The Best Books: Must-Reads & Recommended Reading List

If you read regularly, you know how powerful books can be. Between the lines of a good book are many treasures to be found. Knowledge and wisdom are only two of these, but there are many more. Books can inspire you and can help you to dream big. They can transport you into a different world and can make you forget everything around you. Even more so, books can motivate you to make beneficial changes in your life. In short, books can greatly contribute to a happier and more meaningful existence

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

The problem is that there are far too many books out there. Or to be more specific: there are far too many books of a low-quality out there. For this reason, it’s not so important to read every book within your reach. Instead, it’s important to carefully invest your time and money in the right books.

If you’re tired of reading books that only steal your time, the following list is for you. It’s a reading list that will help you to quickly find the best books in various categories. I’ve tried to be as selective as possible, which allows you to quickly find the precious gems in each category. Every single one of these books can contribute – in so many ways – to your life. However, the following list of must-read books is not limited to one specific category. Instead, it covers a wide range of categories, which allows you to read from a balanced portfolio of books.

It’s always great to have an extensive list of must-read books you can pick from. The following presents a hand-picked selection of the books that truly can make a difference in your life.

The Best Books

Table of contents

I. Introduction: Best of the Best

The 10 Best Books of All-Time
The 10 Best Nonfiction Books
The 20 Best Fiction Books
The 30 Best-Selling Books of All Time

II. The Best Books of Each Category

The Best Business Books
The Best Consciousness and Mind Books
The Best Finance Books
The Best Fitness Books
The Best Health Books
The Best Motivational Books
The Best Personal Finance Books
The Best Philosophy Books
The Best Productivity and Time Management Books
The Best Psychology Books
The Best Relationship Books
The Best Science Books
The Best Self-Help Books
The Best Spirituality Books
The Best Stress Management Books
The Best Success Books

IV. The Best Fiction Books

The Best Historical Fiction Books
The Best Horror Books
The Best Humor and Comedy Books
The Best Fantasy Books
The Best Mystery Books
The Best Novels
The Best Paranormal Books
Best Science Fiction Books
The Best Thrillers

V. The Best Books from Miscellaneous Categories

The Best Art Books
The Best Classic Books
The Best History Books
The Best Religion Books
The Best Sports Books
The Best Travel Books

V. The Best Biographies and Memoirs
VI. How to Read All These Books?
VII. Money-Saving Hacks for Book Lovers

Let’s get started with this massive list.

In the following, you can find the greatest books ever in existence. Or at least those books that have survived until this present day.

This list is followed by an explanation of how you can read more books (see VI) and what you can do to save money when buying books (see VII).

I. Introduction: Best of the Best

The 10 Best Books of All-Time

Naturally, the list of the 10 best books of all-time is rather subjective. (If you want a more objective list, see: The 30 Best-Selling Books of All Time). In the following, you can find the 10 essential books that greatly shaped my entire life. These books are the foundation of my life – not to mention that they are beloved by millions. In my opinion, these books are must-reads and absolutely essential companions for everyone’s journey through life.

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (philosophy)
  2. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Chinese classic philosophy)
  3. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (military strategy)
  4. The Republic by Plato (philosophy, statesmanship and political theory)
  5. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (exploration of the universe)
  6. Manual for Living by Epictetus (Stoic wisdom)
  7. The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall (esoteric encyclopedia)
  8. The Bhagavad-Gita by Jack Hawley (translator) (Indian spirituality)
  9. 1984 by George Orwell (big brother)
  10. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (history)

The 10 Best Nonfiction Books

The following is a selection of incredible nonfiction books. The list covers a broad variety of different topics:

  1. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (human knowledge)
  2. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (success factors)
  3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (eating in America)
  4. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (the fates of human societies)
  5. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Mount Everest disaster)
  6. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (finding meaning in suffering)
  7. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman (outrageous adventures)
  8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (bioethics)
  10. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (decision-making)

The 20 Best Fiction Books

There are far too many incredibly inspiring fiction books that it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to 20 books. Anyways, here are my favorites. In the following you can find the incredible books that allow you to delve into amazing worlds.

