20 Lesser Known Motivational Books That Are Absolute Gems!

This year has been an uphill battle in every way possible. The prevalent sense of ambiguity, chaos, and helplessness can get overwhelming, if left unchecked.

Be it stepping out to watch the brilliant sunrise, connect with nature or listening to a piece of soulful music, people have unique sources of inspiration, that help us get on with our lives. For those of us who find solace in between the pages of a book, there’s always a list of motivational stories that have come to our rescue. Be it bouncing back from an illness, dealing with work-pressures, handling difficult conversations, or even finding our financial footing – books are our knights in shining (or dusty) armour!

Presenting a list of 20 motivational books that can help you bounce back on your feet with a renewed sense of inspiration –

1. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

A self-empowerment book written by Don Miguel Ruiz & Janet Mills, it has broken many best selling records, worldwide! It is based on a set of spiritual beliefs held by the ancient Toltec people.

The book rose to fame after being endorsed by Oprah Winfrey on ‘The Oprah Winfrey show!’ The book urges us to making three agreements with yourself, to live life in peace and happiness. These include –

– Controlling and weighing your words before uttering them

– Not caring for others opinion of you

– Not jumpIng to conclusions based on assumptions

and by incorporating the above three principles to achieve your goals in life.

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch & Jeffery Zaslow

Translated into 48 languages, worldwide, this book was written by Randy Pausch – a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, University, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away at an early age of 47.

Aptly named, ‘The Last Lecture’ talks about the very last lecture that Randy gave his students. It contains stories of his childhood, lessons that he wants his children to learn from him, and everything that he wants them to know about him. It dives deeply into the unpredictability of life and how it is important to have fun and enjoy life to the fullest, before death comes calling.

3. Wings of Fire by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

The auto-biography of India’s former President, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam, it remains a timeless best seller. Covering his early life, humble beginnings, his work in the Indian Space research and missile programs, the book takes the reader through his entire life journey.

He advises students to dedicate themselves towards their goals and dreams. He also emphasises the importance of developing high tolerance towards negativity in life, so that we are not easily steered away from achieving our goals.

4. Who Will Cry When You Die? by Robin Sharma

Written by Indian born writer Robin Sharma, this book is a gold mine of motivation! The book provides guidance on steering through life, even as we develop our personality and skills. Filled with noteworthy quotes and moving words, the book is revered by thousands of people, worldwide.

A book that urges one to live life to its fullest, the essence can be summarised with one sentence –

“Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.”

5. You Can Win by Shiv Khera

This one makes for an easy read. Filled with practical insights, it is set to dispel your confusions and offer clarity in matters of daily life.

As the title suggests, the book can help you evolve and develop a sense of purpose in life. Thus, providing a fertile land to sow the seeds for new ideas and a bright future.

6. Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson

The humorously titled business fable by Dr Spencer Johnson Is a treasure trove of motivation! The book talks about the inevitability of change. It further delves into the typical reactions that people usually have to change.

The story revolves around two mice, two men and their cheese hunt. Eventually, their acquired stock of cheese gets exhausted and that’s when the lessons begin. The characters learn to deal with change and find new ways to replenish their stock. The entire journey serves the reader with insights into adaptability and change leadership.

7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A timeless novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho that was originally written in Portuguese. It is the story of a young shepherd boy, who sets out to make his dreams come true, and find treasures in the Pyramids of Egypt.

The book, though a light read, gives a profound insight to life – that of a young man trying to chase his dreams, with no experience or perspectives in life, whatsoever.

8. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fu*k by Mark Manson

This book, which spent 179 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, could be called an anti-self-help book. Spewing criticism at typical self-help books, which only advocate seemingly unrealistic and mindless positivity, this book stands out in its narration! Mark Manson uses his own life experiences to reinstate the idea that life Is all about suffering in style.

He counsels his readers that rather than running after happiness, it is better to accept life, along with its struggles.

9. The Power Of Your Sub-Conscious Mind by Dr Joseph Murphy 

This book by Dr Joseph Murphy sheds powerful insights into the working of the sub-conscious mind, and how all our actions – voluntary or involuntary, past or present, our actions and beliefs, are controlled by the sub-conscious mind.

A must read, this book can offers priceless insights into understanding the curious case of our subconscious mind. These insights can further help you train your mind to lead a fulfilling life.

10. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

One of the most popular books by Robin Sharma, it makes for a riveting read! The book is in the form of a conversation between two main characters and takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions and insights!

The story focuses on the journey of a lawyer forced to confront his life-gone awry. His coming of age saga sheds light into the path that one can take to discovering ‘wisdom and light’ through rekindled passion for life.

11. The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

 “If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”
― Dan Millman.

Based on the early life of author, Dan Millman, this part -fiction, part-autobiographical book, traces Dan’s journey from a college athlete to the Olympics, guided by his mentor, Socrates. Uncovering many spiritual truths and inter-laced with elements of mystery and romance, this book has been a best-seller in many countries and has been made into a movie by the title ‘Peaceful Warrior’.

12. Declutter Your Mind by Barrie Davenport

This marvellous book by Barrie Davenport is for those of you, who are always bogged down by anxiety and negative thoughts and struggle to find meaning in life. The author offers not just four simple practical solutions to remove the clutter from your mind, but also simple exercises to follow, by which the mind can be de-cluttered from gloomy and pessimistic thoughts, to help you lead a calm, placid and peaceful life.!!

13. The Seductive Illusion Of Hard Work by Utkarsh Amitabh

With this book, Utkarsh Amitabh, founder of Networkcapital.tv, one of the world’s largest peer mentoring communities, has broken all romantic and over-rated illusions of ‘hard work’. Blaming the young workforce for experiencing ‘burnout’ due to mis-directed hard work, he breaks all myths, saying that the ‘right approach’ is what is missing in today’s corporate world. Definitely a must-read for today’s millennials reeling under the stress of long hours of work and pressure.

14. Think Like A Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol

This brilliant masterpiece of a book, by Ozan Varol, a rocket scientist, award-winning law professor of Turkish origin, is a melange of various topics- actual rocket science, business, law, psychology etc. Illustrating nine intelligent concepts, every insight and story has been brought to life through wit, sarcasm, humour, self-deprecation, stories of his time at NASA and other life-experiences. You definitely don’t have to be a rocket scientist to read this truly amazing read.

15. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Morgan Housel, a former columnist and a two-time business award winner, presents this remarkable book, which doesn’t talk about money. Neither does he talk about investments. He explores the unique and strange ways in which people think about money, savings, expenditure and investments. A simple, but engaging book, about how you can compound your interest in money!

16. The Life Of Pi by Yann Martel

A fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. This novel, which was made into a movie by the same name and directed by Ang Lee, is a beautiful tale of faith, friendship and perseverance. It is the story of a boy stranded on a boat in the Pacific, with a tiger and a hyena for company. How he survives against all odds forms the crux of the story.

A quote from the book goes: “It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names”: ― Yann Martel, Life of Pi.

17. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

A poignant story of a young girl and her family, in hiding, during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, this one is a classic. Anne’s story is about the right to freedom and equality. In addition to the many important messages in this book, is a strong message that just because people maybe from a different religion or race, it does not mean that they need to be treated differently.

18. The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

This book written by Heather Morris, is a historical tale based on the Holocaust. It is a story of hope and survival, love, loyalties and friendship which transcend even the most inhuman horrors of war. A perfect novel, for those interested in historical tales, it follows the story of Lale, a Jew, who is forced to become a tattooist in a Nazi concentration camp and how he uses his position to act with kindness and humanity, in a place where such traits were extinct.

19. When Breath Becomes Air by Dr Paul Kalanithi

A non-fiction autobiographical book written by American Neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Kalanithi. Diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, just as he was finishing his training as a neuro surgeon, Paul talks about the relationship between a doctor and his patient and about facing our mortality. Despite its grim undertones, it is a sentimental, heart breaking and inspiring story –a memoir of hope and bravery, urging us to reflect deeply into our existence and makes us ponder on the question: ‘what makes life worth living – in the face of uncertainty?’

20. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A brilliant, yet powerful book written by debutant Afghan writer, Khaled Hosseini. This book, which will remain with you long after you have put it down, is a tale of guilt, friendship, forgiveness, loss, repentance and desire for atonement. Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan, during the rise of the Taliban regime –   it will keep you emotional, tensed and shocked, as you turn page after page, and make you want to pause now and then to cry your heart out and then start again!


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