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Think and Grow Rich – Book Review

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

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Think And Grow Rich is often mentioned in the best-of lists of personal finance books. So, I decided to try to read this book and review it for you.

This book is about self-improvement and personal development. It is an almost ancient book. It was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill. Interestingly, it was written just after the great depression. It is based on the secret recipe for success by Andrew Carnegie. All this book is based on explaining this secret recipe through a series of steps.

As you will discover, Think and Grow Rich is a very special book. It is very different from most of the Books I usually read. It can teach you a lot of things, but you may have to figure out many things yourself.

Think and Grow Rich Book

Think and Grow Rich Book Cover
Think and Grow Rich Book Cover

This book is really special. It is not at all like any of the other investing or personal finance books I have read. They will not give any specific advice such as to invest in low-fee Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The entire book is based on mastering your feelings to make sure your road to riches will be paved with success.

Once you get a burning desire to reach your goal, you need an idea. From that idea, you can grow a plan. And all along the road, you need only use positive emotions and shield yourself from negative emotions. You need a powerful mind to achieve this.

Be obsessed about your success

According to this book, the most important thing to reach success is to have a burning desire for your goal. You need to know precisely what you want. You may want to have a million dollars, or you may want to be the greatest salesman in your company. In each case, it is essential to set a clear goal.

There is no such thing as something for nothing

You will need to work out hard to achieve your goal. You will need an idea of how to achieve it. And you will need to translate that idea into a plan.

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat

And very importantly, you need to be determined and persistent about reaching your goals. If you quit too early, you will never reach your goal. You need to persuade yourself that you can reach your goal. You need to know it! It is not something easy, but that is what this book advocates. And the book explains several ideas on how to improve on the way to this goal.

Master your emotions

Once you have your burning desire and your plan to achieve it, you need to place yourself in a strong state of mind. You need to focus on your positive emotions.

The emotions of faith, love and sex are the most powerful of all the major positive emotions

You need to use these emotions to improve your state of mind and thus improve your path to success. Even after reading this book once, it remains quite abstract how to do it. But I agree that shielding oneself from negative emotions is very powerful. Interestingly, an entire chapter is about sex. The author mentions that many very successful men had a very developed libido. And they were motivated by women in their way to success. Also, as with everything, indulging in sex without the right state of mind is not useful and could slow down your progress.

Master your fears

The second part of Think and Grow Rich is about the contrary. It is about what can cause failure. And the most essential teaching of that second part is about fears. Fears are the biggest drivers of failure. The author identifies many fears and their result on your chances of success.

For instance, the fear of failure (or fear of poverty) will completely slow you down on your way to riches. If you are too afraid of failure, you will not be able to succeed. That is not to say that you will not experience failure, of course. Everybody does. It took Edison more than one thousand failures to invent the incandescent bulb. Failure should only be a temporary event in your way to success. And you should be ready for them. Being always afraid of failure will make you over-cautious and always waiting for the right time. Fears can also make some people procrastinate.

The fear is criticism is also a very important fear. It can take many forms, often petty. If you overthink about how people perceive you, you will not be yourself, but you will what they want you to be. You will want to have a big house, new clothes every year, a new car every few years. You will want to follow the crowd.

Another fear that the author mentions in the book is the fear of death. It is logical to be a bit afraid of death. But when you fear death too strongly, you are not living your life to the fullest. People should focus on their current life and not their coming death.

Fears are nothing more than state of mind

In essence, fears are just emotions or states of mind, indeed. But, it is not easy to get rid of fears. Some fears are highly irrational, and you can often deal with them with logic. But some fears are profoundly rooted in one’s mind, and it is difficult to get rid of these fears.

Avoid alibis

Why people spend so much time deliberately fooling themselves by creating alibis to cover their weaknesses. If used differently, this same time would be sufficient to cure the weakness, the no alibis would be needed

Alibis are a critical point. Most of the time, reasons for failure are just alibis that we invent. Who never used an excuse to explain why he did not achieve what he wanted. I am sure all of you already did it. And I sure did it. But we need to recognize these reasons for what they, alibis that we invent.

If I had a good education…
If I lived in a better city…
What if people were not so dumb…

There are so many possible examples. These are all alibis. If you want to have a better education, just educate yourself. Go back to school. If you want to live in a better city, just do it. You cannot do anything about other people being dumb, but you can use it and recognize that you may be as dumb as they are. In most of the cases, if you realize that they are only alibis, you can fix them. Work out a plan to have a better education or live in a better city. And once you achieve your plan, you will not need alibis. It is an excellent exercise to recognize your alibis.

Teaching great values

The book makes many excellent points that are related to success, and we can make some easy parallels to investing and financial independence:

  1. Persistence is incredibly important. You should not stop investing in the stock market because you lost one single day. It takes perseverance and determination.
  2. You need to know what you want.
  3. You need to want it. It is very important. Some people want to be rich but do not do anything about it. They just wish it but do not wish to any work. You need to be ready to work for your goal. And your desire for it should be strong.
  4. You need to have a plan. It is not enough to know what you want. You should also work out a plan to achieve what you want.
  5. Being afraid will hinder your success. If you are always afraid, you will never take risks and will never progress fast enough towards your goals. You should trust your success.
  6. And there are many parallels with Financial Independence.

