Books with a direct impact on your life?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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BostonBoy
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Post by BostonBoy »

The Millionaire Next Door
grok87
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Post by grok87 »

grabiner wrote:This was a question on some of my college application essays: list four or five books which have had the greatest impact on your life, and briefly discuss one of them.

The book I chose to discuss was Calculus, by Michael Spivak. It is a book which covers first-year calculus, but with the rigor of an advanced mathematics book and a lot of supplementary material. This was the first mathematics textbook I used which gave me a real appreciation of what mathematics was like. (The text is occasionally used for an honors calculus class, either in high schools, or as a college class for students who already had calculus in high school.)

Years later, I am still a mathematician, and I just bought the new edition, which sits on my bookshelf at work; I have referred to my old copy so many times that it is falling apart.
Hmm..interesting, what were the othe 3 books?
Cheers,
RIP Mr. Bogle.
happytrades
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Post by happytrades »

The Bible
Bhagavad Gita
Moby Dick
Lila by Robert Persig
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verbose
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Post by verbose »

I couldn't think of any books that changed the way I thought/behaved until after college. I read a lot of books, but even the ones that I liked and (still) read again (LOTR), didn't change me. In recent years, I've been better at picking books that will help me improve my life instead of merely entertaining/educating me.

In chronological order:

A Book on C
- had to read the chapter on pointers over and over again, finally, I got it, kind of a eureka moment

SQL Server 6.5 Unleashed
- outdated and long gone from my bookshelf, formed in me a fundamental understanding of relational databases and how they're implemented

Speed Cleaning
- still use this today, applies principles of efficiency to housecleaning

Taking Charge of your Fertility
- read about 20 books on infertility, this is the only one I still have, helped me let go of a lot of anger and confusion

Who Moved My Cheese
- read this during dot-com boom, helped me to adopt a "whatever" attitude about stupid political stuff at work

Sink Reflections
- Changed my life, my house, my stuff... and was able to unload a ton of clutter and a ton of guilt from my life; gave this one away so it could bless someone else

Excitotoxins
- Terrifying. Would not have believed it (or read it) if I didn't have a family member whose MSG exposure symptoms match the book's hypothesis. It's hard to even think about it, because I still eat this stuff myself.

Getting Things Done
- My desk has never been the same (cleaner, though not clean), I have a filing system that works, and my kids' school is happy that I'm no longer the parent who forgets every one-off event and supply

The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing
- I'd read many finance books before this, but they didn't help. So I knew "what is a stock, what is a mutual fund", OK. But what was I supposed to do with that knowledge? This book explained that part.

Introduction to the Bible: A Catholic Guide
- I have a fundamental need for stuff to make sense in my life. This book explained the Bible: its origin, its interpretation, its genres, its purpose in the church, so that it made sense.

St. Ignatius Catholic Study Bible
- See above. Reading the same passages I've read many times since I was a teen, and actually getting it.

Free Range Kids
- Another terrifying book, in some ways. Explains how 24-hour media and humans' inability to evaluate risk are fundamentally altering childhood.

Financial Peace Revisited
- Read this in conjunction with Financial Peace University. I always had trouble with Chapters 1 and 2 of the Bogleheads' Guide to Investing (that's the part where you spend less than you earn). This book (and class) has helped tremendously.
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renditt
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Post by renditt »

If I could only read one book for the rest of my life, it would be

The Alchemist by Paulo Caelho
perries
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Post by perries »

I always meant to come back to this topic. Not really a definitive list, but hits high points:

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Twelve Caesars
The Prince
The Consolation of Philosophy
In the Dark Places of Wisdom
Plato: The Republic
The Bible
The Upanishads
The Bhagavad Gita
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Rumi: Collected Poems
The Thunder: Perfect Mind (Nag Hammadi scroll)
Awakening Osiris
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Pride and Prejudice
Persuasion (also see below on narcissism)
Taking Charge of Your Fertility (hat tip to verbose, above)
Moll Flanders
The Gift of Fear
In Sheep's Clothing
The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment
Children of the Self-Absorbed
Liar's Poker
Personal Finance for Dummies
Mutual Funds for Dummies
Smart Women Finish Rich
The Millionaire Next Door
jmbkb4
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Post by jmbkb4 »

The Bible
A River Runs Through It
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Chocolate War
Mere Christianity
The Problem with Pain
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tadamsmar
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Post by tadamsmar »

Learned Optimism

The Handbook of Epictetus ("Some things are in our control and others not.") http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

A Random Walk Down Wall Street
mt
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Post by mt »

Endurance Alfred Lansing
Alas, Babylon Pat Frank
Fishing Yellowstone Waters Charles Brooks
Seasons of the Trout Neale Streeks
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BostonBoy
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Post by BostonBoy »

The Millionaire Next Door.
Starting Investor
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Post by Starting Investor »

Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
MidwestBill
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Post by MidwestBill »

The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- agree with the above poster who said it should be required reading in high school
SGM
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Post by SGM »

