In this era of multitasking, it's only natural that you would want to knock out some reading while at the gym. Why not throw a couple audiobooks onto the old iPod and absorb some ways to improve your life? While you're listening, you probably won't want to tackle any new workout routines that require you to focus on new machines or motions. But for the times you're zoned out on the treadmill or letting your mind wander while you bike, these audiobooks will inspire you to be better while you're perspiring.
Happiness and Well-Being
- Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness by Matthew Kelly:
The Rhythm of Life author brings you practical methods for reaching your full potential and transforming your life for the better.
- Having It All: Achieving Your Life's Goals and Dreams by John Assaraf:
Assaraf is living proof that if you dream it, you can be it, having started poor and working his way to millionaire. He shares his secrets for success with you.
- Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson:
This classic by motivational speaking legend Richard Carlson continues to relax stressed-out readers by giving them permission to slow down, calm down, and still live each day to the fullest.
- Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being Martin Seligman:
Leading happiness expert Seligman will change what you thought you knew about happiness, shifting your focus from being happy to flourishing.
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt:
Topics Haidt covers run the gamut from Hinduism and Christianity to child development to neuroscience. It all makes for an excellent happiness book with much to glean for improving your life.
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert:
This Harvard prof hates to break it to you, but you have no idea what makes you happy. But not to worry; he's done the research to help you figure out what will.
- Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen:
Thousands around the country turn to Houston pastor Joel Osteen for uplifting spiritual messages every Sunday. Here he shows you the way to discover how to tap into your hidden resources and excel.
- The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy by Liz Weston:
Thou shalt not go on making money mistakes once thou hast listened to what widely-read financial advice columnist Liz Weston has to say.
- The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy – How to Save Yourself and Your Country by Peter Schiff:
The title doesn't win any points for feel-goodness, but as the only major voice to predict the 2008 collapse, Schiff's got just medicine you need to take to keep yourself financially healthy in the coming days.
- Rich Dad's Increase Your Financial IQ: Get Smarter with Your Money by Robert T. Kiyosaki:
The creator of the Rich Dad series teaches you to protect, increase, budget, and leverage your money, plus how to build your knowledge base of financial info.
- The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream by Suze Orman:
According to Suze, the American Dream needs a revamp. It's no longer about accumulating wealth, but securing your financial future. And she's just the gal to help you secure it.
- Wink and Grow Rich by Roger Hamilton:
A changeup from the typical financial advice book, Wink and Grow Rich is a short story fable designed to change your thinking about how wealth is created.
- The Lies About Money: Achieving Financial Security and True Wealth by Ric Edelman:
Trusted financial advisor Ric Edelman shoots you straight on saving for college, investing for retirement, and other pressing financial issues each of us face sooner or later.
- All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi:
A Harvard law professor and her daughter give you sound advice for getting out of debt and getting ahead, in conversational, down-to-earth style.
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey:
America's most listened-to financial guru helps you get your house in order in his trademark straight-forward, no-nonsense way in this book.
- The Richest Man in Babylon: The Success Secrets of the Ancients by George S. Clason:
This one's a throwback to 1955, now brought to mp3 format so that a new generation can hear and appreciate the techniques for accumulating wealth that have stood the test of time.
- The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Rich by Thomas Stanley and William Danko:
While Cribs may have you thinking you need an elevator in your house and a Mercedes in your driveway, the rich man next door to you has been quietly building his wealth by practicing that long-forgotten virtue: thrift.
Work and Productivity
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss:
You don't have to go to Princeton to hear the revolutionary ideas spouting from this 28-year-old visionary. Ferriss shows you how to live the life everyone dreams of living: one free of the 9-5 grind.
- Who Moved My Cheese?: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Spencer Johnson:
The five-year bestseller comes to mp3 form to help you succeed in the midst of change. This version has an exclusive interview with author Spencer Johnson.
- Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock:
With a good mix of science and real-world examples, David Rock gives you insight into your gray matter and lets you in on how to harness it more effectively.
- The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki:
The narration could be better, but Kawasaki's "Great Ideas for Starting Things" could transform you into America's next big entrepreneur.
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink:
Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the three vital keys for motivation, as Pink explains in this books based on decades of research on the subject.
- The Dip by Seth Godin:
Lend your ears to 21st-century sage Godin as he explains "the dip" — the low point of any project or job — and how to commit to beating it.
- Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk:
Gary V. brings to life his helpful book about using social networking to create incredible business opportunities for yourself, constantly going off the script and keeping you informed and entertained.
