This is a very eclectic reading list

There are plenty of books out there which can change a life.  Some have a reputation for doing so that might not be good at all (hello Catcher in the Rye) and others are designed to be self-help.  On the other side of things, there are several books that have changed my life that were meant simply to teach a skill, tell parables, or were just fiction that hit me at the right time in my life.  The following list is in no exact order, although in general the ones near the top had the biggest impact, with the ones at the less not as much although all of these were extremely important at one point or another.  

One thing you may notice is the lack of traditional self help books.  The reason for this is simple: I don't read many of them, and the "basic" or "general" self-help books I generally don't find that helpful, at least compared to the ones on this list that have had a life changing effect of some type on me at one point or another. 

You'll find a finance audio book, self-help, instructional philosophy books, fiction, and even a few skills books.  It's an eclectic mixture, but it's a good reflection of the most influenctial books throughout my 33 years on this Earth and counting.  Time will only tell what will break onto this list in the years to come.  I hope you enjoy this list and please feel free to comment on your favorites either on or off this list in the comment section down below!

The 4 Hour Work Week Audio Book Review

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
Amazon Price: $29.95 $12.95 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
I strongly endorse the audio book version since that's the one I always purchase. I bought this when it first came out, and jumped at the chance to pick up an audio version of the revised 4 Hour Work Week. From practical advice like learning how to most effectively use your time, figure out how to turn a muse into income, or taking advantage of travel for a millionaire's lifestyle on a budget, there's plenty here.

For those people who also dream of that great life full of adventure - this book is one of the best I've found for getting there. I loved it from the first listen and would listen to it over and over while freelancing. It's been a great practical motivation for me, and I do recommend it to anyone looking for the same. The reason I prefer audio is I get fired up listening to it over and over again while working on my laptop. Since topics like traveling, setting up a business that works for you, and having lifelong adventures are covered in this book, it seems only appropriate to recommend the audio book which can be listened to while on the road or on the train.

How to Fall Out of Love - This one might've been a life saver

How To Fall Out Of Love - New Revised Second Edition
Amazon Price: $14.95 $8.38 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
The idea of reading a book teaching you to "fall out of love" after heartbreak from a bad relationship probably seems insane at first glance - and that's how I felt. But then again, were we really raised the right way when looking at love? This book came into my life after a sudden and utterly devastating break up with the first girl I had fallen in love with in 10 years, and she was my best friend. Then we suddenly weren't speaking at all, and frankly I didn't have the emotional experience to deal with that. The word "devastating" doesn't even remotely begin to cover how I was feeling, and it wasn't a quick recovery, either.

This book was recommended to me by a mentor and when I finally gave it a chance it was an incredible help - not a magic bullet but this helped me get over her, move on with my life, and deal with the waves of regret, anger, or depression that would come up every so often. I can't recommend this book enough to anyone who has ever been in a screwed up or co-dependent relationship! Don't let a situation like that weigh you down for good or put you in despair because you just can't get over it. This is the best break up book ever, in my opinion, and should be on the bookshelf to help you handle any of life's heartbreaks.

An awesome parable of wealth and wealth building

I first heard this book while listening to Jim Rohn on YouTube and was very surprised by how it was set up. For a book recommended by everyone in motivational speaking on how to build wealth and how to learn to become rich, I wasn't expecting a book of interesting stories and parables. These were actually really excellent stories and brought the point home. The advice is still solid to this day, and I think it should be required reading starting in high school and moving on from there. Very easy read, too - which you can't always say with the life changing books.

This is by far and away my favorite "financial" book, and the parable style of story telling makes it interesting and fun to read which is something I'm not used to saying about any book that's about money or acquiring wealth. Great life lessons no matter where you are with the finances, and this book, like I said, is one on my "must read" list. It's one of the very few books I'll read over and over again.

