Life-Changing Books I Wish Everyone Would Read

First, Be a Reader.

I love being a “reader,” because for the longest time, I was not one.

My past understanding of a “reader” was the likes of my good friend from high school who consumed books like I consumed french fries and who graduated valedictorian. I remember one Christmas she was gifted a John Grisham book, which she promptly passed along to me that same afternoon. She had already read the whole thing and knew I would enjoy it. She was right, but I certainly didn’t read it in three hours!

– Dr. Seuss

I always wanted to be a traveler of books, for all the smart reasons. However, reading was just not easy for me. I have three major problems with reading (still to this day):

  1. I am a slow reader. I am easily distracted and sometimes have to read paragraphs over and over to concentrate on the words.
  2. I am prone to motion sickness. I cannot read while in transit like many lucky people.
  3. I am a carry-on only traveler. Books are big, bulky, and heavy to carry. VETO. No way are they making the cut over any piece in my already tiny travel wardrobe.

Luckily, there is hope for people like me.

Enter Audible: The Game-Changer

Yes, audible is my knight in shining armor that swept me straight off my feet and into the “reader” club. And no, this post is not sponsored.

audible review
Book shelf in my pocket.

I honestly can’t speak highly enough of the app that solved all of the aforementioned problems in one download:

  1. No more slow reading – listening speed is adjustable, and I generally listen at 1.5x speed, which is way faster than I could manage reading with my eyes = now even I can consume books like french fries.
  2. No getting sick reading in transit, now I use my ears while I steadily watch the passing landscapes.
  3. No heavy books to carry, yet an endless library at my fingertips.

BOOM. As a result, I can consume more books, faster, no matter where I am in the world, and I can accomplish this while I’m doing something else (driving, running, getting things done at home).

Thank you, audible, for the integral role you play in making me a reader.

PS – If you relate to any of the above and you aren’t on audible yet, get on it.

PPS – Ditch the cord. If you need a rec for great wireless headphones and don’t want to spend hundreds on the sleek white ones, I have used these (traveled with them, run/hiked/skied in them…) for over a year so far and I’m a fan.

Most Life-Changing Books I’ve Read

There are those books that you read in one day and then pass on to your friends, and then there are those life-changing books that you read, re-read, re-read again, and recommend to everyone who breathes.

If they were paper books, they would be highlighted, underlined, dog-eared, and barely clinging to their spine, and you’d sooner buy someone else a new one than give away your copy. They are the books that reveal new lessons to you every time you read them, according to what you need to hear at the time.

The following are those books for me, starting with the book I wish everyone in the world would read, re-read, and re-read again at least twice a year with me (the rest are listed in no particular order):

Essentialism by Greg McKeown – Most Life-Changing Book I’ve Ever Read, Over and Over

Essentialism Book ReviewWant to know what I really think? –> Stop everything you are doing and buy this book. As in, before you do one. more. thing. buy this book and understand why the very next thing (and the next, and the next) on your To Do List is important in your life. And if it turns out the next thing to do is not important in your life, follow the steps in the book to let it go, because your time on this planet is precious, and for everything non-essential that you do, you’re wasting it.

When Essentialism was first recommended to me lifetimes ago by a dear friend, he said to me, “Just a warning, it’ll make you quit things.” THIS is what I needed – help focusing on What’s Important Now, and how to take steps toward decluttering my life and business. The practical steps and relatable stories in this book will help guide you to success in being more present, making your highest contribution, taking better care of yourself, and actually doing less, but better.

BUY THE BOOK – I suggest paperback for quick references AND the audible version for quick reads (I have it in all the versions). It’s a beautiful listen on audible because it’s read by Greg McKeown himself, and he’s British, so… #enoughsaid

This book has also helped me identify my word for the year for the past several years.

You Are a Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass At Making Money ReviewTo everyone, but especially to my fellow entrepreneurs, read this book!

Somehow, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that saying “I grew up in Lake Tahoe” carried a stereotype with it – the stereotype that I grew up with money. HA. I did not, and that is an understatement.

No matter how you or I were raised, our childhood often has a massive affect on our relationship with money, whether positive or negative. This book helped me understand the stories I subconsciously told myself about money, the control those stories held in my life for so long, and more importantly, how to rewrite those stories and get comfortable with money.

This is NOT a “get rich quick book,” that’s not the point (although it could certainly happen as a result). This is a “learn to create a positive relationship with money” book, no matter your backstory or current situation.

“If my broke ass can do it, so can you.” The author Jen Sincero said that, but I could certainly echo it. If you actually follow the steps in the book, my bet is you’ll find yourself in a better place not just financially, but also mentally when it comes to money.

I am in that place now, and it is freedom.

