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Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Books that will change your life.

(Note: I wrote an updated version of this post three years out. You can see it here.)

Books that will change your life.
Have you ever read a book, and while you were reading it, or after you finished, you just knew you would never be the same? In this issue I would like to highlight eight books I put into that category. Each of these books will challenge how you see yourself, or how you look at the world. These are books I read over and over again, and that I give away time and time again. I would say these are books you could give to anyone, friend and family alike.
There was a TV series that ran for only one season, Crusade, a spin off of Babylon 5. At the beginning of each episode the main character was asked these questions:
Who are you?
What do you want?
Where are you going?
Who do you serve?
Who do you trust?
These books will help you examine these questions and I believe will cause you to examine your view of the world and your role in it.


The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho
Harper Perennial: 1993
ISBN: 0062502182

This is an amazing book. It is a story of a young man who has a dream of hidden treasure. It is a book that alludes to that fact that all of us have a purpose and a dream. Yet many settle and give up their dream, and lose their passion for life. In this book it is stated again and again that each of us has our own Personal Legend, a quest; “When you pursue your personal legend the universe will conspire with you to make it happen.” You will follow Santiago on his adventure and during the process be challenged to think about your goals and dreams and what you would have to do to pursue them.


As You Think
James Allan
New World Library: 1998
ISBN: 1577310748

In 1904 a little book was written called As a Man Thinketh. This book is a rewriting of that classic by the grandson of the original author. It is not just a self-help book, a self-empowerment, but a truth that will grip your heart. Each of us has tracks that we play in our minds, things spoken over us in our youth, by parents, teachers, coaches and friends. We have believed these things and lived by them. This book reminds us that what we believe in our minds and hearts will live out in our flesh. It will help us understand that all we achieve or fail to achieve is first a perception in our minds.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Robin Sharma
Harper Perennial: 1997
ISBN: 0006385125

This is an interesting story. It is a story of a lawyer who appears to have it all - the corner office, the life style, the cars, women, … Then he gives it all up and tours the East. While there he comes across this strange monk and monastery. He comes to live life in a much different way. Yet he is challenged by the monk who has trained him to go back home and share the message he has learnt, with the West. Julian, our main character, returns to his old law firm and to his protégé John. He tells him a parable; then the rest of the book explains the parable and how it relates to different aspects of our lives. The parable is rather simple and a little strange but as it is explained you will never forget it. Read it to find out how a garden, lighthouse, sumo wrestler, pink wire cable, stopwatch, roses and a winding path of diamonds are symbols of timeless principles and virtues by which to live your life. This book could help raise the quality of your life to a new level.

Life By Design
Todd Duncan
J. Countryman: 2002
ISBN: 0849995884

This is a great little book. It will help you determine what you value and provide you with tools to pursue those values. It will teach you to establish what your values are - to clarify them. After, you have some greater clarity to create a mission statement and an action step for each of your values. If you use the tools found here you will be growing and growing with intention to be moving forward, to become who you want to be.

Jacob The Baker
Noah benShea
Ballantine Books: 1990
ISBN: 034536662X

This book, the first in a trilogy, is a great collection of stories, thoughts, penses and ideas. It is a book in the great Jewish wisdom tradition. Jacob is a baker, and each day on his way to the bakery after his prayers he thinks and reflects on God and life. While the ovens are warming up, he jots down his thoughts. One day by accident, one of his scraps of thoughts gets baked into a loaf of bread. The lady who finds it is overwhelmed by its insight and wisdom. She asked the owner of the bakery if Jacob will share more of his ideas by baking one in each of some rolls for a dinner party for her. Reluctantly, Jacob agrees and his peaceful life is shattered.

Soon Jacob has no time for himself. When he goes home people are awaiting him, in the morning they are on the path to work, and every day they are in the bakery, asking him questions, seeking advice and wisdom. They soon desire to make Jacob their Tzadik, their wise man. These stories will warm your heart, and open your eyes to the divine in yourself and in others. It will teach you to live with love and grace and mercy towards others.

Ishmael
Daniel Quinn
Bantam: 1992
ISBN: 0553375407

Much like the One Book for Waterloo this year, Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer, this book looks at the history of humankind on this planet and all we have done to it. It will challenge the prevailing belief that more and bigger is better. The book begins with an ad in the paper “TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have earnest desire to save the world. Apply in Person.” In the book, the gorilla Ishmael has learned to communicate through thought with humans. He also has a message that we cannot afford not to hear. The book focuses around a series of conversations between Ishmael and his student. It presents a different interpretation of how we went from being a hunter-gather society to an agrarian one. Also how that system is bound to fail. For me the most haunting thing in the book is two quotes. Early on we see a poster that states: “WITH MAN GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR GORILLA?” p.9 and much later, on the back of the first poster, “WITH GORILLA GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR MAN?” p.263. This is a great read especially for a sunny summer afternoon, or two. This is also the first in a trilogy.

The Journey from Success to Significance
John C. Maxwell
J. Countryman: 2004
ISBN: 140410111X

An interesting little book that will help you learn to focus on others. Like The Choice is Yours, this book is full of quotes and tidbits to help your life have more meaning and purpose. If you read it you will be challenged, and if you’re willing to work you will experience growth in character and attitudes.

The Choice is Yours
John C. Maxwell
J. Countryman: 2005
ISBN: 140410187X

This book is good as a new read or as a reminder. Its sixteen chapters each focus on how different aspects of your character, emotions, actions, and attitudes are all a choice. This book is full of quotes from famous people on each topic. You will journey through Attitude, Character, Values, Self-Discipline, Commitment, Teachability, Initiative, Passion, Courage, Responsibility, Growth, Relationships, Communication, Encouragement, Servanthood and Love. You could flip to almost any page and read a quote or two and be motivated and challenged.

This book is also a primer on Maxwell’s thoughts, with an excerpt in almost every chapter from others of his books, up to Winning With People which came out in December 2004. This book is a great jumping off point for personal development.
Maxwell states in The Choice is Yours “To gain ‘heat’ for growth, we need to get close to those who are already hot. Here’s how:
Spend time with great people.
Learn their great ideas through tapes, CD’s, and DVD’s
1. Visit Great places that will inspire you.
2. Attend great events that will prompt you to pursue change.
3. Read great books.” P.90
Based on that imagery you can either be a coal in your own fire, or place yourself closer to other coals and burn brighter. I challenge you to read one or more of these books and see if you are not ignited.

Each of these books sits on a shelf of my all-time favorites. I hope you will pick one up. They’re worth the time and effort.

(First Printed in part in Imprint 2005-05-20 as 'Books that will change your life.')
(Note: I wrote an updated version of this post three years out. You can see it here.)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this list. The Alchemist and Ishmael are 2 of my favourite books ever. I'm going to definately put the rest of the books on my list of books to read! They look great.

Mr. Retard said...

I LOVE this list. The Alchemist and Ishmael are 2 of my favourite books ever. I'm going to definately put the rest of the books on my list of books to read! They look great.