Five Lifechanging Books

by | Oct 2, 2020


I love to read (link to my book lists). An amazing aspect of reading is that in a relatively short amount of time (hours) you can read a book that contains the teachings and wisdom of the author’s life and career. Without reading, we are limited to just our own experiences and what they can teach us. We can avoid this n=1 problem by reading about what others have learned.

While I try to read on a lot of different topics, with respect to the books that have had the biggest affect on how I live my life day-to-day, five stand out. Here they are in no particular order:

1.. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. I first read this gem of a book when I was really struggling with OCD and anxiety. This book was a huge help to me. To say it is about mindfulness meditation (which it is) doesn’t do this beautiful book justice. It is about how to live so as to be aware of the bloom of the present moment. It provides some meditation practice sessions as well. I’ve read it multiple times and now pull the book out and read a short chapter at random on a regular basis. The concepts in this book help me when I’m struggling to shut off much of the noise, put aside worries about the future, and focus on the present.

2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson. Don’t be put off by the title — this book is chock full of wisdom and philosophy on how to focus on what is important in life. His point is we care about too many things that aren’t important. When we try to care about everything we are ineffective, stressed and unhappy. Instead, we should live with intentionality and shine the light of our attention and care on what matters most in life. This book helped me focus on what is important in my life and not worry so much about things I can’t control. I find that I think about the concepts in this book all the time. If you’d like a preview of what the book, here’s two of Mark’s articles which also are major themes in the book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and The Most Important Question of Your Life.

3. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear. This book is about how to create good habits and to stop bad habits by blogger extraordinaire James Clear. Atomic Habits is well written and very well organized. It has great advice on habits peppered with great stories. I found this book to be much more useful and practical than the Power of Habit. James’ advice and recommended processes are based on research and science. The knowledge and advice I gleaned from Atomic Habits has helped me be more productive and effective.

4. WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR: A Book That Changes Lives, by Dan Millman. Like Wherever You Go, There You Are, I read this book when I was struggling and I’ve re-read it a few times. This semi-autobiographical book is about the author’s relationship with a wise gas-station attendant he befriended while in college. Through his relationship with the attendant, whom he calls Socrates, the author embarks on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. It’s an engaging story and helped me gain perspective on my life.

5. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, by Alan Watts. I read this book last year and I’ve thought about multiple times each week since then. Written in 1951, this book was way ahead of its time. It’s a stunning work of modern philosophy, focusing on living in the present, the differences (or lack thereof) between our minds and brains (or “I” and “me”) and the role of religion, faith and belief in life. This description from Amazon is spot-on: “Spending all our time trying to anticipate and plan for the future and to lamenting the past, we forget to embrace the here and now. We are so concerned with tomorrow that we forget to enjoy today. Drawing from Eastern philosophy and religion, Alan Watts shows that it is only by acknowledging what we do not—and cannot—know that we can learn anything truly worth knowing.

Interested in investing and looking for a good book to read? Here is a link to my Forbes article called Five Books that will Challenge Everything You Thought You Knew about Investing


  1. Alan Watts wonderful “The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” had a life-changing effect on me when I was a callow youth. In that book he tells an ancient “children’s parable” to answer the fundamental metaphysical questions that come so readily to their minds. I’m speaking of questions such as: “Where did the world come from?”, “Why did God make the world?”, “Where was I before I was born?”, and “Where do people go when they die?”. The parable is around four pages long (pp. 14-17 in most paperback versions) and is such a fantastic mythic synopsis that I return to it time and again when these questions pop up in conversation with adults as well as children.
    What I love about “The Book” is that it is not that difficult to reconcile with one’s “faith” if you understand that “God” is not bound by any conditions or identities that man seeks to place upon “Him”.

  2. Ordering them all now ( from Left Bank Books to support our independent bookstores), in the present moment. Thank you.

    • Hope you like them!


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