10 Life-Changing Books That Shaped My Journey

by | Mar 31, 2015 | Marketing & Selling, Mindset, Planning Your Business

At a recent Rough Writers Toastmasters meeting, we were asked a thought-provoking question: Which life-changing book has had the most significant impact on your life and why? As people around the room shared their responses, I realized that many life-changing books have influenced me in different ways, each contributing to various facets of my life.

One of my friends answered that he couldn’t narrow it down to one book, referred us to his blog for a list of his top 10 favorite books, and sat down. I think that was cheating.

Inspired by my friend’s top 10 list, I decided to create my own compilation of life-changing books that have profoundly impacted my journey. I’ve organized them around the eight facets of life.

And to be clear, these are books that I’ve actually read … all the way through … not just own and want to read some day. So, here we go!

Finances & Prosperity

Learning about money and how to manage it well is a critical success skill. I think it is a shame that financial education is not required. Although, I do suspect, in my darker, more conspiratorial moments, that things are this way to keep the people down so “the man” can rule us more easily. Don’t let Big Brother get the best of you! Learn about money!

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This is a classic, yes. I’ve only read it once, but I intend to read it many more times. I first read it when I was in my early 20s. It helped me start me on the path of self-improvement in general and planted the seeds of being open to other prosperity teachings later in life. This, I believe, is a must read for everyone.

Rich on Any Income by James P. Christensen

I read this book when I was still in high school and I’ve been creating and (for the most part) sticking to budgets every since. Knowing where your money is going and how you can manage it is so empowering. I think this book should be required reading in high school and/or college. Without this book, I might not be where I am today … I would have experienced much deeper water than I have.


This is such a big topic! It encompasses general business skills, as well as specific skills for each industry … and even life skills that impact business. Since most of my work experience has been in communications, most of the books I’ve read that impacted me are about writing. But here are a couple of business books that I think have more universal appeal.


Writing to Learn by William Zinsser

In this book, Zinsser talks about how important writing is to clear communication and clear thinking. I know, as a writer, that I’ve learned things more deeply by writing about them, especially writing about them in an effort to help someone else understand the topic. Clear communication is an essential for business and this book gives a way to help you achieve it.

The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost Your Sales by Dan S. Kennedy

This is by far the most accessible book I’ve read about writing sales copy. Even if you hire a copy writer to do this task in your business, I recommend you read this book anyway because it will help you know whether or not your copy writer is doing a good job.


Your body and mind create a temple for your soul. If they are not in good shape, they won’t support you in any of your life’s endeavors. I’m not a role model for athletes, but I do my best to take decent care of my body and mind, making healthy food choices (most of the time), exercising regularly and feeding my mind a buffet of good stuff. Here are some books I’ve read that helped me along that journey.


10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Lose Up to 15 Pounds in 10 Days! by JJ Smith

I received this book so that I could review it for my food blog, CarmasCookery.com. I even went through the cleanse, video recording it along the way and sharing my experiences on video. This book opened by eyes. I’ve had a green soothie at least once a day ever since. I feel so much better. My mind works better. I have more energy. It’s been life changing. Give it try and see how you fare.

Curious about my experience? Watch my two-episode series: Episode 1 | Episode 2

T.A. for Tots: And Other Prinzes by Alvin M. Freed, PhD

My father gave me this book when I was in the first or second grade. He read it to both me and my sister and it has impacted me for life. The purpose of this classic book is to help youngsters understand their intrinsic worth as human beings, while building and strengthening self-esteem, esteem of others, personal and social responsibility, critical thinking and independent judgement. The idea of “warm fuzzies” (being nice) and “cold pricklies” (being mean) has stayed with me all these years. As I strive to be a good person, I always go back to thinking is what I’m doing giving someone a warm fuzzy or a cold prickly? In case you were wondering, I try to avoid doing the latter.

Physical Environment

Your physical environment impacts everything you do and how you think. When your environment is untidy, cluttered or — heaven forbid — ugly, it affects how you think and how you see the world. In my 30s, I learned about feng shui from my ex-husband and have been a moderate follower of the practice ever since. Here are a couple of books that might help you gain a better understanding of space and how to arrange it so it supports you and your goals.


Lillian Too’s Easy-to-Use Feng Shui by Lillian Too

This book provides an easily accessible introduction to the basic tenets of feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice of arranging spaces to support good flow of chi or energy. To this day, I always keep and eye out for how the energy flows through my home and often will re-arrange things when the space feels stale.

Feng Shui Goes to the Office by Nancilee Wydra

This book brings feng shui to the workplace. Whether you have a home office or a corporate office, the tips in this book will help you arrange your workspace so that it helps you be more successful. Some of the tips I followed actually resulted in increased income or increased peace of mind. I’d swear by it.

