These 20 Books Will Boost Productivity & Improve Life

By Shannon
These 20 Books Will Boost Productivity & Improve Life

Some of the most successful people in the world make it a habit to read books that will help inspire them. Whether you are an entrepreneur, or someone who is looking to excel in your career, there is always room for improvement. And there is no better place to get some advice than from experts who have shared their secrets and best practices in a really good book. Here are 20 books that will help inspire you to improve your life and productivity.

The Go-Giver. Credit: Amazon.com

20. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

In The Go-Giver, Bob Burg and John David Mann talk about the concept of giving, and how it can actually help grow a business. He breaks down his ideals into the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success”, which are value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity.

Just to give one example, the first bullet point, value, talks about how the amount of money you earn comes from how valuable your product or service is. So by giving more value, you can get more back in return.

Critics of the book have called this over-simplified, and some believe that it should be geared towards younger people who are still in the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey. On the flip side, others have said that reading The Go-Giver was perfect for them, because they needed that simplicity in order to understand concepts that never clicked with them before. So, if your eyes tend to glaze over when you hear technical business advice, this might be a great place to start on your self-improvement journey.

Opening pages of Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son. Credit: Farnam Street

19. Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer

The title of this book essentially gives away the plot of this story. Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son are just that– a collection of real letters from a fictional father who runs a meat packing business in Chicago. Even though it was originally written in the 1800’s, it is filled with practical advice that can still apply today. There are even some great quotes that are from this book, and you don’t even realize they were from George Horace Lorimer. Even better yet, it is just 99 cents on Kindle.

Marie Kondo (right) and her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Credit: House Beautiful

18. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Your home should be your castle, and when you return from a long day at work, the tidiness of your space has a lot to do with your ability to relax. If you work from home, it is even more important to have a neat and clean space if you want to lower your stress levels and be as productive as humanly possible.

It all started with her book, called If you have never heard of Marie Kondo before, her methods just might change your life. Instead of encouraging people to get rid of everything, like what you see in an episode of Hoarders, Kondo talks about her “Konmari” method. This is the process of going through categories of objects that you own (clothes, shoes, books, etc.) and asking yourself one-by-one if that object “sparks joy”. In her book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo goes through the steps of her Konmari method. If you want to see this in action, there is even an accompanying TV series on Netflix called Tidying Up.

The E Myth Revisited. Credit: Amazon.com

17. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

You probably already know by now that a lot of small businesses fail. In The E Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber talks about a lot of the myths surrounding the life of an entrepreneur, and what it really means to run a business. His basic idea is that if your entire business relies solely on you, that is not really a business at all, and that you have only created a new job for yourself. Gerber believes that a”true” business should be able to run on its own, even if you step back and live your life. While this advice may not be for everyone, it still helps you to step back and examine your business ventures once you have removed yourself from the equation. This book is so popular, it has become required reading in a lot of Law and Business Schools.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Credit: Amazon.com

16. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

When we think about the most successful people in the world, we put them up on this pedestal, as if they are some glorious example of success. In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell takes a very intellectual approach to examining the truth behind the people who manage to excel in their careers, and those that don’t. Gladwell talks a lot about privilege, and how culture can influence multiple generations. This book is also full of interesting trivia that you will probably find yourself telling your friends and family. This book is not only fascinating, but it is also extremely important for people to read, especially in today’s social climate. It will have you examining your own family history, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the people in your life.

Creativity, Inc. Credit: Amazon.com

15. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Creativity, Inc. is written by Ed Catmull, who was one of the founders of the Pixar animation studio. In the 1980’s, Catmull helped to found one of the first studios that had the goal of creating stories through computer animation. After decades of hard work, finding great employees, and tons of creativity, Pixar Studios has won multiple Academy Awards. Catmull goes over his journey, and gives some really valuable advice about choosing the best employees, as well as the importance of leadership.

