Nothing changes our world or the way we live our lives more than reading books.
Now obviously there are many different kinds of books with many different kinds of effects. For instance:
- There are books that connect us to mainstream culture. The Harry Potter Series. The Hunger Games. 50 Shades of Grey. (I didn't read it. Yet...).
- Books that are beautiful. You read it and want to cry because THAT SENTENCE IS JUST SO PERFECT. And you write the sentence down because you think it's incredible, but when you read the quote later, it's kind of bland out of context. But like... the book's still amazing.
- Entertainment. Ender's Game. Random fantasy series. Those cheap romance novels. Michael Crichton, or John Grisham, or Stephen King, or those other authors who seem to write twelve books a year. Those books that make an airline delay a little more tolerable.
- Education. Non-fiction. Those geeks who read biographies and histories with their bifocals on. Or I guess Warby Parker's now that glasses are sexy (again?). I don't know that they were ever sexy. But maybe.
But regardless, when thinking about your bookshelf and what gets you excited about books...
...what type of books do you read?
What category of book gets you to sit down and read something, cover-to-cover?
For me, personally, I look for books that will change my life. As I've said before, 2016 has personally been a year of new beginnings. Transformation. Now, transformation implies two things:
knowing where you've been
knowing where you want to go.
As I thought about where I want to go, I realized I'm not the only one who had tread this path. My friends had as well.
And books had likely guided them on their own personal journeys.
So with that in mind, I got onto my personal Facebook page, and asked the following question:
If you had to recommend a book to change someone's life...
...what would it be?
What I didn't expect at the time was that I would receive 93 comments. And within those 93 comments were exactly 90 book recommendations.
90 life-changing reads.
So without further ado, here they are, in order [links included]:
- The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander
- You Are A Badass - Jen Sincero
- The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg
- Start Something That Matters - Blake Mycoskie
- How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
- The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
- The White Album - Joan Didion
- The Secret - Rhonda Byrne
- The Velvet Rage - Alan Downs
- A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle
- The Last Lecture - Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch
- The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
- A Theory of Justice - John Rawls
- The Idea of Justice - Amartya Sen
- Tao Te Ching, The Bible, Quran
- The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron
- The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
- Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
- Tiny Beautiful Things - Cheryl Strayed
- Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
- Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli
- The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
- White Girls - Hilton Als
- The Nature of College - Jim Farrell
- Lit - Mary Karr
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
- Notes from a Native Son - James Baldwin
- An American Childhood - Annie Dillard
- The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
- A Child Called 'It' - Dave Pelzer
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig
- The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
- The Seven Levels of Intimacy - Matthew Kelly
- The Nature of Things - Lucretius
- The Idea of the Holy - Rudolf Otto
- The Opposite of Loneliness - Marina Keegan
- Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
- Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
- Nine Stories - JD Salinger
- The Hours - Michael Cunningham
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran
- The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson
- 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Nothing to Envy - Barbara Demick
- A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood
- The Book of Awakening - Mark Nepo
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
- Conversations with God - Neale Donald Walsch
- Mountains Beyond Mountains - Tracy Kidder
- Half the Sky - Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
- Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv
- The Nature Principle - Richard Louv
- When Enough is Enough - Candy Finnigan
- The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
- The Unsettling of America - Wendell Berry
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach
- Stonecutter - Jon Muth and John Kuramoto
- The Firestarter Sessions - Danielle LaPorte
- The Origin of Species - Charles Darwin
- Train Dreams - Denis Johnson
- Tenth of December - George Saunders
- The Years of Lyndon Johnson - Robert Caro
- America in the King Years - Taylor Branch
- The Aeneid - Virgil
- Absalom, Absalom! - William Faulkner
- Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
- The Idea Factory - Jon Gertner
- Stiff - Mary Roach
- Of Bees and Mist - Erick Setiawan
- The Red Letter Revolution - Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
- Travels - Michael Crichton
- Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L Frank Baum
- The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
- Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur
- When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi
- The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran
- Consilience - Owen Wilson
- The Deportation Officer Handbook - Claiborne Tchoupitoulas
- Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
- The Art of Possibility - Benjamin and Rosamund Zander
- Every Day a Friday - Joel Osteen
- How to Develop Emotional Health - Oliver James
- Feminism Without Borders - Chandra Mohanty
- The How of Happiness - Sonja Lyubomirsky
- Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
- She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
- The Razor's Edge - W Somerset Maugham
- The Miracle of Mindfulness - Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Power of I Am - Joel Osteen
Luckily, I've already read 14 of them, so I have a head-start. And since you probably want to know - here are my own recommendations. I'll leave out the three best book recommendations to instantly transform your life, since that was a prior post. But my top ten picks are:
- Swann's Way - Marcel Proust [most beautiful prose; I linked my preferred translation]
- The Giver - Lois Lowry [only book I've reread 10x]
- Blindness - Jose Saramago [the only book to make me cry twice as an adult]
- Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges [a collection of the most beautiful, bizarre, thought-provoking short stories I've ever read]
- I Am Charlotte Simmons - Tom Wolfe [it's Mean Girls, except as a novel; despite the fact you might therefore gloss over it, it is one of the most compelling novels I've ever read, a provocative analysis into human nature, and a deep satire of higher education, gender, and the interplay between sex and power]
- Blue Like Jazz - Donald Miller [what even a staunch atheist should understand about Christianity]
- Reflections on the Revolution in France - Edmund Burke [the most eloquent expression of conservative thought I've ever read]
- Beyond Good and Evil - Friedrich Nietzsche [a deconstruction of every philosophical value system you've ever known]
- The Brain That Changes Itself - Norman Doidge [how our brain affects everything... and how our actions change the structure of our brains]
- Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi [a beautiful business/personal development book on the HOW and WHY of personal networking]
NOW TO YOU: What books did I miss? What category of book reader are you? Comment below and add to our community! I might include what you share in a future book list.
So my advice is this: try your own experiment and ask this question on social media! If it's useful, even consider sharing this post with others.
P.S. If you click on the links to the books above, it will link to an Amazon page where you can buy each of the books. Full disclosure, because I'm like that: buying the books via these links will give me a small portion of the buying price. That said, A) I would never recommend something I would not use/read myself, and B) I use this money to keep my site running, since I pay for operating costs out-of-pocket (I've made $2 so far - woohoo!).
P.P.S. if you comment on this post below, it actually tells Google that my writing is worthwhile to people out there and it improves how my blog appears to search engines everywhere. So not only do you add to the discussion - you help me out tremendously. Thanks for all your support :)
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Internal medicine resident at NYU in New York City with an interest in heme / oncology (cancer care).