational book, Hill interviewed some of his day’s most significant business minds, including Henry Ford and J. D. Rockefeller.

“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

4. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

Anthony Robbins isn’t for everyone, but he’s one of modern’s most famous motivational coaches. His coaching involves training both the mind and the body, and his famous seminars cost thousands of dollars. Why pay that much when you can get some of his insights via this much cheaper book? Published in 2001, it covers topics like feeling out of control and living a life with passion and energy.

It’s one of the longer best motivational books on this list, partly because Robbins writes at length about each idea. I prefer listening to Robbins via his courses and audiobooks available on Amazon.

“If you can’t, you must. If you must, you can.”

Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within

5. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Published in 1903, the author continues to motivate people even into the present time. His goal was to help people live better lives using advice inside his short pocket companion book. This best motivational book has a spiritual angle to it. He argues thinking beyond what we are to what we can be is imperative.

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”

James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

6. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

Published in 1968, and one of the best motivational books, this novel is about something other than sales. It prescribes how to live a life of abundance using ten principles. He dubs these “The Legend of Ten Scrolls.” Examples include: Master Your Emotions, Multiply Your Value Everyday, and The Power of LaughterReading this book isn’t about speed. Mandino says it should take up to 10 months to read it correctly. Read it on Amazon and get started on self-improvement today.

“[Every] defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

This book was published in 1998 and carries a simple motivational message: let go of the clutter. This book aims to help the reader differentiate between importance and clutter. He argues managing stress and finding motivation is problematic if the little things weigh us down. Carlson writes,

“The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.”

Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

8. Drive by Daniel Pink

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink is one of the more engaging and colorful business authors in recent times. His 2011 book tells the secret of what motivates people to perform at work. It pairs nicely with the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Pink’s later works, including When.

In Drive, Pink writes about why the most influential people are masters of their time and have a purpose beyond monetary rewards. Pink interweaves personal anecdotes with third-party research, kind of like Malcolm Gladwell. Check out our interview with Daniel Pink.

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.”

Daniel Pink, Drive

9. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

The theme of this must-read book was criticized when published back in 1952. However, happiness is a skill anyone can learn with practice and positive thinking. The healthier and cheerier person will be more likely to do well and succeed than someone who does not have the same mindset. The power of positivity is the way to go. Peale writes,

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”

Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

10. The Power of Ambition by Jim Rohn

I listened to this inspiring audiobook during a mild case of depression a few years ago. I was surprised by how Jim Rohn’s warm and engaging delivery. Published in 1994, the advice inside of the book isn’t any different from what I’d read elsewhere, but Rohn communicates clearly to the reader about how to overcome personal setbacks. He also covers how to find financial freedom.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Jim Rohn, The Power of Ambition

11. Atomic Habits by James Clear

New York Times bestselling author James Clear coaches readers on how to succeed personally and professionally by reaping the rewards of smart daily decisions. In this must-read book, Clear outlines how to create lasting good habits and overcome bad ones. He also advises using habit trackers and finding motivation when a habit falls by the wayside. Listen to my interview with James Clear.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits

12. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris

Author Tim Ferris is a New York Times Bestselling novelist with a prosperous literary career. Ferris hosts a podcast, The Tim Ferris Show, where he interviews celebrities, athletes, and public figures and asks in-depth questions on success. In his podcast, Ferris looks for actionable tasks that make a person successful. 

In Tools of Titans, Ferris shares tools, tactics, and tips from the guests of his podcasts and presents them. The book shares advice on daily routines, rituals, and habits of successful people that readers can implement in their lives. With the hopes of changing lives, Ferris has poured his heart and soul into this book, making it an excellent choice for those looking to take the first steps to success.

“If you find yourself wandering off the path in front of you, it is in your control to get back on the right path – and only you can do that”

Tim Ferris, Tools of Titans

13. Mastery By Robert Green

Mastery is the fifth book by Robert Green, and this must-read novel looks at historical figures to find out why they were so successful. Looking at great historical figures like Charles Darwin, Henry Ford, and Paul Graham, Mastery reflects on the lifestyle habits that made these iconic figures world-renowned. Green believes that to become great, and we must “rewrite the rules” and practice innovative thinking.

“Instead of just learning how others do things, we bring our own style and individuality into play”

Robert Green, Mastery

14. Building a Millionaire Mindset by Johny Wimbrey

Johny Wimbrey inspires the world with his story; beginning as a teenage felon, he turned his life around, only to become a multi-millionaire a few years later. The purpose of this novel is to provide the reader with real, achievable tasks that will pave the way to financial freedom. Each chapter provides a new task for the reader to achieve, encouraging them to take action and control their lives. Entrepreneurs and budding businesspeople alike love this hands-on approach to success.

