25 Great Books on Business, Motivation and Personal Development for Summer 2024

Written by Prabjit Chohan-Patel

It’s that time of the year again.  When Malta’s sandy coastline disappears under a carpet of suntents, towels, beach mats and swimsuited bodies.  When eating ice cream for breakfast seems perfectly acceptable and flip flops are  the only footwear worth considering.  When leaving the house without sunglasses is like going out naked…and air con and a 24/7 supply of iced water become entirely responsible for your life’s happiness.  

Whether you’re sheltering at home/the office until the cooler months return, making good use of your own pool (lucky thing), planning the great escape abroad or are an avid beachlover who can’t get enough of the Maltese summer, we’ve compiled a superb list of book recommendations to see you through summer 2024…wherever you are spending it!  Not a ‘typical’ holiday reading list of tear-inducing romance novels or heart pounding thrillers.  Instead, true to the spirit and purpose of SHE Malta, these books intended to inspire, educate and empower you in life and/or business.  AND the extra large cherry on top, several are specifically written for women by women – for which we owe SHE member Mireille Pelligrini Petit a big thank you for her recommendations. 

Many of these books are international bestsellers.  Some less well known.  All are by experts who have truly lived, worked, studied and experienced.  (Several have accompanying workbooks to help you apply what you have read to your own life.)

 

So check out this list of 25 Great Books on Business, Motivation and Personal Development for Summer 2024.

1. The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life – Robin Sharma

A transformational book that is part manifesto for mastery, part playbook for genius-grade productivity and part companion for a beautiful life in this age of overwhelming complexity.

This multimillion-selling phenomenon was inspired by Sharma’s 20 plus years as a leadership and performance expert, helping clients maximise their productivity, health and serenity thanks to a revolutionary early-rising concept: the 5am Club.  Using the less common self development format of a story (in this case, two strangers meeting a tycoon who becomes their mentor), Sharma introduces readers to the daily morning routine habit that has helped countless people accomplish results with overall happiness, purpose and feelings of aliveness.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  – Stephen R. Covey  

Described as one of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, this book has sold 40 millions copies over 30 years and  guided generations of readers in understanding the seven core habits for achieving personal and professional effectiveness.

Presidents and CEOs have kept it by their bedsides, students have studied passages from it, teachers and parents have drawn from it and individuals of all ages and occupations have used it to adapt to and benefit from change.  

3. 10x Is Easier Than 2x: How World-Class Entrepreneurs Achieve More by Doing Less – Dan Sullivan & Benjamin Hardy

Dan Sullivan, the world’s leading coach for highly successful entrepreneurs, wants you to know that achieving 10X growth is exponentially easier than striving for 2X growth. 

Most find this idea confusing at first because simply imagining 10X growth causes them to think they need to do 10X more work to achieve it. However, being a 10X entrepreneur is nothing like what most people think.  10X is fundamentally about quality vs quantity, and the quality of your freedoms determines the results you achieve.

4. Atomic Habits – James Clear  

This brilliantly titled book is becoming a bible in the self development world, selling 5 million copies and being translated into 30 languages.  And not without good reason. 

Clear by surname and clear by writing style, this author delivers a logical and implementable framework for creating good habits, breaking bad ones and mastering tiny behaviours that all stack up to create remarkable results.  Packed with easy to follow diagrams and further resources by the author, Clear discusses the power of small changes and how they compound over time.  An absolute must-read.

5. The Confidence Code – Katty Kay & Claire Shipman

Working women today are better educated and qualified than ever before. Yet men still predominate in the corporate world.  Shipman and Kay propose that the key reason is confidence.  

Based on cutting-edge research in genetics, gender, behaviour and cognition plus their own experiences and those of successful women in politics, media, and business, Kay and Shipman go beyond telling women to ‘lean in’ [see below!].  Offering the inspiration and practical advice that women need to close the gap and achieve the careers they want and deserve, this book helps women fight self-doubt and increase confidence.

6. Dare to Lead – Brené Brown  

One of SHE member Mireille’s own all time favourites, presenting Brown’s work on vulnerability, courage, shame and their connection with leadership. 

No list on self development literature is complete without mentioning this trailblazing author (and it was tough choosing only one of her works).  Leadership is not about titles, status and power over people. Leaders are people who hold themselves accountable for recognising the potential in people and ideas and developing that potential. This is a book for everyone who is ready to choose courage over comfort, make a difference and lead.

[Also by this author: Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection.]

7. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink  

The human need to learn, create and to do better by ourselves is the real driver of motivation and productivity. 

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people – at work, at school, at home. It is wrong.  Pink shatters the common paradigm and shares the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world.  Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.

8. The Female Vision – Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson 

Supporting women in finding their voice and trusting in themselves to speak up about what they notice and what their vision is – for the benefit of their organisation.

