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25 Amazing Running Routes Around The World

25 Amazing Running Routes Around The World

Training for and and successfully completing a marathon is a big deal. For many, the monotonous training is a bore to say the least. But for the crazy bunch such as myself, it is a hobby that brings much excitement and necessary self-discipline.

I’ve run more than 20 marathons, including three Comrades Marathons over the past six years. I’ve become a seasoned athlete who runs all-year round. For me though, running the same races year in and year out has the potential to become a massive bore.

Perhaps you fall into the same “I am bored of the same races” category. Maybe you are a novice who’s looking to participate in his or her first marathon. Or maybe, you are a part-time marathon athlete who loves travelling.

Whatever your circumstances, I’ve put together a list of 25 amazing routes in 17 countries, four continents and the Caribbeans. These are routes that have epic views, incredibly supportive fans and a great sense of culture that will appeal to any runner or avid traveller.

I’ve run a few of these races myself and I hope to complete all of the races below by the time I put up my running gear (which won’t be anytime soon!). And hopefully, this list inspires you to lace up, train and travel more.

1. Soweto Marathon, Soweto, South Africa

Running in the southwestern Townships (Soweto) of Johannesburg, the marathon takes you through the rich culture of South Africa.

The race starts in Nasrec and takes you through six significant landmarks:

– Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (the third largest hospital in the world)

– Walter Sisulu Square

– Regina Mundi Catholic Church (the largest Roman Catholic Church in South Africa)

– Morris Isaacson High School

– Vilakazi Street (the only street in the world to have housed two Noble Peace Prize Winners in Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu)

amazing running routes

    Hector Pieterson Memorial (memorial and museum that commemorates the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid) is also a featured landmark on the trail. The route eventually takes you back to Nasrec, where you will pass the 90,000 person capacity FNB Stadium, also known as Soccer City, where the 2010 World Cup was played.

    amazing running routes

      www.sowetomarathon.com

      2. Great Wall Of China Marathon, Tianjin, China

      Considered one of the toughest marathons in the world, the route starts near the village of Huangyaguan, northeast of Beijing. It proceeds to the Great Wall, the world’s longest wall and biggest ancient architecture, where you will go up and down 5,164 steps.

      China_GreatWallMarathon2013_062

        Here, you can expect to see a stunning array of scenery:

        – The beaches of Qinhuangdao, rugged mountains around Beijing

        – The desert corridor between the tall mountain ranges at Jiayu Pas

        From there, you proceed through scenic villages and rice fields before looping back to the Wall again for the final portion of the race, when you’ll finish in the center of Yin and Yang Square.

        amazing running routes

          www.great-wall-marathon.com

          3. TCS New York City Marathon, New York, USA

          With more than 50,000 finishers, 10,000 volunteers and one million spectators in 2014, the New York City Marathon is the largest marathon in the United States. Dubbed “the most prestigious endurance event in the world”, the course takes you through the five boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

          5 boroughs

            Considered one of the toughest courses of the major marathons in America, it has deceptive hills that force you to pace yourself adequately as you make your way past these historic landmarks and millions of screaming supporters that are guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush.

            Amazing running routes

              www.tcsnycmarathon.org

              4. Virgin Money London Marathon, London, England

              One of the World Marathon Majors Series that awards a $1 million prize to the top male and female marathoners in the top six world races, it attracts nearly 40,000 athletes every year.

              This marathon is a flat, fast race that starts in Blackheath in southeast London and passes the most iconic landmarks of England – Big Ben, the Tower of London, the London Eye – and runs along the River Thames and across the Tower Bridge.

              amazing running routes

                The event crosses the finish line in front of Buckhngham Palace.

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                London Marathon map

                  www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com

                  5. Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, France

                  In 2013, Paris received approximately 29.3 million visitors, making it one of the top tourist destinations. What better way to tour the place as an athlete?

                  The marathon is one of the largest in the world, with approximately 140 nationalities and 50,000 athletes having participated in 2013. The course itself offers spectacular views and landmarks all along the route.

                  Starting off on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the course runs alongside the banks of Seine and past some of the city’s greatest sites (famous Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Place la Bastille).

                  amazing running routes

                    Runners then run a loop around the Bois de Vincennes and return to the heart of the city and Rue de Charenton, the halfway point. The inward stretch follows the course of the Seine, passing Ile de la Cite and going under the Pont Neuf, and through a series of tunnels.

                    For those in need, there is a large drink station and foot massage area at Trocadero, facing the Eiffel Tower. The route then continues along the Seine, before branching east towards Bois de Boulogne, finally emerging for the final 200 metres and the finish line on the Avenue Foch.

                    www.schneiderelectricparismarathon.com

                    6. Reggae Run, Negril, Jamaica

                    Home to some of the greatest athletes, like the world’s fastest runner, Usain Bolt, The Amazing Reggae Marathon is Jamaica’s premier International Marathon Event.

                    The race starts at Long Bay Beach Park, situated along Negril’s lively 7-mile white sand beach. It proceeds and loops into the town of Negril and then heads north toward the town of Green Island.

                    amazing running routes

                      Lined with enthusiastic spectators and pulsating Reggae music on course, you are guaranteed to have an “irie” race. The Finish Line Beach Bash affords everyone an opportunity to relax on the beach with special offerings and entertainment geared toward having a total blast.

                      amazing running routes

                        www.reggaemarathon.com

                        7. Honolulu Marathon, Honolulu, Hawaii

                        Hosted in December, the Honolulu Marathon is one of the largest in the United States and attracts more than 25,000 athletes annually.

