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The 18 Books That Changed My Life

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life…

During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives.

I want to share them with you. (Click to share with others)

I judge a book’s success if a year later I’m still using at least 1 thing from the book.

Takeaways from my 18 favorite books:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey book

  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Relationships are like a bank account, you make deposits and withdrawals
  • Sharpening the saw, keep learning and improving your brain
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois Frankel

Nice Girls book

  • Don’t let men shorten your name at the office
  • Don’t mother people at the office or you’ll be treated like a mother

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less – Barry Schwartz

Paradox of Choice book

  • At restaurants, close the menu after you find the 1 dish that you like
  • Choices can be evil. Being satisfied with things will make you so much happier than always going for the maximum

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition – Robert B. Cialdini

  • People can be influenced in their behaviors by many different tactics

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies – Chet HolmesUltimate Sales Machine

The Power of Full Engagement – Jim Loehr and Tony SchwartzPower of Full Engagement

  • It’s not about how much time you have in your day but how you allocate you energy
  • You need to allocate time for yourself to recharge
  • Spend time with people that give you more energy

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long – David RockDavid Rock book

  • Different ways to organize and prioritize your day to maximize productivity

Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships – Christopher RyanSex at Dawn book

  • Jealousy is a societal creation and great ways to be aware of why it happens

The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure – James RedfieldCelestine Prophecy

  • Nothing is coincidence
  • Fate is what you make of it. ie. go create your own luck

Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being RemarkablePurple Cow

  • Only the unique get remembered

Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers – Seth GodinSeth Godin

  • No one wants your annoying ass marketing. Get their permission and deliver more than what they expect

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business – Danny MeyerSetting the Table

  • Create an experience that is like nothing else
  • Be authentic to yourself
  • Treating the customers exceptionally is the differentiator in business

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership – Bill WalshBill Walsh

  • Focusing on doing the right processes and the outcome will take care of itself
  • Keep your lockers / desks clean and it’ll reflect in other parts of your life

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We ThinkMIndless Eating

  • Great hacks on ways to reduce calories instead of just trying new diet fads
  • Hide the food you don’t want to eat
  • Put out the portions of food you want instead of just eating from the bag
  • Using science / data to make decisions / impacts on our eating habits instead of opinions

The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire (20th Anniversary Edition) – David DeidaDavid Deida

  • Be conscious / present when you are interacting in life
  • Spend time with the people that are honest and make your life be

Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change – Robin Norwood

Love too Much book
  • Love yourself first and you can be loved

The Fountainhead – Ayn RandFountainhead

  • Healthy selfishness is a great thing

These books reflect a full life, not just business.

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111 responses to “The 18 Books That Changed My Life”

August 30, 2020 at 12:01 pm

You change my life. Thanks for your helping me by sharing your experience with us.

Moses Mosepedi
June 30, 2020 at 3:32 am

Hi, this book has changed my life completely and change my unawareness into awareness, thanks

Mark Hirstwood
November 10, 2019 at 12:06 pm

It’s good to be aware of these books and what they cover, or maybe even read/listen to them, but ultimately, it’s all obsolete nonsense. Hear me out. I’m almost 42 and I’ve sought knowledge and wisdom my entire life. After you burn through it all, eventually you see it’s mostly just junk, to sell books, to make the author get ahead, so they can do a book tour and have a better chance at getting laid. Show me who David Deida’s with, don’t tell me about his book on women. Has he mastered anything? I doubt it. This applies to all of it. Static perspectives and rule-sets seem more meaningful once written down such as Covey’s ‘don’t let people shorten your name at work’, total nonsense, just arbitrary to make you imagine it makes any difference; it doesn’t. Either we’re living in a simulation with choice or without or we just happened and we have choice or we don’t and it’s all fate or random. They say free will is an illusion now, Google that. So did you focus on your dream board or did ‘the Force’ plant that image in your mind and make you think it was your idea? It’s not something we can know. Seems like fate is fixed. In 42 years all I know is: “Nothing works, nothing helps and nobody ever gets what they really want. If they claim to, they’re lying out of self-interest.”

Chuck Davis
December 14, 2019 at 11:47 am

Mark. C’mon. ‘Some’ things work sometimes. Just all the self help books don’t really solve all your problems. If you can apply some concepts, those things will work to ‘some’ degree. It’s not all roses man I hear you. I used a lot of Tony Robbin’s books throughout my adulthood and Covey. Yeah, not all of it processes and it isn’t magic. But I have had self improvement using others wisdom and by trying, not just reading.

