Great Books

I get a lot of questions about what books I’ve read. I may mention the odd book in a post, but most of my reading is relatively hidden. Seeing as there are many excellent books out there, I’ve decided to add a ‘Great Books’ category in the sidebar. I’m keeping it intentionally small, limiting everything that hasn’t provided tremendous value.

The truth is most of what I end up reading is mediocre. I’ve read a lot of books that offer the same basic solutions and ideas. I don’t really think this is reflective of the quality of books out there, but simply that I’ve read so many books that there aren’t a lot of ideas that I’ve never heard before. Also, good ideas tend to spread and get repackaged, so the best ideas are often common and it takes a really excellent book to offer an idea that is both original and extremely useful.

Here are my picks:

  • Unlimited Power – This book by Anthony Robbins, is a fantastic resource for personal development. While it focuses on neurolinguistic programming, there are scant few areas where Tony doesn’t provide a lot of depth and strategies. Health, goals, communication, relationships, habits, it’s all there. A book that could have been twenty, 400 pages barely contain the information here.
  • The China Study – This was the major resource that convinced me to adopt a vegetarian diet. Presented by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the book outlines one of the largest nutritional studies ever conducted and backs up many research projects that illustrate the health of a vegetarian diet. Plus the background about the nutrition information we are getting from our government made me a lot more skeptical about who profits from our health.
  • Getting Things Done – If there is a self-help book that is a cult classic, Dave Allen’s, Getting Things Done would be it. The book outlines a systematic organizing system to take your tasks away from the burden of your memory and out into the world. Even if you don’t need to entirety of this elaborate system, you can utilize small portions of it to improve your effectiveness.
  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling book. Although the book may get a bit new-agey at places, the core is practical. Focus on the present to be happy. Something so simple but also so powerful. I can see the roots of much of my writing in the principles Tolle beautifully illustrates in this book.
  • The Power of Full Engagement – If Getting Things Done is the best book on organization I’ve read, this has to be the best on productivity. Introducing the concept of energy management, this book makes the compelling case that it is energy, not time, that forms the key to our productivity. I consider a book great if it gives me one “Aha!” moment. This book probably gave me over twenty, so it is definitely worth the investment.
  • Breakthrough Rapid Reading – A comprehensive guide to the practice of speed reading. Starts off with very beginner techniques and then moves faster. You might want to pick this book up first before you decide to read all the others. 🙂
  • Good to Great – Although technically a book about taking organizations from good to great, it doesn’t take a huge stretch to see how these principles apply to your life. If you are stuck at mediocrity, this book is full of ideas for how to become great.
  • Goal Free Living – It may be surprising that someone who is such a strong advocate for goal-setting would list a book offering the opposite point of view as a personal favorite. But this book is great. This book really helped me uncover many flaws in my own goal-setting process so that I could refine them.
  • Goals – Zig Ziglar – Technically an audio CD, I often listen to this book when I need a little emotional motivation. Zig’s stories and metaphors are inspiring. We all need a little inspiration sometimes, and this does it well.

I’ll be adding new books to the collection as I continue to read. If you have any books to recommend to me, I’m always open to new suggestions.

  • Mike

    Hi Scott,

    I read a lot in this genre and have a few thoughts…..

    I liked UNLIMITED POWER, but honestly found his AWAKEN THE GIANT WITHIN much better and one of the best personal development books I’ve ever read.

    THINK & GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill is a classic and hard to beat.

    100 WAYS TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF by Steve Chandler has one of the cornier titles, but is one of the meatier “self-help” books I have read. This book is chock-full of useful information. In fact, I like all of Chandler’s books.

    THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WINNING by Denis Waitley is a great book on motivation and mindful purpose.

    So many more, but that’s a few that have had a big impact on my life.

  • max night

    You dont have to read inspiring or helpful books to find out more about youself. Look at a painting, or art exhibit. Read a work of fiction that looks interesting to you. Often times works of art or works of fiction that you havent seen expand your horizon and perspective about yourself and the world. What you think of new and contemporary pieces of art or literature can impact you as well as a self help or personal development book can.

  • Scott Young


    I’ll try to touch upon the many comments you’ve sent. It sounds a bit like you are worried about starting your own goals. Goal-setting isn’t the best solution for everyone, but how can you know unless you try. If you want to do an entire anime script I’d start with just a short one as a test of your discipline and skill. From there you might want to set larger goals.

    Good luck,

  • max night

    Its human nature to worry about the future, and what better to worry about than what goals you might have. Though worrying shouldnt consume you, as they luckily dont for me, never have a lack of fear. After all, the past is set in stone and the future is as fluid as water.

  • max night

    I also suppose that it would be a book instead of a manga. I dont really draw anymore, and only a little while ago i ended my painting class. A book that in my mind was supposed to be an anime would probably be better. Thanks for your advice, by the way. Im thinking maybe a chapter of it or short story overview would be a start. Its mostly an action and romance with an element of fantasy put in. I dont know, maybe I’ll be writing like Stephen King. He doesnt really think of the setup of the book itself and mostly he follows the characters as they develop.

  • Mark

    In light of your recent post about speed reading, I was wondering if Breakthrough Rapid Reading is still recommended?

  • Scott Young


    Probably not. Actually, my list would change pretty substantially if I rewrote this post.