The Top 15 Personal Development Books You Must Read

Kumar Gauraw

One thing I absolutely take seriously is to begin the day with gratitude. This is the most powerful way I have found to prepare for the day after getting up.

Man Reading Personal Development book in library

Another thing I do in the morning to at least take 15-20 minutes to read a few pages from one of my favorite personal development books. Not just once, I have read some of these books several times and I love to go back to them whenever I get the opportunity. Interestingly, my reading habit helps me feel even more grateful and be more intentional about my life.

So, I wanted to share some of my favorite personal development books with you in my ongoing obsession to help you lead a positive, fulfilling and successful day – everyday! These are some of the most transformational books for people like you and me who want to lead our best lives. Here is the book list I think you can’t afford not to read:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Do not judge the book by it’s name. This book isn’t so much about financial wealth as it is about the making of a rich life in every aspect. If I have to pick one book that is the most influential book: it is this book, without a doubt. I have read this book many times and revisit it at least once every year.

I had compiled the 13 lessons that you will learn from this book in an earlier post which I believe, you will enjoy going through. Please take time to watch the presentation. I would love to know your thoughts in the comments.

2. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

This is again a book from the classic collection. It has been around since the turn of the 20th century and it seems to be even more relevant today (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought it into my favorite list).

The book is all about the power of your daily thinking and how it drives your life. James Allen states, "a man is literally what he thinks". As you read the book, you realize that all that we achieve and all that we fail to achieve, is the direct result of our own thoughts. You must add this to your reading list.

3. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

If you have followed my blog or if you know me over any length of time, you know about this book. Can you believe this is still one of the top selling books on Amazon? If you haven’t read it, you are missing big time on the values this book could add to your life.

One of the best lessons I learned from this book is that, “Action cures fear!” … among many other tremendously valuable things the book is full of. Without question, every student, professional and human being should read this book.

4. Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

This book has the ability to change the way we have been programmed to view Genius. This book once more re-confirms that talent is less about natural gifts and far more about devotion to a skill, relentless practice and patience.

For those who have given up on their dreams, this book is like a damning indictment which is sometimes a great way to wake them up, provided they have guts to go through the book cover to cover. But if you feel that you are made for greatness, but you still have a bit of doubt or fear of failure, you will be glad you read this. I love the message in the book. But I love even more the way this book delivers the message.

5. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

One of the best books I’ve ever read on dealing with people. Period. True to its name, the book teaches some of the best timeless principles that were true then when Dale Carnegie wrote the book as they are today. You can’t (and why should you?) afford to ignore this book if you are in a profession where you work with people or if you have a family. That means, pretty much every human being deserves to read it, doesn’t it?

Fundamentals of great relationships with other human beings such as "Speak ill of no man and speak all the good you know of everyone." and “Don't argue” are among many other nuggets of wisdom you will receive when you read the book. Go, grab a copy today.

6. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray

A good book on relationships and why men and women think differently. I found this book very helpful in understanding my own way of thinking and behaviors. At the same time, it helped me also understand what I need to be careful about when I am dealing with women (at home and/or outside).

Whether you already are good at communicating with women or you think you just can't figure out why women think and act the way they do, this is an incredible book to begin your study. This is the book you should definitely consider adding to your library.

7. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

I read this book a couple of years ago, while traveling by train to catch my flight from New Delhi, when I was returning from a trip to India. I didn’t know how fantastic the book is until I started reading and then, I couldn’t keep the book down until I finished. That means, I finished the entire book in about 16 hours while I was still in that train.

While I don’t want to steal the thunder, this book teaches the success principles wrapped up in an interesting story. Through the story of a lawyer who appears to have it all ~ the corner office, the lifestyle, the cars, women and everything that money can buy, Robin Sharma teaches the lessons that can completely transform our lives. This is a tremendous book to read for those who are hungry for knowledge and who have passion for personal development.

8. Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

I absolutely love the energy, the enthusiasm Tony Robbins brings to the table through everything that he does. Even through the name of the book, he kind of gives us the hint about the message the book is going to teach. It indeed is a book that is capable of awakening that giant who is sleeping within us because most of us do not realize its presence.

In this book, Tony not just makes you feel good, he shares the practical tips that you can apply on a daily basis and make a difference in your life (and feel the difference immediately). This is definitely one of my favorites and I know you will too love it when you pick it up.

9. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Personal development isn’t limited to only positive thinking and having a great attitude. Our financial health also defines our attitudes and that is where Robert Kiyosaki adds tremendous value with his famous Rich Dad Poor Dad. This book not only has sold several million copies around the world, but also stayed on many bestselling book lists for several years in a row. All for good reasons.

I read this book almost 10 years ago when I fell in love with this series and read almost all of the books by Robert Kiyosaki in this series. Since then, I have given copies of this book to countless individuals wherever I found a soul who had even a flicker of potential. I have only received great feedback, and many people who still feel I changed their lives. However, the truth is, this book has the power to help people change their financial future, if they let it.

I think you should definitely read this book if you already haven’t. If you already have, then you know why I recommend this book so highly.