                        The race starts in Ala Maona Beach Park and passes through several famous Hawaiian landmarks, such as Lolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S.

                        amazing running routes

                          The route also makes its way past the statue of surfing hero Duke Kahanamoku on surfing heaven Waikiki Beach and Kawaiahao Church and Diamond Head. The run comes to an end in Kapiolani Park, the state’s first public park.

                          On race day, this park is transformed to a joyful festival with approximately 50,000 spectators. Being a part of this is a definite must for any athlete.

                          amazing running routes

                            www.honolulumarathon.org

                            8. Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town, South Africa

                            It was established in 1970, and attracts the cream of local and international athletes alike. Affectionately known as “The world’s most beautiful marathon”, the 56-km ultra-marathon takes you through a backdrop of scenery that paces you around the Cape Peninsula via Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay and Constantia Nek.

                            Below is a picture of myself making my way up Chapman’s Peak:

                            amazing running route

                              These views, in addition to the tough course, will leave you breathless.

                              amazing running routes

                                www.twooceansmarathon.org.za

                                9. Marathon International de Marrakech, Morocco

                                This race is run in Marrakesh, a magical town that offers an exceptional setting, a very mild climate in January and a beautiful circuit considered to be one of the fastest in the world.

                                marrakech

                                  The route takes you through the city’s 12th-century ramparts, Menara gardens on dusty roads lined with palms. And the imposing Atlas Mountains provide an astonishing backdrop to the pink-walled city.

                                  Semi-Marathon-International-De-Marrakech-map

                                    www.marathon-marrakech.com

                                    10. Boston Marathon, Boston, Massachusets

                                    With the first marathon dating back as far as 1897, the Boston Marathon is the oldest and most prestigious race in the United States.

                                    With rigorous qualifying standards, it is a dream marathon for many athletes. It is run on Partiots Day and starts in Hopkins. Nearby is a statue of George V. Brown, starter of the marathon between 1905 and 1937, with his starter’s pistol aloft.

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                                    At the one-mile mark at Weston Nurseries on Route 135 is a statue honoring Stylianos Kyriakides, whose victory in the 1946 race brought worldwide attention and badly need relief supplies to his war-torn homeland of Grace.

                                    amazing running routes

                                      The race continues east on Route 16 into the Newton Lower Falls and emerges at the firehouse onto Commonwealth Avenue. Here, you will find a bronze statue at the start of the Newton hills, depicting a 27-year-old Kelley winning the 1935 race and an 84-year-old Kelley completing his final marathon in 1992.

                                      The race eventually finishes in Copley Square near the Boston Public Library.

                                      amazing running routes

                                        www.baa.org

                                        11. Athens Classic Marathon, Athens, Greece

                                        The Athens Classic Marathon is one of the biggest sporting events in Greece. And if history is anything to go by, it is probably the first marathon to be run in the world. In 490 B.C., a giant Persian army invaded the small town of Marathon, near the coast of Greece.

                                        However, the Greek defeated the Persians. Following that, a messenger named Pheidippides was sent to Athens to bring news of the victory. The young Greek ran 26.2 miles from battlefield to the capital to announce the victory.

                                        Approximately three miles into the run, you will come across the “Tomb of Marathon Warriors.” This is a 10 mile high burial mound where 192 men who died in battle were collectively cremated and buried as a sign of honour.

                                        amazing running routes

                                          The first 12 kilometers are level, with gentle long hills in the middle 19 kilometers. The final 11 kilometers are a downhill run that takes you into the magnificent Olympic Stadium in Athens.

                                          amazing running routes

                                            www.athensmarathon.com

                                            12. Dublin Marathon, Dublin, Ireland

                                            Dubbed the “friendly marathon,” the Dublin Marathon is run through the capital’s historic Georgian streets and its magnificent park. The race is single lap that is largely flat and starts and finishes close to the City Centre, in Fitzwilliam Square and Merrion Square, respectively.

                                            Two, well-known landmarks on the route are the City Hall and Dublin Castle.

                                            amazing running routes

                                              Dublin, which has more green spaces per square kilometer than any other area in Europe, sees the marathon make its way past St. Stephen’s Green, Brickfields Park, Phoenix Park, Bushy Park and Elm Park Golf Course.

                                              With ideal running conditions and a fantastic crowd in support, this race is indeed a friendly one.

                                              dublin_route_map

                                                13. Comrades Marathon, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

                                                With its inception in 1921, the Comrades Marathon is the world’s oldest ultra-marathon and attracts nearly 20,000 athletes yearly.

                                                Commonly known as “The Ultimate Human Race”, it is a 56-mile grueling run that consists of an “Up” and “Down” route. Known for more its spirit and tradition, than it is the scenery, it always starts with blaring music in the background and the “Chariots of Fire” theme minutes before the race begins at 5:30 am.

                                                Ultimately, the recorded cockcrow of Max Trimborn signals the grueling but incredibly worthwhile ultra-marathon for any long distance runner.

                                                On the “Up” run you pass two villages, Camperdown and Cato Ridge, which are often packed with large crowds of spectators lining both sides of the road.