Social Life & Romance

Our relationships with others color every facet of our lives from the moment we exit the womb to the moment we enter our tomb. Wouldn’t life be grander if those relationships were positive, supportive ones? Here are a couple of books I found helpful in understanding others in my life and how to relate in a positive way.

Naked!: How to Find the Perfect Partner by Revealing Your True Self by David Wygant

This is an amazing book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to find true, lasting love. I think it can be helpful in finding true, lasting friendship, as well. The book is well written and has plenty of examples to illustrate how the principles Wygant shares can be demonstrated in real life situations. I can’t recommend this book enough … its that good. Besides, its in totally alignment with my brand, my philosophy of life and my mission.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray

Whether you’re looking for love or just constructive relationships with your co-workers, this book can be quite helpful. I often fell back on the ideas expressed in this book to make peace with my ex-huband … and even though he swore that he was not a typical male, it worked. Understanding how the men and women in your life behave and act in the world goes a long way to improving our relationships with friends, co-workers and intimate partners. There is a reason this book has become a classic.

Fun & Recreation

Here’s where I get to let my geek flag fly. I’ve been reading genre fiction since I was barely a two-digit age — thanks to my father. Here are two that have had the most impact upon my life and reading habits.

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

This was the book that started it all for me. I had been watching Star Trek with my dad for awhile and he could see that I was a budding science fiction fan. This was the book he gave me to read to see if my interest would transfer to the written word. It did. I’ve read all of Asimov’s robot novels and short fiction and am big fan. When Asimov died, I cried. He is one of my three favorite authors of all time.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

I’ve read this book three times and listened to it on tape two times. I’ve even seen the TV mini series. Bradbury’s soft poetic style has been of great influence on my own style. I feel blessed to have seen him speak several times and actually met him in person. In fact, when I did, I handed him a letter telling him how impact-ful his work has been on my life. (Good thing I had that letter, because I was struck speechless in his presence.) He wrote me back! I plan on framing that letter some day.


Stephen Covey talks about sharpening the saw … continuously learning new things. When I had more time to read, I actually divided my book reading habits into six categories and alternated one from each category. (Just in case you are curious, those categories were: science fiction, fantasy, other fiction, science, self-improvement and other non-fiction.) This list is really just some of my favorite books that taught me something new and interesting. Read them if you wish or find your own. However you choose, please make sharpening the saw an integral part of your life.

Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

This is probably the thickest book I’ve ever read, but it held me fascinated from begininng to end. It tells the stories of all the people involved in the creation and deployment of the atomic bomb, how good intentions went awry and how good people made bad choices. It is history with a heavy dose of story.

The Invisible Invaders – Viruses and the Scientists Who Pursue Them by Peter Radetsky

When I first enrolled in a science writing class as an undergraduate at the University of California Santa Cruz, I had no idea it would change the course of my life. Radetsky was the instructor and that class turned me from the path of becoming a scientist to the path of being a science communicator. During that class, he mentioned he was writing a book about viruses. Years later, I decided to find out if he ever completed it. He did and it is one of the best books I’ve read about viruses and our quest to understand them.

Spiritual Growth

Your spiritual expression is just as important to your overall health as nutrition, mental health and creative expression. This planet offers a plethora of paths to the divine and I’ve delighted in developing my relationship with God through learning about and exploring this variety of faiths. I was raised Catholic, but I’m pretty liberal and don’t follow all tenets religiously. I consider myself more spiritual than religious. No judgement if you are something else. I believe there are as many paths to the divine as there are people, and I encourage you to explore your relationship with God/the Universe/the Creator/All There Is/Great Spirit. He/She/It wants to get to know you, too.


God Works Through Faith by Robert A. Russell

I really don’t know why I resisted reading this book. Maybe it was because I felt it would be too religion-y. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This New Thought book, written in the 1950s, is just as relevant today as it was back then. It opened my eyes to possibilities and remains my favorite New Thought book so far. This is a sequel to God Works through You, but is much better. You can find both of these books for free download on the web.

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

You might not expect to find this book on a list of books about spirituality, but I put it here because it started me on the path of exploring my unique spiritual expression. I found the descriptions of the Neanderthal spirituality compelling and beautiful. And since then I’ve read and learned about a wide variety of spiritual practices from Native Americans to Christianity to Judaism and Islam. I’ve even looked at ancient mythologies from the perspective of the people who believed them. There is evidence that humans are wired to seek communion with the divine, and I find it fascinating how that communion is explored in different cultures.


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