NLP can be amazing for turning your life around

Get the Life You Want: The Secrets to Quick and Lasting Life Change with Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Amazon Price: $19.95 $11.49 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
There are a a lot of different books on NLP out there, and many of them have very specific focuses. What I liked about this one was it was very simple to understand (a lot of them aren't), heavy on action over theory, and strongly focused on the chapter by chapter exercises that create the habits that will help you to form new ways of thinking, new problem solving practices, and easily turn these high achieving patterns into your normal every day habits. I've had problems created steady habits (I hate schedules and over organization), so a basic NLP book like this was a huge help.

The fact it's focusing specifically on changing your life through the slow but steady change in thinking which leads to an easier transition in changing habits makes a huge difference. There are more in depth NLP books on both theory and application, but to me this was the game changer.

Stunning story of travel, adventure, and finding home

Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia (Adventure Press)
Amazon Price: $49.68 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
An awesome non-fiction travel account around Australia. Aside from simply being one of the most entertaining pieces of travel writing I've ever read, Roff Smith's Australian travel adventures show a firm understanding of the story being part of the journey, of the destinations and the people, and of the philosophical ideas of "finding home" or "finding yourself" not in an overly flowery way but in a way that hard miles, hard travel, and fear and joy all combine to form. In some ways it's like a coming into manhood journey and confirmed to me what is possible to do, why travel is so critical to being, and that adventure and self-discovery are more important that the worries of now.

Plus the writing is fresh, vivid, and some of the stories in this book are absolutely hilarious. How would you not be interested by the phrase "Australian travel writing adventures?" That's what you get right here - and hats off to him on the incredible accomplishment of bicycling Australia.

Happiness on the road

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
Amazon Price: $16.00 $7.18 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
I've always been a traveler. There's no one location that ever felt completely like home, I'm always looking for what's beyond the next bend in the road, where the next adventure is, and for the life changing experiences that come from the right type of travel. I strongly recommend vagabonding as one of the best travel books out there and it's a great read for people of all ages - it's never too late to hit the road.

This was one that I got the recommendation from the 4 Hour Work Week, but it espouses many of the beliefs that I've held for a long time throughout my life. World travel and the adventure that comes with it pay over and over again in the lessons the experiences teach you. If you have the travel bug, grab this book.

Most important freelancing book I ever read

Make A REAL LIVING as a Freelance Writer: How To Win Top Writing Assignments
Amazon Price: $19.95 $4.48 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
I have worked as a freelance writer since 2005 and this book is by far and away the best freelance writing book that I have found. It's a must read for anybody who is looking to make a living as a writer. While this book concentrates much more on print markets than on anything online (due heavily to when it was published) I still strongly believe in the lessons taught in this book and if you want to reach the upper echelons of freelancers - you want to read this book. This was a game changer in helping me realize I could make a good living full time as a writer, and the tips and lessons on querying for assignments are valuable no matter what type of writing market you are in. No freelance writer has an excuse to not have this book on their shelf of resources.

A classic self help text - a great one at that

Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway
Amazon Price: $16.00 $7.44 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
This is one of the few true "self help" books that will appear on the list. I loved this one because it didn't give me unrealistic expectations. I still get butterflies approaching a pretty girl. I still get nervous before a big job interview. That's all okay. In fact, moving forward to get an adrenaline rush from that nervousness is a great way to get the right habits into place and actually begin looking forward to new challenges. While I won't recommend a lot of the general self-help books, this is one that I do strongly endorse and it was a big difference maker for me.

Want wealth, study wealth - want to understand power, then study it!

The 48 Laws of Power
Amazon Price: $25.00 $11.75 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
Robert Greene is a fascinating author, and these works aren't nearly as step by step applicable but they are great reads. The laws talk about power not only in theory and philosophy but also the day to day ways that slight changes in attitude or practice can help you crawl up the corporate ladder, how to stay out of power struggles in groups while getting on everyone's good side, and how to understand and see all the movement of power that takes place in everyday life. A great heady read, and one that you will need to visit and re-visit to get the full amazing message from. Like I said, high concept, but definitely worth the effort and the time to dive into.

