Author Topic: What books have changed your life?  (Read 43781 times)

solon

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What books have changed your life?
« on: February 14, 2016, 04:34:15 PM »
Has a book ever changed your life? I'm 43 years old and I read about 30 books per year. And in all the books I've read, I can count on one hand the books that have changed my life. I mean literally, caused me to change the way I do something. I thought I might get fellow MMMers opinions on really great books in our lives.

To break the ice, I'll mention Your Money or Your Life. This book changed my thinking about money from something that I wish I had more of, to a tool that I can use to accomplish great things. It also changed how I track money and progress toward any goal. I recommend it so highly that I gave it as a Christmas present to everyone close to me. If you're looking for a great personal finance book, you probably can't do better than Your Money or Your Life.

Next?

Kris

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2016, 04:41:54 PM »
God, so many. But when I was a very young girl, around 12, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn was probably the first to shake everything up in my head.
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GrowingTheGreen

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2016, 06:58:34 PM »
The Millionaire Mind by Stanley.  That book inspired me to start my blog and just go BIG in general.  Nobody ever got anywhere without taking a risk.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2016, 07:21:03 PM »
Ooooh, excellent topic. I'll mull it over and let you know what my brain spits out.
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rageth

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2016, 07:23:27 PM »
Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel Cervantes.  I get something new out of it every time I read it.  Most recently it gave me: Even if everyone says that you're crazy or that you can't do something, you're damn right you can.  Everyone laughs and rolls their eyes when I say that I'm retiring in 2035 at age 50.

BeHere

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2016, 07:52:46 PM »
A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2016, 07:57:30 PM »
"Simple Living Guide" by Janet Luehrs... hasn't aged well in parts, but still so significant to me
"Four Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss... even though I ended up being an employee anyway, and the side hustle game is not for me, it really helped develop my inclination to challenge assumptions
"Four Hour Body" by Tim Ferriss... the idea of "minimum effective dose" is a key concept I use in my life
"The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield... I get something new out of this every time I read it. The one I've been holding close lately is the idea, 'if something is irritating you, go and fix it right now... that small source of irritation is draining your attention and motivation more than you know'
"Nourishing Traditions" in all of its controversial glory. Completely changed the way I look at food, cooking, and eating

Those are the non-fiction that occur to me right now =)
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pbkmaine

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2016, 08:09:11 PM »
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Elegant, full of humor, and at the same time biting social commentary.

Adventine

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2016, 08:33:48 PM »
The Museum at Purgatory by Nick Bantock. I've always liked to read books but this was the first book I loved to read over and over again. I have an unreasonable attachment to it. Not sure how it "changed" my life according to your original question   , except to open my eyes to what is possible when one marries graphic art to textual art. I suppose you could say it unlocked my appreciation for a higher form of art, and thus a higher form of thinking and living.

step-in-time

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2016, 07:58:07 AM »
A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine

+1

Also, the Complete Extant Works of Epictetus, The Magic of Thinking Big, and Feeling Good.

And Eat to Live 3 years ago. Have more energy and fit back into clothes from high school which seemed impossible post-30.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 11:49:19 AM by step-in-time »

shadowmoss

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2016, 08:26:22 AM »
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran - recommended by my small town librarian when I was about 12 yo.  Opened my eyes that there was a world with a different way of thinking outside of my small town.

Walden - Henry David Thoreau

Your Money or Your Life - Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
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LindseyS

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2016, 08:34:11 AM »
Smart Money, Smart Kids.  I randomly picked this book up from the library during the Summer of 2014.  I thought I might learn something that I could teach my kids, but the section on debt really opened my eyes - I had never really thought about having a mortgage as debt prior to reading that book.  My husband and I decided to start a budget, cut back on spending, pay off our mortgage and the rest is history.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffran Foer

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof.


Midcenturymater

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2016, 08:40:33 AM »
When I was 19 The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan millman was recommended to me. it really helped me to understand our tendency to not be in the moment and that was a lesson to me at the time.

