Even though much of my reading each month is based around books on my lists (which mostly just include fiction), I actually read a significant amount of non-fiction as well—in fact, if I had to take a guess, I would say that about a third of what I read is purely informational (but not in a boring, textbook-informational kind of way).
I’ve read a lot more non-fiction than the books listed below, but here are five non-fiction books that have changed my life:
1 – How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
I was painfully shy all throughout elementary and for most of junior high, but the summer before my first year of high school, I was determined that I was no longer going to be the class wallflower. This book came highly recommended to me by my dad as well as a couple of my siblings, and I can truly say it was life-changing—for someone like me who didn’t really know to “make” people like me or encourage more social activity, it was a life-saver. All of a sudden, I felt like I had strategies in my back pocket that I could use whenever any kind of social situation came up instead of just feeling lost and left to my own devices.
If you’re looking for a boost in your social life or even tips on how to come across more pleasantly to other people, you’ve got to check this out—it’s a true classic in the non-fiction self-help world.
2 – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
I’ll confess that I haven’t actually read this book in its entirety yet, but I’ve read The Seven Habits for Highly Effective Teens numerous times (which is written by his son and which I’m studying with my students this year in Language Arts), and I can credit the concepts behind this book as one of the main reasons I was so “on track” during my adolescence. The 7 habits gave me real-world strategies that I could apply to the sticky situations that seemed to come up more and more the older I got, and I found many of the thoughts, quotes, and examples to be truly inspirational.
Whenever I feel like I’m lagging a bit when it comes to reaching my full potential, I reach for this book and it gets me right back on track.
3 – Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Although I had transformed myself into somewhat of a runner before reading this documentary-like book, Born to Run is what solidified my determination to be a lifelong runner–in fact, when I took almost a year break from running after my marathon, this is the book that got me back on the road in my running shoes last summer. I was so inspired after finishing it that I even laced up after the final page and went for an 8-mile run right then and there (which I hadn’t done in months and months and months).
If you’ve ever felt that you’re just not meant to be a runner, be warned—this book could very well change your mind.
4 – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (Honorable Mentions: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan)
The subject of diet and food has always fascinated me, and lately I’ve found myself drawn towards books that tout the importance of going back to diets and eating patterns that were used by our predecessors throughout history. I’ve read several books on the subject (hence the reason for so many honorable mentions), but Animal, Vegetable, Miracle really stuck out to me because of how BEAUTIFULLY it’s written, and because it not only stated the reasons why we should all start eating more “clean” diets and eating food that’s grown locally, but it was also filled with funny, endearing anecdotes from the author’s own experience of living entirely off of her own land (and her nearby neighbors’) for a year.
This book is equal parts memoir and journalism, and it’s truly stunning. As I mentioned back in this post, I’m trying to avoid re-reading books, but I’m definitely going to have to make an exception for this one.
5 – The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
I’ve always been reasonably good with my money, but I didn’t have much of a vision for my future finances until I discovered Dave Ramsey’s radio program about two years ago. While I may not agree with everything he says all the time, I can definitely say his ideas have changed my mind forever when it comes to dealing with my money, and I love how easy this book lays everything out for you—it takes a lot of the guesswork out of being financially savvy.
If you are in debt, feel flat-out broke most of the time, or are looking to be more learned in all things financial, then this book is for you.
What non-fiction books have changed your life?