                                                In addition, you pass the “Wall of Honour”, situated at the half-way point in Drummond. It overlooks the Valley of 1,000 Hills and was created to serve as a permanent landmark to commemorate the achievement of Comrades runners who have completed the epic “Up” run.

                                                amazing running routes

                                                  The “Up” run is slightly shorter and starts in Durban and finishes in Pietermaritzburg. The “Down” run starts in Pietermaritzburg and finishes in Durban.

                                                  The Comrades Marathon is a must run race for every long distance athlete.

                                                  amazing running routes

                                                    www.comrades.com

                                                    14. Puerto Rico Marathon, Puerto Rico

                                                    The Puerto Rico Marathon is a popular destination race, combining a Caribbean vacation with first-class competition. The scenic route takes you along the Atlantic Ocean and past the San Geronimo Fort & Museum and the University of Puerto Rico.

                                                    amazing running routes

                                                      Run under tropical conditions, albeit humid and hot, and filled with spectators that cheer you on in Spanish and English, you can’t help but admire this wonderful race.

                                                      amazing running routes

                                                        www.marathonpuertorico.com

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                                                        15. Marathon de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel, France

                                                        Approximately 5,000 athletes, representing approximately 30 nationalities, participate in this event annually.

                                                        It is the only race in France where one can see the finish (the Mount) from the start. It starts with a run along the seafront of the Bay going through (among other interesting spots) Le Vivier-sur-Mer in Brittany and Cherrueix, which is famous for its sand-yachting races.

                                                        amazing running routes

                                                          It then crosses a polder area and makes its way to the towering fortified village of Normandy’s Mont Saint-Michel.

                                                          amazing running routes

                                                            www.montsaintmichel-marathon.com

                                                            16. Sparkasse 3-Laender Marathon, Germany; Austria; Switzerland

                                                            When we talk unique, the running route of this marathon amazes many. Run in three countries, the marathon starts from the beautiful Island of Lindau in Germany.

                                                            Start_Lindau (1)

                                                              You then run along Lake Constance for about 60% of the race. Here, you pass the iconic 7,000-seater Seebuhne (of floating stage), running through the Austrian towns of Lochau, Bregenz, Hard and Höchst.

                                                              The race continues over the Swiss border at St. Margreten and continues across the Rheindamm back to Hard and finally finishes in the Casino-Stadium in Bregenz, Switzerland, where a cheering crowd awaits you.

                                                              With mountain views are on either side as you run over rivers, bridges, and alternating asphalt and cobblestone streets, it is a spectacular race to participate in.

                                                              3 in one route map

                                                                www.sparkasse-3-laender-marathon.at/en

                                                                17. The Big Five Marathon, Entabeni Game Reserve, Limpopo, South Africa

                                                                For those love wild life, this is a popular event that attracts athletes from all over the world.

                                                                Running through the enormous and magnificent surroundings of the Entabeni Game Reserve, it combines exciting game drives with a challenging marathon route that goes through the most famous African Big Five game – elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions and leopards.

                                                                amazing running routes

                                                                  Running with no fences and rivers and passing through a section known as ‘lion country’, this event is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

                                                                  amazing running routes

                                                                    www.big-five-marathon.com

                                                                    18. Chicago Marathon, Chicago, Illinois

                                                                    The Bank Of America Chicago Marathon is huge event that attracts in excess of 40,000 athletes from more than 50 states and countries.

                                                                    Supported by more than 1.5 million spectators, runners start and finish in Grant Park, located just south of the New Eastside neighborhood, which features a unique three-level roadway system and is home to several residential and commercial high rises, such as the Aon Center and Prudential Building

                                                                    Runners also pass through Streeterville, an energetic neighborhood that blends together luxury hotels, fabulous shopping, arts and fine dining. It is in this neighborhood that you see the shopper’s paradise, the Magnificent Mile – eight blocks of more than 460 shops and boutiques.

                                                                    amazing running routes

                                                                      The course takes you through magnificent cities and you make you past 29 Chicago neighborhoods. The race also makes its way through Near West, a neighborhood that houses the United Center, home stadium of the Chicago Bulls and the Blackhawks.

                                                                      Along the route you will also experience an abundance of Greek, Italian and Chinese culture as the race makes its way through the neighborhoods of Greektown, Little Italy, Pilsen and Chinatown. And the dancing doesn’t stop in Pilsen, Chicago’s largest Latino community.

                                                                      Over the 26.2 miles, the course weaves through these incredibly dynamic, individual neighborhoods into the tale of one city, making this an incredible experience that showcases the importance of community and a united spirit.

                                                                      amazing running routes

                                                                        www.chicagomarathon.com

                                                                        19. Big Sur International Marathon, California, USA

                                                                        The Big Sur International Marathon is an annual marathon held in California.  The marathon was established in 1986 and attracts about 4,500 participants annually. Featuring rolling hills, Big Sur is the largest rural marathon in the world, winding through redwoods, paralleling ranches, and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

                                                                        At the halfway point, the route makes its way past the Bixby Creek Bridge, California’s favorite coastal bridge.

                                                                        amazing running routes

                                                                          With live entertainment throughout the race, it’s a lovely event to participate in.

                                                                          amazing running routes

                                                                            www.bsim.org

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                                                                            20. Bagan Temple Marathon, Burma

                                                                            Tucked away in central Myanmar and home to more than 2,000 temples, Bagan’s beauty and historical significance is unsurpassed. Sacred pagodas and beautiful temples are scattered across the plains of Bagan, creating a mystical, striking landscape.

