Life-changing books pop into existence sporadically and all bibliophiles encounter one sooner or later.
Like hidden gems in a glorious book field of grassy tussocks.
Indeed, sometimes you read something and it’s not the right time. The magic of the darned thing just won’t penetrate your brain.
Curiously, only after a re-read does it truly resonate. Like angels flying directly into your mind on bookish beams of light, you rejoice.
Anyways, I’m a bit of a literary voyeur and love discovering how certain reads have impacted friends and famous people, shifting their life perspective.
I want to steal that perspective and apply it to my own existence, in the nicest possible way.
If you’re the same, here are mine.
Note that while this small list of 5 books currently contains only non-fiction, I’d be remiss to overlook the part that fiction has played in my life.
After all, we can’t possibly restrict life-changing material to a single genre, so I’ll likely be adding more books as I can.
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Life-changing books – 5 of the best
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
Perhaps one of the most powerful books you can read. Following the journey of Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist incarcerated in a Nazi prison camp.
This book is divided into two parts. Part One contains Frankl’s account of his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps, detailing not only the horrors of the experience, but how his personal experiences shaped his ideas on the meaning in life. This section was particularly impactful for me, having previously visited Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland.
Part Two proposes his ideas on logotherapy and its theory of existential analysis, the fundamental premise being that those who can find meaning in their suffering are better able to cope with their difficulties.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
In this way, although suffering can be a painful experience, Frankl contends that it plays an vital role in the way we live, ultimately shaping our lives for the better.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
I read this book at an uncertain time in my life and found fortitude in it’s powerful, yet simple message.
There is one basic message in this book – that the past and future don’t exist.
You see, many of us live in the past or the future, mentally time-travelling to fix our past or shape our future. Unbeknown to us, this mental addiction creates much undue psychological angst.
Tolle suggests that we only really possess this present moment in time and in the meditative tradition, by psychologically porting ourselves back to the now, we can mitigate much of our suffering.
Meditation: Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
If you’re struggling with your old noggin, this is the book for you.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, so what makes this book different?
The fact that it draws upon current research into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to demonstrate the effectiveness of meditation in relieving suffering, particularly anxiety and depression.
The book starts by introducing meditation in its simplest terms, minus the jargon usually associated with the practice.
It then outlines an 8-week course, taking you through simple mindfulness techniques, from breathing and body scans, to understand your mind more effectively.
Having read this book a few years back, I’m now a daily-ish meditiator and can reflect on its positive impact.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing
Endurance is a book like no other.
Recounting Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic, this is a adventure story of epic proportions.
Written by a biographer, it’s primarily based on on the diaries of the crew as they endure the cold unforgiving ice and unrelenting weather in their bid to escape the brutal, unforgiving landscape alive.
Bravery and sacrifice abound in what is truly a testament to human resilience and determination.
Reading such real life stories put your own problems into perspective, and demonstrate that our abilities often far exceed our expectations.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
I routinely bang on about this book to anyone with ears, a masterpiece from the mind of a modern-day warrior.
Growing up in an abusive household in a racist community, Goggins defied all the odds.
No only did he lose 300 pounds to enter the special forces, becoming the first man to complete Navy Seals and Army Ranger training, but he subsequently completed a world record for the most pull ups in 24 hours before going on to become an formidable ultramarathoner.
He’s routinely touted as the hardest man alive, and just watching a couple of YouTube videos will show you why.
If you’re down on your lot and need a proverbial kick in the face, get this book.
Your mileage may vary, but these are just a few books that have had an outsized impact on me.
And the common theme? Many of them focus, intententionally or not, on the psychological technique of reframing.
Understanding how others overcome their obstacles or seemingly impossible situations allows us to shift our own perspective, providing psychological distance from problems which often appear inescapable.
Do you have any other recommendation for me to read? Drop me a line and let me know.