I read a bit, as much as my spare time allows. Some of the books are good, some are just a poor investment of time. But very rarely, and almost always a surprise, some of the books are massively transformational and completely change the way I think about an important part of my life. As a list for my own record and because these books might also be helpful for you, here are the one that changed me the most. What books have transformed your life? Please post in the comments, because I’m always looking for more!
Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Self-help books are a dime a dozen. Some of them help, none of them are transformational. Flow is different. For one thing, it’s not a self-help book. Instead, it reviews the psychological science behind happiness, contentment and all our other emotions, then cleanly unifies this research within a single conceptual framework before applying it to the question of how to be more happy.
For me, and now that I’ve digested all of this information, it does not and should not change what I want. But I now know what I can do to ensure that I am happy with what I want and the process of getting there, along with all the many other things in my life too – friendships, my relationship, my time at work and doing chores, everything. That feels pretty fundamental, and in the few days since I’ve finished the book I can see the changes and start others. I was happy. Now I’m even happier.
The Alchemy of Finance, by George Soros
Like Flow, this book is not an easy read. It’s well written but deals with some very difficult concepts. The insight into Soro’s mind and the way he approaches problems makes it worth it. Because it’s not a book about picking stocks, and it’s only incidentally a book about understanding markets. Much more, the book is about the cycles and systems and nth-order effects. This book taught me how important it was to think in this way. Without that realisation, I could not have appreciated the insight of Flow, understood my goals or understood the world nearly as clearly as I do now.
Tuxedo Park, by Jennet Conant
This book is here for very personal reasons – it shaped and inspired what I want to do with my life. Alfred Loomis did amazing things and lived a life that mattered.