Remember those dreaded summer reading assignments during your school days? Like most kids my age for whatever reason, I despised the very thought of reading. Subsequently, I was the kid that would wait until August to even look at the assignment sheet for the summer reading project. This behavior continued until about my sophomore year of high school where I embarked on the journey of self-improvement when I realized I didn’t do much of anything so something had to change. From that moment, I taught myself to love the simple and relaxing act of reading. When I began to read on a regular basis, a few things happened: my grades improved, I learned new fun facts, and my vocabulary has ameliorated (improved). See what I mean? Okay, you caught me. I googled synonyms for improve and found that one. But my vocabulary has drastically improved! With all this said, let’s discuss five books that will make your life better
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Core Message: Read this if you want to improve your career and relationships.
Are you interested in business? Improving relationships? Or just better at talking to people? Dale Carnegie is your guy. How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of those books that everybody says you should read but you kind of just push it off to the side thinking you already know how to do those things. Chances are, you don’t. In the book, Dale Carnegie offers up multiple ways to enhance your encounters with people such as smiling at people, repeating someone’s name, creating an interest in the other person, and talking on topics that interest other people. If that doesn’t convince you, he has multiple case studies in the book that highlight real world scenarios where his methods have completely reversed the situation in that person’s favor. On the cover, it states “The only book you need to find success.” This is the truth that Dale Carnegie and his family has been spreading since the 1930’s. Seriously, you need to read this book and read it again. And again. And again.
The Fifth Mountain
Core Message: Keep moving forward in life despite things not working out now
Paulo Coelho is mostly known for his novel The Alchemist which follows a Spanish boy as he attempts to find out his life’s purpose and gets into all sorts of trouble along the way. But The Fifth Mountain is a novel that is inspired by the prophet Elijah from the Old Testament. Paulo takes us inside the mind of Elijah as he is ridiculed by townspeople in Akbar for preaching that there is only one God and it is not a god named Baal but Yahweh. Message after message falls on the deaf ears of the people of Akbar. This leads Elijah to questioning God’s role in his life and turns away from Him for a brief moment. Elijah wonders why God has abandoned him and the people of Akbar as the city is ransacked by invading Assyrians. In the aftermath of the attack, Elijah finds fulfillment in rebuilding the city and helping his fellow man. In this moment, he realizes that God has never left him and actually uses Elijah to fulfill God’s will while fulfilling Elijah in his life’s purpose. As a result, Elijah continues to spread his message of monotheism and the belief that things will always work out in the end.
Core Message: Stand up for what you believe in despite being surrounded by multiple armies and a dragon
I am a sucker for anything that J.R.R. Tolkien has ever created. I admire him for his creativity and ability to create enormous worlds of fantasy that make it impossible to ever learn everything about Middle Earth. By now, I think the majority of people have read this book but if you haven’t, please do. The story follows Bilbo Baggins on his quest to find treasure (something we can all relate to) and his misfortunes along the way with his dwarf friends and a powerful wizard.
The Art of Manliness
Core Message: Everything from etiquette, exercise, hobby, skills, and career advice for husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and bachelors
Brett McKay and his wife, Kate McKay are owners of the website The Art of Manliness. Not only is this one of my favorite websites, they wrote a book detailing everything a man should be able to do. Now, the list gets exhaustive but they write the book in a way to make it fun to listen to their advice about being a husband, parent, worker, and outdoorsman. Included is practical cutouts in the back of the book to track your behavior and keep you accountable for your actions during the day. If you don’t feel like buying the book, just check out their blog. It is amazing even if you are a woman and need to kick your boyfriend’s or husband’s butt into gear.
For whom the Bell Tolls
Core Message: Know what you are fighting for
Ernest Hemingway was one of the most admired writers of the 20th century and for good reason. In all of his stories, he ties in personal experiences from his interesting life with his characters and breathtaking imagery for places like Spain or Italy. This particular story follows an American, Robert Jordan who is assigned to the Republicans or loyalists during the Spanish Civil War. His task is to demolish a bridge in an effort for the loyalists to outflank the rebels. While waiting for this task, he contemplates often over the reason he is fighting. Being from the US, he feels that this is not his war but vowed to defend the idea of Communism in foreign lands as well. Along the way, he falls in love with a fellow guerrilla fighter and finds his reason for fighting. Robert comments that he was never afraid to die until he fell in love with her. As the day of the demolition looms near, our protagonist has a renewed spirit to fight so he may survive to live out the life he has planned with this woman. Do you think it works out? I can’t tell you, read the book and you will be mesmerized by Hemingway’s blunt and descriptive storytelling skills.