Many of you frequently ask what I’m reading and what books were the most important in my personal growth and self-development. So I thought it was time to update the list of the top ten most influential books in my life. (So far…)
This isn’t meant to be the greatest books of all time, because I think that will be different for everyone, and that’s not the criteria here. These books are the ones that have shaped my life the most.
1) Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
The book that impacted my life more than any other. No other book is even close. This choice shocks many people, because it’s actually a novel. The reason it leads my list is because it was the catalyst for me discovering the importance of living with a congruent philosophy.
In it, Rand introduces the concept of Objectivism. The writing is brilliant, the characters are fascinating, and the work is sheer genius. Every time I re-read it (which I do every year or two), I still get goose bumps when I get to the section beginning with the words, “This is John Galt speaking…” This book should be in the library of every serious student of philosophy, politics, self-development, and psychology.
2) Fit for Life Harvey & Marilyn Diamond
Here’s a book that didn’t show on my original top ten, but now comes in at number two. Two reasons for the steep increase: First, my appreciation and recognition of the role of health in manifesting prosperity has increased immensely over the years.
And secondly, I realize how much of my eating and nutritional habits are still influenced every single day – from a book I first read almost 40 years ago! All health begins in the colon. So what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat it is a big deal. And this timeless book still outshines all the fad diet books, to show you common sense insights on how to create energy and live a vibrant life. (This link is the revised edition that Harvey did in 2011.)
3) The Science of Mind Ernest Holmes
Holmes is my hero, because he blazed the trail for me. He also was a self-educated, passionate student of the world's spiritual systems, and then developed his knowledge into a practical philosophy for living a life of prosperity. This book is a meta-physical masterpiece. The “how-to” manual for everything you want to do in life.
4) The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
If it seems strange that a book by a church founder is directly followed by one from an outspoken atheist – then you haven’t been paying attention. Dawkins might just be the smartest guy on the planet right now, and this book is breathtakingly brilliant. I first read it on my sabbatical and it helped crystalize my belief that no rational human could believe in god. (That doesn’t mean there isn’t a god, or you shouldn’t believe in god. Simply that you can’t believe in a god and be rational.)
5) As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
It’s a little book that sells for almost nothing, so people don’t take it as seriously as they should. I almost wish it sold for $50,000, so people would read it with the reverence it deserves. This should be on your bed stand to read a little every night before you go to sleep.
6) Shibumi Trevanian
Sometimes a book enters your life at the exact moment to nurture a desire you have. This is the book that made me want to become a writer. Another work of fiction, and another one that got me thinking hard about a philosophy of living. Nicholaï Hel, the protagonist is an assassin, so you know it’s right up my alley. He’s best described by a character in the story who calls him half saintly ascetic, half vandal marauder – a medieval anti-hero. He is your vintage man-against-the-herd. When you read about the dangers of technology, terrorism, government corruption, and seeking spiritual perfection, you’ll have a hard time believing this was written in 1979. The true test of a timeless classic.
7) The War of Art Steven Pressfield
Shibumi made me become a writer. The War of Art is the toolbox I use to do that. Every time I write a new book (or take on a huge creative project like a website design or branding), I go back and reread this book first.
It is the greatest book on writing ever written, by the greatest living American writer. And even if you’re not a writer, this book will impact your life immeasurably, because it isn’t just for writers, but any artist or entrepreneur.
8)The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
Another novel, this one makes the list because it is the first Rand book I ever read, and the one that addicted me to her brilliant, beautiful, and bitter writing. I like books that rattle my molars and challenge my beliefs. A superb story, and one that will cause you to think long and hard on strength of the individual and what society does to try and create conformity.
9) Principles Ray Dalio
If you follow me on Facebook, you know my frustration at trying to find powerful self-help books from people who aren’t dead yet. (You can only re-read certain books so many times.) So Dalio brought a desperately needed breath of fresh air to the genre, when he dropped this massive tome in 2017.
You may find it egocentric. But a great author is the one who shares valuable lessons from their own life. And this book has hundreds of brilliant insights. It’s not billed as a leadership book, but it’s arguably the greatest book ever written on leadership.
