Your chances of doing ‘FANTASTIC’ in this modern world increase multi-fold; if you adopt the ‘3R’ approach. ‘3R’ is — ‘Running, Reading and Relaxing’. As a Motivational Speaker , one tip I have consistently given to my audiences, especially young people and their parents is – 3 most crucial habits for a wholesome life are – 1) habit of being physically and mentally fit, 2) a great reading habit and 3) a love for travel. Trust me, it takes care of a lot of things. And that’s why, I have put together this list of fantastic books for you. Because, whether you accept it or not – reading is an awesome habit (if one could develop it right)!

Let me start with the last ‘R’ i.e. Relaxing. If your mind is not relaxed; I mean, if it is always involved in trivial issues- you will never get a good productivity, out of your day. So, learn to rise above superficial issues in life — as people issues, small stuff etc. (Here are 10 Simple Ways to Relax Your Mind)

‘Running’ — leads to an energy reservoir within you. Moreover, the old saying — ‘A healthy body leads to a healthy mind’. You need energy for everything in your life. All successful people are / have been energetic. Can you recall the name of even a single successful person who was lazy and less energetic? No..naa !! So, Run and run hard. At least , for half an hour in a day — 7 days a week.

‘Reading’, builds 1) smartness and 2) perspectives in life. Try doing it — you’ll understand, what I wrote. It is a habit. We are nothing, but creatures of our own habits. The better habits we have, the better we become. Reading will give you that notorious confidence to 1) understand and 2) live life better. Our problem is not that we are ‘poor’ readers; it is that we are ‘inefficient readers’. Smart Reading doesn’t take much time to do. If you are still not convinced, here are some 100+ answers on the question ‘Why Reading is Important?’. And if you are worried that you have will power issues when it comes to sticking with a book till the end, here’s something that might help you: 5 Ways You can Develop Unlimited Will Power

I am putting up a list of fantastic books below. They are categorized into genres so that you can straight away go through what you enjoy most. All are eclectically chosen, keeping ‘you’ in mind. Almost all the recommendations have been made out of my personal reading experience or from the experiences of some of my very close friends who themselves are very good readers.

The intent is bi-fold:

1) Exposing your mind to a variegated genre of reading

2) Get you addicted into reading as a habit; which in the long run will make you a better human being.

You’ll not only enjoy reading them; but also be able to build your mental muscles.

“Be a disparate reader. Be a ravenous reader. More importantly — BE A READER.”

Recommended reading by Akash Gautam


Level 1 —(My 12 yr old could easily finish Level 1 before he turned 10)

  • Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
  • Books by Enid Blyton (Secret Seven & Famous Five series) – for School kids
  • The Hardy Boys series (Franklin W Dickxon) – for School kids
  • Malgudi Days – RK Narayan
  • Wonder – RJ Palacio
  • Tales of Panchatantra – for School kids
  • Geronimo Stilton books (School kids will love them)
  • Short stories by D.H. Lawrence
  • Any book by Agatha Christie
  • Any book by Sidney Sheldon
  • Mahabharata – Amar Chitra Katha
  • Short Stories by O Henry
  • A children’s history of India – Subhadra Sen Gupta (Must Read to build interest)
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell (A Must Must Read)
  • A Man Called Ove – Fredrick Backman (A highly recommended book by most ardent bibliophiles)
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green (& his other works too)

Level 2-

  • Any book by Jeffery Archer
  • Any book by John Grisham (King of the torts, The Rainmaker etc.) (Legal Fiction)
  • Any book by Arthur Hailey (Airport, Hotel) (Service Sector Fiction)
  • The White Tiger ( Arvind Adiga)
  • Any book by Amish Tripathi
  • The Godfather (Mario Puzo)
  • 1984 (George Orwell)
  • Foundation (Isac Asimov) (Astronomy Fiction)
  • Any book by Robert Ludlum
  • Any book by Robin Cook (Medical Fiction)
  • 40 Rules of Love (and other works of Eli Shafak)

Level 3 –

  • Any book by Amitav Ghosh (The Hungry Tide, The Calcutta Chromosome, The sea of poppies)
  • Any book by Jhumpa Lahiri (The namesake, Interpreter of Maladies)
  • Any book by Khaled Hosseini
  • Any book by Frederick Forsyth ( the Icon, The Afghan etc.)
  • The God of small things (Arundhati Roy)
  • ‘The Great Expectations’ or ‘ A tale of two cities’— Charles Dickens.
  •  Stories by O.Henry.
  • ‘A book of English Essays’ — (Penguin classics).
  • ‘Black Beauty’ — Anna Sewell.
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Bride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Level 4 –