                                                                            The marathon course will take runners on a voyage of discovery into this alluring and untouched land.

                                                                            amazing running routes

                                                                              The heat and dusty course is a challenge for most runners participating the Bagan Temple Marathon. However, the beautiful temples, the friendly villagers, the other-worldly atmosphere make this marathon one of a kind

                                                                              amazing running routes

                                                                                www.bagan-temple-marathon.com

                                                                                21. BMW Berlin Marathon, Berlin, Germany

                                                                                With the first run in 1974 attracting 286 runners, this marathon has grown in leaps and bounds and now sees approximately 40,000 runners participate.

                                                                                With more than a million spectators, the course starts and finishes next to one of the capital’s most famous landmarks – the Brandenburg Gate. The route also takes you via notable spots such as the Reichstag and Berliner Dom.

                                                                                amazing running routes

                                                                                  With skaters cheering you on as you pace yourself through classic buildings of the east and hi-tech shops and modern properties of the west, this race is indeed a unique one.

                                                                                  amazing marathon routes

                                                                                    www.bmw-berlin-marathon.com

                                                                                    22. Swiss Alpine races, Switzerland

                                                                                    This event has a heritage of three decades. In recent times, the diversity of runners and routes amid Graubenden’s amazing alpine scenery makes the Swiss Alpine Marathon more than just a race.

                                                                                    amazing running routes

                                                                                      The event has also evolved into a family experience, involving very young participants and organizing a team relay. It’s a must for any family of athletes.

                                                                                      amazing running rout

                                                                                        www.swissalpine.ch

                                                                                        23. Marathon du Medoc, Bordeaux, France

                                                                                        The Marathon du Medoc provides an out of the ordinary experience for its participants. With a limit of 8,500 participants, it takes you through a stunningly beautiful circuit of more than 50 chateuax.

                                                                                        amazing running routes

                                                                                          With more than 52 other events alongside the race, 22 refreshments stands and 21 food stands and special gourmet stands, the event provides a feast second to none. Plus, as you make your way through the festivities – with the occasional sip of wine – you are cheered by 3,000 volunteers and approximately 10, 000 spectators.

                                                                                          amazing running routes

                                                                                            www.marathondumedoc.com

                                                                                            24. GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, Victoria, BC, Canada

                                                                                            With the limit of participants set at 4,000, this marathon is a flat route that showcases Canada’s natural beauty.

                                                                                            Run along the southern tip of the island, with the Olympic Mountain range visible in the distance, the course takes runners past landmarks such as the BC legislative buildings, Ogden Point, Beacon Hill Park and the statue of Terry Fox at Mile ‘O’.

                                                                                            amazing running routes

                                                                                              www.runvictoriamarathon.com

                                                                                              25. Marathon of the Midnight Sun, Tromso, Norway

                                                                                              Whoever said running marathons is boring?

                                                                                              Run at the height of summer in the Norwegian town of Tromso in the Arctic Circle, and in the middle of the night with the sun sitting above the horizon, illuminating the road ahead.

                                                                                              The start and finish lines are in the city centre. Runners head off towards the Tromsø Bridge, two km in to the race which arcs uphill from 6 to 43 meters above sea level. At the 20 km point runners cross back over the bridge, returning to and passing through the city centre.

                                                                                              midnight-sun-maraton-tromso-norway

                                                                                                The second half of the course is quite flat and easy. The course loops round and brings runners back to the city centre again, this time to the finish line and cheering crowds.

                                                                                                amazing running routes

                                                                                                  www.msm.no

                                                                                                  Whoever could have thought that running at midnight, with sun shining brightly, was possible? Whoever could have thought that the pain and monotony of marathon running could be this fun? I hope you’ve enjoyed the read. More importantyly, I hope it encourages you to strive to live a healthy, adventurous and exciting lifestyle.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  More by this author

                                                                                                  Peteni Kuzwayo

                                                                                                  Peteni is the founder of Run For Wealth. He shares about entrepreneurship and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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                                                                                                  Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                                                                                                  25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

                                                                                                  25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

                                                                                                  I remember the first time I got my hands on a self-improvement book. I was baffled. At that moment, I realized my fate was not set in stone. I could become my own drill master and coach. The books I read would set out the training course for me to overcome. All I had to do was listen to that voice that aspired to climb higher and higher.

                                                                                                  Every time I committed to a new challenge, I knew it was going to be outside of my comfort zone. But after enough iterations, I also knew it will not just be part of my repertoire, it will be part of me.

                                                                                                  Not all self-improvement books are made equal. Some help start you out on your journey, others give you a boost when you’ve achieved experience in certain areas.

                                                                                                  Here are the best ones that I recommend to read no matter how old you are:

                                                                                                  1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations

                                                                                                  by Seth Godin

                                                                                                    This book is a masterpiece, and unlike most self-improvement books, this one targets an infinite array of areas in which you can, and ultimately must, improve.

                                                                                                    With its ruthless honesty and genuine inspiration, Godin makes you ponder the difficult questions you wouldn’t ever dare to ask yourself. The result is a completely new perspective of the world- a fresher, more vibrant perspective, packed with new and bold possibilities.

