20 Must-Read Success Books [2024 Update]

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Success. The word has different meanings for different people.

For some people success is the same as making lots of money. For others success is doing something you love and doing it well. While still other may say that success is all about trying to achieve something difficult and making it work.

There is business success, personal success, relationship success and of course the physical success you get from winning in athletics. The exact success we are talking about derives from context and the viewpoint of the person talking.

For the purpose of these success books, the books lean mostly toward success in the business, entrepreneur and personal development areas of life.

Most of these books on success give ideas on how to succeed regardless of what you are working at, they just lean a bit toward the professional world.

So if success, in whatever area you desire, is something that you want, the 20 best books on success on this list will be a great place to start.

NOTE: These success books are not collected in any particular order. The first book listed is not necessarily the one I think of as “best success book”. All the books on success have important points to discuss and are all worth reading. Reading the reviews of these books will help you find the book that is right for you. Not the position on the page.

20 Books on Success to Help You Achieve More

1. The Only Skill That Matters by Jonathan A. Levi

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2. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

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Written by one of the world's most popular experts on success and personal achievement, this book provides the reader with a powerful and proven system that anyone can use to improve their life.

Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed includes ideas and concepts that have been used by successful people in a variety of fields. It helps the reader find his or her own potential for greatness, positivity, persuasion, and focus.

This book is based on a successful seminar program that has dramatically increased the income of thousands of people and improved many areas of their lives.

Tracy offers a step-by-step guide to success with proven principles that have been drawn from psychology, business, economics, politics, religion, philosophy, history, and even metaphysics.

These ideas are put together to help raise the reader's self-esteem, improve personal performance, and allow the reader to gain complete control over their personal and professional life.

Brian Tracy's writing is both clear and concise. The ideas that he presents in this book are practical and reasonable for anyone to handle. He spends some time in the book offering information on how people's personalities are formed, which is a great look into psychology that helps the reader think about how their past has formed who they are today.

Additionally, the sections of the book on relationships and parenting are especially useful for those who are looking to improve their lives in those areas.

A number of readers who consider themselves to be successful contribute a lot of their success to this book. One of the best things that readers say this book teaches is that one's subconscious mind is not able to determine if the conscious mind is telling the truth.

For example, if you always tell yourself that you are thin, rich, physically fit, or whatever your goal is, your subconscious mind will eventually believe it and make it happen. This is a simplistic summary of the deeper things that this book is able to teach.

3. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

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The Magic of Thinking Big: Acquire the secrets of success and achieve everything you have always wanted teaches people how they can achieve everything that they have always wanted, from financial security to getting an ideal job, having power and influence, maintaining satisfyin​g relationships, and living a rewarding life.

The author motivates the readers to not only set their goals high, but to then exceed them.

Dr. David J. Schwartz has been long regarded as a top expert on motivation, and is a great teacher to help people sell and manage better, earn more money, and find happiness and peace of mind in their lives.

The Magic of Thinking Big details a carefully designed program that will help the reader get the most out of their career, marriage, community, and family life.

It focuses on the fact that people do not need to have great talent to be successful and satisfied in life, as it is more important to learn and understand new habits of thinking and behaving that will lead to success.

This success book helps change the reader's mindset, and many have found it to be useful to read at least once a year. Schwartz includes real stories in the book so the reader is able to relate to other people's successes and experiences.

Some of the topics that are addressed include not being afraid to fail, dreaming creatively, thinking positively, turning defeat into victory, thinking like a leader, and making effective goals that will help you grow.

Readers have called this book a modern classic for a variety of reasons:

  1. Swartz adds a lot of anecdotes and stories from his personal life to help the reader relate to the message. 
  2. The book appeals to one's common sense.
  3. It is well written.
  4. The topics are very convincing and offer both proof and lively anecdotes.
  5.  It is a quick and easy read.

4. 99 Perseverance Success Stories by Michal Stawicki

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Michal Stawicki is a guy I met online a few years back. It has been great to watch his growth as an author. He is hard-working and dedicated. When I think of him, I think one word: perseverance. So when I saw the title of this book, I immediately knew it was going to be great.