Bible
The Little Engine That Could
Dick and Jane
Boy Scout Handbook
The Sports Illustrated Book of Basketball - Bill Sharman and others
Sigmund Freud, various
Shakespeare - various
The Death of Ivan Ilych - Tolstoy
Patterson- Dr. William Carlos Williams
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Origin of Species - Darwin
9 Stories- JD Salinger
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest - Ken Kesey
Principles of Industrial Chemistry - Guy Mattson , Chris Clausen
The Chosen- Chaim Potok
Veiled Images- Nash
Any one of a number of textbooks of art history, economics, history, medicine, the sciences, mathematics, french and english
bagle
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Post by bagle »

Man´s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl.
lambdapro
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Post by lambdapro »

Fountainhead.
bhoy
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Post by bhoy »

One Day in My Life - Bobby Sands
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Pres
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Post by Pres »

Your Money or Your life (though I prefer the "Transforming Your Relationship With Money" audio CDs)

Fail-safe investing

Early Retirement Extreme
Last edited by Pres on Wed May 04, 2011 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
jb1934
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Post by jb1934 »

Tarzan series-Edgar Rice Burroughs
Shane-Jack Schaeffer
The City Boy-Herman Wouk
To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye-J.D. Salinger
The Call of the Wild-Jack London
The Auto Biography of Frederick Douglas
Anthem-Ayn Rand
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ObliviousInvestor
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Post by ObliviousInvestor »

Misquoting Jesus, by Bart D. Ehrman
Little Book of Common Sense Investing, by John C. Bogle
Mike Piper | Roth is a name, not an acronym.
raddle
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Post by raddle »

The Creature from Jekyll Island -Edward Griffin
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DiscoBunny1979
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Post by DiscoBunny1979 »

My list includes:

1) Of Mice and Men - Changed the way I interacted with people at age 16.
2) Pumping Iron - Convinced me to start working-out with weights as part of my lifestyle at age 18 and still do it.
3) NeverEnding Story - changed the way I viewed life to become a proactive participant in my own life story.

Thank You.
SMV
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Post by SMV »

Some books that I haven't seen on anyone's list yet:

The Complete Tightwad Gazette - this was my bible for a while. It forever changed some of my thinking on consumption.

The Whole Earth Catalog - I read this in my early teenage years. It introduced me to a whole slew of other books and topics that expanded my thinking dramatically
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Padlin
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Post by Padlin »

I read a lot but not many have any kind of major impact.

Common Sense on Mutual Funds
The Maine Woods
Regards | Bob
markes
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Post by markes »

Bible
Evidence That Demands a Verdict McDowell
To Kill a Mockingbird Lee
Fail Safe Investing Browne
Coffee House Investor Schulteis
Common Sense on Mutual Funds Bogle
Animal Farm Orwell
Lord of the Flies Golding
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain
LynnC
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Post by LynnC »

Catcher in the Rye by Salinger changed me by giving me the love of the printed word. I haven't stopped reading since.

LynnC
niranjanasu
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Post by niranjanasu »

The Four Pillars of Investing
The Bogleheads Guide
imagardener
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Post by imagardener »

off the top of my head

Walden by Thoreau
Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Siddhartha by Hesse
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Thompson
How to Win Friends and Influence People by D. Carnegie
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success by F. Bettger
and my all-time favorite: Encyclopaedia Brittanica

edit to add: (john galt reminded me)
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (and anything else by the author)
this has indeed changed my view of why humans act in certain ways
Last edited by imagardener on Fri May 06, 2011 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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stevewolfe
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Post by stevewolfe »

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
John Galt
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Post by John Galt »

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Argues very persuasively that the only "purpose" in the life of any organism (including humans) is to propagate its genes in future generations. Destroys concepts of human morality or genuine altruism. This book should definitely affect the behavior of its readers (i.e. This is former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling's favorite book)

Also, Atlas Shrugged obviously
Last edited by John Galt on Thu May 05, 2011 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
stevethefundguy
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Post by stevethefundguy »

Psyche and Symbol, Carl Jung
Interpretation of Cultures, Clifford Geertz
At the Edge of History, William Irwin Thompson
investnoob
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Post by investnoob »

ImageImage

I found these books to be really intriguing. They expanded my understanding of "meaning" and where people can find it.

You can read more about it on Wikipedia, if you like:

Logotherapy

Viktor Frankl
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grabiner
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Post by grabiner »

grok87 wrote:
grabiner wrote:This was a question on some of my college application essays: list four or five books which have had the greatest impact on your life, and briefly discuss one of them.

The book I chose to discuss was Calculus, by Michael Spivak. It is a book which covers first-year calculus, but with the rigor of an advanced mathematics book and a lot of supplementary material. This was the first mathematics textbook I used which gave me a real appreciation of what mathematics was like. (The text is occasionally used for an honors calculus class, either in high schools, or as a college class for students who already had calculus in high school.)