These facts are crucial. Whether you try for financial riches or financial independence or even a different kind of goal, these values will help you towards success.

Interesting examples

Think and Grow Rich has many examples of successful men. From these examples, we can draw many conclusions, supporting the claims of the book. For instance, the author mentions the story of Thomas Edison many times throughout the book. The most significant example tells the story of the invention of the incandescent light. For this, Edison failed more than one thousand times before he succeeded. The example of Edison is an excellent example of persistence. There are also many examples of Henry Ford. He was successful, primarily due to his strong persistence.

The story of Barnes is also quite interesting. He wanted to work with Edison and not for Edison. His burning desire was evident in his mind, and he was determined to achieve his goal. He was able to convince Edison to let him work for him at first. And then, once he saw the opportunity with the invention of Ediphone (a kind of dictaphone) where none of the other sellers wanted to do anything about it. He was able to sell it and work with Edison. He successfully reached his goal!

Some teachings are old

On the other side, Think and Grow Rich feel quite old. It is already more than 80 years old. Of course, this is not the fault of the author ;) But many things changed in society and finances in these years.

Most of the principles taught in this book are still valid, of course. But some examples would need refreshing. Warren Buffet would be an excellent example of persistence. And what about Bill Gates. And the book talks many times about the great depression, but there were many recessions since that point. Some were quite different, and some were the same. But the great depression is not as relevant today as it was 80 years ago.

Finally, the book has quite a sexist view of women. It is relatively logical with the time of this book. But it is weird to read this now. First of all, there are almost no examples of successful women. And there is a chapter about women as the wife. They are only the wife of someone. And they should be supportive of their husband. However, the author still writes about the importance of women for the success of men.

Almost mythical teaching

In its essence, Think and Grow Rich is not practical but almost mystic. For instance, it is full of phrases like this:

Whether your receive the sign in the first or the last chapter, stop for a moment when it presents itself, and turn down a glass, for that occasion will mark the most important turning-point of your life.

And the author mentions himself the sign as a mystic sign by the author. It feels more like the teachings of a sect and not a self-improvement book. But I am maybe a bit too much close-minded!

Desire can be transmuted into gold

I agree that having a strong desire for something and doing everything to satisfy that desire will help in your way to success. However, the idea of transmutation of feelings into something physical is not something I would have put that way. There are no such things as the transmutation of feelings into gold. Again, we are almost on the limit of the mystic.

And when you hear things such as “Higher level of thought” or “Exalted plane of Thought” or that telepathy and clairvoyance are real things, you are starting to wonder about the book seriousness. Another thing is that the author insists upon the existence of the ether. It would transmit things from one person to another and carry emotions. There is no such as the ether. But again, I may be too square minded for such things!


My point of view on Think and Grow Rich is not set. Overall, it was not good reading. I did not enjoy reading this book.

However, the book makes some good points. I did not cover all the points made in the book. It is filled with important facts. Maybe it is even too dense of information for most people. And I do not doubt that mastering your emotions is a crucial thing to do.

The part about mastering your fears was more interesting than the first part about mastering your desires. For me, this book is not concrete enough. It is almost mystical. And I do not enjoy this kind of read. But I can enjoy the values taught in the book that are very important.

Think and Grow Rich is not a bad book. But do not read this book to enjoy it. Or do not read it to get concrete advice. After reading entirely once, it remains quite abstract for me what I should do to improve myself. If you want to master the principles from this book, you will have to practice hard.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can find it on Amazon: Think And Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.

Finally, if you want to read more books about getting rich, you can take a look at the best personal finance books I have read. I have bought four new books recently very cheap on Kindle, so you should expect new book reviews coming soon.

Did you read Think And Grow Rich? Did you like this book?

Think And Grow Rich is often mentioned in the best-of lists of personal finance books. So, I decided to try to read this book and review it for you.


Name: Think and Grow Rich (Hardcover)

Author: Array

ISBN: 1937879488

Date Published: 03/01/1937


Editor's Rating:
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Baptiste Wicht started in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

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6 thoughts on “Think and Grow Rich – Book Review”

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for taking the time to express what you think about this book. I liked reading about it. I just bought this book and planning to read it.



  2. Thanks for the review.

    Have it since a longer time and never made it to the end, because it feels a bit difficult to read.
    But I´ll give it a second shot, especially for Part II

    Another ancient one, that I can absolutely recommend is: “Reminiscences of a stock operator.”

    1. Hi Senior Crown,

      Yes, it’s definitely not the best book to read. If I did not want to do this review, I would probably not even have gone through the end either.

      Thanks for the recommendation, it looks really interesting. I have put this on my reading TODO list.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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