In 99 Perseverance Success Stories: Encouragement for Success in Every Walk of Life Michal shares stories of success and perseverance from every walk of life, every level of success, and across many different cultures. I love this. This is not just a dry recitation of the thoughts of a few millionaires on success. It is wide ranging, and therefore much more useful.

This is great book to read when you feel a little bit down and unmotivated and want to get the motivational equivalent of a shot of adrenaline strait to your heart.

If you want to learn more about the habits of the rich, check out our post on the success habits of self-made millionaires.

5. The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach

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The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich shares author David Bach's secrets to financial success.

It begins with the story of an average American couple with a mediocre income who manage to live a lavish lifestyle.

Automatic Millionaire is different from other financial books because it does not focus on having a budget or willpower, and does not require the reader to make a large income. The plan provided is simple and will work automatically once it is set into place.

Bach's system is based on timeless principles that have proven themselves to be successful. Readers have found this book to be an easy read, and love the simplistic plan it explains for people to start saving for retirement early on in life.

The Automatic Millionaire can be read quickly in an afternoon and the information can be put to use right away. While some other books offer tips for retirement, most fail to explain how to take the steps that are necessary to achieve success.

This book offers the resources and information that people need to know where to start and the questions that need to be asked. It tells the reader about specific companies, and explains various investment options.

While the book is a little bit dated, it is still very helpful. It is a great tool to help people set themselves up for retirement.

6. Give and Take by Adam Grant

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While in the past success has been largely focused on talent, hard work, passion, and luck, today it is more about how you interact with other people.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success explains the difference between takers, matchers, and givers, which are all personality types in the workplace that have a large impact on one's success.

Using evidence and true stories, the author shows the reader how to develop personal connections that can help lead to success. It highlights the effectiveness of networking, working in groups, influence, leadership skills, and negotiation. This book is great for individuals as well as groups and larger organizations.

Readers have found Give and Take to be very inspiring. While some think that the writing could be more concise, the information that is offered is thought-provoking.

7. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

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48 Laws of Power takes 3,000 years of history and puts them into 48 essential laws of power. It takes information and ideas from people such as Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz to teach the value of confidence, the need for wisdom, and the need for self-preservation.

Each law is related because they focus on an interest in complete domination.

While this is a slightly controversial book due to people's desire for the world to be a peaceful place with very little competition, it takes a realistic look at the world and how people can view it in order to get ahead.

48 Laws of Power may not be for everyone, due to its underlying, “do what you have to do to succeed” mentality. But the book speaks a hard, and sometimes brutal truth about what it takes to win that many other books are too scared to say.  

8. The Daily Entrepreneur by SJ Scott and Rebecca Livermore

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This is a success book written by my writing partner, Rebecca Livermore and myself.

Our main point in The Daily Entrepreneur: 33 Success Habits for Small Business Owners, Freelancers and Aspiring 9-to-5 Escape Artists was that to succeed as an entrepreneur you don’t need to follow a series of cookie cutter moves. Most entrepreneur’s paths to success are very different after all.

What is common amongst nearly all entrepreneurs are specific habits. (IE: things like waking up early with a morning routine to start their day)

If you want train yourself to be more entrepreneurial, the best way to do it is to start building more entrepreneurial habits. The book is separated into a few major sections. Rather than continue to review my own book, let me snippet an amazon review from Teri Hanna:

  1. Failing to Achieve Challenging Goals offers 5 Habits to Succeed, like Waking Up Early with examples of people who start their day early.
  2. Not Getting Things Done: 11 Habits to overcome this challenge like Focusing on Your Strengths
  3. Increasing Competition: 4 Habits to stand out above the noise of the competition-such as reading 30 minutes a day-to stay in the forefront of your field.
  4. Poor Business Relationships: 6 Habits to build positive business relationships, like the power of saying no.
  5. Stress and Burnout: 7 Habits to keep you sharp like helping others.

