5 Books that changed my life

Read. If you are on this blog you do so, but I encourage you to peruse reading as a habit. Read books. I don’t like the “read a book” app on the iPhone, or the Kindle or any of that other crap. Books don’t run up your electrical bill. They don’t require batteries. Books have always been my passport to another place or time. As a kid my parents bought me a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica and I read all of them. Encyclopedias are a relic of the past with the invention of the internet; no one has to have 30 hard bound books collecting dust on a shelf or inhabiting the bottom of a closet. I love libraries. They too are slowly are becoming obsolete, but I do love them. They get me out of the house, give me a place to go and you have a more vast universe at your finger tips. Books are more personal than the internet because it brings the human element back into your world, someone wrote that book. They touched it and bared their soul and poured their passion into its pages. In a library, you know as a book stirs you, so has it stirred others.

Read to replenish your well of enlightenment. A library card will take you farther than a drivers license ever will.

One of the best gifts you can ever give someone is a book because it conveys an idea, even a work of fiction. Want romance? Passion? Even lust? Through books you can live your deepest and most torrid fantasies in the safety of your own living room. New ideas are what keep our minds sharp and lives fulfilled.

One of my passions is writing because of the books I have read. I am who I am because of the ideas many books have introduced me to. Ultimately I am just a nobody little southern boy from a nowhere little southern town who expanded beyond his own imagination through books.

Here are 5 books that have changed my life with a brief statement as to why each was important:

#1 Dare to Succeed/ Jump in! by Mark Burnett. This is one book that was expounded upon, lengthened and republished four years later. DTS was published in 2001 and JI in 2005. Mark Burnett is a television producer who is most notably credited with the creation of the CBS show, Survivor. This work is autobiographical and tells his story from growing up poor, becoming a member of the elite British SAS, (kinda like the Navy Seals) to moving to California and selling t shirts on the beach, and ultimately the creation of Survivor and some of the other most memorable television shows in recent history. His thesis is those who dare, win, and he has led a daring life to say the least.

#2 The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons From a Life in Coaching by Dean Smith. From 1961 to 1997 Dean Smith was the Head Coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team. When he retired he held the record of the most Division I wins ever at 879. It took another ten years for that record to be broken. When inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Michael Jordan said, “There’s no way you guys would have got a chance to see Michael Jordan play without Dean Smith.” I grew up on the campus of UNC and Dean Smith was and still is what I expect from a Coach today. His quiet yet forceful leadership style is like that of my father. Growing up I thought all great leaders were like Dad and Coach Smith.

#3 It’s not about the bike: My journey back to life by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins. If you are at a low point in your life, if you ever doubt yourself or your abilities, if you are depressed and think life can’t get any worse, read this book. It may sound trite because it is said so often, but this is a story of the triumph of the human spirit.

#4 Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Above everything I have ever read, Hamlet was the story that gave me permission to question life, and ponder the infinite. I had a great english lit professor named Tom Beirol who used Hamlet to help bring focus to an adolescent mind, engulfed with rage and undisciplined to relate to the deeper meanings of this story. He brought an appreciation of literature, grammar and the ability to communicate basic ideas and emotions in a format many could understand for ages. He showed me how powerful words are: words change things, words carry ideas, ideas influence people, people are the world, words rule the world.

#5 The old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway. Life is not easy. Life is a struggle. This book taught me winning is not the most important thing, the struggle is. Santiago’s struggles with his reputation, his self worth, his dignity and of course with the great marlin and the sharks. From this work I learned “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” Sometimes in life you win, sometimes you win big, but in every race there are many who run and only one can cross the finish line first. Winning isn’t everything, the struggle is.

I could go on and on with books that have had an impact on my life and I will probably post again with titles to share with you, but in the meantime, I encourage you to read, give and share a book.

Words change things.



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