13 Books That Changed My Life

I must confess…..I LOVE to read.

I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of books over the past 33 years. I’ve perused the gamut of literature –Β  from radical feminist texts to harlequin romances with shirtless cowboys on the cover. From The Buddhist Scriptures to The Crazy Sexy Diet – I am always searching for wisdom and ideas to enhance my life.

And once in a blue moon there is a book that really truly stays with me.

A book that often pops into my mind, even though I read it over ten years ago.

A book that changes the way I think about the world and in doing so, influences my actions, decisions and passions.

Today, I want to share my list of the books that are near and dear to my heart – the books that literally changed my life. Pun intended!

tao te chingTao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (interpreted by Stephen Mitchell)

I first read this 14 years ago for a religious studies class and I have since re-read it many, many times.

So much is said in so few words, it is incredibly refreshing and calming.

There is something very authentic, deep and pure about this one. Yes, I know its been translated and interpreted and all that, but I always get such a feeling of inner peace when I read the words in this book.


the awakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin

This shit-disturbing novella was published in 1899 and is about a woman who wakes up and realizes she does not really belong in society or the life she has created.

This novel is beautifully written and each time I read it, I find myself savoring each sentence like a spoonful of chocolate Coconut Bliss!

For some reason, this story really struck a chord with me and even though I read it well over ten years ago, it is still fresh in my mind.


the power of nowThe Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Now I know that Oprah totally crammed this one down everyone's throats, but hear me out! This is an amazing book and it had a profound impact on how I dealt with worry and anxiety.

Before I read The Power of Now, I was a bit of a worrier. I used to have insomnia, 3am panic attacks and all kinds of stomach problems due to anxiety.

After reading this book, I was able to see the hilarious side of my mind and finally stop taking life so seriously.

While this book seems pretty unassuming, beware: The information in this book is pretty rebellious in an anti-establishment/anti-control system kind of way! I feel that one of the most rebellious things you can do in this society is keep calm and not let fear swallow you whole. This book shows you how.


the hedonism handbookThe Hedonism Handbook by Michael Flocker

While this book is intended to be light and funny, it profoundly changed my life by helping me prioritize what is truly important to me - leisure and pleasure!

This book was the perfect "beach read" and I found myself reading bits out to nearby friends and family.

If you aren't sure what the point of hammocks, 3 martini lunches and skinny dipping is....you need to read this book! Right now.


the unfoldmentThe Unfoldment by Neil Kramer

I can't really explain what this book is about, but it shows you how to be more aware and live a more authentic life. Although it's way more interesting than I make it sound!

If you've ever thought there's something not quite right here or felt horribly out of place in the world, then you will enjoy this book.

I have since checked out Neil Kramer's other work. He has a great website where he posts his "Roamcasts", which are top notch and well worth a listen!

I have found that listening to his interviews, podcasts and reading his book has brought about some major consciousness shifts for me.


convoluted universeThe Convoluted Universe Series by Dolores Cannon

I love Dolores Cannon's books! She has written a ton of them and I don't really have a favorite - I have enjoyed every single one of her books, but I really loved The Convoluted Universe Series. There are four books in the series but you don't need to read them in order.

Dolores Cannon is a hypnotherapist who started working with clients for totally boring reasons - like quitting smoking or losing weight. But once in a while she'd get a client who would recall a past life in a different dimension or planet, or an alien encounter or something totally out there. She recorded those wild hypnotherapy sessions and made several books out of them.

It's a fascinating read and it totally opened my mind up to an expanded way of thinking about the world!


the beauty mythThe Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

I read this book when I was only 16 and thank god I did! Feminist writer Naomi Wolf lampoons the beauty industry and its agenda to make women despise their bodies so they'll buy their bullshit products, surgery, etc.

This book helped me see the media and beauty industry with a critical eye. And because of that, I have been able to maintain a pretty positive body image my entire life. Which is no small feat living in this culture, as I am sure you already know!


nonviolent communicationNonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

Nearly everyone is kind of crappy at communicating properly and I am no exception. This book provides a simple, four step process for effective communication.

