I am a voracious reader. I read – a lot. As a result, many people ask me “What should I read?” And, truly, it’s a tough question. Where are you at now? Where would you like to go? What are you trying to accomplish? Become happier? Build a business? Learn valuable relationship skills? Lead a company? The range of topics is never-ending.
So I’m going to share with you some amazing books, books which I’ve found critical for finding your path through this crazy, magnificent chaos that is life.
This list is not all-inclusive. At the same time, every book in this list is tremendously valuable. Everything here is scientifically based, grounded on time-tested notions, and/or expert insight. So without further ado, here are 8 life-changing books which I’ve been sharing with clients over the last year…
8 Surprising Books To Help You Win Life
The Relationship Cure by John Gottman, Ph.D.
For my money, Dr. Gottman is the world’s leading expert on relationships. For decades, he studied what leads couples to divorce and discovered concepts such as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which are harbingers of divorce. These include defensiveness, contempt, stonewalling and criticism. For the past decade, he has studied the hallmarks of successful, happy relationships. From this work, ideas such as bids for attention and soft startups have emerged. In my work to teach clients how to lead happier, successful lives, scientifically-based info on skills to build happier romantic relationships is a must.
Warning: NSFW Title Ahead! If you are easily offended by swear words, please skip to the next book!
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
There is a reason that Mark’s book is a New York Times bestseller. His writing simplifies the complex, important ideas so that everyone can better understand them. He also writes in such a way as to make dry subjects entertaining. For example, he does a smash up job on values which are critical to a life well-lived. Unfortunately, most writing on values is dull and dry. Mark does an impressive job polishing up this topic to make it entertaining and educational. He also touches on topics such as the importance of saying no, failure as a means to succeed, non-attachment to life as a way to truly live and much more.
The Telomere Effect by Nobel prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D. and Elissa Epel, Ph.D.
If you have ever wondered why some 50-year-olds look 40 and some look 70, this is the book with the answer. And the answer is critical for all of us. The health of telomeres is the biological foundation of the mind-body connection. Telomeres are affected by sleep quality, stress, diet, exercise, negative thoughts, and strained relationships. What’s more, telomere health can be improved through exercises included in this book.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.
When I was hosting my radio show back in 2007, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Rosenberg. This book is the pinnacle of his long career and has changed millions of peoples’ lives. If “violence” means acting in ways that harm or hurt others, then much of how we communicate can be looked at as “violent” communication. This book sets forth a blueprint for how to communicate in a more effective and kinder way. If you are looking to improve your relationship with your spouse, children or co-workers, this is an excellent place to begin.
The Little Book of Gratitude by Robert Emmons, Ph.D.
Dr. Emmons is the psychologist who began serious research into gratitude many years ago. Studies have shown that daily practice of gratitude makes us happier, makes life more meaningful, improves relationships, relaxes us, lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, by more than 20%, decreases feelings of hopelessness, increases levels of optimism by 94% and even helps us sleep better. This is a huge idea of critical importance packed into a tiny and easily digestible book. Go get yours!
How are we trained to be men? What are the expectations that society has of us men? For most men, the messages we receive growing up look something like the following…men don’t feel emotions, men stand up for themselves, men are smart and get good grades, men are rational, men know about sex, men don’t back down, men don’t cry, men don’t screw up, men are aggressive, men are responsible, men are tough, men are self-reliant, men are strong, men are in control and so on. And every time we step out of this socially defined box, we are slapped back into with insults such as sissy, wimp, punk, geek, fag, mama’s boy, baby, nerd, girl, loser and some other nastier ones. So what do we do about it? How do we begin to emerge out of toxic masculinity to a new, healthier version in which we can shift gears between being tough and connecting with loved ones through honest vulnerability? These are important questions and many are addressed in this book.
How Can I Be Happy? by Dr. John Schinnerer
Ok, ok, so I haven’t actually been reading this book lately. I wrote it a few years ago. It received an award for Best Self-Help Book of the Year. And it’s a great primer on how to make sense of what goes on in your mind and in your heart. In my experience coaching men, I realized that many men don’t have a clue what’s going on internally; largely as a result of how we’re socialized. We’re never taught, expected to or rewarded for looking at our thoughts and feelings. This book provides tools for men and women to discover a better understanding of their internal landscape, their thoughts and feelings, and how to better manage them. After all, if you are what you think, why not learn to think thoughts that support where you want to go!
My good friend Ben Gioia finished this book in 2016 and it’s a gem. An easy to read, accessible book which outlines how to become a better leader through authentic storytelling, empathy, and authenticity. It pulls on the lessons of Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, and many others. It’s an excellent guide to becoming more effective online, on the phone or on stage.
School doesn’t teach us all the lessons you need to be successful AND happy. Books like the ones above teach you invaluable life hacks- to get an advantage, to learn how to be successful and content at work AND at home. My hope for you is that you will take advantage of some of the wisdom in these books to take your life and your game to the next level.
To life, love, and happiness,
Dr. John Schinnerer