The best books on how to tackle life’s mountains

Why am I passionate about this?

I have firsthand experience in some of the harshest environments on the planet. I’ve survived sub-zero temperatures, hurricane force winds, sudden avalanches…and a career on Wall Street. I served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, climbed the highest peak on every continent (the “7 Summits”), and skied to both the North and South Poles. I spent four years as an adjunct professor at the US Military Academy at West Point. Awarded the 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. I have a beer named after me. I love dogs. Three heart surgeries could not slow me down. NY Times bestselling author of On the Edge. I’ve had some high profile failures and have been the butt of late night talk show opening monologue jokes. Come at me!

I wrote...

Book cover of On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and Other Extreme Environments

What is my book about?

In On the Edge, Levine makes a compelling case that the leadership principles that apply in the world of extreme adventure also apply to today’s rigorously competitive business environments. Both settings require you to make critical decisions when the conditions around you are far from perfect. Your survival—and the survival of your team—totally depend on it. The advice in the book comes not only from Levine’s own experiences in life or death situations, but also from lessons she has learned from decorated military officers, successful business leaders, and legendary sports heroes. Much of it is flat-out contrarian and flies in the face of what you’ve been told by well-known management gurus and highly-paid executive coaches: encourage big egos, go backward—away from your goal, ignore the rules, ditch the plan, deprive yourself of sleep, and reward failure. But it works for her. And it can work for you too.

On the Edge provides a roadmap to help you scale whatever big peaks you aspire to climb—be they literal or figurative—by offering practical, humorous, and often unorthodox advice about how to reach your potential as a leader.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Span of Control: What to Do When You're Under Pressure, Overwhelmed, and Ready to Get What You Really Want

Alison Levine Why did I love this book?

We all feel overwhelmed and stressed out at times. And that stress can take a mental toll, a physical toll, and can prevent us from achieving our true potential. As one of the Navy’s first female F-14 pilots, Lohrenz is an expert on finding clarity of focus and blocking out the distractions that can throw our lives off-course. Her book explains how to thrive in today’s world of fast-paced change and task-overload. I would recommend the audiobook as this is a voice you want in your ear for sure!

By Carey D. Lohrenz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Span of Control as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What can you control?
What do you do when you’re under pressure, overwhelmed, and ready to get what you really want? As one of the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilots in the US Navy, as well as a mom, wife, business consultant, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and global speaker, author Carey Lohrenz knows that the stress we experience can be just as intense as the stress in the cockpit of a fighter jet going Mach 2. But she’s got a secret weapon to prevail: years of training to overcome the specific natures of uncertainty, stress, burnout, anxiety, and…

Book cover of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

Alison Levine Why did I love this book?

Grant explains why, in holding fast to our convictions, we may be doing ourselves a disservice. We change out other things in our life that we know are “outdated” – our technology, our wardrobes, etc…but often we hold on to beliefs that may not be serving us well. Think Again lays out the case for re-examining long-held beliefs and opening our minds to other viewpoints. Grant encourages us to look at disagreement as an opportunity to learn and grow and expand our minds. The book will also teach you how to argue more constructively and compassionately – and who wouldn’t benefit from that?

By Adam Grant,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Think Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

"THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more-it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I've never felt so hopeful about what I don't know."
-Brene Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead

The bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking:…

Book cover of Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small, Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results

Alison Levine Why did I love this book?

So often we get “stuck” because we think we have to come up with a really big idea in order to have an impact and to achieve substantial results. Nope! Linkner explains why it is a mistake to put pressure on ourselves to “Go Big.” It’s often the little ideas that lead to the best, most significant results. This book chronicles all kinds of amazingly accomplished people – Lin Manuel Miranda, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg, etc. Linkner’s story-telling will convince you to focus on small things and will help you unlock your creativity.

By Josh Linkner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Big Little Breakthroughs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A surprisingly simple approach to help everyday people become everyday innovators.

The pressure to generate big ideas can feel overwhelming. We know that bold innovations are critical in these disruptive and competitive times, but when it comes to breakthrough thinking, we often freeze up.