This book really changed how I see and approach conflict, so that I no longer feel powerless. I have tools now.

And as the title suggests, its nonviolent, so I don't even have to smack anyone to make my point! Great stuff!

But heads up: this technique doesn't work on psychopaths or sociopaths.


Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

sex-at-dawnDo you suspect monogamy is a bit unnatural? Well I did, which is why I was so smitten with this book.

I have always been irritated by the cultural assumption that men are filandering whores while women just want to get it on with the same boring dude year in, year out.

So I was pleased as punch when I found my own personal theories backed up by....SCIENCE!

Sex at Dawn is like an Anthropology book, except it's really really interesting. It dramatically changed the way I look at sexual realtionships, marriage, monogamy and all that silliness.


you can heal your lifeYou Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

This is a self-help classic! And while it can be very sappy, very touchy-feely, it is also very healing and liberating.

I was going through some big changes when I picked this book up and it helped me look at life as a big adventure to be explored and played around with.

This is such a gentle, kind book that's perfect for days when you feel like crap. I often just flip it open to a page, read a few words and then put it back on my shelf, always feeling less bitchy and negative than before I picked it up!


love freedom alonenessLove, Freedom, Aloneness by Osho

First of all, let me just say that I LOVE Osho's books - I have read most of them, but this one stands out for me.

Osho ruminates on the nature of love, romance, lust and other stuff in this book - in a way that is refreshing and free and totally different from anything Dr. Phil would write.

Its a great read. And I have never looked at romantic relationships the same way again!



bringers of the dawnBringers of the Dawn by Barbara Marciniak

This is one of the more different, "out there" books I have read. Barbara channels the Pleiadians, a group of beings from the Pleiades. So yes, they're invisible aliens.

While I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, I found it fascinating and have re-read it a few times (which is not really something I normally do!)

This book suggests monitoring your feelings as you watch TV and movies and avoiding stuff that makes you feel horrible. After trying this and realizing that I often go into a state of mild fear/dread or judgement when I watch mainstream media, I decided to stop watching TV altogether. This has had a huge impact on my day to day life.


19841984 by George Orwell

If you were forced to read this book in high school (which I wasn't, thankfully) you may have not enjoyed it at all. But trust me, this one is a gem and everyone should read it. Except those who hate to read.

1984 is about a guy living in the future (well, it's 1984, so I guess its really the past) and the future SUCKS so hard. There's cameras fucking everywhere, day to day activities are micromanaged so everyone's kept busy, busy, busy and the media is just total bullshit and lies....wait! That's kind of like how things are now!

What's creepy is that 1984 was written back in the 40's, before the internet and mass surveillance was happening. I don't know as this book necessarily changed my life, but it certainly stayed in my mind long after I'd read it.


Now I want to know...what's on your "life changing" book list? What books had a powerful impact on you? Tell me in the comments below - I can't wait to read it!!!


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35 Responses to 13 Books That Changed My Life

  1. shadymama says:

    please please please read “oryx and crake” by margaret atwood. it’s also a dystopian, future novel and it exceeds 1984 in so many ways (not to knock 1984 – i love that book, too – but oryx and crake is so beautifully written and so so relevant…) check it out!

    • Kate says:

      I have it! And I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I think I liked her other novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” a bit better. But I think she ended up writing a sequel to Oryx and Crake? I can’t remember!

  2. Donna says:

    Sex at Dawn reminded me of a book I read and loved for the same reasons you loved the book. Myth of Monogamy by David P. Barash, PhD and Judith Eve Lipton, MD.

    It’s a great book to use as coffee table decor! It lets visitors know what I think of their cultural silliness. =)

    Also loved Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent where women in a post-apocalyptic world rule in a modern society while banning violent men to live outside like cavemen to prevent another war. An exiled woman partners with a “caveman” and then rethinks the way the women are living.