                                                                                                    If you need a friend who understands you, a boss that forces you to venture deep in your non-comfort zone, a wise guru that tells you what needs to be left behind and a sage that proclaims the coming of a new age, then look no further; you will find these shrewd voices all tied together in this magnificent book. Make sure to get this one.

                                                                                                    Print | eBook

                                                                                                    2. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

                                                                                                    by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

                                                                                                      Perhaps it is the fact that randomness played such a significant role in my years as a poker player that I find this book utterly important.

                                                                                                      We often attribute skill where there is only luck; we confuse correlation with causation and we underestimate the incredible effect small changes can have.

                                                                                                      This book gave me a perspective that I unfortunately rarely encounter in others: you can do everything right and still lose, or do everything wrong and still win. It is thus not about the outcome; it is about your actions that have lead you there.

                                                                                                      This important message is central to many of my decisions I make in my life. This book by Taleb helps you develop such a perspective so you will be able to live in a world one cannot fully understand, where the results are not always clear markers of performance and where chance seems to play games with our fates. Stop being fooled by randomness!

                                                                                                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                      3. The 48 Laws of Power

                                                                                                      by Robert Greene

                                                                                                        I read this book in a time where I thought power was something I should attain. Power for power’s sake. And while I disagree with my former self on this point, the fact remains that power is very real, it forms the invisible scepter of all hierarchical relations around us.

                                                                                                        I still recommend this book. I believe it is important to know how people use power for their own benefit and what to do to protect yourself from certain abuses of power.

                                                                                                        Besides the fact that all stories in this book gravitate around power. It contains many life lessons, amazing historical anecdotes. If read in a certain light, the ability to use power for good.

                                                                                                        From Caesar to Goethe, Sun-Tzu to Machiavelli, this eye opening book spans a wide range of human development. If you, like me, would rather be interested in something less egotistical, perhaps Greene’s latest book Mastery will suffice (I haven’t read that one myself).

                                                                                                        Another great book in the same style, but this time around; covering a wider scope, and perhaps, something that will make the world make a better place.

                                                                                                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                        4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

                                                                                                        by Stephen. R. Covey

                                                                                                          The title of this book doesn’t capture it all. Covey shares with us seven habits one should adapt to become truly effective in whatever you would like to achieve.

                                                                                                          Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. He stresses the fact that we need to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in how we perceive the world and ourselves.

                                                                                                          This book can be read as a guide, with practices and everything, to go through the stages in order to make such a shift happen. Part shock-therapy, part ageless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is packed with wisdom that actually makes a difference.

                                                                                                          And as I mentioned, don’t let the title of the book fool you; it is about much more than just becoming more effective. It is about becoming a whole integer person who not only seeks the best in oneself, but also in the people around her.

                                                                                                          A must read for anyone who feels there is always something left to learn.

                                                                                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                          5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

                                                                                                          by James Fadiman

                                                                                                            While finding a book on psychedelics in this list of books on self-improvement might come as a surprise, I believe any metaphysical distinction between tools such as books, meditation or molecules hold no ground. They should all be solely judged on their merits. And the merits of certain chemical keys, used in a constructive way, are perhaps bigger than any book in this list.

                                                                                                            The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide will teach you how to prepare yourself and your surroundings, what and how much to take, and what do do when something goes wrong. So you can safely enhance your thinking, creativity, introspection and emotional balance.

                                                                                                            This book contains everything you need to know about using psychedelics as a tool for self-improvement while drawing on extensive scientific literature and personal wisdom. A must have for the beginning and experienced psychonaut alike.

                                                                                                            Print | eBook

                                                                                                            6.  Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

                                                                                                            by Brian Tracy

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                                                                                                              We all know how that destructive downward spiral feels.

                                                                                                              We have to do some big tasks of which the thought alone triggers resistance. We aren’t sure how and where to begin and feeling overwhelmed before we even start. We get easily distracted to get rid of that feeling, only to suddenly realize that hours went by- precious hours- and then find ourselves in the same position as before, still not knowing where and how to begin, but now, feeling guilty on top of it which expresses itself in more craving for distraction.

                                                                                                              Ad infinitum

                                                                                                              To break this spell of procrastination before it paralyzes us, Tracy advises us to Eat That Frog: to set our priorities straight, deconstruct larger tasks into smaller ones, learn when to tackle the big frog first or to start out with something else.

                                                                                                              Tracy is truly a motivational writer. While I wished he had gone a bit deeper into the psychological reasons why people procrastinate, it is still a must have for anyone who wants to break the spell and get shit done.

                                                                                                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                              7. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition

                                                                                                              by Napoleon Hill

                                                                                                                A from 1937, this book by Hill is a masterpiece. Don’t bother with the edited versions since they all omit important and controversial information: some historical, and some pertaining to the goal of the book, which is to think and grow rich.

                                                                                                                The word rich might imply that this book is all about material gain, and while it certainly covers that area, it is about much more than that.

                                                                                                                This is perhaps the first explicit mention of positive thinking on how to care not just about the cash in your pocket, but also the thoughts in your head.

                                                                                                                This book has been able to withstand the destruction of time. It covers all the basics from planning, decision making and persistence, to the more advanced techniques as auto-suggestion, transmutation and what we can learn from fear.

                                                                                                                This is not a grow rich book, but a timeless guide to find out what actually matters. As it says clearly in the beginning ‘Riches can’t always be measured in money!’