“If you want to be that first-generation millionaire, if you want to succeed, if you want to reap the benefits of your hard work, you must be willing at all costs to participate in your own rescue”

Johny Wimbrey, Building a Millionaire Mindset

15. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

Author David Goggins grew up in poverty and was a victim of physical abuse during childhood. Haunted by his past experiences, Goggins suffered from extreme depression and obesity. However, he pulled himself out of the situation through mental strength and hard work. In Can’t Hurt Me, Goggins shares his life story and tells his readers exactly how he overcame his depression to inspire others to do the same. As the only man in history to complete elite training such as Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, Goggins inspires many.

 “I hope you’re ready. It’s time to go to war with yourself.”

David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me

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

With over 10 million copies sold worldwide and gaining the title of number 1 New York Times Bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck has motivated millions of readers around the world. This hot take on motivational encouragement takes a different approach, no more positivity, only blunt honesty. The author encourages readers to stop caring about trivial worries and to spend their energy on things important in their life. By “important things,” the author means tasks or passions that will lead you to success and happiness.

“Not giving a f*ck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.”

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

17. Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King

This book is a self-love handbook that you can fit in your pocket. With inspiring wisdom and positivity galore, Vex King has created a number 1 Sunday Times Bestseller that has sold over one million copies worldwide. The author inspires readers to practice self-care, cultivate positive habits, overcome fear, and flow with the universe. Though the spiritual side of this book might not be for everyone, the main themes of self-love and positivity are sure to inspire you.

“Self-love is the balance between accepting yourself as you are while knowing you deserve better, and then working towards it.”

Vex King, Good Vibes, Good Life

18. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr. Julie Smith

Reflecting on her experience as a child psychologist, author Dr. Julie Smith shares everything you need to get through the rollercoaster of life. In this motivational book, you’ll find everything you need to take on challenging feelings of self-doubt, dips in confidence, and finding purpose in life. Written in short entries, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before is the perfect handbook to find some motivation throughout your day quickly. Whether you experience anxiety, depression, or low mood, some tips and tricks will help you practice self-love, self-forgiveness, and positivity in daily life.

“When we focus on trying to fix the problem, it is easy to underestimate the power of simply being there”

Dr. Julie Smith, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

19. The Power of Self-Discipline by Peter Hollins

Don’t be fooled by the whimsical cover, The Power of Self-Discipline is a robust toolkit to help you achieve goals and swing into gear. Self-discipline and beating procrastination has never been easier than with the guidance of Peter Hollins, and this guide gives direct techniques that you can implement immediately to set intentions and complete tasks. The author describes that self-discipline is not about grinding until burnout. It is learning the technique of working smarter to achieve goals without exhausting yourself.

“She changed her habits, started thinking methodically, and put her ideas into motion.”

20. 80/20 Your Life by Richard Koch

80/20 Your Life is Koch’s original bestseller, which aims to give businesspeople worldwide a practical method to achieve a work/life balance. In this novel, Koch shows his readers that deciding what’s important to you and consciously making time for it drastically improves your quality of life. The overall message is that working and worrying less can improve your life. With helpful examples and practical tips, this book is powerful for those on busy schedules.

“If you 80/20 Your Life you can get extraordinary results without extraordinary effort”

Richard Koch, 80/20 Your Life

21. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

In this book, author Jen Sincero shows her reader that it is possible to live the life of your dreams. Throughout the book, Sincero provides her readers with exercises to help identity limiting beliefs, attitudes, and habits. By identifying these traits, they can be faced and resolved, allowing you to live to your highest potential. This book aims to help readers understand why they have developed specific behavior patterns and break these bad habits for good. With notes of comedy and practical guidance, this motivational book is one to hold on to.

“What other people think about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.”

Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass

22. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven

You can begin to change your life for the better with small changes. In Make Your Bed, McRaven tells his history of the challenges he faced during his Navy Seal training. Throughout this training, he learned ten principles that helped him overcome various challenges, and in this novel, he shares them with the world. With simple messages of wisdom, daily practices, and words of encouragement, McRaven strives to help those that need it most. This no-nonsense self-help guide is for you if you’re a fan of simple, straightforward advice.

“But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then you can change your life for the better… and maybe the world!”

Admiral William H. McRaven, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World

Best Motivational Books: Final Word

It’s sometimes hard to find time to read so many great books. I get through my reading list faster by listening to non-fiction on Audible. I sometimes listen to motivational audiobooks while walking, in the gym, or running. If you’re interested, check out my Audible review. Whatever your preference, pick a pick from this list, read or listen to it and get to work!

FAQs About The Best Motivational Books

What can motivational books do for you?

Motivational books can help you get going when you feel tired or discouraged. Depending on the book, it may address finding energy at work or in your personal life. They can also provide information, tactics, and strategies for setting goals, taking action, and creating better habits. And they sometimes serve as a source of inspiration through stories and third-party research.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best self-help authors!

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