10. The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino

Absolutely fantastic book to read and actually, follow those little steps each day. Again, this book is a great example of the fact that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This book isn’t a compilation of some quick tricks for sales people. Instead, it is a book that teaches, step by step, how to program your mind for success and leverage the power of the subconscious mind in your favor.

The book teaches the techniques through the story of the greatest salesman (fictional) who went through the practices taught through this book and went on to become the greatest salesman in the world. I have read this book many times and I practice the self-talks taught in the book every single day. Have you seen my browser start pages?

11. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

The premise of this book is the science of attracting the things in life that you desire and need while removing from your life those things that you don't. I knew about the law of attraction since I had read about it in Think And Grow Rich. However, this book really got the concept clarified in a very powerful manner. I think the way the book presents the concept of the Law Of Attraction, is absolutely simple to understand and implement, and powerful enough to yield immediate results.

Simple concepts such as “Filling your daily life with simple practices of gratitude” is absolutely life transforming. You should definitely not just have this book in your possession, but read through this book as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

12. See You At The Top by Zig Ziglar

Do you know what it takes to reach the top? If you know, do you have step by step process defined for you? Do you know what your dreams and goals are, and do you have a plan to achieve those?

See You At The Top is a book by Zig Ziglar that got my attention through the very first chapter when I opened it for reading a couple of years ago. Zig Ziglar really gets into your mind and talks to you straight heart to heart. You can’t complain, you can’t fight because he speaks the truth without any sugarcoating. Absolutely phenomenal book to read for people with dreams!

13. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

This book doesn’t need any introduction. Although I have read many personal development books, this book offers a definite set of practical methods and explains why each habit is so important. I fell in love with this book when I picked up this book for the first time, long ago. This, probably, is the first book that I read on self-growth and it was my initiation on the journey to personal development. Stephen Covey has done a fabulous job and he will always be remembered for his contribution to the world through this incredible book.

14. What It Takes To Be #1 by Vince Lombardi Jr.

Vince Lombardi Jr. has filled this book with gems of wisdom. He shares many powerful ideas based upon the philosophies and actions of his famous father, Vincent T. Lombardi. The fundamentals this book teaches are about being a winner, about knowing yourself, building excellent character, and living with integrity. You read it and I know you will fall in love with this book.

15. The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley/Danko

Fantastic and famous book! Based on intensive research, the book created so much news since it was published. The book makes you think, reminds you of the basics of creating and preserving wealth. It shows the way the most beautiful things in life are profoundly simple. It shows how wealthy people think and how they lead their lives. Whether you are rich or poor, whether you are highly educated or dropped out from school, this book will add tremendous value to your life. Give it a chance!

Take Action – Do Some Reading

So, go and read these awesome books and help others with the timeless success principles you are going to learn through the process. Oh yes, and definitely make some time each day to read – at least 15 minutes everyday. Small little advances in your knowledge base lead to quantum improvements in your performance over time.

Thanks for making the time to read my posts. I work hard to make them valuable for you. Think big, and dream even bigger.

Over To You – Share Some Of Your Favorites

Do you have a book or two which made a difference in your life? Are there any favorite books from your library that you want to share with others here? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Click here to go to comments section. Thank you kindly!

Kumar Gauraw

Posts Twitter Facebook

Kumar Gauraw is a Personal Branding & Social Media strategist helping entrepreneurs and skilled professionals achieve personal and professional success by developing leadership and leveraging the power of the Internet, Blogging and Social Media.

33 Awesome Thoughts So Far, Add Yours Now...

  1. Charmant

    Dear Kumar
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    I really have a long journey ahhaha on the list mentioned I only know (Napoleon Hill) and I am currently reading his book “Think and Grow Rich” and Dale Carnegie “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. I did not read finish the secret, but I know its movie.
    I think, some of Jim Rohn, Tracy, John Maxwell’s books may also be great.Books like How successful people think by John Maxwell.
    Happy day and God bless for sharing.

    • Hi Charmant,
      You are so absolutely right. There are many more books that I would have loved to include in this list. However, I had to pick up only my top 15 and so this list. But, as you said, books from John Maxwell, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy are also some of the best and I make a point to include them in a future post (may be a sequel to this).

  2. Hello Kumar,

    You’ve got a great list going. I’d like to contribute by suggesting your readership avail themselves of the following books:

    1. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
    2. Reaching: The Journey To Fulfillment by Morton Kelsey
    3. Personhood: The Art of Being Fully Human by the late Leo F. Buscaglia
    4. The On-Purpose Person: Making Your Life Make Sense by Kevin W. McCarthy
    5. I Dare You by William H. Danforth
    6. The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
    7. The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness & Effectiveness by Epictetus; A New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell
    8. The Hunger For Significance by R.C. Sproul
    9. Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong by the late John O’Donohue

    These books are gems!

    Kind Regards,

    • Bill,
      Thank you very much. I have read a couple of the books from your list as well (such as “I Dare You”). But some of them go into my reading list now. Thank you very much for adding value through your book list. Appreciate your friendship!

