This maxim of Zig Ziglar is amply highlighted by astounding success of thousands of wealthy people around the world. Indeed, reading any type of book enriches knowledge, expands vocabulary, relieve stress while promoting eloquence.
Billionaires Who Read
Warren Buffet: American business magnate, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and billionaire, spends at least 80 percent of his day reading books.
Mark Zuckerberg: CEO, Facebook reads at least two books every month. “Reading has given me more perspective on a number of topics — from science to religion, from poverty to prosperity, from health to energy to social justice, from political philosophy to foreign policy, and from history to futuristic fiction,” he says.
Elon Musk: CEO, SpaceX and Tesla, says, he learned to build rockets “by reading books.”
Oprah Winfrey: Globally acclaimed host of TV talk shows, CEO Oprah Winfrey Network, actress and philanthropist credits her rise from dithering poverty to billionaire woman to reading inspirational books. She now runs the ‘Oprah Book Club’ that promotes reading.
Bill Gates: The world’s richest man and founder of Microsoft reads at least 50 books per year. “Reading books is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid. It is still the main way that I both learn new things and tests my understanding,” says Gates.
These examples clearly highlight the importance of reading books, regardless of their genre, for everyone who wishes to become successful in career and life. Some decades ago, buying good books, especially latest releases, was fairly arduous since one had to wait for an up-market bookstore to import them.
Prices were also fairly high and hence, unaffordable to the masses.
Fortunately, online stores like Amazon India, ShopClues, Flipkart, Crossword and others have made it possible to buy the latest releases immediately, at very affordable rates.
Best Self-Help & Personal Development Books
Amazon Kindle offers thousands of free e-books. Hence, you too can further your personal development by reading. Here we list 50 ‘must read’ self-help books from 10 assorted genres that you can read.
1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People- By Dr. Stephen R. Covey
World famous American motivational speaker and author, Dr. Stephen R. Covey gives readers an insight into how habits formed since childhood mould future of individuals. This book is a “must read” for anyone aspiring for success.
The first three habits discuss the stages of every human, regardless of nationality and ethnicity, about development from state of dependence as child to independence, around teenage.
The next three habits revolve around the stage of females and males moving from independence to interdependence. The last habit speaks about living in an interdependent society.
2. The Eighth Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness – By Dr. Stephen R. Covey
The Eighth Habit is a sequel of sorts to the earlier book by Dr. Covey. This book opens up a totally new dimension of human potential for everyone. The author highlights, everyone has capabilities to become great.
He discusses how tapping into four attributes- talent, need, conscience and passion effectively, can lead us all from effectiveness to greatness. While in “The Seven Habits”, Dr. Covey speaks of living in an interdependent society, this book shows how one can flourish in such society.
We recommend reading both the books.
3. The Power of Onlyness- By Nilofer Merchant
Nilofer Merchant encourages readers to release their individual capabilities, without the need of approval from peers or others. She speaks about how the Internet has opened new opportunities for everyone to give wings to their creative thoughts and ideas to make a “dent” in the world.
Nilofer Merchant coins the new phrase “Onlyness” in her book, which signifies the unique spot in this world where you stand with your history, vision, knowledge and hope, among other elements.
The Power of Onlyness shows how we can release our trapped creativity and help solve problems that hitherto had no answers.
4. The Net and the Butterfly- By Olivia Fox Cabane and Judah Pollack
This is a very unique book by any standards. The two authors delve deep into human psychology and come up with a unique concept that anyone can utilize for personal development. They point out the human mind is like a butterfly- beautiful yet often restless.
Therefore, all ordinary humans are unable to exploit their brains to the fullest potential to progress in life and career. Hence, we need to use a net to catch this butterfly. The authors disclose several simple ideas on getting the mind under control.
The book contains very interesting exercises and tests that can be performed individually or with family and friends.
5. The Great Questions of Tomorrow- By David Rothkopf
Every human is directly or indirectly impacted by various imminent factors ranging from political scenarios to wars, technological advances to economic downturns. Technology has made this impact more inescapable for everyone on this planet.
In his book ‘The Great Questions of Tomorrow’, the author, David Rothkopf explores how we can gain deeper insights into these changes and develop new ideas that are not only essential for basic survival but also to lead a fruitful and positive life.