10) Mad Genius Randy Gage
This book doesn’t make the list because I’m a narcissist. (Okay, maybe a little.) It makes the list because of the personal transformation that writing it required me to do. Doing the critical thinking of how we live in a world of cloning, genetic engineering, VR/AR, social media, and continuous disruption, took me down a path of curiosity, wonder, and adventure.
There's a reason Facebook was birthed in a dorm room, Amazon came from outside the bookstore business, and Uber was created by people who weren't from the taxi industry. Innovation, discovery, and creating disruption require blowing up conventional thinking and unleashing your entrepreneurial brilliance. And any book that helps you achieve that (whether by writing or reading it) is a gift.
If your spouse leaves you, a meteorite destroys your home, your business burns down, your dog runs away, and you’re afflicted with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis – get these ten books. Then go somewhere quiet for a week and read them all. Within six months you will find your perfect soul mate, become a multi-millionaire, be caller number nine in the radio station contest, develop radiantly beautiful skin, and be the happiest person you know.
The following books just missed this list at this moment, but I'm just beginning my fourth midlife crisis, so some of these might crack future countdowns!
The Essential Marcus Aurelius Jacob Needleman & John Piazza
The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck Mark Manson
Tribe of Mentors Timothy Ferris
The End of Faith Sam Harris
The Grand Design Stephen Hawing & Leonard Mlodinow
Ok I showed you mine – now show me yours!
Hey Randy, always a timely post around this period of the year. Here’s mine...
1 Think and Grow Rich – Napolean Hill
This book was the very first ‘self-help’ book I had and I’ve re-read the same version for the last 15 years or so. Apart from it’s obvious status – for me it’s influence was that it expanded my thinking and opened my beliefs to something greater. A perfect read for a naïve 20 year old.
2 10X – Grant Cardone
I was surprised when I placed this so highly but then it became blatantly obvious. This book hit me hard because of the consistent and in your face reminder that dreams take work – sometimes even 10X the work you think it’s going to take. It helped me ground the ‘law-of-attraction’ philosophy into hard work.
3 Why You’re Dumb Sick and Broke – Randy Gage
I re-read this every year. It influenced my understanding of beliefs / memes and just how out of control our minds can be if we’re not careful. It probably sparked my current trajectory and study pathway more than any other book. And I still rate this your most important work. (no that doesn’t mean you should stop writing )
4 The War Of Art – Steven Pressfield
Read this on your recommendation and I felt that somebody finally understood what I was going through when I sat in front of a blank page with my fingers on the keyboard. It gave me permission to write despite the hardship. And made the hardship just part of the writing.
5 The Untethered Soul – Michael Singer
Brilliant book on consciousness and the evolution of spirit. Loved it and the metaphors Michael wove into the work to describe the journey of self.
6 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
This book fucked with my mind. Again, read it on your recommendation – and have only read it once – but the poignant and deep art of Rand’s writing has stuck with me. As a writer, her work was like swimming in a sea of beautifully deep characters. Her philosophy has influenced the way I think.
7 Wishes Fulfilled – Wayne Dyer
Quite a simple book, and makes the list because of a 3 line section that froze me for 3 days. I could not get past these lines. I felt drawn to them, to drink them in and somehow understand them. Those 3 lines remind me of an important aspect of consciousness that I seek to live as often as I can.
8 Revival – Stephen King
Is this his best work? Not by a long shot, so why does it make it on the list? The ending of this book was disturbing and it has been a very long time since a writer was able to disturb me. King is a master story teller and this book and ending reminds me to disturb my readers, to shake up their beliefs and get into their brain with a Vitamix and help them create something new.
9 Battlefield Earth – L Ron Hubbard
It’s a big read and Hubbard shows off his imagination, character development and the importance of taking the reader on a journey. It’s influence though is a reminder to never judge someone based on a consensus opinion and that genius often resides in the minds of those we seek to ostracize.
10 This is Marketing – Seth Godin
Having just finished this book and spent the better part of the last month really thinking through the lessons, I’ve dropped it into number 10. I think this is his best book by far and is surprisingly complex. It’s influence extends beyond just the marketing of products and hones into the question “Who am I, what do I do and who’s it for” – 3 questions that I needed to ask and understand much deeper than I had.
Great post Randy!!!
I believe you owe me an email...
