20 Life Changing Books

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I have a confession to make… I’ve never been a big fan of reading.

I’ve started a lot of books in my life and never finished them because when it comes to reading, I have a very short attention span. If a book isn’t well-written, easy to understand, and doesn’t deliver some intensely valuable content right out of the gate… I’ll never make it to the end.

At the same time – I have to acknowledge that reading is important. There are some books that have had a MAJOR impact on my life. Good books can change lives, inspire new ideas, give direction and build purpose and meaning into a person’s life.

I’ve come across a small handful of these books in my time, and some of them have inspired me to make significant changes to my business goals and thus, they’ve shaped my mindset and brought me to where I’m at today.

Today I’d like to show you a list of 20 books that have had a profound impact on the direction of my business and life. These books have meant a great deal to me, and I think you should know about them too. Here they are (in no particular order):

How to Win Friends & Influence People

Dale Carnegie was a prolific author who wrote in a way that has always spoken to me. When I first read this book (probably his most well-known work), my eyes were opened to a lot of things that seemed obvious, yet I was failing at miserably. This book helped me to recognize some specific behaviors and personality flaws that were hurting me, and when I started working to change them, I saw a notable improvement in several areas of my life.

The issues addressed in this book are fairly fundamental areas where most of us struggle on some level. What I like about Dale Carnegie’s writing is that it’s easy to read, he does a great job of illustrating his points, and he offers practical, actionable advice that can yield some significant positive results. Check it out here.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This is one of those books that can alter your perspective on a lot of things (at least, it did for me). Stephen Covey wrote this masterpiece over a quarter-century ago and it still leaves a lasting impression on just about everyone who reads it.

The subject matter of this book isn’t so much related to “real estate investing” as it is a solid guidebook for living. If you ever have the chance, I would strongly encourage you to pick this one up and absorb what it has to say. You’ll be glad you did! Check it out here.

Pitch Anything

This is some of the best information I’ve ever read on human psychology, motivation and negotiation all wrapped into this one book. Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff is written as a sort of “formula” that is highly effective when selling just about anything.

Many of the lessons may come as a surprise, but they work undeniably well. The lessons in this book apply to more than just the topic of “selling stuff” – it’s really a book on human psychology and how to be persuasive (which is something everybody needs to be skilled at). This book has helped me to be FAR more effective in my interactions with other people and it can help you too. Check it out here.


This book from Seth Godin is one of the perspective-changing pieces of work that makes you look at your life and realize that the answers are actually pretty obvious, but sometimes you need someone to spell it out for you.

I think this book is important because it touches on some of the core truths that all working professionals need to be well-aware of – the importance of being an indispensable and providing value on a level that simply cannot be replaced without your unique qualities being involved. When I started putting this mentality to work, my life changed forever (and yours can too). Check it out here.

Thou Shall Prosper

In Thou Shall Prosper, Rabbi Daniel Lapin gives a very comprehensive overview on what he calls “The 10 Commandments of Making Money” and dispels a lot of the common assumptions and misconceptions modern-day people have about the how to make money, the value that businesses provide for the world and how to reframe the whole thought process behind financial prosperity.

For a lot of people, I think this book can provide a significant paradigm shift and a healthier understanding of the role entrepreneurs and business owners play in the greater good of the world. I had several “Aha!” moments during this one and I think you will too! Check it out here.


Proverbs is one of those books I can read over and over and over again, and I ALWAYS get something new out of it. Written by Solomon (arguably, one of the wisest and richest men who ever lived), the advice and instruction in this piece of work has stood the test of time, staying fully relevant and applicable some 3,000+ years after it was first published.

This is one of those books where I find myself saying “Wow” on just about every page because the information is so simple, yet so mind-bogglingly profound and relevant to my everyday life. Check it out and you’ll see what I mean. 

Note: I was looking for a rendition that included ONLY the book of Proverbs, but as it turns out… you’ll have to find a full copy of the Bible to get access to this one (or you can read it online for free).

The Narrow Road

This book gives a very matter-of-fact look at what it takes to get rich. I won’t say all the advice in this book is “healthy” (because it’s not) and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book as the perfect set of instructions for everyone, but if your primary concern is to simply make tons of money, this book lays out a high-level ground map on how to get there.