  • Any book by Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, Men Without Women)
  • Any book by Kazuo Ishiguro (Nobel prize for literature, 2017) (The Remains of the Day, Nocturnes)
  • Any book by Salman Rushdie (Midnight Children, The Enchantress of Florence, Shalimar the clown)
  • Any book by Orhan Pamuk (Snow, my name is red, Museum of Innocence etc.)
  • Any book by Franz Kafka (The trial, Metamorphosis etc.)
  • ‘The secret pilgrim’ – Joseph Heller.
  • ‘Beloved’ — Toni Morrison .
  • ‘By the sea’ — Abdulrazak Gurnah.
  • ‘The eighth commandment’- Lawrence Sanders.
  • ‘The romantic Manifesto’ or ‘The virtue of selfishness’ or ‘Capitalism : The Unknown ideal’ or ‘The Fountainhead’ or ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand.
  • ‘The dialogues of Plato’- (Batnam books) .
  • ‘The Third Wave’ or ‘Future Shock’ or ‘Powershift’ – Alvin Toffler.
  • All books by Paulo Coelho; especially ‘The Alchemist’.
  • All books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the Times of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude etc.)


  • Who says Elephants can’t Dance : Louis Gerstner
  • Who moved my Cheese : Dr. Spencer Johnson
  • Make sure you read every week — the case studies of Business World.
  • The Age of Reason – Thomas Paine
  • The seven habits of highly effective people : Stephen R Covey
  • How to win friends & influence people : Dale Carnegie
  • Winning : Jack Welch
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
  • Built to Last : Jim Collins
  • Influence: The psychology of persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • The Wal-Mart effect : Charles Fishman
  • Losing my Virginity : Richard Branson
  • The Culting of Brands: Douglas Atkin
  • Emotional Design ; Donald A Norman
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing : Al Ries, Jack Trout
  • ‘I am right , You are Wrong’- Edward de Bono.
  • ‘The GOAL’ — Eliyahu and Goldratt Cox ( A must read).
  • ‘The 80/20 Principle’ — Richard Koch.
  • ‘Small is beautiful’- EF Schumacher
  • ‘Maverick’- Ricardo semler.
  • ‘Pepsi to apple’- John Sculley.
  • ‘Hit and Run’- Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters.
  • ‘Emotional Intelligence’- Daniel Goleman.


  • Berkshire Hathaway letters to Shareholders – Warren Buffett (& Essays by Warren Buffett)
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad, How to retire young & retire Rich- Robert Kiyosaki
  • The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street – Burton G. Malkiel
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack – Charlie Munger
  • Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Taleb
  • The Dhandho Investor – Mohnish Pabrai
  • The Internet of Money – Andreas M. Antonopoulos


  • The Starfish & the Spider – Brafman & Breckstrom
  • Built to Last – Jim Collins
  • Leading Change – John Kotter
  • The Leadership Dojo – Richard Srozzi
  • The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Outsmart – Jim Champy
  • Love is the killer App – Tim Sanders
  • The One minute Manager – Kenneth Blanchard
  • True North – Bill George
  • First, Break all the Rules – Buckingham & Coffman
  • The Compassionate Samurai – Brian Klemmer
  • ‘A Better India, a Better World’ – Narayan Murthy


  • The greatness of Saturn — Robert.E.Svoboda
  • Chariots of God — Erich Von Daniken
  • The prophecies of Nostradmus — Erika Cheetham.


  • ‘Genius’- James Gleick
  • ‘E=mc2 ’- David Bodanis
  • ‘Surely You Are Joking Mr. Feynman’ – Richard Feynman (Nobel Laureate, Physics)
  • ‘Genetic engineering’ — Mae —wan ho
  • ‘Germs — the ultimate weapon’- Judith miller.
  • ‘Men — from stone age to clone age’- John Madeley
  • The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin
  • The System of the World – Isaac Newton
  • All works of Jane Goodall
  • 1) ‘The human zoo’ and 2) ‘The naked ape’ — Desmond Morris.
  • 1) ‘The tao of physics’ and 2) ‘The turning point’ or 3) ‘The web of life’ — Fritz o’ Capra.
  • ‘A Brief History of Time’ – Stephen Hawking.
  • Homo Sapiens: A Brief History of Manking & Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harrari


  •  Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder ( A must read History + Philosophy book)
  • ‘Taliban’- Ahmed Rashid .
  • ‘Long walk to Freedom’- Nelson Mandela.
  • ‘The autobiography of an unknown Indian’- Nirad C. Chaudhary.
  • ‘Discovery of India’ — Nehru(chacha).
  • ‘Europe since Napoleon’- David Thomson.
  • ‘Burma — The curse of independence’- Shelby Tucker .
  • ‘Memories of Madness: Stories of 1947’ — Penguin publishers.
  • ‘India’s struggle for independence’- Bipan Chandra.
  • Books by William Dalrymple


