There are some books that stick with you for years. They immediately cause you to think differently and live differently. And it’s often not the books that you might expect that end up being so life-changing.
I am always on the lookout for great book recommendations, so I wanted to put forth a few of my own.
These are the books that have changed me. They have made me look at the world in a new way, changed my habits, and influenced my life in huge ways.
They cover a variety of topics, including health, daily life, business, money, and even great fiction that changed how I think. I’ve also included some honorable mentions — books on similar topics that I also loved and wholeheartedly recommend.
7 Must-Read Books That Will Change You
Better Than Before
Have you ever wondered why you have such a hard time sticking to a new habit? Why is it so hard to change? Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin is all about how to harness our habits to create a more productive and happy life. After all, our habits really define our days, and our days define our lives.
This book offers a whole bunch of strategies you can use to develop the habits you want (like exercise or better sleep) and quit the ones you don’t want (like smoking).
Better Than Before is insanely helpful at suggesting how to create the habits we want and even explains why some methods may or may not work for you.
This book changed how I think about my daily actions and caused me to be more purposeful about creating good habits. It also helped me realize why I can’t have just one cookie even though most nutritionists say that everything is good in moderation. Plus, I learned why accountability has never worked that well for me even though it is highly recommended by many experts.
By the same author, this one is all about Gretchen’s personal year-long project to live a happier life. It is so interesting and has lead to tons of people creating their own happiness projects. So good!
Off the Clock
I own the physical book and the audiobook of this one — that’s how much I love it!
I have struggled over the past few years with how I think about time. Even when I have time to relax and enjoy myself, I’m thinking about my to do list or feel like I should be doing something else. I want to be productive, but I also want to enjoy the moment without constantly feeling rushed. This book helped me so much with this!
Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam teaches how you can shift your mindset about time so that you can be calm even when you’re busy and get a lot done with the overwhelm.
Plus, she shares how you can slow down time so that you can soak in the good moments and make more memories. I re-read/listen to this book every so often because I need to be reminded of these things over and over.
Ok, same author again. Laura interviewed busy people with intense jobs to figure out how they ran their mornings. The findings are interesting, inspiring, and can be applied to your life. This short book will give you ideas on how to do mornings differently.
Zero Sugar Diet
I had been trying to lower my sugar intake for a while. Then I read Zero Sugar Diet by David Zinczenko and I have been eating super low sugar for well over a year without any intention of ever stopping.
This book helped me understand how sugar affects my body and gave me the exact rules I could follow to eat less sugar.
I have lost weight without trying and mostly gotten rid of my back pain (I was close to needing surgery) because of this book! It just pulled everything together in a way that made sense. Plus there are tons of simple recipes, food lists, and lists of what to order at restaurants to eat less sugar.
This book is such an easy read and will inspire you to take action immediately. Each section goes into a bit of research about the impact of how you eat, move, and sleep and gives actionable things you can do to be healthier.
The Total Money Makeover
I’ve read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover multiple times since Austin and I got married. I always find it inspiring and it helps keep our finances on track, no matter where in his baby steps we might be.
I’ve written a full review of TMM and explained the parts of his program that we do not follow to the letter, but this book has still affected our finances in a big way! I love that he lays out a simple, step by step plan that anyone can work through.
I read this book in our first year of marriage when we were broke, broke, broke. So many of the money saving and frugal living strategies from this book have been incorporated into our lives over the years. If you want to live frugally, this book will teach you things.
Building a StoryBrand
This book falls under the work category. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller is all about changing how you speak about your company and your products so that your customers will understand what you do and why you are exactly what they need.
Working through the framework laid out in this book has changed how I think about my business and changed how I talk about my products. If you are self-employed or do any kind of marketing, the info in this book will help you connect with your customers.
The goal setting strategy in this book is fabulous! I have set shorter term goals ever since reading it. I also learned time blocking from this book, which I still use every single week to get more done. The 12 Week Year made me exponentially more productive and has helped me focus my energy on the tasks that will make the biggest impact.
I read Anthem by Ayn Rand for English class during my freshman year of high school and I’ve never forgotten it. I still have my original copy that I reread occasionally.
It’s a fiction story about a time in the future where all individualism is eliminated. No one is allowed to decide what they want, what they like, or what they want to do. It is all decided for them.
The Harry Potter Series
You saw this coming, right? Do you know about my undying love for the Harry Potter series? I never watched a single movie or read any of the books until I was in my 20s! But they have influenced me in a huge way.
Besides being in awe of JK Rowling’s story telling abilities, I love the strong female characters in these books. Hermione doesn’t hide her intelligence. Ginny is amazingly powerful. Luna is unapologetically herself. And all of them do what they believe to be right without being distracted by anything else. I only wish I had these role models in my life when I was younger!
I devoured this entire series last year. These are murder mystery books set in England after WWI. Maisie Dobbs is another strong female character that I find completely inspiring and can relate to in a lot of ways.
Have you read any of these books yet? Did they make a big impact on you?