Motivational self-help nonfiction to read in fall 2020

With all the change and uncertainty at the current moment, focusing and staying motivated and continuing to lean in can become more challenging. Below are some books that you can either read or listen to help yourself get and stay motivated and focused on your life and your work this fall. Some titles below are well known contemporary classics while others are a bit more off the beaten path.

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David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell

Formats: print book, eBook (libby), eAudiobook (libby), audiobook on CD

Pretty much any book by Gladwell is guaranteed to be a good book. This one, specifically, continues to be ever relevant. Gladwell begins adding historical context to the ancient story of David and Goliath. He then divides the books into three parts

1.    Part one is titled “The advantages of disadvantages and the disadvantages of advantages”
2.    Part two is titled “the theory of desirable difficulty”
3.    And Part three is titled “the limits of power”

The book discusses a myriad of examples of how beautiful aspects of the world we live in can come from situations of adversity.


The Third Door by Alex Banayan

Formats: print book

In the Third Door, Banayan goes on a search to find out how some of the most successful people alive today started down their successful life path. The book starts with an exciting free ticket to be on the Price is Right. Chapters are divided up to the people Banayan interviews and what he learns from each of them. This book is a fast read that will keep you engaged. Perhaps it will even inspire you to go on your own quest. Or, to finally write that book you’ve been dreaming up.


Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

Formats: print book

Colvin is here to tell us that practice really does make perfect, and that raw talent alone is not enough. In this book, he talks about why talent is overrated, that genetics are not destiny, and what “deliberate practice” means and how to do it.


The 7 Habits of Highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey

Formats: print book, eAudio (libby), eBook (more than one edition on libby), eBook summary (hoopla), eBook (hoopla), eAudio (more than one edition on hoopla)

This contemporary classic work of self-help nonfiction. Several of the habits described in this book now have their own books. There is also a personal workbook version, a journal version, and 8th habit, and versions of all these versions of this original work written for teens. Covey will explain his 7 habits and how perfecting these habits in life will make you highly effective. Not all of these versions are currently available at the Lake Forest Library. But several of the spin-offs and editions of the original are.

1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think Win/Win
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the Saw


Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Formats: print book, eAudio (libby), audiobook on CD, eBook (libby), eBook (cloud library), summary of this book available on Hoopla

In Smarter Faster Better, Duhigg analyzes a different aspect of productivity: decision making and priority setting. Duhigg is also the author of another self-help business productivity book, The Power of Habit. Smarter Faster Better also covers motivation in a boot camp, a flight deck, a game of cards, a pre-release screening of Frozen, dynamics between nations, and more. Each example is easily readable and will help you become a better version of yourself.


Finish: Give yourself the gift of done by Jon Acuff

Formats: print book

The goal of reading a motivational self-help book is to get things over and dealt with and done, right? In Finish, Acuff takes on our collective battles with perfectionism, calling day two “the day after perfect”. Tips include choosing a project or a task to “bomb”, cutting a goal in half, make it fun, get rid of secret rules, use data to back up your imperfect process, identifying and jumping over your nerves, and more.  with examples each step of the way. This is a short book that is easily read in small chunks.


Grit by Angela Duckworth

Formats: print book, eAudiobook (libby), eBook (libby)

In Grit, Duckworth examines success as achieved through having a strong interest or passion for something, and working hard and persevering at it over a long length of time as compared to the concept of people having or people being “genius”. Duckworth then also talks about deliberate practice, what it is, and how to do it.


Tools of Titans

Formats: print book, eBook (libby), subsequent editions of this original title are available as: print book, eAudio (hoopla), eBook (hoopla, notes only)

This is a big huge thick book, but it’s also basically a dictionary. There is no need to read it from cover to cover and more than likely you won’t. Instead, this book invites you to jump around. Consider treating it like an encyclopedia: something to use as reference. In the front of the book is a table of contents with celebrity names. Most celebrity profiles of advice for being successful in each of their fields are two pages. Some celebrities, especially those toward the beginning of the book, have longer profiles. Scattered throughout are non-profile chapters, such as one on podcast equipment, a slow-carb diet cheat sheet, tools for hackers, how to become strong like a gymnast, and 8 tactics for dealing with haters.


Quiet by Susan Cain

Format: print book, eBook (libby), eAudiobook (libby)

Introverts get a bad rap in circles focused on extroversion. In Quiet, Cain talks about what Introverts bring to the table. Cain tackles the what extrovert ideal is, leadership, teamwork, how each personality type thinks, and when is it appropriate for introverts to temporarily act more extroverted.


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Format: print book, eAudiobook (libby), eBook (libby)

Calling all creatives. This was a Big, BIG, book when it was first released. The book is split into six sections, courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, and divinity. In a very short summery, Gilbert uses short stories to discusses how to deal with your fear, decide to say yes or no to your inspiration, give yourself permission to do the work, keep yourself on the creative path, create a positive relationship with your work, and how to find divinity in your work.


Personality isn’t Permanent by Benjamin Hardy

Formats: print book, ebook (libby)

If you have ever taken a personality test and been handed a metaphorical box to seal one’s self up within, Hardy writes a freeing book that declares that you get to choose who you would like to be throughout your life, and in doing so, can create a personality to match. Chapters each focus on a myth, such as the myths of personality, transform your trauma, and redesign your environment. This book is for anyone who is in need of a little empowerment in order to choose their next steps.