I’m a book nerd. Our house is full of books. I love sharing my book lists here on my blog. I love a good fiction novel but over the past 5 years I’ve noticed my preference shift toward non-fiction. This morning I was dusting off our gigantic book shelf and started wondering if I could pull out 10 books that I thought influenced me the most. It wasn’t easy, but I did it, and I thought it’d be fun to share (the photo above also includes the 2 books I am reading now). See below for a breakdown of the 10 Books that have Actually Changed my Life:
THE TEN BOOKS THAT HAVE ACTUALLY CHANGED MY LIFE
Hungry For Change by James Colquhoun, Laurentine Ten Bosch and Mark Hyman ($12.47 on Amazon ) – If you’re struggling to make healthy habits stick, I think this book will do the trick. I read this book after losing over 25 pounds, and I feel like it’s a big reason why I have never been tempted to go back to my previous eating habits. It’s a super fast read — since at least half of it is recipes. SYNOPSIS: Hungry for Change is based on the indisputable premise that “Food Matters,” as it exposes the truth about the diet industries and the dangers of food addictions, and enables you to take charge of your health and strengthen your mind and bod (read more)…
The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker ($10.87 on Amazon) – A couple years ago my dad and I started doing a “book club” and this was our first read. It gives you incredible insight into the history of food, artificial flavor and the effect that ALL of those things have had on our diets, health and the way we think about food. I can’t recommend this one enough. SYNOPSIS: We are in the grip of a food crisis. Obesity has become a leading cause of preventable death, after only smoking. For nearly half a century we’ve been trying to pin the blame somewhere—fat, carbs, sugar, wheat, high-fructose corn syrup. But that search has been in vain, because the food problem that’s killing us is not a nutrient problem. It’s a behavioral problem, and it’s caused by the changing flavor of the food we eat (read more).
5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman ($9.59 on Amazon ) – I’m not really one for books of the “self help” type, but this one might have changed my mind. A friend of mine casually mentioned this book, and how it helped her communicate love to both her husband, and all 4 of her children. She said her husband had also just read it and that they’d be blown away by the information. How could I not read it after that? I was totally skeptical and parts of the book got a little religious for me, but I finished the book feeling totally enlightened. I think it can help you in any relationship: not just with your spouse or S.O., but anyone important in your life. SYNOPSIS: Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge! How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life? (read more)
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande ($16.30 on Amazon) – This is a book that can be emotionally hard to read, but it really opens your eyes to so many different topics and struggles. After I read this book I bought a copy for all of our parents, who haven’t stopped loaning it out to their friends. SYNOPSIS: Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering (read more).
Contagious by Jonah Berger ($9.52 on Amazon) – This is a must-read, not only for those of us working online in social media or digital marketing, but for all of us living today. It gives great insight into understanding how the platforms you use and absorb help shape everything from your opinions to your spending habits. SYNOPSIS: What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral? (read more)
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies by Jared Diamond ($11.50 on Amazon) – Have you ever wondered why some societies succeed, some disappear before they really get started, and other have horrific endings? This book explains it all, gives you plenty to think about and, unfortunately, sheds some light on our current situation as a planet. SYNOPSIS: Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion –as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war –and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures (read more).
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson ($10.87 on Amzaon ) – I live my life pretty publicly and the work I do is very public. This book is a great read for everyone, but especially those of us who live and work in social media, PR, or online medias…all of which require us to grow a much thicker skin. SYNOPSIS: For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job (read more).
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen ($12.23 on Amazon) – I first read this the summer after graduating high school (oh hey, 2004!) and I remember having this moment where I was kind of like, “Wait, teachers don’t have a magic answer book? They aren’t always right?” And not only are your teachers sometimes wrong, but sometimes the very book they are teaching from is inaccurate. It was kind of the first time I realized that not only could you question your instructors, but you should. SYNOPSIS: Americans have lost touch with their history, and in Lies My Teacher Told Me Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying eighteen leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past (read more).
We Are All Suspects Now by Tram Nguyen ($16.00 on Amazon ) – I experienced 9/11 as a 16 year old girl living in a rural American town with a population under 1,000. Although we were impacted by the attacks, I think we were shielded from some of the worst things that happened in the aftermath. Reading this book was really the first time I heard about the racism that swept the nation in the early 2000s, and I feel like it was an important thing for me to understand in order to have empathy the next 15 years of my life. Which bring me today, when we are once again experiencing a large wave of racism and hatred. SYNOPSIS: In an ironic reversal of the American dream, a staggering 20,000 members of the immigrant community of Midwood, Brooklyn (known as Little Pakistan), voluntarily left the United States after 9/11. Tram Nguyen reveals the human cost of the domestic war on terror and examines the impact of post-9/11 policies on people targeted because of immigration status, nationality, race, and religion (read more).
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry ($14.45 on Amazon) – The Great Influenza killed more than 100 million people worldwide. Can you image? And this didn’t occurr hundreds of years ago. It happened in the 20th century, during WWI, and yet it is a part of human history that we so rarely learn about or study. SYNOPSIS: At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century (read more).
I’m kicking off 2017 with the two books below and can’t wait to dive into them. I hope that after reading through my list you have some titles to add to your own reading list. Got a book you think I’d love? Please let me know!
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee ($11.53 on Amazon) – The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence (read more).
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi ($15.00 on Amazon) – At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality (read more)