THANKS, that's exactly what I was looking for. Just bought 2 of those after reading the post, thanks a lot!
* Leading an Inspired Life - Jim Rohn
* The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
* Be the Best at What Matters Most - Joe Calloway
* It's Called Work for a Reason - Larry Winget
* The 80/20 Principle - Richard Koch
* The War of Art - Steven Pressfield
* My Life and Work - Henry Ford
* Why You're Dumb, Sick and Broke - Randy Gage
* Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman - Richard Feynman
* Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
Love it, thanks for sharing.
Hey Randy, loved to read this list and agreed with you about the importance of the topic, the impact on one's life. I must admit I havent read yet 5 of these books, and thank you for pointing them out. For me, there is another great book, that belongs to such a list and it's The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book impact on me is by narrowing down the list to a simple four! This is a book, that I read once a year as well, as we tend to forget...
1. Atlas Shrugged by far...
2. Moral Letters to Lucilius - Seneca
3. Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis
4. The Master Key System - Charles Haanel.
5. Five Major Pieces of the Live Puzzle - Jim Rohn.
6. Man’s Search For Meaning - Victor Frankl.
7. Civilization and Its Discontents - Sigmund Freud
8. Equality Is Unfair - Don Watkins & Yaron Brooks
9. The Virtue Of Selfishness. Ayn Rand
10. Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
Going through your Prosperity Series at the moment. Amazing collection. Thank you again!!
1) Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler - A book that assembles the fragmented puzzle pieces of our world into a lucid vision of abundance and possibility.
2) Presuasion by Robert Cialdini - A brilliant follow up to his book, Influence, that reveals how to speak to the unconscious mind and create a predisposition to our products, service, and ideas.
3) Ask by Ryan Levesque - The ask method could be called how to sell without selling. The emphasis is totally on creating empathy and trust with prospective customers and clients by asking authentic questions that encourage them to tell us what they want and need.
4) Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen by Steve Sims - The title says it all.
5) Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yural Noah Haran - Expands our view of what it means to be human in a world shaped by exponential technology.
6) Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, The Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal - Duh!
7) The Truth Machine: The Blockchain & the Future of Everything by Michael J. Casey & Paul Vigna - Why compete with that title?
8) Future Presence: How Virtual Reality is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life by Peter Rubin - Bring it on!
9) Wanting What You Want by Dan Sullivan - A refreshing and liberating book that removes the need to justify our ambitions and desires.
10) Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - An epic novel about love, compassion, addiction, courage, and forgiveness - A breathtaking story based on the author's stranger than fiction life.
Fascinating list, thanks!
Thanks for this, Randy! "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" was one of the books I read right before I took a big leap and quit my corporate job and moved to Miami to redesign my life. It spoke to me where I was in that moment and resonated in a visceral way.
I know one big thinker in our mastermind group thinks its bubble gum garbage but I have to defend it...
I think its important to remember that people are in different places in their journey toward greatness, and something arguably more "bubblegum" may be a great entry point. I def am glad to see the book on the list!
Really demonstrates how different books speak to different people, at different times!
Interesting list my dear friend....here is mine (in no specific order)
The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton - how our beliefs impact our mines and body has been said for quite some time, where does it come from and how it begins is fascinating and that is where Lipton goes to, the sourse.
The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer - the perspective of how intention is much more the purpose in action, rather a connection of us with the Universe and how we can work together is very powerful.
Satan, the Autobiography of our biggest opponent by Yehuda Berg - Fascinating and thought provoking book about how our EGO shows up in so many ways and how we can really learn from it and not resist it, from a very spiritual perspective.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp - One of those books that make you think, that challenges you to see if you are really driven by purpose or by ego and how to develop a creative habitación in the highest order.
The Awakening of Intelligence by Krishnamurti - all of his books are fascinating, yet this one really got me thinking when he said "intelligence is not the accumulation of knowledge, rather what our mind has to say when in silence".
Building Trust by Fernando Flores and Robert Solomon - this book really gets to the core of what trust is and how we can really learn how to live a life where trust is a verb, not a definition of our past.