  1. The Lord of the Rings I-III by J.R.R. Tolkien (epic masterworks)
  2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (the journey of self-discovery)
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert (amazing science fiction)
  4. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (building of a cathedral)
  5. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (stunning, but not for everyone)
  6. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Doyle (ingenious detective)
  7. Harry Potter I-VII by J. K. Rowling (magic)
  8. A Game of Thrones by George Martin (the struggle for the Iron Throne)
  9. Ender’s Game by Orson Card (science fiction)
  10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (ability of books to feed the soul)
  11. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (philosophical drama)
  12. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (demon hunters)
  13. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (the power of dreams)
  14. The Great Gatsby by F. Fitzgerald (great classic)
  15. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (the destinies of two families)
  16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (the roots of human behavior)
  17. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (better than the movies)
  18. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (crime novel)
  19. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (odyssey through the universe)
  20. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (the sorcerer’s apprentice)

The 30 Best-Selling Books of All Time

To prevent bias, the following books are ranked by the amount of copies sold. “Best-selling” refers, in this context, to the number of copies sold, not the number of books printed. There are certain books that are commonly referred to as “bestsellers,” but provide no reliable sales statistics. Books without reliable safe figures are not included in this list. These books include Don Quixote, A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, The Three Musketeers, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Adventures of Pinocchio and Odyssey.

At the same time, books of an ideological or religious nature have been excluded as well. This is because detailed print figures for many of these books may be unreliable. (Hint: the Bible and the Quran are perhaps the most printed books worldwide.)

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (150 million copies sold)
  2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (142 million)
  3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (140 million)
  4. Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (107 m.)
  5. And Then There Where Non by Agatha Christie (100 million)
  6. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin (100 million)
  7. She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard (100 million)
  8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (85 m.)
  9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (80 million)
  10. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (70 million)
  11. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling (65 m.)
  12. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (65 million)
  13. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (65 million)
  14. Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (60 m.)
  15. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (55 m.)
  16. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling (55 million)
  17. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (55 m.)
  18. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (50 m.)
  19. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (50 m.)
  20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (50 million)
  21. Heidi’s Years of Learning and Travel by Johanna Spyri (50 m.)
  22. Common Sense Book of Baby & Child Care by B. Spock (50 m.)
  23. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (50 m.)
  24. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (50 million)
  25. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (50 million)
  26. The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins (50 million)
  27. Watership Down by Richard Adams (50 million)
  28. The Hite Report by Shere Hite (50 million)
  29. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (50 million)
  30. The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy (50 million)

For further reference, see: List of best-selling books

II. The Best Books of Each Category

The Best Business Books

The Top 10 Business Books
The Best Behavioral Economics Books
The Best Business Biographies
The Best Decision-Making Books
The Best Entrepreneurship Books
The Best Leadership Books
The Best Management Books
The Best Networking Books
The Best Sales Books
The Best Strategy Books

The Top 10 Business Books

I’ve narrowed it down to 10 essential business books. Some of them are classics while others are relatively new. But they all are truly valuable treasures of knowledge.

  1. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (gaining & maintaining power)
  2. Influence by Robert Cialdini (psychology of persuasion)
  3. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber (the entrepreneurial myth)
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey (habits)
  5. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker (getting things done)
  6. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (disseminating ideas/products)
  7. Good to Great by James Collins (why some companies triumph)
  8. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (the riddles of everyday life)
  9. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (business is a battleground)
  10. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (investment advisor)
The Best Behavioral Economics Books

Books about behavioral economics investigate the cognitive, emotional, psychological, and social factors that shape our economic decisions. It’s an interesting field that addresses the underlying factors that influence all our business and buying decisions. Books of this category are must-reads if you want to avoid falling prey to irrational decisions in your professional and private life.

