Just about every blogger has one of these - a list of books that changed their life. And I can understand why! You can really learn a lot about someone from a list like this, AND you get to benefit from knowing what books that truly inspired a transformation in another person. This was really hard for me to narrow down and I'm sure after I hit "publish" I'll think of five I missed, but without further ado, here are ten (of the many) books that I can honestly say changed my life:
The Big Picture (Life, Happiness and Goal-Setting)
1) How to Be, Do or Have Anything - Lawrence Boldt - This is by far the most influential book I have ever read (and re-read), partly because of the incredibly effective exercises at the end of every chapter that encourage you to think about everything from personal values to visioning and specific goal setting. Along with emphasizing the importance of writing goals and figuring out what you want, Boldt really takes you through a mental transformation toward believing that anything is possible, eliminating negative self-talk and using the power of self-fulfilling prophecy to achieve your dreams. As my life changes, different concepts and exercises resonate in new ways - it's definitely a book that I will continue re-reading for many, many years to come.
2) Zen and the Art of Happiness - Chris Prentiss - This book is small but it packs a punch! Really helped me focus on seeing the positive in all areas of my life, realize that EVERY single "problem" is a learning opportunity, and that happiness is found not in winning or achieving goals but in gratitude, enjoying the process of life and appreciating the nuances of every day joy. This book taught me that happiness is everywhere, in every moment, and I it's up to me to seize it!
Organization and Productivity
3) Getting Things Done - David Allen - I love this book!! In my opinion, it is the pinnacle of organization, time-management and productivity concepts. I feel so much more in control of my life and all of my various to-do's after having read it and making the systems Allen suggests my own. The biggest takeaway for me was that my mind should be used for high-level thinking and processing, not storing items in a to-do list. It helped me remove the clutter in my brain by developing systems for capturing next actions and reminders so I could free it up for more exciting and creative things (like writing this post!).
4) Organized for Success - Stephanie Winston - Not quite as impactful as Allen's book, but it comes close. Great tips and anecdotes from top executives on efficiency, time management and getting organized. Executives have to be ruthless with their time, and this book shared some of the best kept secrets about how they do it (aside from having ten personal assistants).
Money, Finance, Retirement Savings
5) Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki - Inspiration for how to live your life financially and approach money from an entrepreneurial mindset. This book helped me realize how easy it is to get stuck in the rat race if we spend our life accumulating liabilities (like fancy cars and big houses) and not building assets (particularly ones that generate automatic and secondary income). For another great read in this vein, check out The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris.
6) Smart Women Finish Rich - David Bach - Practical tips about saving and being smart with your money; includes values exercises and financial goal-setting, which I find critical to long-term financial success! If you are not a woman don't fret - he wrote very similar books for couples and those getting a late start.
7) Naked Economics - Charles Wheelan - Funny and simple breakdown of concepts that I used to find really confusing like the stock market, inflation, the economy, and the Fed. Especially salient during economic times like these! See my longer review here.
8) Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus - John Gray - I resisted buying this book for so long because it sounded super cheesy. And I have to admit I was somewhat embarrassed when I took it to the cashier to purchase. But the points the author makes came in handy almost every day when I was in a long-term relationship (and continue to resonant in other areas of my life too). I really felt like I had a new understanding for how the sexes communicate and react to each other - and can't believe I waited so long to read it in the first place!
9) Difficult Conversations - Douglas Stone, et al. - Taught me the value in approaching conversations from an objective, third-party perspective rather than a biased, emotional one. Rather than starting a difficult conversation with an accusation ("you always...!") I learned to state the facts first, explore with the other person, and come to a solution together.
10) Get with the Program - Bob Greene - This book transformed the way I think about diet an exercise in a way that didn't seem restrictive or "trendy." It's a very well-balanced, logical program about how to eat a balanced diet and steadily incorporate exercise in a way that is sustainable over the long-term. While weight loss isn't a focus of the book, it certainly led to a significant drop for me!
Curious about the other books I've read (literally almost one a week) that didn't make the list? Check-out my library at Good Reads (still a work in progress) or my personalized Amazon store.
So what about you? What books make your Top 10?