Why would I recommend a book like this? Because it’s unapologetically realistic. Most wealth generation books like to sugarcoat the message and leave out the cold, hard facts about what can happen on the road to making money. I appreciated the way that this book helped me look at my life and think, “Is this really what I want?” In some cases, I found myself saying “HECK no”, because there is more to life than money. I’m not sure if Felix Dennis meant for his readers to draw this conclusion, but it helped me see the fine line between the life I want, and the lifestyle required to create obscene amounts of monetary wealth. Check it out here.

A Message to Garcia

What I love about this book is that it’s SHORT and filled with some of the most phenomenal wisdom you’ll find outside of Proverbs. This book was written by Elbert Hubbard, a businessman, and writer who lived over a century ago. When this writing was first published, it quickly gained momentum and was printed more than any other book in history outside of the Bible (and there aren’t many books who can boast that kind of popularity).

What I love about the particular rendition of this book is that it actually contains a handful of other writings from Hubbard – including A Letter From Lincoln, Mental Attitude, Ability, Initiative, The Gentleman, and Work and Waste. All short pieces with some mind-blowing wisdom that we rarely encounter in today’s world. Check it out here.

The Power of a Positive No

Unless you’re a total pushover who lets anyone and everyone push you around (or for that matter, even if that perfectly describes you), we ALL need to have a backbone and tell people “No”. As we get older and deal with more pressure and increasingly complicated situations, the need only gets greater.

I’ve known plenty of people who knew how to say “No” while also alienating people and coming across like jerks… but it takes real finesse and tactful maneuvering to say “No” without conveying ill will or even creating enemies in the process.

In this book, William Ury gives a brilliant framework (along with dozens of practical examples) of how to send turn people down WITHOUT putting them down. Whenever I tell people “No”, I always rely on the instructions in this book and it works undeniably well! Check it out here.

The Richest Man in Babylon

This is one of those books I hear other entrepreneurs, personal finance consultants and real estate investors recommending all the time – and it’s no wonder why. I like this book because it’s a short read, and it tells a simple story of a protagonist who follows some basic financial principles that resulted in bringing him from poverty to wealth.

While the book is a work of fiction, the story from George S. Clason delivers undeniable wisdom that may just inspire you to make some changes in your personal finances. I know several successful entrepreneurs who gained some major insights from this book. Give it a read and I think you’ll see why it’s been so helpful for so many people. Check it out here.

Feel the Fear… and Do it Anyway

If you’re someone who battles with your own fear and inner turmoil on a regular basis (like I do), or even if you’re going through a difficult season of life where you’re being forced to confront some serious doubts, challenges and other obstacles – this book from Susan Jeffers is an incredible source of power and encouragement that can help you push through the difficulty and get things done.

There is no greater tragedy than when people allow fear to keep them on the sidelines and away from living a productive and rewarding life. I have found untold amounts of inspiration and strength in this book – and if you’re anything like me, I think you’ll also find it as a great source of reassurance and positive energy. Check it out here.

Steve Jobs

If you’re a fan of autobiographies, this one is a must-read. Walter Isaacson gives an incredibly in-depth look at the life of one of the world most influential and renowned entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs was a genius on many levels, but he was also a flawed person who had lots of problems.

I appreciated hearing about the brilliance behind the man, as well as his humanity and the fact that everyone has demons (even the smartest, most driven, most influential among us), and the fact that no one is immune to the problems that come with living life on earth. If you want to learn more about the inner workings of a man whose work is still affecting the lives of most people living in the first world, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Check it out here.

Rich Dad Poor Dad

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, because to most of us, Robert Kiyosaki is a name that needs no introduction.

Many of the real estate investors I know will point to this book as the “gateway” that pointed them toward the world of real estate investing and honestly, I can’t say my story is much different. This book has sold tens of millions of copies and inspired generations of new entrepreneurs. If you haven’t been through this one yet, you owe it to yourself to pick it up and read it as soon as possible. Check it out here.

If you’re looking for an audio version of this book, you can also hear it for free right here.

The ABCs of Real Estate Investing

This is probably the most enjoyable and eye-opening real estate investing book I’ve ever read. I first picked it up over a decade ago and I still find myself thumbing through it from time to time (which speaks to its lasting relevance in my life).

Ken McElroy is a great writer and he knows how to take a seemingly complicated subject and make it very easy to understand. If you’ve ever wanted to get a primer on how to approach rental property investments the right way, this is a fantastic place to start. Check it out here.

The Total Money Makeover

If you’re new to the ideas and concepts of personal finance and wealth management, one of today’s most recognized and respected authorities on the subject is Dave Ramsey, and his flagship book is a great place to start.

