I am a voracious reader. I always have been. I’m the type of reader English teachers celebrate—I am an active reader, meaning I like to evaluate, dissect and take something of value away from everything I read. I think that is why biographies and personal development books have long been my genres of choice. They provide a wealth of life-changing, motivational material that is timeless and that you can refer to over and over again and always glean some new piece of wisdom.
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Throughout the year, our busy schedules can make it hard to devote any amount of time to ourselves or a good book. But, during the summer, most of us tend to allow ourselves to slow down and relax a little, even if it’s just for a weekend here or there. These slower, less scheduled times are a perfect time to get to all those books you’ve been wanting to read. As an added bonus, it’s also a great time to focus on yourself a little more so you can be the very best version of you for the rest of the year.
Allow me to provide you with an adult summer reading list straight from my collection of favorite personal development books. These are books that have been the most influential in my success and that I return to time and again for inspiration.
1. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (1952)
This is my favorite personal development book and has been very influential on my choice to have a positive attitude. I know people constantly telling you to be positive can start to sound like a bunch of lip service after a while, but Norman Vincent Peale focuses on real-life examples and the correlation between a positive mental attitude and the results you get in your life. If you’re serious about changing your outcomes, this book is a must read.
2. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (2010)
In much the same way Norman Vincent Peale talks about a positive attitude, this book talks about the effects of having a happy core on your health, relationships, success—you know, all the important things in life. It also discusses something else I strongly believe: Circumstances aren’t going to make you happy. You need to learn to be happy in your circumstances and make them better.
3. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (1903)
This is another book that has been very influential on me. As a matter of fact, the analogy I use about weeding the garden in your mind comes from this book. Written at the beginning of the 20th century, it is a true personal development classic full of ideas and wisdom that still rings true today.
4. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937)
Yet another book that focuses on the power of your thoughts. Are you starting to detect a theme? Hill spent years studying incredibly rich people like Andrew Carnegie and determined their success was a result of how they think. My favorite line from this book is, “Thoughts are things.” That’s powerful stuff.
This is probably the most well-known book in the personal development genre. Even though it was written a little over 30 years after As a Man Thinketh, I actually consider it a next chapter to Allen’s book and highly recommend reading both for the full impact.
5. The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson (2014)
Anyone who has heard me speak or reads my work knows I greatly admire Winston Churchill. He was truly an amazing leader, and I think this book is an excellent recent assessment of him. Instead of being just a biography, the book focuses on his attributes—his strength, courage and tenacity—that make up the “Churchill Factor” and the role they played in so many events that shaped Western civilization. It’s a very eye-opening book about the lasting effect one great leader can have on history.
6. Pushing Up People by Art Williams (1985)
Of course, this book is near and dear to my heart because it was written by Primerica’s founder at the peak of his career and near the beginning of mine with the company. But it’s also an important book because it shares a philosophy I think a lot of people in business need to take to heart: You personally get ahead in life by pushing people up instead of pushing people down. These days I see a lot of the opposite happening, so I think this is a book everyone trying to build a business needs to read if they want to be successful as well as respected. It wouldn’t be a bad refresher for some established businesspeople, either.
These books are available at most bookstores, so you don’t have any excuse not to pick up one or all six. It’s important to devote some time to yourself to relax and improve this summer so you can be even more awesome all year long!
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