  1. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (what shapes our decisions)
  2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (thinking processes)
  3. The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely (defining logic)
  4. Nudge by Richard Thaler (improving decision-making skills)
  5. Switch by Chip Heath (affecting change)
  6. Drive by Daniel Pink (what motivates us)
  7. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (the riddles of everyday life)
  8. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb (the role of chance)
  9. The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely (why we lie)
  10. Sway by Ori Brafman (irrational behavior)
The Best Business Biographies

If you’re starting your own business (or are an already well established entrepreneur), it can be greatly motivating to read biographies of various business leaders. Not only can you find incredibly helpful advice in these biographies, but they can also inspire you to walk in the footsteps of these business people.

  1. The Snowball by Alice Schroeder (Warren Buffet)
  2. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
  3. Steve Jobs Bio by J. T. Owens (unauthorized autobiography)
  4. Titan by Ron Chernow (John D. Rockefeller, Sr.)
  5. Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch (General Electric)
  6. Personal History by Katharine Graham (Washington Post)
  7. The Big Short by Michael Lewis (housing bubble collapse)
  8. Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis (80s era of Wall Street)
  9. Made in Japan by Akio Morita (co-founder of Sony)
  10. Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Peter Kaufman (insider’s tip)
  11. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance (inventing the future)
  12. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (too uncritical, though)
The Best Decision-Making Books

Your decisions in life can either make or break you. For this reason, it can be quite beneficial to have a couple of books at hand that can help you to meet better decisions.

  1. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (becoming a great decision maker)
  2. Decisive by Chip Heath (making better choices)
  3. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (what shapes our decisions)
  4. Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin (avoiding misjudgments)
  5. Smart Choices by John Hammond (making better decisions)
  6. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (getting things right)
  7. How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (neuroscience)
  8. Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph Hallinan (human error)
  9. Poor Charlie’s Almanack (for finance philosophers)
  10. Nudge by Richard Thaler (improving decision-making skills)
The Best Entrepreneurship Books

If you seek to build a successful company, the following books are great companions on this journey.

  1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (continuous innovation)
  2. The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  3. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber (the entrepreneurial myth)
  4. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen (disruptive technology)
  5. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO)
  6. Good to Great by James Collins (why some companies triumph)
  7. Rework by Jason Fried (smart entrepreneurship)
  8. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder (handbook)
  9. Linchpin by Seth Godin (standing out from the crowd)
  10. The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman (the art of business)
The Best Leadership Books

Leadership is the fine art of guiding your followers in the right direction. It’s all about motivating people to do the things you want done, not because they have to but because they want to. These are the books every leader should read. They will help you to get peak performance and maximum effort from your team.

  1. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  2. Start with Why by Simon Sinek (inspiring people)
  3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  4. Developing the Leader within You by John Maxwell
  5. Principle-Centered Leadership by Steven Covey (guide to leadership)
  6. Tribes by Seth Godin (the opportunities of leadership)
  7. Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden
  8. High Output Management by Andy Grove (Intel)
  9. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker (getting things done)
  10. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance by Lou Gerstner (IBM)
The Best Management Books

What does it take to be a great manager? Here are some very helpful and widely popular books to help you hone your management skills.

  1. The One Minute Manager by James Collins (productivity)
  2. First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham (doing things differently)
  3. Good to Great by James Collins (why some companies triumph)
  4. The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt (ongoing improvement)
  5. Getting Things Done by David Allen (stress-free productivity)
  6. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull (creativity in business)
  7. The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker (essential writings on management)
  8. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson (dealing with change)
  9. Peopleware by Tom DeMarco (managing projects)
  10. Built to Last by James Collins (visionary companies)
The Best Networking Books

Networking is perhaps the single most important tool to accelerate your success. It’s all about establishing connections and maintaining these relationships. Here are the books that can help you to build (profitable) relationships:

