You can’t succeed alone. And you can’t afford to try things and experiment with everything all by yourself. Let’s face it, life is short. And if you want to achieve outstanding results in life, you need help. And the easiest way to get help is by reading success books.
I know reading great materials and constantly learning and upgrading your knowledge help because it has changed my life.
The first book that I picked up was Rich Dad Poor Dad, recommended by my brother when I was 18. I have never read any book except textbooks for exam purposes.
But after reading that book, it completely changed my life. It opened my world and showed me what’s possible.
Just like what Oprah Winfrey had experienced, she said that books are her pass to personal freedom:
Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.Oprah Winfrey
Take a minute and think about all the extraordinary people who have accomplished amazing success in life.
You will notice that these extraordinary people are extremely productive, and they think differently than most ordinary people. And how did they manage to accomplish so much in life?
Well, because they commit to constant and never-ending improvement. They are avid readers. As Robin Sharma said, “Leaders are readers.”
According to this article from Huffington Post:
- Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, which breaks down to 1 per week.
- Mark Cuban reads for more than 3 hours every day.
- Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said, “I read books.”
- Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every 2 weeks throughout 2015.
- Oprah Winfrey selects one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss.
This is why reading is important.
In short, the more you read, the more you will know. And the more you know and learn, the more places you can go.
So, without further ado, here is my list of the 20 best success books that have transformed my life. And I strongly recommend you get these books and read them.
One more thing, I only recommend books that I have read and loved. So, the 20 books listed below are I believe everyone should read because they can transform your life and make you more successful.
Don’t mind about the ranking. The number is just for listing purposes. It doesn’t mean much. All the books listed below are a must-read…
20. Awaken the Giant Within
I believe I don’t have to introduce Tony Robbins, he’s the household name in the personal development industry.
Tony started when he was 17 and he published Awaken the Giant Within in 1993. Yes, it is an old book, but a classic nonetheless.
Even today, if you were to ask me what are the books that have changed my life or books that I recommend, this book almost always come up on top. And this is how Awaken the Giant Within found its way to this list here.
I have read this book a few times, from cover to cover. And every time I reread it, I still discover insights and wisdom within. It is a thick book, but I do enjoy the tips and strategies Tony Robbins has included in this book.
If you haven’t read this book yet, please do so. And after going through the book, tell me how it has changed your life.
19. You Are a Badass
I bought this book while I was strolling in the bookstore. And then the title caught my attention. I told myself, “Yes, I want to be a badass!! I want to learn how to unleash my greatness and live an awesome life!”
That was how I bought this book. And to my surprise, this book is easy to read and contains a ton of useful tips to apply in real life.
A large part of the book is dedicated to mastering your mind, your subconscious mind. But because Jen is a prolific writer, she made the book fun to read and easy to digest.
It is a book that you can read over the weekend and feel inspired to take action after that. And it is a book that I will reread over and over again.
18. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Grit is a famous book and a bestseller written by Angela Duckworth, a popular psychologist, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the book, Duckworth will take you through her research for finding the key to success. And she discovered that it was grit that determines someone’s success.
Grit is a characteristic that combines passion and perseverance. If you are passionate about what you do and have high perseverance for the task/goal/project, you are said to be ‘grittier’.
I love this book because Duckworth doesn’t just tell you that you need to have passion and perseverance to achieve success, but she shows it through research and data. It is an entertaining and informative read.
17. The Success Principles
This is a best-selling book that was written by the author who created a publishing phenomenon through his Chicken Soup book series. The Success Principle is a famous book by Jack Canfield, a name that doesn’t need an introduction.
This book is easy to read, entertaining, and life-changing at the same time. The principles shared in the book are not rocket science, they are simple principles that anyone can follow.
I found this book to be very motivational. Every time I read it, I felt driven and wanted to do more and achieve more.
Jack Canfield covers almost every aspect of success in this book. From taking 100% responsibility for your life to practicing The Rule of 5 (my favorite rule for success).
You will discover this book is like an encyclopedia of success. Canfield divided the book into 6 sections as below:
- The Fundamentals of Success
- Transform Yourself for Success
- Build Your Success Team
- Create Successful Relationships
- Success and Money
- Success in The Digital Age
Read this book if you are serious about achieving greater success in your life.
16. Rich Dad Poor Dad
This is the book that embarked me on the personal development journey. It was the first self-help book that I read, and after that, things were never the same again.
It changed my thinking, and hence, my life. This book opened my mind and showed me a whole new world of what I can achieve. And so, I was inspired to read more books. And I have never stopped since then.
You may or may not like Robert Kiyosaki, but I believe Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book that resonates with many.
Yes, the information shared by Kiyosaki in the book is down-to-earth and many people can relate it to their own lives. And because of this, the book became quickly became a bestseller.
