I love reading books and since I discovered Audible, I read more than ever. But even though audiobooks are a really practical solution, I still love the feeling of a physical book in my hands.
When I started putting this list together, I realised that it would be way too long for one blog post, so I’ve decided to turn it into 3 parts – each one looking at a different genre.
In this part, I’ll be looking at the best personal development books I’ve read recently. Some of them might touch more on the business side of things, but in general, all books focus on sharing advice to help you have the best life possible.
In the second part, I’ll share my top tips on business- and marketing focussed-books. In the third part, I’ll list some of my favourite fiction books, as well as other titles that didn’t fit into any other box.
The Achievement Habit
This book explains the power of design thinking to help you achieve goals you never thought possible. You’ll discover that achievement can be learned. It’s a muscle, and once you learn how to flex it, you’ll be able to meet life’s challenges and fulfil your goals, says the author.
This paragraph from The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth really resonated with me:
“for you to succeed (…) does not require you cut down the other person, if anything complimenting your rival shows class, just work on yourself, be concerned with your own strengths and qualifications and don’t worry what your competitors are up to.”
Show Your Work!
You might have already heard of Austin Kleon’s previous book Steal Like an Artist, but I first discovered him through his book Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and what role it plays in our lives, business and success. I’m pretty open about the fact that I often fear I’m not good enough. I still battle with Imposter Phenomenon a lot.
Fear is often stopping us from reaching our potential and I know that it’s often holding me back. This book helped me find some simple steps to manage and overcome my fears and I hope it’ll help you too!
“The trouble with imaginative people is that we’re good at picturing the worst that could happen to us. Fear is often just the imagination taking a wrong turn.”
“Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”
“Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re in love, so they don’t hesitate to do work that others think of as silly or just plain stupid.”
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
I often feel torn between the need to be social and my own desire to be just on my own. I’m still trying to find the right balance between getting out there and enjoying the energy that a great networking event brings in and being on my own, quiet and having time to let my thoughts settle.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain afforded some interesting insights into my own character, as well as the self-image that I have of myself.
This quote from the book really captures the whole dichotomy:
“Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (please excuse the language) is an inspiring read about the journey to self-improvement and being happy. If you can get over the incredible amount of f*cks used in the book, you’ll learn a lot about yourself.
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”
Tribe of Mentors
Another of my all-time favourite books is Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferris. Don’t get intimidated by its size. Even though it’s a huge book, it’s super easy to read! The book consists of a series of questions and various answers from the best of the best.
The beauty of this book is that you can read as little or as much of it as you want. Sometimes, I just read one short paragraph and others I go through 50 pages in one go. It’s also one of the few books that I go back to regularly to re-read certain sections.
I love Tim’s favourite question: ‘What would this look like if it were easy?’ It doesn’t mean that you should be looking for quick wins or shortcuts. It simply means that sometimes the simple solution is the best. We humans have an incredible ability to overthink and overcomplicate things! You still need to put the work in, but if you follow this question you might save yourself some unnecessary troubles.
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Timothy Ferris
“Not Dead Can’t Quit!” – Richard Machowicz
“I don’t think failure is sometimes part of the process—it always is. When you feel you can’t go on, know that you’re just getting started.” – Kyle Maynard
“We spend far too much time complaining about the way things are, and forget that we have the power to change anything and everything.” – Bozoma Saint John
From these quotes, you can guess what advice you’ll get from the book, but there’s much, much more to it!
How To Be Fucking Awesome
Another one of the sweary, fast-paced, in-your-face, opinionated books. If that’s not your style, feel free to skip this one. On the other hand, if you want bullsh*t free advice that’ll help you finally make your life truly awesome, then pick up How To Be Fucking Awesome by Dan Meredith and give it a read!
“You have to invest in your skills and continually develop them if you want to make it.”
“All I had to do was stop hiding behind the mask I thought people wanted me to wear, stop giving quite so much of a fuck, and just be me.”
“It’s not having stuff, or even doing stuff. It’s much simpler than that. It’s making the fucking decision to do so. Decide to be awesome and everything will slot into place.”
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant is a lovely short book that talks a lot about self-care, self-love and the power that lies inside of us.
Here are two lovely quotes from it:
“The key, at least for me, has been to let go. Let go of the ego, let go of attachments, let go of who I think I should be, who others think I should be. And as I do that, the real me emerges, far far better than the Kamal I projected to the world. There is a strength in this vulnerability that cannot be described, only experienced.”
“What if you don’t believe that you love yourself? Doesn’t matter. Your role is to lay down the pathways, brick upon brick, reinforce the connections between the neurons. The mind already has a strong wiring for love. The body knows it as well. It knows that love nurtures, that love is gentle, that love is accepting. It knows that love heals.”