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (author is a braggart)
  3. Winning with People by John Maxwell (becoming a better networker)
  4. Dig Your Well before You’re Thirsty by Harvey McKay (building contacts)
  5. Little Black Book of Connections by Jeffrey Gitomer (building relationships)
  6. Influence by Robert Cialdini (persuasion)
  7. How to Be a Power Connector by Judy Robinett (profitable networks)
  8. Likability Factor by Tim Sanders (skills networkers can use)
  9. Endless Referrals by Bob Burg (turning contacts into sales opportunities)
  10. The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel (building a network)
The Best Sales Books

Whether we like it or not, we are continuously confronted with the challenge of having to sell something to be successful. It does not have to be a physical product or a service. In some situations, we have to sell ourselves and our ideas. In other situations, we have to sell the output of our work to superiors. Whatever it is, the following books are must-reads for all those who want to master the fine art of selling.

  1. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy (business psychology)
  2. Spin Selling by Neil Rackham (the science of selling)
  3. Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer (principles of sales greatness)
  4. Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar (persuasion)
  5. To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink (moving others)
  6. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino (philosophy)
  7. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger
  8. How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins (customer focus)
  9. Perfect Selling by Linda Richardson (the sales cycle simplified)
  10. Strategic Selling by Robert Miller (execution of sales strategy)
The Best Strategy Books

Without a clear strategy, you’ll end up going in different directions without ever reaching the destination. The following books can help you to hone your strategic mind. They are great companions that show you how you can strategically accomplish your goals, dreams and visions.

  1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (strategic warfare)
  2. A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (guide to strategy)
  3. The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene (lessons from warfare)
  4. Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky (affecting social change)
  5. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Kim (creating new markets)
  6. Business Strategy by J. C. Spender (managing uncertainty)
  7. The Four Disciplines of Execution by Jim Huling (achieving goals)
  8. Good to Great by James Collins (why some companies triumph)
  9. The Prince by Machiavelli (political power)
  10. The Strategy Paradox by Michael Raynor (adapting strategies)

The Best Consciousness and Mind Books

This section is all about the mind. The books of this list explore how we think and how our thinking processes can be influenced. Some of these books focus on awareness, while others highlight the importance of thinking positively.

  1. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (positive thinking)
  2. The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (awareness)
  3. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale
  4. Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain (visualization)
  5. Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett (thinking processes)
  6. Power vs. Force by David Hawkins (evaluating statements)
  7. The Origin of Consciousness by Julian Jaynes (bicameral mind)
  8. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge
  9. The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer (the power of creation)
  10. Ask and It Is Given by E. & J. Hicks (manifesting intentions)

The Best Finance Books

The books of this list focus on the fundamentals of investing and finance in a business context. For strategies about your personal finances see: The Best Personal Finance Books

In the following you can find a nice selection of those finance books that are recommended by the experts of finance themselves.

  1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (investment advisor)
  2. Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham (value investing)
  3. Alchemy of Finance by George Soros (timeless investing principles)
  4. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher (invaluable)
  5. The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein (essential reading)
  6. Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller (irrationality of financial markets)
  7. The Theory of Investment Value by John Williams (theory on financial assets)
  8. Common Sense on Mutual Funds by John Bogle (index-based investing)
  9. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel (the fundamentals)
  10. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree (small business finance)

The Best Fitness Books

  1. Becoming a Supple Leopard by Glen Cordoza
  2. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  3. Thinner Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews
  4. From Head to Toe Board Book by Eric Carle (for kids)
  5. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier
  6. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  7. The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
  8. The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferris

The Best Health Books

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  2. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
  3. The China Study by Colin Campell
  4. Wheat Belly by William Davis
  5. Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss
  6. Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
  7. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  8. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Morell
  9. Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
  10. It Starts with Food by Dallas Hartwig

The Best Motivational Books

  1. Awaken the Giant within by Tony Robbins
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  3. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
  4. Drive by Daniel Pink (what motivates us)
  5. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  7. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
  8. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  9. The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg
  10. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

For even more motivational books, see The Best 33 Motivational Books.

