Personal development is a multi-billion dollar industry. That industry publishes literally thousands of books every year on the topic of success and how to achieve it. From the practical to the new age, there is a different flavor of book for every taste.
So, which books should you read – which books will actually help you on your quest – and which books should you toss to the side? People are busy, so this is a vital question.
This is the list of the only ten books you need to read in order to fully understand the philosophy of success. From positive thinking and the law of attraction to goals and enlightenment, these books hit all the topics.
Get them. Read them. Study them. When you’ve digested the contents of these books, you will be more than ready to get to the important part of your success journey – getting into action.
10. The Magic of Believing – Claude M. Bristol
This book is a classic. Mr. Bristol explains in great detail how to tap into the powers of your subconscious mind. While that may make it sound like it’s new age woo, it’s not. Bristol provides great techniques for auto-suggestion and how to actually think about the problems that may face us. You will get a lot from this book – guaranteed.
9. No-Nonsense Guide to Enlightenment – Blair Warren
Blair Warren is one of the smartest people I know and this book (e-book, actually) showcases that. His premise? That while many of us quest for enlightenment, the fact is that all of us have actually experienced enlightenment at one time or another – and probably even multiple times. I’ve read this book a few times and every time I read it I get something new from it. Want to know the best thing? Mr. Warren provides it as a free download. Get enlightened – get Mr. Warren’s book.
8. Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz
Do you want to know how your brain works? Do you want to improve your golf swing without physically practicing? Do you want to be like a guided missile when it comes to achieving your goals? Then this is the book for you. This is one of the most powerful books you will ever read. This books is such a classic that there is a decent chance that you have read it. If that is the case, then read it again. The concepts in this book bear repeating.
7. Think & Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
What list of books about the philosophy of success would be complete without this book? It’s a classic that deserves repeated readings. I can’t write much that isn’t already written about this book. If you already have it on your shelf, get it and read it again. If you don’t have it, then get it and read it. The proof is in the pudding with Think & Grow Rich: many, many successful people cite this book as a major influence on their success.
6. SHAM – Steve Salerno
The sub-title for this book is How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. So, what is what one would consider to be an anti-self-help book doing on a list of the best self-help books? In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, not only does one have to know what the wheat looks like, one has to be familiar with what the chaffs looks like as well. Mr. Salerno does an excellent job of illustrating where self-help and personal development have gone awry – and how in some circumstances it is actually hurting people. Like any other human endeavor, the personal development field has its share of charlatans and scammers. The better prepared you are to notice them before they lead you astray, the better are your chances for becoming the success you want to be.
5. How to Get Rich – Felix Dennis
This is not new age fluff. Not at all. This book is not like any book on this list. Mr. Dennis, the multi-millionaire publisher and founder of Maxim Magazine among others, actually calls his little tome an “anti-self-help book”. So, what will you garner from this book? You’ll get Mr. Dennis’ perspective on what it takes to really become rich. And not just six-figures-a-year rich, but multi-millionaire, never-have-to-worry-about-money-ever-again rich. Do you think that you have what it takes to get that far? Read this book and find out. Trust me – it will open your eyes.
4. You Were Born Rich – Bob Proctor
Before he jumped the shark and became “Scientist” Bob the quantum physics “expert”, Bob Proctor actually wrote books and delivered seminars that made sense. As much as I dislike what he’s become, I cannot deny that You Were Born Rich is one of the best personal development books ever written. Not only do I have the book, but I also have the unabridged audio version, which I have played countless times. I know it might be tempting to get some of his other works, but you really don’t need to do that. This is the only book that he’s written that actually has any merit and that will actually help you on your path to success.
3. The Master Key Workbook – Anthony R. Michalski
Yes, I wrote this book. Yes, I really do think that it is that good. And, no, I am not tooting my own horn. As I researched the success philosophy and as I talked with countless people, I discovered one of the main reasons people do not achieve a notable level of success. It is not because they don’t try hard enough; it’s not because they don’t understand the philosophy of success; it’s often not even because they’re not talented or skilled in some way. The main reason many people do not succeed is because they don’t know what they actually want! That’s where the Workbook comes into play. The Workbook is chock full of concepts, mental exercises, and written exercises that will help you hone what your idea of success is. This book will help you to decide what you truly want. Once you have the goal, then attaining it becomes that much easier. You will love this book. And since it’s a workbook and you will be writing in it, you will return to it again and again as you journey toward success.
2. The Master Key System – Charles F. Haanel
What more needs to be said? The Master Key System is “the only clear, concise, comprehensive, definitive, distinctive, and scientific presentation of the creative power of thought ever formulated.” As you read though the 24 weeks of the book and as you practice the exercises, you will be training your brain to focus and to visualize. You will learn how to look at a problem or situation or opportunity and to solve it or see it for what it really is or take advantage of it. This is truly a powerful book and the people who study it get a lot from it.
1. Prometheus Rising – Robert Anton Wilson
If you read only one book on this list, then make it this one. I read it at least once per year – and every time that I do I get something new out of it. In Prometheus Rising, Mr. Wilson takes the reader on a journey through the seven “circuits” of consciousness as delineated by Timothy Leary. What will you learn? A lot. Too much to get into here. I can only say that I have found this book to be one of the most important books that I’ve ever read. I am highly confident that you will agree with me once you’ve read it.
And there you have it. The only ten books you need to read to succeed.
You may be asking, Why only ten?
I know that it is a common claim in the personal development arena that you should be constantly reading every personal development book that you can get your hands on. Some seminar speakers say that you are “investing in your education” while others claim that reading all the books should be like “combing your hair” – you do that every day, so you should read personal development books everyday, lest you backslide into your unsuccessful ways.
I don’t agree with that line of reasoning. In my experience, one of two things happens if a person reads too many personal development books.
- The person becomes confused because they are exposed to far too many ideas and techniques, thus they never tap into their ultimate potential.
- The person becomes a “self-help junkie” looking for the “silver bullet” that will make them successful.
Both are equally debilitating and both are only caused by reading too many of what I refer to as softcore self-help books.
There are two classifications of self-help/personal development books: softcore and hardcore.
Softcore books refer to those books that espouse ideas and techniques related to the philosophy of success. They are books that are about the Law of Attraction, how to make friends, how your mind works. Things of that nature. This list is a collection of softcore self-help books.
Hardcore books are those books that actually tell you how to do something, such as how to start a business, step-by-step guides to learning a skill, how to invest your money. A good example of a hardcore self-help book is David Portney’s 129 Seminar Speaking Success Tips.
Once you have read and studied the books on this list, you should be good to go with regards to softcore self-help books. Sure, you can read a new one once in a while, but you should be quite familiar with the philosophy, if not practicing it somewhat fluently. If you don’t understand something, re-read one or all of these books. In most cases, it’s not a matter of requiring another book; it’s just a matter of understanding what you already have!
When you understand the philosophy, that is when you move to the hardcore self-help books so that you can learn the actual skills you need to learn in order to become competent at whatever you aim to do.
You see, it is important that you learn that you can do it; then it is important to learn how to do it; and then you must go out and actually do it.
With these ten books, you will learn everything you need to know about the philosophy of success. You will learn that you can do just about anything to which you set your mind. Speaking of your mind, you will learn how to properly use it.
Read these books and succeed. Or, as Haanel would say –
You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; third, the faith to do.
These ten book will give you that knowledge of your power. By honing your skills, you will develop the courage to dare. After that, it’s all up to you. And I have faith that you can do it!