7 Easy Books That Will Change Your Life
Reading is one of the most important habits you can have. I’d say, the most important. A good book is a window into someone else’s mind, but a great book, is a window into your own – the parts you didn’t know were there.
With this in mind, it shouldn’t be a chore. But if you haven’t made it a habit already, it’s easy to feel like it is.
Below are 7 easy reads that are not only breezy page-turners but also books that provide immense value. Many are short, some are long. Some are self-help, others are on business, one is the greatest book ever written (spoiler: it’s not in English). But all of them will challenge the way you think about the world, life, and who you are.
A few of these you’ll be able to read in a day. Others will take a bit longer (one will take A LOT longer). But in each book, the writing style is simple and understandable – even if the topics can seem to be challenging on the surface.
Whilst many of the books recommended on these lists deal with human history, or some kind of interesting book on science, I tried to stick to books that directly speak to the choices you’ll make in your life – whether that’s the direction of your life, how you interact with others, or most importantly, how you interact with yourself.
Let’s dive in.
If you ever dipped your toes into the world of marketing, then you’ll no doubt be familiar with this book.
Influence is a book on persuasion and the psychology of why people say yes. It explores the key triggers that motivate and influence human behavior, from the logical expected ones, the embarrassing absurd ones that we all fall for.
Robert Cialdini touches on examples such as people being more inclined to buy something if it’s more expensive, simply because they’ll assume it’s of a higher quality, regardless of whether it actually is. Or men thinking a decent looking woman is less attractive than she is, simply because she’s stood next to a beautiful one.
But what he also helps you do is understand yourself, and how you’re interacting with a world that is always trying to influence you… Whilst you’re trying to influence it.
Influence is something you’ll encounter every day, so you need to wrap your head around it. It’s going to come up in conversations with your friends and family, at work with your colleagues and boss, and it’ll definitely come up with those annoying salespeople who stop you in the street.
Understanding how it works opens your eyes to the kind of tricks that are going on all around you, as well as understanding just how human beings work.
I’m kinda cheating with this one as there’s two, but let me explain.
Both of these books are about living in a completely different way from everyone else. The first describes the kind of lifestyle that this involves, and the second one describes how to achieve it.
The lifestyle is about creating a business or service that makes you money, rather than making money for someone else. And the way to do that is through rigorous entrepreneurship and a focus on being a producer, not a consumer.
These books are worth reading for two reasons: They show you what kind of alternatives there are to the 9 to 5, and that, through effort, they are possible to achieve. And they show you the simple, yet challenging reality of running a business for yourself, and how that can be a creative reward in and of itself.
Whether you have no interest in escaping the 9 to 5 or starting your own business, these books are worth a read simply for the challenge they pose to your accepted notions of life and the idea that you know what you want.
Tony Robbins was a young boy when a nameless volunteer came to his house and offered his poor, starving family a shopping bag filled with free food. His father, who was too stubborn and proud to accept it, tried to turn the man away.
Robbins never forgot the volunteer’s generosity, and spent the rest of his life dedicated to helping others, whether that be through similar volunteering outreach, or through helping people harness their innate ability and live more fulfilling lives.
He’s worked with seminars of thousands, to getting calls from NBA players too afraid to hit the court, to all kinds of celebrities and politicians.
Notes From A Friend is all about the latter. It’s a short, read-in-day book that encapsulates all the main points of his larger books – Awaken the Giant Within and Unlimited Power.
If you ever need a quick pick-me-up, albeit cheesy, this is the book that will help you get your head straight and back on track.
Yeah, another business book, but bear with me.
Not only is this book the easiest book to read in this entire list (by far, you can read it in an afternoon), but it’s also incredibly wide-reaching.
Sivers spent 10 years building a business that he then went on to sell for $22 million. Yet despite this wild success, he had no prior experience with running a business at all.
The book reads as a testament to the kind of living that defies expected wisdom and instead champions embracing the unknown, challenging your certainties, and figuring things out as you go.
Sivers rightly points out that most people spend their entire lives chasing things that don’t make them happy, and through this book tries to help point us in the direction of making big, scary changes, that help us figure out what does.
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst who studied under Sigmund Freud. Jung had a boundless scientific curiosity, the likes of which pretty much hasn’t been seen since. Everything from nervous tics to UFOs and fairies was fair game for research as far as he was concerned.
He’s seen a resurgence of late, with his work on archetypes being popularised by Jordan Peterson.
One of Jung’s key contributions was the concept of the shadow. The idea that you repressed everything about yourself that you were ashamed of. From your sexuality and aggression to the things about yourself that you didn’t want to acknowledge, like perhaps that you were a coward.
As far as Jung was concerned, for a person to become psychologically healthy, they had to bring awareness to these parts of themselves they didn’t want to acknowledge, and like their sexual and aggressive feelings, bring them into the fold.
It’s one of those ideas that once you’ve been exposed to it, it never really goes away.
For a quick breakdown on the differences between him and Freud, you can also check out the film a Dangerous Method starring Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen.
George Orwell is the coolest essayist there ever was, and probably ever will be. This is the guy Christopher Hitchens quite literally wanted to be.
Orwell took the English, Gandhi, Tolstoy, and all kinds of huge characters, people, subjects, or ideas to task. But he did so without a lick of pretension.
Orwell hated the British intellectual class. He found their ideas self-congratulatory, and completely disassociated from the everyday life of your average human being – the kind of people Orwell deliberately wrote for.
The result of this is that Orwell’s essays are both easily readable, as well as challenging to a lot the accepted ways of thinking, even today. In many ways, especially today. He was the writer of 1984 and Animal Farm after all.
If nothing else though, Orwell is worth reading for the admiration you’ll gain for one man’s desire to pursue what is true, and pursue it for the sake of everyone, as opposed to his own ego.
At a whopping 800 pages, Anna Karenina wouldn’t seem like an easy read. But you’d be wrong.
Yes, it comes with all the difficult trappings of Russain literature: long, complex names; questions of faith; and huge amounts of psychological detail poured into seemingly irrelevant topics (like mowing grass). But it also offers something no other read does:
An incredible amount of insight into the way humans live their lives, rightly and wrongly. And unless you’re reading this from your flying saucer, then that definitely applies to you.
Tolstoy tried to make his writing as simple as possible so that it could be enjoyed and understood by anyone. The ideas he deals with, although seemingly grand in appearance -life, death, love, loss- are all dealt with in a way that you or I experience them. And in this, he helps us understand how to live well, or, in the case of Anna Karenina, how to live poorly.
Tolstoy explores the reality of people make decisions – how they justify actions to themselves that in reality, are unjustifiable and only serve our self-interest. He also demonstrates, in detail, the ways in which we slowly erode, or reinforce, our ability to become good people. To Tolstoy, this exists in a moment by moment embrace of life – instead of clinging to a fantasy of how we’d wish it to be.
If there’s one book you read in your life, make it this one.
About John Matich John is a writer from the UK who splits his time between travelling the world and trying to find unconventional solutions to dating and personal development. You can find more from him at www.lifeuncivilized.com.