                                                                                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                                8. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind

                                                                                                                by Alan Wallace

                                                                                                                  In a world that is dominated by ever stronger technologies designed to grab your attention, a way to empower yourself is to bring that attention back to where you want it to shine. This book offers just that.

                                                                                                                  In The Attention Revolution, Wallace describes the path to attaining Shamatha, a buddhist meditation state of mind that is free from any flickering of distraction. It is a hard and long path, probably not possible for us to reach in this lifetime. However, even getting to stage two or three will make everything in life easier.

                                                                                                                  A wonderful introduction to meditation, The Attention Revolution will inspire you to take on the challenge and see what training your mind can actually achieve.

                                                                                                                  Once you have achieved such level of focus, you can put it to use to open your heart with the practice of The Four Immeasurables or deepen the practice with this wonderful commentary by Dudjom Lingpa, both by Alan B. Wallace.

                                                                                                                  Before you read this book, you may want to take a look at this guide so you get a better idea on how to prioritize your life:

                                                                                                                  The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

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                                                                                                                  9. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health

                                                                                                                  by John Durant

                                                                                                                    In the last 10,000 years or so, it seems we have been propelled into an ever faster paced world forged by our own hands and minds. Only recently have we been able to reconstruct our journey and reflect back upon our humble origins.

                                                                                                                    This amazing book is such a reflection. It goes back to the paleolithic searching for answers to health and longevity.

                                                                                                                    Between science and his personal experiments, Durant weaves a mind blowing story that will convey the importance of an evolutionary perspective on how to live well.

                                                                                                                    It covers everything from nutrition to exercise, from sleep to fasting, from ancient practices to modern biohacking and even has an outline for a vision of the future where depression and obesity have become obsolete.

                                                                                                                    If you only have room for a couple of books on this list, make sure this one is included.

                                                                                                                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                                    10. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

                                                                                                                    by Daniel J. Siegel

                                                                                                                      As my Burmese meditation teacher often proclaimed, ‘Mindfulness alone is not enough!’ Siegel seems to have taken this to heart and made an unique synthesis between meditation, psychoanalysis and neuroscience which he calls ‘Mindsight‘. As he says himself, a potent combination between emotional and social intelligence.

                                                                                                                      All of us deal with one disorder or another, something that seems to disturb the very core of our being at ease; and while it might not always be the best strategy to want to get rid of it, it certainly helps to understand and have compassion for that little aspect that upsets that perfect image of ourselves.

                                                                                                                      Brimming with techniques, insights and epiphanies, this book contains everything you need to know to reprogram your brain and to optimally use its capacity of neuroplasticity. A great book for spiritual seekers and scientists alike.

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                                                                                                                      11. How to Win Friends & Influence People

                                                                                                                      by Dale Carnegie

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                                                                                                                        This is the first self-improvement book I have ever read and it is also probably one of the oldest in this category.

                                                                                                                        Written in 1937, mainly for the door to door salesman of that era, this book by Carnegie can truly be called a classic. It shows what we all intuitively know:

                                                                                                                        It doesn’t matter what your line of work is or what you want to achieve. If you are doing business of any kind, you need to make it about the other person.

                                                                                                                        Being nice helps, a lot. And while I might not fully defend the premise of this book because it doesn’t distinguish between genuine interest and faking it to get what you want; it still contains a treasure chest full of timeless wisdom.

                                                                                                                        Everybody wants to feel appreciated, and rightfully so. Learning to take a small effort to make someone’s day will make the world better no matter what your goal is.

                                                                                                                        I still spontaneously remember some of his guidance, and perhaps this quality is the reason why this book still draws millions of readers to this day.

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                                                                                                                        12. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

                                                                                                                        by David D. Burns

                                                                                                                          Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective therapy used by psychologists today. It consists of identifying thought patterns that have a detrimental effect on your self-image and mood; and deconstructing these in order to break out of these destructive cycles.

                                                                                                                          If you want to know how this works, which moods are central in your life, what thought patterns are causing your depression, how to overcome self-judgment and guilt, how to defeat approval and love addiction and how your self-perfectionism is hindering you, then don’t look further.

                                                                                                                          Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped millions of people and it can help you, and this is the best book for the job. Packed with scientific research, exercises and examples, this is the best improvement your self is going to get.

                                                                                                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                                          13. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life

                                                                                                                          by Maxwell Maltz

                                                                                                                            What can a plastic surgeon tell us about happiness?

                                                                                                                            By dealing with his patients, Dr. Maxwell Maltz experienced firsthand that having your expectations come true doesn’t automatically result into a more positive life experience. Their outward appearances did indeed change but their inner insecurity remained.

                                                                                                                            This caused him to find other means to help his patients, resulting in visualization techniques. He found a person’s outer success can never rise above the one visualized internally.

                                                                                                                            This book carries a very honest and humbling story, loaded with fundamental truths about our psychology and how our own philosophy affects us. This is all told by a very compassionate writer.

                                                                                                                            Of some books it can be said that it will be valuable for years to come, and I am absolutely positive that this is one of them.

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                                                                                                                            14. Thinking, Fast and Slow

                                                                                                                            by Daniel Kahneman

                                                                                                                              This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a lucid account of all the amazing research he has done over the years. He is the founder of behavioral economics – the way our psychology affects our decisions – and explains in simple prose how our thinking is divided in two systems: one fast and one slow. (Here’s an explanation on how these two systems work.)

