Smarter Summer Reading: These 10 Books Inspire You to Set Priorities and Perform at Your Best

May 24, 2016


To achieve, accomplish, master or succeed, you need inspiration, big ideas and motivation. Those aren’t always easy to tap into after a hard week. To carve out some time that will pay off personally and professionally, promise yourself that you’ll fan the flames of inspiration this summer with a bit different kind of summer reading. Here are ten lively and thought provoking books that will get you started.

  1. How To Be Successful In Life: 100+ Success Lessons From Oprah Winfrey
    By Tony Rohn

    Oprah Winfrey has been a source of inspiration for millions of people.  More than an empty celebrity persona, she offers great life lessons, business lessons and success lessons. At about 27 pages, this book won’t tax you, but you’ll come back to it again and again.

  2. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
    By Ryan Holiday

    There is a formula for turning adversity into advantage that's been followed by icons from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Steve Jobs. Faced with impossible situations, they found victory. While they were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted, success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor whose launch pad for excelling was “What stands in the way becomes the way.”

  3. The Magic of Thinking Big
    By David Schwartz

    Most of us have small, “realistic” goals that inspire little motivation. By contrast, the people who think big usually end up accomplishing the most. In this classic best seller, Schwartz advises readers to think and dream big—personally and professionally. Followed by putting pencil to paper to determine the practical steps necessary to turn those big goals into an even bigger reality.

  4. The Last Lecture
    By Randy Pautsch

    “If you vanished tomorrow, what would be your legacy?” It was a poignant question for professor Randy Pautsch as it was asked right after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This led him to create a “last lecture” on achieving childhood dreams. Like millions of people, you may have viewed his video; even so, reading the book gives you time to absorb the powerful messages Pautsch shares.

  5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
    By Daniel Pink

    This book illustrates the fact that what science knows about motivation, is not often put into practice in the workplace. Many of the incentives that are used can actually de-motivate staff (including ourselves.) Internal motivation is critical to success and high performance. Internally motivated people succeed more often than those who require external incentives, and they last longer and do better work. This book speaks volumes about the importance of self-knowledge and self-motivation.

    By Sophia Amoruso

    Since deciding to sell vintage clothes online, Sophia Amoruso became the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. But before that, she spent her teenage years hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and dumpster diving. By twenty-two, she was still broke and directionless. Sophia’s never been a typical CEO, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for those seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is winding and lined with naysayers. Filled with brazen wake-up calls, cunning and frank observations, and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise, this book reinforces following your true self.

  7. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
    By Chip & Dan Heath

    This has been called “an essential read for anyone not in a managerial position,” because it targets people who can't force others to change. The Heath brothers show how to motivate people who can't be forced into action. This book shows you how to influence others to behave in a desired way. It may even help you influence yourself!

  8. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
    By Elizabeth Gilbert (the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love)

    Inspiration and empowerment have been key themes of Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. She assesses and reflects upon her own generative process to share her unique perspective on creativity and powerful insights into the nature of inspiration. She discusses the mindset, practices, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to find new ways to approach the challenges in our work, take action that moves us toward our dreams, and bring more mindfulness and passion to our days.

  9. The Alchemist
    By Paul Coelho

    Stories are often the best way to learn something significant and meaningful—and they embed the lessons in our memory. Brazilian author Paul Coelho’s novel illuminates the pathway through which a young boy, through the help of mentor, finds his role in life and the meaning to the work he does. One lesson is that you must follow your dreams; another is that there are others who can and will help you on your way, even as you evolve..

  10. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
    By Jen Sincero

    Bestselling author, speaker and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, “cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver .” In a blunt, earthy and readable book, Sincero, delivers short chapters full of humor, inspiring stories, life-changing insights, and easy exercises.  The book takes you on a chaotic journey to your own transformation, helping you create the money, relationships, career and general all around awesomeness you so desire. Her goal is that in the end you will understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to start living the kind of life you’ve envied.

You’ll find additional encouragement and inspiration at the Administrative Professionals Conference and Executive Assistants’ Summit. In addition to unmatched peer networking, you’ll find dozens of sessions that will engage and refresh you including sessions on innovation, creativity, change, critical thinking, emotional intelligence and more!

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