Today, we live in the information age, and ideas are spreading at a phenomenal pace. Books rock. Why? Because a book encompasses years of experience and ideas of a person into a few good short hour reads. With that, we can be exposed to things that took people decades to realize in a short amount of time.
This post covers a list of the most powerful personal development books in history which you can read or recommend to your loved ones for further empowerment. Let’s bring our lives to the next level through the ideas and wealth of information contained in these amazing books!
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
He was born around the same time as Jesus and was one of the leading figures in his Roman Empire. He was also one of history’s leading Stoic philosophers (along with Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus who we also profile) and has some powerful wisdom to share.
In this book, you will explore the purpose of philosophy, the importance of focusing our attention and the mojo that comes from facing our fears.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor-Philosopher of the Roman Empire and one of the most enlightened leaders ever. Meditations is a collection of journal entries he wrote to himself and in this book, you will explore some great Ideas of his Stoic philosophy—from the importance of never confusing ourselves with visions of a lifetime all at once, to not worrying about what others think of us and living a life of purpose and service.
Rumi Daylight: A Day Book of Spiritual Guidance by Rumi
Rumi’s poetry is stunning. In this book, we’ll explore some inspiring wisdom from the Sufi mystic and have fun applying it to our 21st-century lives—from the importance of having patience and seeing challenging times as God’s way of strengthening us to working hard and going for it.
The Analects of Confucius by Confucius
Confucius. Talk about old school. I’ve waded through some of the arcane stuff from his classic “Analects” to bring us some highly practical wisdom for our 21st-century lives. You will take a look at a bunch of Big Ideas on the importance of being a passionate (and patient!) student of life while striving to do our best. Good stuff.
The Bhagavad Gita: A Classic of Indian Spirituality by Krishna
The classic text of Hinduism is *packed* with wisdom. In the book, we take a super quick look at the context of the book and then jump in some powerful wisdom—including the importance of meditation, the fact that making mistakes is an inherent part of our growth process and the uber-importance of letting go of our attachment to
The Dhammapada: The Sayings of Buddha by Buddha
A core text of Buddhism, The Dhammapada literally means something along the lines of “the path of truth and righteousness” and is packed with wisdom. In this book, we’ll take a quick look at some central tenets of Buddhism (like the Four Noble Truths, nirvana, and the eightfold path) and soak up some Buddha mojo on how to rock our wisest lives.
The Enchiridion by Epictetus
Epictetus is one of three Stoic philosophers we profile (Marcus Aurelius and Seneca are the other two) and this former slave turned leading philosopher of his era is incredible. He echoes the wisdom of all the great teachers as he reminds us that, if we want to be happy, we’ve gotta realize the only thing we have control over is our response
to a situation. We’ll have fun tapping into a lot more of his vast mojo in the book.
The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson is a hero of mine (he occupies the Great-Great+ Grandfather slot in my spiritual family tree) and his essays, although written in 119th-century prose, totally fire me up. In this book, we’ll explore some Big Ideas on self-reliance (trust yourself!!!), the power of enthusiasm (did you know the word literally means “God within”?!), and how God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. Plus other goodness.
The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
It’s the core text of Taoism and one of the top old school classics of all time. In this book, we’ll take a look at everything from making use of solitude to the fact that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step (heard that before, eh?!). We’ll also learn to let go of our attachment to future results and gracefully roll with the ebbs and flows of life.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche was said to deliver his philosophy with a hammer and this book definitely nails his disdain for conditioning and conformity. In the book, we’ll take a peek at some really Big Ideas including the fact that our worst enemy is often inside our own heads, that sometimes we need to push ourselves to discover just how far we can go, and how
we’ve gotta be willing to go into the depths of our being if we want to fly.
Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This book has been a top seller since it was published in 1990, offering advice on how to improve your leadership and get ahead in business.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie:
First published in 1937, this book aims to help people of all ages understand human nature and use that understanding to garner enthusiasm and improve leadership.
Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
Those who are looking to make their lives happier, more satisfying or who simply want to learn to believe in themselves and their abilities have a lot to gain by reading this popular title.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
This short book will help you realize that you’re only as good as you think you are and help you change the way you see and imagine yourself.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
This story may be fictional, but it offers powerful lessons in being strong in mind and spirit rather than in the body.