                                                                                                                              The fast one is almost instant; it consists of the hardwired instincts that govern emotions, a remnant of an evolutionary past, an unconscious irrational machine.

                                                                                                                              The slow one is deliberate, self-reflexive and logical, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort.

                                                                                                                              Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores when the fast system fails and why the slow system is often not utilized.

                                                                                                                              Packed with mind blowing examples and sharp analyses, this book teaches you how to learn to make sound judgments, and use the best of both systems.

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                                                                                                                              15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

                                                                                                                              by Chris Hadfield

                                                                                                                                A few extraordinary people journey to the edge of our world and come back with a unique story to tell. Colonel Hadfield is such a person, and his story is perhaps the most important one in this list.

                                                                                                                                While the other books in this list teach you to be independent, visualize your future and dream big, this astronaut’s guide turns these all upside down.

                                                                                                                                A truly remarkable book, overflowing with mind-blowing stories that illustrate the life lessons he learned as one of the most accomplished astronauts that ever lived.

                                                                                                                                Full of compassion, warmth and genuine self-reflexive humor, he conveys to us to be prepared for the worst and never let yourself be swayed from enjoying every moment.

                                                                                                                                Part action story, part no-nonsense hard truth and part timeless spiritual wisdom, this book makes you feel like you stepped onto a rocket ship and experienced what he did while learning these most valuable lessons on the way.

                                                                                                                                eBook

                                                                                                                                16. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat

                                                                                                                                by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet

                                                                                                                                  No self-improvement list is complete without a nutrition book and the Perfect Health Diet is arguably the best diet book on the market now.

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                                                                                                                                  If you are overweight or not, feel sick, or just looking for an extra boost in health (and keep it this way), then look no further.

                                                                                                                                  From reading decades of studies the authors construct the optimal way to eat, destroying popular food fads in the process. They explain in sufficient details the optimal macro-ratios of which starches are safe, which vitamins and supplements to take and what foods, or what they call toxins, to avoid.

                                                                                                                                  This book is a great supplement to the Paleo Manifesto as it shares its basic evolutionary perspective; we were evolved to eat non-toxic, high fat, moderate protein and carbohydrates.

                                                                                                                                  And sometimes, going around with no food at all, can be a very healthy thing. If your body is not in optimal health, then it is almost no use to read the other books. Make this your priority number one.

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                                                                                                                                  17. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

                                                                                                                                  by John C. Maxwell

                                                                                                                                    At one time or another, we will all fail. What matters most is how you deal with it once you do.

                                                                                                                                    Will you give up? Or will you use it as a stepping stone for success?

                                                                                                                                    I recently read an article about new start-ups in silicon valley. Its hypothesis was the more you had failed in the past, the more likely you were going to get funding.

                                                                                                                                    Why?

                                                                                                                                    Because failing teaches you invaluable lessons, and if you decide to continue after you hit the pavement, the more you have it in you to deliver.

                                                                                                                                    Now, this is not in anyway our instinctual reaction to failing. Most of us dread it, avoid it or refuse to fail at all costs. All three are by far sub-optimal. It is far better to accept failure where it arises, to accept responsibility and use it as a way to learn about yourself and your weaknesses.

                                                                                                                                    Only when you are absolute honest with yourself with respect to failure can you hope to grow. This wonderful book will teach you how to do exactly this. A honest book for everyone searching for a clean mirror.

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                                                                                                                                    18. The Power of Now

                                                                                                                                    by Eckhart Tolle

                                                                                                                                      The Power of Now hardly needs any introduction. It is perhaps the book that has had the most impact on our collective consciousness in recent years.

                                                                                                                                      It inspired millions of people all over the world to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life, all through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of moment to moment non-judgmental awareness. 

                                                                                                                                      It is a technique that alleviates depression, increases emotional intelligence and develops compassion. And only recently has come to the west, which remained weary and skeptical until science had validated a wide array of its claims.

                                                                                                                                      The brain can be trained. The Power of Now teaches you how to release your attachment to certain thoughts and states of mind, thereby clearing the mind to fully embrace the present moment.

                                                                                                                                      If you already have read this book and are looking for deeper understanding, readWherever You Go, There You Are.

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                                                                                                                                      19. The Last Lecture

                                                                                                                                      by Randy Pausch

                                                                                                                                        At some point or another, almost all of us has come across The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (If you haven’t, watch this powerful message here.)

                                                                                                                                        What would you say when you only have a few months left to live? This was probably Pausch’s question he posed to himself when he had to deliver his lecture a week later.

                                                                                                                                        But being confined to an academic setting and short time frame, he felt he had more to share, thus marking the birth of this book.

                                                                                                                                        Filled with stories about his childhood, it is a very down to earth exploration of what it means to chase your dreams, to be a good person and live a life that gives value to others.

                                                                                                                                        A beautiful mixture of humor and optimism, his tender voice will be a source of inspiration for everyone who will take the time to listen, something he tried to impart on his readers.

                                                                                                                                        A very lovely read. And don’t forget, ‘It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.’
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                                                                                                                                        20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

                                                                                                                                        by Brené Brown

                                                                                                                                          I love Brené Brown’s books. She writes about an insight that I have found to be scary but true at the same time.