    • Kate says:

      Ha ha! I like your style – putting books like that out for visitors to see! That’s a great idea – it must start some good conversations. I haven’t read Shore of Women but it reminds me of “Herland” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – its about a guy who finds himself in a land or planet of all women – I think his plane crashes or something – and they have been living for centuries without men. It was a good novel! I don’t remember what happens but things go badly for him.

  3. Teresa says:

    Oh a woman after my own heart. Love to read!!!
    This book was a life changer for me. I will preface it by saying that although it uses the word God in the title, it is a much more multi spirit friendly book. You can replace the word God as you read with any higher power you so choose because of the way it is written. This book is an easy read, with such empowerment of loving one’s self, that I go back and read it any time I feel that I have slipped into the abyss. It is the perfect reminder of how important each of us is to our own spirit. The protagonist is a woman so I don’t know what the guys will think of it, but I highly recommend God On A Harley.

  4. Christina says:

    Hi Kate! I love that you listed some of your favs! I actually have The Power of Now sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. I usually read historical fiction books, but recently I read Doreen Virtue’s Assertiveness for Earth Angels and The Human Magnet Syndrome by Ross Rosenberg. These books actually helped me understand the meaning of codependent relationships, which I’ve been in and didn’t even know it until recently! The Human Magnet Syndrome was life changing. As for historical fiction, I’m currently reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. One of my other favs is The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Braxton, which is historical/magical you could say. πŸ™‚

  5. Brie says:

    Can’t wait to try “The Hedonism Handbook”… sounds liberating!

    A few of my favorites:

    “Bonjour Tristesse” by FranΓ§oise Sagan
    “Angela Carter’s Book of Fairytales” by Angela Carter
    “Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in NYC, 1953” by Elizabeth Winder
    “Encyclopedia of the Exquisite” by Jessica Kerwin
    “She Came To Stay” by Simone de Beauvoir

    And when I need a super comforting read…

    “Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  6. Nancy says:

    The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Anne Kagan and The Map: to our responsive universe by Boni Lonnsburry

  7. David says:

    About the same time I suddenly became interested in Tarot, astrology, past lives, and all that esoterica, I found the Seth Material. That cracked my world open in a big way.

    I’d guess I’ve read about half the books on your list, which are excellent (though I read “A New Earth” but not “The Power of Now” which I did find very profound). I also dug The Power of Myth, Conversations With God, Ishmael, and Nothing In This Book Is True But It’s Exactly How Things Are. Just to name a few.

    • Kate says:

      David, the Seth books keep coming up for me, but I haven’t read them yet. Another series for my books to read list! Thanks for sharing your fave books here πŸ™‚

  8. Indie says:

    Did you read To Kill A Mocking Bird? Another hidden gem!! πŸ™‚

  9. Nice list, Kate!

    Strangely enough, the only one that seems interesting to me at the moment is “The Convoluted Universe”, so I guess I’ll start there. Yeah, I can be really stingy with what I like sometimes :). I also don’t know if I’d call ANYTHING I’ve read “life-changing”, I do certainly have a few titles worthy of mention:

    1.) Brave New World– It’s like 1984 in that the future SUCKS. People are genetically placed into different classes, daily life is strictly regimented down to reproduction, and the people almost worship the ideas of Fraud, although there is no actual religion or spirituality. Oh, and then let’s take some unsuspecting kid who lives on this reservation, rip him from the world he knows, and throw him into this “mainstream society” for good measure. Definitely not a light-hearted read, but still really good.

    2. She: A History of Adventure: Two British dudes go looking for a mysterious white queen in the dark depths of Africa. Anyone who looks upon her falls instantly in-love with her. Plus, there’s a tribe of cannibals. It was written in like the 1800’s. This is probably the most-challenging book I have ever read! I actually did not get through it the first time, but I’m glad I went back to it. It’s fascinating. Although, the language and writing style in the book does take some getting used to, it’s definitely worth the read.

    3. Ratha’s Creature: This is the first book of this series, and the only one I have read, but it suddenly popped into my head after reading this post. The story is about this clan of sentient prehistoric cats who herd animals, and follows the life of one such cat named Ratha. I think the premise for this is just so unique, and is what makes it stick out in my mind even years later.

