30 Books That Can Make You

Smarter, Happier, and Richer

All life’s major problems have already been solved in the past.

If you want more money, to be happier, to communicate better, or to boost your confidence, there’s a solution for each.

However, with so many books available, the abundance of choices can lead to procrastination.

That’s why I’ve curated 30 books that I confidently recommend, and depending on your goals, you can choose where to start.

As the world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffett, once mentioned, the best investment is in your own knowledge, in personal development. For me, these books provided the foundation to build a successful business and live my dream life.

So, don’t underestimate the growth potential that self-improvement offers!

I know that for many, self-development is unfortunately associated with the law of attraction, repeating affirmations, or some mystical thing.

In the following books, you’ll find ONLY tangible advice that brings real-life results

Anders Ericcson: Peak

An extraordinary productivity book, but “smarter” than the others. Set aside David Allen with your to-do lists and step up with Anders Ericsson and deliberate practice! Anders Ericsson has been studying high achievers for decades and their learning processes.

Among them are the Polgar sisters, three girls who even dominated the male field in chess, and their father, Laszlo Polgar, predicted this before their birth.

You can achieve small improvements in productivity, but real progress comes from skill development. And this will NEVER be comfortable (it requires stepping out of your comfort zone), demanding a long-term commitment to the process. Productivity may improve by 10-50%, but continuous development can lead to 3-400% improvement (these are my own estimates).

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Total Recall

One of Schwarzenegger’s smallest merits is his achievements in bodybuilding. What’s truly fascinating is how consciously he built himself financially and what he accomplished as an actor and politician, instead of settling for peaceful (boring) retirement years.

That’s why I love autobiographies; they allow us to see the various connections in someone’s life journey in a very concentrated way. Within 100 pages, we can review ten years to see what results ten years of work have brought. It would be challenging to grasp this in any other way. And Arnie’s life offers so much to observe because he’s a perfect example of how worth it is to keep your focus on your goals throughout your life.

Austin Kleon: Steal Like an Artist

Throughout the millennia of civilization, an immense amount of knowledge has accumulated. That means you MUST build on the knowledge of others. You MUST utilize the knowledge of others to move forward and later create something original.

Whenever I want to learn something, it starts with imitation. Whether I’m creating a new website or writing a text, I HAVE to gather ideas. Austin Kleon calls it “stealing like an artist”: if you copy one person, it’s plagiarism; if you copy many, it’s research.

You have to “steal.” Salvador Dali and Queen did this in the beginning, and they were proud of it. Yet many people never dare to take this step, and as a result, their progress remains stagnant. The key is to start creating value independently when you’re capable of doing so.

Cal Newport: So Good, They Can’t Ignore You

Cal Newport has some bad news for you. There is no dream job somewhere in the world that, once you find it, will make you forever happy and turn every day into a wonder. It’s not enough to just “follow your passion.”

What you need to do is build your career capital. It’s a valuable combination of skills that make you valuable to an employer. Unfortunately, every entrepreneur I talk to complains that they would pay handsomely for a reliable person, but they can’t find anyone; everyone just thinks of their job as a “necessary evil” (resulting in the situation never getting better).

Decade after decade, fewer and fewer people are satisfied with their work (USA in 1987: 61%, USA in 2012: 45%). It’s due to the “passion hypothesis.” But a good job is not something you get; it’s something you create for yourself through hard work and learning.

Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends & Influence People

This book contains numerous essential pieces of advice that might initially seem overly simplistic (many expect useful advice to be necessarily complex, something they have never thought of before), yet they brilliantly work in real life.

Smile, pay attention to people, understand what matters to them. It’s no wonder this book became so famous with such advice, right? Still, I believe that the best way to influence people and make a better first impression is when someone can execute these with exceptional finesse.

I, too, struggled with social inhibitions for a long time, and it took a lot of effort to overcome them. Of course, I expected more complicated (“advanced”) advice, but as soon as I started putting them into practice, they worked. In contrast, the complex advice often sounded like a pretentious display and had the opposite effect.

Dave Ramsay: The Total Money Makeover

This book is crucial for me because it made me realize how many foolish decisions people make with their money. Since I have consistently followed my plans and became an entrepreneur at an early age, constantly growing, I never even considered making crazy choices like buying a car on installment with minimal income or spending all my hard-earned money on festivals and vacations.