This book deals a lot with basics of human psychology in context with the modern world, where every life is connected like a small element in an electronic circuit that depends upon the other.
Self-Help Books on Making Money
6. Rich Dad, Poor Dad- by Robert Kiyosaki
Anyone aspiring to be rich should read this global bestseller by Japanese-American businessman and author, Robert Kiyosaki. The book, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ is based on the author’s life. Born into a poor family of Japanese migrants to the US, the author’s best childhood friend hailed from a very affluent family.
The book talks about what fathers from economically weaker families teach their children such as the importance of education, value of money and hard work. He also discusses teaching gained from the rich father of his childhood pal, who groomed his son differently.
The basic difference, says Kiyosaki, is in thought patterns of rich and the poor. Changes in thinking can lead even a poor person to become wealthy and happy, says Kiyosaki, with examples from his personal life.
7. The Power of Broke- by Daymond John
Not many are familiar with the name Daymond John. However, he is the founder and CEO of FUBU brand of fashion apparel of the US. This book is ideal for every aspiring entrepreneur.
The author speaks about his personal experiences of starting a business with hand-sewn shirts from sidewalks of Queens in New York. Beginning with a very humble budget of US$ 40, Daymond John speaks about how innovative thinking and new ideas led him to build a multi-million dollar empire.
He aptly states that starting broke- or with very limited budget- gives entrepreneurs a clearer idea about how and where to invest. This, he says, spurs creative thinking leading to newer and out-of-the-box ideas that are essential to launch any successful business.
8. Own It- By Sally Krawcheck
For every woman aspiring to succeed financially at work or business, ‘Own It’ by Sally Crawcheck is a book that simply cannot be ignored. The authoress laments that most working women and entrepreneurs try to imitate men and end up competing or lagging behind.
Instead, women can make greater headway by effectively deploying their unique, feminine thinking and behavioral traits bestowed by nature and education.
She rightly points out that by recognizing and realizing personal potential, women will no longer need to compete with men for a top post at companies or stay underdogs in business. Sally Krawcheck’s book is aptly titled since it shows how women can own their success- as professionals or businesswomen.
9. It’s Rising Time- By Kim Kiyosaki
American authoress Kim Kiyosaki literally exhorts women into financial rebellion through this excellent book. She encourages women who do not want to depend upon their spouse, parents or other persons for financial stability.
Kim Kiyosaki also highlights how women need to play vital roles in making financial decisions for their households, personal finance and business. In very simple manner, the authoress encourages women to take charge of their financial affairs and shows ways and means to do so with boldness.
She speaks about how women can overcome traditional inhibitions, lack of confidence and other limitations to become great investors for personal finance and run their successful business. This is a “must read” for every woman who wants to secure her financial future without undue dependence on husbands and fathers.
10. Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman- By Gail Evans
In her book, Gail Evans aptly points out, very few biggest entrepreneurs and millionaires are women. Women, she says, are never taught entrepreneurial skills and nor do they exert extra efforts to acquire them through independent efforts.
In her book, the authoress speaks of ways and means that women can become successful at business and also overtake male counterparts by ‘playing like a man,’ in various spheres. The authoress has taken extra care to make her book very interesting to both genders by interspersing chapters with interesting and humorous real life experiences she encountered during her career.
She empowers women by providing them the right tools required for success at business and work. Interestingly, this book is not female specific. It also provides male executives and businessmen with a better understanding how to fully utilize the potential of women for promotions to very senior management levels.
Personal Development Books on Spiritual Guidance
11. The Real You- By Radhanath Swami
Born as American citizen in Chicago, Illinois as Richard Slavin the author is now better known worldwide as Radhanath Swami. He has been a globally renowned spiritual teacher and Bhakti Yoga practitioner of India’s largest spiritual movement, International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON).
‘The Real You’ is among the nearly a dozen books he has authored. ‘The Real You’ is suited for followers of all faiths. It focuses on two traits of human life, ‘Wisdom of Heart’ (of mind) and ‘Wisdom of Art (of action).