The Art of Money Getting by PT Barnum. Credit: Amazon.com

14. The Art of Money Getting by P.T. Barnum

With the wild success of the movie musical The Greatest Showman in 2017, people were suddenly remembering the life of circus showrunner, P.T. Barnum. While that movie was great as a work of fiction, it barely scratched the surface on just how good P.T. Barnum truly was at making money. Throughout his lifetime, he made millions of dollars, only to lose it all. Then, he made it all over again, starting from zero. There are very few people who can say that they have accomplished that, and had their legacy live in years after they were gone. Lucky for us, he wrote several books, with one of them being The Art of Money Getting.

In this book, Barnum explains his essential principles to making money and growing wealth. They are very basic, which is great, because they can apply to nearly every kind of business. Since the book was so old, there is no longer a copyright, and you can actually access this for free on Google Books or Kindle Unlimited. Or, you can download the audiobook for just $1, and it only takes about an hour or two to listen to the entire book.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Credit: Amazon.com

13. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

If you read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, it may change the way you approach your entire life. Covey goes over how people complain about things they cannot change, instead of being proactive. He also mentions that focusing on the negative will never lead to progress, and taking just a few minutes to “sharpen the saw”, or do things that are necessary for your overall betterment are going to pay off in the long run. If you have Amazon Prime, the e-book is available for free, and you will most likely be able to find it at your local library, as well.

The Richest Man in Babylon. Credit: Amazon.com

12. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Written in 1926, few people even know that this book exists. Financial Guru Tony Robbins gives credit to The Richest Man in Babylon as the inspiration behind his success. Some of the advice given in this book is very straight-forward, like saving 10% of your income for the future, and only investing in things you understand. If you scroll through the Amazon reviews of this book, there are thousands of reviews of people claiming that these simple rules helped to change their financial life for the better.

The Warren Buffet Way by Robert G. Hagstrom. Credit: Amazon.com

11. The Warren Buffett Way by Robert G. Hagstrom

Warren Buffett is a multi-billionaire, which makes him one of the wealthiest men in human history. He got that way because of his long-term investment strategy, and his ability to remain calm in changing climates. The Warren Buffett Way by Robert G. Hagstrom breaks down all of the different details about how anyone can learn from those same money-making principles. In a lot of ways, this advice may only seem relevant to people who are investing in the stock market. While it’s true that this is the main goal of the book, the advice of doing your research and being confident in your decisions, no matter what outside opinions come your way can make a huge difference in your life and career.

The Company of One by Paul Jarvis. Credit: Amazon.com

10. Company of One by Paul Jarvis

If you are self-employed and a sole proprietor, it can sometimes feel like you don’t have a “real” business, unless you hire other people. Most business articles and books are geared towards pushing entrepreneurs to grow bigger and bigger every year. However, this advice is not actually good for everyone. In some cases, it would be better to keep at a steady pace when things are going well on your own, instead of pushing for growth when you aren’t ready. Author Paul Jarvis wanted to challenge the notions pushed by most business publications by saying that self-employed entrepreneurs should strive to make a business that works well for you, and that it is sustainable, even if it’s just a Company of One.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Credit: Amazon.com

9. Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

If you haven’t read it yet, almost everyone has at least heard of Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. Just as the title suggests, Ferriss attempts to explain how he has pulled off outsourcing employees to help him run his business so that he can spend less time doing the actual work, and still make a profit. He claims that he went from working 80 hours per week to earn $40,000 a year to making $40,000 a month only working 4 hours per week. While some people have called this book life-changing and enlightening, others think the ideas he proposes are much easier said than done. You’ll just have to read and judge for yourself.

Getting to Yes. Credit: Amazon.com

8. Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher

Nearly every single Law School student is required to read Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, because it is full of advice on how to negotiate with someone without escalating into an argument. Even though it is geared towards lawyers and high-powered business people, it can equip you with some seriously powerful tools in working together with your fellow human being.

