The 10 Best Motivational Books

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This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in January of 2018. If you're not where you want to be in life, finding the inspiration to make sweeping changes can be daunting. These motivational books will help you break through the mental roadblocks holding you back, enabling you to discover your true purpose in this world. We've included memoirs and actionable guides for men and women that offer both personal and professional advice. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Make Your Bed

2. On Fire

3. Can't Hurt Me

Editor's Notes

May 14, 2020:

Each of us pulls motivation from different sources, whether they be spiritual or secular, and it's important to take a critical eye to any selection to ensure it's right for you. That's why you'll find everything from books that take a tough-love approach, like Unfu*k Yourself, to some that offer gentle, yet practical, advice, such as Claim Your Power. Just remember that self-improvement isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and it's okay and even probable that some books just won't speak to you.

The volumes on this list differ from self-help and inspirational ones slightly as they're centered on motivation, so we focused on selections that offer practical guidance with stories told in a way that's relatable and inspiring. We said goodbye to You Are A Badass, which is still a good book but tends to be more focused on buoying the reader up rather than trying to get them making substantial changes or assessments. It also deals with depression in a way that some find overly harsh and insensitive.

We also removed Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, although it remains an interesting read. It's, unfortunately, a little too overwrought with common-sense advice and tends to assume the reader has found a life purpose already, making the advice unhelpful if you haven't.

To fill the void, we brought on Can't Hurt Me, the life story of an exceptional person who came from harrowing circumstances. Even if you're not attempting to break numerous endurance records like David Goggins, its themes of pushing yourself and overcoming fear to become a better version of yourself are universal. Be aware that it has tons of profanity, but unlike with Unfu*k Yourself, this crassness is not part of the approach, but rather, how the author communicates. His use of swear words tends to lend weight to what he's saying, but can be distracting for those who are sensitive to it.

We also added Glennon Doyle's "Untamed", which specifically speaks to women who strive to be great but are still left feeling discontented. While the author has no qualms about discussing her political views, this doesn't detract from her overall message of empowerment and acceptance. Her prose is to the point, not overly flowery, and powerful.

Special Honors

Becoming Deluxe Signed Edition A New York Times bestseller, Becoming is former first lady Michelle Obama's memoir. With deeply personal and well-written prose, it discusses her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother. This deluxe edition arrives in a gift box and includes a signed, clothbound book, additional content, and frameable prints.

Eckhart Tolle Spiritual teacher and bestselling author Eckhart Tolle's profound yet simple teachings have helped people all over the world achieve greater fulfillment in their lives. His website offers free courses, articles, video teachings, books, CDs, information about events and local groups, and more.

4. Glennon Doyle's "Untamed"

5. Letters to a Young Brother

6. The Success Principles

7. The Compound Effect

8. Unfu*k Yourself

9. Awaken the Giant Within

10. Claim Your Power

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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