Sometimes despite your best effort, you get stuck in a rut. Maybe you’re trying to improve your relationships or get ahead in the business world.

Or perhaps you’re ready for a complete life makeover.

No matter what your quandary, there’s an expert out there who can help guide, inspire, and mentor you through your sticking point.

The trouble is, there are so many books out there that it’s hard to know which to choose.

Best Motivational Books comparison table

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How We Chose Our Top 10

Since there are so many inspirational books to choose from, we had to clearly define the characteristics we felt gave a book everlasting appeal. In order, our criteria are:

  • Relevance
  • Tone
  • Universal application

Relevance refers to the type of advice given in the book. Advice needs to remain applicable, even when society and norms change through the years. Interestingly, several books that made our list were written a long time ago, but their advice is as useful today as when the books were first written.

By tone, we’re referring to how easy it is to get at the core of what the author is saying. We’re looking for books that read quickly, with salient points that are right there in the open. You don’t have to decipher, weed through, or ponder a paragraph to get the meaning.

Finally, we think advice in the best motivational books can be applied universally, to almost all aspects of your life. Even if you’re looking at a book that concentrates on, say, spousal relationship guidance, you should be able to use that advice to mend relationships at work or in your circle of acquaintances.

So, without further ado, here’s our list of the 10 best motivational books of all time.

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If you haven’t heard of Dale Carnegie’s blockbuster motivational opus, then you have led a very secluded life. Published in 1937, this book has never been out of print — and with good reason.

Win Friends teaches people the skills they need to be creative, communicative leaders and to handle every kind of social and professional relationship with finesse and ease.

According to the author, only 15% of your success is due to knowledge and skill — the rest comes from being able to get people to buy into what you’re asking of them and to follow your lead.

This is a must-read for people looking to improve both their business and personal relationships.

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Another incredible book published in 1937, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich has been one of the most-loved self-development books of all time.

Although the title indicates it’s a book about riches, they aren’t necessarily the monetary kind. Hill provides readers a systematic way of changing their outlook and thought processes to get anything they want.

Whether you want to attract affluence, influence, a good job, or a loving home, Hill’s formula will give you that push you need to start — and keep — the ball rolling.

Many readers re-read this book at least once a year to keep the ideas fresh in their minds, so purchasing a paperback that you can dog-ear and underline might be a good idea.

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One of the best books for people looking for a way to reduce stress and increase happiness, Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff is a wonderful primer for changing the way you live — one simple thing at a time.

Outlined in 100 meditations designed to increase your gratitude for everyday life, Dr. Carlson, a noted expert on stress, teaches readers how to stop worrying and start living.

He gives concrete methods to increase the peace you have in your life and to cultivate an air of thoughtfulness and gratitude that will magnify your happiness the more you practice.

One of his mantras, “Live each day as if it were your last,” is poignant in that Dr. Carlson passed away at the age of 45 from a pulmonary embolism.

His legacy of love, gratitude, and happiness lives on in his writing, and in the lives of all the readers his books have touched.

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7 Habits has received accolades from around the globe and over 25 million copies in more than 40 languages have found their way throughout the world.

Author Stephen R. Covey’s background combines the knowledge of leadership trends and interpersonal relationships in a way that makes him a unique and deeply compelling authority.

Covey’s 7 Habits has been required reading for employees, managers, CEOs, counselors, and anyone else who is interested in striking that perfect balance between work and life.

He provides challenges to fire your imagination and encourages you to take a critical look at your daily life.

With plenty of reality-shifting anecdotes, 7 Habits finds ways to resonate through the ages and across demographics to give everyone the ability to harness their spark of creativity.

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A witty, irreverent self-development primer that will jar you out of your ennui and launch you into a whole new way of thinking, Badass is a must-read for the truly stuck.

Coach, speaker, and writer Jen Sincero gives readers the pinch on the butt they need to get out of their comfort zone and into a mode that will increase happiness, skyrocket productivity, and turn their lives completely around.

Part manual, part counseling session, Badass is tailor-made for those people having difficulty getting momentum going in any aspect of their lives.

From relationships to business to hobbies, Sincero gives sound, sometimes in-your-face advice on how to break through stagnation and rock your own world.

If you’re offended by a bit of profanity you might prefer one of the other books on this list — but you’ll be missing out. Part of the reason this book works is the author’s authentic and bold style.