But this is just the beginning. Taking a loan for a wedding? Not understanding inflation? Signing a loan agreement without considering the bigger picture? I couldn’t believe that such things exist.

Money is a vital resource, and Dave Ramsey’s book is written in a wake-up call style, saying, “Wake up, are you that foolish??” I think this is precisely the best way to bring about change.

David McRaney: You Are Not So Smart

Your brain deceives you. It’s brutal how many flawed decisions we make, often based on faulty reasoning, which can have a defining impact on our entire lives.

And I hardly ever encounter anyone who is familiar with the concepts of “confirmation bias” or “survivorship bias.” Every day, I see someone making a foolish claim simply because they fail to recognize that they have cherry-picked evidence that supports their own truth while ignoring those that contradict it.

This book goes through 48 ways your brain can deceive you, chapter by chapter, and its (unfortunately) noticeable consequences can occur in a short period.

Drew Whitman: Cashvertising

This is an incredibly, INCREDIBLY intelligent book about copywriting strategies, and I think it might be the absolute best insight into consumer psychology, especially on how to dance on people’s triggers. MJ DeMarco (Millionaire Fastlane) recommended it, and at first, I didn’t understand much from it, except for a few crumbs.

However, on the second go-around, I started using the tips more consciously. I read this book from cover to cover and revisited it, and now it plays a crucial role in my arsenal. Only a few books are worth printing out and annotating every single paragraph, and this is one of them.

This book is a perfect example of how small businesses can gain a massive advantage through proactive customer acquisition compared to big brands. Nobody in the corporate world uses these principles. They haven’t even heard of them. Yet, it brings in the money, every single month.

Eric Greitens: Resilience

It’s not about how many hits you take, but how many times you get back up. The book (allegedly) consists of letters written by the author to his friend, whom he met in the military, helping him rise from difficult situations.

Breaks in life always present opportunities for growth. And the biggest curse of modern humans is infinite comfort. You can live life with glassy eyes, staring into nothingness, chanting “everything is fine” (many do).

However, there are many ways to become more resilient, and the book combines various mental tricks, Stoic philosophy, and parables. My favorite is the meaning of the Greek word “diabolos,” which translates to “one who throws stones on the road.” Although it’s amusing to imagine a hoofed devil under this concept, in reality, most of the time, we create our own problems, we throw the stones on the road ourselves.

Gary Keller: The One Thing

“The One Thing” means something different to everyone, but everyone needs to choose one thing to focus on entirely to achieve their desired goals. This is the main idea of Gary Keller’s book, and while I may not agree with it in every situation (it’s excellent advice in many cases, but not always), it’s a fact that many people spread themselves too thin, and that’s why they struggle to make progress.

It’s essential to know that Gary’s company, Keller-Williams, is one of the largest real estate companies in the USA, which speaks volumes. According to him, they didn’t need to-do lists; instead, they needed a “success list” that contains the most important tasks that require their full focus.

Once you have that, the other steps fall into place. So, there’s a key habit that serves as the foundation for everything else and drives progress. I wouldn’t have minded more examples in the book, but the idea itself made such a significant difference that I can definitely recommend it.

Grant Cardone: The 10X Rule

If you envision a “typical” money-driven American businessman, Grant Cardone more or less fits that description. However, it’s essential to know that he truly excels in what he does. He built his business on sales training and real estate investments, and this book is all about relentless work.

The 10X Rule is simple: work ten times harder than others, put in ten times more effort, and you’ll get the results. One idea I completely agree with: if you estimate how much work it will take to achieve a particular goal, you’ll always underestimate it.

Simply put, you can’t just work casually and expect to reach your goals. If you plan to settle for a “middle-class life,” you’ll actually invest less energy into your life and won’t achieve prosperity either. But if you obsessively pour as much work into your life as you can, everything will fall into place, and you’ll ultimately be happier.

Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz: The Power of Full Engagement

Money is an important resource, but energy is an even more crucial one. This book is about energy management, guiding you on how to wisely invest your energy and expand your daily energy capacity.

Tip: Just like training a muscle, energy can also be trained. You must use the muscle (energy) in a completely focused manner to strengthen it, and then allow it to rest. Afterward, its capacity will increase. The usefulness of the ability to focus has been proven in many cases.

