The 10 Best Motivational & Inspirational Books

Motivation and inspiration are two transformative life changing X factors every person looks to find in their lives. Motivation is what drives you: if you have it, everything seems attainable; but if you don’t, it can be hard to get out of bed.

Inspiration, on the other hand, is more of a process. If you are inspired by a speech, book, or movie, let’s say, it touches you on the inside and connects your thought process to a state of being more purposeful in your life.

Now, why one requires motivation and inspiration in their lives is evident. There are ups and downs in life- no one is perfect- and almost everyone feels the need for an external push to achieve certain goals in their life. This is when inspiration comes into play. You get inspired, which then motivates you to do something about making a change.

Let’s understand this with an example. You’ve just finished reading an excellent book, which has inspired you on various levels. Now, thanks to the inspiration, you are now motivated to go out there and conquer the world.

Oftentimes, a really good book on motivation and inspiration is all you need for that little nudge towards the right direction. That is what makes great life-altering books!

When it comes to analyzing the driving factors of motivation and inspiration, one must look at their strengths and weaknesses. Try to consider the positive changes you can bring about in your life. Self-awareness plays an important role in succeeding.

Here’s a list of 10 books on motivation and inspiration that could help bring about that positive change in your life you’ve been looking for.

1. Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup For the Soul:

101 Inspirational Stories About Counting Your Blessings and Having a Positive Attitude. Sometimes all you need is a little attitude adjustment, get a glance at life from a different perspective. That is precisely what the authors wished to convey through Think Positive, where they bring together 101 real-life stories about how positive thinking changed their lives for the better.

​Not only were they able to overcome trying challenges, but ended up improving their lives for the better without even realizing it. The stories motivate readers to make every day special, find ways to incorporate joy into their daily lives, count their blessings, and lead a meaningful life by oozing out all the negative energy around them.
Many readers refer to this book as “uplifting” and “definitely inspiring”, and for good reason.

The stories are laced with themes of faith, strength, and optimism. It helps readers develop a positive attitude towards life, which helps combat adverse situations they may be exposed to later on in life. By reminding them that every cloud has a silver lining, this book is the perfect gift for your loved ones going through difficult situations in their lives.

2. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art:

Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. The War of Art is all about knocking down the resistance that stands in our way of achieving success.

​Internationally bestselling author, Steven Pressfield designed the perfect guide, meant to inspire and motivate readers all around the world, and is a good read for those struggling to express themselves. He believes that “resistance” is our greatest enemy, and as long as you can overcome resistance, everything in life will start falling in place. He offers creative and unique methods to defeat it.

Some may say that The War of Art is a dose of tough love for yourself. For decades now, this book has inspired millions of people to defeat resistance: by recognizing the barriers and silence the worrywarts within us, telling us we are not good enough. This book goes on to explain how this resistance is something everyone faces in their lives, and provides a plan to conquer the foe within.

The author believes once this is overcome, you can now achieve success to your best abilities. Even though written for writers originally, this book has been welcomed with open arms by artists, business tycoons, members of the military, and many other diverse groups of people.

If you have an internal push to create something, but can’t seem to take that first leap of faith because of distractions and apprehensions, this book is for you.

3. Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE. This entrancing and candid memoir is about the early days of Nike, its intrepid start-up days, and how the company evolved into one of the world’s most recognized, profitable brands.

​But it’s more than just that; Phil Knight, the founder and CEO of Nike opens up about the struggles he faced, the risks he encountered, the devastating setbacks, the brutal competitors, and the hostile bankers.

But above all, he mentions how without any of the blows along the way, he wouldn’t have been able to achieve the thrilling triumphs at the end.

Fresh out of business school, Phil Knight sets out to start his own company of selling high-quality, low-priced athletic shoes from Japan. He sells these shoes from the trunk of his car, determined to keep moving forward, despite the struggles.

He grossed $8,000 the first year; today Nike’s annual sales go beyond $30 billion. In this memoir, he also brings up the important relationships he developed along the way that formed the heart and soul of Nike, his former track coach, and his first-ever employees.

This memoir is a great read for those aspiring to get out there and start something on their own. As Knight mentions, there were several daunting risks and setbacks that stood between him and his dream.

However, by harnessing the supreme power of his mission and a developing a deep belief in the spirit of sport, he was able to stand against all odds.

4. Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air

This heart-breaking book is ideal for readers fighting life-threatening diseases and helps them find the light at the end of the tunnel.

​Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, gets diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and finds that his life has turned upside down. One day he was the doctor treating the dying, and the next day he was the patient struggling to live.

This book is a roller-coaster of events that chronicle his life as a naïve medical student, to a neurosurgeon at Stanford, to a dying patient (and new father).

The questions he answers in this book are oftentimes what most people wish to find out when they have life-threatening diseases: What makes life worth living when death is just a few fleeting moments away? How do you deal with such a life-altering piece of information? What happens, now that your future is no longer a ladder towards achieving your goals? How do you train your brain to think positive in the perpetual present of ailing? How does one nurture a new life when your own life hangs by a thread?

If you’re someone asking any of these questions, then give this book a read. Kalanithi had to deal with his inner demons while battling cancer himself, and answered these questions in his perspective. This memoir is moving, empowering, uplifting, and definitely motivational.

