While most books one reads generally fall away from memory after you are done with them, I have listed 10 books that I found particularly inspiring, transformative or thought provoking. For my religious friends, this is exclusively a secular list though several of these books speak about faith.
10. Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon, Chip Hilton by Claire Bee, Rick Brant by John Blaine, Tom Swift by Victor Appleton.
My # 10 is a series of books that helped a shy, skinny kid who had lost his father to a heart attack and needed some direction. Plus these books started me on my passion for reading. I got my homework done early so I could read these books.
9. The Complete Book of Running by Jim Fixx
A few decades ago and about 50 lbs. lighter, I used to jog and occasionally raced 5 and 10K races. Fixx was the running guru in the 70s. Geez, I remember a day where I jogged about 10 miles and was not tired.
8. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmshayli
I remember this wasn't an easy book to read. However flow became a mantra. Flow was described as a state where people experienced deep enjoyment, creativity and clarity. Within this state of flow, you lose all track of time. I experienced flow playing basketball or working on a project that interested me. Not enough activities generating flow now.
7. The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
Watts provides insights on “finding security and peace of mind in a world whose very nature is insecurity, impermanence and unceasing change.” This book was written in the 1950s but it’s wiser that any self-help book you can read today. I've underlined quite a bit of this book.
6. How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Everyday by Michael Gelb
I admire people who are accomplished with many talents and various types of achievements. Those types of people are usually called Renaissance Men or Women. Gelb offers a guide to Renaissance living and pursuits.
5. The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education by Craig Mullaney
Old men start wars and young men fight them. I found it very inspiring and gratifying to read about the education of a man who was a West Point graduate, Rhodes Scholar, a Ranger and an Officer who led men into battle in Afghanistan. I felt better about the prospects for America in the future. Hopefully future generations will do better than what the leaders of the Baby Boomer generation have accomplished.
4. The Way of the Ronin by Beverly Potter
A Ronin was a masterless samurai and warrior who depended entirely upon themselves and their own skills to survive in Japan’s feudal society. In most circles, they were considered outlaws. As anyone who has had the fortune (or misfortune) to “manage me” has learned I’m not the conventional employee type. I read this book in the early 1990’s and it changed my thinking about work, career and life balance.
This book is on my list not necessarily for any information or advice it offers. I found the questions very compelling, particularly those related as to what is living a good life. We have to decide what's best for ourselves. A great book for baby boomers reevaluating their lives and what to do next.
2. Learning to Fail: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life Phillip Simmons
Diagnosed with ALS and given less than five years to live, Simmons accurately describes life as a “terminal condition.” His book opened me to new meanings of life. This book and the Barton book described below offer the insights of brave men facing death and how they have accepted their fates.
1. Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived by Lawrence Shames and Peter Barton
Peter Barton, while facing a cancer that would end his life, wrote a book on how to die but more importantly how to live. Barton offered a piece of advice that I wish I could accomplish in my life… “I promised myself that I would not have a bad day for the rest of my life. I f someone was wasting my time, I’d excuse myself and walk away. If a situation bothered me or refused to get resolved, I’d shrug and move on. I’d squander no energy on petty annoyances, poison no minutes with useless regret.”