                                                                                                                                          Vulnerability, unlike we have been taught, is not a weakness, but a power to be tapped. Growing up with the idea that we have to hide certain parts of ourselves, to look strong and persevere at all costs always seemed a facade to me. And now she has the research to back that up.

                                                                                                                                          From that place of vulnerability comes a sense of worthiness, which for most of us, needs to be cultivated every day. Only if we get in touch with that tender spot of our hearts can we connect with others and develop genuine compassion, which are prerequisites, Brown tells us, for living a ‘wholehearted life.’

                                                                                                                                          The reality, however, is that we often close down, feel neglected and misunderstood, and rather want the vulnerability and perhaps even ourselves to disappear.

                                                                                                                                          This book is an amazing antidote for that common instinct. Want to be truly convinced? Check out her amazing ted talk here.

                                                                                                                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                                                                          21. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

                                                                                                                                          by Carl Sagan

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                                                                                                                                            We all find UFO’s fascinating. We all really want to believe in magic or visiting aliens. (Surely the crop circles are conclusive proof!) And some of us believe the government is poisoning us with chemtrails.

                                                                                                                                            At the same time we are fascinated by the progress made by science, by all the new technology and medicines and the fascinating discoveries being

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                                                                                                                                            22. Philosophy for Life

                                                                                                                                            by Jules Evans

                                                                                                                                              As philosopher Sloterdijk puts it; ‘philosophy is a beautiful child of an ugly mother.’

                                                                                                                                              Philosophy first arose when the old Greek polis states were at the brink of destruction. Philosophy, according to Sloterdijk, was not just a way to make sense of the world, to come to knowledge or truth, but to serve as a psychological immune system.

                                                                                                                                              This book is an amazing expression of this perspective. From the stoics to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Jules Evans writes about some of the amazing philosophical techniques we can use to train and improve our cognitive immune systems.

                                                                                                                                              He weaves ancient stories with modern applications, from heroism to cosmic contemplation. Philosophy for Life is a beautifully written book that makes it easy to understand the practical nature of philosophy.

                                                                                                                                              Perhaps the book would have been better if he would have gone deeper into the subject matter, but nonetheless he captures the essence of what philosophy can mean for the modern person. A must read.

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                                                                                                                                              23. Man’s Search For Meaning

                                                                                                                                              by Victor. E. Frankl

                                                                                                                                                If I had to pick one book from this list for mandatory reading, I would choose this one.

                                                                                                                                                For three years, Viktor Frankl labored in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He tells us about his experience and that of his fellow prisoners.

                                                                                                                                                Both chilling and uplifting, confronted with the idea that they would be trapped there for the rest of their lives; he gives us an account of those who found meaning and those who succumbed to nihilism.

                                                                                                                                                A blend between a memoir, a psychological investigation and a self-help book, Frankl delivers a powerful message:

                                                                                                                                                Finding meaning lies at the core of being human.

                                                                                                                                                From his own experience as a psychiatrist, combined with anecdotes from his time in the concentration camps, he tells us how important it is to find meaning in our own lives and what we can become if we don’t.

                                                                                                                                                Suffering, he conveys to us, is inevitable. But as to how we cope with it is dependent on ourselves. If we can find meaning, even in the worst acts our species have ever inflicted upon their fellow men, we will be able to move forward with renewed purpose.

                                                                                                                                                I also recommend you to check out this article to help you find out your purpose and passion that will motivate you to live in a meaningful way: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

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                                                                                                                                                24. Simplify

                                                                                                                                                by Joshua Becker

                                                                                                                                                  This is a fun little book written by Joshua Becker, a big proponent of minimalist living. We all know that quote from Fightclub: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” 

                                                                                                                                                  Well, this is ending.

                                                                                                                                                  Slowly we are outgrowing an era where the unquestioned mantra ‘more is always better’ dictates our behavior. Rather, we now find ourselves, our lives and our homes cluttered with too much information, too much stuff and just too much shit we don’t need.

                                                                                                                                                  This simple book helps you become aware of the freedom gained from living with less. It is a small book, easily read under an hour, but it carries a persuasive punch to start living live in a very different way.

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                                                                                                                                                  25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

                                                                                                                                                  by Kamal Ravikant

                                                                                                                                                    The fundamental ground upon which all true self improvement is build is called self-love. Because in the end, no matter which way you turn, if you don’t love yourself, you will sabotage yourself at one point. You will think that, for some reason or another, you are not worthy. And if you think that, why would you truly want to achieve anything?

                                                                                                                                                    And this is not just about achievement. This is about how you approach yourself every day; this is what you see when you look in the mirror.

                                                                                                                                                    We make so many snap-judgments about ourselves- often without being conscious of them- that are filled with negativity, haltering us before we can even begin to heal. This powerful book shows you the antidote.

                                                                                                                                                    Self love. Not to be confused with creating some narcissistic image of ourselves that some previous books in this list implicitly endorse, but self love, that inner gratefulness that no external condition can take away.

                                                                                                                                                    Self love, that infinite source you can share with others.

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                                                                                                                                                    Final Thoughts

                                                                                                                                                    Now that you’ve got a list of the most inspirational books to improve your life, what should you do next? Read them all?

                                                                                                                                                    It’s of course best to read them all, but we only have so much brain energy to take all this knowledge. What if I tell you there’s a way to boost your brain power? Here it is:

                                                                                                                                                    How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

                                                                                                                                                    More Books for Your Inspiration

                                                                                                                                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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