I enjoyed learning about stoicism and pragmatism during my degree and enjoyed stuff by Augustine I remember at the time. That was heaven 4 years I.  Philosophy and theology library. I knew it at the time and favoured every moment of it....so many of those writings enriched me but can't think of specifics now I am exhausted by child rearing .)

Nickels Dimes Quarters

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2016, 08:47:43 AM »
Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I didn't care for the "story" so much as the concept of assets and liabilities. Thinking about your primary residence as a liability was a real eye-opener for me. This was the first book I read that planted the seeds for creating lifestyle, not just managing money.

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Bracken_Joy

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2016, 08:49:05 AM »
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran - recommended by my small town librarian when I was about 12 yo.  Opened my eyes that there was a world with a different way of thinking outside of my small town.

+1 Can't believe I forgot the Prophet! We had a section as the reading at our wedding. I knew I would have that as a reading before I even knew who the husband would be! ;)
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dontwannaworkforever

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2016, 03:43:28 AM »
One up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch

This book lead me to become real interested in investing. Then I read the Warren Buffett Way. Then I started a degree in Finance (which I'm almost done) and then found out about FIRE and now I'm here with an ultimate life goal and a dream to work towards everyday :)
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patrat

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2016, 08:12:31 AM »
The Walking Drum, by Louis L'amour.

Fiction set in medieval europe, rather than his standby of old west.

The main character loses all material possessions and social status, over and over. But, always perseveres and becomes stronger for it.

NotJen

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2016, 08:34:21 AM »
The Power of Habit immediately comes to mind. I should probably re-read to help change some of my social habits...

The Omnivore's Dilemma changed the way I eat (which is more expensively, because I can afford it for now).

I'd have to think longer on any fictional books that might have changed my life.
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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2016, 08:37:03 AM »
The Rational Male - Rollo Tomassi
48 Laws Of Power - Robert Greene
How to Win Friends And Influence People - Dale Carnegie
"A small house can hold as much happiness as a big one." - Fortune Cookie

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frances

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2016, 11:34:18 AM »
Cunt by Inga Muscio (especially because I read it at age 19 or so)

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2016, 12:11:02 PM »
Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing.

chops

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2016, 02:32:52 PM »
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk

Mind blowing on a lot of different levels, but as it relates to Mustachianism, it was the first time I had read about how bad consumerism is and how it can suck the soul out of you if you let it

I really had been blind to the fact that we live in such a consumerist society before then and was on auto-pilot to follow the standard American Consumer Script

And after all, isn't MMM really Tyler Durden in disguise, what with the fighting ("punch to the face") disdain for status symbols ("you are not the car you drive") and appreciation for swearing ("you are not your fucking khakis,") and all...:)

- Chops

 

RExplorer

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2016, 03:59:59 PM »
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.  I'm a recovering perfectionist :)

Lyssa

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2016, 05:39:25 AM »
'Into the silent land' by a neurosurgeon and 'The selfish gene' by Richard Dawkins. While having been a 'natural atheist' for as long as I can remember, those two books have forever deepened and changed my understanding of myself as a biological entity and the world around me. I found a strange serenity in understanding that there is no 'ghost in the machine' and no 'meaning of life' as commonly understood. Perhaps surprisingly for some or most this process has left me considerably more content and less afraid.

Chippewa

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2016, 08:22:10 AM »
At Last A Life by Paul David

Practically saved my life. Preserved my sanity. I'd say thats life changing.
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vern

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2016, 11:39:04 AM »
Orwell's 1984
"Of my fifty-seven years I have applied at least thirty to forgetting most of what I had learned or read, and since I succeeded in this I have acquired a certain ease and cheer which I should never again like to be without."  World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2016, 04:07:12 PM »
Orwell's 1984

+1. I'll add Brave New World in there as well.
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Kriegsspiel

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2016, 06:47:26 PM »
These are some books:

Animal Farm by Orwell
How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World by Browne
Gates Of Fire by Pressfield
Daemon and Freedom by Suarez
Salad Bar Beef and Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Salatin
When Corporations Rule The World by Korten

Dicey

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2016, 10:04:13 AM »
Following, and scribbling furiously...
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
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MountainFlower

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2016, 09:49:51 AM »
Grain Brain has forever changed the way I eat. 