The Best Personal Finance Books

Personal finance books address four different stages of finance (getting out of debt, saving money, investing money and gaining financial freedom). For this reason, the following list categorizes books according to the specific stage the book addresses. After the four stages you can find another list with the best personal finance books.

Debt reduction
  1. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (anti-credit card)
  2. How to Get Out Of Debt by Jerrold Mundis (practical advice)
  3. Debt is Slavery by Burton Mihalik (staying out of debt)
  4. Zero Debt by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox (debt reduction)
Everyday personal finance
  1. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin (spending less)
  2. All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren (lifetime money plan)
  3. I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sathi (if you’re young)
  4. You’re so Money by Farnoosh Torabi (saving money)
  5. The Money Gap by Carl Richards (avoiding financial mistakes)
Investing
  1. The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein (essential reading)
  2. The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larrimore
  3. The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Mihalik (advice)
  4. A Random Walk Down on Wall Street by Burton Mihalik (dot-com crash)
  5. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle
  6. Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham (roadmap for investing)
  7. The Investment Answer by Daniel Goldie (general guide)
  8. The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias
  9. Psychology of Investing by John Nofsinger (investing smartly)
  10. One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch (advantages of average investors)
Financial independence
  1. Yes, You Can by James Stowers (financial independence)
  2. The Incredible Secret Money Machine by Don Lancaster (small businesses)
  3. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley (basics of personal finance)
  4. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach (financial security)
  5. Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt (semi-retirement)
The Best Personal Finance Books
  1. The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larrimore
  2. The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein (essential reading)
  3. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (investment advisor)
  4. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle
  5. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason (Babylonian parables)
  6. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley (basics of personal finance)
  7. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach (financial security)
  8. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (doing what you love)
  9. Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey (the forces of financial distress)
  10. Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam (low-cost index funds)

The Best Philosophy Books

Philosophical books can have a truly transformative power. There are many other books that are insightful, helpful, entertaining and well-researched. But none of these books come close to my favorite philosophical books. If I had to select 10 books to take on a deserted island, I would – without a doubt – choose 10 philosophical books. I would not need any other books in exile.

In general, philosophy studies the fundamental problems of existence. But it is so much more than simply posing questions that can barely be answered. Philosophy is the quest for wisdom. Books of a philosophical nature can powerfully shape your entire life. They can teach you important principles that guide your behavior. But philosophy can also show you worthwhile values to live by.

Of all the books that I’ve read, books of a philosophical nature have inspired me the most. Many of these books have helped me to build the foundation and framework for a better life. Philosophical books have greatly helped me to see meaning and purpose in my existence. I hope you will give at least some of these books a chance. You will definitely not regret it.

Here are my favorite philosophy books.

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (personal writings of Roman Emperor)
  2. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (discussions about life)
  3. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Chinese classic wisdom)
  4. The Bhagavad-Gita by Jack Hawley (translator) (life-changing)
  5. Manual for Living by Epictetus (Stoic wisdom)
  6. Apology by Plato (about Socrates’ trial)
  7. The Warrior within by John Little (about Bruce Lee’s philosophy)
  8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (poetic tale)
  9. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (finding meaning in suffering)
  10. The Republic by Plato (statesmanship)
  11. Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein (read Tractatus first)
  12. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger (human existence)
  13. Poetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger (writings on art)
  14. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (about self-discovery)
  15. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (novel)
  16. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (about strategy)
  17. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (moral disintegration)
  18. Candide by Voltaire (satire about optimism, read critically)
  19. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (read critically)

The Best Productivity and Time Management Books

We all have 24 hours a day. By making productive use of this time, we can accomplish a great number of things. However, the key to effectiveness lies in excellent time management. The following books will show you what you can do to increase productivity.