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay:
Check out this best-selling book to learn how Hay thinks we are all responsible for our own happiness or illness and ways that she advises overcoming our negative thoughts to heal our bodies and minds.
In this text, you can learn how the path to self-discovery is a tough one, but one well worth following.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
No matter what you believe in or what your goals are in life, this book aims to show you the importance of having a higher purpose.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
This ancient military treatise is still used today and has become the go-to manual for inspiration on leading and getting ahead in business.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
Learn about karma, potentiality, intention, desire and more in your quest to become a more spiritually connected person through this text.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This may be a children’s book, but its lessons are still powerful at any age, inspiring you to give and love freely.
How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton
This book uses the writings and life of Proust to offer insightful lessons that can improve your life and make you a wiser, happier person.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
An easy evening read, I read this book a few years ago and was quite entranced by it. It is told as the fable of a young shepherd boy who goes on a quest to find a worldly treasure. From his home in Spain, he journeys around the world and learns the values of hard work, and following his dreams.
The Celestine Prophecy, An Adventure by James Redfield
This book practically became a cult phenomenon. This book introduced the concept of Synchronicity. Actually, synchronicity is redefined in this book. A fun read, sometimes it is a little predictable and I found that the ending needed work. However, if you haven’t read it, you probably should.
The Greatest Miracle In The World by Og Mandino
One of my favorite books of all time. I used to buy this in paperback and give copies away for Christmas. Once you read one of Og Mandino’s books, you’ll start reading them all. His books are very popular best sellers. They are all very easy to understand and the story in this one keeps you guessing.
The Magic Life – A Novel Philosophy by Ace Starry
It is a story of a young accountant who meets a street magician and learns from him a philosophy of following your dreams. Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss: This book blends religious doctrine with human anatomy, showing readers how their thoughts and health may be connected.
French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano
This author explains how people can still eat the foods they love (cheeses, indulgent chocolates) without packing on the pounds by following this European regimen.
Once a Runner by John L Parker
If you want to start running or are already a devoted jogger, this fictional novel will inspire and educate.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Learn to navigate the food choices you make with more aplomb in this book.
Never Give Up by Richard Simmons
Whether you love or hate Richard Simmons you won’t be able to deny the motivation the stories in this book offer.
Hungry: Lessons Learned on the Way from Fat to Thin by Allen Zadoff
Anyone who has ever struggled with dysfunctional ways of eating will appreciate this honest portrayal of the emotional roots of eating disorders.
Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman
This book isn’t just about losing weight–it teaches readers about food so they can be made educated choices about what they consume and can make sustained lifestyle changes.
You on a Diet by Mehmet C. Oz and Michael F. Roisen
The authors of this book believe that the best tool for losing weight is knowledge.
Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors by Barbara Delinsky
If you have cancer or another illness, these stories of strength and survival are sure to raise your spirits.
Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Dr. Henry Lodge
Check out this book for advice and information on staying young well into your golden years.
Mutant Messages From Down Under by Marlo Morgan
One of my more recent reads, I found that the story was so gripping from the first few pages, that I couldn’t put it down.
The Way of The Wizard by Deepak Chopra
More of a guidebook really. The fiction in this book isn’t really even necessary.
Zen and The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
An amazing book for a thinking person. If you like to ponder big questions about the nature of human beings, then you must read this book. This is not an easy read by a stretch of the imagination, and I don’t recommend it unless you are the type that likes to study a book, not just read it.
Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
This book was a gift, that I’ve truly cherished. Though it is a science fiction novel, it is a very powerful philosophy book. I loved it.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The title tells it all. Your thoughts determine your actions and therefore your success. This is one of the best books ever written on the power of positive thinking. I cannot recommend this book enough. When I first got out of college I read this and I was changed forever. Buy this book and you will not be sorry.
Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins
Over the years, I’ve read and listened to a great deal of self-help type books. Unlimited Power provides a clear path to maximizing one’s own potential. Unlimited Power” contains three different parts:
Section I: The Modeling of Human Excellence Section II: The Ultimate Success Formula Section III: Leadership: The Challenge of Excellence. Tony Robbins is an excellent motivator. I highly recommend any of his products.
Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther & Jerry Hicks
This is pretty much the Bible on the Law of Attraction and in this book we’ll take a look at how Esther and Jerry define The Law of Attraction (they say it’s kinda like tuning your radio to the right station so you can hear the music you love!), how to use your Emotional Fuel Gauge (that’s one of my favorite Ideas ever) and how to create intentions throughout your day to put yourself in the driver’s seat of life.
Big Mind Big Heart: Finding Your Way by Genpo Roshi
Zen Master Genpo Roshi spent decades figuring out how to best help people develop enlightened awareness and came up with his revolutionary process called “Big Mind.” In this book, we’ll take a peek at some Big Ideas from the Zen Master including how the root of suffering (dukkha) is getting stuck in one perspective and how that’s about as effective as having a Maserati stuck in first gear. We’ll also explore the place beyond idiot compassion as we become integrated human beings giving ourselves joyfully to the world.
Body Mind Mastery: Creating Success in Sports and Life by Dan Millman
Dan Millman’s a former world champion gymnast and coach of the Stanford and Berkeley gymnastic teams whose got some great ideas on how to achieve Body, Mind and Spirit mastery. In this book, we explore a bunch of ’em including how to deal with the fear of failure, what we can learn from babies and how to build new habits as we
become masters of our lives who shine everywhere!
Conscious Living: How to Create a Life of Your Own Design by Gay Hendricks
Gay Hendricks encourages us to create a life of our own design as we enjoy the magic that unfolds when we truly commit to living an extraordinary life. In this book, we’ll explore Ideas on how to get our conscious living on
including letting go of the past and the importance of having *both* goals AND moment to moment flow.
Constructive Living: Outgrow Shyness, Depression, Fear, Stress, Grief, Chronic Pain. Achieve the Goal of
Constructive Living – To Do Everything Well by David K. Reynolds
In this book, we’ll explore some Big Ideas on how to live with greater self-mastery by more effectively relating to our
emotions and consistently asking ourselves: “Now what needs to be done?!”
Do You!:12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success by Russell Simmons
Who knew the Godfather of hip-hop was also an incredible yogi and spiritual teacher?!? In this book, we’ll have fun learning how to “Do You!!” as we tap into the importance of having a powerful vision for our lives, the fact that a mantra is literally a “tool of thought” we can use to shape our minds, and how important it is to take the next baby
step in front of us as we give ourselves most fully to the world.
This is Dan Millman’s magnum opus where he walks us through “The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth” and in the book we check out Big Ideas ranging from the importance of discovering our self-worth (and how to do so) to the fact that, although “Carpe diem!” sounds good, it’s impossible to do. We can’t “Seize the day!” but we *can*
“Seize the moment!” or, as Dan says: “Carpe punctum!”
Brian Tracy is one of the classic modern self-development teachers and he’s literally a Big Idea machine. In this book, we’ll have fun learning about the importance of taking responsibility in our lives and staying flexible (and, of course, some Ideas on how to do so!). We’ll also check in on the importance of managing our time well by “one touching”
stuff and maintaining our optimism in the face of challenges.
Money, and the Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks
This is one of three titles we cover by Esther and Jerry Hicks. In this book, we’ll look at some Big Ideas on how to rock the Law of Attraction to circulate wealth. We’ll explore the fact that the most valuable skill we’ll ever have is the control of our minds and how we need to make our lifetime career all about discovering and following our bliss!
Rich Dad, Poor Dad Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
One of the best-selling self-development franchises of all time, this book is packed with Big Ideas. In the book, we’ll quickly look at why you want to invest in assets that produce income and how your house is (gulp) a liability, not an asset then we’ll move on to explore the keys to thinking like the Rich Dad—controlling our thoughts, facing our
fears, and all that jazz.
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker
T.Harv Eker is a funny guy and this book is packed with wisdom on how to “master the inner game of wealth.” In the book, we’ll explore awesome Big Ideas ranging from the importance of playing to win (vs. playing not to lose) to the fact that there’s a big difference between “wanting” wealth and being *committed* to creating it.