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey is an oldie but goodie. It’s simple reading, but really persuasive and truly life-changing. It’s a must read for everyone interested in personal development.
Here are just some of the many amazing quotes I found in this book:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).”
The One Thing
The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller is a really inspiring book about finding the ONE thing to focus on to be more productive and successful.
If you’re struggling to stay focused, often find yourself multitasking, doing too many things at the same time and being really distracted, then this is the book for you. This book will give you a totally new perspective and clarity.
“It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.”
Black Box Thinking
It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. What’s important is to look back, analyse what went wrong and learn from our own mistakes (as well as from mistakes of others).
Black Box Thinking: Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do by Matthew Syed looks at the power of a positive attitude toward failure and its profound impact on our success in any field.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
“All of us are aware, in our different ways, that we find it difficult to accept our own failures. Even in trivial things, like a friendly game of golf, we can become prickly when we have underperformed, and we are asked about it in the clubhouse afterwards.”
Female authors section
In this sub-section, I’m listing my favourite books from amazing female writers for determined females (but hey ho, I’m sure that you can still enjoy reading these books even if you’re a guy!)
You Are a Badass
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero is probably one of the most transformative books I’ve read so far. This book is definitely in my Top 5 books that I regularly come back to and often reference in my life.
Two particular quotes really resonate with me:
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
“You are perfect. To think anything less is as pointless as a river thinking that it’s got too many curves or that it moves too slowly or that its rapids are too rapid. Says who? You’re on a journey with no defined beginning, middle or end. There are no wrong twists and turns. There is just being. And your job is to be as you as you can be. This is why you’re here. To shy away from who you truly are would leave the world you-less. You are the only you there is and ever will be. I repeat, you are the only you there is and ever will be. Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.”
How to Be a Bawse
This book has a special place in my heart. It’s written by a YouTube superstar Lilly Singh aka Superwoman and it’s the book I reach out to whenever I need a pick me up. It’s a fabulous book debut from a young actress, comedian and YouTuber
How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh is the definitive guide to being a BAWSE – a person who exudes confidence, reaches goals, gets hurt efficiently, and smiles genuinely because they’ve fought through it all and made it out the other side.
“Being the dumbest person on your team doesn’t make you a stupid person; it means you’re smart enough to select people to work with that you can learn from.”
“You have to seek out situations that make you uncomfortable and then throw yourself into them.”
“Words lie; actions can lie too. Consistency speaks the truth.”
She Means Business
If you’re a creative and ambitious female entrepreneur, or are contemplating the entrepreneurial path, this book will provide the honest, realistic and practical tools you need to follow your heart and bring your vision to life.
She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur by Carrie Green is a great guide for anyone who wants to start a business or is already on the entrepreneurial journey, but needs some help along the way.
“It’s not the time, the money or any other excuse you think up. The biggest problem you have to overcome in order to show up for your dreams is you.
“Start paying attention… learn, explore… take action, just don’t do nothing! If you do nothing, because you don’t know what the right thing to do is, you’ll end up drifting. Time will pass you by and you will have made no progress towards your dreams. So make the decision to be curious!”
Braving the Wilderness
Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone is one of the most influential, raw and powerful books out there in my opinion.
Belonging (and feeling that I don’t belong) is one of the ongoing challenges I’m facing in life. In this book, Brene Brown talks about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organisations and culture, and explains what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarisation.
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
Little Black Book
Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women by Otegha Uwagba is full of fresh ideas and no-nonsense practical advice. It’s a handy, travel-sized handbook filled with simple, actionable, organised and inspiring advice. And thanks to its size, you can take it with you wherever you go and have it on hand whenever you need inspiration!
“Resist the temptation to check your emails or social media accounts first thing in the morning, as you run the risk of falling down an Internet rabbit hole. Instead, dedicate the first hour of your working day – when your mind is at its freshest – to establishing what your priorities are for the day ahead and making start on them.”
“Don’t surround yourself with yourself! Don’t be afraid to open your work process up to others – if you’ve hit a wall, talking things through with someone else can really help. A fresh pair of eyes usually helps you look at problems from a different perspective.”
“Change your scenery! Don’t forget to mix it up once in a while. If you usually work from home, try to spend one or two days a week working from a different environment, whether it’s your local library, a dedicated co-working space or a chilled-out cafe.”
This book talks a lot about learning to ‘lean in’. It’s about tackling the anxieties and preconceptions that often prevent women from reaching the top – taking a place at the table, and making yourself a part of the debate.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes from Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg:
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
“There is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”
“When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
That’s it, these are my favourite personal development books. Have you read any of them? I’d love to know your thoughts.
In the second part, I’ll look at my favourite business and marketing focused books. Stay tuned!
Which books would you add to my list! Please share your inspiration with me in comments below or tweet me at @lenkakopp.