Women and men not only see things differently—they also see different things.  Men generally think in bottom line, linear terms while women usually have an empathetic awareness of interpersonal factors.  Both qualities are important, yet organisations only reward traditionally male points of view.  Delving into the stories of women whose vision improved their companies – amidst unresponsive organisations, dismissive managers and their own personal fears – the authors highlight an essential yet underutilised asset within most companies: the female perspective.  

9. Fierce Self Compassion: How Women Can Use Self-Compassion to Stand Up, Claim Their Power, and Speak the Truth – Kristin Neff

Why it is more urgent than ever that women acknowledge their areas of suffering, celebrate their inner voice and challenge the male-orientated status quo.

Drawing on Neff’s own experiences and those of other women, this books shows how women can harness self-compassion to gain the strength, clarity and courage needed to be resilient and stand up for themselves in a male-dominated society.  Exploring gender differences, reasons why women aren’t more compassionate towards themselves and what women do for love, this book also provides concrete tools and easy-to-follow mindfulness practices to empower women to let go of self-criticism, draw boundaries and become fierce.

10. The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

Ruiz presents four simple yet profound agreements, based on ancient Toltec wisdom, for a new code of conduct leading to personal freedom and a fulfilling life.

Addressing self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering, this is a practical guide that can help people turn their lives around.

11. Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness – Vex King

Overcoming adversity (and becoming a source of hope for millions of people), King draws from his own experience to show how when we change the way we think, feel, speak and act, we begin to change the world.

Self-care, conquering toxic energy, lifestyle habits, mindfulness and meditation, changing belief systems, manifestation, challenging fears and flowing with the Universe…  It’s all here.

12. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work – Shawn Achor

Based on the largest study ever conducted on happiness and human potential showing that success comes from shifting the ‘happiness-success’ formula around.

When it comes to the pursuit of success and happiness, most people assume the same formula: if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy.  The only problem is that a decade of cutting-edge research in the field of positive psychology has proven that this formula is backwards…

13. How to Meet Yourself, a Workbook for Self Discovery – Dr Nicole LePera

By a leading voice in psychological self-healing – who has helped millions rise out of survival mode and ‘stuckness’ –  this incredible workbook is designed to help uncover one’s highest self and create a truly lovable life.

Our conditioned habits can cause stagnation, pain and self-destruction.  Dr LePera shows it’s within us to wake up to and change the behaviours no longer serving us.  Through objective and compassionate observation of our current default settings – including sleep, movement, eating, emotional reactivity and core beliefs – this interactive guide is like an encouraging companion helping us recognise the physical, mental and emotional patterns we don’t want to carry into the future.  Radical self-understanding for an improved inner self and relationship with the outer world.

[Also by this author: How to Do the Work.]  

14. How Women Rise – Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith

A powerful read that talks about breaking the 12 common habits that hold women back.

Do you hesitate about putting forward ideas?  Are you reluctant to claim credit for your achievements?  Do you find it difficult to get the support you need from your boss or the recognition you deserve from your colleagues?  If your answer to any of these is yes, this book will help get you back on track.  Inspiring and practical by turns, it identifies the common obstacles females face in ensuring future success and tells you how to overcome them.  In the process, it points the way to a career that will satisfy your ambitions and help you make the difference you want to make in the world.

15. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Described as a landmark manifesto for women by the NYT, this bestseller launched a movement and ignited global conversations about privilege, gender issues and systemic barriers.

Facebook COO Sandberg draws on her own business experience to show how women can empower themselves, unlock top leadership roles and achieve their full potential.  Selling 4 million copies, Lean In also polarised readers with its stance on personal responsibility in overcoming workplace challenges being viewed by many as downplaying systemic and structural barriers and seemingly shifting the blame for lack of female professional advancement onto women themselves.  Sandberg’s perspective as a high-ranking executive at a major multinational  has been called impractical for the broader population of working women whose experience is defined by the power dynamics and corporate cultures that propagate inequality.  A book sparking widespread media coverage

16. Make Your Bed – Admiral William H. McRaven

“A book to inspire your children and grandchildren to become everything that they can.” The Wall Street Journal

Struggling to find structure?  Finding yourself lacking motivation?  Start by making your bed.  

Maintaining routine and structure is more important than ever in the age of home working, digital distractions and life’s overall busy-ness.  McRaven shares the 10 life lessons he learned as a Navy Seal that helped him overcome challenges in work and life.  His book is intended to help you master essential habits for staying grounded, keep your mind calm and ready for the day ahead, find solace and companionship in the people around you, cope with setbacks and keep moving forward and stray beyond your comfort zone and take risks

17. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S. Dweck  

A compelling look at two different mindsets and how these impact every aspect of our lives.