    And just to be a rebel, I’m including a few anime titles: Serial Experiments Lain, Parnoia Agent and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. All I’m gonna say is toss all your preconceived notions about anime out the window. These series are dark in nature, dealing with society, people, and philosophical and psychological themes. They are all short too. So if anyone is into anime or is looking for something to watch, there you go. Thanks for reading ;).

    • *ideas of Freud for the first one, spelling argh!

    • Kate says:

      Thank you Chani, for your book (and anime) list! I haven’t read Brave New World yet, so I’m putting it right on my ever expanding book list. I’ve never really watched anime, except for Sailor Moon (20 years ago) so I may just check out those titles!

  10. Anselma says:

    I love reading too ;o)
    thank you, your list is wonderful and inspiring – as all your posts :oD

    My recommondation:
    – Byron Katie: Loving what is
    – Don Miguel Ruiz: The four agreements
    – David Icke: The lion sleeps no more

    • Kate says:

      Anselma! Hello! I have read all those books and enjoyed them. I didn’t finish the David Icke book as I borrowed it from the library and didn’t finish it in time – its huge! But I enjoyed it πŸ™‚

      • Anselma says:

        cool!!! ;o)
        Ok, then: do you know the
        – Anastasia books by Vladimir MegrΓ©?
        Now I am getting ambitious to present you something, that you have not read yet ;o))
        I want to be the “bigger bookworm” ;oDDD

  11. Kathy Farney says:

    Charles Leadbeater’s” The Chakras” blew my mind. Growing up I went to a southern Baptist church with my grandmother, presbyterian church with my mother and and an Episcopalian boarding school. All these places were filled with lovely spiritual people but the religion left me feeling restless. When I read this I got a hugh YES. I had found a path I could explore.

  12. Jessica says:

    Hi Kate…this is a very interesting list of books that I’m now in search of!!! Two books that really stayed with me over the years are 1) The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck and 2) The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo.
    Great topic πŸ™‚

    • Kate says:

      Jessica, I haven’t read The Good Earth – I will put it on my list now! I enjoyed the Alchemist as well – its on my bookshelf πŸ™‚

  13. tarawyn says:

    Such a wonderful list of books Kate. Shows what a delightfully well rounded person you are. I’m definitely going to pick up some of these books!

  14. MicheleB says:

    Your body speaks your mind by Deb Shapiro – awesome book about your body’s reactions to your thoughts.

    All is well – Louise Hay same type of thing as previous book – different style with a self test. It’s written with a medical doctor. Really good. In both the books above I’ve looked up a symptom I was having and was amazed that the possible cause was happening in my life!

    The Secret – Rhonda Byrne – law of attraction. This book is do uplifting. Reminding you you can change your thoughts at any time!

    E2 – Pam Grout this boom proves your thoughts create your reality – the home experiments are awesome!

    For fun/relaxation etc – I have a read a ton of books from Sydney Sheldon to Nora Roberts to Greg Isles. If you want a list let me know πŸ™‚ my favorite type is trilogies where the story doesn’t end so fast!

    • MicheleB says:

      Sorry about typos! iPhone πŸ™‚

    • Kate says:

      Gosh, as I read these comments, my list of books to check out is getting longer and longer! I have been thinking about getting Pam Grout’s E2, it looks interesting, so thanks for suggesting it. I haven’t read The Secret – I think I resisted because everyone else was reading it, LOL! I did see the movie, though.

  15. Ellen says:

    Great topic!
    Not thirteen books for this comment but a few:
    “your erroneous zones” by Wayne dyer
    “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth “by Hermann Hesse
    The books of Avalon by Marion Bradley
    I’ve put “The awakening” on my reading list

    • Kate says:

      These all sound good, Ellen πŸ™‚ I saw the movie version of the Mists of Avalon, which I’ve been told is nothing like the books, but I still enjoyed it.

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