I like to read. Well…nowadays, I like to listen. Audible is my friend. But still, I like to learn, grow, and improve. I focus the majority of my time on personal development books, but branch out every now and then. Out of the countless books that I’ve gone through, only a small handful have truly made a lasting impact on my life. These are the books I return to again and again. These are the books I recommend and gift to family and friends. If there is a book on the list below that you have not yet read, stop what you’re doing and order a copy.
The Untethered Soul
When I share this book with friends, I often describe it as “eastern religious/spiritual principles dumbed down for us Westerners.” While mindfulness, meditation, and other eastern practices and beliefs have become more mainstream in the past few years, books like The Power of Now remain too “fluffy” or “new-agey” for many readers.
The Untethered Soul is conversational, down-to-earth, practical, and refreshingly short. Michael Singer does a fantastic job of shedding light on who we are as a being—specifically that we are not our body, we are not our mind, and we are not our thoughts; we are the observer and experiencer of all of that. I won’t be able to describe it here as well as he does in the book, but this book has helped me out of dark and difficult places, more than once. It’s the book I’ve gifted more than any other. (Amazon)
The Slight Edge
I don’t even remember how I stumbled across this book, but it literally changed my life. The book is best summed up with its subtitle: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success. Jeff Olson speaks to our inner desire to have health, wealth, and happiness, showing that the path is far easier than most expect. Massive success comes from small, simple, continual action over time.
Small things, done consistently, yield incredible results. I speak from personal experience here—I break my large, lofty goals down into simple daily disciplines and have seen incredible success in my health, wealth, confidence, success, and happiness. Truly a must-read. (Amazon)
The Compound Effect
The Compound Effect is essentially The Slight Edge, but published a little later and approaching the same idea from different angles. I still find this book to be equally valuable, especially as there is value in learning by repetition.
I have read both The Slight Edge and The Compound Effect multiple times, and find myself newly motivated and re-focused every time. (Amazon)
Set for Life
At risk of sounding like a broken record, this book is my most recent life-changer. Know that I don’t use that phrase lightly (this is, after all, an article on the most impactful books…), reading this book did, in fact, change the course of my life.
I’ve always been a planner and a saver. I was always taught that the best thing to do, financially, is to save up everything you can, put 20% down on a home to avoid private mortgage insurance, and then pay that home off as quickly as you can.
So, I saved. A lot. But as I started looking at homes a couple of years ago, I became discouraged. House prices where I live are skyrocketing, and I realized that—unless I bought a shack—buying a modest home with 20% down would empty my entires savings account and leave me with a larger-than-desirable mortgage payment.
Then my brother told me about this book. It’s all about real estate investing—specifically how anyone can get started, even if you have nothing in the bank. Scott Trench lays out a stupidly simple, yet life-altering strategy that sets you on the path to financial freedom long before age 65. I can’t recommend this book enough.
I’ve read it multiple times and have completely changed my approach to saving and investing. I have a personal goal to retire by age 40 (10 years from now) and the strategies set forth in this book have given me the most concrete plan yet to achieving that. (Amazon)
Loving What Is
I first listened to this last December, and while I it took me 30-40 minutes to get into it, the principles the author talks about are truly eye-opening. Byron Katie was in a bad place in her life—divorce, depression, suicidal obsessions…on and off for nearly 10 years, when she woke up one morning in the attic of a halfway house, suddenly filled with immense joy, peace, and happiness.
The book centers around what she now calls The Work—four simple questions you can use to let go of any pain, frustration, resentment, etc. you may experience in life. I know, it sounds way too easy and way too good to be true, but look at the reviews! They felt almost too fake or vague to me, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I listened to it twice during one vacation. I’m not suddenly enlightened or whatever, but I can say that “The Work” actually…works. It’s kinda crazy, actually, but I have been able to gain freedom from dozens of thoughts and obsessions that used to drive me crazy.
The Millionaire Fastlane
If this sounds like a get-rich-quick book, that’s because it kind of is. But while I distrust anything that promises to make you a millionaire over night (which this book does not, for the record), what I do like are books or programs that challenge traditional thinking, open your eyes to new possibilities, and give you actionable tips and tricks for achieving more.
This book does that, and remarkably well. It gives you a good kick in the pants and gets your mind working on ways to create massive wealth quickly so you can live the life of you dreams now, rather than waiting around for some future day. (Amazon)
This is the first non-self-help book on here, but man is this a good book. I listened to several members of my family rave about this before finally downloading the Audible version, and I was immediately captivated. Shoe Dog is a memoir by Nike founder Phil Knight. The story is incredible, and Phil’s writing is phenomenal. I recommend this to everyone, but recommend it especially if you’re business- or entrepreneurial-minded.
The author, while very much into himself and his success, challenges the traditional notion of “go to college, get a corporate job, scrimp and save every little penny, put it into your retirement fund, and just hope that you will be able to enjoy life at the ripe ‘ol age of 65.” (Sound familiar?) He challenges the reader to break free from this “slow lane” and get into the “fast lane” to financial freedom. I reach for this book when I need a boost for my entrepreneurial spirit. If you can get past the braggadocios tone, the book is really well worth your time. (Amazon)
The Miracle Morning
I actually created my own “miracle morning” routine for a couple of years before picking up this book, but that only made the book that much more exciting and intriguing. I talk about the power of my morning routing in another post, and feel like the morning is the best time of day to tackle the small-yet-critical habits for success. Pairing this book with The Compound Effect and The Slight Edge provides powerful proof and actionable steps to building a deliberate, successful life.
If you haven’t read this book already, grab a copy and do whatever you need to to get into (or back into) a solid morning routine. I use no hyperbole (and speak from personal experience) when I say it will change your life. (Amazon)
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Rich Dad, Poor Dad does a fantastic job shedding light on the beliefs and habits that set the rich apart from the poor, and is another paradigm-shifting book for anyone looking to attract massive success and wealth in life. (Amazon)
The 4-Hour Workweek
You’ve no-doubt heard about this book already, and the title says a lot. Tim Ferris’ book is well known, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an ambitious, self-starting, entrepreneurial mind that hasn’t read it.
If you’re unhappy with your current work/financial situation, grab a copy of this book. Like the Millionaire Fastlane, this book doesn’t promise you’ll be working 4 hours of less by the time you’re done reading it, but it challenges traditional thinking, provides actionable tips and tricks, and shares inspiring examples of success. (Amazon)
Extra Credit: I Hear You
The previous ten books have had a profound impact on my life, and are my first recommendations whenever someone is looking for an interesting read. And while my own ego kept me from including a plug for my own book when I originally published this post, I’ve since included it.
Pretentious? Perhaps. But I’ve decided to include it here not simply because I wrote it, but because the skills and principles it contains have truly have changed my life. It was literally the reason I wrote it in the first place. So while I’ll never recommend my own book when someone asks for reading recommendations, the skills and principles the book teaches are among the most valuable insights I possess. If I truly felt that way, how could I leave it out? (Amazon)
What must-reads are not on this list? Post your favorites in the comments below.