Radhanath Swami shows how combining wisdom of thoughts and actions in our daily lives can lead away to peeling away of undesirable traits that creep into every human being. The book takes readers on a journey towards spiritual progress, regardless of the religion they follow.
Hence, it helps you become a better citizen of the world by developing desirable traits like compassion, forgiveness, selflessness and other commendable qualities.
12. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari- by Robin Sharma
This book is ranks as global bestseller. Based on fiction, it talks about a successful, wealthy lawyer Julian Mantle, who suffers a heart attack. Renouncing his wealth, he travels to India in search of spiritual life and succeeds.
This book teaches us how to live a simple yet meaningful life, regardless of wealth. Though the book is based upon a fictional character, it reveals the banality of living a purely material life based on personal achievements, selfish motives and greed for wealth.
The author subtly display to readers, how materialistic goals seldom bring lasting happiness during our lifetime. Author Robin Sharma does not encourage anyone to leave their jobs or business in favor of sainthood or other spiritual conquests.
The book opens vistas for the modern man to strike a proper balance between material requirements essential for life while attaining spiritual growth to become happy and spread goodness in the society.
13. The Alchemist- By Paulo Coelho
Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist has changed millions of lives around the world. The story revolves around a fictional boy named Santiago, who works as shepherd in Andulasia’s hills. Santiago often dreams of pyramids in a distant and unknown land, where treasures are hidden.
Believing the dreams to be true, he embarks on a near impossible journey in search of wealth. On his way, Santiago meets people from different cultures and walks of life. Every encounter with a new person imparts him some wisdom.
Eventually, Santiago realizes that wisdom is the greatest treasure and returns home a happy lad, though he cannot find material wealth. Dialogs between the shepherd boy and various characters in the book are loaded with wisdom for every reader, regardless of their religious inclinations, culture or nationality.
14. Miracles of Your Mind- By Dr. Joseph Murphy
Modern scientific research has proven beyond doubt that every human utilizes only a fraction of their brain during lifetime. Dr. Joseph Murphy, a Roman Catholic New Thought Minister ordained in Religious and Divine Science shows in this book how to unleash miracles by tapping hidden resources of the mind to achieve a fulfilled yet spiritually accomplished life.
He discusses the ‘power of attraction’ which helps readers to view their lives in a different light that strikes balance between demands of the modern world and materialism as well as intrinsic vacuum for spirituality in humans.
Dr. Murphy also gives examples of how a few simple steps can help improve your life by becoming more successful at work or business, attain financial success, lead a happier family life and become a very responsible and respected member of the society.
Though the author is Roman Catholic by faith, ‘Miracles of Your Mind’ is well suited for followers of every religion since it has blends spirituality without religion and practicalities for modern life.
15. Living the Mystery of Life- By Sri Sri Ravishankar
Everyone faces various challenges in life- sickness, financial problems, family discords and lots more. Often, we are flummoxed by these challenges and become despondent, leading to unhappiness and discontent.
The book ‘Living the Mystery of Life’ by Sri Sri Ravishankar, internationally acclaimed Yoga guru from India and founder of Art of Living Foundation, provides practical answers to these perplexing issues we humans encounter at every stage of life.
Once again, Sri Sri Ravishankar does not base his book on any religious teachings, which makes it suitable for people of all faiths, cultures and nationalities. The book features short talks, questions and answers from real life people and profound insights into human attitudes that make every adverse situation a problem.
Books on Effective Parenting
16. Know Your Child- By Sri Sri Ravishankar
Authored by Sri Sri Ravishankar in a rather humorous way, ‘Know Your Child’ is essential for every parent. Indeed, it is a guide for every parent on how to raise their kids from childhood till the time they become independent.
It guides parents on how to counsel their kids for everything from behaving at home, school and the society. ‘Know Your Child’ also educates teachers and academic experts on how to ensure a child learns better and retains vital knowledge throughout their lives.
Through this book, Sri Sri Ravishankar has made millions of parents worldwide to rethink about the manner of upbringing of their kids. The eminent Yoga guru and spiritual teacher give great examples about how parents and teachers should behave towards kids since they influence a child’s future development and personality.
