Books that changed my life
These are books I think are outstanding. I’ve limited this list to books that precipitated a personal breakthrough in my life.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – Richard Carlson
If this book was never written, the blog you’re reading wouldn’t exist, and I don’t even want to think about what shape my life would be in. When I discovered it I was a college-age mess, and this simple little book taught me life’s supreme lesson — that the quality of my experience depends on how I interact with it and not what happens to me. After writing about this same approach for five years (and reading about it for fifteen) it’s such a basic notion to me now, but at the time it changed everything about my world.
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
Living in the present is a cliche that everyone knows, but I think relatively few people actually comprehend the totality of the present moment — it really is all there is, and The Power of Now gets this point across without any mysticism. Brilliant book. I consumed it first as an audiobook, and I recommend that format especially — Tolle’s gentle voice gives the concepts a resonance they might not have in print.
A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle’s second book is a more refined take on the same principles outlined in The Power of Now. Neither is necessary to get the other but if one resonated with you, definitely read the other. The audio version is great too.
Handbook to Higher Consciousness – Ken Keyes, Jr.
A highly rational and structured approach to overcoming emotional pain, described plainily by a very warm and loving man. Parts of this book are so profound and powerful that I have put off writing about them until I’m a good enough writer that I don’t muck it up. It’s out of print but can be found used through Amazon’s third party sellers. Mine came with purple highlighter marks.
Nonviolent Communication – Marshall Rosenberg
Marshall Rosenberg should be a lot more famous than he is. Nonviolent Communication is a super-simple process for communicating with people without either triggering defensiveness or succumbing to it yourself. He gives an approach that improves almost every single interaction with other people. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that there really is nothing humanity needs more than the insights in this book.
On Having No Head – Douglas Harding
If your mind is open enough when you come to him, Douglas Harding will turn your world inside-out, where it will begin to make a lot more sense. His approach to self-inquiry is so shockingly simple that it’s easy to miss. On Having No Head is his flagship book, but the best starting point may be to go to www.headless.org and do the simple experiments there.
Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Read Frankl’s account of living in a Nazi death camp from a comfortable chair, and see if you can still take your freedoms and luxuries for granted. He focuses on the differing mentalities of the prisoners, and how their personal relationships to their own suffering was what decided who survived.
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tsu (Stephen Mitchell translation)
I pick this up and read a verse every week or so. The Stephen Mitchell translation is by most accounts the best one, and each verse has footnotes in the back. I’ve cycled through it a few times over the years and every single time I read a verse I am moved. Don’t read more than a verse a day. They need time to steep in your mind.
Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery – Isaac Asimov
Starting with fire and cave art, Asimov gives you a layman’s description of every single significant discovery since human beings left the forest. The effect on the reader is incredible — you begin to see exactly how everything led to everything else. It shows you exactly how we got from rubbing sticks together to smashing atoms, and not one bit of it is hard to follow. Technology isn’t magical or baffling, it’s just thousands of layers of fairly simple ideas. Reading this was an incredible experience.
The book’s age-old companion. People don’t ask about which teas I recommend, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I order all my tea from International House of Tea in Thunder Bay. I have a gorgeous tea selection now, and each variety I’ve received from iHOT has been outstanding, not to mention less pretentious and less expensive than chain-operated hipster-traps like David’s Tea and Teavana.
A dedicated, present-moment tea experience is still one of the most gratifying luxuries available to a modern human being, and it costs pennies. I especially recommend the Roasted Almond Ceylon and Tung Ting Oolong.
In case it would influence your decision either way, know that if you choose to buy any of these items through this page (other than tea), Raptitude.com receives a commission, which helps to liberate my time from THE MAN and allows me to write more. All recommendations are genuine — I do not endorse what I wouldn’t buy — and the cost to you remains the same.