Dweck explains why a person’s mindset is as relevant as their talent and abilities to their chances of success and happiness.  Demonstrating a fixed versus a growth mindset, she places the praise of intelligence and ability under the microscope, analysing self-esteem, accomplishment and other factors that can actually jeopardise success. As Mireille, SHE member says, “Carol Dweck is the guru on fostering growth mindsets in our relationships, parenting, schools and businesses to help everyone grow and develop”.

18. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change – Charles Duhigg

Why can some people and companies change overnight and some stay stuck in their old ruts?  The answer lies deep in the human brain and this book reveals the secret pressure points that can change a life. 

Adopting a storytelling style, Duhigg explores the science of habit formation and change from a psychological aspect.  This book is especially helpful for people who want to understand why they have certain habits or have difficulty sticking with new habits.  Duhigg explores the incredible results of keystone habits and how they can make all the difference between billions and millions, failure and success – or even life and death.

19. The Rules of People – Richard Templar 

We all know someone who’s a natural ‘people person’; they seem to communicate effortlessly with any type of person, getting them onside in any situation. What’s their secret – and can the rest of us learn it?  

Well, they know the rules of people and yes you can know them too.  In this personal code for getting the best from everyone, Templar lays down fundamental guiding principles to help us connect with strangers, build stronger relationships with our friends and colleagues and even get through to difficult people.  Few books are laid out as simply and logically as this; each ‘rule’ is brilliantly explained on two short pages with one standout summary line underneath. 

20. Start with Why – Simon Sinek  

Based on one of the most-watched TED Talks ever.  Finding the purpose, cause, belief that inspires you to do what you do.

“Those who have had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate in the same way – and it’s the opposite to most.”  Sinek explores why some individuals and organisations are more innovative, influential and profitable than others.  Drawing on the stories of Steve Jobs, Ernest Shackleton and the Wright brothers, Sinek uncovers the fundamental secret of their success.  How you lead, inspire, live, it all starts with why.

21. The Stress Test – Ian Robertson

A revelatory study of how and why we react to pressure the way we do and how the right level of challenge can help us flourish and achieve more than we ever thought possible.  

Why is it that some people react to seemingly trivial emotional upset with distress while others power through life-changing tragedies? How do some shine brilliantly at public speaking while others seem on the verge of an anxiety attack?  Why do some people sink into all-consuming depression when life has dealt them a poor hand while this merely increases resilience in others?  Psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Robertson reveals how we can shape our brain’s response to pressure and answers the question: can stress ever be a good thing? 

22. Surrounded by Idiots – Thomas Erikson

An eye-opening, and often hilarious, read to help improve dynamics in one’s personal and professional life.  

Opening with a hilarious and true anecdote, this simply written and fascinating read contains a groundbreaking theory on understanding people’s behaviour.  Inspired by the unique method that Erikson has been using to assist organisations and individuals, by identifying and understanding four core personality types, this book provides fascinating insights on how to tune into different personalities better, understand yourself better, confidently handle conflict and get the best out of the people you deal with and manage.

23. Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty

Shetty (host of the #1 podcast ‘On Purpose’) distils the timeless wisdom he learned as a practising Vedic monk into practical steps anyone can take to live a less anxious, more meaningful life.

This book reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits (the roadblocks to our potential and power) to access inner calm and purpose.  Shetty transforms the abstract lessons he learned in the ashram into practical advice and exercises that can be applied to reduce stress, improve focus, identify our hidden abilities and increase self-discipline.  

24. Tomorrowmind – Thrive at Work with Resilience, Creativity and Connection, Now and in an Uncertain Future – Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Martin Seligman

A guide, from two authorities in workplace mental health, to re-humanising the workplace in order to bring about greater personal success and corporate productivity.  

Workplace toxicity, industry volatility, employee isolation and technology-driven change are increasingly threatening the psychological well-being of employees. The rise of quiet quitting proves that not being able to flourish at work deeply impacts personal success and corporate productivity.  Based on the science of thriving, Tomorrowmind  provides actionable advice on resilience, foresight and creativity for succeeding in an uncertain environment and cultivating a workplace of connection and meaning for everyone. 

25. What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing – Oprah Winfrey & Dr Bruce Perry

Winfrey and Dr. Perry challenge us to move from asking “what’s wrong with you?” or “why are you behaving that way?” to asking “what happened to you?”. 

Trauma and adversity experienced in childhood is a powerful predictor of the people we become in adulthood and the risks to our physical and mental health problems down the road.  With scientific insights into the patterns of behaviours so many struggle to understand, this book offers a simple perspective shift that can open up a new understanding of why we do the things we do, why we are the way we are – and ultimately provide a road map for repairing relationships, overcoming what seems insurmountable, and ultimately living better days.

 

There you have it.  Practical advice, inspirational stories, biographical experiences and theoretical frameworks to help you grow both personally and professionally…  We hope at least a few of the above selections resonate with you and make worthy additions to your beach bag, aeroplane carry-on or home sunbed this summer.

Happy reading and happy summer from SHE!

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