I first heard of Dave Ramsey when I was 18 years old. My dad took me to a seminar when Dave came to my town – and it was a truly life-changing experience. When I walked into the building, I wasn’t terribly concerned about my financial future. When I walked out, I realized the importance of my decisions and the impact they would have on myself and my family for decades to come. Even if you’re well-entrenched in the realm of money management, I still think this book deserves a read. Dave Ramsey is a terrific speaker, engaging writer, and his concepts are a great reminder for everyone. Check it out here.


When I first read this book in college, it blew my mind. In this book, Robert Cialdini covers some profoundly effective tactics that can be used to influence, convince, persuade and move others to action. As I was reading through it, I realized that many of these tactics had been used on me in the past, and they worked

In the early days of my blog, I actually wrote an article outlining the 6 primary methods of influence discussed in this book. There’s also a great video that gives a summary of these areas as well, you can see that video/article right here. The information in this book is powerful and can be used to move mountains in your life. If you haven’t been through it, I would highly recommend that you

The information in this book is powerful and can be used to move mountains in your life. If you haven’t been through it, I would highly recommend that you check it out here.

The E-Myth Real Estate Investor

Since Michael Gerber wrote the original E-Myth book over a quarter-century ago, the principles in his book have generated a remarkable following and have changed the way many small businesses operate. In this recent expansion from the original book, we get to hear Than Merrill‘s take on the same ideas as it applies to running a real estate investing business (something that is directly applicable to most of the readers of this blog).

It’s a great introduction to some groundbreaking concepts that many entrepreneurs need to be thinking about. If you haven’t explored the E-Myth yet, this piece of work is a great way to do it (note: the audiobook is a great rendition too, as it is read by Than and he is a great verbal communicator). Check it out here.

The One Thing

This book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan offers a new way of looking at work. Most of us have heard of the 80/20 principle, but this book takes it a few steps further, by helping readers to look at the ONE, single thing they can do that will have the most important results.

When you think about anything in life, it all really boils down to a series of singular moments. We can’t do everything at once. We need to choose what we will focus our efforts and energy on, and it’s important to make those choices wisely. By focusing our energy on one thing at a time, we can life more rewarding lives, build our careers, strengthen our finances, deepen our faith, and nurture stronger marriages and personal relationships. Check it out here.

The 4-Hour Work Week

Tim Ferriss is another well-known name in the world of entrepreneurship. This book has made some HUGE waves over the past decade and in the years after it was published, it launched Tim Ferriss into the stratosphere of legendary authors.

Tim is one of a handful of people who popularized some groundbreaking lifestyle design concepts (things that not many people were talking about before his books hit the scene). He also shares some incredible ideas on time management, small business ideas, living remotely and a lot more.

If you haven’t read it yet, I won’t spoil it for you – but be sure to pick it up sometime and you’ll see why this book has been such a big deal to so many people. Check it out here.

Necessary Endings

This book from Henry Cloud rocked my world when I first read it. It came at a crucial time in my life because I had gotten into the self-sabotaging habit of saying “Yes” to everything and everybody who asked me for help. I eventually found that I was overwhelmed, and if I didn’t figure out how to start saying “No” when I needed to, my life was going to be out of control.

As simple as the concept sounds, it’s something that some of us have a really difficult time with. If you’ve ever found yourself in this camp, do your self a favor and check this one out.

Do you know of any great books that weren’t mentioned above? Let us know about them in the comments below!

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About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real-world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  1. Stephen Shivers says:

    Hi Seth, awesome list! You’ve included some of my favorites. It’s not a book, but I wanted to recommend Blockshelf (http://www.blockshelf.com/) a site that lists the major points found in entrepreneurial books, which is great for people (like me) with short attention spans.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Hey Stephen – that sounds like an awesome site! Thanks for sharing! I totally need to check that out. 🙂

  2. Shawn Goth says:

    Phenomenal list. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I have already read half of these so it’s great to know I’m on the right track. Per your recommendation I will pick up with “the narrow road” and the Power of a Positive No”. I look forward to those reads. Thank you for your blog.
    If I may add the the list:

    “nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” (Lois P Finkle) – But for anyone really
    “Me Inc.” (Gene Simmons)
    “The Midas Touch” (Trump and Kyiosaki”

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for checking out the blog post Shawn – and thanks for sharing your recommendations!

