I read constantly, and I always encourage my students to do the same. A $10 book can contain a lifetime’s worth of insights, and all you need to do to absorb those insights is carve out some time and find a comfortable chair! Persistent reading, goal setting, and meditation are the three qualities shared by almost all of the most successful people in every field, and priming your mind with the right books can literally change your life.

I view the following books as “must reads” for anyone who wants to become a better learner, a better worker, a better student, and a better person! Some have to do strictly with education, but many have to do with the way that you shape and live your life. Please enjoy, and if you have any more that you think I should read, I’m always looking for inspiration.

My Top Five

These five books transcend categories. No matter who you are or what you want to do with your life, I view these five books as absolutely essential reading. They’ll help you to build a foundation upon which you can build any set of skills and accomplish any goals you put your mind toward:

The One Thing by Gary Keller

If you want to succeed in any endeavor, you need to find focus. Expanding upon the famed “80/20 Principle” (the idea that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your efforts, and vice versa), Keller walks you through the process of evaluating your life, setting goals, prioritizing your activities, and altering the very way that you live your days. Life-changing in the truest sense of the word.

Resilience by Eric Greitens

The one quality that separates the truly successful from the rest of us is simple: grit. In this book, Rhodes Scholar, Navy Seal, and philanthropist Eric Greitens shares the ancient learnings necessary to build that grit within yourself. If you ever need a pick-me-up, or you start to lose your perspective on life, this book will set you right. Without question, the most motivating thing I’ve ever read. You won’t be the same when you’re finished.

Mastery by Robert Greene

True happiness comes from creating something of meaning. In his ludicrously well-researched, expansive book, historian Robert Greene walks you through the exact, step-by-step process used by the greatest masters in every field to craft world-altering creations. You’ll learn why “genius” is a myth, and how hard work, rigorous focus, and the proper process are all you need to become a master in any field. This is not an easy book to read, nor are its lessons easy to follow, but those who take the time to put its lessons into practice will reap the benefits and then some.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

There’s no such thing as talent. The idea that some people are “naturally” amazing at things, while others just don’t have inborn abilities, is a lie. If you disagree, this book is for you. As an educator, I’ve found no other book nearly as useful in both giving me actionable insights to build my students’ skills and to provide them with the motivation necessary to build them. This book, aside from being a fascinating read, is also probably the best book on education ever written. Whether you want to learn or teach, I’d sit down and tear through this as soon as you can.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

There are two mindsets. The “fixed” mindset believes that talents, skills, and abilities are fixed. As a result, those with the fixed mindset never learn, never change, and look for every excuse possible to confirm their limited outlook on life. The “growth” mindset believes that the mind is always changing, and that with work, focus, and the right guidance, anyone can improve at anything. Those with the growth mindset are happier, more productive, and vastly more successful. Before I ever teach my students, my first step is always to put them in the growth mindset – attempting to teach a student in a fixed mindset is like putting better wheels on a car with a broken engine. This book won’t just teach you all about these mindsets, but will show you how to adapt the growth mindset in all areas of your life. If you’re a parent, a teacher, or just someone who wants to improve him or herself, then this book is an absolute must-read.

Grab one and check it out!

The best thing about all of these books: the time you invest in reading them will pay serious dividends in your future. The few hours you’ll invest in these five books might just change your life, and will save you countless hours down the road.

Have any other favorites? Have thoughts on any of the books listed above? Let us know in the comments section below – I’m always looking for another great read, and I’d love to share any of your insights with my readers!