Years later, I am still a mathematician, and I just bought the new edition, which sits on my bookshelf at work; I have referred to my old copy so many times that it is falling apart.
Hmm..interesting, what were the othe 3 books?
Cheers,
I don't remember the whole list, but two of the other four were:

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
The lecture notes from my high-school American history class (no actual text, but this particular class was a very good introduction to critical thinking about history)
Wiki David Grabiner
SunDevil
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Post by SunDevil »

The Alchemist
Man's Search for Meaning
Siddhartha
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
Body Outlaws
Jane Eyre
bluemarlin08
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Post by bluemarlin08 »

The Bible
The Art of War
Mere Christianity
The Ragamuffin Gospel
The Case for Christ
andrew2011
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Post by andrew2011 »

atlas shrugged - ayn rand
marylandcrab
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Post by marylandcrab »

A business book not yet mentioned:

QBQ - the question behind the question. It is a great quick read about personal responsibility and how everyone at every level can ask themselves how can I improve what I'm responsible for?

I give it to all my new employees.
Don Robins
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Post by Don Robins »

Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Anything by Steinbeck.
knarf
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Location: Los Angeles

Post by knarf »

Encyclopedia Americana
The Little Engine that Could
On the Road, Kerouac
Tropic of Cancer, Miller
Sociology, Ian Robertson
Walden, Thoreau
Why I Am Not A Christian And Other Essays on Religion, Bertrand Russell
Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy, William Barrett
A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Malkiel
The Theatre of the Absurd, Esslin
fortunateson
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Post by fortunateson »

Tuesdays With Morrie
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gatorking
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Tom Sullivan

Post by gatorking »

If You Could See What I Hear; Adventures in Darkness; Special Parent, Special Child - Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan is the most inspirational person I've ever heard and read.
http://sullivanlive.com/about-tom/tom-sullivans-story
Last edited by gatorking on Sat May 07, 2011 8:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
gkaplan
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Post by gkaplan »

Give Me One Wish by Jacquie Gordon
Gordon
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Christine_NM
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Post by Christine_NM »

Offhand..

Joy of Cooking
Bogle on Mutual Funds/Random Walk, can't choose between them
Diary of Anne Frank
Death Comes for the Archbishop
18% cash 44% stock 38% bond. Retired, w/d rate 2.5%
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Blackwood
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Post by Blackwood »

Greenspam beat me to it, but I would have to list first

War and Peace - Tolstoy

After reading it, I could never read another account of war (and particularly war leaders) without viewing it through the lens of Tolstoy's vision of generals being carried wherever history wants to take them. And it's a great romance as well.

I used to re-read War and Peace (and Anna Karenina and Resurrection) about once a year, but I'm afraid I don't read as much these days. The other book I would re-read every year is

Lord of the Rings - Tolkien

This book has given me the most pleasure over the years, but I don't know that I can claim it has changed my outlook on life. I do find myself echoing Tolkien's view's on capital punishment ("Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life; can you give it to them?") and war ("War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.")
grok87
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Post by grok87 »

Blackwood wrote: The other book I would re-read every year is

Lord of the Rings - Tolkien

This book has given me the most pleasure over the years, but I don't know that I can claim it has changed my outlook on life. I do find myself echoing Tolkien's view's on capital punishment ("Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life; can you give it to them?") and war ("War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.")
Two great LOTR quotes- thanks. here's another...

Gandalf: "...Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."

"I wish it need not have happened in my time", said Frodo.

"So do I", said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us..."

cheers,
RIP Mr. Bogle.
james22
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Post by james22 »

A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell

Carnage and Culture, Victor Davis Hanson

A Victory of Reason, Rodney Stark

Lipstick Traces, Greil Marcus
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Taylor Larimore
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Tarzan

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Bogleheads:

The Tarzan series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs changed my life because they made me a voracious reader at a very young age.
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
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NAVigator
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Post by NAVigator »

Taylor, I have enjoyed reading your Gems and have purchased several books as a result. I have admired your ability to take good notes and capture the essence of books. So, I was surprised that the Tarzan books played such a role in all of this. It is interesting to learn of the forces that have shaped all of us.

Jerry
"I was born with nothing and I have most of it left."
LynnC
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Post by LynnC »

NAVigator wrote:Taylor, I have enjoyed reading your Gems and have purchased several books as a result. I have admired your ability to take good notes and capture the essence of books. So, I was surprised that the Tarzan books played such a role in all of this. It is interesting to learn of the forces that have shaped all of us.

Jerry
Hi Jerry,

It sounds as if Taylor learned to love the printed word with Tarzan just as I did with "Catcher in the Rye". Before Salinger, it was the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy Mysteries.

That seems to be the "catch" with young people, let them have the vehicle to learn to love reading.

My 2 cents,

LynnC
SGM
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Post by SGM »

David Grabiner mentions The Chosen. I saw it as a play recently. Very powerful. The play explored this theme of how exact opposite things can be true, and the relationship between sons and fathers and friends, lifestyles, breaking free from tradition for self-realization. It was a very powerful play. I could see how it could be life-changing for some readers, playgoers.
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Dinero
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Post by Dinero »

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein

Origin of TANSTAAFL
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