This list is a collection of books styled around the knowledge of how to make good things happen.
They are written in many styles. As stories, educational research or personal life histories.
Each writer brings their own different perspective, opinion and understanding. Put together, they help us get a fuller view of the bigger picture.
The list is divided into different lessons and areas of life. With books which…
There is no rush in going through the list. We can take our time. Each piece absorbed brings with it a step forward. In the end, these books are just a beginning, something that will prepare and inspire each of us onward, on our own journey of discovery.
Improving our knowledge, and our power to make good things happen.
It turns out, Life is hard for Everyone
This section is the recommended starting point.
One unexpected side effect of having had a happy, safe childhood, is that we may start to believe that the world is good by nature, and that bad things only happen because of bad people. Unfortunately, it is the opposite that is true.
Good things only happen if someone makes them happen. A beautiful house,if abandoned, will eventually turn into a pile of stones and rubble. But a pile of stones and rubble, no matter how long it is abandoned, will never become a beautiful house. Unless someone makes it happen.
|Lord of the flies||William Golding||A story about a group of young boys who get trapped on an island when the ship they are travelling on sinks. They try to survive on their own while waiting and hoping for rescue.||An old classic that is still very readable today. The first few pages set the scene and period then the story steadily picks up speed from there.|
|Call the Midwife||Jennifer Worth||A true life story of the life of a mid-wife in 1950.|
An insightful history with a lovely sense of humour. As a by product of telling this mid-wife’s life, the book also ends up documenting a snapshot of what life was like in London just a little over 60 years ago.
|Casual Novel, easy to read both fun and informative.|
|A Grief Observed||C. S. Lewis||These are some excerpts from the journal that C.S. Lewis kept after his wife died. It follows his attempts to deal with his grief in a way that is both respectful to the love he lost, while seeking a way to move forward through that loss.||Because it is from a journal, it is more focused on his inner thoughts and feelings. It can take a bit of effort to visualise the context and situation around him.|
|A Thousand Splendid Suns||Khaled Hosseini||A story about two female best friends living in Afghanistan. Surrounded by the chaos and difficult changes the country was going through.||The writing style is easy to read. It is an exciting page turner, but the story is quite intense though.|
|Palestine||Joe Sacco||A true life Graphic Novel. It follows a reporter travelling in Palestine and interviewing the residents.||Graphic Novel format makes it feel very simple and easy to follow, even when it is dealing with hard and complicated situations.|
Luckily, we can learn to make things better
Great people (those that change the world) aren’t born extra-special or born extra-gifted.
They have simply learned certain skills, and they view difficulty from a different perspective.
They see problems not as roadblocks but as challenges. They look at each failure not as judgment but as a learning opportunity.
As a result of this perspective they try more often,
Which means they fail more often,
and they learn more lessons,
…till they eventually succeed.
|Ender’s Game||Orson Scott Card||A story about a boy who is chosen from a young age to be sent to Battle school. Where our best candidates are trained to protect us from a dangerous enemy who has attacked before, killing millions. And we are afraid they may soon attack again.||Casual Novel, set in a slightly more advanced future.|
|Going Postal||Terry Pratchett||Terry Pratchett is a master storyteller. In this one, a criminal sentenced to death is given a second chance. If he can use his skills for the good of the city, his life may be spared.||Highly Imaginative writing. Very funny stories. Ideas come at you so fast that you sometimes need to pause to let your mind catch up.|
|Witches Abroad||Terry Pratchett||One witch is using the power of fairy tales to try to rule the world. Three others are trying to stop her. The story is unbelievably rich, funny and insightful.||Highly Imaginative writing. Very funny stories. Ideas come at you so fast that you sometimes need to pause to let your mind catch up. (Yes, it’s the same writer as the last one 🙂 )|
|The Talent Code||Daniel Coyle||A non-fiction book written by a behavioural psychologist. He has researched what makes geniuses and great women and men. It turns out to be easier than most people expect.||He spends a small part at the beginning of the book talking very technically about brains and nerves. After a few pages though, he starts to talk more normally with clearer examples.|
|Watership Down||Richard Adams||Hazel and his brother believe that something bad is coming to their home in the warren. |
Will they be able to convince anyone else? …to escape, to survive, maybe thrive?
