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20 Best Success Books to Get More From Your Life

Looking for the best books for success? Need a kickstart in your personal development goals? Discover these 20 must-read success books to get more from life.


Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett simply pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.”

Reading is, and always has been, the habit of the highly successful. But successful people don’t just read everything. They see books as a gateway to knowledge. As a result, they tend to read books that are going to help them grow their minds and improve their lives.

In this article, we'll cover 20 of the top success books for you to make the most out of your life.  

Key Points

  • If you look at the different CEOs of well-known companies, the average CEO reads one book a week. That’s 50+ books a year! Imagine what your life would be like if you also read one book a week for the next 10 years of your life.

  • Some top-rated success books include How To Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes, How Successful People Think by John Maxwell, and What they Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack.

  • No time to read all the books on our list? Download the Headway App to browse informative book summaries on the best success books available today.

1. The Successful Mistake by Matthew Turner

The Successful Mistake claims that strong and successful people do not get discouraged by their failures. Successful people can turn adversity into success by transforming their mistakes.

Turner conducted interviews with 163 of the most successful business people in the world who have been able to turn their lives around by learning from their mistakes. Some of the well-known people who are featured in this success book include Chris Brogan, Rachel Elnaugh, Mitch Joel, and other inspiring thought-leaders that expose their biggest mistakes and what they did to transform them into positive happenings. 

Filled with many groundbreaking and motivating interviews, this book on success gives readers a good idea of what you need to persevere in today's business landscape.

2. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is one of the world’s most popular experts on success and personal achievement. Maximum Achievement provides the reader with a powerful and proven system that anyone can use to better their life.
Maximum Achievement is based on a successful seminar program that has dramatically increased the income of thousands of people and improved many areas of their lives. Tracy offers a step-by-step guide to success with proven principles that have been drawn from psychology, business, economics, politics, religion, philosophy, history, and even metaphysics.

These ideas are put together to help raise the reader's self-esteem, improve personal performance, and allow them to gain complete control over their personal and professional life. The ideas he presents in Maximum Achievement are practical and reasonable for anyone. 

A number of readers who consider themselves to be successful contribute a lot of their success to this book. 

3. How Successful People Think by John Maxwell

How Successful People Think focuses on the type of mindset all successful people share. It is a compact book that perfectly serves the busy entrepreneur or business owner. 

Maxwell offers tips on being more creative and talks about when people should question their usual thinking. After reading this book about success, the reader will learn how to see the big picture while focusing their thinking on the details. Readers learn how to find their creative potential, develop new ideas, and find lessons from things that have happened in the past to help form their future. 

Maxwell covers 11 keys to more effective thinking that can lead to a path of personal success. The insightful points in How Successful People Think can be applied to all areas of one's life, making it an enjoyable read.

4. 99 Perseverance Success Stories by Michal Stawicki

99 Perseverance Success Stories is self-explanatory. Stawicki details and shares stories of success and perseverance from every walk of life, every level of success, and across many different cultures. This success book goes beyond any dry recitation of the thoughts of a few millionaires on success. It is wide-ranging and, therefore, much more useful.

This is a great book to read when you’re feeling a little bit down and unmotivated. Life can be challenging and discovering the success stories of real people that come from all walks of life acts as the motivational equivalent of a shot of adrenaline straight to your heart.

5. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

48 Laws of Power takes 3,000 years of history and puts them into 48 essential laws of power. It takes information and ideas from people such as Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz to teach the value of confidence and the need for wisdom and self-preservation. Each law is related because they focus on an interest in complete domination.

While this is a slightly controversial book due to people's desire for the world to be a peaceful place with very little competition, it takes a realistic look at the world and how people can view it in order to get ahead.

48 Laws of Power may not be for everyone due to its underlying “do what you have to do to succeed” mentality. But the book speaks a hard and sometimes brutal truth about what it takes to win that many other books are too scared to say.  

6. Give and Take by Adam Grant

While in the past, success has been largely focused on talent, hard work, passion, and luck, today, it is more about how you interact with other people. This success book explains the difference between takers, matchers, and givers, which are all personality types in the workplace that have a large impact on one's success.

Using evidence and true stories, the author shows the reader how to develop personal connections that can help lead to success. It highlights the effectiveness of networking, working in groups, influence, leadership skills, and negotiation. This book is great for individuals as well as groups and larger organizations.

7. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

The Automatic Millionaire details David Bach’s secrets to financial success. This success book is slightly different from other financial books because it does not focus on having a budget or willpower and does not require the reader to make a large income.

