5 Books that changed the way I think

Over the years I have been lucky enough to find books that have profoundly changed the way I perceive the world and the way I think. I usually know when I have found one of these books when I read the book over and over. This is a list of those top 5 books in chronological order of when I read them. I’ve also included how I became aware of the book.

  1. Lord of the Rings – John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

Like most young adults I was a bit of a grazer when it came to reading. I was reading enough at school that I really wasn’t looking for books to lose myself in outside of school. And then I found Lord of the Rings. Funny enough, I actually stopped reading the first time in the Council of Elrond chapter. The book didn’t really grab me up to that point. The second time I read the book I made it past that chapter and I was hooked. I think I have read the book at least 6 times now. The book really taught me how important stories and the stories behind the stories are. In many ways Lord of the Rings taught me how to also be thoughtful. Great Book.

I became aware of Lord of the Rings just from other students in my classes. Funny enough, my brother was not a Lord of the Rings fan. I remember he was a fan of the Dune series. I think this was a generational thing,

2. Godel, Escher, Bach – Douglas Hofstadter

I still remember spending weekends cycling to the park and reading this 700 page tome on formal systems. This is perhaps where I really fell in love with Computer Science. This was probably the height of being a geek as well. For the love of me, I can’t remember how I became aware of this book.

This book really did teach me how to analyze and create formal systems and in many ways how to code. It also caused me to think at a higher level about intelligence and consciousness. Great book to think about big thoughts.

3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig

One of the books I first spotted in my brother’s library. I picked it up and was hooked immediately. Zen taught me the beauty of introspection and thought. It also taught me to be respectful of people who may have psychological issues. This book explained the emotion and heartache of mental issues as I read. I found the entire book and story fascinating. To this day it probably is my favourite book and the first one I reach out to when I have spare time. Robert Pirsig’s second book Lila is equally good.

Under the covers the book also spoke to me a lot on Quality and what quality is. This has been very helpful in my work life.

4. Iron John – Robert Bly

The second book I spotted in my brother’s library. The perfect book for a man in his 30’s to read to find guidance on the changes a man will experience growing up. A great book that balanced embracing what it means to be a man in the face of much bashing of masculinity in the 90’s. This book gave me great confidence. Perhaps a little too much.

5. Epistulae morales ad Lucilium – Seneca the Younger

I think I found this book when I kept on seeing Seneca being quoted in other books. This is a philosophy book composed of letters from Seneca. I loved how the letters were grounded in reality and in actual stories. This combined with the Stoic philosophy really spoke to me and resonated with my beliefs. I found more confidence in aligning myself with the Stoic principles as I went through some challenges at work in and my personal life.

Best Work Book

The best work books I have read comes down to a choice between two:

  1. Beautiful Teams

Beautiful Teams is a wonderful book with each chapter describing a situation and how a team was structured to help address the situation. Great book with a lot of real world examples of what great teams can do.

2. Leading Geeks

Awesome book providing insight on how leading Software Development professionals is different from leading anyone else. A must read for any Software Development professional. Even if you are not leading other geeks, chances are your manager will have read this book!