Regardless of whether both Rich Dad and Poor Dad mentioned by Kiyosaki exist in reality, it doesn’t matter. The book inspires. And it can change your life like it did mine.
It is a great book that helps you understand how money and finance work in life. This book has inspired many to start their journey to financial freedom.
15. The ONE Thing
The ONE Thing gives you a very simple approach to living a productive and successful life based on asking the focusing question and getting rid of distractions.
When I first set foot in the real estate industry many years ago, I discovered a book called Millionaire Real Estate investor, written by Gary Keller. And that was the first time I got to know about the author.
Years later, when The ONE Thing was published, I quickly grabbed the book and read it. This book is short, and you can read it in one sitting, but I recommend you not to.
Instead, read, pause, ponder, and take as many notes as possible. The ideas shared by Keller in the book are profound.
One of the most insightful ideas I liked the most from the book is that big doesn’t necessarily need to be something difficult or complicated. It doesn’t mean that you have to work 10X as hard to produce 10X results.
When we think and talk about achieving big success, many will associate big with difficult, complicated, tremendous effort, and something impossible to achieve.
This is a wrong idea. Big doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated. And Keller went on to explain how anyone can achieve big success by starting small, like the domino effect.
Another key lesson I learned from The ONE Thing is the strategy to time-block. This technique greatly increases my productivity and helps me get things done without procrastination.
Take my recommendation, and read this book.
14. The Magic of Thinking Big
This is another classic success book from David Schwartz, a motivational speaker, writer, and coach. The book was first published in 1959, I know, it was from a long time ago. However, the information in the book is as real and still applicable in today’s world.
This book can be a quick read. And I have read the book a few times. And it has never failed to inspire and motivate me. The principles written in the book are simple, yet profound and can be life-changing.
The most important lesson I learned from The Magic of Thinking Big is that success starts with your thinking. And you must think big and believe that you can achieve your dreams.
A good example illustrated by Schwartz in the book was when he asked his students to think of ways to end the prison system in the country. At first, all his students bashed his idea and said that the prison system was necessary, and the country would be in chaos with criminals let loose.
But after Schwartz asked his students to believe that it was possible to get rid of prison, ideas started to flow and come up.
There are tons of great ideas and insights in this book. Just get it, read it, and acquire all this life-changing information from the book.
13. Start With Why
This is another best-selling book that I recommend you read. You want to do work that inspires and changes the world, right? And this book will show you how – by starting with your why.
In the book, Simon Sinek will explain the Golden Circle model and show you how legendary individuals like Martin Luther King Jr. and Steve Jobs were able to create extraordinary results and changed the world. All because they started with a ‘why’.
Here’s the ultimate lesson I learned from this book – if you want to create extraordinary success in life, you must start with a why. For example, if you want to build a successful business, your business needs to explain why you do it, not how you do it.
Think about Apple. Steve Jobs branded Apple as the ‘misfits’, ‘the rebels’, and the ‘crazy ones’. Apple even uses the words “Think Different” in their ads to show that if you’re using Apple, it means you’re not among the general masses.
I suggest you read this book to learn more about how understanding your why can help you in your life.
12. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
We have been brainwashed to believe that in order to achieve more, we need to put in more effort. However, this is not the case. You don’t have to put in more time and effort to double your results. In this book, Greg McKeown will show you how.
I love this book because the author doesn’t just talk about the principles of becoming more productive, instead, he showed you with examples.
One of the examples I loved the most from the book is about a group of children who went hiking. In order for the group to move faster, they have to think creatively and come up with ways how to do that.
For instance, the group distributed their bags so that boys with bigger physiques carry heavier loads. And then they also place the slowest in the group at the front of the line, why? Well, you have to read the book to find out.
Essentialism is a book that shows you how to take control of your life and create better success by using the same amount of energy.
11. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
I’m wondering if I should include this book here. But after putting in some thoughts, I believe this book should be one of the best success books to read. But this is a financial book that talks about money, isn’t it?
Well, I think that money is an important part of life. And we all crave to become financially successful in life, right? That’s why this book is here on this list.
This is a small book that you can read within a couple of hours. I like this book and I have read it countless times.
Secrets of The Millionaire Mind is all about cultivating a wealthy mindset. In the book, Harv Eker will show you 17 mindsets on how wealthy people think, and how you should develop the same mentality.
What I love about this book is that Eker doesn’t just show you the principles, but he included a lot of real-life examples.
If you want to become financially successful, you must learn to develop the right mindset that will make you wealthy. And how do you do that? Eker explains it in this book. Read this book, it will change the way you look at money and how you manage your wealth.
10. The Miracle Equation
This book is totally inspiring. Hal Elrod, who is also the author of The Miracle Morning will show you how you can achieve extraordinary success in life if you commit to making these 2 decisions:
- Unwavering faith, and
- Extraordinary efforts.