May 5, 2021 at 9:23 pm

Covey never mentioned ‘Don’t let people shorten your name’. Yes you are uttering total nonsense.

July 3, 2022 at 3:10 pm

In what state are you now? I’m Just interested in that!

james hamilton
April 18, 2019 at 8:44 pm

Good stuff Noah… but that’s just 17!

victoria o'duffy
March 17, 2019 at 7:25 pm

I completely agree! I was so down with all of these until I saw Ayn Rand, what a disappointment to cap off a wonderful list! I’ll never forget that Ayn Rand collected social security….

David go do a little research.

October 1, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Same here.

Heather kell
January 6, 2019 at 11:02 pm

I’ve read a number of these and yes some are truly life changing

The trick is absorbing the information and applying it to your life until it becomes a habit

The most life changing book is the Bible as it contains 66 books and incredible wisdom

Najee J Bell
January 6, 2020 at 2:53 pm


Jess Daniel
November 5, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Yesss! Amen ??????

July 3, 2022 at 3:13 pm

I’m not religious, and I do agree with your bible statement on its wisdom.

October 18, 2018 at 5:52 am

Such an amazing list. I am super energized to go out and read them. Thank you.

July 14, 2018 at 12:34 am

First, I love your taco bullets. Second, I also walked out on a Tony Robbins seminar (I was 14 and it was the Fear Into Power Firewalking Experience – the Firewalking part WAS amazing I will say). I became very angry at him when I realized the entire audience was hypnotized and sobbing – I confronted him. He was gracious about my complaint though and offered a refund. The whole thing felt a little cult-ish.

Your list is solid, a few surprises on there. A few books I would add:

The Speed of Trust – Stephen Covey
~ Examines how we don’t question people we know and trust vs. unproven entities

Originals – Adam Grant
~ Highlights the rewards of taking a chance on yourself

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
~ Why you should trust your gut instincts

April 3, 2020 at 12:15 am

This comment is pure Gold!

Marryiam Niazi
March 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

Seeing this list makes me cry a bit. I love all the titles especially the ones about relationships. Thanks for sharing.

C Fly
March 8, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Read it in 2017 and I’ll re-read it multiple times in 2018.

Pitch Anything: An innovative method for presenting, persuading, and winning the deal
by Oren Klaff

I recommend the audio book because a lot would be lost in print.

Dean Rittenhouse
September 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Great List!.. except for Ayn Rand. Her take on reality is warped and basically the biggest reason why we have so many chronic social issues in the USA.

April 7, 2018 at 9:46 pm

How is Rand’s understanding of reality “warped”? And what are the “chronic social issues” that you attribute to Rand which did not exist in the U.S. before anyone knew about her ideas?

Jaelynn La Salla
October 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm

I agree with you wholly. Ayn Rand is very, very warped in her thinking.

Ernie Delgado
July 19, 2017 at 1:37 am

I’d like to add to that list:

First Things First – Steven Covey
Wooden on Leadership – John Wooden
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

Mari Chapman
May 1, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Mindless Eating is a great book. I have struggled with things like that. Dieting has been a struggle all my life. I am currently reading The New Turbo Protein Diet by Dr. Markert, for me it’s finding a book that I can learn from and then sustain the things I learn!

Karen Wade Cavanagh
April 17, 2017 at 4:14 pm

On the podcast and Noah is challenging Gus to challenges. And mentioned this. So right now I ordered first ones and have challenged myself to finish these in 40 days

Russell Scherwin
April 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

Thanks for sharing what you gained, in addition to the book. The insights are appreciated.

Especially appreciate how you see business as an outlet for your goal of maximizing life.

Jim Sereney
March 28, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Great list! And I would agree with 17 of them. 😉

Melanie Dargie
March 19, 2017 at 9:17 pm

I thought I had all the books I needed but you have given me a few more. Thank you I look forward to reading them and expanding my knowledge.

mary margaret
March 10, 2017 at 9:29 am

Thanks for Your list

Nicole Welch
February 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I’m reading “Never split the Difference”
By Chris Voss
It’s the BEST negotiating book out there!