I highly recommend The Daily Entrepreneur: 33 Success Habits for Small Business Owners to all entrepreneurs and business owners who want to overcome everyday challenges and who want to get more done and increase your bottom line.

Steve Scott and Rebecca Livermore produce a highly actionable set of habits to focus strengths and dispel weakness.

Don't hesitate – Get your copy now!

9. The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews

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The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success tells the story of one man's choices to offer the reader some insight into what makes the difference between success and failure.

It looks to historical figures for guidance on the quest for strength and success. The author presents seven decisions for success that can turn one's life around, despite how hopeless it may seem.

This book is a great combination of self-help tools and fictional stories that are able to keep the reader interested throughout. The book is able to keep up its momentum while it is giving the reader instructions on how to create positive thinking.

Although this book is written from a Christian perspective, the message is universal and can be inspirational to all readers. Some people may find the storyline to be a bit simplistic, but the author does a great job of giving the reader positive suggestions for moving past some of life's most difficult obstacles.

10. Influence by Robert Cialdini

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Influence: Science and Practice uses scholarly research, experimental evidence, and strategies and techniques that get people to say “yes.” It is all about gaining power over others by understanding how they are influenced.

This might be the right book for you if you work in sales, business, or any position where you are aiming to get people on board with your goal and to follow your lead in some way.

But success for some may seem a bit tainted, since it is not about getting ahead by merit, but by using some ninja neurolinguistic techniques.

The Psychology of Influence is often used in classrooms and sold to people who are operating successfully in their business.

Cialdini organizes his techniques into six categories to gain compliance, all of which are based on psychological principles aimed at directing human behavior.

While the premise of this book could be offered in a much shorter version, its inclusion of stories, examples, and the explanation of principles is vital to its effectiveness. People have found this book to be very inspiring and insightful, and a fun read.

11. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

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Simon Sinek, the speaker of the third most popular TED talk of all time, has written Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action to answer the question of why some people are more influential and successful than others.

How do some companies gain customer loyalty while others cannot? He argues that people have to understand the purpose of a product or service, or the “why”, in order to buy into it and become loyal consumers.

This success book shows that great leaders all have things in common when it comes to how they think, communicate, and act. This idea creates the framework that organizations need to be successful and profitable.

While some readers say that one can listen to the author's TED talks to get all of the information in this book, others argue the importance of having it all written down and being able to absorb the information slowly by reading it.

This book is known to have a direct impact on one's future actions when conducting business that will lead to greater success.

12. What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack

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Written by one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes From a Street-Smart Executive is a great read for people at any level of business.

Mark McCormack is known for being the founder of today's sports marketing industry after building IMG with less than a thousand dollars. His business success has inspired others to learn his skills and techniques to follow in his footsteps.

This is one of the entrepreneur startup books that offers straightforward advice that is not taught in the classrooms of business schools.

The author uses his own proven methods to teach the reader about people sense, negotiation, sales, understanding other people, and time management. He touches on business deals, common management philosophies that often fail, the best ways to run a meeting, and ways to observe others in a way that will benefit you.

Readers say that this is a great book to read if you want to stay one step ahead in business. It should be a part of any entrepreneur bookstore!  

It was written in the ’80s, but the advice that it offers is still relevant today. The author includes a lot of examples that the reader can relate to in order to help anyone who is interested in business get something out of this book.

13. The Success Principles(TM) – 10th Anniversary Edition by Jack Canfield

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The Success Principles(TM) – 10th Anniversary Edition: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be has helped thousands of people improve their lives with its practical and inspiring advice. The original version has been revised and updated to reflect the constantly changing world.

This book helps the reader move from where they are to where they want to be by giving lessons on increasing confidence, overcoming daily challenges, living with a purpose, discovering one's passion, and achieving your goals.

The Success Principles includes a lot of inspiring stories of successful CEOs, celebrities, world-class athletes, and even everyday people to explain the 64 principles that have been used by successful people throughout history. These success principles can easily be adapted to anyone's life, no matter what your final goal is.

