Longtime Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot once said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”  Books, without question, are one of life’s greatest resources.  Books are mankind’s way of learning from the people who have come before you and sharing your knowledge with those who will come after you.

I’ve often heard it said that, “The difference between who you are now and who you’ll be in 10 years will be the books you read and the people you meet and interact with.” Where do you want to be 10 years from now?  Better off than where you currently are?

If you want to change your life, start now!  Make 2011 your best year yet – turn off the television and pick up a book!  I’m going to give you required reading that will challenge the way you think, challenge the way you live, and give you the opportunity to work towards a better tomorrow. 

There are just under seven months left in this calendar year; so to get through this list by the end of December, you will need to read approximately one book every two months.  That’s it!  One book every two months!  Many avid readers go through one a week; so it’s time to set some goals, dust off your library card (or get one – you’re paying for it anyway in taxes), and make 2011 the start of a new tomorrow.

#1 The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Nationally syndicated radio host, motivational speak and bestselling author Dave Ramsey has given hope and practical financial advice to people all over the world.  Every week people call in to his radio show screaming, “We’re debt free!” with a renewed since of optimism and with complete control over their money.  He has also impacted countless lives through his best-selling book, The Total Money Makeover.

Ramsey dismisses the idea that you have to incur debt to be able to prosper in America, and instead implores you to free up your best wealth-building tool, your income, and use it to do just that – build wealth, and he gives you the tools it.  He will show you that overcoming debt and building wealth is much more about a change in your attitude and your behavior pattern, and less about the practical tools and head knowledge.

Ramsey will show you how to take control of your financial life, and how to tell your money what to do, rather than letting your money tell you what to do.  Let Dave take you on a personal journey and change the way you relate to money, then take his ideas to heart, put them into practice, and change your family tree and your legacy forever.

#2 The Millionaire Mind by Dr. Thomas Stanley
Dr. Thomas Stanley knows more about millionaires than probably anyone else in the world.  He has talked to them, studied them, surveyed them and written about them for over three decades. 

In his first bestseller, The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Stanley used empirical data to destroy the myth that the majority of America’s millionaires (those with a net worth of at least one million dollars), got that way based on inheritance, advanced degrees or athletic skill.  Rather, he contends, the basis for becoming wealthy is factors such as hard work, saving money and living frugally. 

His second bestselling book, The Millionaire Mind, builds on those findings, and takes you inside the minds of these millionaires, giving you insights into such things as the factors that determined their success, the importance of their choice of spouse and the significance of choosing the appropriate vocation.  Much of what you find in this book will surprise you, and will prove that you, too, have what it takes to become a success story in America.

Did you know that the typical millionaire in America is self-employed, buys a used car, was not an “A” student in school and rates integrity and self-discipline as the most important factors in becoming wealthy?  The Millionaire Mind will change the way you think about rich people, and change the way you think about what it takes to become wealthy in America.

#3 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey

Leadership guru Dr. Stephen Covey will take you on a journey through the habits of effective and successful people.  Dr. Covey’s seven habits take you through 1) moving from dependence to independence (habits 1-3); 2) interdependence, or working with others (habits 4-6); and 3) self-rejuvination (habit 7).

Covey will teach you to be proactive, set goals and use your time wisely; be in charge of your own destiny!  (Noticing a theme here?  All of these books will show you that life is what you make of it.) He will then lead you to work well with others, by showing you how “win-win” is better than just “win,” and how to best communicate and work with others to achieve best results.  His final habit is what he calls “sharpening the saw,” or constantly improving yourself to achieve long-term effectiveness and success.

These are just three books that if you finish them by the end of December, 2011 could go down as the year that radically changed your life.  If you read these more quickly, and are looking for more books to increase your knowledge and wisdom, you should also consider the following list:

48 Days to the Work You Love and No More Dreaded Mondays by Dan Miller; First Things First by Dr. Stephen Covey; Built to Last and Good to Great by Jim Collins; See you at the Top by Zig Ziglar.