Best Kaizen book I have found

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way
Amazon Price: $18.95 $3.99 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
I've read many books on Kaizen, the Japanese concept of incremental improvements that are extremely easy to make habit and very slowly over time lead to huge improvements and change. This practice makes it much easier to tackle heavy physical and emotional issues that otherwise seem like too much to overcome. Used originally in business, these concepts allowed Japan to become an economic juggernaut, but the same practice can be used to help form the habits you need to change your life, and this is the best book I've found to understand and implement Kaizen. If you have trouble sticking to change long term, this is a book you definitely want to read since these techniques can help you make those changes you want in every part of life. I don't have the strongest level of will power, so I'm all about the Kaizen way of doing things!

Impacting in high school, college, and even later

Bachman Books: Four Early Novels
Amazon Price: $82.47 $69.72 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
Fiction, written by Stephen King under the pen name "Richard Bachman," in my opinion these are some of his best and most interesting works. In high school "Rage" spoke to me as an angry outcast, but not nearly as much as "The Long Walk." These works showed me dark fiction could be very entertaining and rewarding, could still teach lessons, and over time still looking at some of these dystopian works the lessons are different, but remind me sometimes you just have to keep pressing on no matter what happens. Great writing a story telling, and the lessons seem different every 10 years when I read and re-read these fictional stories. Not what you call the conventional life changing book but it meant a lot to me. The 4 novels are "Rage," "The Long Walk," "Roadwork," and "The Running Man."

Incredibly dark, insightful, and a philosophical game changer

The Brothers Karamazov
Amazon Price: $18.00 $8.97 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
This is not what you would call light summer reading. I first finished it during a long winter living in Alaska (I know, broodingly appropriate). In my opinion this is one of the most brilliant works ever written and a stunning understanding of the human soul and the human condition. It's Russian level dark though - you can't read this book and have your philosophy and world outlook, whatever it is, deeply shaken and challenged. An incredible work, and it was a life changer. But be warned: it won't be an easy read or an easy transition afterwards. This is deep and brooding, and you'll go through the same reflections to get the most out of the reading experience.

Learn real body language - and prosper from that knowledge

What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People
Amazon Price: $19.99 $8.05 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
This is by far and away the best body language reading book I've found and I love the fact it's coming from a former member of the FBI. Good, bad, and otherwise - this is a great skill to learn and one that can be life changing in a lot of ways. When you really get this down you not only begin seeing there are people in your life lying to a lot of other people, you get a really good sense of who is hiding something, who you can trust to be honest with you, and spending a weekend in a bar you can observe a lot of behavior. From negotiating rates as a freelance writer to choosing who to spend my time with and who to trust, this book was an amazing guide and one I review again and again every few months. You'll be amazed how much your perception changes and just how much you can pick up on with a little bit of practice.

Spiritual truths every religion needs to understand

The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within
Amazon Price: $16.99 $0.57 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
Up front disclaimer: this book was written aimed at a Christian audience, and specifically aimed at active Christians who are frustrated with churches not matching the beliefs and passion displayed in scripture. For me these messages were dead on and the desperate need for passion and emotion, and that "barbarian spirit" spoke volumes about my struggles fitting in. While aimed at a Christian audience, I think the messages in here about what faith and spirituality need to look at can be applied as a widespread message, and the world would be better off if it did catch on. If you're a Christian frustrated with the rote and repeat of the Church, this is definitely for you.

Bought for a dime at a library book sale

Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition
Amazon Price: $18.00 $7.68 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 23, 2016)
In my opinion, the greatest novel ever written by an American author. This book is incredible and really opens the eyes to great satire, amazing humor writing, while maintaining emotional story telling. It re-ignited my passion to write after several bad English teachers helped kill that in me. This is one of my all time favorite books and one that I read over and over again. Oddly enough, I first found it for a dime at a used book sale at the local library. By far and away the best dime I ever did, and ever will, spend on anything :)