- Do the Work by Steven Pressfield:
Did you decide to go workout to avoid doing work on a long-delayed project? Steven Pressfield's got the cure to spur you into action and stop waiting.
- Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell:
This author claims the only thing that separates the uber-successes from the rest of us is their response to failure, and he makes a very compelling case.
Food and Health
- In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan:
Healthy eating hero Michael Pollan wrote this compelling food manifesto to denounce "food products" and show you how simple eating can and should be.
- Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs:
The guy who attempted to do everything the Bible instructs for a year in The Year of Living Biblically brings his quirky dedication to transforming his body and mind through nutrition and exercise.
- The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins:
If improving your own health isn't motivation enough to change your eating habits, hopefully Robbins can convince you that you can also save the planet by making more responsible food choices.
- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall:
Although barefoot running had been around for quite a while before 2009, McDougall's book launched the practice into widespread popularity. Hear how his study of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico introduced him to the idea.
- Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth:
Don't let the warm, gentle tone fool you; Roth's book could very well rock the way you think about life, love, and even God by relating it all to food. It's a must-read if you struggle with eating too much (or not enough).
- Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schrieber:
You can cash in on Dr. David Servan-Schreiber's fight with brain cancer, in which he found ways to slow and prevent the onset of cancer. Now that's self-improvement.
- Super Immunity: A Breakthrough Program to Boost the Body's Defenses and Stay Healthy All Year Round by Joel Fuhrman:
Learn how to pump up your immune system from Dr. Fuhrman's book by changing the fuel you put in your engine. Colds and flus will never keep you away from the gym again.
- The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball:
You won't be able to help being inspired to support local farmers by this city girl's moving story of starting a farm to grow enough to feed the community.
- Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin:
Salatin made an appearance in a Michael Pollan book; that should tell you quite a bit. Here he attempts to wake you up from blissful ignorance about where our food comes from and what we all need to do to improve the system.
- The End of Food by Paul Roberts:
The author of the bestselling The End of Oil enlightens you on the state of the global food system so that you can be prepared for the personal and societal choices we will all soon have to make.
- Meditations to Change Your Brain: Rewire Your Neural Pathways to Transform Your Life by Rick Hanson and Rick Mendius:
A psychologist and a neurologist show you how to turn down the volume between your ears with effective techniques for meditating and strengthening your mind.
- Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey:
If you're losing your drive to keep working out, this audiobook by respected psychiatrist John Ratey will inspire you to press on by explaining the wonderful benefits exercise has on your brain.
- A People's History of the United States: Highlights from the Twentieth Century by Howard Zinn:
After listening to this book, you will be inspired, outraged, fired up, and grieved at the realization there will never be another Howard Zinn. Bonus: it's narrated by Jason Bourne.
- Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville:
It took a foreigner to pen one of the greatest critiques of American culture that we have, now brought to life in audio form.
- Hopes and Prospects by Noam Chomsky:
We may have lost Zinn, but at least we still have Chomsky. Here the famed MIT professor delves into America's missteps of recent years but also voices his hopes for a better future.
- Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi:
Rolling Stone writer Taibbi brings his entertaining and provocative talents to this book, in which he flips the light on the dirty deeds that have been going on on Wall Street and whose perpetrators largely remain unpunished.
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau:
Over 150 years ago, one man realized that what passes for living in our society is not real life. Even today, some people mark their lives by when they read the resulting story of his trip into the woods to live deliberately.
- The Bible:
Some might call it the ultimate self-improvement book. Even the non-religious can use it to better understand contemporary Christian thought.
- The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli:
Your intellect will get a serious workout with this five-century old masterpiece by Machiavelli. But hey, no pain, no gain.
- 50 Things I'm Going to do Today by Brian Johnson:
Health and wellness site zaadz.com helped make this book of positive tips to live by available for free download. It's a short book you can knock out in a 45-minute workout.
- The Sayings of Confucius by Confucius:
The sage words of one of human history's wisest thinkers will teach you how to live morally and sincerely while you're banging out reps.
- The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie:
The king of the self-improvement genre gives you the tools to make a toast, win a debate, or give a lecture.
- Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Many self-improvement books do not keep their relevance for more than a few years. Emerson's classic is at 171 years and not slowing down.
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu:
For not technically being a self-improvement book, it is cited over and over again as such by people who recommend it for its lessons on winning the battles in your life, whatever form they make take.