  1. Getting Things Done by David Allen (productivity)
  2. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy (time management)
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (habits)
  4. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy (overcoming procrastination)
  5. The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield (overcoming creative blocks)
  6. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (productivity)
  7. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (habits)
  8. Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn Glei (building routines)
  9. Essentialism by Greg McKeown (pursuing less)
  10. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch (accomplish more with less)

The Best Psychology Books

Psychology studies human behavior and the human mind. It can help you to better understand the behavior of individuals and the underlying mental/physiologic processes. The following psychology books cover a wide range of topics and are essential reads for anyone interested in psychology.

  1. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (forces that shape our decisions)
  2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (thinking processes)
  3. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
  4. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (intuitive decision-making)
  5. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (the minds of madness)
  6. Influence by Robert Cialdini (power of persuasion)
  7. Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior by Mark Leary
  8. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (positive psychology)
  9. Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert (the difficulty of being happy)
  10. Quiet by Susan Cain (the power of introverts)

The Best Relationship Books

There’s a lot we can do to accelerate our relationships to new heights. If you’re in a relationship, the following books can help you to deepen the bond with your partner. But you don’t necessarily have to be in a relationship to find great value in the following books. Many of the following books also address interpersonal skills. They will help you to communicate better with other people, which allows you to establish much better relationships.

  1. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (the impact of language)
  2. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (skillful communication)
  3. The Science of Happily Ever After by Ty Tashiro (choosing a partner)
  4. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs (marriage)
  5. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson (effective communication)
  6. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix (the psychology of love)
  7. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray (gender differences)
  8. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry (emotional intelligence)
  9. How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Les Giblin
  10. Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson (attachment panic)

The Best Science Books

Science doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, some of the greatest science books are thrilling adventures that often read like fiction. The following list highlights the essential scientific books that are both entertaining and inspiring.

  1. Cosmos by Carl Sagan (cosmic evolution)
  2. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (brilliant)
  3. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (cosmology)
  4. What If? by Randall Munroe (answers to absurd questions)
  5. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan (mankind’s future in space)
  6. The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene (exploration of reality)
  7. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene (string theory)
  8. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (natural selection reformulated)
  9. Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter (human thought)
  10. The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins (evolution)
  11. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (fates of human societies)
  12. Science by Patricia Fara (history of science)
  13. The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan (about unreason)
  14. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (theory of evolution)
  15. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (views of an atheist on religion)

The Best Self-Help Books

There are millions of self-help books out there. Here are the ones that are truly worthwhile.

  1. Who moved my cheese? by Spencer Johnson (dealing with change)
  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (habits)
  4. Awaken Giant within by Anthony Robbins (boosts motivation)
  5. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (transformative)
  6. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
  7. Drive by Daniel Pink (what motivates us)
  8. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (awareness)
  9. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale
  10. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (setting high goals)
  11. Mastery by Robert Greene (attaining greatness)
  12. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (what we think we become)
  13. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (the importance of perseverance)
  14. The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz (personal freedom)
  15. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (blueprint for success)

See also: The 100 Best Personal Development Books.

The Best Spirituality Books

Books on spirituality can help you to find meaning and purpose in your life. They can also assist you in developing a sense of being connected to something greater. Here are truly inspiring books on spirituality:

  1. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (purpose of life)
  2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (self-discovery)
  3. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama (happiness)
  4. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (about suffering)
  5. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
  6. Tuesdays with Maury by Mitch Albom (profound conversations)
  7. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (non-conformity)
  8. The Road Less Traveled by M. Peck (living a fulfilled life)
  9. Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke (mind blowing poem)
  10. Autobiography of a Yogi by P. Yogananda (astonishing claims)

The Best Stress Management Books

In these hectic times, it’s essential to have good strategies at hand that help you to reduce stress. The following books explain what you can do to better cope with stress.

