You shouldn’t adopt reading as a “hobby.” You should adopt reading as a way of life.
Books are perhaps the single most powerful tool for developing a stronger mind, problem-solving skills, self-confidence, and anything else you feel you need. If it’s possible, there’s likely a book about it somewhere.
Today, we’re looking at becoming more motivated.
But it’s not just the motivation we’re looking for – it’s results. Books motivate us to pursue better for ourselves and teach us how to do this. The message can be sold in a title, but the “how” is what gets you to read the whole book cover to cover.
So what books can teach men how to be better, stronger, and happier?
Here are the 15 best motivational books for men, to get you started.
1. Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual – Jocko Willink
Jocko Willink is the definition of a badass.
He’s a former Navy SEAL, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, an entrepreneur, and a bestselling author.
How does he do it all?
Well, he works really hard, but it really comes down to rigorous discipline. What makes Jocko special isn’t that wakes up at 4 am, it’s that he wakes up at 4 am – every single day – and get’s after it. He’s disciplined and productive. This is why he succeeds.
According to Jocko, discipline equals the freedom to do what you want.
According to Jocko, you have to earn your sunset.
The Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual is his best effort to teach us what he’s learned in life and on the battlefield. It’s a great read – simple, not too long, and deep.
“Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it.”― Jocko Willink
2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
Mark Manson doesn’t hold back.
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Manson not only tells you a great story about his own journey to becoming a more peaceful version of himself, but he also cites some really good foundational sources. In particular, he pays homage to some of the most interesting writers and philosophers of all time, like Charles Bukowski and Friedrich Nietzsche (these are just 2 of the many).
This book is real talk, and it’s a great wake-up call.
The only reason to skip it would be if you don’t like profanity – there is a lot of it in this one.
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.”― Mark Manson
3. 12 Rules For Life – Jordan Peterson
Love him or hate him, Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules For Life has the potential to change your life completely.
Peterson offers a fairly straightforward guide to the chaos of the modern world, and he does so in an evidence-based, articulate, and creative way. Peterson is a psychologist with decades spent studying human development, and his ideas are worth listening to.
I know Peterson has caught some hate over the years, but regardless of your political leaning, he can undoubtedly help you to live a happier and stronger masculine life.
If you want to grow, you must give his book a shot.
“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.”― Jordan Peterson
4. Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
Learning how to lead is an essential aspect of a vital life.
If there’s anyone worth learning leadership from, it’s Simon Sinek. In addition to being a great motivational speaker and writer, Sinek also demonstrates some very interesting concepts on what makes good leaders good, and how more people can lead well themselves.
From Costco to the Marines, Sinek’s teachings in Leaders Eat Last are extensive (and extensively interesting). This book can make you the leader you’ve always wanted to be, and this will make you the man you’ve always wanted to be.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”― Simon Sinek
5. The Alchemist – Paulo Coehlo
This is one of just a few novels on this list, but it’s a classic.
The Alchemist tells the story of a young shepherd boy’s quest to uncover his “personal legend.” He faces trials and tribulations, failure, love, and everything.
In the end, he doesn’t just change, he goes from boy to man.
This isn’t just a tale about finding your purpose in life, it’s a tale about growing up.
The Alchemist is a book that can give you hope when you’re down, or just remind you to never give up on your dreams. It’s also just a joy to read.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”― Paulo Coehlo
6. Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl’s masterpiece is the best philosophy book I’ve ever read.
So many of us get caught up in trying to be successful, making an impact, and trying to achieve things, that we don’t think about what everything we do means.
We just run around trying to satisfy our ego, and eventually, everything comes crashing down.
Man’s Search For Meaning gives you an antidote to that agony. That antidote is “logotherapy,” and the second part of the book gives you a comprehensive guide to how this therapy system worlds.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”― Viktor Frankl
7. Atomic Habits – James Clear
This is the best book ever written on habit formation, and it’s no secret habits are one of the most important things for improving your life.
James Clear is one of the world’s leading experts on building habits (and other actionable personal development strategies), and Atomic Habits is his magnum opus.
The book teaches you everything you need to know about building good habits, getting rid of bad ones, and training your brain to do what you need to do to be successful.
This book gives actionable tips that will help you change your life.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear
8. The Dip – Seth Godin
This is a book about quitting.
Did you know that quitting is a good thing sometimes?
I knew this, but I didn’t understand it before I opened The Dip. I had spent years training myself to resent quitting and avoid it like the plague.
In this “little book that teaches you when to quit”, Seth Godin teaches you how and when to quit non-effective goals so that you can focus more of your time and energy on the right ones. This is the key to lasting success, as far as I’m concerned.
A resilient person who knows when to “quit” and reassess is very dangerous.
“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.” — Seth Godin
9. The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
I don’t think there’s a book that’s impacted more successful artists than Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.
But many people don’t realize that The War of Art runs much deeper than just artistic development. The War of Art is about life because, really, life, when lived well, looks a lot like art.
The “resistance” that Pressfield writes about isn’t just stopping painters and writers from creating masterpieces, it’s also stopping you from living your dreams.
Put bluntly, resistance is fear. The War of Art teaches you how to overcome it.
“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” – Steven Pressfield
10. Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I’m embarrassed, but I have no idea how to pronounce the author of this book’s last name. It’s one of the most butchered names in literature.