The plan provided is simple and will work automatically once it is set into place. Bach's system is based on timeless principles that have proven themselves to be successful. Readers have found this book to be an easy read, as they loved the simplistic plan it explains for people to start saving for retirement early on in life.

While some other books offer tips for retirement, most fail to explain how to take the steps that are necessary to achieve success. This book offers the resources and information that people need to know where to start and the questions that need to be asked. It tells the reader about specific companies and explains various investment options.

8. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews

The Traveler's Gift tells the story of one man's choices to offer the reader some insight into what makes the difference between success and failure. It looks to historical figures for guidance on the quest for strength and success. The author presents seven decisions for success that can turn one's life around, despite how hopeless it may seem.

This book is a great combination of self-help tools and fictional stories that are able to keep the reader interested throughout. The book can keep up its momentum while giving the reader instructions on how to create positive thinking.

Although this book is written from a Christian perspective, the message is universal and can be inspirational to all readers. Some people may find the storyline to be a bit simplistic, but the author does a great job of giving the reader positive suggestions for moving past some of life's most difficult obstacles.

9. Influence by Robert Cialdini

This narrative book uses scholarly research, experimental evidence, and strategies and techniques that get people to say “yes.” It is all about gaining power over others by understanding how they are influenced.

This might be the right book for you if you work in sales, business, or any position where you are aiming to get people on board with your goal and follow your lead in some way. But success for some may seem a bit tainted since it is not about getting ahead by merit but by using neurolinguistic techniques.

The Psychology of Influence is often used in classrooms and sold to people who are operating successfully in their businesses.

Cialdini organizes his techniques into six categories to gain compliance, all of which are based on psychological principles aimed at directing human behavior. The book contains stories, examples, and an explanation of principles that make it highly effective. People have found this book to be very inspiring and insightful.

10. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins has been called the Master of self-help and is a vital author to include when talking about success books. Awaken the Giant Within teaches readers how to succeed in just about every single aspect of life. Business, money, the mind, the body. Robbins imparts solid self-help advice to help readers achieve success.

Robbins claims that when you take charge of your life, emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially, everything will dovetail together for you to achieve ultimate success. Only when you are at the peak of performance in all categories can you truly be your best self.

What makes this book about success stand out is how Robbins touches on such a broad range of topics. He states that every aspect of life works together to make the sum of the whole greater than the sum of the parts. 

11. The Only Skill That Matters by Jonathan A. Levi

The sheer amount of information bombarding us every day is overwhelming. How do we stay on top of everything to keep our jobs or adapt to the new demands of modern life? This book equips readers with what they need to take on the challenges of the future – whether in their professional or personal life. 

In The Only Skill That Matters, Jonathan Levi shares an approach that promises to help you become a super learner. This approach is anchored in neuroscience. Athletes and top performers have used Levi’s techniques to propel them to success. Throughout this book, readers will learn specific techniques for reading faster and improving their ability to recall information. 

The Only Skill That Matters has been hailed as a game-changer, and reviewers have called it the perfect book to unlock your potential greatness. 

12. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller

The ONE Thing gives readers a simple approach to living a productive and successful life by focusing their energy on one thing at a time. 

This success book teaches readers to cut through the clutter, achieve better results in less time, build momentum toward their goals, dial down their stress, overcome that overwhelmed feeling, revive their energy, stay on track, and master what matters to them. 

A major point Keller makes in this book is that “big” doesn’t need to be something difficult or complicated. When people think and talk about achieving big success, many associate big with difficult, complicated, tremendous effort, and something impossible to achieve. Keller states that this is wrong-minded. Anyone can achieve big success by starting small and taking it one step at a time.

13. What they Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack

Written by one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, this book is a great read for people at any level of business. Mark McCormack is known for being the founder of today's sports marketing industry after building IMG company with less than a thousand dollars. His business success has inspired others to learn his skills and techniques to follow in his footsteps.

This is one of the entrepreneur startup books that offers straightforward advice that is not taught in the classrooms of business schools.

The author uses his own proven methods to teach the reader about people, negotiation, sales, and time management. He touches on business deals, common management philosophies that often fail, the best ways to run a meeting, and ways to observe others in a way that will benefit you.

Readers say that this is a great book to read if you want to stay one step ahead in business. It should be a part of any entrepreneur bookstore!  

14. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking Big teaches readers that they have the power to achieve everything that they have always wanted. Dr. David J. Schwartz details a carefully designed program that will help the reader get the most out of their career, marriage, community, and family life. It focuses on the fact that people do not need great talent to be successful and satisfied in life, as it is more important to learn and understand new habits of thinking and behaving that will lead to success.