A rabbit’s life can be so complicated. 🙁
|A really fun, very imaginative story.|
|Carol Dweck||Failure is never a pleasant experience. However, why do some people find the possibility of failure so overwhelming that they are paralysed whenever they are are faced with an new challenge, while other find the possibility of failure energising, even exciting.|
This book is written by a psychologist who started her career trying to understand success and intelligence. She realised that it is strongly attached to how we see our own abilities. And that we can learn to see those abilities in a way that multiplies our own potential.
|A very well researched book. Filled with real life examples that make the principles easier to understand and apply.|
Even in difficulty, we can be happy
How we feel doesn’t have to be determined by what is happening around us.
We probably know cases where two people have go through a similar event but have had totally different reactions. It’s something we can learn.
This is a skill that not only improves how we feel, it also improves how we react, which improves the results we get in future.
|The road less travelled||Scott Peck||A psychotherapist, who has spent many decades helping people deal with pain, heartache and fear, puts down what he has learned about why people suffer and ways to heal.||An intense read that is FULL of mind blowing ideas. Sometimes a you may have to spend a day absorbing the impact of single sentence, only to read the next sentence and have your mind blown again!|
|Daring Greatly||Brené Brown||People often confuse being strong with not feeling pain.|
Blocking out pain makes you hard, like glass. Most things don’t even scratch you, but the ones that do, are likely to shatter you.
Allowing yourself to feel pain, to let it bend you like the willow tree, but not let it break you, is a source of much greater power.
|Well researched, easy to read with good examples.|
|He still moves stones||Max Lucado||“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” Matt 12:20|
A look at some of the stories of Jesus, of what happens when he meets people who are hurting.
|Max Lucado has a very enjoyable, easy to read writing style.|
A great storyteller.
|Who moved my cheese||Spencer Johnson||A short but insightful story about dealing with change.||A quick, easy read.|
Money Trees, and how to grow them
The basic formula for getting wealth is actually quite straightforward.
Do something to improve someone else’s life, and they will gladly pay us for it.
After all, when we have money, what do we willingly spend it on? We spend it on things to make our life better (happier, easier, more exciting, etc). Other people do the same.
Implementing that formula though, becomes more complicated.
Below are some stories and lessons from people who have learned this and other lessons of gaining and growing wealth. They may help us along our own journey.
|Richest Man in Babylon||George S. Clason||A collection of short stories set in Babylon. Each story looking at a different aspect of how money works.||The stories are quick and fun. Making an interesting read that can be broken into nice, convenient chunks.|
|Don’t bitch just get rich||Toney Fitzgerald||Toney Fitzgerald is a motivational speaker.|
In this boook he talks about important differences between being upset about something, and doing something about it.
|This is a book that is sort of stuck half way between informing and entertaining. …between useful and outrageous.|
|Wake up & smell the profit||John Richardson||A book about opening a coffee shop business (which s the author’s specialty).|
However, it turns out that a lot of the same lessons apply to lots of different small businesses.
|Divided into a small, comfortably bite sized pieces, each chapter is only about 2 or 3 pages long.|
|Enter the Dragon||Theo Paphitis||One of the Investors from Dragon’s Den. Theo Paphitis writes about his family coming to America as poor imigrants and the history of going from there to becoming a millioniare investor.||As an autobiography, it is not quite as exciting as a novel, but the fact that it is a true story can make it even more compelling.|
Sometimes a first glance isn’t enough
Sometimes we think we understand something, and that belief prevents us from actually seeing it properly. Many parts of the world are not as black and white as we think. Being open to those other shades, can reveal a whole rainbow of possibilities.
|Freakonomics||Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner||Is it more dangerous to have a gun or a swimming pool in your home?|
Are drug dealers actually rich?
There are many questions we believe we know the answers to. What happens when we compare that belief to reality.
|Although quite informative, the casual, chatty style also makes it very readable. It has an interesting way of putting things you thought you knew in a new light.|
|The watchmaker of filigree street||Natasha Pulley||Set in London in the 1800s. The life of a young civil servant gets much more interesting after he receives a mystery gift of a beautiful pocket watch.||A interesting story happening in a world of political intrigue and police investigations, given a different aspect due to the watchmakes uniqueness.|
|Pilgrim’s Regress||C. S. Lewis||A young man questions the values of his family and the community he grew up in. He goes on a journey/pilgrimage to discover something better.|
A metaphor examining distinctions between religion and goodness.
|Written in the 1930s, it has a slower pace than more modern stories tend to have.|
But it also discusses ideas which are rarely investigated in modern stories.
