6 Must Read Books for Student Success
23 Jun 2016

Would you like to know one habit that ultra-successful students have in common? They read …. a lot.

Achievement motivated individuals, however, do not read indiscriminately. They read to learn new things, to educate themselves and to gain inspiration and guidance from ultra successful people in diverse fields.

They find time to read – some for 30 minutes a week, others for 30 minutes a day. Some make it part of their morning routine whilst others integrate it into their bedtime routine. Still others utilise their travelling time to and from school to pick up a book and read.

If you aspire to be like top students, adopt their prolific reading habits.

Whether reading is already a way of life for you, or you are just getting started, here are some books SuccessDNA recommends you consider.

Happy reading!


1.  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

The correlation between intellect and achievement has been well documented. Less, however, is known about individual, non-cognitive predictors of success.

Psychologist, Angela Duckworth, in her New York Times bestseller, Grit, shows anyone who seeks to succeed – be it students, parents or educators – that the secret to extraordinary achievement is not talent but a mix of passion and long term perseverance or persistence she calls “grit”.

Among Duckworth’s most valuable insights are that grit is a more reliable predictor of success than aptitude or intelligence (I.Q.). and, that grit can be learned regardless of I.Q. or circumstances.

Duckworth’s findings contribute to a better understanding of what leads some students to outperform others and remain committed to their studies.

Best quote:  Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.

Purchase Grit in the Amazon Store.

Why People Fail by Siimon Reynolds

2.  Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them

by Siimon Reynolds
Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them, explores the main causes of failure and offers solutions for overcoming it and creating a successful personal life. The book offers strategies for defeating the most common failure habits such as low productivity, stress, fixed mindset, destructive thinking, lack of daily rituals, and more.

Best quote:  Failure leads to success.

Purchase Why People Fail in the Amazon Store.

Mindset by Carol Dweck

3.  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

by Carol Dweck
Leading expert in achievement and success, Stanford University psychology professor, Carol Dweck, explains how our mindset can contribute to our success as learners and in life.

She makes clear that people with the right mindset, a “growth mindset”, believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience, mentorship, and so on.

She shows parents and teachers how to cultivate a growth mindset and empower and motivate students, help them to achieve and raise their grades, foster self-esteem and build resilience.

Best quote:  You’re in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way.

Purchase Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in the Amazon Store.

Thick Face Black Heart by Chin-Ning Chu

4.  Thick Face Black Heart

by Chin-Ning Chu

Thick Face Black Heart, by the world’s foremost expert on the Asian business mind, Chin-Ning Chu, is about thriving, winning and succeeding using the ancient wisdom of the East.

The book takes some of the best of ancient Chinese philosophy and applies it to success in one’s personal life. It takes the reader beyond the warrior philosophy of Sun Tzu’s,  Art of War.

Thick Face Black Heart is one of those books you may have to read a couple of times to fully grasp, but it is well worth the effort.

Best quote:  Work Does Not Need You, You Need Work. Through Work, Destiny Unfolds. Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

Purchase Thick Face Black Heart in the Amazon Store.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

5.  The Power of Habit

by Charles Duhigg

In essence, The Power of Habit contains the argument that the key to achieving success is understanding how habits work.

In his book, Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist, how they are formed, where they reside in our brains and how they can be changed. We discover how the right habits are crucial to success.

This book takes a serious look at the science of habit formation and change.

Best quote: This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP.

Purchase The Power of Habit in the Amazon Store.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

6.  Outliers: The Story of Success

by Malcolm Gladwell
Success – the result of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, taking advantage of opportunities, IQ or persistence? Or, all four?

Malcolm Gladwell argues that it is not the brightest who succeed. Nor is success the outcome of the choices and decisions individuals make. His premise is that it is the result of having been given opportunities and having the strength and the presence of mind to seize and leverage them.

Gladwell analyses what make “outliers,” those incredibly successful people, successful. He dismisses the notion of “natural ability” and “overnight success”, showing that anyone can become an expert at anything if they just spend 10,000 hours doing it. He also dismisses the idea of innate ability or IQ showing that it is more about what one does with the intelligence they have. In addition, he relates success to rigorous work ethic, effort and time.

A thought provoking and at times challenging read.

Best quote:  Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.

Purchase Outliers: The Story of Success in the Amazon Store.

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

7.  How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, the Hidden Power of Character

by Paul Tough
Why do some children succeed while others fail?

In his book, How Children Succeed, Paul Tough, presents an alternative to the prevailing view that success is determined by one’s intelligence or brain power.

Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter most, have more to do with character: skills like conscientiousness, curiosity, grit, optimism, perseverance, self-control and self-confidence. He further claims that these non-cognitive skills which are most important in determining whether someone will be successful, can be fostered.

I would recommend this book to young adults, parents, and teachers (in-service and pre-service).

Best quote: Character strengths that matter so much to young people’s success are not innate; they don’t appear in us magically, as a result of good luck or good genes. And they are not simply a choice. They are rooted in brain chemistry, and they are moulded, in measurable and predictable ways, by the environment in which children grow.

Purchase How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, the Hidden Power of Character in the Amazon Store.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

8.  Thinking Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman

In the international best seller, Thinking Fast and Slow, the renowned psychologist Kahneman takes us on a tour of the mind and describes what drives the way we think as well as how these two systems shape our judgements and our decisions.

Best quote: The world makes much less sense than you think.  The coherence comes mostly from the way your mind works.

Purchase Thinking Fast and Slow in the Amazon Store.

Flourish by Martin Seligman

9.  Flourish

by Dr Martin Seligman

What is it that allows one to flourish – to cultivate one’s talents, to achieve, to build strong relationships and to be happy?

Seligman, Professor of Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology, in his book Flourish, provides a new theory of success. He makes the argument that teaching kids wellbeing (resilience, optimism) is more powerful than any other intervention.

This is a thought provoking book in its implications for education and for parents who want to raise children with an improved sense of well being. Be prepared for an academic tone which may not appeal to all readers.

Best quote:  It is the combination of reasonable talent and the ability to keep going in the face of defeat that leads to success.

Purchase Flourish in the Amazon Store.

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got There by Amanda Ripley

10.  The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way

by Amanda Ripley

In a clear and engaging style, Amanda Ripley, in The Smartest Kids in the World And How They Got That Way, reveals how students in top performing countries have consistently performed beyond the ordinary. She argues that what makes students better students and brighter students is hard work, persistence and resilience. It is these skills which matter more to our children’s life chances than self-esteem or sports.

Best quote:  I’d been looking around the world for clues as to what other countries were doing right, but the important distinctions were not about spending or local control or curriculum; none of that mattered very much. Policies mostly worked in the margins. The fundamental difference was a psychological one. The education superpowers believed in rigor. People in these countries agreed on the purpose of school: School existed to help students master complex academic material. Other things mattered, too, but nothing mattered as much.

Purchase The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way in the Amazon Store.