24 Life Changing Books That Will Make an Impact
Are you searching for a little direction in your life? Unsure of where you are headed or looking for inspiration to become a better person? One of the best ways to do this is by grabbing one of the many life changing books on offer and learning more about the world and yourself. Now you are probably thinking we are talking about self-help books and the like, and while some do give great advice, there is a wide range of other books that offer a different perspective on life and how you might view the world.
Life changing books can be both fiction and non-fiction, as it’s not the genre that counts but what’s written on the page. Some books will have you examining your everyday routine and the way you go about life while others will make you question your beliefs and the way you treat others. All of the books discussed below are amazing pieces of literature that will draw you in and have an impact on your life in some shape or form.
Some of these novels were New York Times best sellers while others grew a cult following and became part of the cultural zeitgeist. What they all have in common is the way they make you think and feel, leaving you wanting to find out more about the world and yourself by the time you reach the final page. So read on and discover our picks for the best life changing books sure to make an impact.
24 Life Changing Books That Will Make an Impact
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Whenever someone mentions life changing books, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho will eventually be suggested. Written by Brazilian Coelho, the novel follows young lad Santiago who begins dreaming of the pyramids. Deciding it is a sign, Santiago packs his things and heads on a journey of discovery toward Egypt where he meets several mentors, falls in love, and finally begins to work out who he really is.
A moderate success in Brazil when released in 1988, it wasn’t until a few years later when Coelho became recognized in the Western world that The Alchemist was reprinted and became a huge success. At its core, The Alchemist is about chasing your dreams and not giving up, no matter the obstacles put in your path.
Coelho has written over 30 books during his lifetime but The Alchemist will always be his magnum opus and comes highly recommended.
2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Read by Paris Hilton, Tony Hawk, Oprah Winfrey, and Katy Perry, and referenced throughout Kendrick Lamar’s Mr Morale & the Big Steppers, The Power of Now has been changing lives for over 25 years.
Written by Eckhart Tolle, who experienced some form of “inner-transformation” at age 29 that had a huge effect on his life, the spiritual guide writes about the way we perceive ourselves and how self-reflection is important in his New York Times best seller.
Not all critics are enamored with the book, but for the most part, The Power of Now was well received and is great at making you realize you can’t move forward if you are always looking back. While there is a lot of spirituality in the book, the clear message about self-reflection is evident and key to its success.
3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
One of the few books published this century to make the list, there is more to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck than the funny title. Blogger Mark Manson used his own experiences in life to point out that sometimes life isn’t fair, but it’s how we deal with the setbacks and find ways to push forward that make us better people and how we create better lives for ourselves.
Littered with swear words and Manson’s charming prose, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck helps you understand that sometimes life doesn’t always go your way and you have to stop trying to be something you are not and settle for your role in the world.
The follow-up book, Everything Is Fucked: A Book About Hopeis also worth a read.
4. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo made a name for herself with the long titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. A former cleaning consultant, the book details how you can unclutter your home and keep it that way, while also sprinkling several life lessons throughout.
Published in more than 30 countries and a big hit across the world, Kondo’s book might not be spiritually based like many life changing books, but it will “spark joy” when you finally clean out the spare room and turn it into your man cave.
5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
You’re probably shaking your head and wondering how this book makes the list. Well, not only is it a best seller that got turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts, but the book actually helped many people, especially women, realize what happiness means to them and how to achieve it.
Eat, Pray, Love is based on author Elizabeth Gilbet’s own life. Happily married with her dream career, Gilbert felt unfulfilled. She divorced her husband, quit her job, and embarked on a year of traveling around the world. As the book’s title states, she spent four months in Italy eating and enjoying her newfound freedom, then three months in India finding her spirituality, and the rest of the year in Bali looking for balance in her life.
This is a great book for anyone who feels stuck in a rut and needs to shock themselves back to life. While we don’t recommend splitting from your partner and traveling the world (unless you really feel like that’s your only option), Eat, Pray, Love will make you think more about what it is you want out of life. And Oprah loves it, so you know it has to be at least a decent read.
6. How To Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Coming from nothing, Dale Carnegie quickly understood that the way you act towards people, no matter your background, is essential to making friends and influencing people. A keen debater at school who enjoyed a short but successful career as a salesman, Carnegie had several career changes before becoming a public speaking coach, leading to the writing of How To Influence Friends and Influence People in 1936.
