Throughout my academic career, I have found that a good book is hard to beat. I can honestly say that certain books have even changed my life—everything from basic tasks such as how I make my bed, to greater things like the way I think and process information.
Below are five books that I have found intriguing or life-changing. I encourage you to check one of these out the next time you're looking for a new book to read.
1. The Five Elements of Effective Thinking
Author: Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird
The Five Elements of Effective Thinking presents practical, lively and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren't a special breed―they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in the book, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself.
I read this book during my freshman year in college and it was a game-changer. While reading, I realized that my "critical thinking" wasn't all that critical. Now, I can apply a more logical, methodical approach to brainstorming and decision-making.
2. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Author: Simon Sinek
Start with Why shows that the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way—and it's the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea "The Golden Circle", and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led and people can be inspired. And it all starts with "why".
This book is on multiple must-read lists, a testament to its popularity. After reading, I started asking “why” much more, to the point that I ask multiple “why’s” every day.
3. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
Author: Chris Anderson
Since taking over TED in 2001, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, spreading knowledge and promoting a shared dream. Done right, a talk can electrify a room and transform an audience’s worldview; it can be more powerful than anything in written form. Chris Anderson has worked with all the TED speakers who have inspired us the most to share insights on everything from how to craft your talk’s content to how you can be most effective on stage. This is a must-read for anyone who is ready to create impact with their ideas.
Let’s be real, many of us could use some polish when it comes to our public speaking skills. This book helps guide you to become a better speaker and control your nerves. This definitely changed the way I speak in any public setting.
4. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns
Author: John C. Bogle
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is the classic guide to getting smart about the market. Legendary mutual fund pioneer John C. Bogle reveals his key to getting more out of investing: low-cost index funds. Bogle describes the simplest and most effective investment strategy for building wealth over the long term: buy and hold, at very low cost, a mutual fund that tracks a broad stock market Index such as the S&P 500.
This book got me started with investing when I turned 18 and taught me everything I know about the process. If you are interested in learning more about investing, I highly suggest you check this one out!
5. The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance
Author: Russell Roberts
The Invisible Heart takes a provocative look at business, economics and regulation through the eyes of Sam Gordon and Laura Silver, teachers at the exclusive Edwards School in Washington, D.C. Sam lives and breathes capitalism. He thinks that most government regulation is unnecessary or even harmful. He believes that business success is a virtue. He believes that our humanity flourishes under economic freedom. Laura prefers Wordsworth to the Wall Street Journal. Where Sam sees victors, she sees victims. She wants the government to protect consumers and workers from the excesses of Sam's beloved marketplace.
I know an "economic romance" may sound weird, but I promise that it's an interesting and worthwhile read! The story accurately teaches basic economics and even some public policy.