CheapskateWife

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2016, 09:54:45 AM »
Catch 22 was recommended to me by my Grandfather upon my announcement that I was joining the Army.  Could not have been a more valuable allegory on the insanity of my future plans.

My son is planning to enlist next year...he has my well worn copy.

Stache-O-Lantern

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2016, 11:23:24 PM »
I think the only book that substantively changed my life is Biology, 3rd edition, by Campbell.  A college textbook.  I started the course as GE credit, but found out i was really good at it, and ended up a biologist.

FiveSigmas

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2016, 12:05:28 AM »
Good idea for a thread! I'll throw a couple in:

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -- A FABULOUS book that delves into the meaning of quality and the relationship between humans and technology. It meanders freely between story and theory, and is a bit tough going at times, but I found it very rewarding.

A Random Walk Down Wallstreet -- My first introduction to index funds (you can get 90% of the thesis of the book just by reading Jim Collins' blog, but it didn't exist at the time).

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2016, 07:50:50 AM »
I think the only book that substantively changed my life is Biology, 3rd edition, by Campbell.  A college textbook.  I started the course as GE credit, but found out i was really good at it, and ended up a biologist.

7th Ed. for me- part of why I love ferns =) See: user name and picture.
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ToughMother

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2016, 08:15:46 AM »
In English & Latin,
ToughMother.

KES

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #35 on: February 24, 2016, 07:22:25 PM »
Most recently:

The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani

NonprofitER

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2016, 08:21:07 AM »
In addition to many of the already-mentioned titles, I took a lot away from:

Nonfiction:
The Power of Positive Thinking
How to Talk to Anyone, by Leil Lowndes - super practical
Alan Watts, The Book - On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are - (easily the most influential book I read on Eastern philosophy)
The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge - incredible understanding of how we can change our own neural pathways
Everything written by ethicist Peter Singer, including The Ethics of What We Eat (I'm not a vegan, but his arguments are excellent)
Everything written by Michel Foucault, if you are interested in ideas of power and knowledge/ poststructuralist/postmodernist theory and metaphors for societal institutions
There's also an excellent book capturing debate between Foucault and Noam Chomsky about human nature
The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism & Empathy in Everyday Life - by Alfie Kohn (ps, if you have kids, Alfie Kohn's other works have guided my parenting style significantly: Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason and Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars...)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

I also really like David Brooks works, including Bobos in Paradise, On Paradise Drive, and the Social Animal. All are excellent reflections on American culture, written with intelligence and humor.  I re-read Bobos every time I need to reign in irrational spending on "practical" things and want a laugh.

Also, my husband and I have both really enjoyed reading John Gottman's works. Otherwise known as the only scientific study of marriage books out there. The Science of Trust was more meaty (in terms of outlining the research process) than some of his previous work, but we have read all of his books.

Finally, I just read The Other End of the Leash by animal behaviorlist Dr. Patricia McConnell, and it seriously changed the way I interact with dogs! Ha! So "changed my dog life".

Fiction:
We, by Yergeny Zamyatin (the lesser known predecessor to a Brave New World/1984/distopian novels)
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster - just excellent wordplay at its best and opens up creativity
The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene was just an excellent book covering raw human emotion



Vilgan

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #37 on: February 25, 2016, 08:38:26 AM »
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk

Mind blowing on a lot of different levels, but as it relates to Mustachianism, it was the first time I had read about how bad consumerism is and how it can suck the soul out of you if you let it

I really had been blind to the fact that we live in such a consumerist society before then and was on auto-pilot to follow the standard American Consumer Script

And after all, isn't MMM really Tyler Durden in disguise, what with the fighting ("punch to the face") disdain for status symbols ("you are not the car you drive") and appreciation for swearing ("you are not your fucking khakis,") and all...:)

- Chops

+1 Fight Club for me. I encountered this (admittedly in movie form, but book would have worked as well) at a great time in my life. I was uncomfortable with how much money it seemed like my parents spent on things that didn't matter, but I had no real vision or idea of my own before Fight Club. Fight Club, for me, gave form to a lot of emotions/feelings about money and possessions that I had previously been unable to form into anything concrete and set me on the fairly frugal path that I've lived since. MMM was helpful with some strategies and giving an end goal to the savings, but Fight Club had the most influence on my financial worldview by far.

