Reading for Life

If you really want to get ahead in life, you need to pursue continued self-improvement. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to develop the habit of reading at least 30 minutes every day. (Think you don’t have time? Try listening to an audiobook in the car.)

The following is a recommended reading list. (This is simply a “starter list”: these books will get you started.) These selections deal with life in general, but there are excellent books on nearly every subject of interest; all you have to do is look for them.

If you haven’t been to this page in a while, I’ve added new listings at the top of each section. Check them out; you might find something valuable.

Want more suggestions than the ones below? Check my reviews on for other selections that may interest you. I write new reviews each month, so it’s a good source of fresh titles — and I discuss them in much more detail than I have room to post here.

– John Chancellor


Ecological Intelligence, Prof. Daniel Goleman Ph.D.

The purpose of Ecological Intelligence is to make us aware of all the things that are going on in our environment that have the potential to do long term damage to the sustainability of life as we know it. There is no question that we have been very poor caretakers of the earth’s resources.

While there is a lot of talk about global warming and its dire consequences, Goleman points out that global warming is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to threats to the environment. The dangers from the pollution to our water system from agricultural chemicals to the toxins that are improperly disposed of all pose a real threat to our limited water supply.

This review is of the audio version of the book. Goleman is a very through author and does a great job of fully exploring the subject. The book is well researched and presented in a very logical, interesting and straightforward manner. It is much easier to listen to the book than it would be to read it.

Reading or listening to Goleman’s books will give you a much broader understanding of the world we live in. I think we all need to improve our Ecological Intelligence and listening to this audio book is one of the best ways I know how to do it.

How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets

If you are looking for the get rich fad of the month, look elsewhere. This is one of the more honest, truthful books about obtaining (and keeping) wealth you will find. The information is presented in a lively, entertaining manner.

However you will quickly find that Felix offers no shortcuts. Nor does he lead you to believe that it is easy to get rich or that anyone can in fact get rich. Actually on more than one occasion, he advises that getting rich is not all that it is cracked up to be. And before you make all the sacrifices you should do some real soul searching about the cost and the benefits.

You will get to know a lot about the man by reading this book. He freely admits to making many mistakes. But he also learned from them.

There is so much wisdom about life and business in the book. Perhaps by reading it, you will gain a short cut to wisdom about what is important in life.

The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success, Marcus Buckingham

I really am a big fan of Marcus Buckingham and have highly recommended his other books.

The major point of the book is that we will always do better when we are working toward our strengths. Trying to work on our weaknesses or to strengthen our weaknesses will not prove to be the best use of our time and energy.

I found a lot of information in this book was also his book, Go Put Your Strengths To Work. So if you have read that book, you may find that there is not that much new in this work. If you have not read it, then this book is much shorter and to the point.

If you are an employee or a manager, you would do well to read this book. Marcus has made it his life’s mission to study why people are successful at work. You can certainly learn some very valuable lessons about yourself from this book.

Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love, Jonathan Fields

There are three major benefits that you will gain from reading this book. First, it will serve as a motivation to all who want to give up the rut we all call a job and move out on their own. The second benefit is really a step by step guide about how to move out on your own. Not only does Jonathan tell you how, he gives links to hundreds of resources to help you accomplish what you want. The third valuable benefit is the wisdom that Jonathan shares from his own experiences.

The book is well written and easy to read. If you really wish to change your life, to take charge and put your future in your own hands, this is a great place to start.

Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz

Tony Zinni has written a very important and timely book. It seems that leadership is missing at all levels of business and government. And the results of the lack of leadership are evident each and every day. The failures of so many large businesses and the deep recession that was brought on by the sub-prime mortgage mess all speak to the lack of leadership that is rampant today.

The book could be used as a textbook for teaching leadership at the highest academic level. The lessons are extremely valuable, well presented and backed up with real life examples.

This book is very important for those concerned about the future of our way of life. We cannot sustain our way of life without leaders capable of leading.

The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason

A classic.

Read and follow this book and, assuming you start early enough, you will retire rich. There is no budget to follow, just the simple rule of “pay yourself first.”

As explained in the book, accumulating wealth is not a secret.

As a Man Thinketh, James Allen

For those of you who love short books, this is one of the best – only 28 pages. But those pages are full of great wisdom. The book is based on the very simple premise that as a man thinketh, he is. All of your circumstances are a direct result of the way you think. And it follows if you want to change your life, you must change your thinking. The book is small but so profound it should be read often.

The Joy of Living, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

This book really does a great job of explaining how the mind works and how to make the mind work for you and what you want. There are basically two concepts that cause the majority of our problems: attachment and aversion. We become attached to the way we want things to be and have an aversion to change.

Do not expect to read this book once and become enlightened. There are many concepts that will take time to sink in and become part of your way of thinking.

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation, Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

If you are a teacher, parent or manager, this book has extremely valuable information that will help you make improvements in the manner you relate to your students, children or employees.

The book is well written, easy to read, with examples of case studies a layman can easily understand. It was written by a professional but specifically written for the average reader.

Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters, Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Even though this book was written over two thousand years ago, there is so much wisdom that is appropriate today. While our problems are different in name, the underlying principles for dealing with them have not changed.

I must be honest and tell you that it is not an easy read. Writers of that age did not believe in simple sentence structure. And unless you are a student of ancient history, there are lots of references whom you will not know. However, the value is so great that I recommend you spend the time and effort and learn from a great thinker.

A Manual for Living (A Little Book of Wisdom), Epictetus

If you want all the wisdom without an excessive amount of reading, this book is for you. It is short enough you can read it weekly and let the concepts sink into your subconscious mind where they can lead you to the life you were designed to live.

It is really amazing that so many of the truths of living a purposeful life filled with happiness have been around for so long. We struggle with day to day problems because we fail to seek the answers contained in this book.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck

Unless you are a hermit, you can definitely benefit from this book. For those interested in improving their lives, their parenting skills, their leadership skills, their teaching skills and their relationship skills, this is a must-read.

Dweck shows us how we develop fixed mindset attitudes in many areas of our lives and the damage our attitude inflicts on us and on those we interact with. And Dweck tells how we can develop a growth mindset and improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

The Power of Focus: What the Worlds Greatest Achievers Know about The Secret of Financial Freedom and Success, Jack Canfield, Les Hewitt, Mark Victor Hanson

No matter what you want to achieve in business or in life, you must focus your efforts. This is a “how-to” book about determining what you want and then directing your efforts to obtain your goals. You really can achieve great things if you simply focus. (This book can be a little difficult to read, but the lessons are really worthwhile.)

Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton

Most of us have been taught to identify our weaknesses and work to improve them. This book takes a totally different approach. It advises you to find your strengths and focus there instead. We all have natural tendencies towards certain areas; to succeed we should concentrate our efforts on what we like to do and are naturally good at. (If you buy the book, there is a code for taking an online test that will help you identify your strengths.)

My Personal Best : Life Lessons from an All-American Journey, John Wooden, Steve Jamison

This is the story of John Wooden, the legendary coach of UCLA. John Wooden is acknowledged as the greatest coach in college basketball history. And it is truly inspiring to read how he did it. He simply encouraged his players to be the best they could be. He taught them not to worry about the competition, just to make sure they were as prepared as they could be. There are lessons for everyone in this warm and inspiring story.

The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations, David Hicks (translator)

This is a new translation of the writings of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. There are a couple of things that struck me about this book: how much wisdom Marcus Aurelius had and how little things have changed in 2,000 years. Well worth reading.