  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • Freakonomics – Levitt & Dubner
  • The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
  • ‘The black economy in India’- Arun Kumar .
  • ‘The price of onions’ — Ashok V. Desai.
  • ‘Hungry for trade’ — John Madeley.(Penguin).
  • ‘The Elephant The Tiger and The Cellphone’ – Shashi Tharoor


  • Bhagwat Geeta – Any Commentary (S. Radhakrishnan, Vinoba Bhave)
  • Wings of Fire – Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k – Mark Manson
  • The Power of Intention – Dr.Wayne Dyer
  • My decision to Live – Nader Elguindi
  • Stop Whining, Start Living – Dr. Laura Schlessinger
  • The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch
  • The Power of Positive Thinking – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
  • The Monk who sold his Ferrari , Lead without a Title – Robin Sharma
  • Awaken the Giant within – Athony Robbins
  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  • The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
  • See You at the top – Zig Ziglar
  • Who Moved my Cheese – Spencer Johnson
  • One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  • Any book by Robin Sharma


  • Autobiography of a Yogi — Parmahansa Yogananda Ji (the book that changed my life) (Buy Here)
  • Other works of Paramhansa Yogananda Ji (Man’s Eternal Quest, The Divine Romance)
  • Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga, Inner Engineering by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (Highly recommended)
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • All books by Swami Vivekananda
  • Peace is Every Step by Thich Naht Hanh
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • Synchro Destiny by Deepak Chopra
  • The Journey Home by Radhanath Swami
  • The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi
  • A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine
  • Many Lives Many Masters – Brian Wess


  • Autobiography of a Yogi — Parmahansa Yogananda Ji (the book that changed my life)
  • My Experiments with Truth – M. K. Gandhi
  • Open – Andre Agassi
  • Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
  • ‘Hitler’ — Ian Kershaw.
  • ‘Iacocca’ — Lee Iacoca.
  • ‘Business legends’ — Gita Piramal.
  • ‘The diary of a young girl’ — Anne Frank
  • ‘The Flight of Ambition’ – Apoorve Dubey
  • ‘Every Second Counts’ – Lance Armstrong
  • ‘A Beautiful Mind’ – Sylvia Nasar (based on life of John Nash)


  • ‘An unquiet mind’ — Kay Redfield.
  • ‘Creativity’- Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.
  • ‘Them’- Jon Ronson.
  • ‘Emotional Alchemy’- Tara Bennet.
  • Being Mortal – Atul Gawande
  • ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance’.
  • Doctors – Eric Sehgal
  • The conquest of happiness – Bertrand Russell
  • Unlimited power – Tony Robbins
  • The fifth Discipline – Peter Senge

It’s time when you stop making excuses. In the world of extremes that exist on social media, or your addiction with cat GIFs or stupid memes, a book can be a breath of fresh air. This list of fantastic books would be of no good if  you keep allowing yourself to be tempted by distractions like sitcoms and television series’. Today, pick up that book and smell the beautiful smell it has. There is so much awesomeness remaining to be discovered in the thoughts of hundreds of authors who had the courage to share their stories. If a paperback is too much for you, pick up a kindle; even more convenient. But please do read!

I have also put together a list of Best Inspirational Movies to Motivate the Self, if you are looking for one. And a few Motivational Videos to Super Charge your Confidence 🙂

I really hope you catch hold of the reading bug. Do give your suggestions in the comments below!

Akash Gautam


About Author

Akash Gautam is a Motivational Speaker & Corporate Trainer in India. Hundreds of Top Corporates like Google, CIPLA, Vodafone, McKinsey & Co., Maruti, HDFC, RIL, M&M & premier colleges like IIMs, IITs, SRCC etc go to him whenever they need a refreshing, big bang impact. Write to usWrite to us to know how he can transform your Team.


    Great job…thanks…I want to recommend one book also which i personally like very much
    ” A better India..A better world” by NR narayan murthy

  • soumya kanungo

    please also include GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ in the list of level 4 books of fiction

  • Ankush

    Gr8 list Sir, though surprised to see “A Brief History of Time” missing from the list of SCIENCE AND BIOLOGY

  • Santosh kumar Tripathi

    Needed this sort of list of selected books for a long time. It will help me as well as my students. Thanks.


