Read This Now: 5 Books That Can Change Your Life

They’re not about social media– they’re not even about the internet.

I have a lot of books that have changed the way I think, but almost none of them have to do with the web. Most of them have to do with understanding yourself better, seeing your own potential, or building good habits (ie, the things that actually make a difference).

These books really can change you… if you let them. That means do what they say, even if it seems silly, even if you think you know better. Give one of them a shot, or order them all from Amazon, then learn how to read more to get through them.

Let’s get to it.

The Creative Habit


I found out about The Creative Habit from my friend Madeline when I lived in Texas. Twyla Tharp is an award-winning choreographer who dispenses with the myth of creativity to show you how to actually do it yourself. She talks about her methods, her habits, and the hard work it actually takes to get it done.

What’s amazing about this book is how approachable she makes the whole thing. When you start to see that it’s habits that actually build a successful life, you start to consider how to structure your life in the same way.

I’ve gifted this book to multiple people through Amazon just because they seemed to need it at the time. Pick it up for yourself. You’ll be happy you did.

It’s Not How Good You Are…


The world’s bestselling book by Paul Arden. It’s about balls.

Something tells me that if you don’t have balls, this book won’t make you grow them. But if you have some, Paul Arden’s book will make you use them.

The feeling I have about being capable of more, of being able to do better than where I am right now, I learned that from Paul Arden. A few times a year, ever since I first bought this book, I feel an itch that only this book will help scratch. I read it and, inevitably, it puts me in a good place. If you need a pep talk, this is the book for you.

The Greatest Salesman in the World


When I picked it up, I expected this book to be another self help book. In some ways, it is. In other, it’s exactly the opposite. Og Mandino says at the beginning of it, “I will form good habits and become their slave,” because he knows whatever you do every day is what you become.

There are some religious undertones to this book. They didn’t impress me but I didn’t mind them, either. The core of the book could be explained by reading the Wikipedia entry (if you’re into that sort of thing), but that’s not what I suggest. Instead, actually read it. Maybe often.

Man’s Search for Meaning


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

So I looked through my archives and I’ve talked about this book before, but I thought it was time to bring it out again. Frankl talks about how prisoners in his concentration camp died not when their body gave way, but when their minds did, instead. It’s amazing to hear these stories, despite how horrible they are. They make you believe in the human spirit.

I don’t even really know what else to say about it, but you should read this book. It might be one of mankind’s most important texts.

Do More Great Work


Let’s end this with something a bit more recent. I’m actually not done Do More Great Work, but I’ve been loving the hell out of it. It forces me to pause and really consider what I want, and how I can get there.

Do you feel like you’re capable of more, but you’re unclear as to how to get there (or even where you’re heading)? Michael is the guy to help you through it, and this book is how. Run, don’t walk to pick it up.

What books are on your list? Add them below.






19 responses to “Read This Now: 5 Books That Can Change Your Life”

  1. Jay Martinez Avatar

    I have read Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman maybe 5 times, listened to the audiobook just as much. It’s all about don’t live in what used to be or what will be live in the now. It’s the only time that matters.

  2. Tim Jones Avatar

    As far as changing the way I think, I’d have to list The Four-Hour Work Week — love it or hate it, it makes you look at things in a different light.

    Also, Atlas Shrugged — indispensable classic that seems more like a documentary than a work of fiction.

  3. John Wall Avatar

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a great book that I found to be very useful in communication, time management and setting priorities.

  4. Adam Helsinger Avatar

    Messages: The Communication Skills Book by McKay is also a good one to add to the list.

  5. David Horne Avatar
    David Horne

    Great list. I like Og Mandino’s work. If I may add to the list: the magic of thinking big(schwartz), bringing out the best in people(mcginnis), the travelor’s gift(Andrews), linchpin(godin) and the choice(mandino).

    Julien, what are you excited about reading now or next?

  6. Louise Thompson Avatar

    A fabulous list. I’m inspired to hit up Amazon (or my local Books Etc, much nicer, coffee in hand), to buy these. Not just for myself, but for some people that i think might benefit. Still need to get round to ‘Switch’ too.

  7. Michael Avatar

    I’m in pretty amazing company here – thanks for the very kind words!

  8. Eugene Avatar


    I haven’t read the other books in your list, but I can attest that Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is a must-read.

  9. Larry Avatar

    Thanks for posting this list, Julien. There are so many good books to choose from in this category – it helps (and saves time!) to have someone you trust point you in the right direction.

  10. Jonas Avatar

    “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. If Paul Arden gets you in the mood to use those cajones, these guys will get you using them in the right way. It’s a punchy read that busts entrenched paradigms of working and might be the most refreshing perspective on “work” you read this year. I loved it!

  11. Christa Avampato Avatar

    Hi Julien,
    I loved The Creative Habit and Man’s Search for Meaning also. Others that changed my life:

    Bird by Bird – made me realize how much I love to write

    Long Walk to Freedom – I still think about certain passages in that book and tear up. Nelson Mandela’s words made me consider and re-consider my greatest passions

    Mountains Beyond Mountains – Paul Farmer’s dedication to world health, and particularly to the people of Haiti, is awe-inspiring

  12. Helen Antebi Avatar
    Helen Antebi

    I loved Building the Bridge as you walk on it, Robert Quinn – although it is about leading (others through) change, one key message I took away was that we know we’ve embarked on serious, radical change when the potential, the experience and the outcome is totally unknowable….totally exciting and exhilarating when you stop to think.

  13. Scarborough Dude Avatar

    We’ve already agreed on Man’s Search For Meaning; I would like to add another one that changed my life as a young man (some 40 years ago): On Becoming A Person, by Carl Rogers, the man who introduced us to client centered therapy. The book explores the idea of what it is to be a fully functioning human, and how it is possible to grow and develop into a better, happier person. I find it’s as true today as it was all those years ago.

  14. Alex Ikonn Avatar

    Excellent list!

    I’d have to agree with some of the comments above – Rework and 4 Hour Work Week are probably one of the best recent books that might change your life.

    It certainly changed mine!

  15. Hamish Avatar

    Books that have influenced me most recently.
    – Your Brain at Work
    – Risk
    – You are Not a Gadget (the other side of Trust Agents?)

  16. Kirill Blazhko Avatar

    The unchanging leader of my list is ‘The Good Soldier Å vejk’ by Jaroslav HaÅ¡ek. On of the ideas of the book is that you can overcome even very tough obstacles by being a not serious person. Be simple and smile – then you’ll win!

  17. Jye Smith Avatar

    Awesome. That is all.

  18. Pramit Singh Avatar

    A useful list of life-changing books. May I also suggest The Success Manual, Encyclopedia of Advice? The Success Manual contains Summaries of 100+ Greatest Business Books

  19. Jason Crouch Avatar

    Julien – Thanks for sharing your list. If you want an interesting read, I would recommend checking out “Everything Bad is Good for You” by Steven Johnson. If you’re looking for a powerful non-fiction memoir, read “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers. These are a couple of my favorites from the past few years –

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