This book completely changed my life. None of the books on this list gave me more practical advice than Flow.
Flow is everywhere in our lives. It’s in our homes, our work, and even the smallest moments we experience, like going for a walk, shopping at the grocery store, or writing a poem.
Flow is everywhere, and as far as I can tell, the meaning of life is to experience the world with as much “flow” as possible.
“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.”– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
11. 5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength – Jim Wendler
This is likely the last book you were expecting on this list, and I’ll be honest, it might look a little out of place compared to the others.
I almost left it off, but I don’t just want you to be stronger mentally. I want you to be stronger.
And the thing is, powerlifter, coach, and author Jim Wendler’s book 5/3/1 won’t just make you stronger in the weight room, it will make you healthier and more resilient in all aspects of your life. Sure, there are no concepts from famous 18th-century thinkers covered in this book and I don’t Wendler has ever read Voltaire, but it’s clear that he learned a lot about life from “the school of hard knocks”.
It’s more than worth checking out what he has to say.
And hey, even if you don’t like his takes on life, you’ll finish this book with a deep understanding of a weightlifting system that is all but guaranteed to make you stronger.
“You want science and studies? Fuck you. I’ve got scars and blood and vomit.” ― Jim Wendler
12. For One More Day (Mitch Albom)
I’ll never forget reading For One More Day because I read it on an airplane.
It was a flight from Chicago to San Diego.
Thanks to Mitch Albom’s masterpiece, I quiet-cried on that flight.
The book made me think deeply about my life and the people in it. They weren’t there when I read it, but this book made me closer to my parents, friends, and even the people I’ve lost over the years. It made me realize the impermanence and fragility of everything in this life.
This made me emotional at the time, but in the end, I got stronger.
This book will make you smile, think, and cry, and what more can you ask for in a motivational book?
What would you do for one more day with a lost loved one?
“One day spent with someone you love can change everything.” ― Mitch Albom
13. The Happiest Man on Earth – Eddie Jaku
Was Holocaust survivor, speaker, and author Eddie Jake really the happiest man on earth?
We’ll never know for sure.
However, Eddie’s lessons in his book The Happiest Man on Earth without a doubt can help you to become happier, more peaceful, and inspired to be better yourself. His story will make bring you tears of agony, but the lessons he learned from his pain might bring you tears of joy. This book is an emotional rollercoaster.
Eddie was a great storyteller and an incredibly wise man.
It’s hard to put this book down while you’re reading it. When you finally do put the book down, it’s hard not to let its lessons affect you positively.
“Kindness is the greatest wealth of all. Small acts of kindness last longer than a lifetime.”― Eddie Jaku
14. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell knows a thing or two about success.
Outliers, one his 5 New York Times bestselling books, is one of the best books you’ll ever read about how to be successful, why some people are not successful, and what traits make someone successful at something.
Be warned – there are some tough lessons in this book.
It might make you upset at times.
That’s a good thing though; you want to have your beliefs challenged.
To be an outlier, you have to learn how to deal with your beliefs being challenged. No one ever made it to the top by taking the easy way.
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”― Malcolm Gladwell
15. Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey
Greenlights is one of my favorite memoirs.
I especially recommend it as an audiobook, because the author (and Oscar-winning actor) Matthew McConaughey narrates the book, which essentially puts you in his shoes from when he’s a child until he’s married with children.
McConaughey has a lot of talents, but one thing that he does exceptionally well is telling a story that will help you live better and think better.
We only get one life, and no one is more aware of that than McConaughey in his memoir. It’s a great novel on risk-taking, lesson learning, and life-living. I couldn’t put it down.
“Don’t walk into a place like you wanna buy it, walk in like you own it.”― Matthew McConaughey
I want everyone to be a reader.
The biggest truth of reading is that books offer the keys to solving the deepest and most damning of humanity’s problems.
However, there’s a big problem.
Reading is hard. It’s not easy to become an avid reader.
Here’s the solution:
Read what you love until your reading habit is a part of you.
You don’t need to sit down with Meditations by Marcus Aurelius or a textbook on game theory if you don’t want to. Don’t listen to what the self-help bros tell you.
Heck, you can start with The Cat in the Hat for all I care. I just want you to read because reading teaches you how to exercise curiosity.
The more you train that curiosity, the stronger it grows. The stronger your curiosity about the world becomes, the stronger become. The more open to taking chances you become.
But still, in the early days of your self-improvement journey, you might need some help building these good habits, and that’s why I want to tell you about my exclusive coaching program, led by me and my team of experienced men’s coaches.
See, this program isn’t only going to help you break free from nice guy behaviors, build quality romantic relationships, and become a stronger Grounded Man. It’s also going to provide you with support from both myself and my elite community of men. Our coaches provide informed professional advice on how to play hard to get, among other important relationship principles.
We’re going to help you learn how to get to know people without being desperate, clingy, or weak.
No drama, no games, just growth. This will be the last self-development group you’ll ever need.
With this program, you’ll be tapped into your own “band of brothers” and you’ll also have access to the best training course for men in existence today, as well as weekly calls with my team of inspiring and determined coaches. There are no boys, no complainers, or dabblers, this program is for serious men only.