We all know that books have untold power, whether it’s a fantasy book that pulls you into a new world with new rules and new cultures or a self-help book that leads you to new ways of building habits and shaping your life, books can lead you anywhere. I was pouring over old notebooks and was just struck by how many books I’ve read that have shaped my life, and wanted to share some of the best I’ve read. Below I’m going to list out some of my favorite books, give you a brief synopsis and tell you about the impact they’ve had on me and why I think they’re worth reading for everyone.
“The Anatomy of Peace” by The Arbinger Institute
Of all the books on this list, this is by far the most life-altering for me. I read it when I was at the lowest point of my life, sick, out of work, and had just lost a relationship that I had planned on having for the rest of my life. This book alone managed to change how I view the world, and my relationships with people by pointing out the difference between a heart at peace and a heart at war. “The Anatomy of Peace” taught me how to manage people effectively, and how to help heal relationships that I didn't think I could heal; it has also helped me talk to parents about healing relationships with their children.
Synopsis: The story is of a family dropping a daughter off at a facility that helps teach troubled youth. The institute is run by Yusuf al-Falah and Avi Rozen two men whose Arabic/Jewish heritages have been at odds for lifetimes but have come together from unlikely circumstances to teach how to overcome conflict and develop a new way of being, a heart at peace. They teach step by step using examples of how to focus on what’s going right and how that can help fix what is going wrong and how we can relate and communicate better with ourselves and our loved ones.
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
This was the second of two books that I found at that low point in my life. It helped me shed a slew of past beliefs about myself, about the world, and about how we all play our roles. I struggle with needing to be everything to everyone, with having to be the best friend, partner, worker, etc. because I’ve always felt that that was the only way that I mattered as a person. “The Four Agreements” led me down a path where I’ve learned to be confident in my worth as a person because of the agreements you make and how they lead to personal freedom.
Synopsis: Don Miguel Ruiz teaches old shaman wisdom on how to view the world and four agreements to live your life by 1) Be impeccable with your word, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Don’t make assumptions, 4) Always do your best. These four agreements are taught and framed in a way that leads you to see personal freedom attained through solid practices.
“The 10x Rule” by Grant Cardone
I’m not a lover of Grant Cardone’s demeanor, to me, he comes off as rather arrogant but I think that’s just a personal thing. I will say that when I was helping my old boss grow his business and was managing employees and learning to lead projects that Grant’s book and his insight were invaluable and he also teaches why he doesn’t believe in negative press so I don’t have to feel bad sharing my opinion. The 10x Rule is something I’ve come back to at several points in my life because it’s about overcoming perceived limitations and as someone that has struggled with limiting beliefs most of my life it’s a good reminder that I can overcome those beliefs and achieve things that I didn’t otherwise believe were possible.
Synopsis: Grant breaks down his 10x Rule. The rule itself is one that he lives by and one he preaches to friends and family. It’s about being 10x more than you are now, and how you can always give more to achieve more. He breaks down the fundamental reasons for his rule which include building a better community and supporting his family’s dreams and ideals. He covers how businesses can be run and led by the 10x Rule and what the overall results of it can be.
“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
I fully admit that this isn’t a book that fits on this list at first glance. It’s not about personal development, it isn’t a book that leads you to a new perspective, and it’s a book about children playing war games. This book for me does have a lot of lessons, I relate a lot to Ender. Ender is someone that has the hopes of the world placed on his shoulders far too early to know how to handle it, he’s someone that is expected to lead kids his age to be perfect and to overcome situations that seem insurmountable, and he’s someone that has to do it all while feeling isolated and like he has no support. More than that, this book was one of my old friend’s favorites, I promised him I would read it the last day of school our freshman year of high school and he died in a freak lightning strike camping that summer. I actually got my copy by a fluke, it was donated to a book collection I was doing for my eagle scout project fighting for child literacy and it was the only book donated that wasn’t in good enough condition to pass along. This book for me will always serve as a reminder that no matter how alone you feel, you have people supporting you even if it isn’t in the way that you find ideal.
Synopsis: Humanity has lost two wars to “the buggers” an alien race that attacked us before we knew what was going on. The battle school was made to take the most capable children on earth and turn them into humanity’s next best hope against the buggers but time is running out. Enter “Ender” Wiggin, the best candidate out of a family with extraordinary capabilities that lead him to struggle with so many problems in the hopes that he can find a solution to our biggest problem.
I could go on with books that have impacted my life, but these are the critical ones that have shaped how I think and how I view what I’m best capable of. It’s hard to curate a list like this just because of how much reading means to me, it for a long time was my escape from a life I struggled in but it became a tool for how to build myself and help others rebuild their lives. Please leave your book recommendations and what they mean to you below, I’m always looking for more to learn and it will be an amazing way for us to all connect and find more common ground.