February 25, 2017 at 6:08 pm

I was given a copy of Stephen Coveys 7 habits when I was 21 and I fucking laughed at the title! I picked it up read at 27 then kicked my own arse for being such an ignorant little prick! I’ve read it about 8 times over the last few years (I’m 34 now) and It’s a genuine masterpiece! So much value and so much work must have gone in to creating it! Definitely a must read for anyone wanting to better themselves.

Gaële R
February 24, 2017 at 4:15 am

Noah – what an inspiration you are! The Fountainhead is the book that changed me the most. An eye-opener! The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is another one to consider for fiction. So powerful. Are there any other books you’ve read since then that you’d recommend in 2017? Thanks for this and for the podcast (and basically for the amount of value you give your audience).

Noah Kagan
February 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

That’s one of my favorite movies of ALL time.

February 13, 2017 at 7:58 pm

How to win in the sport of business-Mark Cuban
Predictable Revenue-Aaron Ross

February 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Nice list Noah. I’d add Essentialism and The One Thing to that list (but suppose that would be my list then) and be a happy man.

Mansal Denton
November 9, 2016 at 7:38 am

The Way of the Superior Man. That’s one of my all-time favorite books and (strangely), it’s the only one of your list that actually resonates with me. See some other goods ones in there, but none that really jump out.

Sunrise Yap
October 11, 2016 at 7:03 am

Thank you Noah for sharing. You are a gem. Thanks a lot. By sharing these books, you made my life easy.

June 10, 2016 at 8:14 am

Hey Noah, awesome list! Some of them completely put upside down the way on how I see things (like Sex at Dawn)

Elise Lew
May 8, 2016 at 7:55 am

So many books have changed my thinking and impacted my life.

When things fall apart – Pema Chodron (everyone should read this its a great guide of managing when massive transition happens in life and pulls the rug from under you)

The Pursuit of Perfect – Tal Ben shahar (a must read for the perfectionists in the house)

A Hidden Wholeness- Parker Palmer

The Artists Way

Mark Eichenlaub
March 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Interesting list Noah. Not what I expected.

Julie Smith
February 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Exceptional list!

Mvulani Edward Maduna
November 19, 2015 at 6:37 am

I am really inspired by the books even though I have not read them. I wish I can get hold of them

Chris Humphrey
November 10, 2015 at 9:54 am

I rarely ever see anyone include The Fountainhead on their booklist and I am so glad you did, Noah. This could very well be my favorite read of all time (with the obvious exception to The Good Book) and I think anyone who takes pride in their work should read it. Thanks!

September 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Gee, for someone so into ‘reverse engineering’ and into being ahead of the pack in both mind and body, read Hamlet backwards, no kidding, to understand the ‘how to’ in ‘the readiness is all.’ The breakdown of how to achieve such a state reads like a Tim Ferriss analysis on how to achieve the perfect mindset for taking on anything life has to throw at you.

June 13, 2021 at 1:19 pm

could you please be very clear about “Hamlet backwords”.

Is it a book title? “Hamlet Backwards” – By Soandso

Do you mean read the actual play Hamlet in reverse? Back cover to front cover?
If so. Should I read it word for word backwards? read the content in reverse?

Is “backwards” a typo?

Eliot Axelrod
September 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

Nice list – here are a few more:

1. Peter Drucker – On Management – Still Reads like a Contemporary Book
2. Herodutus – The History
3. Norman MacClean – Young Men and Fire – a book about the Mann Gulch fire in 1949, that everybody in the tech industry should read

Jane Berg
July 1, 2015 at 10:46 am

Two books that had added to my life are “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington. I recommend both of these books to men and women alike.

Juanika Freeman
June 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

Great post Noah. I have followed you and want to say that your marketing skills are amazing. Im learning so much from you and cant wait to take it to the next level. Thanks again!!

June 18, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I think The Ultimate Sales Machine is gold! Ageless. Still valid even though sales models have changed so much since it was written.

Brad Holder
May 25, 2015 at 5:56 am

I just finished listening to you on @tferriss podcast. You mentioned personal finance books, but Tim took off in another direction before you had a chance to finish. What are the titles you had in mind?

April 14, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Wonderful List. I have read but many are yet to. Gonna read them for sure. Thank You.

March 20, 2015 at 3:34 am

Thank you. The reading list refers to everything I have to live with.

Harley Eblen
January 27, 2015 at 8:52 am

This list is AMAZING!!! So many books on here I never thought you’d be reading. I guess this post taught me that I should never make assumptions! I’m popping this list in Evernote and referring back to it for suggestions…

Thanks Noah!

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