Books That Might Change Your Life

Update 7 Jun 2015. The Motivation Hacker is a new addition and it’s now my #1. I’ve removed The Paleo Solution as Paleo has “evolved” and a lot of the specific recommendations I no longer agree with (and neither does the author, Robb). It’s replaced by Move Your DNA.

Due to the law of diminishing returns, each additional book and the accompanying time & focus provide marginally less benefit. My goal is to keep this list short, recommending only my absolute favorites. Ranked in order…

#1 The Motivation Hacker, by Nick Winter

“…your field guide to getting yourself to want to do everything you always wanted to want to do.” This book takes the #1 spot because it will help you do all the things that you learn about in all the other books. At 138 pages long, it’s a quick and fun read that lives up to the title of this page, a book that might change your life =)

#2 The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss

This book changed how I viewed success, what I thought was possible for myself, and ultimately what I wanted from life. I credit the 4HWW for providing the resources to start a business for less than $6,000 while working full-time, holding a state record in powerlifting despite limited experience and genetics, quitting the 9-5, and taking a 10-week road-trip across the United States. I’m not fond of motivational books, and this one has a practical focus on implementation. It teaches you to DEALDefine your goals, Eliminate unnecessaries, Automate what remains, and Liberate yourself from a fixed schedule and location. Without a second thought, 4HWW [was] my top recommendation. That said, if you’re not happy with where your personal health is at the moment, I recommend starting with the next book first…

#3 Move Your DNA, by Katy Bowman

The one book I would recommend to anyone who cares about their health, regardless if you’re a total beginner or a seasoned expert. 


#4 The Gnoll Credo, by J. Stanton

My favorite “philosophy” book, in the form of a very short, very fun, and very enthralling story. It’s surprising how much one can learn from fictional hyena-people. While 4HWW and The Paleo Solution both touch on “how”, they’re more about “why” and “what.” This is a “how” book. The musician’s style rather than the notes on the sheet, if you know what I mean. Experience a full dose of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love in one night’s read.

#5 The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works.”—Daniel Kahneman. Every significant movement and event in human history has been unexpected by the majority of those affected. If it was expected, it would not have had the same impact. Think back into your own personal history and you’ll see this is true. Yet we have the arrogance to believe that we can predict the future with enough data points and a perfect mathematical model. Learn about resiliency, a characteristic commonplace in the natural world but dangerously absent from our artificial world. Learn how to not be fooled. Bonus: If you have a bit of a rebellious nature, you’ll love Nassim’s irreverent writing style.

#6 Breath by Breath, by Larry Rosenberg

Meditation anytime, anywhere, for anyone. Does the word “meditation” conjure images of bald (or dreadlocked) dudes in robes sitting in a remote mountain temple,  pondering wisely? Well, it’s actually something that YOU can do in your daily clothes walking down the street, in your gym clothes working out, wherever and whenever. And the point is not deep thought, nor blocking thought, but experiencing reality and living in the moment. It’s about recognizing your personal filters and biases, then letting them fade away so that you can see the truth. Learn that attachment is the root of all suffering, and all you have to do is let go.

Know a better book than the ones I listed? Let me know with a comment below!

  • movetofit

    Loving the new blog!  You’re even using disqus.  Awesome. =]
    I just added the Gnoll Credo to my wish list.  Would you recommend Breath by Breath to someone who has been meditating for a long time?

    • mtnevan

      Hm…only if there was something in my short summary that sounded new, different and/or interesting. I know you have a long list and wouldn’t want to waste your time.

  • Very good selection

    • MtnEvan

      Henry, I was inspired to write this after you PM’ed me your favorites!

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