  3. Charmant

    Hello Bill,
    Thank you so much for the addition. I will search for the books.
    You did great job for reading the list mentioned.

  4. Awesome collection of books. I have read only a few of them. I will try to finish reading all of these listed books. thank you for sharing!

    • Ankit,You are welcome! I know you already are into some of these books. But these are all a must read recommendation. You will be glad you did when you finish!

  5. Peter Thiesen

    Hello Kumar, The books that you have put on they are my favorites, I like them. It is sad that I got to know this material so late in my life. Sometimes it feels that I am already out of this. Can’t contain so much any more what I read, or what would you suggest me to do. How to learn more, there is a book, that say’s, how to read a book, that is what I need, to learn how to read a book. I would be interested to learn from your principles.

    • Hello Peter,

      George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” and I think he said such a profound yet simple success principle.

      You can do it, even though you may think it is late. 🙂


  6. Great list! I’ve read half of the books from you list, Kumar, and now I know what should I read further 🙂 Not mentioning the books you mentioned, to my list I would definitely add:
    1. Why You’re Dumb, Sick and Broke by Randy Gage
    2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
    3. Losing My Virginity – The Autobiography by Richard Branson
    4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    • “Steve Jobs” is another of my favorite books as well, Aistis. Thank you for sharing these books and adding value to this post. Appreciate you!

  7. I am familiar with just one book As A Man Thinketh by James Allen ..I have read this classic book ..ot has really helped me to develop my personality as well as confidence ..’d like to go through this one -What It Takes To Be #1 by Vince Lombardi Jr. ..thanks for sharing the list with us !


  8. Lan

    Thanks for sharing.Reading book is such a good habit.We can learn more and expand our knowledge.

  9. Hello Kumar, you seem to have the same classic tastes with me! I’ve read all these books and I must say, I have profound respect for Talent is Overrated, As A Man Thinketh, Rich Dad and The Millionaire Next Door. Great post, I must say!

    • Hi Akaahan,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are right. We do share some common taste 🙂

  10. I already read Think and Grow rich. Now I plan to read ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’. Great list you made. Will try to read as many books as I can 🙂

    • Thank you Arun. Congratulations for reading Think & Grow Rich 🙂 It is an incredible book!

  11. Definitely a great list you have hear. I am personally not a huge fan of the “secret”. I think there is too much, “If you wish it hard enough good things will happen” and not enough actionable steps. However, to each his own. Of the rest I have read about 10, and they are all great.

    Here are two more modern classics for your list

    Getting Things Done: David Allen

    Willpower: Baumister/Tierney

  12. Solid list man! I watched the Secret and read Think And Grow Rich and those books rocked my life.

  13. Hello there,

    Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray

    A good book on relationships and why men and women think differently. I found this book very helpful in understanding my own way of thinking and behaviors. At the same time, it helped me also understand what I need to be careful about when I am dealing with women (at home and/or outside).

    I really like this

  14. ime ibanga

    Thanks for sharing these keynote self-development resources!

  15. Hi Kumar,
    These books are all great, especially “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. That book teaches so much and has an influence on everyone who reads it. Thank you for sharing,

  16. No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

  17. I would love to add.. Tim Ferris – The 4 Hour Work Week. Getting the work week down to 4 hours is a challenge, but the book is packed with practical useful tips from the obvious to the very smart.

  18. You could have included from motivation and belief point of view The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.Of all these books; I personally like Alchemist by Paulo Coelho the most. It is a fascinating story of Santiago who is on a journey to find treasure and in his path he come across omens, Alchemist and Englishman etc. These all thing makes the story most unique of them all.

  19. Awesome list! I’m always looking for new books about career or entrepreneurship. I’ve read a few of these and really enjoyed them. I will have to put the others on my reading list as well. Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

  20. I like The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Very good read!

  21. Amazing list! Thanks for sharing this Kumar.

  22. Great list Kummar.

    I am glad to see “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill at No.1, I was hooked by the first chapter. An old book, but a timeless classic.

    Keep it up. More people need to read personal development books, they could achieve so much more.

  23. Awesome list! I recently published a list of 75 productivity books and many of these were on it. The Magic of Thinking Big is probably my favorite on this list! I’ve read it multiple times. There is so much writing and highlighting in it, that it’s falling apart. lol

  24. I feel bad when I see Og Mandino’s book on a list because I am a bit greedy and don’t want everyone to be reading that powerful stuff.
    But I remind myself of love and abundance.
    This book has changed my life by changing me.
    It was a complete overhaul.
    I’ve read a few books on this list and I will read all of them slowly because they seem pretty valuable too.
    Anyone who needs and craves life should read the ten scrolls – amazing.

  25. I am happy to have read a few of these, i’m looking forward to read the monk with a ferrari….

  26. Hi Kumar,
    Thank you for sharing a great list of books on personal development.
    I have read the following books:
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    • Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus
    • Think and Grow Rich
    I will try to finish the collection you listed.
    I also share some tips for personal development on my website which I think we can have many interesting topics to discuss one another there.

Please Note: My goal is to host interesting conversations with caring, honest, and respectful people. Therefore, I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic.