5 books that changed my life.

Has a book ever found you when you needed it the most?

Maybe a friend gave it to you because you were going through a crisis.

Maybe you heard an interview with the author on a podcast and it felt perfectly timed just for you.

Maybe you owned it for years but it didn’t make sense until you went through a challenge and picked it back up.

That’s the magic to me of books. When you read the right book at the right time it feels like it was written just for you. You’ve never met the author. They might live on the other side of the planet. They might have been dead for 50 years, but it doesn’t matter. That book was for you.

Today, I’m going to tell you about five of the books that were written just for me.

1. “A technique for producing ideas.” By James Webb Young

This book has less than 50 pages, was written in the 1940s and has maybe the most boring cover you’ve ever seen. None of that matters because what’s inside is the greatest guide to creativity I’ve ever read. I shouldn’t have this on my shelf. I should have it in a glass box with a small hammer and a sign that reads, “If you’re ever stuck, read this again.” This book, more than any other, taught me a real process to multiply the number of high-quality ideas I can come up with every day.

2. “The Dip, a little book that teaches you when to quit and when to stick.” By Seth Godin.

I stuck with my blog in 2008 because I read this short book and decided not to quit too soon. Anytime I wanted to give up, I would remember the principles in this and keep going. My blog would eventually turn into a book which turned into a public speaking career which brought me to Nashville and an entire new career. None of that would have happened without Seth’s encouragement on these pages. Ten years later, I got to work with the same team at Penguin that published “The Dip.” What an amazing full circle that was!

3. “Bird by Bird, some instructions on writing and life.” By Anne Lamott.

If you want to write a book, read this book. If you don’t want to write a book, read this book. It’s definitely aimed at writers, but it’s hard to think of a human who wouldn’t be improved by the words on these pages. It took what felt like an impossible task, writing my first book, and gave me the kindest path forward.

4. “Orbiting the Giant Hairball, a corporate fool’s guide to surviving with grace.” By Gordon MacKenzie

Are there any bands you regret not seeing live? I regret not seeing Prince, Tom Petty and the original INXS. I also regret not seeing Gordon MacKenzie share his unique approach to staying creative inside a big company. When I took a writing job at Staples corporate headquarters, this became my Bible. If you work at a company bigger than 10 people and want a few clues on what it takes to create great work amidst bureaucracy, read this.

5. “The War of Art, break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles.” By Steven Pressfield.

I’ve given more copies of this book away than any other book. (Except for my own of course because I’m VERY generous.) My pen practically ran out of ink on the pages because I couldn’t stop underlining. Pressfield’s writing gave me the courage to finish so many creative projects that were trapped in doubt, insecurity and frustration.

If you haven’t read any of those, I dare you to pick one and just give it a go. I even included some Amazon links, with affiliates because babies need shoes, to make it super easy.

Maybe this wasn’t an email, it was a flare from a great book that’s just been dying to find you.

Jon

P.S. Want to see a review of these books? I made a video! Watch here.

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