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There are some must-read books that not only provide actionable advice but they actually change your life and the way you view the world. Those life-changing books can completely flip everything you know or believe on its head.
How do you find them?
I think a book like that can be different for everyone but they all have something in common. They each provide actionable advice you can apply to your own life immediately and change it for the better. They are the kind of life-changing books that are packed full of interesting, relevant and well-research information and provide you with real value for the time invested reading them.
As an avid reader, I have read thousands of books over the years. It’s probably tens of thousands at this point but I stopped truly tracking years ago. Books are windows into a whole new way of thinking, which can completely shift your worldview.
There are a few non-fiction books over the years that have really stayed with me. I find myself thinking about them or referencing them as I run across certain situations or problems. They are the books you want to read over and over again so you can get new insights and really understand a concept – and they never get boring.
I truly think that if you find even one book that changes your life for the better, the hours invested in reading it are truly worth it. You can go through life on autopilot, without truly living to your mind’s full potential so having the opportunity to learn new ideas and concepts just through reading a book is truly a gift.
I wanted to share with you some of my favorite nonfiction books that have withstood the test of time. These books are going to be just as relevant ten years from now as they are today. The provide real, actionable advice you can use to make your life better today.
Let’s dive in.
One of the best things about this book by Gretchen Rubin is the premise. Trying to figure out what we truly enjoy is a great way to put a little more joy in our lives. While research on happiness varies and there are lots of different opinions out there, it is hard to disagree that adding things to our day that make us smile and subtracting ones that make us frown will result in a net increase in overall happiness.
Knowing what truly works for you and makes your life easier and better will be a gift that keeps on giving. I think that’s one of the most important messages from this book and one that we can apply to all areas of our life. So go read the book, figure out what little things add that spark of joy to your day and commit to doing one today.
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I have seen this quote on magnets, posters, screensavers, blogs and so many other places. It amazes me that I went so many years without reading the book behind this quote, especially considering how small it actually is.
This is one of those life-changing books that truly shift your view of the world. It has so many fascinating, common-sense, actionable ideas that it is pretty much guaranteed to change your life – even if you only apply one or two of the recommendations outlined. I can truly say that this book will be worth every minute of time you invest in reading it – and it will come back to you tenfold.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Brian Wansink’s research and books. The first book that I read by him, Mindless Eating, blew my mind with the quantifiable research on how we eat more than we think. Since I am a nerd, it was simply fascinating to me to read all of experiments and studies that he and his team designed to measure people’s eating habits.
However, as much as I loved Mindless Eating, it was chock-full of theory and very little in the way of actual steps and recommendations. While I would still highly recommend reading that book, if you would like step-by-step advice you can apply today to lose weight and eat healthier, you need to pick up a copy of Slim by Design. This book succeeds where Mindless Eating fails – providing simple tips and tricks that will help you curb your mindless eating.
While the entire book is interesting because it provides some great ideas on how to change not only your immediate environment but also offers advice on how to tackle public policy, the best chapters from a personal perspective are the ones about the home, restaurants and the grocery store. You can find some great strategies in there to lose weight and eat healthier today.
Food is a hot topic wherever you turn. Media headlines tout the benefit of low-fat foods one day just to turn around and say that full fat may be better after all. There is so much conflicting information out there that you don’t know which side of the food debate you are going to wake up on any given morning.
This is why I found In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (himself a longtime journalist, ironically), is so refreshing. The book opens up with one of my favorite lines, a line that I often reference when I hit a question about healthy eating. Its message is very simple but powerful: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. This advice, in a nutshell, is the foundation of a healthy diet. It is great in its simplicity and offers actionable steps you can apply to most situations.
The rest of the book expounds on this general thesis and it’s an interesting, at times fascinating, read. It is also in a way a history lesson that shows how our food system has been shaped over the years by third-party interests rather than actual scientific evidence. The shift in perspective it provides makes it one of those life-changing books you must add to your reading list.
This book by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez is by far most often recommended by people looking to retire early. It’s an essential foundation of the FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) movement – with good reason. It lays out the idea of how we trade our life’s energy for money.
While that general idea is not new, following through with the exercises in this book and calculating your true hourly wage is, indeed, eye-opening. While you may not be looking to retire early or become financially independent, I do think it’s important to get a realistic idea of the tradeoff between life energy and money. For many people, this is one of those life-changing books that completely changed their view of money.
This Dave Ramsey classic will be familiar to some people. For the rest, this is a great go-to book if you are in debt. While some people find Dave Ramsey controversial in some of his believes and recommendations, the simple fact of the matter is that his advice truly works and has helped hundreds of thousands of people get out of debt.
Being in debt can be a very oppressive, hopeless feeling. Having a proven, actionable plan that you know works can be a great confidence booster on your journey to becoming more fiscally responsible. I’d highly recommend reading through the books and figuring out how to apply his simple baby steps to your particular situation. If you are in debt and looking for a solid plan to turn your finances around, this is one of those life-changing books that will help you get your financial life in order.
If you ever wondered why you have certain habits but struggle to form other, good-for-you ones, this book is for you. It’s full of fascinating research into how exactly habit formation works as well as some great history on how we came to have certain habits as a society (such as regularly brushing our teeth – neat, huh?).
The book also talks about how exactly to break bad habits and form good ones. You will find out how true is the old adage, “It takes three weeks to break a habit and three days to make it.” You will also get real, step-by-step advice on how you can put this to use in your own life today.
I sincerely hope that you will pick at least one of the books on this list and go read it. We spend so much time reading irrelevant content online, watching cat videos (cute, I know!) or feverishly playing Candy Crush on our phones. Take some of that time and use it to read one of those books. Or if you have a commute, check out the audiobook and upgrade your commute.
You won’t regret it!
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What are some of your favorite life-changing books? Share in the comments.