It is simple to achieve success, but simple doesn’t mean easy. In this book, Elrod explains how by making these 2 decisions, you can achieve anything you want in life.
What I like about this book is that this book is simple to read. It is like having a conversation with a friend. Plus, Elrod shows you plenty of examples of how he applied the principles he shared in the book and changed his life.
Reading this book will make you feel motivated. It will make you believe that you can achieve big things (which you really can).
And this is why I have reread this book a few times. Whenever I need to feel inspired, I pick up The Miracle Equation. It is a great book to read in the morning to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the day.
9. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything
The next book I recommend is about building habits, tiny habits. You see, most of us believe that in order to achieve great success, we need to do big things, like making a bold decision, etc. But it doesn’t need to always be big and bold.
In this best-selling book, B.J. Fogg, the author of this book who is also a behavioral scientist at Stanford will show you how change doesn’t need to start big and bold. You can transform your life by making small changes, through developing tiny habits.
Here’s a great example. You don’t have to hit the gym and work out for an hour to get fit. In the book, Fogg developed a tiny habit of doing 2 push-ups after every bathroom. After he goes to the bathroom and flushes the toilet, he will do two push-ups.
And you know what? He lost 20 pounds just by committing to that tiny habit.
As you can see, success doesn’t need to start big. You just need to start small. In fact, the smaller the habit, the easier you can sustain it over the long term.
Read this book. You can change your life by making small and tiny adjustments in your every day. Remember this quote from Confucius:
The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.Confucius
8. The 12 Week Year
The 12 Week Year is a must-read book for anyone who wants to accomplish more. This book is about how to properly plan what you want and get more done in 12 months.
When it comes to setting a goal, most people will set a yearly goal. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make.
Annual/yearly goals don’t really work. A study from Scranton University found that only 8% of people who set New Year resolutions successfully achieved them. And you know what that means? Don’t set annual or yearly goals or New Year resolutions.
You should set something with a shorter time frame. Just like the book suggests, you want to live a 12-week year. Instead of setting a yearly goal, set a 12-week goal.
When a target is nearer, you are able to focus better, create a precise plan, and stick to your plan to produce better results.
Read this book if you want to change your life and create greater success.
7. High Performance Habits
Brendon Burchard is known as the world’s leading high-performance coach. And his book, High Performance Habits, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and Amazon named it one of the top 3 best business and leadership books of 2017.
In my opinion, this is a huge book. And Brendon reveals the most effective and powerful habits for achieving peak performance. This is because Brendon has a huge database of followers and has worked with numerous clients, giving him unique access to insight into the world’s top performers.
Unlike other books about habits, this book is dense and practical. We all know that our habits determine our results. Hence, if you want to achieve great success, learn to develop the right habits that will get you there.
And in High Performance Habits, you get to learn the 6 powerful habits of a high performer. Make it your project to develop these 6 habits. Brendon Burchard will guide you and show you how to do it.
6. The 4 Disciplines of Execution
Ever wonder why most people procrastinated on their goals? We all have dreams and goals, but the problem is that most of us don’t do what is necessary to get the results we desire.
In this book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, the 3 co-authors, Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey will show you how to set goals the right way and then help you stick to your goals.
These are the 4 disciplines you should follow to achieve anything you want in your life:
- Focus on the wildly important
- Act on the lead measures
- Keep a compelling scoreboard
- Create a cadence of accountability
If you can stick to these 4 disciplines, you can achieve anything you want. And in the book, the authors will show you plenty of examples of how you can do that.
I learned that if you want to succeed with your goals, you must act on the lead measures. Most people act on the lag measures, and that is why they fail to achieve what they want. But when you focus and act on the lead measures, you are able to create real results that progress you toward your goals.
Regardless of whether you want to achieve your personal goals or team goals in a huge company, this book is for you.
5. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
This book is all about the science of success. The authors of this book, Chip and Dan Heath did a ton of research to present to you what truly works and what doesn’t.
In my opinion, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to create real success in life. Because this book is not just about the principles or motivation, it is about studies and research.
This book will show you how to make change easier. There are 3 components to make a change possible:
- The rider
- The elephant
- The path
The rider is the rational side of the brain; the elephant is the emotional side; the path is the condition or surrounding that makes change possible.
One of the best sections in the book is about finding the bright spots. You have to ask yourself, “What’s working and how can we do more of it?” And the authors explain through the data and research they have gathered.
This is a must-read success book. I highly recommend this book.
4. The Compound Effect
Written by Darren Hardy, the publisher of SUCCESS Magazine. This big idea in this book is powerful – how to achieve extraordinary success through small and consistent efforts.
I bet you have heard of the famous tortoise vs the hare story, right? This book shows you how you can win in life, even if you are a tortoise.