Many complain about being constantly tired after work, which hinders their self-improvement efforts. Look, if there’s no enthusiasm for your work, if you’re having a lunch of pea stew and pastries for breakfast, and you’re not moving at all, it’s no wonder you feel exhausted. This is where the power of focus comes into play, and it’s what needs to change to overcome fatigue.

Jim Paul: What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

The first half of the book is an incredibly entertaining narrative of a stock speculator’s rise to riches and subsequent downfall. The second half of the book is an incredibly fascinating description of how people behave as a crowd during a stock market frenzy (or in other situations as well).

Crowds don’t make decisions (they simply follow each other), individuals make decisions (but can easily be swept up by the crowd). This phenomenon is the cause of all economic collapses. From the Dutch tulip mania to the real estate bubble that caused the global economic crisis, and now the cryptocurrency speculation.

Naturally, the stock market is full of intriguing psychological phenomena: chasing losses, feeling invincible due to initial gains, and losing objectivity. Countless poor decisions can be observed in the stock market, and this knowledge can be applied in every aspect of life.

Keith Ferrazzi: Never Eat Alone

Many people complain that nowadays “it’s all about who you know.” From this, one must draw the conclusion that the ability to create new connections is crucial. This book is precisely about that. In contrast to Dale Carnegie’s book, it provides a system that empowers individuals to enter social situations more frequently and deliberately.

While Carnegie’s book offers advice on conversation, this one focuses more on organized networking, personal branding, and avoiding common mistakes. It also includes refreshing insights by analyzing the methods of exceptionally skilled communicators from time to time.

Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck

I wanted to love this book, but Mark’s blog is actually better than the book in every aspect. Nonetheless, there are plenty of good ideas in the book (many of which also appear on the blog).

The book starts off with a (very likable) statement about why positive thinking is nonsense. It’s like eating a Snickers bar; it may feel better for 2 seconds, but in the long run, it will drag you down. On the other hand, negative emotions are signals from your brain telling you that something needs to change.

In many ways, this book is the wise antithesis to the overly optimistic (but naive) success books. Yes, life can be boring and crappy sometimes. Yes, you may feel uncertain and have no clue which way to go. That’s life. The less you obsess over it, the more you can enjoy the other parts. As I said, wise advice.

Mark Reiter: What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

After a while, self-help books can become very repetitive, and their usefulness may decline. That’s why it’s hard for me to come across something new, but this book is a refreshing exception. The author lists 20 habits that hold successful people back from becoming even more successful.

The uncomfortable part was that out of the 20 habits, at least 6 were very characteristic of me. After reaching a certain level, one has to replace exactly what was the main driving force behind their achievements. There are many useful pieces of advice in the book, but this was the most important one for me.

Here’s the list of the 20 habits. If anyone is curious, from 3 to 8 were infuriatingly accurate for me, so when I reached that part, I felt a bit awkward, thinking that maybe the remaining 12 will also be pointing out my flaws. 🙂

Martin Seligman: Flourish

This book is a scientifically well-supported discourse on true happiness. Martin Seligman has been the intellectual leader of positive psychology and the “science of happiness” for decades. In this book, he explains that the traditional, everyday definition of happiness can be discarded, as it is much more appropriate to talk about well-being.

True happiness often comes with unpleasant feelings, and positive emotions alone do not bring happiness. Does the term “depressed celebrity” ring a bell?

In short: it is impossible to be consistently happy without meaningful goals, focused work, deep relationships, and continuous progress. I also say this from my own experience, and Seligman backs it up with serious scientific research. Simply indulging in “nail salon self-improvement” or the law of attraction won’t work. Achieving lasting happiness requires much more serious work.

Michael Masterson: Ready, Fire, Aim

The subtitle “From 0 to 100 Million in No Time” definitely set off my initial skepticism, but this book is genuinely good. It divides the process of starting a business into four phases, each presenting different challenges and requiring different tasks to be tackled.

In the first phase, the focus is on sales and marketing, but as you progress, it shifts more towards product development, team building, and returning to innovation (especially when the company has grown larger). The author has taken on a significant task by attempting to cover so much ground in one book, and while some topics may only be superficially touched upon and lack sufficient examples (in my opinion), it still provides a good insight into what to expect and, more importantly, when to expect it.

