The 10 Books That Changed My Life

These books changed the way I think, and because of that, I go back to them time and again.

Mike Sturm
Published in
8 min readAug 28, 2020


Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

There is something special about books. Whether they’re paper books, e-books, or even audiobooks — the book has power that few other pieces of media do.

Perhaps it’s the self-contained nature of the book that makes it so potentially powerful. It has clear boundaries that separate it from the swirling sea of information outside its covers. It seems to force us to take shelter in it — shelter from all the other information flying at us.

Here’s my list of 10 books that changed the way I think, and thus changed my life forever.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

By David Allen

I found this book right as I began my first office job out of grad school. I was a point in my life where I needed to decide what my career path was going to be. This book gave me a way of looking at my work and my life that pushed me to go well beyond “I just need to finish my work and go home”. If you let it, this book will change your approach to damn near everything. It provides a set of tools to achieve and maintain peace of mind. No joke.

Allen’s approach goes beyond just completing tasks. It’s about getting your mind clear of all the open loops that are weighing it down — and trust me, there are a lot more than you think. It’s as much a system for living as it is for working. It’s practical, well-written, and insightful.

The Dhammapada

Translation by Eknath Easwaran

The Dahammapada is one small book of the many books of the Buddhist canon. It is considered by many to be the best single source to capture the essence of Buddhism — regardless of the particular flavor of Buddhism that one may prefer. It’s short, divided into quickly-read chapters of verse, and they make a pocket version (which is super-handy).

It contains all sorts of tidbits of practical wisdom for living. At the center of it is advice on how to live a life with less disappointment, frustration, anger, and worry. It emphasizes just how much your own…



Mike Sturm

Creator: — A simpler personal productivity system. Writing about productivity, self-improvement, business, and life.