Books That Changed My Life

I’ve recently finished a book recommended to me and realized that it belonged in a small handful of books that I’ve read which have changed my life and the way I see the world. I recommend everything on this list wholeheartedly. I plan on keeping this list up-to-date as I remember things that I’ve left off or as I discover new and awesome books.

Business:

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – This book succinctly describes how to approach and execute the building of a business. Starting a business is venturing into the unknown, this book admits that and describes methods of thinking for best approaching the process.

Good to Great by Jim Collins – I read this for a class on leadership in school back around 2007. I still find myself referencing concepts from it on a fairly regular basis.

The 4-Hour Workweek (See notes below under Self-Improvement)

Nutrition:

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes – This book traces the whole history of why the US (and the world) are facing obesity problems. It covers the bad science and the bad politics that started and perpetuate the situation.

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf – The easiest starting place for learning about the Paleo Diet. I recommend giving it a read even if you aren’t going to try the diet. You’ll learn a lot about how your body works and how food is used by it.

Self-Improvement and Making Your Life Meaningful:

Linchpin by Seth Godin – The book meanders through a number of topics surrounding how to be a valuable and fulfilled human. He discusses the big picture of what makes use fulfilled and at the same time looks at a lot of implementation details for creating value in your life.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris – I had to stop reading this book at one point because if was making me want to quit my job so badly. I then picked it up again a few months later, quit my job, and founded a company. It’s worth reading if you plan on doing anything with your life that’s not the usual 9-5 zombie approach. (Also, as a side note, read Linchpin to hear why that approach to life isn’t going to work in our modern environment.)

Summary: Getting things done original by David Allen – I recommend the summary here because I feel like any reasonably organized person can probably impliment the important parts of this process without needing to read the entire book. That said, if you’re not at all organized and looking to become more so, read the full version.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – This  book, despite all of Rand’s flaws, holds some powerful thoughts. It inspired me to start thinking differently about they whys of life.

Understanding People:

What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro – Written by an ex FBI interrogator, this book lays out a great basic level of knowledge into reading people’s body language. We do a huge amount of communication non-verbally, and most of us miss a lot of it. I especially recommend reading this if you’re a male. We tend to be worse at reading body language, and not doing so means you miss out on a lot of what people are saying.

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley – This book is fun to read, despite being pretty technical. Ridley breaks down human sexual behaviors and provides lots of examples of animals that exhibit similar behaviors. This has made me a lot more understanding of the pitfalls of myself and others when it comes to the highly complicated subject of human dating and sexual interactions. (Also increasing shoulder-to-waist ratio is important.)

The Moral Animal by Robert Wright – Also on the subject of evolutionary psychology, this book takes a wider angle view of it. He discusses why basic human behaviors like family bonding, monogamy, competition, and others are actually a product of our evolutionary past. This is a dense book, but it provides lots of insight into why we are the way we are.

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious by Timothy Wilson – The book unexpectedly changed my views on learning and has make me a lot more patient with myself. It presents a number of studies and research attempting to model the workings our unconscious minds. I gave me great insight into how our brains learn, make decision, and why we stumble into logical fallacies from time to time.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this list of recommendations. I actually have The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand on my bookshelf that I have not read. Now im gonna go ahead and start reading.

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