The One Thing by Gary Keller. Credit: Amazon.com

7. The One Thing by Gary Keller

If you live in the United States, you have most likely seen signs in your town for Keller Williams Realty, because it is one of the biggest real estate companies in the world. Its founder, Gary Keller, distills his secrets to success in his book, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. One of the main principles of the book is that in order to be the best at anything, you should focus on just one thing, because if you spread yourself too thin, there will never be enough time to master whatever it is will bring you success.

Credit: Amazon.com

6. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Everyone has met an exceptionally popular and charismatic person. You may have wondered, “How do they do it?!” Well, they probably read How to Win Friends & Influence People. Reading this book can dramatically change your life, no matter who you are. If you look at the Amazon Reviews of this book, it is filled with thousands of personal stories of people who felt as if this book changed the way the communicate with other people.

Depending on how social you already are, the advice in this book might seem obvious to some, and life changing to others. If you are someone who struggles with social anxiety and depression, this book may actually help you tremendously in both your work and personal life.

Rich Dad, Poor Day by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Credit: Amazon.com

5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

If you are an entrepreneur, you may have already read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The book has been rewritten so many times to cater towards teenagers and women, too, but the underlying lesson is always the same. Robert Kiyosaki explains how he became a millionaire by investing in real estate. Read this book with a grain of salt, though, because many of the techniques Kiyosaki used to earn his fortune in the 1990’s are no longer applicable after the 2008 recession, when it became much more difficult to qualify for a mortgage.

If you haven’t read it yet, it may be worth giving it a chance, because his experience shows how budgeting and investing can pay off in a big way. Luckily for you, the book is so popular, it should be available in nearly every public library in the United States.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Credit: Amazon.com

4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

We all have habits, whether we realize it or not. And these habits are what dictate the positive and negative results outcomes in our lives. The Power of Habit aims to help you identify and dissect your own so that you can transform your life for a better outcome. According to the author, Charles Duhigg, he lost 30 pounds while writing this book, simply because he learned to recognize his own bad habits. Obviously, this can affect both your career and personal life, and improving yourself may translate into more success.

Daily Rituals: How Aritsts Work by Mason Currey. Credit: Amazon.com

3. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Time is the one thing that we can never get more of. And finding a schedule that works for us can sometimes be really difficult, especially for people who are entrepreneurs. In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, he goes over some of the techniques that some of the most famous people in creative fields have used, and we get to take a look into their daily rituals.

Even though most of the examples used in this book are famous artists and writers, the advice can also apply to other fields, as well, because it gives us insight into what successful people do in 24 hours. We get to see that there is no “right” answer on how to get work done. However, there does seem to be a common thread among every successful person, but you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Bird by Bird. Credit: Amazon.com

2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird is book is mainly geared towards aspiring writers, and it is required reading for anyone looking to earn their MFA in Writing. However, even if you are not a writer, it can also be very valuable for lessons about life and how to go about any creative endeavour in your life. The audiobook is available on YouTube, and the paper copy is very affordable online.

One of the most important things Anne Lamott teaches us in the book is how to observe life around us. In a world where people are glued to their phones and have a hard time being present in the moment, this book can teach you some very good techniques on how to look up and start paying attention. If you want to get a free sample her philosophy and sense of humor, Anne Lamott gave a great TED talk called “12 Truths I Learned From Life and Writing.”

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Credit: Amazon.com

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

First written in 1937, Think and Grow Rich has been re-published again and again over the decades. The author, Napoleon Hill was a multi-millionaire, and one of the richest men of his time. He claims that all self-made millionaires have certain things in common, and that even if they lost everything, they can get their money back again. He distilled success into 13 principles that you can take into action in your daily life. This book has inspired tons of future millionaires, and many of the modern-day self-help books out there with business advice are essentially copying what is said in this text. Believe it or not, it is just 55 cents on Kindle, and the nearly 11-hour-long audiobook is actually available on YouTube for free.

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