Readers have found this book on success to be especially motivating due to its focus on changing unproductive habits into productive habits. This is a complete collection of principles that many readers find themselves coming back to year after year as a refresher. 

Success Principles has something in it for everyone, so is a great read for people of any background.

14. How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

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Leil Lowndes is a psychologist who has made a career helping others to increase their communication skills. She got her passion for communication from the least likely of places. As a child she was so shy and introverted she could not even talk to others.

By overcoming her own introversion, she not only has the technical “psychologist” solutions to problems involving communication, but she also has a deep understanding and sympathy that can only be gained from someone who was there.

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships gives us surefire communication techniques to use to ensure successful communication with others. From first encounters with others to ways to sway the opinion of those we connect with.

If you want to be a success in life, having the knowledge of some verbal Kung Fu can help you make that leap to success. Because the road to success is often not paved with what you know, but how you can represent what you know.

This relationship success book teaches:

  • 6 Ways to sound like an “insider” in any crowd
  • 7 Methods of creating a subliminal rapport with anyone
  • 7 Ways to hold your own against skilled conversationalists
  • 9 Lessons on making a killer first impression
  • 9 Ways to feed someone’s ego, and how to know when to NOT do it.
  • 11 Ninja methods of using a phone to convince others
  • 14 ways to master body language. (scientists say up to 90% of communication can be body language)
  • 14 Ways to use body language to convey a sense of your being someone “special” to others
  • 15 Tips for working a room like a politician

Check out our book summary of How to Talk to Anyone!

15. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

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Tony Robbins is the Master of self help. In this book he teaches how to succeed in just about every single aspect of life. Business, money, the mind, the body. He imparts solid self help advice to help others achieve success in… well everything.

Robbin’s point with Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! is to take charge of your life in all the important ways: emotional, physical, mental and financial.

All of these important parts dovetail together and work with each other for you to achieve greater success. Only when you are at the peak of performance in all categories can you truly be your best self.

What makes this success book stand out is how, Tony touches on so much and the stress on how these different aspects of life work together to make the sum of the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Something I truly believe to be true when you are “firing on all cylinders”

16. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life and Your Success by Darren Hardy

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The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life and Your Success prides itself on including no gimmicks or hyperbole, but rather a method that is based on the principle that one's decisions make up their destiny.

Small, everyday decisions can lead you to success or failure as they compound into a routine and habits.

This success book is an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide that allows the reader to increase their successes, keep track of their progress, and achieve their goals.

This might be the right book for you if you are serious about living the best life that you can and are willing to make some small changes. (Read more books about life.)

Readers have found this book to be a great read. It has helped people do things that they have struggled with for years. It has also helped people develop specific plans to make positive improvements in their lives.

While there are a lot of books available on personal development, this book offers especially simple and easy-to-follow ideas and methods. Many have said that reading this book has lead to the “aha” moment that they have been needing to give them a boost toward success.

Reading this book may help you flip a switch to become more productive, increase your creativity, and become more strategic. It has helped people realize that they were on the wrong path, but that they can turn themselves around with small, incremental changes that will lead to great results.

17. How Successful People Think by John Maxwell

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How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life focuses on the similar thinking that all successful people share. It is a compact book, but most people find that it is concise and to-the-point, offering a lot of great information that is a perfect read for people who are very busy.

The author offers tips on being more creative, and talks about when people should question their usual thinking. After reading this book, the reader will learn how to see the big picture while focusing their thinking on the details.

Readers learn how to find their creative potential, develop new ideas, and find lessons from things that have happened in the past to help form their future. The author offers 11 keys to more effective thinking that can lead to a path of personal success.

Readers have found this to be a practical success book that contains applicable information to help people change their thinking process. Its insightful points can be used in all areas of one's life, making it an enjoyable read.

18. The Successful Mistake by Matthew Turner

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In this book Turner argues that strong and successful people do not get discouraged by their failures. Successful people are able to turn adversity into success by transforming their mistakes into success. This can benefit people in the areas of business, growth, stress, and happiness.

Turner wrote this book after conducting interviews with 163 of the most successful business people in the world who have been able to turn their lives around by learning from their mistakes.