5. Angela Duckworth’s Grit

The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Angela Duckworth, a pioneering psychologist has an important message for all parents, educators, students, business professionals- both seasoned and new.

She shares the secret to achieving outstanding results in life is a focused determination she calls grit. This is a must-read for those who are looking for motivation to strive towards success.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Why is it that some people succeed and other people fail?” you’re not alone. In fact, Angela Duckworth had that very thought herself. This is why she shared her insights from her research on grit that explains how talent does not play the most important role in success.

Even though it’s a crucial factor, she claims that other factors are way more significant, such as following through on commitments and identifying your true passion in life.

The daughter of a scientist, Angela took a while to discover herself. She went through teaching, business consulting, and finally landed in the field of neuroscience, which she believed was her calling.

That led to her hypothesis that success is not driven by genius, but a blend of passion and persistence. Grit is a brilliant read and best suited for those looking for ways to determine if they have what it takes to start out on their own.

6. Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc:

Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. The target audience for Creativity, Inc was managers who aspire to guide their employees to new heights. But as it turns out, multiple hierarchies in the same office can benefit from reading this incisive book.

​It talks about getting creative in business, and is a manual for those seeking for originality. The reason why it is dubbed a must-read is because it is the first ever book that takes you on a ride through the brains of Pixar Animation: you get details on their meetings, “braintrust” sessions, and then some.

Above everything, you get to see where some of the most recognizable films in history were made, and the secrets behind their success.

Building a creative culture within an office environment is crucial, according to Catmull and he backs up his claim with multiple examples that many of us working in an office environment can relate to.

Building this creative culture might as well be difficult and time consuming, but in the long run, it is beneficial. He lists out examples of how managers can push their employees to achieve greatness in various instances.

For example, he says that “A manager is not supposed to prevent risks. He/she is supposed to create a safe environment for their employees to take them.

7. Brené Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection

Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are. It is exhausting how much of an effort one must make today to seem like they’re leading the ideal life. Whether that is pretending like you have perfectly conditioned hair all the time, or always partying over the weekends, your social media accounts better have evidence to back it up.

​Each day we are bombarded with a billion images and messages from society, telling us what to do and how to lead our lives. This makes us believe that we need to look perfect all the time, and do what the rest of the crowd is doing to fit in.

But have you ever stopped to consider who you are and what you like doing, as opposed to what you’re doing for the sake of impressing others? What if you can no longer keep all of these balls in the air? Why is it that everyone else doesn’t seem to be having such a miserable time pretending to be someone they’re not? And most importantly: what will people think if I let go, or give up the act? Do I fail?

Brené Brown is a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, who shares her results from years of research on Whole Hearted Living. This involves communicating with the world from a place of worthiness.

She cultivates seeds of courage, compassion, and self-respect, with the intent for the readers to wake up and be happy in their own skin.

8. Brené Brown’s Rising Strong

How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. The expert on belonging doesn’t stop there, she goes on to write about the fear of falling and how it can be a barrier in our way to success.

​She writes about how struggle can be the greatest call to courage, and it is important to rise strong each time we fall. The science behind vulnerability is evident: If you take risks and are brave enough, you will fall. But Brown tells us to get back up, dust ourselves off, and dare to write a new ending for our individual stories.

An important theme she covers is ownership: owning your stories of failure, heartbreak, and disappointment and using it as an armor is the most effective way to get over it. The minute you own it, it loses its power.

In her book, Brown shares stories of a wide range of people- including leaders of successful companies, artists, normal couples, teachers, and even parents- and explains how they were brave, took a leap of faith, fell flat on their faces, but got right back up and started over.

9. Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Stop Apologizing:

A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals. The author has seen it too much, women not living to their full potential. In their hearts, they know they want more, but they’re too scared of falling short of perfection, of not being good enough.

New York best-selling author, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call to all women looking for inspiration. Despite the fact that many women are taught to define themselves in the light of others, Hollis tells you to stop talking yourselves out of your dreams and get a move on! “I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in the fear of being judged for who we are,” Hollis says.

She gets candid with the readers and opens up about herself, her family, and her work life. She explains how she achieved great goals not by procrastinating or making excuses, but by putting herself out there and not thinking about what others thought of her.

‘Someday’ is a myth, so stop waiting for it. Stop planning on making time and do what you have to do today, right now. Her plan unfolds in three steps: letting go of excuses (someday is a myth), picking up new practices (learning to say no), and honing new skills (organization and optimism).

10. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s Extreme Ownership:

How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. Extreme Ownership set the bar high for literature on leadership development after its release in 2015.

​The authors, Willink and Babin were part of the SEAL task unit and were sent to a horrifying battlefield in Iraq. The task unit was asked to help U.S forces secure the city of Ramadi (which was deemed all but lost). This is where both authors first learnt about leadership and its importance at every level of the task unit.

Braving through difficult circumstances, tragic losses, acts of heroism, and hard-won victories, the authors convey the message of leadership being the most crucial factor in the success (or failure) of a team.

This book further goes on to demonstrate how one can apply this principle to any team or organization to accomplish the most difficult of missions. The captivating narrative involves direct instruction and application, pushing leaders everywhere to go out there, lead efficiently, and reap the rewards!

Leave a Comment