Although not this first book, this is the one that had the biggest impact and is recognized as one of the best-selling books in America. Carnegie provides information on how to interact with others and get them to align with your way of thinking. Charles Manson apparently used what he picked up from the novel to persuade those who committed the Manson murders, showing just how influential the lessons in this book are.
7. Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
Religious scholar James P. Carse splits everyday life into two types of games – finite and infinite – in this breezy 160-page novel. Carse delves into the way we live life by applying the rules of finite and infinite games and how these can shape us into better people.
The book covers a wide range of subjects and topics and will leave you wanting to know more, which is why Carse has several more books expanding on his ideas and life philosophy. Lucky you.
8. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Quite topical when released in 1956, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room is about an American in Paris and his relationships in the LGBTQ community. Dealing with themes of isolation, identity, sexuality, masculinity, and the LGBTQ movement, this is a powerful and engaging book that was a surprise success and is revered amongst those in the LGBTQ community.
Giovanni’s Room will help non-gay men understand what it’s like to love another man in a society that doesn’t understand, with the tragic ending sure to have you tearing up.
9. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Not every life changing book is necessarily going to be aimed at you. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! is an informative and enlightened read for anyone who has kids or is yet to reach middle age.
Written as a set of parables influenced by Kiyosaki’s own experiences, the book looks at our relationship with money and wealth and how small adjustments and changes can increase your chances of becoming rich. It teaches financial responsibility and is a great way to educate your kids on the topic.
10. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
At age 36, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, having spent his life dedicated to helping others, found himself diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s journey as he deals with the fallout of his disease and looks death straight in the eye.
The book makes you focus on what really matters in life and causes you to want to embrace the things that mean the most to you and make you happy. It can be a tough read, especially for those who have lost someone through cancer, but Kalanithi’s prose and style of writing is honest and refreshing as he questions his life and reflects on where he is.
Kalanithi passed away less than a year after his diagnosis, with the book published some 10 months later with a foreword by Abraham Verghese and an epilogue by Kalanithi’s widow, Lucy Goddard Kalanithi.
11. Principles by Ray Dalio
As a successful hedge fund manager who also happens to be a billionaire, it’s safe to say Ray Dalio knows what he’s talking about. In his 2017 book, Principles: Life and Work, Dalio lays out the principles he adhered to that helped him become one of the richest men in the world.
Not only does the book give sound financial advice, but Dalio looks at life in general and how the principles we live by help guide us and determine the type of person we are.
12. Beloved by Toni Morrison
A literary classic, Beloved is also a brutal and depressing tale about an escaped slave who never really feels free. Dealing with past trauma (including the loss of her child), Beloved is a heavy read but another deeply moving story from Pulitzer prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
It deals with a lot of controversial themes that have seen the book banned in some schools across the U.S. Beloved is a must-read that details the horrors of slavery and will give you a better understanding of just how impacting that period of time has been on the generations that followed.
13. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
Dr. Yuval Noah Harari’s groundbreaking look at the evolution of humankind, starting from the Stone Age up until now, is a brilliant and fascinating read. Based on a series of lectures Harari gave, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind looks at the interaction between natural sciences and social sciences.
Loved by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, the book appeared on the New York Times best sellers chart for 96 consecutive weeks, although not everyone is a fan, with several prominent scientists and scholars not overly impressed with Harari’s research. Still, it makes for an engrossing read and will have you wanting to know more about human evolution.
14. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success wants you to understand how powerful a tool mindset can be. Having the right outlook and approach to life, be it, family, study, work, or your social life, can have a positive or negative influence on how you live your days.
It’s all about having a growth mindset, which is basically believing that everyone can learn new abilities and behaviors to help you become not only a better person, but have a better life. Renowned psychologist Carol Dweck goes into great detail about fixed and growth mindsets and offers tips and tricks on how you can expand your mind through learning and growth.
15. The 4-Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss (not to be confused with science writer Timothy Ferris) was ahead of the game when he wrote The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich. He’s one of those smart dudes who created a bright start-up, made a shit ton of cash, and then got into investing and consulting. One of his key principles is the 4-hour work week, which he wrote all about so that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do the same.
The general premises involves outsourcing work overseas on the cheap so you have more time to do what you want. It’s a little more in-depth, but that’s the gist, with the latest version of the book coming with additional information, including more than 50 practical tips and real-life case studies. A great read for any entrepreneur looking to make the most of their time.
16. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J SchwartzCheck Price
Forbes called this book one of the greatest self-help books ever written. The Magic of Thinking Big is a motivational book designed to help you achieve greatness in all aspects of your life, from your career to your family life. Author David J Schwartz was a leading motivational speaker and writer who was all about helping people set big goals and then how they can go about achieving them.
The book gives step-by-step advice on how to improve your life and focuses on goal setting and blocking out negative thoughts. Having sold over six million copies since first hitting the shelves in 1959, it has helped millions more and inspired several other motivational speakers and life coaches, including Lou Hultz, who wrote the best-selling Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success.
17. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
There are many people who believe a morning routine is key to having a successful day. The Miracle Morning looks into morning routines and asks the question if having a familiar morning process can impact not only the rest of your day but your entire outlook on life.
The book focuses on step-by-step processes to achieve this feat so you can wake up with “energy, motivation, and focus to take your life to the next level.”
18. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
If you’re a writer, no matter whether you are a novice or a seasoned journalist, you can always aim to be better. William Zinsser’s On Writing Well is one of many fantastic books about writing that offers some great advice for all experience levels. It covers the fundamentals of writing and helps you write clearly and concisely.
This book is up there with Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird when it comes to top books on writing. You are sure to learn something you can apply to your everyday writing, be it a work email, a study paper, or a feature article.
19. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
Entrepreneur MJ DeMarco wants you to step out of the slowlane (9-5 work life) and take a spin in the fastlane to grow your wealth so you can be rich and young. His book The Millionaire Fastlane has all the information you need to transform your bank balance into a hefty figure while creating a lifestyle that suits you.
Easy to follow with a clear outline on how to achieve financial success, DeMarco also doesn’t adhere to the “do what you love theory.” He believes any career is about putting in place the right processes to maximize profit so you can retire young. A life changer for anyone interested in their future finances.
20. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl
Man’s Search for Meaning is a harrowing account of Viktor Frankl’s time in a Nazi concentration camp and how he managed to survive the horrific ordeal. A psychiatrist and philosopher, Frankl discusses the theory of logotherapy in relation to his time in the camp and believes the meaning of life concerns not chasing earthly pleasures but finding something on a higher level spiritually and emotionally that makes your life worth living. It’s more about how you can help others than help yourself.
Translated into over 50 languages with 16 million copies sold worldwide, Man’s Search for Meaning is an insightful read that will have you questioning what you want from your short time on planet earth.
21. The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell has written several best sellers combining science with humanity over the years, but it’s still hard to go past his first big hit The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. First released in 2000, the book has three rules Gladwell believes you need to follow in order to change your life for the better. They are the law of the few, the grip factor, and the power of the context.
Gladwell uses case studies to demonstrate these rules and writes in a way that is easy to understand no matter whether you’re an avid reader or someone who hardly ever picks up a book.
22. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Slightly different from your standard self-help book, Brene Brown isn’t trying to make you rich or create a 12-step process for becoming a better person. In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brown looks at being vulnerable and how showing that side of yourself can be a window for change.
Brown argues vulnerability is not a weakness and is at the core of our beliefs and must be embraced to find true self-worth and purpose. Inspired by the 1910 speech “Citizenship in a Republic” by Theodore Roosevelt, Daring Greatly is a thought-provoking read that will allow you to see the good in being vulnerable.
23. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
Having a highly decorated career in the United States Army, Admiral William H. McRaven took the lessons he learned over his nearly four-decade time in the armed forces to write the book life changing book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World.
Inspired by a Navy Seals graduation speech, Make Your Bed examines how even the small things can drastically change the way you live your life. Expanding on his original speech, which included ten core components that helped him overcome challenges and be the best version of himself possible, McRaven shares his own stories and life lessons that will inspire any reader to be greater.
24. How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
One of President Barrack Obama’s favorite books of 2019 is a self-help book like no other. Instead of focusing on how to get rich quickly or using your time more effectively, Jenny Odell wants us to slow down and enjoy life. Stop putting financial pursuits ahead of your happiness. There is nothing wrong with spending your free time relaxing and doing nothing. It’s about prioritizing your time the way you want to use it.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy has a lot to do with not giving in to the evils of capitalism but also has some great points about the way we look at time and how we engage with it. A must for anybody who feels burdened by the technology that is slowly controlling our lives.
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