7 Books That Changed The Way I See the World.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day, or List Day.
This Wednesday: 7 books changed the way I see the world.

One of my favorite things: when I read a book that transforms the way I see the world, or the way I see the possibilities of writing. Another one of my favorite things: when I convince someone to read one of those books, and he or she loves it as much I do.

So here’s a short list of books that transformed the way I see the world. I could go on for pages, but here’s a start, and if you’re at your bookstore or the library, check these out:

1. Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language. I’ve never been interested in interior design or architecture, but this book taught me how to be aware of why certain spaces are pleasing — or not. I think about it all the time.

2. Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics. I’ve never been interested in comics, and reading this book didn’t give me an interest in comics — but it’s a fascinating analysis of art and visual communication, and is itself a perfect illustration of the arguments it’s making. Hmmm…this description makes it sound boring, but believe me, it isn’t.

3. Virginia Woolf, The Waves. This is not a book for everyone. It is demanding. I find it overpoweringly beautiful — really. I love it, but it makes my head explode to the extent that I can scarcely read it.

4. Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. I know, with that title, who wants to pick it up? But this book is brilliant and thought-provoking, and made me understand, for the first time, the power of graphs, charts, and the like.

5. Wayne Koestenbaum, Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon. This book revolutionized my understanding of how a writer could approach a biographical subject.

6. Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. I remember picking this up in a bookstore and thinking, wow, you can really do some crazy things with non-fiction. It helped me understand that I could be a writer without being a novelist or a journalist. This sounds obvious, now, but it was a huge realization for me.

7. J. M. Barrie, The Boy Castaways of Black Lake Island. A story from which almost everything has been eliminated. Crazy genius.

Looking at this list, I’m fascinated to notice a pattern that I’ve never picked up before: in all these books, a great deal has been cut out. This is interesting to me, because as a writer, I struggle with the persistent impulse to eliminate, to find structures that permit radical excision. In fact, The Happiness Project is the first major thing I’ve written that doesn’t do this. What’s the lesson there? I’m not sure.

How about you? What book has changed the way you see the world? I’m always looking for recommendations, so please send them along.

* The Bloggess is truly hilarious, and I can spend waaaay too much time there (she does use curse words and whatnot, so it’s not for you if you don’t like that sort of thing).

* While you’re checking out those books, you can also consider….The Happiness Project! (Can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • http://www.adesignsovast.com Lindsey

    What a great list – I am an enormous Tufte fan myself, and also Woolf.  I love how varied this list is, and demonstrates how much we can learn from the most unexpected places.   You’ve got my thinking about my own.  xo

  • Megan Gordon

    Have you read Kurlansky’s other book about salt? I’ve been dying to read that one.

    I’m a total information junkie, so I need to start reading some more of these types of books.

    • mairsydoats

      I haven’t read Cod, but did read Salt!  I loved it – in fact, I’d say the whole category of social/natural history (okay, that’s not a category) is my favorite.  Almost anything by John McPhee, or something like A History of the World in 6 Glasses, or, oh, Bill Bryson, whose writing I love beyond love.

      Thanks, Gretchen, for the suggestions!  I’ll put a few of those on my list of things-to-read!

      • Laurel

        I”m a huge Bill Bryson fan-just done reading At Home.  It’s impossible to read him without saying, “Hey, listen to this”

  • Kelly

    The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. I am a food lover and blogger but have never had any desire to garden or grow my own vegetables. That is, until reading this book. Now, I check on the seedlings of my garden every day as they struggle to grow after my too late planting. http://foodiethingsandapronstrings.blogspot.com/

  • Vera Hough

     It sounds so flimsy next to Woolf and Kurlansky, but recently reading Rob Lowe’s memoir, _Stories I Only Tell My Friends_ has really made me think. Lowe wasn’t my go-to heartthrob in the 80s–I can’t articulate it, but the shorthand would be that he was TOO good-looking, too obviously desirable. Anyway, reading his book and finding out about his deeply personal thoughts and experiences and insecurities has made me not only like him a whole lot more, but also think about the likelihood that getting to know almost anyone better will result in liking them more.

  • MarcyTooTimid

    The novel _One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest_ really changed the way I look at the world. It made me more aware of how much the pressures to conform are everywhere. The book is very different from the movie, although I love the movie too.

  • Jaimee Hunter

    I just purchased your book for my kindle and hope it changes my world. Thank you!

  • Tom Genovese

    Mine was “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. My big takeaway was that life does not give us meaning, rather we give meaning to life.

  • http://shawndrarussell.blogspot.com/ Shawndra Russell

    I am excited to read these books–I feel that if a book doesn’t impact my worldview, it hasn’t done its job! A book that has changed my outlook significantly is The Shack. Honestly changed my relationship with God, church, and spirituality and helped relieve a lot of guilt for me.

  • AMO

    My top 7 (most but not all with a decided spiritual bent):
    1. Story of a Soul by Therese of Lisieux
    2. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
    3. Lift Up Your Heart by Fulton Sheen
    4. Augustine’s Confessions
    5. Cloud of Unknowing
    6. Epistles of Paul of Tarsus
    7. He & I by Martin Buber.
     
    FWIW. Great concept – thanks for sharing.

  • Eileen

    I read Understanding Comics at your suggestion and, to my surprise, I’m now discovering comics. Definitely something I *never* thought I’d be into. Two others that I would add to a list like this would be John Colapinto’s riveting As Nature Made Him, and John Seife’s Zero: Biography of a Dangerous Idea. And although I had major issues with this book, I can’t stop talking about Cleaving by Julie Powell – I wrestled so much with it that it’s noteworthy, if disturbing-proof of how much a book can affect me. (Also, I am currently reading The Mythical Man-Month!)

  • Justinewb

    The Alchemist is one of mine – its one of those books I put off reading because it was *too* famous but I loved it and it changed my perspective on happiness.

    • Guest

      Loved The Alchemist, I will aslo suggest The 40 rules of love by Elif Shafak. Powerfull book.

  • http://www.organized-simplicity.com Caroline

    Cod sparked my love of micro-histories and nonfiction in general.  I would also add:
    -Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver for her complex and real characters as well as its well-researched and moving defense of coyotes.
    -This Year I Will…, by MJ Ryan was really helpful to me for figuring out how to make and actually keep resolutions.I too am obsessed with The Bloggess.  She makes me laugh ’til it hurts.   

  • Margaret S

    The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. I learned how “history” is merely a construct of memory and politics, and how unreliable historical sources, even eyewitnesses, can be.

  • Diana

    Gretchen, if you have a strong impulse towards reduction and elimination, you should read John Maeda’s The Laws of Simplicity. It is a short 100-page book (a great deal has been cut out!)

    • gretchenrubin

      Adding that to my list. Thanks! Sounds like just my kind of thing.

      _____

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    Great list. Thanks for the share Gretchen. Would love reading them all…

  • http://maryjohn-raveldsleave.blogspot.com Maryjohn

    The Secret Garden – how forgetting self and helping another can make of any life a beautiful thing
    The Ring Trilogy – a magnificent allegory of good/evil/and the two-edged sword of power.  
    Ship of Fools – Katherine Porter – I was fifteen when I read this and it was the first time that I came to know that appearances can be deceiving.
    Story of a Soul – Therese Lisieux
    The Great Divorce – C S Lewis –
    The Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery:  I still reread them every few years and always find something new.
    Auntie Mame – Patrick Dennis- the beauty of the individual

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes! I’ve read all these, many of them several times! — except Auntie Mame. Adding that to my list.

      _____

      • Vera Hough

        Oh, I second the recommendation for Auntie Mame.
         

  • bev smith

    I love other people’s book lists –

    Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker
    Letter to my Daughter – Maya Angalou
    The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan
    Gilead & Home – Marilyn Robinson
    Howard’s End is on the Landing – Susan Hill
    Emma – Jane Austen
    Waking up to What you do – Diane Enshin Rizetto
    1000 gifts – ann vonskramp
    The Sunflower – Simon Wiesenthal
    Like Bees to Honey – Caroline Smailes

    – we are all being sooo intellectual so what about The House at Pooh Corner  A A Milne

  • Jennifer

    I find that some books are read at just the right time in my life, and may not have been as influential had I read them at other times.  The Secret Life of Bees is one example. 

    • bev smith

      It was like was directed to it a year on from the death of my niece Danielle forever 21

  • Christiane

    The Mists of Avalon – I read it when I was 17 and was overwhelmed and fascinated by it, I read it again at 29 and I am still captivated by it

    The Gifts of Imperfection and I thought it was just me by Brené Brown about shame and the power it has over your life. 

    And Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels, all of them :-)

  • Mr Buckles

    How To Make Yourself Miserable by Dan Greenburg with Marcia Jacobs…  a wonderful satire on judgement.  It is extremely humerous while periodically making you laugh at yourself. 

  • bzyowl

    Anything by Alexander Stoddard makes me feel happy.  Choosing Happiness, Living a Beautiful Life, Time Alive, Creating a Beautiful Home are all books of hers that I wish I could read again for the first time.

  • bzyowl

    Make that AlexandRA Stoddard. :)

  • Aje315

    The China Study.  Literally.  It changed the way our family eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  T. Colin Campbell is a respected scientific researcher, and his data was convincing.

    To learn how to make this drastic change, I got a cooking video  and several cookbooks from the library.

  • Karen

    These books didn’t change my world – except for my delight in reading them, but they fit in with the YA list of books.  I’m very please to recommend “The Dark is Rising” series by Susan Cooper.  If you love YA, you’ll love these.
    Karen

    • gretchenrubin

      I love those. of all of them, I especially love “The Dark Is Rising.”

      _____

  • http://www.GenuineThriving.com/ Jeremiah Stanghini

    With regard to your first book: I remember being told a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright that went something to the effect of…
    “Give me six months to build a house for a couple and I’ll give you a divorce.”

    Of course, the quote is referring to the important dynamic that the structure of the spaces we inhabit plays on the way we feel and think about the world.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    Jeremiah

  • jhill77

    The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner is full of surprises.  It takes the reader to various countries/cultures throughout the world and shows us the “happiest” places on earth.  Highly entertaining and thought-provoking.  To what extent does where we live affect our level of happiness? 

  • http://www.ombailamos.com chacha1

    Where to begin?!  This is not a ranking.

    1) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  First when it introduced my 9-yr-old self to literary fantasy, again when ten years later I realized it was an allegory.
    2) The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
    3) Fox Running by R.R. Knudson.
    4) whichever of Dick Francis’ books was the first of his I read
    5) Q.E.D. by Richard Feynman
    6) The Columbia History of the World
    7) The Subject Tonight is Love, poems by Hafiz translated by Daniel Ladinsky

    Seven is far too few.

  • Sophie Blue

    I love to pick up a Pattern Language to browse at bedtime. I saw a house that he designed; it only took a year and a half to complete at a cost of 3 times the original estimate. Did  F. L. Wright really say that should have caused a divorce. An old paperback, “How to Live on Nothing.” I tried Prachett’s Discworld’s and couldn’t get anything out of them until I talked to a young man at library checkout waiting to check 7 of the series. I started appreciating the logical illogic (or illogical logic). I’ve read Lord of the Rings three times (that only takes about a week), the books in the Forsythe Saga.

    I’m ready to read my second round of Harry Potter. QED sounds interestingl.

  • http://exploretruth.com/philosophy-the-quest/110-books-that-will-change-your-life/ Veron

    I can honestly say, I’ve never read any of these books on the list, but your descriptions, particularly #3 & #6 sound very intriguing!

    Now for me…this is a tough one…(looking over my list now)Here are three that I remember left a deep impression: 1. Alchemist – Paulo Coelho 2. The Greatest Miracle In The World by Og Mandino 3. Writing The Spiritual Journey by Elizabeth J. Andrew 

    • Kathleen Harriott

      I have read all of Og Mandino’s books and he truly had a gift. 

  • http://nubrilliancereviewpros.com Fritz

    I consider myself an avid read, especially of non-fiction, reading over 100 books a year. And yet I never read any of these! I’m always looking for a good read so these are now on my list. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and “Conversations with God” would be at the top of my life-altering list.

  • Meashelford

    OMG … I am now totally hooked on The Bloggess! So funny. If she’s your cuppa, you can really cheer yourself up by reading through her blog, as well as have lots of LOL moments. (LOL’s greatly increase my happiness!) Thank you for a wonderful tip …

  • http://librarianbyday.net Bobbi Newman

    Thank you for sharing this with us! I’ve made my own list and number one on it is the Happiness Project :-)
    http://librarianbyday.net/2011/07/29/7-books-that-changed-the-way-i-see-the-world/

    • gretchenrubin

      Awwww…thank you!

      _____

  • http://twitter.com/mandyfleisher mandyfleisher

    I’m not a 

  • http://twitter.com/mandyfleisher mandyfleisher

    I’m not a religious person by any stretch, but still found Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany incredibly powerful, hilarious, and providing a useful perspective on the world.

    Others on my list:

    1. Douglas Coupland – All Families Are Psychotic
    2. Henry David Thoreau – Walden
    3. Jennifer Hecht – Doubt: A History

  • momsailor

    When I was expecting my son, my mother-in-law gave me the book “The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children” by Steven Vannoy. It had such a profound influence on me that I make a ritual of re-reading it every year near his birthday.  He is 16, and a delightful, creative, supportive person who is fun to be around.
    And along with it, the one you mention several times in “The Happiness Project” – “How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Your Kids Will Talk”.

  • http://shimmerlikegold.org Krissy

    Thank you for sharing your list! As an (aspiring) interior designer, I’m of course immediately drawn to A Pattern Language and I’m sure I’ll be scouring the bookshelves next time looking for it. A few books that changed my way of seeing the world are:
    – Veronika Decides to Die (Paulo Coehlo)
    – The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
    – Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo)

    Actually, I wrote a post about this a little while ago too. I had 5 (plus some honourable mentions) on mine. If anyone’s interested in my reasonings, this is the post: http://shimmerlikegold.org/2010/06/27/booksthatchangedmyworld :)

  • http://the-philosophy-coach.com Michael Guidera

    Gregory Batesons Steps to an Ecologyof Mind changed the way I see the world, as did Charles Taylors Sources of the Self; and life has never really been the same since Rememberance of Things Past.  While The Waves is one of my favourite books, when I first read it I knew it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever come across, but didn’t understand any about it.  Mrs Dalloway changed the way I see life, it gave me an out from the demands of having to live by the values of the romantics. I look forward to all your posts Gretchen, thank you

  • http://basilexposition.wordpress.com/ Fionnuala

    Gretchen, thanks for this post.  I did yawn inwardly at the title, as a person’s list of books, even if they are meant to be the most life-changing ones, are generally just a list of favourites or titles that make the author of the list look clever or discerning; this, however, is an exception to that generalisation, with your list being both honest and still surprising.  I don’t think you’ve chosen the titles here for effect but because they are genuinely the ones to have affected you, and as a result you’ve kick-started a really interesting conversation below.  Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks! I’m thrilled to hear that the list resonates with you.

      You’re right, these aren’t my FAVORITE books (I could never, never choose my favorites, especially a list of just 7) but tried to make a list of ones that genuinely altered my way of seeing things.

      _____

  • Carol Fleury

    I just finished the Happiness Project and have referred it to two people – I am starting my own Happiness Project August 1 and I am so happy I read it – my life will be so much better!  Thank Gretchen Rubin for writing it!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that you found it useful. Good luck with your happiness project!

      _____

  • Nan

    “Go For NO! YES is the destination NO is how you get there” Amazing little fictional book that can be read in just about an hour, 74 pgs, but will forever change the way you look at the word NO and what most consider failures. It will help you break through self-imposed barriers you have set up for yourself in your career and life!

  • Anne

    The Happiness Project!  Also Marry Him, by Lisa Gottleib.  Made me really appreciate my husband.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for adding me to the list! That is so nice.

      _____

    • Guest

      I just finished Marry Him… Lovely book. Thank you for posting it.

  • Carla

     I am a voracious reader and rarely read a book more than once…so many books; so little time.  I did the unthinkable, however, and read A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson three times and plan on picking it up again (once I finish the two books that I’m reading now).

  • Elizabeth Turner

    Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, is a wonderful book by a psychiatrist/Nazi concentration camp survivor.  It’s about optimistically looking toward the future.

    • gretchenrubin

      That book is a masterpiece. I want to go re-read it right this minute, just thinking about it.

      _____

    • Jennifer Dunham

      Great book Elizabeth! 

      Here are a few of my favs:
      The Re-Enchantment of Everday Life. 
      books by Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird
      Breathing for a Living.

      These are all fabulous and were there for me at the “right times” and changed how I view the world.

  • CB

    The top three books that changed the way I see the world are, in order:

    1. A Guide To Rational Living – Albert Ellis and Robert Harper. This is the book to read and live by. It was so helpful after enduring a chaotic childhood.

    2. On A Pale Horse – Piers Anthony. I read this work of fiction after my father died and I came away with the perspective that Death may not be cruel. He’s just a guy stuck doing a job no one else wants.

    3. The Mists Of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley. The thing that captivated me was the almost hypnotic style. It truly draws the reader in and one feels transported to another realm. Sadly, none of the prequels/sequels come close to capturing it.

  • http://humbleobserver.net Christopher

    Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays “Nature” and “Self-reliance.”
    “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo.
    Just started “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  Love it so far.

  • Mami

    Mountains Beyond Moutains-I’d recommend this book as one everyone should read! It can open your eyes to the world beyond your borders–whether individual, social or global.

  • Hassledloafer

    To the wonderful lists already offered, let me present a few I count as books I turn to more than I could have imagined:

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
    A Sense of the World
    The Quatrains of Rumi
    Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey
    Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, Stephen Greenblatt

     

  • Kim

    “The Art of Possibility” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.  I bought several copies of it, so I could give some away and lend some out.  

    • gretchenrubin

      I really enjoyed this book, as well. Very thought-provoking. I love the part where he had his students write the letter to him in September, as if in May, explaining what they did during the year to deserve the “A” grade.

      _____

  • Jennifer Dunham

     The Re-Enchantment of Everday Life. 
    books by Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird
    Breathing for a Living.

    These are all fabulous and were there for me at the “right times” and changed how I view the world.

  • Janie

    I would like some tipson dealing with disappointment.

  • Tamara

    1. Heaven is for Real: a little boy’s astounding story of his trip to heaven and back  written by his dad Todd Burpo. It makes you realize death is not so scary and heaven is real.
    2.Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
    3.The Ezekiel Option by Joel Rosenberg (novel where he combines biblical prophecy with world events-which happened after he wrote the book)
    4.Books by Alexandra Stoddard
    5.The Bible

    • sjc

      +1 The Bible

  • Tcdbjd

    I love to think about this and have shared lists with my friends.
    1. The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler (read as a child and still love it)
    2. Mr. Poppers Penguins first published in 1938, my children read it in the 2nd grade
    3. Heaven in for Real
    4. 90 minutes in Heaven (I had a wreck and similar recovery with an external fixator)
    5. Mistaken Identity (amazing journey of two families)
    6. Man’s Search for Meaning
    7. the Bible
    8. Junie B Jones series for my kids
    9. This Coming Plague (about infectious diseases, amazing first person writing style, goes around the world for various disease)
    10. Being Sick Well (how people with chronic illness survive)
    11. one more: Critical Care by Theresa Brown, professor turned nurse about the every day life of a nurse on a cancer unit

  • Carla

    Just finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and loved it.

  • Mary Guizar

    A book I’m enjoying The Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch. Reminds me of your year long challenge which I’m still refering to each month.
    Hugs and Blessings
    Meg

  • http://www.GoodLifeRoad.com Kathryn at Good Life Road

    Thanks for the recommendations! I just posted some of the books I’ve read lately that I loved over at Good Life Road and I am always looking for new things to read. I’m definately going to settle in with “The Waves” on an introspective cozy fall day, and along the lines of the “Understanding Comics” book you recommended there are two from cartoonist Hugh MacLeod that I absolutely loved!

  • Aunty Penny

    ” The Sound of Thunder” a short story by Ray Bradbury.  Read it as a 13 year old and it seriously influenced my feelings on environmental issues and the importance of tiny changes in our environment.

  • Megan

    Prior to The Happiness Project, the last life-changing book I read was eighteen years ago.  I was seventeen years old.  The book was The Awawkening (by Kate Chopin), and it helped form many of my notions about life, art, and what it means to be a woman and mother.  I was an English major because of that book.  If only your book, Gretchen, had been available to Edna, perhaps The Awakening would have had a different ending!  ;-)

    • Maltobella

      Read this book years ago and I have to agree. It’s been a stand out when I think about who I am and who I want to be as a woman and how my life belongs to me.

  • guest

    I really got alot out of The Talent Code, good book, especially if you homeschool or teach children

  • finewonderland

    I had long since dissmissed my reading of manga as a bad and thoughtless habit. That was, until I picked up “Children of the Sea” by Daisuke Igarashi. It literally changed the way I looked at the world as a whole. It takes until the third volume and especially the fourth to realize it (but the volumes do not take long to read, I read 3 today, 5 if you count re-reading them which is faster, and i did a lot more)

  • Maloneyjudith

    The Happiness Project book changed my life…If you haven’t read it readers…read it you’ll love Gretchen’s honesty.

  • Steamboatcook

    Gretchen, I especially appreciate your warning  about “The Bloggess” because, yes, I am one of those people who doesn’t appreciate curse words in a book.  Thank  you for recognizing there are people like me who read books too! :)

  • Glennacalder

    The Shack is a really nice book. Light, easy read but really nice.A feel good.

  • Heather B

    I have just recently found your website and blog and am enjoying it and using it as much as your book.  There is one book which completely shifted the way I saw the world, and I can’t believe that nobody has mentioned them yet.  The first, is Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins.  I love that the secrets to immortality in this book are laughter, keeping one’s soul light, and scent.  Just talking about it makes me yearn to read it again.  It has been years since the last time I read it.  There are certainly other books that I love and return to time and again, but Jitterbug Perfume is at the top of that list.

  • Allisonroelen

    Tufte IS amazing – he’s the Da Vinci of visual data and if you ever get the chance – go to his one-day course (he teaches across the country) probably the best day I’ve ever spent – hear it from the master – you get all 3 of his beautiful books and get to see his first editions of Copernicus and other rare treats – his message about the integrity of information will open your mind to a whole new way of seeing things in the world!

  • Hayley

    I love your description of The Waves. I feel that way about Virginia Woolf in general! In spite of this and because of this, I have read ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ several times. 

  • http://twitter.com/MamaHarshman Mrs Wilson-Harshman

    Your book The H Project actually then led me to your other works which turned the aha for me that I cold be a writer w/o being a journalist or a novelist …Thank You

  • Vicki Raymond

    Would like to recommend THE ART OF POSSIBILITY
    by Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

    • gretchenrubin

      I love that book, too.

      _____

      • Lindasherwood

        Children’s book such as Anne of Green Gables, and the Betsy Tacy series.  They teach me to be happy about the simple things in life like the first time Anne had ice cream and being excited about concerts in school and enjoying nature.  We take so much for granted today and have to have the biggest TV and newest car.  Basically we are too materialistic and don’t take enough time for family, friends and community.

  • Eliz

    I first read The Happiness Project a year and a half ago and loved it.  I’ve read Og Mandino, Carnegie, Covey, Coelho, etc.  But the one book I keep going back to has been Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  I’ve read it six times — twice in my twenties, twice in my thirties, once in my fourties, and then again in my fifties.  The life changing part???  I loved how my perspective towards the different characters has changed over the years as I’ve aged.  Getting older and hopefully wiser has tremendous advantages — worth every single one of my wrinkles!!

    • Karenin

      I did that with Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. It’s true how our perspective changes over the years, and how the same book seems like whole different stories.

  • E Hardy

    I was inspired by Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.  At any age we can throw away old attitudes, long-ingrained, find love and happiness, and stand up for what is right! Very enjoyable too!

  • http://bookboon.com/ free ebooks

    Books may also refer to works of literature, or a main division of such a work. In library and information science, a book is called a monograph, to distinguish it from serial periodicals such as magazines, journals or newspapers.

  • Kyle Givens

    I love A Pattern Language. I re-read at least once a year G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday.

  • http://www.garagedoorrepair-chicago.com/ Garage Door Chicago

    Architectural doors have numerous general and specialized uses. Doors
    are generally used to separate interior spaces (rooms, closets, etc.)
    for privacy, convenience, security, and safety reasons.