BUY THE BOOK – I recommend the audible version, read by the author, because Jen Sincero’s own voice and tone throughout is highly entertaining, she’s fabulous.

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

Braving the Wilderness ReviewI will (and have) read anything by Brené Brown. Brené is a shame researcher/professor/best-selling author, and her work revolves around what it means to be human, with all of our imperfections, tendencies, connections, emotions, and beyond.

She basically puts into words many hard-to-talk-about human experiences that we all go through (shame, vulnerability, belonging), big and small, and helps shine a light on how to navigate them, so we can do our best with what we have.

Braving the Wilderness is my favorite of all her books, and I think it’s because it focuses so much on one of my favorite subjects: courage. This book encourages me to stay my chosen course, which mostly keeps me very outside the box and can feel extremely intimidating and isolating at times. It explores the idea of where we “belong,” and I think anyone could relate and benefit from Brené’s brilliant findings.

BUY THE BOOK – I recommend the audible version, read by the author. Brené has a great voice, and as long as she reads her own books (because sometimes she doesn’t and that’s a bummer), the audible versions are my favorite.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus ReviewWho here has read this book and totally agrees that this title is, in fact, TRUE? *raises hand* This is one of those books that all humans should read, because it seems to magically explain SO. MUCH. about us that it should inspire those “aha!” moments that should guarantee that you will have better understanding – read: relationships – going forward.

Men and women are both complex, and this book is not black and white about it. It doesn’t try to place any one person or gender into any one category, but it certainly gives a lot of examples and stories about how humans tends to react to everyday occurrences, and how those reactions affect relationships, AND how to handle it all. It’s just brilliant.

BUY THE BOOK – I recommend the audible version, read by the author.

Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert

Eat Pray Love ReviewWhen I first read this book on a train in Europe in 2008, I got through the first few chapters about Liz being 30, crying on the floor of her bathroom, and wanting to get out of her marriage. I remember the exact moment on that train, looking up from the book and out the window and thinking to myself, “This is going to be me.” WHAT in the world made me think that before I even met the man who I would later be divorced from? Mysterious, yes, but I was right. I was also exactly 30 years old when I got divorced, and I chose to leave everything behind and go nomadic for a few years. In those years in between, I had nearly forgotten about this book, and when I picked it back up, it meant more to me than ever.

But it isn’t just me. There is a reason this is one of the best-selling books of our time. If you haven’t read it, try it, and if you have read it, try it again. This, like all the books listed above, is one of those books that reveals new lessons every time I read it, according to what I need to hear at the time. Also – forget the movie, it is nothing like the book.

BUY THE BOOK – I recommend the audio version, read by the author. Liz even puts on accents of the people she has met, sharing the book from such a personal perspective, which adds to the listening experience.

Books I Can’t Stop Recommending

These days, I am usually reading at least two books at the same time. I like to read a personal or business development book as well as an adventure book of some sort, whether historical fiction or complete fiction. This way, I’m nearly always in a mood for one or the other.

While many books come and go from my book shelf, these are the ones I still recommend even years later, in no particular order:

My Favorite Authors: Read Anything and Everything

These are my “read anything and everything” authors (both fiction/non-fiction), they can’t publish books fast enough for me:

Brené Brown – as mentioned above – she shines a light into dark places and invites you to bravely follow. Love her.

Brene Brown Books

Dan Brown – author of Da Vinci Code – but that isn’t even his best book, all of his books are incredible adventure stories using real science and facts – absolutely brilliant.

Dan Brown Books

Chris Guillebeau – for the Creative person and/or entrepreneur, he is inspiring and practical at the same time, with a fabulous writing voice. See if you relate to him with The Art of Non-Conformity.

Chris Guillebeau Books

Khaled Hosseini – author of The Kite Runner – but that isn’t his best book either, he takes you inside real life issues in the Middle East. Pick up A Thousand Splendid Suns and don’t put it down for two days.

Khaled Hosseini Books

John Grisham – one of the most interesting “recovering attorneys” on the planet – his books are fun and fast, page-turners, amazing for travel, and you’ll learn a hell of a lot about the legal field in the funnest way possible.

John Grisham Books

Recommended Reading From My Women’s Retreats Participants

I lead women’s retreats (next stop: Tuscany!), and these are the two books I recommend participants read prior to attending:

Listed below are further recommendations in the same personal development arena, some by me, some by others. This list is updated as new recs come in:

Your Turn, Please!

Let’s help each other be travelers of books… I’m ALWAYS looking for new book recommendations from like-minded people.

What are the best of the best books YOU have read? What is your favorite page-turner? What books have changed YOUR life and how? Please comment below and share your favorite literary discoveries!

Want more recommendations? Check out this list of Best Travel Books