Instead of shooting for a $10-billion payday or a Nobel Prize, the most prolific innovators focus on Big Little Breakthroughs-small creative acts that unlock massive rewards over time. By cultivating daily micro-innovations, individuals and organizations are better equipped to tackle tough challenges and seize transformational opportunities.

How did a convicted drug dealer launch and scale a…

Book cover of 10,000 Nos: How to Overcome Rejection on the Way to Your Yes

Alison Levine Why did I love this book?

Matt is an actor, which means he is constantly jockeying for jobs in what might be the most competitive industry on the planet. He explains that dealing with rejection and coming back after failure is part of the process of getting to the “YES” that you want in life. He shares advice from his interviews with bestselling authors, world-class athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and other actors—all of whom share their stories of rejection and defeat and make us realize that hearing “NO” does not mean you will not achieve your dreams – it just means that you need to try again, from a different angle. 

By Matthew Del Negro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 10,000 Nos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn how to persevere and pivot to achieve your goals from a celebrated Hollywood actor

10,000 NOs: How to Overcome Rejection on the Way to Your YES chronicles actor Matthew Del Negro's tough journey from humble beginnings, through a sea of rejections, on the way to his eventual rise to become a recognizable face on some of history's most acclaimed television shows. Along the way, he learned hard lessons about perseverance, persistence, and resilience. Teaching readers how to make it through the tough times and deal with massive uncertainty by retaining the flexibility to change course and pivot to follow…

Book cover of Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters

Alison Levine Why did I love this book?

Kara is the founder/CEO of Hint Water, and this book chronicles her rather unconventional career on her way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. She was told time and time again that what she wanted to do could not be done, yet she remained, UNDAUNTED in her pursuits. The book has all kinds of advice for overcoming both career and personal obstacles. Her attitude has always been, “No means maybe and maybe means YES.” This book will change your outlook when it comes to facing challenges.

By Kara Goldin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Undaunted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't let anyone crush your dreams. Undaunted will inspire you to move past your fears and defy the doubters. It doesn't matter whether you feel confident; it matters what you actually do.

A Wall Street Journal bestseller!

CEO of Hint, Inc and author Kara Goldin turned her unsweetened flavored water into one of the most successful beverage businesses of our time. As she started to achieve her goals, Kara found herself being called "fearless", "confident" and even "unstoppable," but nothing could be further from the truth.

In Undaunted, she shares real stories about her own fears and doubts, the challenges…

You might also like...

The Boldly Inclusive Leader: Transform Your Workplace (and the World) by Valuing the Differences Within

By Minette Norman,

Book cover of The Boldly Inclusive Leader: Transform Your Workplace (and the World) by Valuing the Differences Within

Minette Norman Author Of The Boldly Inclusive Leader: Transform Your Workplace (and the World) by Valuing the Differences Within

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent 20 years leading global teams in Silicon Valley, and I had few role models for empathetic, human, and inclusive leadership. I was committed to being the leader I wished I’d had all those years. I had a lot of success, a big VP-level job, and I loved my work. Then, I got a new manager who bullied, undermined, and silenced me. I decided I wanted to help leaders do better. I became an author, speaker, and consultant focused on inspiring leaders to create an environment where everyone is heard, seen, and respected.

Minette's book list on amazing leader, listener, and human being

What is my book about?

To create innovative, collaborative, and high-performing organizations, we need a new leadership model.

Speaker, consultant, and former Silicon Valley executive Minette Norman is committed to inspiring leaders by sharing some of the most important things she learned over the decades she spent in the corporate world, such as: every human being needs to feel they belong; teams thrive when everyone can share their unique ideas and experiences; innovation is a group activity; empathy and compassion are leadership superpowers; and, leaders set the tone by what they say, do, reward, and tolerate.

This is not a book about quick fixes or…

The Boldly Inclusive Leader: Transform Your Workplace (and the World) by Valuing the Differences Within

By Minette Norman,

  • Coming soon!
  • Coming soon!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in success in life, innovation, and self-actualization?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about success in life, innovation, and self-actualization.

Success In Life Explore 256 books about success in life
Innovation Explore 82 books about innovation
Self-Actualization Explore 215 books about self-actualization