Jess’s favorite resources for becoming a better human

I know that the main reason I am a top performer is because I seek out people who are smarter than me to give me better strategies so that I can improve and grow.

Have you ever heard the quote, “Leaders are readers?” It’s from Jim Rohn, success strategist, personal development coach, and motivational speaker. He placed more value on reading than eating! Even if you get in only 20 minutes a day, reading books that inspire, empower, and teach you new strategies is going to super charge your abilities as a useful, contributing, successful member of society.

Here is a round up of the best books I’ve used to boost my academic performance and become a better human.

These are affiliate links, which means, if you choose to download or buy one of these using my link, I get a little kickback from Amazon. You’re helping support me and this site, at no extra cost to you. Thanks, you lovely human!


Peak by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool

I was chatting with a friend about how I’d read sooo many books on maximizing productivity, doing things that will indisputably make me happier (like meditating in the morning and drinking more water — sadly, I’m one of those chronically dehydrated folk), and yet…I had such a hard time actually doing those things! He told me about Peak. Peak is the book that shows you how to actually do all of those things you want to do. Invaluable!


Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is my go-to gold for improving my ability to achieve at an incredibly high level. Whether I need to get out of a motivational rut, if I need reassurance that I can do my work well, and for the best strategies I’ve EVER come across for building unstoppable power, drive, and purpose, this guy is the one listen to.

Tip: Grab a dedicated notebook to write down the strategies he gives you and to create plans and answer the questions he asks for yourself. Just because you read something cool doesn’t mean it’s going to change your life. You still need to do the work.


Presence by Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy’s got one of the most viewed Ted Talks ever about how your body can shape the way your brain works. It’s incredibly powerful stuff, and super easy. I use her strategies regularly to improve my mood, boost my confidence, and conquer challenges. Watch the TED talk here, realize this woman is a genius, and then buy her book, because she goes into way more detail and offers a lot more strategies you can use to improve your life. Want to impress your professors? Want to crush at an interview? Want to feel absolutely unstoppable? Check her out!


Deep Work by Cal Newport

Even though Cal Newport has several best selling books on how to be an A+ performer in high school and college, those aren’t the books I’m recommending to you. They’re great…check them out if you want something more that speed, but I found that his other books were full of more powerful strategies for becoming an A+ student and person. In Deep Work, Newport uncovers how to get a massive amount of focused, meaningful work done, and limit distractions which are killing your ability to be your best self. After that, go read his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You to help you figure out if you should be following your passion or your skills to make a career you’re going to love. This is important reading for college students!


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

This guy is a genius. He’s smart, hilarious, and really nails what it takes to shed off the stuff that isn’t important and live a life that has less stress, less worry, more passion, and more meaning. This is one of the best books I’ve read in the past several years, and that’s saying a lot. It’s a really quick read, perfect for those times when you don’t want to do more academic work but still want to learn skills to make you perform better and lower your sense of overwhelm. His funny and inspiring insights can help you as a student, in your relationships, and just as a person trying to have a good time in this world.


Smarter, Better, Faster by Charles Duhigg

I tore through this book as if it was a murder mystery novel. Duhigg’s writing is captivating. Instead of spouting bland theories, he’s compiled numerous studies that exemplify different ways our brains work — and then shows you how to use your brain to its maximum potential in areas like productivity and habit formation. This is a serious tool for someone who wants to gain a better understanding of how our brains work and who wants to make the small adjustments required for major improvement.


Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferris

Tim Ferris asks really good questions. He asks these really good questions to people who are incredibly successful in a variety of disciplines. The result? A value-packed tool box with dozens of strategies you can use to become a top performer too. I love the diversity of people interviewed in Ferris’s book because it means you get a great sample of how people with different careers become successful. And the coolest part is, many of these people do the same kinds of things, suggesting that success is largely a formula that you can put into practice yourself. Never dreamed you could make as much of an impact as billionaires and world famous icons? This book will change your mind.


Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

The title kind of says it all. Gretchen Rubin is all about showing you how to actually change your habits — with strategies that work for you. She doesn’t offer generic advice, she teaches you how to discover your own framework so that you can actually make the changes in a way that will work for you. Want to get more sleep? Procrastinate less? Actually go to the gym? Check Instagram less? Be better than before? Get this book and a blank notebook so you can write down everything you learn!

On my “to read” list:

If you’ve read any of the books listed on this page, please share your thoughts with me and others in the comments below!