The following is a list of what I consider to be the very best books.
I’ve arranged them in categories.
I want to keep this list short and limit it to only the very best books.
These are all written in an engaging, fun style and are easy to read.
I definitely encourage reading widely, but if you are going to just focus on a few books, these are the ones.
In essence, you will learn the following lessons:
- You are in control of your life. No one else is. Nature and nurture play a role in who you are, but what really makes you are your decisions. And you have total control over those.
- You need to decide now what you want your life to be. Take the time to write out what it most important to you and what you want to accomplish in your life.
- Prioritize your time. Now that you know what you want to accomplish in life, organize your time so that you’re accomplishing the most important things to you.
- Think win-win. As you approach relationships with others, take a “win-win” mindset. Try to find a solution that works well for everyone.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. One of the least used but most important skills to have. We often listen to others with the intent to advise or respond. When we try to understand others first, we give them “psychological air.” When people feel understood, they are more open to be influenced by you. This is one of the best lessons in the book and can immediately be used in business and family life with awesome effects.
- Work together as a team
- Take time to care for yourself
This book has helped me structure the way I look at life every day. If you’re only going to read one book, make it this one.
Dale Carnegie has a very fun, down-to-earth writing style that makes the book a very easy read.
The lessons in here are amazing, timeless, and illustrated by a lot of real-life examples.
Here are the top 3 lessons that the book teaches:
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
- Show honest, sincere appreciation
- Arouse in the other person an eager want
Another big lesson in the book is to take an active interest in others. If you want to be interesting, be interested.
I’ll give you a quick example of how the big 3 lessons worked for helping my kids clean up the house.
Cleaning the house was always a battle for us. We had tried the usual (telling our kids a hundred times to do it with various threats). Unfortunately, this did not work well.
Instead, we started to compliment whichever kid was doing their jobs. We would make a big deal out of it, saying “great job son! That’s some nice cleaning! You’re a hard worker.” Stuff like that.
This simple shift motivated all the kids to start cleaning up. They wanted the praise much more than they wanted to avoid the punishment.
A big principle Dale Carnegie teaches is this: try to see things from the other person’s point of view. If you get more into that habit from this book, your life will be far better.
We all deal with worry to some extent. This book goes through many methods that people have used to successfully get rid of worry and start living the lives of their dreams.
If you’re a worrier, this book is definitely for you.
Many people, especially religious people, can be people pleasers. It seems “wrong” somehow to tell people “no.”
This book shows from a Biblical perspective why it’s actually good and important to say “no.”
Be aware that it is written mainly for Christian readers, so there are many Bible references. But, the principles can be applied by anyone, anywhere.
If you often find yourself saying “yes” when you wanted to say “no,” this book is for you.
It’s written from the perspective of a young man trying to learn from a rich man in ancient days (the days of Babylon) how to become rich.
It’s another fun, easy read. A parable of sorts.
Some of the big takeaways:
- A part of what you earn is yours to keep. Decide today to start saving a percentage of your income (10%+) for you.
- Send that money out to grow. Invest in safe things that you understand.
Starting a Business
Some of the other books I recommend are more about starting or growing a big business. This one is all about creating a “lifestyle business” that is run mainly by you without any employees.
You’ll also get lots of travel tips from this book.
This book does contain some curse words, just so you’re aware.
The best way to learn to start a business is to start one! Josh explains the basics of what you need to know to get started right away.
Mark Ford (a.k.a. Michael Masterson) has started many successful companies and helped even more grow to huge levels. I wrote a review of his book “Living Rich” here.
This book will help you understand, in easy-to-read, step-by-step fashion, how to start and grow a big business.
While his ideas are mainly for people wanting to start a physical product business, the ideas can be applied to any business.
This one is particularly good if you want to start a business that sells goods or services to other businesses.
Chet’s biggest strength is sales, so you’ll find lots of solid techniques on how to sell in this book (which, as you’ll learn from many books, is your first responsibility when you’re starting a new business).
Another parable about a “go-getter,” Joe, who learns what business is all about from a seasoned, successful businessman Pindar.
The basic premise is that when we focus first on giving to others, we unlock the key to real success in business and in life.
This helped me understand why my young kids were doing things that didn’t make sense (like running away from the toilet) and helped me know why and what to do about it.
In our family, we didn’t do the detailed chart, but did start applying what I think is the main idea of the book:
Praise and reward the behavior that you want instead of punishing the behavior you don’t want.
Related to this idea is to praise anything close to the behavior your want.
I’ll give an example.
Let’s say you want your child to go to bed on time.
If you ask little Jimmy to stop watching TV and get ready for bed, it’s best to start praising him as soon as he turns off the TV. If he doesn’t do any of the other steps, focus on the positive part of him turning off the TV. Don’t say/think “ok, you turned off the TV, but I asked you to do a lot more than that.”
I know I had that mindset before I read this book. But, I’ve tried this principle with my own kids and found it very useful. Plus, there are a lot more positive feelings in the house now instead of negative ones.
A great book to help us understand how to find purpose, meaning and happiness in our lives.
Many of these books are available on audible.com. This means that you can listen to the books instead of reading them. This is how I’ve been able to “read” about 20 times more books than I ever did before.