The title of the book is indeed intriguing, suggesting that speed is the key, and one cannot endlessly plan and strategize. Starting small and making necessary adjustments along the way works wonders in business building, a strategy that has worked excellently for me in my own entrepreneurial journey.

MJ DeMarco: Millionaire Fastlane

This book is directly responsible for my significant wealth accumulation. The concept of “sidewalkers” (financial mindset) who spend all their money, being typical consumers, no matter how much they earn, and never move forward is eye-opening. The “slow-laners” save and invest, but their progress is slow, and they can only enjoy the “good life” in their old age (unless something like an economic crisis disrupts their plans). On the other hand, the “fast-laners” (thoughtful individuals) build assets that work for them.

What I’m doing is a calculated process, strictly following the principles of the fast-lane mindset.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Antifragile

In one sentence: Playing it safe is highly dangerous. The opposite of fragility is not robustness but antifragility. If something is fragile, it breaks under stress, but if it’s solid or robust, it withstands stress. However, if it’s antifragile, it becomes stronger under stress.

This small, subtle concept can change everything. Many people despair when faced with problems, but some find the opportunity to become stronger. The former will avoid challenges and opt for security, consequently losing most of life’s possibilities. On the other hand, the latter group may attribute their success to luck.

The book presents numerous situations and approaches where it is beneficial for life to throw difficulties in one’s path. It builds strength and enhances viability, though unfortunately, not everyone is granted this ability.

Nathaniel Branden: The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem​

A brilliantly written book by the creator of the concept of self-esteem, filled with practical advice. This book changed so much for me at the time because it shed light on those overcompensations that most people mistakenly think of as “confidence.”

To have genuine self-esteem, you must act consciously, take responsibility, assert your opinion, even if it leads to confrontation, accept that you will make mistakes and face challenges, have a greater purpose and significance in life, and live in harmony with your values, even when it’s difficult.

Overall, true self-esteem is the result of brutally hard work and consciously embracing many challenges (in contrast to “pseudo-self-esteem,” which simplifies the matter by saying, “if I look in the mirror and say I’m great, then my self-esteem is good”).

Peter Thiel: Zero to One

I feel that nowadays, the term “startup” mostly means “something that can receive funding” (i.e., it doesn’t need to generate customers, and founders can take salaries from investor money, yet they don’t have to wear suits to the office). However, in reality, a startup is something entirely different; according to Peter Thiel, it is a business capable of exponential growth, providing ten times better solutions to a problem than anything that previously existed (not every new venture falls into this category).

This book made me contemplate geometric or exponential growth for the first time. If something grows by a few percent each month, it can have tremendous results over time. Very few people take advantage of this phenomenon, and it’s from here that my oft-repeated belief stems, that we should focus on achieving steady monthly growth.

Robert Cialdini: Influence

“The 6 Weapons of Influence” are likability, reciprocity, scarcity, social proof, consistency, and authority. Under the right circumstances, and applied appropriately, these can make people say yes to you.

Of course, this is not hypnosis, and it’s not magically making someone do what you want. But making it easier for people to agree with you, accept your arguments, or better embrace your opinions can be valuable in many situations.

Cialdini uses real-life situations and research as examples, resulting in a wealth of memorable practical applications.

Robert Greene: Mastery

Excellence is learnable, and Robert Greene breaks down what historical achievers did to attain their results.

The problem is that in today’s world, everyone wants results instantly, so it’s refreshing that Greene takes us through the humble, failure-filled journeys of figures like Proust, Ford, Mozart, and da Vinci.

In this book, I first learned about tacit knowledge, which means understanding processes that cannot be directly conveyed or put into words; it can only be given advice on. In a world where everyone exists on the surface, with superficial goals and knowledge, becoming an incredibly valuable master is possible.

The most important idea is that to become a master, you must be able to retreat, not be influenced by others’ opinions, and focus solely on the outcome.

Seth Godin: Icarus Deception

In their youth, many are told the story of Daedalus and Icarus (I certainly was). Icarus was greedy, he longed for the skies, and the sun melted the wax that held the feathers to his wings, causing him to plummet into the sea. The moral: stay within your limits.

