Stack of Books

The Top 100 Books That Changed My Life

I read. A lot. In fact, 2007 was the "Year of 1,001 Books" for me, where I reaffirmed my affection for that which is written. While digesting mounds of books, I've found that they come in three broad flavors:

  1. Fluffy stuff it wasn't that important that I remember afterward. This includes a lot of enjoyable reads (as well as trash I wish I could go back and un-read ;-)
  2. Books that were helpful, and I remembered later. Nifty conversation starters among this bunch, as well as some good grist for sharin'.
  3. Works that flat out rocked my world, containing wisdom that I want to remember every day for the rest of my life.

This book list is all about that third category. Every single one of these books has changed my life in a profound way. Some expanded the way that I look at things: myself, others, the world at large. Others were incredibly useful, giving me much needed tools to help me do things that were important to me. Most have direct, practical applications that improve our daily life, not only for us but for those near and dear to us as well. And a few were just downright inspirational, making me want to live in the world with eyes shining and heart open.

I've tried to arrange the list for your convenience, i.e. in order of what I'm guessing will be the most immediately useful to you, not the personal impact on my life. In fact, there are many books that have greatly influenced me that aren't shown here at all. Some are omitted because they are too specialized (like some professional treatises), others are too dense (like some college textbooks), and still others because they aren't well written (ur, also like some college textbooks ;-) There's also a lot great fiction I haven't mentioned because, while they were engrossing and stimulating reads at the time, they didn't actually have a lasting effect on my life.

Anyhoo, I hope the wisdom contained in these volumes moves you as much as it has me. At the moment it is just a list. However, when I have some time to get around to it I'd like to write a one page summary of each of the books, as well as a short blurb on how it affected me.

Where possible I've linked to freely available sources, and to Amazon otherwise. Let me know if you find a free version of any of these books so that I can update them!


  1. How We Choose To Be Happy by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks. Also Happiness and Health
  2. Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
  3. Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  4. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Also Vital Lies, Simple Truths
  5. Grain Brain by David Perlmutter. A must read for anyone interested in preventing modern diseases, in particular late life mental problems.
  6. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Also The Omnivore's Dilemma
  7. Small Is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher. Also Small is Still Beautiful
  8. If by Rudyard Kipling
  9. The Two-Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi
  10. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  11. Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey
  12. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
  13. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Also How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
  14. The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Steven Covey. Also First Things First
  15. That's Not What I Meant! by Deborah Tannen. Also You Just Don't Understand. Actually, read anything by Tannen, she just rocks that much
  16. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  17. The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint
  18. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Arthur Pell (for the Revised Edition)
  19. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray. Also Mars and Venus on a Date
  20. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver
  21. Consilience by E. O. Wilson. Also The Ants and On Human Nature
  22. Sources of Power by Gary Klein
  23. Truth in Comedy by Del Close, Charna Halpern, and Kim Johnson
  24. Teaching with the Brain In Mind by Eric Jensen
  25. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  26. How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence. Also Give Me Liberty and Seven Simple Steps to Personal Freedom
  27. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  28. Rapid Development by Steve McConnell. Also Code Complete
  29. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. Also Collapse
  30. The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler
  31. How The Mind Works by Stephen Pinker. Also The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate. Basically, Pinker says all the truths everyone needs to hear but few can bring themselves to believe.
  32. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Also Creativity
  33. The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. Also Escape From Freedom
  34. Asimov on Numbers by Isaac Asimov. Also The Gods Themselves and the Foundation series, as well as several hundred other books to choose from ;-)
  35. Getting to Yes by Bruce Patton, William Ury, and Roger Fisher
  36. Chicken Soup For The Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Also many Chicken Soup titles
  37. The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris
  38. The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller
  39. When Things Start To Think by Neil Gershenfeld
  40. Good to Great by Jim Collins. Also Built to Last
  41. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
  42. The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
  43. Dealing with People You Can't Stand by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner
  44. The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins. Also The Selfish Gene
  45. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
  46. The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
  47. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  48. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
  49. The Buying of the President by Charles Lewis
  50. Altas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Also The Virtue of Selfishness
  51. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl
  52. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. Also Snow Crash
  53. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  54. Food Politics by Marion Nestle
  55. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
  56. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  57. South Beath Diet by Arthur Agatson
  58. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
  59. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  60. Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber
  61. Calculus Made Easy by Silvanus Thompson
  62. The Republic by Plato
  63. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
  64. Molecular Biology of the Gene by James D Watson et al
  65. Odyssey by Homer, translated by Fitzgerald. Here is a free but worse translation
  66. Aesop's Fables by Aesop