  1. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr (balancing stress)
  2. Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson (dealing with change)
  3. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
  4. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (mindfulness)
  5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
  6. 10% Happier by Dan Harris (reducing stress)
  7. Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress by Rita Emmett
  8. Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith (stress and anxiety)
  9. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky (managing stress)
  10. Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn (mindfulness)

The Best Success Books

In the following you can find great books that accompany you on the road to success. They are must-reads for everyone who seeks to lead a successful life.

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (what makes a winner)
  2. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
  3. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (exploration of success)
  4. Mindset by Carol Dweck (psychology of success)
  5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  6. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason (inspiring parables)
  7. The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill (massive book)
  8. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (the power of thoughts)
  9. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy (success strategies)
  10. Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell (opportunities for success)

IV. The Best Fiction Books

The Best Historical Fiction Books

  1. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  3. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  6. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  7. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  8. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
  9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  10. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

The Best Horror Books

  1. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
  2. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
  3. Watchers by Dean Koontz
  4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  5. The Shining by Stephen King
  6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  7. The Exorcist by William Blatty
  8. It by Stephen King
  9. Misery by Stephen King
  10. World War Z by Max Brooks

The Best Humor and Comedy Books

  1. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
  2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  4. Lamp by Christopher Moore
  5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  7. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
  8. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
  10. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Best Fantasy Books

  1. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Lord of the Rings (I-III) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  6. Harry Potter (I-VII) by J. K. Rowling
  7. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Jones
  8. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  10. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  11. Ender’s Game by Orson Card
  12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  13. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  14. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  15. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
  16. Alanna by Tamara Pierce
  17. Mistborn by Brent Sanderson
  18. Nightwatch by Terry Pratchett
  19. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  20. Dune by Frank Herbert

The Best Mystery Books

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  2. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  5. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King
  6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  7. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  8. Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
  9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  10. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafón

The Best Novels

  1. Ulyses by James Joyce
  2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Fitzgerald
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  5. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  9. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  10. Dune by Frank Herbert

The Best Paranormal Books

  1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  2. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  3. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  4. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  5. Dark Lover by J. R. Ward
  6. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
  7. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
  8. Halfway to the Grave by Jeannene
  9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lainei Taylor
  10. Lover Awakened by J. R. Ward

Best Science Fiction Books

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. Ender’s Game by Orson Card
  4. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  7. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
  8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  9. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  10. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  11. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Card
  12. 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke
  13. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  14. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  15. The Stand by Stephen King
  16. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  17. Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
  18. The Giver by Luis Lowry
  19. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  20. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Guin

The Best Thrillers

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver
  4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafón
  5. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Canales
  6. The Firm by John Grisham
  7. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  8. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  10. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

V. The Best Books from Miscellaneous Categories

The Best Art Books

  1. The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
  2. The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes
  3. The Letters of Vincent van Gogh by Vincent van Gogh
  4. The Judgment of Paris by Ross King
  5. The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich

The Best Classic Books

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Fitzgerald
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  10. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

The Best History Books

  1. John Adams by David McCullough
  2. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  3. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
  4. Teams of Rivals by Doris Goodwin
  5. A People’s History of the US by Howard Zinn
  6. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Five by William Shirer
  7. 1776 by David McCullough
  8. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  9. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Best Religion Books

  1. A History of God by Karen Armstrong
  2. Fervent by Pricillia Shire
  3. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
  4. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
  5. Zealot by Reza Aslan
  6. Bhagavad Gita by Jack Hawley (translator)
  7. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  8. The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
  9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  10. Trust by Iyanla Vanzant

The Best Sports Books

  1. The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
  2. The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons
  3. Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger
  4. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Best Travel Books

  1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  2. Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson
  3. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
  4. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
  5. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson

V. The Best Biographies and Memoirs

Biographies can be truly life-changing. They provide you with incredibly valuable advice that is actionable and brings you closer to your goals. If you read the right biographies, you get an excellent portray of a specific person’s life or career. The following powerful biographies are my personal favorites.