Through the power of compounding, Darren explains how you don’t have to go through big changes to achieve big goals in life. You can start small, by nurturing the right daily habits and leveraging the compound effect to kick in.
I like this book and have reread it over and over again. The tips in this book are easy to implement and are very practical. Darren explains everything in simple terms that all of us can easily relate to.
I still remember vividly remember an example used by Darren Hardy to show readers why it is important to be consistent…
If you and I flew planes from Low Angeles to Manhattan, but you took off and landed in every state in between, while I flew straight through, even if you went 500 hundred miles per hour in the air and I only traveled at a rate of 200 miles per hour, I’d still beat you by a big margin.
The time and energy it takes for you to repeatedly stop and start and get back to momentum to make your trip at least 10 times as long.
In fact, most likely you wouldn’t even make it – you’d run out of fuel (energy, motivation, belief, will) at some point. It’s far easier and requires a lot less energy to take off once and maintain a regular speed (even if slower than most everyone else) all along the way.Quote from The Compound Effect
Success is not a sprint, but a marathon. Can you endure? Read The Compound Effect and learn how to be consistent and stick to your goals until you succeed.
3. The Millionaire Fastlane
Here’s another book on achieving financial success – The Millionaire Fastlane. In fact, this book is not just about creating wealth, but the principles and stories shared by the author, M.J. DeMarco are highly related to achieving overall success in life.
In this book, M.J. will show you the real strategy that will help you create real wealth. According to M.J., there are 3 roads to wealth:
- The slow lane,
- The side lane, and
- The fast lane
It all depends on which road you are traveling on. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you chose the wrong lane, you would get the wrong results. And if you want to create wealth fast and retire young, you must travel the fast lane.
One of the ideas I liked the most in the book is the author suggests the readers think like a producer, not a consumer. Just think about how you use Facebook. Do you consume content on Facebook? Or do you create content for people to consume?
If you want to succeed and create wealth, you must think and act like a producer, not a consumer. So, stop buying like a consumer, instead, learn to create like a producer.
I like this book because the advice given feels real and down-to-earth. If you want to take control of your financial life and start creating success, then The Millionaire Fastlane is a great book to read.
2. Atomic Habits
I love this book and I have been a reader of James Clear’s blog even before he publishes the book. I like the way how Clear structures the book in a way to help you construct your success habits.
This book is in-depth because Clear shows examples from research and also includes tons of studies. But don’t worry, it is a fun read, and trust me, you will love the ideas presented by Clear in this book.
According to James Clear, habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. And the effect of your habits multiplies as you repeat them day-in and day-out. Just like if you want to build 6-pack ab, you can’t hit the gym once and then hope you will develop it the next day.
It happens over time, not overnight. And the same principle applies to every area of life. No matter what you want to achieve, you can get it if you develop the right habits and behavior, which you are going to learn from the book.
Atomic Habits is a great book that you don’t want to miss out on. All the concepts, principles, and tips mentioned in the book are backed by science and studies.
And if you check on Amazon, you will notice that this book has over 5,000 reviews, and the amazing thing is that as much as 88% of all the reviews are 5 stars.
This book is that good. It is a book I strongly recommend anyone who wants to achieve success to read.
Start by developing small habits. With gradual improvement, even if it is at 1%, over time, the effect will compound and overflow. Get this book.
1. The Buddha and The Badass
The Buddha and The Badass was written by Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of MindValley, who was also born in Malaysia, my home country.
This book is totally inspiring and a must-read for all. If you want to learn how to master work and life and how to make an impact, this is the book you must NOT miss.
In the book, you will discover:
The Buddha is the archetype of the spiritual master. The person who can live in this world but also move with ease, grace, and flow that comes from inner awareness and alignment.
The Badass is the archetype of the changemaker. This is the person who is out there creating change, building, coding, writing, inventing, and leading. The badass represents the benevolent disruptor – the person challenging the norms so we can be better as a species.
Once you integrate the skill sets of both archetypes, you will experience life at a different level from most people. You will operate from a space of bliss, ease, inspiration, and abundance.
Vishen shares with his readers how he has turned his own life and company into his research lab. He has interviewed over 1,000 self-help experts and this book is one of the results.
The chapter I like the most in The Buddha and The Badass is about creating a purpose-driven mission. This chapter will spark your creativity, inspire you to dream big, and encourage you to make an impact in the world.
I strongly recommend you get this book and read it right away. It can transform your life, your deeply held beliefs, and also the way you approach your work. This book is a must-read.
These are my list of 20 best success books. Again, I read these books and I believe they are the books that will help you create the most success in your life.
Out of these 20 books, which one have you read? And which one do you like? Or do you have any other recommendations that you want me to include in this list?
Let me know. Leave your comment below.