Dear Lifehacker, Recommend A Book That Will Change My Life

Dear Lifehacker, Recommend A Book That Will Change My Life

Here is a pointless story. All through my adult like I was terrible with money. Not only was I terrible with money, but I didn’t care that I was terrible with money. Like, I felt no real motivation to change my habits. Then one day, at an old job, a colleague brought in some books he was throwing out. Among them was a book about learning to use money. I have no idea why I picked it up, but I did. And it changed my life.

The tragedy is I can’t even remember what that book was called. It was — even then — a relatively old book about managing money but I started reading it on the train home. Then I kept reading it when I got home.

And reading.

And reading.

Before I knew it I had finished the book and, because of it, completely transformed the way I thought about, and use, money. I’ve pretty much used those fundamentals ever since. I’m not rich, far from it. But I am now in a far better place financially than I would be had I not read that book.

Which is all just a long winded way of asking this question: have you ever read a book that legitimately changed your life for the better? And if so, what was it?

And while we’re at it — any book recommendations? I want you to recommend a book that will legitimately change my life all over again.


  • For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie and doesn’t know the plot, Never Let Me Go is extraordinary.

    Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly is simply incredible, if anything just for the epilogue that is added. Will make anyone who think illicit drugs are ok think again.

    Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End really opened my eyes up to the world in a different way. Not sure exactly why, but it did.

    • My God… A Scanner Darkly… So freaking amazing.

      That descent into madness is just too surreal. I remember watching the movie adaptation when it first came out, and I couldn’t follow it or enjoy it, so went into the book with no high hopes.

      Still one of my favourite stories of all time.

  • “Total Immersion” by Terry Laughlin. It changed my swimming life when I watched the DVD, and bought the book as soon as I finished watching it. I just wished that I was taught to swim this way when I was a kid – it would have saved so much training time and improved my triathlon races. I tell everyone I know, that Total Immersion is the way to swim.

  • That sounds a lot like “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. First published 1926. That book rescued me from my money naiveté. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

    To make things even more appealing, it is only 144 pages, so shouldn’t be a problem for even the most infrequent reader.

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

    Its pulpy, and written for the lowest common denominator, but that’s part of the appeal.

    It introduces the concept of treating your personal finances like a business – that is, by reading the balance sheet. It opened my eyes to the idea that maybe working for someone else my whole life wasn’t going to make me happy 🙂

    Of course, following the advice without thinking it through properly resulted in me getting into some crippling debt and almost going bankrupt after my business crashed and burned, but that’s a different story 😛

  • Three books that will change your outlook.

    1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
    2. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
    3. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

  • Walden – Henry David Thoreau

    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

    At a time when I was questioning a lot about life, consumerism, and life in the rate race, I found it incredibly reassuring to find that someone else had considered these things and framed them so well in words.

    From Wikipedia:
    “Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. First published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. The book compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development.”

    Reading Walden was a big part in giving me the courage to leave my soulless corporate job and move my family to the country to start again on a different path. In fact I drew so much strength and inspiration from the book that I plan on naming our eventual homestead (that I plan to build myself) after it.

    To anyone else who is pursuing or considering the pursuit of ‘the simple life’, I strongly recommend reading Walden. The book is in the public domain and easily found in a variety of formats, as well as still being published as a paperback.

  • “A dragonhiker’s guide to the battles of thomas covenant at dune’s edge: odyssey 2”
    Saw the book, planned to buy it – but never did. When I returned to the store it was gone.

    Moral: you never know what will disappear overnight. Sometimes it’s small things, sometimes it’s something significant.

  • Y: the last man.
    Its about a world where every guy is dead except for yorick and his monkey… all the women. It will give you a healthy fear of large groups of women. Also it’s a comic so…pictures \o/

  • Mark,

    Many years ago, I gave Noel Whittaker’s first book “Making Money Made Simple” to a friend who wasn’t good with money. It changed his outlook and now he is looking forward to a very comfortable retirement.

  • The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene. You will ditch your old way of thinking after reading this.

  • Not a financial book, but one that ratified and formalised much of my hodge-podge of personal philosophy: “A guide to the good life – The ancient art of Stoic joy” by William Irvine.

    It’s a very accessible introduction to Stoicism, and the reading list can lead you onto the more original works.

    • Related to this, I suggest either ‘Letters’ by Seneca or ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius highly as key texts in Stoic philosophy. Both, despite being written in Ancient Rome, are applicable to the 21st century.

  • as a now 29 year old guy that grew up in a divorced family and had parents that thought spending money and buying me ‘things’ was loving me. ive had a real hard time trying to figure out what it means to be manly in the sense of responsibilities, self-worth, having good work ethics and life attitudes, being a good husband, being a good father, being a good friend. to be honest, its been a terribly hard journey. some books that i really appreciate and have given me hope were ‘Fathered by God – John Eldredge, Father Heart of God – Floyd McClung, The Shack – William P Young,

    these books are from a Christian point of view, but reading the first 2 i found offered a very insightful look into why i was struggling with the things i was and were great contributing factors in pulling me out of depression.

  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It’s about a man who was taken prematurely by cancer but who managed to live out each of his childhood dreams over the course of his life. The book is a letter to his children on how to do the same. The book is full of little anecdotes that genuinely changed my outlook on life and made me a kinder, more empathetic person.

    Edit: this is a non-fiction, by the way. Randy Pausch was a real man.

  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. As an explanation of running and as an adventure story, this was a book I bought on Kindle and in paperback just so I could get others to read it.

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