Two quotes that stuck with me:

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need."
"The things you own end up owning you"

Sparafusile

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2016, 09:02:41 AM »
Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
Another vote for 1984 by Orwell
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

It's not quite what you meant, but the first book I ever wrote changed my life. I was contracted to write a technical book on a subject I wasn't entirely familiar with. 8 weeks and 600 pages later I was an expert at two new things. That job changed a lot about how I think about writing.
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BeanCounter

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #39 on: February 25, 2016, 09:17:16 AM »
Love this thread!!
 
 - A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. 
             It was a gift from a family friend when I was about 12. It gave me a glimpse into life 100 years ago, what it was like to be poor with little hope, yet be a child with a lot of hope. I have read it many times as an adult and I still think it is wonderful. Capturing the nuances of life.
-A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khaled Hosseini.
             This one I read as a young adult, newly married and working on my career. It blew my mind what other women have had to endure around the world. It really made me think about what it would be like to be trying to raise a child in a city at war, about how if we do not have a feeling of safety we have nothing.

CATman

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #40 on: February 25, 2016, 11:15:24 PM »
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book changed my entire perspective on life. I end up re-reading it every now and then. After I'm done I'll always find someone to pass the copy onto hoping it does something for them. This is the book that opened my eyes to the fact that happiness comes from inside one's self and not from all the external forces acting upon us, no matter how great/small. Many people go to great lengths and through great suffering to find their happiness when we carry it inside ourselves the whole time.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2016, 09:10:37 AM »
My library "To be read later" list is absurdly long now. Thank you guys! Especially NonprofitER, that was a LOT of good lookin' recs!
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Cookie78

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2016, 10:29:44 AM »
My library "To be read later" list is absurdly long now. Thank you guys! Especially NonprofitER, that was a LOT of good lookin' recs!

HO-LEE DAMN! +100 to this. Every time I check one of the three reading threads my for-later and on-hold lists just keeps getting longer. It's a lovely problem to have. Thanks for sharing!

I don't know if thy changed my life yet or not, but here are my contributions:

The Antidote
Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
By Burkeman, Oliver

The Obstacle Is the Way
The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph
By Holiday, Ryan

whenwestartover

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2016, 10:36:14 PM »
Great thread.

Wanted to add a few:

The Goal - I looooove this book.  It's about process improvement.  Kindof a business-y book.  I'm obsessed with it but I'm a total nerd about improving processes.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad - forever changed my life; not the best book out of all of them and it has a lot of controversy surrounding it, but it definitely started shifting my thought patterns to being on the road to FI and getting out of the rat race.
Getting Things Done - amazing book...I just finished re-reading for the third time.  I re-read it once a year.  I am a task master.  I manage a household and have lots of things to do everyday.  This keeps me organized and sane.
How to Win Friends and Influence People - I've tried over and over again to like it.  It's like swallowing a spoonful of medicine.  It's boring as hell but the tips DO work if you apply them.  For instance, one of the tips is to smile.  Everywhere you go, just smile.  I tried this for a day.  Wow.  It had an amazing impact.  Try it.

HenryDavid

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #44 on: February 27, 2016, 09:31:34 AM »
Walden by Thoreau.
How to live in the woods, Bradford Angier.
Kurt Vonnegut--all.
Anybody's bike book, Tom Cuthbertson
Ursula K LeGuin--all.
Three ways of Asian Wisdom, Nancy Wilson Ross.
The Complete Walker, Colin Fletcher.
Bury my heart at wounded knee, Dee Brown.
The Bruce Trail Guidebook.
William Blake--Poetical Sketches, Songs of Innocence and Experience, Marriage of heaven and hell.
Zen and art of motorcycle maintenance.
Your money or your life.