Spiritual Economics: The Principles and Process of True Prosperity by Eric Butterworth
Eric Butterworth is an amazing guy and this book really transformed my relationship to money. In the Note, we’ll take a look at the fact that our goal shouldn’t be to make money/acquire stuff but to achieve the level of consciousness through which abundance flows through our lives naturally. We’ll look at the roots of the words affluence and
security and prosperity along with some Big Ideas on how to merge our spirituality and our economics.
The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life by Geshe Michael Roach
The wise Michael Roache was an undercover Buddhist monk who used a classic sutra from Buddhism (called The Diamond Cutter) to build a diamond business. In his book, he describes how he successfully applied this classic wisdom to his modern business and in the book, we’ll take a look at some of my favorite Big Ideas— including the fact that the world is “empty” of meaning and we always have the ability to see its hidden potential.
The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles
More Wattles mojo here. In this book, we’ll look at the logic behind why Wattles believes we should be rich (quickly: you can render no greater service to God and humanity than to make the most of yourself and you can’t do that if you’re poor; see Note for more), and how we need to become creators (and leave the competitive plane), focus on things we’re grateful for, get clear on our vision and take action and more action and more action.
The Power of TED: The Empowerment Dynamic by David Emerald
David Emerald’s wonderfully wise fable rocks. In this book, we’ll take a quick look at one of my favorite books as we explore the importance of stepping out of DDT (the Dreaded Drama Triangle) and stepping into TED (The Empowerment Dynamic) as we learn to more consistently live from a Creator’s perspective (rather than a Victim’s) and learn how to hold the tension between our ideals and our current realities by taking baby steps.
The Psychology of Winning: Ten Qualities of a Total Winner by Denis Waitley
Denis Waitley’s been rockin’ the self-development world for several decades now and captures a lot of his wisdom in this popular book. In the book, we’ll explore the importance of taking responsibility for our attitude (echo!), staying on target, maintaining optimism and enthusiasm, concentrating all of our energy on whatever we’re doing, and taking the time to plan our ideal lives.
The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence by Deepak Chopra
Deepak is one of my favorite authors and this book is all about harnessing the power of “synchrodestiny” to rock it. We’ll explore the power of letting go of our fear and worry and anger and hesitation as we discover our deeper purpose and live from our souls with the intention to serve.
The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield, the creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, gives us a book packed with Big Ideas on the fundamentals of success. In the book, we explore some of my favorites—including an awesome exercise on how to discover our purpose, the importance of taking responsibility in our lives (that’s Principle #1!!!), becoming an inverse paranoid (think: “OMG the universe is out to help me!!”), and recognizing that 99% commitment to something is a bitch and 100% is a breeze.
The Thrive Diet: The Whole Food Way to Losing Weight, Reducing Stress and Staying Healthy for Life by Brendan Brazier
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete who lived on nothing but plant-based foods—no meat, no dairy… just plants. This book covers some big ideas on how to optimize our diets and experience more vitality in our lives as we quit leaking energy, go for high net-gain foods and rock the alkalinity!
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenge of Women, Work, and Sexual
Desire by David Deida
Deida definitely pushes some edges with his work and this book was hugely transformational for me. Guys: you’ll dig it. Ladies: your guys will dig it. This book explores the importance of living on purpose, not making excuses, giving our gifts to the world, being willing to change and committing to growth and love.
Thresholds of the Mind: Your Personal Roadmap to Success, Happiness, and Contentment by Bill Harris
In this book, Bill Harris outlines his thoughts on how meditation raises the “thresholds of our mind” along with another mojo on rockin’ it. This book also looks at a range of big Ideas on optimal living— including the significance of different brain wave patterns and why we want to learn how to synchronize our brains through meditation.
Trust Your Vibes: Secret Tools for Six-Sensory Living by Sonia Choquette
Did you know you’ve got six senses? Yep. And the brilliant Sonia Choquette describes the why’s and how’s of “six sensory” living in her great book. This book covers some Big Ideas on how to trust our vibes and rock it—from learning how to take care of ourselves and being flexible to no longer dwelling on the past and breathing deeply, we’ll have fun playing with our vibes.
Those were the most powerful personal development books in history, how many of these books have you read, which one impressed you the most, is there any book that you saw it for the first time here? let me know in the comment section below.