17. The Smartest Kids in the World- By Amanda Ripley
The most common question among parents around the world remains: why kids from a particular country or geographic location better at specific skills than others. For example, kinds from China may be better at sports while their American counterparts have better analytical and pedagogic skills.
Indians make great IT experts while most renowned chefs of the world hail from Europe. In her book ‘The Smartest Kids in the World’, the authoress takes in-depth look at cultural influences on children around the world that molds them as adults.
She speaks of different types of upbringing methods and parenting patterns that eventually form habits in children. Sans proper parenting, children cannot attain their fullest potential.
She highlights her points by examples of a few exemplary kids who went on to become youngest millionaires of the world and what went into their parenting. A must read for every parent who wishes their kids to be very successful.
18. Positive Parenting- By Rebecca Eans
Every parent wishes the best for their children. However, a majority of parents take to nagging, punishments and other unpleasant techniques to get kids to behave in the manner they view appropriate.
The book ‘Positive Parenting’ is not a fictional guide about how to raise kids. Instead, authoress Rebecca Eans speaks of her own struggles and trials while trying to raise her children. She speaks about how the right kind of counseling for children to focus on their development rather than admonition for unruly behavior.
The authoress also highlights various examples where children can be encouraged to cooperate into studying well, maintaining proper etiquette and become great classmates and friends.
The book is not meant for foreign parents only. It suits every nationality since it deals with child psychology rather than laying emphasis on any specific culture or ethnicity.
19. Strong Mothers-Strong Sons- By Meg Meeker
Interestingly, Meg Meeker, MD, has also written another bestseller, ‘Strong Fathers- Strong Daughters’. Both these books deal with various phases of growths of a son or daughter. It deals with various sensitive topics such as reasons why sons or daughters move away from their mom or dad.
These books are based on the generally accepted principle worldwide that daughters are closer to their dads while sons are more inclined towards the mom. As mother of a son and daughter and a medical practitioner by profession, Dr Meg Meeker authors these books from her personal experience.
It contains interesting revelations about child psychology of which parents would be unaware. These books are also excellent guides to anyone having young children.
The book ‘Strong Mothers-Strong Sons’ speaks about maternal influence on some of the world’s most successful men while the ‘Strong Fathers-Strong Daughters’ speaks of how girl kids generally are influenced in various decisions of life by their father’s preferences.
20. The Danish Way of Parenting- By Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl
Wondering why Danish way? According to global survey of populations of the world, Denmark as the topmost where people are happiest. Happier populations are a result of superior parenting.
In their book, ‘The Danish Way of Parenting’, the two authors have studied in-depth the manner in which Danes groom their children from birth till the time they become independent.
The two writers are also parents and have given examples of how their modes of grooming kids led to happier children and eventually, happy adults. The book lays bare the myths of various countries around the world that their own, homegrown methods of parenting are correct.
It has helped millions of people worldwide to look at parenting with a totally new perspective while modifying techniques and beliefs. Indeed, the book is said to be a guide for enjoyable parenting since bringing up kids in the modern world can prove fairly difficult.
Books for General Knowledge
21. Manorama Yearbook 2018- from Malayala Manorama Media, Kerala, India
Anyone preparing for entrance exams for government jobs, admissions to institutions of higher education or wanting to excel in quiz contests can find latest information in India’s most popular general knowledge publication, Manorama Year Book 2018.
Indeed, this book is recommended for students aspiring to enter anything from Chartered Accountancy to Indian Administrative Service or eying a profession in India’s large banking and finance sector.
The comprehensive yearbook is an encyclopedia of the world and India of sorts. It has been published by the Malayala Manorama Media Group based in Kottayam, Kerala since 1959, when it made its debut in Malayalam language.
The book is available in English since 1965, Bengali since 1990 and Hindi since 1991. Regardless whether you are student or retiree, Manorama Yearbook should be an essential in every household.
22. Britannica Ready Reference Encyclopedia- from Encyclopedia Britannica Inc, UK
The full version of Encyclopedia Britannica costs as high as Rs. 29,000. It is considered the most comprehensive publications of its kind in the world covering nearly half a million topics and a larger number of subtopics.
However, a cheaper variant, Britannica Ready Reference Encyclopedia that covers a fewer but very relevant topics on general knowledge can be bought for about Rs.1,500 each.