Badass is designed to startle, to compel, to titillate, and to inject humor into what is, sometimes, a humorless topic.

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Anyone who’s made a study of self-development knows the name Tony Robbins. With Unlimited Power, Tony burst onto the self-development scene in a big way, earning himself millions of fans in the process.

Since then, he’s gone on to build a multi-million-dollar business offering lectures, coaching, classes, and programs designed to help people achieve personal greatness.

In this book, Robbins shows readers how to use the new science of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) to focus personal power and become successful at anything.

Using step-by-step techniques, Robbins takes readers through a comprehensive program for change that begins in their own minds.

Don’t let the simplicity of NLP fool you into thinking it doesn’t work.

Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you possess and NLP will focus this power in a way that makes all of your goals attainable.

Unlimited Power will help you uncover your weak points and give you the tools to address them — sometimes within minutes!

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Author Tim Ferris is all about quantifying goals.

In this extensive look at how people turn the world to their own needs and wants, Ferris gives you the details you need to make your own life as successful as the icons in his book.

For Tools of Titans, Ferris interviewed over 200 of the most successful people in the world.

They ranged from world-class athletes like Arnold Schwarzenegger to celebrities like Jamie Foxx to members of Special Operations forces and award-winning scientists.

To delve into the nitty-gritty of how they achieve the nearly impossible, Ferris got personal.

He asked them about their morning routines, their supplement usage, health habits, mental habits, and their opinions on everything from wasted time to favorite books.

Afterwards, he compiled the data into an actionable plan that you can start using right away, even before you finish reading.

Ferris’ insight doesn’t stop there. He took what he learned and applied to his own life in the areas of health, work, and more.

He’s not shy about sharing the details of what he discovered and the story of his own experiments with these tools is sure to spur even the most reluctant reader into action.

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What happens when you only have $40 to launch your brand? Why, you turn it into $6 billion dollars and end up a global success!

Or at least that’s what Daymond John, co-author of The Power of Broke did.

His hip-hop apparel company, FUBU, tops the charts in sales and it all started because he was financially desperate and hungry for success.

Along with co-author Daniel Paisler, Shark Tank star John takes you on a journey through his entrepreneurial experience, including what he did to make his $40 marketing campaign score big for his brand.

He learned that being broke means you’re vastly more creative with your solutions to business problems. Creativity borne out of poverty can get you noticed and passion is what makes the difference between the winners and losers.

Along with examples from his own experience, Johns provides modern rags-to-riches tales from the lives of other people who’ve experienced the same kind of results from the combination of lack and passion.

One of the best motivational books in the modern day, Johns’ recipe for success is applicable to anyone, no matter how humble their situation.

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If you’re a bit fed up with the way self-development books usually roll out their advice, then Subtle Art is for you.

Blogger Mark Manson turns the self-help genre on its ear when he turns his back on the “make lemonade from lemons” analogy and exhorts readers to just start liking the taste of lemons more.

A gritty, honest look at how to really make your life better, Manson provides actionable ways to build resilience to adversity — a skill he says is the real secret to happiness.

He claims — and rightly so — that not everyone can be remarkable.

To find true happiness, we should learn to embrace our faults, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings. By not trying so hard to be something we’re not, we let go of pressure, worry, and regret.

If a bit of profanity and a heavy sprinkling of scatological humor isn’t appealing, you might want to read a different book on this list.

But if you’re willing to gloss over the language — or if you happen to enjoy a few irreverent poop jokes — then you’ll get a no-nonsense, fully-actionable guide to living your best life.

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You’ve heard that simple is better.

But until authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan put their philosophy into print, most people were unaware of just how simple it is to be incredibly successful.

The ONE Thing is the recipient of numerous book awards, has been chosen as part of Top Business book lists, landed on best sellers’ lists over 400 times, and continues to motivate and inspire people all over the globe.

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How can you tap into the magic?

By taking care of one simple thing. Focusing on this one thing can help you streamline your schedule, cut through clutter, organize your life, remove stress, and become more energetic.

What’s the one thing?

It’s different for everyone. But if you read through this book, you’re sure to discover what one thing will work best for you.

And Keller and Papasan’s fresh insights and well-illustrated points will help you embrace the things that will free your creativity and set you on the path to success.

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