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Entertainment Weekly


20 books that will change your life

Posted on

Broadway Books; Little, Brown and Company (2); HarperOne; Random House

Oprah, Warren Buffett, and more reveal the books that changed their lives

Happy New Year, EW readers! ’Tis the season for making resolutions and changes, looking for those life-hacking secrets or transformative advice that can bring you one step closer to your goals. To celebrate the beginnings of 2018, we’ve rounded up 20 books that have changed the lives of others: authors, artists, lawyers, and business leaders. Read on to see why these books have transformed the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, and many others.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen

Atul Gawande: “I organize my life by David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Literally. It provides a system for dealing with your email inbox, the pieces of paper accumulating in your bag, and all those to-do lists you never get through, and I follow it religiously — which is to say, imperfectly.”
Riverhead Books

Drive, by Daniel Pink

Malcolm Gladwell: “I spent as much time thinking about what this book meant as I did reading it.”
Amber-Allen Publishing

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Oprah Winfrey: “[The book] has made a tremendous difference in how I think and act in every encounter.”

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

Tim Ferriss: “Could bitching and moaning on paper for five minutes each morning change your life? As crazy as it might seem, I believe the answer is yes.”
Little, Brown and Company

Presence, by Amy Cuddy

Deirdre Donahue: “Want to enjoy a more confident 2016? Consider power posing. This transformative self-help tome explains how assuming the Wonder Woman stance before a big interview sends an empowering message to your mind.”
Random House

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

Ann Patchett told EW in 2016, “This is a book that, I think I said in my blurb, it’s a universal donor. It’s a book that every single person needs to read. I was talking to a reporter that I know at the New York Times the other day, and she said, ‘I just can’t read it. It sounds too sad.’ And I said, ‘Get over yourself. You’ve got to read it. You absolutely have to read it, because it will make you realize how beautiful life is, how valuable your life is.’”
William Morrow

Think Like a Freak, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Malcolm Gladwell: “Dubner and Levitt’s point, in their utterly captivating new book, is that following your curiosity — even to the most heretical and absurd end — makes the world a better place. It is also a lot of fun.”
Graywolf Press

The Empathy Exams, by Leslie James

Mary Karr: “Leslie Jamison has written a profound exploration into how empathy deepens us, yet how we unwittingly sabotage our own capacities for it. We care because we are porous, she says. Pain is at once actual and constructed, feelings are made based on how you speak them. This riveting book will make you a better writer, a better human.”
Penguin Books

The Element, by Ken Robinson

Warren Bennis: “A great and inspiring book. It’s been said that an unexamined life is not worth living. True enough, and Ken Robinson doesn’t let us off the hook. After the first page, you have to abandon your ego and look for your own gifts and graces.”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Michael Lewis: “To anyone with the slightest interest in the workings of his own mind, it is so rich and fascinating that any summary would seem absurd.”
Metropolitan Books

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande

Malcolm Gladwell: “The Checklist Manifesto begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world — and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking.”
Simon & Schuster

How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

Warren Buffett: “It changed my life.”

Grit, by Angela Duckworth

Soledad O’Brien: “Angela Duckworth compels attention with her idea that regular individuals who exercise self-control and perseverance can reach as high as those who are naturally talented — that your mindset is as important as your mind.”
Broadway Books

Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin

Arianna Huffington: “Filled with insights about our patterns of  behavior, Better Than Before addresses one of life’s big and timeless questions: How can we transform ourselves? In a way that’s thought-provoking, surprising, and often funny, Gretchen Rubin provides us with the tools to build a life that truly reflects our goals and values.” 
Little, Brown and Company

The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell

Jeffrey Toobin: “A combination of lucid  explanation with vivid (and often funny) real-world examples, the book sets out to explain  nothing less than why human beings behave the way they do.”

A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson

Oprah wrote, “What Marianne Williamson is getting at here is that fear hides our inner light, but that when we embrace love — which is how she defines God — we  connect with who we are really meant to be. I have never been more moved by a book than I am by this one.”
Black Irish Entertainment

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

Comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan wrote, “A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than  Sun-Tzu for the soul.”

How to Be a Person in the World, by Heather Havrilesky

Anne Lamott: “What I love so much about Heather Havrilesky and her new book is that, beside being her usual brilliant, hilarious, equally kick-ass and compassionate self, ‎she actually gives great advice. How to be a Person in the World will change your life, for the way better.”
Riverhead Books

Where Good Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson

Cory Doctorow: “This is the heart of Johnson’s thesis: that there are similarities to be found (and lessons to be learned) between the way that physics, chemistry and biology innovate to create successful variations in life; the way that humans work together to create successful new technologies; and the way that human brains accomplish the strange business of imagining new things, seemingly out of thin air.”
Simon & Schuster

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

On the book’s silver anniversary, Maya Angelou said, “Happily, this book has advised and encouraged us for 25 years.”