  • http://blog.readytomanage.com/four-different-learning-styles/ four different learning styles

    Play has been approached by several theorists as the first form of
    learning. Children play, experiment with the world, learn the rules, and
    learn to interact.

  • Pat

    I can’t believe the THE ARTIST”S WAY by Julie Cameron hasn’t been mentioned.  I HIGHLY recommend this book – changed my life, got me through some tough times, has inspired my life & I think about it many times every day.

  • Taylor Cone

    These books sound really interesting! I can’t wait to get my hands on “A Pattern Language” I found that the book “Change your brain Change your life” by Daniel G. Amen was a very good book which helped me to start targeting negative thoughts before they have a negative impact on me or the people around me! This book also helped me realize that people who are rude or try to ruin my day probably just have some kind of chemical imbalance in their brain! It makes it a lot easier to not get too caught up in others negative vibes! 

  • Carmen_ana_amell

    ” The Art of Happiness ” by the Delai Lama !
    Its the most amazing and inspiring book!

  • Peninith1

    I agree with the person who said that certain books came along at critical times, and this partly explains their power. But greatness is just great! My most life and perspective-changing reads have been:
    1. The Deptford Trilogy, by Robertson Davies (Canadian writer, wonderful, learned, and FUN with great plots).
    2. Memories, Dreams & Reflections, by Carl Jung.
    3. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin–good Sci-fi, but the reasons it resonated for me were deeply personal.
    4. Story of A Soul, by Therese of Lisieux
    5. The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching, by Thich Nhat Hanh

    Other, earlier reads that shaped my mind and continue to do so today, include
    5. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
    6. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    7. Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens

    I could go on about great reads and most intellectually stimulating works of literature, but these are the seven books that have had the most influence in making me the person I am or pointing me toward the person I want to be.

    • Micheledf

      Hello peninith 1,

      I wish you would keep going, as your reading taste is sublime. I am going to read The Left Hand of Darkness. Something resonates. (I liked Kpax).

      I scour websites on contemporary literature looking for a great read. Do you have a list of contemporary favourites. And have you read any of dan Miguel ruiz?

      Thanks again for your book suggestions. Michele

  • Valerie Cottrell

    I do identify with this pigeon! Here’s a very practical way to discover your style: Sarah Ban Breathnach’s illustrated discovery journal. Not sure if it was in Simple Abundance or Something More, but I think there’s a book dedicated to the topic too.  The idea is that you mine magazines for pictures that appeal to you.  No thinking about it, no working out why you like it or if you should like it, just cut it out and stick it in a nice big scrapbook. Gradually your preferences appear. I have one dedicated to interior decoration and one to garden design.  It’s absolutely fascinating how your own style is revealed.

  • Micheledf

    My favourite book of all time is The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. The Four Agreements is my second favourite by the same author. He has a website as a place to start..

  • http://www.facebook.com/mindfulmimi1 Mindful Mimi

    Written on the Body – Jeannette Winterson
    The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
    A year by the Sea – Joan Anderson
    and many more

  • http://www.caseycamilleri.com/ Casey Camilleri

    A book I’m reading right now is amazing and I highly recommend it.  You can actually get the PDF of it online.  Google it:

     How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne.

  • Melanie

    The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd began my serious spiritual journey, and helped me to see that God was so much more than I had ever realized. That realization had a profound experience on the rest of my life.

  • joepearson

    Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. Unbelievable.

  • Annie

    1984 by George Orwell. I read it at the age of 9, and it helped me see that there will always be chaos in the world, and there’s nothing that anyone or any group of people can do to stop it. It helped me take a step back, and see all the beautiful things in this universe. It’s a lot to process at 9. Evil big government (btw this book helped me get into politics), the s word, torture, fear, and the finite aspect of willpower.
    I personally believe that my childhood ended when I read this book.

  • Luna Lovegood

    I don’t see the Harry Potter’s on there…

  • Yury

    ‘Anastasia’ by Vladimir Megre and other books in his series called ‘Ringing Cedars of Russia’. You should read it – that definitely changed my life and life of many people here in Russia! The books are about what our world is from different prospective. Again I recommend everyone.

  • lemead

    What a great list. I love Tufte and also The Waves. I haven’t read A Pattern Language though have picked it up over and over again. I will do so now!