On Friends, Lovers and Leaders
It may sound weird to combine friendship and leadership in the same group.
A good friend is someone who listens to us, who we can rely on, who has our back, who makes us better.
These are many of the same qualities that make an outstanding leader.
|How to win friends and influence people||Dale Carnegie||This is an old classic.|
Written by a salesman in 1936. He shares the lessons he learned about people and friendship. His lessons are so popular some of them have become cliche, in context though, they are quite powerful.
|A easy, coffee table type read. Full of lots of stories and examples, with good explanations.|
|Speaker for the Dead||Orson Scott Card||A sequel to Ender’s Game. Now an adult, Ender travels the galaxy, as a speaker at funerals.|
Helping people to understand the deceased and each other. Believing that, with understanding will come love.
|An imaginative world of spaceships, alien planets and artificial minds. But the story is about the normal people living in this extraordinary world.|
|Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus||John Gray||This is probably the most famous book about relationships. For good reason!|
Most arguments in relationships aren’t because of lack of love, or even difference in opinion, they are simply due to misunderstanding of language.
A statement as simply as “I’m okay” means totally different things to men and women in a relationship. Understanding that difference gives so much more opportunity to express love in a way that your partner will understand.
|It doesn’t matter. If you love someone, or ever plan to love someone, read this book!|
|Five Languages of Love||Gary Chapman||This is a book about acts of love.|
What are the things that people do that make you feel loved and appreciated? What are the things you can do to make them feel appreciated and loved?
Knowing what matters, allows you to put your effort where it makes a difference and will be rewarded.
|An clear, easy to follow style. Each section of the book takes a topic and examines it in an easy to understand way.|
|How you can talk to anyone in every situation||Emma Sargent & Tim Fearon||Does what it says on the tin.|
Many of us exerience difficulty meeting new people, or making conversation in different situations. This book teaches ideas of how to improve that.
|Written in a workbook style. With explanations often followed by things to do or practice. The practice part is important in getting the best out of the book.|
|The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work||John Gottman (Phd) and Nan Silver||John Gottman is a psychologist who became famous for his ability to watch a couple for just 15 mins and then predict which couples would be together and which divorced 8 years later. Here, he explains that this is an easy thing to do if we know what signs to look for.|
He not only explains what those signs are. But, more importantly, he discusses ways we can strengthen and enrich our existing and future relationships, in ways that will stand the test of time.
|Very focused and detailed. Contains many exercises and examples of real life people to help illustrate the ideas. So that we can understand and implement them in our own relationships.|
On helping children grow
I hesitated about including this section. Because, the most natural reaction we have when we learning about parenting, is to blame our own parents for what they did or didn’t do.
This is a natural reaction, but also a useless one.
When we blame someone, we are giving up our own power over our future and giving it to them. A child may be at the mercy of their parents, but as a growing adult, we can either say “This part of my life will always be this way because of what my parents did” or we can say “Now that I understand why this part of my life is this way, I have the ability to change it and remake it the way I want.”
|How Children Succeed||Paul Tough||What factors actually help children grow into successful adults. The author researches students in both high and low performing areas, to understand what values and behaviours are most rewarding to them.||Highly analytical method. Contains some individual stories that make it flow more easily, but focuses on the logic and details of why certain things work.|
|Outliers||Malcolm Gladwell||They are certain groups of people who always seems to stand out from the average. Countries that are good at math, towns were people live longer, what makes these places stand out? On the surface the book is saying that it is largely all down to your environment not any specific action you might take.|
However, dig a little deeper and you will realise, it is actually telling you how to build one of these places! We are a product of our environment, but we also have the ability to create our environment.
|Can get a bit technical sometimes.|
But if you are interested in creating an environment to nuture the extra-ordinary it is totally worth the effort.
|Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother||Amy Chua||Tiger mothers get a bit of a bad rap.|
Stories of pushy parents and insecure, over-driven children.
In this book, a self-confessed tiger mum tells her side of the story. Unapologetic, self depreciatingly authenthic, with an unusual sense of humour. It gives an interesting counter-point to generally accepted western ideals.
|A fun, friendly writing style. Easy to get into and connect with the author|