12 Classic Books to Inspire You in the New Year

Looking to improve yourself in the New Year? Studies have shown that people who read are more successful. According to the research, rich people don’t read for entertainment, but rather to educate and improve themselves. Many successful people, including the top one percent of income earners, read on average a book or two a month, focused on self-improvement.

Warren Buffet is known to devote an upwards of 80% of his time to reading, more than 500 pages a day, and Bill Gates reads at least 50 books a year. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Oprah Winfrey are also noted as voracious readers.

Here’s a list of 12 books, one for each month in the year, that are classics in the genre of self-improvement, success literature, and spiritual personal development.


Think and Grow Rich

Written by Napoleon Hill and published during the Great Depression in 1937, more than 100 million copies of this book have reportedly been sold, making it the best-selling self-help book. Napoleon Hill was born poor in a small town in Virginia in 1883. Said to have been inspired by a meeting with Andrew Carnegie in which Carnegie tasked him to interview successful people about how they acquired their wealth, Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich, his second book, following his 1928 multi-volume work The Law of Success.

“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

Napoleon Hill

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

Published in 1996, The Millionaire Next Door is a compilation of research done by the authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko on people in the U.S. whose net-worth exceeds a million dollars. Considered a classic of success literature, this book centers around the idea that most millionaires do not lead extravagant lifestyles but rather live below their means and save and invest their money.

“They think millionaires own expensive clothes, watches, and other status artifacts. We have found this is not the case.”

Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Written by Stephen Covey, an educator and businessman, and published in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 25 million copies. Covey’s work focuses on character ethic and aligning one’s values with ‘universal and timeless’ principles. The audio version became the first non-fiction audio book to sell over 1 million copies. In this book Covey coined the idea of the ‘abundance mentality’, and shows people how to integrate the seven habits of successful people into their lives.

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

Stephen Covey

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

Timothy Ferriss, a young American entrepreneur and investor, shows people how to live more and work less by using company automation (hiring virtual assistants) and focusing on lifestyle development. This book has sold more than a million copies since its publication in 2007.

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”

Timothy Ferriss


The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Written by Eckhart Tolle and first published in 1997 by Namaste Publishing in a print run of just 3,000, this book found great and continued success after being endorsed by Oprah in 2000. Tolle became a spiritual teacher at the age of 29 after going through an inner-transformation and The Power of Now uses a mixture of spiritual teachings such as Zen Buddism and Christianity to show people how to live happy and successful lives by focusing on the present rather than the illusion of a past or future.

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”

Eckhart Tolle


The Power of Positive Thinking

Written by Norman Vincent Peale and published in 1952, this book spent 186 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and has sold more than 5 million copies. Peale, a pastor and motivational speaker born in 1898, centers his message of inspiration around faith and positive thoughts. A major criticism of this book was that it lacks verified sources. Donald Trump grew up attending Peale’s church with his parents and has contributed his recovery from bankruptcy to Peale’s techniques of positive thinking.

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”

Norman Vincent Peale


How to Win Friends and Influence People

Born in 1888 in MIssouri, Dale Carnegay, the son of a poor farmer, had the dream of becoming a lecturer, eventually working his way to New York City where he convinced the manager of a YMCA to let him teach a class. From there he quickly began making money, changing the spelling of his last name after the affluent and well-known Andrew Carnegie. Dale Carnegie’s popular speaking courses culminated in How to Win Friends and Influence People, which was a best-seller despite being published in 1936 during the Great Depression.

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

Dale Carnegie


Awaken the Giant Within

Tony Robbins has made a name for himself as a leader in the science of peak performance. His second book, Awaken the Giant Within, first published in 1992, provides guidance on mastering your emotions, body, relationships, finances and life.

“Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards.”

Tony Robbins


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead

Brene Brown is a researcher and thought-leader whose 2010 TED talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ is one of the top 5 in the world with more than 37 million views. The publication of Daring Greatly followed in in 2012, based on twelve years of research that dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is a weakness, arguing instead that it is the most accurate measure of courage and can bring purpose and meaning to our lives.

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Brene Brown


Man’s Search for Meaning

While psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was imprisoned in a Nazi death camp, he noticed that it wasn’t the prisoners who were physically strong that were surviving, but those who had chosen a deep meaning for their lives and could imagine a hopeful future. Man’s Search for Meaning was first published in German in 1946 and the initial English version was titled From Death-Camp to Existentialism. This short but intense book explores how, while we cannot always choose our situations, we can choose what we think about it.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor Frankl

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is a 40 day devotional packed with Bibl verses centered around finding your purpose based on Christian principles. Published in 2007 it has sold over 60 million copies.

“The only really happy people are those who have learned how to serve.”

Rick Warren


High Performance Habits

Written by Brendon Burchard, a high-performance coach and motivational speaker, this is the newest book on the list, published in 2017. Based on one of the largest surveys ever collected on high performers,  this research based book looks at the six habits that make people exceptionally successful.

“Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self, and start acting like that person today.”

Brendon Burchard

These are just a small sample of books that have inspired people through the decades. What books have you read that have changed your life?

Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.



This entry was written by and posted on December 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm, filed under Gift Lists & Ideas, How To Books and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink

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