Synchronicity, the Inner Path to Leadership - When you think you have it all and success is the master of all trades you encounter life and how the inner journey is critical to live a life worth living.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen - As Randy states, a book we shall keep close to our beds, office and travel. A "go to book" when you want to be grounded, enlightened and be purposeful.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield - I thought I was a writer before reading this book, now I know how what it is going to take to be the writer that lives in me after reading this book. Love all of his books.
Tribes by Seth Godin - This book really opened my mind to see the world in a different way. It inspired me to write my first book. I would add Linchpin and What to do when it's your turn as great reads also.
Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch - not because it's true, rather for the way we can deny ourselves to engage in a relationship with a higher power because we can live in the question (or debate) and not explore the possible answers.
Principles by Ray Dalio - Top 10, yet absorbing a lot of the material as we speak.
Paulo Coelho, The Manuel of the Warrior of the Light - Just as A Man Thinketh, as book we must keep close and read often. Full of wisdom.
Even the stars look lonesome by Maya Angelou - All of her books are riveting and insightful, yet I love her essay books because the speak to my soul, to my journey and to how we are all connected.
This is Marketing by Seth Godin - Also Top 10, yet haven't complete it and still assimilating a lot of what he says in the book.
Thank you for this contribution.
I would add the "Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy. It showed me in the most simplest form with real life applications how obtainable reaching big goals is.
"Life's Golden Ticket" by Brendon Burchard was very impactful for me as well years ago. A very simple but wonderful book for anyone in a rut or looking for a second chance.
"Take the Stairs" by Rory Vaden......where he gives you a special shout out RG is a book that I keep going back to over and over lately.
and of Course..........I am on Book Four of Harry Potter as we speak which has brought out the kid in me as of late.....which is always a wonderful thing!
You lose points ofr not being through the whole Potter series. But thanks for the rest! 🙂 -RG
I know I know....I have been shamed weekly at home for the past few years....it took us going on a trip to Universal after the World Series and visiting the Harry Potter World to finally get me to jump...so in my defense...at least I am on book 4 since October!
10 WORLD CLASS NON-MAINSTREAM FOREIGN MOVIES
I chose these because they completely engaged my mind, my heart and my imagination. Human stories with very high entertainment level. If you prefer Mission Impossible action, these ain't for you.
1) Malena - directed by Giuseppe Tornatore - One of the funniest, moving, and sexy movies I have ever seen.
2) Cinema Paradiso - directed by Giuseppe Tornatore - Haunting and memorable.
3) The Battle of Algiers directed by Gillo Pontecorvo - Black & white reenactment of the battle that won Algiers her independence from France. Feels like you are watching live war footage.
4) Burn! - directed by Gillo Pontecorvo - Marlon Brando as a British mercenary whose life and worldview change forever when he joins a revolution in the Caribbean.
5) Downfall - directed by Oliver Herschliegel - Chilling drama about the last days in Hitler's bunker. Bruno Ganz is scary as Hitler. He channels him body and soul.
6) La Bonne Annee (Happy New Year) - directed by Claude Lelouch - Romantic crime caper movie with great suspense and heartfelt emotion.
7) La Balance - directed by Bob Swaim (American working in France) - One of the best crime movies ever. La balance refers to a police informer.
8) The Spirit of The Beehive by Victor Erice (Spain) - Tense powerful exploration of the fragile world of a child's imagination.
9) Dr. Petiot - directed by Christian de Chalonge - Blood curdling true story about a brilliant doctor/serial killer played by Michel Serrault, a man with a face and demeanor you would trust.
10) The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob - directed by Gerard Oury - Outrageous comedy thriller about a bigoted Frenchman who must disguise as a rabbi to escape a group of assassins. Don't know if it would be made today in our politically correct world.
Awesome Randy, thankyou! Here's my list of books:
1) The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
2) Zero Limits by Joe Vitale
3) How to Get Smart, Rich & Healthy by Sir Randy! <fav.!
4) Rich Man, Poor Man by Robert Kiyosaki
5) Risky is The New Safe by Randy Gage
6) Mad Genius by Randy Gage
7) Spiritual Liberation by Michael B Beckwith
8) The Power of The Subconscious Mind by Dr Joeseph Murphy
9) The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer
10) Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone
* Listening to the audio version enhances the books 10X I believe
** a few books read recently may change this list if re-written in a few months
Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou..
I think this is my favorite list on here!