What they don’t tell you is that Daedalus warned his son not to fly too low either, as the waves could engulf him. And Seth Godin draws the conclusion: we no longer need people who obediently follow the rules. There are billions of them.

We need individuals who say, “I’ll do it.” Society will, of course, ask, “Who do you think you are, believing you’re exceptional?” It’s your decision whether you let that hold you back.

Shane Snow: Smartcuts

The book “Smart Shortcuts” is very insightful. Highly successful individuals typically do more than just work hard. They spot trends and ride them out, rather than following the traditional career path, and they omit many things from their lives to focus on progress.

I generally enjoy books that prove that achieving success in life (whatever that means to you) is a science. It can be broken down into steps, and with proper understanding, it forms a perfectly logical cause-and-effect process. This book is exactly that.

It delves into nine factors that distinguish those individuals who achieve significant results in a short period (or at a young age).

Steven Pressfield: The War of Art

If I say that there is something called “creative tension,” you may not relate to it immediately. It’s because you might not work in a creative field or consider yourself an “artist,” even though everyone creates or makes something (create – creative).

But if you don’t overcome the creative tension (which Pressfield calls Resistance), you’ll always fear that what you’re doing is terrible, leading to self-sabotage or not even starting at all. The “writer’s block” is familiar to many. It’s also known as a creative crisis. There’s even an everyday version called the “imposter syndrome.” Who am I to desire such great things?

“Never forget: In this very moment, we have the power to change our lives. There has never been a moment, and there never will be, where we lack the strength to influence our destiny. Right now, we can overcome Resistance. Right now, we can sit down and do our work.”

Tim Ferris: The 4-Hour Workweek

It doesn’t surprise me that Tim Ferriss serves as a role model for many aspects of my life. Traveling extensively, building businesses, providing value, conducting experiments, constantly learning, and figuring out how to learn faster.

I read this book a long time ago, and many thoughts have stayed with me forever, with the idea that “there is another way.” You don’t have to be a poor nomad relying on others’ charity while traveling or work as a waiter for half a year to fund your travels for another half. And you don’t have to decay in a corporate giant just to have spending money (but no freedom to use it).

You don’t have to compromise, and the whole process can be much more fun than anything else. Since it’s been a while since I read it, I might not remember every detail that positively impacted my journey, but the list is long, and everyone should read this book.

William Irvine: A Guide to the Good Life

It is almost horrifying how much more advanced the philosophy of ancient Stoicism is compared to the thinking of the average person living 2000 years later. Contrary to popular belief, Stoicism does not mean “stoicism” (emotionlessness).

Stoicism is, in fact, a breathtakingly practical approach to life’s difficulties. In an age when 9 out of 10 children didn’t live to see the age of 5, when various natural and human calamities afflicted everyone, there was a need for emotional resilience. And Stoicism provided people with that.

Despite all the progress, today’s average person is not happier than someone from the Middle Ages. That’s because few have significance in their lives, and few have a life philosophy. Irvine’s book addresses this problem using the tools of Stoicism.

Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens

The common thread among Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama is that this book appeared on all three of their reading lists.

It presents a plethora of thought-provoking reflections and conclusions based on the interconnectedness of human history, offering a bird’s-eye view of how events unfolded.

It delves into how agriculture domesticated us (shifting us from a healthier hunter-gatherer lifestyle to being tied to wheat fields). It also explores why there are predominantly monotheistic religions in the world today, while just a few hundred years ago, everyone practiced polytheistic religions.

However, the book’s most significant conclusion (in my opinion) is that evolution required tremendous effort and took enormous risks to make the Homo sapiens brain as large as it is. As a species, there was a “decision” to rely on intellectual power rather than physical strength. Harnessing the potential of the human brain is one of the defining aspects of being human.


Creating a focused list of books that can be universally beneficial is indeed a valuable endeavor. Gathering the wisdom and lessons from centuries and millennia is crucial, and there is no excuse for not seizing this vast and fantastic opportunity.

I compiled this list to provide you with a reference point whenever you are in search of a great book.

I would appreciate it if you also share this list with others, draw their attention to it, or send it to someone who reads a lot. It might serve as a valuable resource for those seeking knowledge.

Unfortunately, there is a plethora of bad advice out there, and many people end up on the wrong path for years until a single thought or book can completely change everything.