  3. Pete says:

    Great list! Thank you for putting it together. These will all be added to my reading list.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Pete – and no problem! Glad you got something out of it. 🙂

  4. Jayne says:

    Thanks. I have been prompted by your listing to look for and read ‘ a message to Garcia’ and the message in the book has been delivered to me..

    1. Seth Williams says:

      That’s awesome Jayne! Thanks for letting me know – I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  5. Rashad says:

    Hi Seth,

    Great list man, I especially like “The Power of a Positive No”. I’ll definitely check that one out.
    I’ve said no to people on quite a few occasions, politely as possible of course, :-).

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Rashad! Saying “no” (without offending) is something I’ve always worried about (probably too much so). I definitely found that book to be helpful in showing me how to do it more tactfully.

  6. Desni D. Davis says:

    Thanks for the recommendations Seth! I loved Think and Grow Rich, but my favorite is The Law Of Success (which Think And Grow Rich) is based on. It expands on the concepts found in Think And Grow Rich tremendously. Its a large book but I love it. Take care brother!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for sharing Desni! I’m glad you enjoyed the list. 🙂

  7. Cody says:

    Excellent list Seth! I enjoy this site. Pitch anything is definately one of my favorites. Keep up the good work!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Cody – me too!

  8. Jimmy Moncrief says:

    Seth – this is an amazing list!

    I used to read around 100 books a year and I haven’t read some of these – thanks!!!!

    I highly recommend you check-out: The 12 Week Year


  9. Julie says:

    Great choices! Definitely adding a few to my must read list!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Awesome! Thanks Julie.

  10. 411 We Buy Homes Fast says:

    Good stuff you have there Seth. I saw a message to Garcia by Elbert HUbbard on an online free book reading but the only available there was A Message to Garcia; Being a Preachment.here http://www.readanybook.com/ebook/a-message-to-garcia-being-a-preachment-297264. Does anyone here know where to find them online.

  11. Karl James says:

    Great list – thanks. I, too, don’t read many books – attention span, I guess. Typically a reader of articles, etc. But – I have read a number of these and went out and bought a couple from the Amazon link as I have a long drive out of state coming up and that might be angle on persuading the wife to drive (while I read) – grin.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Karl! Are you a fan of audiobooks? Kind of like podcasts (only longer), and when they’re done well, they can be great for multi-tasking. 🙂

  12. Charles L. Lee says:

    Thanks for the useful collection of Books. Happy reading!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      You’re welcome Charles!

  13. John says:

    Love the article. Definitely it is an interesting topic.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks John! Glad you liked it.

  14. Jason says:

    Love the article. Definitely an interesting topic.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Jason! Glad you liked it. 🙂

  15. McGuire says:

    Great article. I really enjoyed the subject.

  16. McGuire says:

    I really appreciate this article. It helped me learn a lot.

  17. McGuire says:

    Wow! What a great article. You always give me so much insight.

  18. bolivar quinones says:

    the greatest book i ever read was DIANETICS by l.R HUBBARD, once
    you start reading there is no stop, it saved my life and also could save yours

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Interesting – thanks for the suggestion Bolivar!

  19. Nikki Lawerence says:

    How to Win Friends & Influence People and Rich Dad Poor Dad are on my top ten! Fantastic selection!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Nikki! I love those two!

  20. Derek says:

    Good list Seth. I would add The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo and obviously Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz is one of the best books ever written.
    The Alchemist is a Fable about following your dreams and Psycho-Cybernetics is about how your own beliefs shape your reality. Written by a plastic surgeon who witnessed great change in his clients belief systems change their lives, and other times they would maintain the same beliefs not changing at all eventhough a deformity had been corrected. Your beliefs create your reality.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Derek!

  21. Harold Vogel says:

    Book – Thank you for being late.
    Friedman / A MUST READ !

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Harold! Let’s hope they have it on Blinkist. 🙂

  22. Neil says:

    ‘The Go-Giver’ by Burg & Mann is a great business book about the power of giving (authentically) as a driver of success and happiness. It’s presented as a contemporary fable. A short, but valuable story, that anyone starting or running a business should read annually.

    1. I’ve heard that’s a good one, but haven’t read it yet. Thanks for sharing Neil!

  23. Bonnie Larsen says:

    A book that has really effected the way I think is “The 10X Rule” by Grant Cardone, with a follow-up book by Hal Elrod “The Miracle Equation”.

    1. Great additions! Thanks for sharing, Bonnie!

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