9 Books Which Made Me an Adult (And 1 You Should Read Anyway)

The first time I proposed to my wife, I failed miserably.

I cannot imagine a day where I will feel more pain than that moment. It is the only thing I can’t yet write about.

But the only reason I bought her a ring in the first place is because of the top book on this list. I turned the last page, grabbed my keys, and immediately drove to Fred Meyer for the diamond she had her eye on.

The best books will change you. I have read a lot of books which I finished, thought “that’s nice,” and continued on my merry way.

Out of the mountain of books I’ve read in my life, these made a difference.


“Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal.”

Donald Miller is the first spiritual writer who resonated with me. Blue Like Jazz was his first big hit. That one will make you think. Million Miles will make you act.


“Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling and everything to do with how you treat yourself.”

In a time where I felt my guts were about to explode out of my stomach at any given moment, Kris was a light in the dark.

Hers was not the first health book I read, and it will not be the last. It was, however, the most drastic. I tried her diet for 3 weeks and lost 12 pounds. Then my wife reminded me I was already underweight and that she had no interest in sleeping with a skeleton.

I dropped the veganism but kept the green juice.


“I used to want to fix people. Now I just want to be with them.”

Bob is actually a friend of Donald Miller’s. This man has more unbelievable stories than I imagine I ever will.


“Work is easy when it’s just work; it’s much harder when you actually care.”

A friend got me this book, and I thought… “Um, okay.” Maeda is a technology designer. I am a writer. I didn’t understand the connection.

The ONLY reason I read it is because it was small enough to consume on a flight. It was so worth the effort. Laws of Simplicity will make you re-think the way you do everything (including non-work).


“Clarity dissolves resistance.”

I found Switch at my aunt’s yard sale. She had it marked for a quarter and gave it to me for free.

It is far and away the most valuable free thing I’ve encountered. I’m currently re-reading it (which is something I almost never do).

Switch is a roadmap to changing behavior, something which I thought was a impossible task. I occasionally do work in talent development, so this book was a godsend.


“I want to know that when life has decided it has had enough of me, it’s gonna be because it is exhausted from trying to keep up.”

From holding a stranger’s hand on an airplane to accidentally enjoying himself at a transgender club, Los is a reminder of how life can be lived.

I used to think moments kind of happened. This book taught me how to make memories in my own life and those of everyone around me.


“You’ve got to tell money what to do or it will leave”

Money isn’t everything. Money management is. My parents raised me on Dave, but I didn’t embrace his principles until I grew up.

I have been in debt, and I have been debt-free. The latter is infinitely better.


“If you don’t give yourself permission to create a new world, chances are nobody else will.”

What is it about James? Is it the HBO experience? The fact that he’s made and lost millions more than once? The down-to-earth writing? The complete transparency? The profession that 50 Shades of Grey is great literature?

Whatever it is, it’s good stuff. This book will help you think like an owner, not an employee.


“Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.”

Okay, admittedly this probably isn’t a must-read for adults, but it makes the list because it was the first book which radically changed my life. This read made me open to the possibility books could emotionally, spiritually, and mentally make you a different purpose.

(See also: One Book Which Changed My Life Forever for more on Terabithia)


“We’ve been trained to prefer being right to learning something
“Do not fly too high, or the sun will melt your wings.”

That is the part of Icarus’s story we always hear. It is used as a warning for being too prideful, for having too much ambition. This book discussed the lost half of the story…

“Do not fly too low, or the water will cause your feathers to get heavy, and you won’t be able to fly”

Seth has some great work on marketing, but this book is for everyone.

If you like books, you’ll definitely like mine. (Especially if you like free books)

I’m giving away my book, The Ultimate Guide to Infinite Ideas for the price of an email address.

Download your copy right now

Much love as always,

— TB