    Thank u so much sir for this “profoundly needed” list.Done with a few of them.Loads of them yet to go.Just finished with Khaled Hosseini’s THE KITERUNNER. An extermely touching novel.

  • Akhil Gairola

    I think we should include Stephen Hawking too in the list of science and fiction. His “A Brief History of Time” is a very good book for knowing our universe

  • N.Ramakrishnan

    i have attended one seminar of urs in agartala, if u remember!!! any ways thanks for the list was in need of one!!

  • shivendra

    “the elephant the tiger and the cellphone” by shashi tharoor. a good one.

  • shivendra

    a beautiful mind by sylvia nasar

  • kunal

    Thank you SIR,
    I have read some of the books and they have helped me a lot in improving my vocab, reading interest , and lots more……thanks a lot sir…!

  • Great Post! I am so glad I found this. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for Posting. Ill definately visit again!Regards: SB2011LAIN_AING

  • Thanks for this fantabulous list. Extremely well categorized.
    I would love to have my 2 cents 🙂
    1. The Flight Of Ambition by Apoorve Dubey: A must read for everyone. This is a book by an entrepreneur, IITian, philanthrope who reveals the facets of achievement and successful people’s lives. A compelling read and a book that is popular among all people.
    2. Every Second Counts: An autobiography by the one of the greatest athletes of all time: Lance Armstrong. This book is a great testimony to how the champions think.

  • Thank u sir

  • I can’t seem to fully load this post from my smartphone!!!

  • Ansumanbhattacharjee

    Gr8 list of books sir!!
    Sir i completely agree with ur 3R approach,but some how im not able to cope up with the relaxing bit of it
    As u summed up,trivial issues get over my head
    Plz suggest some tips as 2 how 2 get over it

  • Rashika Bagri

    why is PAULO COELHO nt in dis list??
    he has written some amazing books ( alchemist, veronica decides to die, brida, wait all his books r awesome so i shud just stop here or otherwise i might just end up mentioning all his books) which deserve a place in dis list…

    • Akhil

      already mentioned at level 4….

    • deepti

      already mentioned …… read properly ….

  • Neeti

    Sir, even Ayn Rand’s books… are worth reading… !
    esp. Atlas Shrugged !

  • Krishanuc1001

    Sir, u kno wat ??? u r a rockstar… ranveer ko maaro goli… keep us motivated sir, plzzz & THNKSSSSSSSSSSSSSS A LLLLLLLLLLLLLOTTTTTTTTTTTTTT !!!!!

  • Mahesh Medisetti

    Hello Sir, I recently read an amazing book about the many secrets regarding the human life in a book. This book is called “Many Lives, Many Masters” By Dr. Brian Weiss. This book not only answers so many questions about life, but also keeps even the worst of readers glued to the book because of its amazing information.

  • shaloo

    A few recommendations to add to the list:
    1. Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert
    2. Who will cry when you die by Robin Sharma
    3. Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen
    4. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseni
    5. A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseni
    6. Not without my daughter by Betty Mehmoodi
    7. The power of less by Leo Babauta
    8. 29 gifts by Cami Walker
    9. Many lives, many masters by Brian Weiss
    10. The greatness Guide 1 & 2 by Robin Sharma
    Also love the hunger games triology and our very own Amish Tripathi’s triology- The immortals of Meluha, The secret of the nagas and The oath of the vayuputras

  • Anupam Shrivastava

    Stay Hungry Stay Foolish – Rashmi Bansal

  • Rhythm Goyal

    sir,I would like to add one more book to the category of motivational books… i.e. THE SECRET-RHONDA BYRNE. It is one of the best books i have ever gone through..

  • shivam

    why dan brown is not in the list??

  • amit

    you are awesome….akash…may you live long enough to inspire all that needs it 🙂

  • parag kejriwal

    Few more
    1) chanakya’s chants
    2) Aryavrata chronicles
    3) Dhandha (good for entrepreneurs)
    4) A leader who had no title
    5) The Rozabal line
    6) autobiography of Mary kom

  • Soham

    sir there are many translations/books available on The Art of War by Sun Tzu… which one do you suggest that we read?

  • Anshul

    I feel these two should be added to the list:-
    1. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
    2. Wings of Fire – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

  • Kapil joshi

    Bollywood action hero- Akshay kumar
    Motivational action hero- Akash Gautam
    Akki fever is evrywhere 🙂

  • Arabind Panda

    I really liked this list … Thank you Akash. If you can keep adding to it as you read or learn more books, I would really appreciate it.
    Thank You

  • Nikita

    it really helped.. I turned out to be an addictive reader (I was striving hard for the same for last 3 years but wasn’t able to)… will soon complete the entire list! 🙂 😀

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