The distinct advantage by owning this great publication is, you get excellent, verified and comprehensive general knowledge about various topics such as history, science, countries, economy, politics and lots more.
This book is ideal for students and retirees too who wish to broaden their knowledge either for excelling at quiz contests, increasing awareness about various topics or simply for entertainment. The book contains excellent illustration and explanations with footnotes.
23. Random House Unabridged Dictionary – from Penguin-Random House, USA
With nearly 320,000 entries, 2,400 illustrations, 75,000 example sentences, 35 page atlas of the world and 45 boxed charts and tables, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary is worth investing in for anyone who strives for career development.
For students, employees and business persons in India, framing proper correspondence or writing in English often proves a problem. India is not included in the list of 18 native English speaking countries of the world. Local accents and use of archaic terms greatly influence the manner in which English is spoken and written in India.
For a price of nearly Rs.12,000 the Random House Unabridged Dictionary is indeed an expensive to own. However, the benefits of owning one far outweigh the expense you incur.
Since English is commonly used in almost every transaction and all types of communications in India, this dictionary allows you to vastly improve your vocabulary while developing excellent interpersonal skills while dealing with foreigners.
The huge popularity of this book can be gauged by the fact that it is now published in India by a leading UK based media group, Hachette’s local division.
24. Limca Book of Records-2018- from Hachette India
Limca Book of Records-2018 is a comprehensive listing of India’s achievements from historical to modern times. The book is updated every year to include the latest information available at time of going to print.
The publication consists of all developments in India’s education, defense, political, government, entertainment, literature, arts, science, adventure, tourism, wildlife and myriad other sectors.
Additionally, the book also provides a comprehensive listing of various world records in various spheres. The 2018 edition contains more information about technology, business and economy and has easy-to-understand charts, graphs, tables and illustrations as well as graphics.
Real life pictures taken across India and in various parts of the world make it a coveted possession for every knowledge lover.
25. Mathurbhumi Yearbook Plus 2018- from Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Group, Kerala
The Mathrubhumi Yearbook Plus 2018 is excellent for every member of your family. It contains comprehensive information about various issues in India and the world and a listing of eminent personalities, world records, defense and economics related information.
Further, there are also insights into various new policies launched by the Indian government. Often, the Mathrubhumi Yearbook Plus comes with a free CD or DVD that also contains similar but abridged information that can be easily accessed on a computer.
The Mathrubhumi Yearbook Plus 2018 is not similar to the other Manorama Yearbook 2018. Indeed, both these yearbooks complement one another. Hence, it makes good sense to possess both.
However, the Mathrubhumi Yearbook 2018 is available only in English and Malayalam versions from bookstores and online.
India’s Decline in Reading
The reading habit in India has suffered a body blow thanks to mobile Internet and easy availability of affordable smart-phones. An anonymous author once said: “We live in an era of smart-phones and dumb people.” Sadly, Indians seem to be exerting extra efforts towards making this quote a reality.
According to NOP World Culture Score report for 2004-2005, Indians ranked as the world’s most avid readers. Studies by various media groups and independent organizations revealed, on average an Indian spends 10 hours per week or about 1 hour, 44 minutes per day on reading.
This made Indians the most avid readers of the world.
Thailand ranked as second country with people spending average of about nine hours, 24 minutes per week on reading followed by China at eight hours, Egypt with seven hours and 50 minutes, the Philippines at seven hours and 36 minutes followed by Czech Republic with about seven hours and 25 minutes per week.
Widespread proliferation of mobile handsets and smart-phones over the last few years is suspected to have caused severe decline in reading habits of Indians. Rather than spending time to read books that increase knowledge and word power, an increasing number of Indians now engage in playing games or watching videos on smart-phones.
A study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015 found, Americans spend only about 19 minutes per day on reading. However, people in the US access newspapers and e-books online- a trend that is in embryonic stage in India.
Nobel Prize winner and world renowned physicist, Albert Einstein once commented: “I fear that day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
Indians seem to be striving hard to fulfill Einstein’s prophecy. Unless Indians revive reading informative books and inculcate the habit in children, this country could be saddled with people having limited or zero general knowledge.