A good book is one you can’t put down.
A life-changing book is one that resonates with your soul and expands your consciousness, forever shifting your perspective.
Here are the best life-changing books of all time.
I also provided the preview option, wherever possible so you can have a better idea of what it contains.
Roman emperors are known for many things such as military triumphs, and massive buildings having their name, but not for their philosophical insights.
An exception to this rule was Marcus Aurelius. He ruled the Roman Empire from 161 AD to his death 25 years later.
His thoughts have come down to us in the book Meditations and put together over a ten-year period while he was on military campaigns in Eastern Europe.
While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, he also created one of the best works of philosophy.
2. David and Goliath
The Title tells you exactly what this book is about. How do little guys defeat giants?
We all know the story of David and Goliath. And our first impression is that David got lucky.
But, in this book, Gladwell told us that the sheer strength someone has, can also, be their greatest weakness.
Malcolm tells different stories in the book about people who turned their hardships into advantages.
Combine that with the high storytelling abilities of Malcolm and the product is… a masterpiece.
3. Man’s Search For Meaning
Victor Frankl was born in 1905 in Vienna. He earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna.
Between 1942 and 1945 he was held in different Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz. Besides his sister, his whole family perished.
This book contains his own experiences and the experiences of those he treated in his practice.
Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.
He died in 1997, and at that time “The Man’s Search for a Meaning” sold 10 million copies in 24 languages.
A 1991 survey by the Library of Congress asked the readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life”.
“The Man’s Search for a meaning” was among the ten most influential books in America.
4. A Brief History of Time
Stephen Hawking was probably the most famous scientist in the world.
From 1979 to 2009 he has been Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge- a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton.
He has been at the forefront of attempts to combine two great achievements of modern physics (quantum theory and relativity)– into one grand theory.
The book “A Brief History of Time” brought him the greatest fame and public recognition.
After its publication, jokes were made about the volume and the inability some people had to finish it. But the jokes were unfair.
It’s a book elegantly written. And gives you the advanced answers that scientists are giving to the questions about the origin, nature, and eventual destiny of the universe.
The Story of my life accounts for Helen Keller’s triumph over deafness and blindness. Her story has become a symbol of hope for all people all over the world.
Helen Keller was born in Atlanta.
At the age of 19 months, she was struck down by a mysterious illness that left her deaf and blind.
Her devastated parents wanted to find a way to help her. They met Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, and a pioneer in the education of deaf people.
Alexander was introduced to them by a 20-year-old teacher called Anne Sullivan.
She agreed to take care of Helen. Eventually, the relationship between Anne and Helen lasted for 50 years.
With astonishing patience and determination, a teaching program led Helen Celler to become the first deafblind person to graduate from college. Then, the best-selling author and social activist.
The first years of this collaboration were recorded in this book.
6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Malcolm was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the son of an African-American Baptist preacher. When he was only six, his father was found dead.
And some years later, his mother, who had never recovered from her loss, was detained in a mental hospital where she spent the rest of her life.
Malcolm drifted into crime and addiction and was imprisoned for ten years in 1946.
There he becomes a Muslim, and once released, he reinvented himself as a powerful advocate of black power and black separatism.
In 1964, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, he announced his rejection of his separatist beliefs and his newfound conviction that good men of all races could join together to combat discrimination and injustice.
On 25 February 1965, Malcolm X was speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in New York when he was shot several times.
Even though three people were convicted of this assassination, controversy about who really shot Malcolm X continues to this day.
Whoever was guilty, had killed one of the most remarkable Americans of that generation.
Martin Luther King Jr was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
He was the son of a Baptist preacher. He went on to become a pastor himself in Montgomery, Alabama.
Martin accepted the leadership in one of the first great campaigns for black equality in the USA.
He was the heart of the civil movement, delivering hundreds of speeches.
In 1964, Martin became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
Unfortunately, 4 years later, Martin L. King was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a hotel room in Memphis.
“A testament of hope” includes the most inspiring words that King gave to the world.
8. The Road Less Traveled
He was born in New York City, studied at Harvard, and then served for a decade as a psychiatrist in the US Army, and in private practice.
The book was published in 1978, but it became a best-seller after 1980.
What I like about this book is that his communication is direct, especially the opening lines…
“This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult”.
It follows the experience of the narrator struggling with insomnia.
He finds relief by impersonating a seriously ill person and going to several support groups.
Then his world changes after meeting a mysterious man called Tyler Durdan. Together they create an underground fighting club.
As Tyler says, “What you see at fight club, is a generation of men raised by women”. Men that didn’t have a father figure that could help shape their masculinity.
The fightings aren’t about winning or making money.
Fight Club is a way for the members to feel alive.
As the “Club” begins to grow, Tyler uses it to spread his anti-consumerism ideas.
He gathers the most devoted members and plays pranks on different corporations.
It’s one of the most influential books of the past half-century.
This book is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live and a meditation on how to live better.
The narrative of a father on a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest with his young son becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions.
Dale Carnegie offers a set of practical formulas you can put to work today, so you can experience a worry-free life.
More Great Books
12. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
13. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
15. The Stranger by Albert Camus
16. Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
17. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
18. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
19. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
20. GÖDEL, ESCHER, BACH by Douglas Hofstadter
21. I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This by Kate White
23. Antifragile by Nassim Taleb