Now let's start a thread on music that changed your life . . ..
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solon

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #45 on: February 27, 2016, 11:03:28 AM »
Great thread.

Wanted to add a few:

The Goal - I looooove this book.  It's about process improvement.  Kindof a business-y book.  I'm obsessed with it but I'm a total nerd about improving processes.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad - forever changed my life; not the best book out of all of them and it has a lot of controversy surrounding it, but it definitely started shifting my thought patterns to being on the road to FI and getting out of the rat race.
Getting Things Done - amazing book...I just finished re-reading for the third time.  I re-read it once a year.  I am a task master.  I manage a household and have lots of things to do everyday.  This keeps me organized and sane.
How to Win Friends and Influence People - I've tried over and over again to like it.  It's like swallowing a spoonful of medicine.  It's boring as hell but the tips DO work if you apply them.  For instance, one of the tips is to smile.  Everywhere you go, just smile.  I tried this for a day.  Wow.  It had an amazing impact.  Try it.

You think a lot like me. Getting Things Done is on my "changed my life" list.

I've read The Goal, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and How to Win friends. I learned something from all of them and I'm glad I read them.

Other books on my list would be:

Deep Work, by Cal Newport - This just came out, but it has already changed my life. It talks about the absolute necessity of uninterrupted, distraction-free work. It's important, we don't get enough of it, and if we got more of it we would be unstoppable. Highly Recommend.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton Malkiel - a cross between a thinking man's guide and a practical how-to book. Malkiel is an academic, but applies his knowledge in real-world ways. It weeds through a lot of the BS out there. Highly Recommend.

HenryDavid

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #46 on: February 27, 2016, 12:37:17 PM »
Another one:
Diet for a small planet, Francis Moore Lappe
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yyc-phil

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2016, 02:11:22 PM »
My list is long, but Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is the first that comes to my mind. This book has replaced Kerouac's classic On the Road on my must-read list.

Then most travel writings by Paul Théroux, particularly The Great Railway Bazaar.

More recently since being married with my DW who is Japanese, I've been reading a lot of Japanese short stories such as In a Grove by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. My wife is even more frugal than I am and I am learning a lot from her about simplicity and traditional and modern Japanese philosophy.

And I always enjoy reading and re-reading essays by my favourite political commentator, the late Joe Bageant, whom I met briefly in Mexico before his death a few years ago.

http://coldtype.net/joe.html

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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2016, 03:51:20 PM »
Ersh...  I'd like to lie and say something intellectual, like Fear and Trembling, but they were mostly the typical youth angsty ones:  Catcher in the Rye (no, I'm not a psycho--yet), On The Road, and The Favourite Game (Cohen).
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Re: What books have changed your life?
« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2016, 10:41:12 PM »
Given that I live a lot of my life inside my head, I'm going to loosely interpret the OP as "books that changed how I think", not necessarily books that changed my behaviour or my life external to my head.

In no particular order:

Chaos by James Gleick
I read this more than 20 years ago and I *still* think about the concepts most days. Particularly the concepts of non-linear dynamics and quasi-stability in chaotic systems.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett (fantasy)
Plus all of the Nightwatchmen series. The theme of redemption made a big impact on me (helped heal some unnecessary shame that I had), plus Carrot was a great role-model for me when I was rebuilding myself after years of therapy/recovery from childhood abuse.

Families and how to survive them and Life and how to survive it by John Cleese and Robyn Skyyner
I've read literally several metres of self-help and recovery from child abuse books over the years, yet these two books are the ones I still think about most days. A few ideas are a bit outdated now, but it gave me a model of how dysfunctional families work and why people are the way they are. These two books have permanently shaped how I view people, relationships and countries/governments.

10 years ago, I would have included Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which I read around the same time as I read Chaos. But, I'm struggling to remember any of it now. I suspect I've replaced whatever concepts I gleaned from it with new and more evolved thinking.

I'm sure there are more books to add to my list; I just can't think of any right at the moment.