Some of the well-known people who are featured in this book include Chris Brogan, Rachel Elnaugh, Mitch Joel, and other inspiring thought-leaders that are willing to expose their biggest mistakes and what they did to transform them into positive things that have allowed their successes to thrive.

With so many great interviews this book on success gives a really good idea on what you need to start a business in todays business landscape.

This Successful Mistake teaches the reader about a process of seven stages that people go through after making mistakes, but he argues that the early stages should be avoided in order to maximize one's success.

Readers have found this to be a useful book that motivates people to stop focusing on their mistakes. The Turner is an effective storyteller who avoids putting together a lot of transcribed stories, but instead tells a progressive narrative that is put together with each story included in the book. He is able to take the reader on a journey that is both inspiring and cathartic.

After reading this book, readers are been able to reflect upon the mistakes of other entrepreneurs  and learn from them.

19. Habit Stacking by SJ Scott

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Note: This is my book. So I had this review written by book blogger.

Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness focuses on starting one small positive habit that will then lead to many more, and eventually lead to a great change in your life. 

For example, if you begin your day with some exercise, it may lead to having a healthy breakfast and then being motivated at work to focus on your goals. Using this method, you will be more likely to achieve your long-term goals by getting into positive habits that make you feel fulfilled and accomplished.

By adding a lot of small changes to your daily routine, you are doing something that the author refers to as “habit stacking.” It may not be easy to add a lot of new habits to your life at the same time, but it is actually easier than you think to build a new routine. If you can make some very small changes, they will all add up.

The main argument of this success book is that this method works because you are able to get rid of the stress of trying to take on too much at once. If your goal is to just focus on one small routine at a time that only takes 15 minutes to complete, it is manageable to accomplish.

Habit Stacking offers the reader a list of 127 ideas for small actions that one can do to make some positive changes in their life. It also includes specific instructions on how to make these changes. These ideas focus on career, finances, health, and even relationships.

Readers have found that this is a great outline to follow to improve your life.

Scott writes clearly and makes his methods easy to understand. The writing is sincere, and the author includes a lot of stories based on his own life experience.

His step-by-step processes are logically presented so you can visualize yourself doing them before you try them. A lot of the advice may seem to be common sense, but it is often things that people haven't actually put into place, making this an eye-opening book.

20. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill

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This bestselling book is a self-help classic that has benefitted millions of readers by pointing to a positive mental attitude as being one of the main keys to personal success.

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude explains that the mind has two sides, one being a positive mental attitude and the other being a negative mental attitude. Positive attitudes attract good things in life, while negative attitudes deplete people of the things that make life worth living.

Throughout this book, the Hill & Stone argue that one's success, health, wealth, and happiness all depend on attitude. Readers have said that reading and following the principles of this success book will help people from every walk of life achieve their goals.

Success can be relevant for anybody, whether they are looking to be the best in their career or trying to achieve a specific goal. No matter what one's situation is, the study of this book offers great help.

Hill & Stone include real-life examples of people such as Muhammad Ali, who were able to defy odds, reach their goals, and achieve their fullest potential by using the principles that are in this book.

People often find that this is a great book to keep around and reference every now and then. It also makes for a great gift because there is a lot of information in this book that can help all kinds of people no matter what their passion or career is.

Final Thoughts on Success Books

I hope you have found the book you are looking for here. If not you can check the link below and check out my entire list of great self-help books to read. This list is a constantly growing as I write new lists, like this success books list you just finished.

There are many categories of books on the massive 350+ (currently) list of self help books listed above. If you want to see anything in particular, let me know in the comments below.

Also, please use the comments below if you have any books you think should be added to the list. I am constantly updating these lists with new books (that why some numbers don’t match the graphics).

I hope you would consider sharing your favorite book, or any graphics on your favorite social media. Share your thoughts and help others find this list of the best success books to give them the tools they can use to improve their lives.

And if you're looking for more resources on success books, be sure to check out these blog posts:

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

success books | must read success books | best success books