Schwartz includes real stories in the book so the reader can relate to other people's successes and experiences. Some of the topics that are addressed include not being afraid to fail, dreaming creatively, thinking positively, turning defeat into victory, thinking like a leader, and making effective goals that will help you grow. 

Readers have called this book a modern classic, and many have found themselves returning to it, reading it over at least once a year. 

15. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

This Success Principles has helped thousands of readers improve their lives with its practical and inspiring advice. The original version has been revised and updated to reflect the constantly changing world. This success book helps the reader move from where they are to where they want to be by sharing lessons on increasing confidence, overcoming daily challenges, living with a purpose, discovering one's passion, and achieving your goals.

The Success Principles includes several inspiring stories of successful CEOs, celebrities, and world-class athletes to explain the 64 principles that have been used by successful people throughout history. These success principles can easily be adapted to anyone's life, no matter what your final goal is.

This is a complete collection of principles that many readers find themselves coming back to year after year as a refresher. 

16. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill

This bestselling success book is a self-help classic that has benefitted millions of readers by pointing to a positive mental attitude as being one of the main keys to personal success.

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude explains that the mind has two sides, one being a positive mental attitude and the other being a negative mental attitude. Positive attitudes attract good things in life, while negative attitudes deplete people with the things that make life worth living.

Throughout this book, Hill argues that success, health, wealth, and happiness depend on attitude. He includes real examples of people such as Muhammad Ali, who was able to defy the odds, reach their goals, and achieve their fullest potential by using the principles in this book. Readers often find that this is a great book to keep around and reference every now and then. 

17. Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg

This best-selling book by Stanford behavioral scientist B.J. Fogg explains how changes in any aspect of life don’t need to start big and bold. You can transform your life by making small changes and developing tiny habits.

In Tiny Habits, Fogg uses the example of fitness. He says that you don’t have to hit the gym and work out for an hour to get fit. Instead, Fogg developed a tiny habit of doing two push-ups after every bathroom break. After he goes to the bathroom or flushes the water, he will do two push-ups.

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.

18. The Buddha and The Badass by Vishen Lakhiani

In The Buddha and The Badass, Vishen shares with his readers how he created his dream research lab by integrating two specific archetypes. 

This book explains “The Buddha” to be the archetype of the spiritual master. The type of person who moves 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 creates change through tangible action. The badass represents the benevolent disruptor – the person challenging the norms so we can be better as a species.

The Buddha and The Badass states that once readers integrate the skill sets of both archetypes, they will experience life at a different level from most people. It will allow you to operate from a space of bliss, ease, inspiration, and abundance.

19. The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling

In this book, the three co-authors, Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling show readers how to set goals the right way and then stick to those goals. 

The four disciplines outlined in the book are:

  1. Focus on the wildly important

  2. Act on the lead measures

  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard

  4. Create a cadence of accountability

If you can stick to these disciplines, the authors state that you can achieve anything you want. The 4 Disciplines of Execution is for readers who want to achieve personal and team goals alike. 

20. How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

Leil Lowndes is a psychologist who has made a career helping others improve their communication skills. 

How to Talk to Anyone gives readers 92 surefire communication techniques to use to ensure successful communication with others. From first encounters with others to ways to sway the opinion of those we connect with.

If you want to lead a successful life, having the knowledge of communication can help you make that leap to success. The road to success is often not paved with what you know but with how you can represent what you know.

Headway - a Faster Way to Learn

Becoming successful takes work. It takes a lot of time, patience, and motivation. Most people who are trying to reach new heights in their life don’t have the time to read 20 books to get tips on how to become more successful. But fortunately, there’s a solution! The Headway app offers short 15-minute summaries of countless books about success and self-improvement. So if you want to get the main ideas from books that help you to become successful and make millions, why not try it today? Download the Headway app now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which book is best for being successful?

Our list of the 20 best success books is a great place to start if you are looking to improve your life! The Success Principles by Jack Canfield is a wonderful jumping-off point if you are looking for inspiring stories of successful CEOs, celebrities, and world-class athletes. 

What is the best inspirational book to read?

It is always helpful to read stories about people who have been in similar positions as yourself. We recommend reading 99 Perseverance Success Stories and The Traveler’s Gift for inspirational success stories. 

What do the most successful people read? 

A common thread that links all prosperous people is not so much what they read but how often they read. In an interview with The New York Times, for example, Bill Gates shared that he reads about 50 books a year. Gates will actually take reading vacations for two weeks at a time! Reading is, and always has been, the habit of highly successful people. 

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