  1. Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman
  2. Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin (Abraham Lincoln)
  3. John Adams by David McCullough
  4. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  6. Steve Jobs Bio by J. T. Owens
  7. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
  8. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  9. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  10. Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

VI. How to Read More Books?

The sheer size of the above list can be quite intimidating. But worry not, there are strategies you can apply to increase the amount of books you read.

Consistency – read at least 20 pages a day

The key to read more books lies in consistency. If you are able to read 20-30 pages each day, you can read all the books mentioned in the list above within less than 3 to 4 years. However, it is important to be consistent and to see things through.

But how to read 20-30 pages each day? 20-30 pages translate to a reading time of about 30 minutes to an hour. Most people feel that they don’t have enough time to read for an hour a day. However, you don’t have to read these 20-30 pages at a time. The trick lies in grabbing your book whenever you have a couple of minutes to spare. So if you have 15 minutes for breakfast and 15 minutes before you go to bed, you’ve already read around about 20 pages. Simply experiment with it and have a book handy wherever you go. You’ll be amazed how many books you’ll read within one year.

Speed reading

You can also delve into the subject of speed reading. It might help you to read faster. However, I’m not a big fan of it because I tend to enjoy what I read and I like to think about what I’m reading. But if you really want to read ultra effectively, speed reading is for you.

Audiobooks

The next trick is to get the audio version of a book. It helps you to listen to a book when you’re not in the mood of reading or unable to read. For example, when you’re driving in your car, audiobooks are a fantastic way to increase the number of books you’ve devoured. Plus, you can use the time you spend driving more productively.

But once you do manage to read quite a lot, you’re confronted with another problem: it can be costly. Let’s cover what you can do to save money when you’re a book lover.

VII. Money-Saving Hacks for Book Aficionados

Reading can be expensive, especially if you read much. Most people will simply say that you should cut unneeded expenses, for instance for expensive shoes, in order to have more money to spend on books. However, if you’re a student or short on money, this kind of advice may not be that helpful. This kind of advice is also not helpful if you’re really hungry for knowledge. For this reason, in the following I prepared some nice hacks that help you to save some money. If you’re a book lover, the following is for you.

1. Use your nearest library

You can save hundreds of dollars if you rent the books you want to read in your library. It’s the most obvious choice, but many people simply neglect it. Before buying a book, see if you’re nearest library has it stored. Preferably, you want to have access to a big library without membership fee.

Grabbing your books from the library also has the advantage that you don’t have to organize the resale of those books that you no longer want to keep. Additionally, there are many books we read only once. They may contain important knowledge that you are looking for, but once this knowledge is obtained, these books are no longer interesting. So why buy them in the first place? Rent these books and save money.

2. E-books > paperback > hard copy

If you’ve found a book that you want to buy, do a price comparison of the various versions of it. There’s no need to buy an expensive hardcopy version if the e-book costs four times less.

3. Find free books

The copyright of a book has expired if it was published before 1923. If you want to read an old classic, it may be a good idea to have a look if there’s a free version available. An excellent source where you can freely and legally download books is gutenberg.com.

4. Find book coupons

Before buying a book, see if you can find a discount code for book purchases. You can use sites like couponchief.com and discontrue.com.

5. Do a bookswapping

Bookswapping is the easiest way to get free books. Some people will recommend swapping books with friends and family members. But this approach is not at all effective if you have pretty specialized reading interests. Instead, use online bookswapping services such as Bookmooch or Reeders United.

6. Buy used and resell afterwards

If you want to save money, it’s a great idea to buy used books and to resell them after reading. Buying used books will help you to get many of your books at a significantly cheaper rate. Always keep in mind, it’s not the look of the book that is important, only its content matters. If you can live with books that are worn down, it’s a great way to save a great deal of money.

There are even books on Amazon that you can buy for $0.01 (+ $3.99 shipping), which means that your cost per book is roughly 1 cent if you resell it for the same price.

I hope you enjoyed this massive list of the greatest books ever written.

Stay victorious!

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