15 Books that Shaped My Mind and Changed My Outlook on Life

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

How in the world could an autobiography written by a Trappist monk, who decided to live his life in seclusion beginning at age 26, have such a profound effect on so many people? Take an extremely well-educated man with an adventurous upbringing, introspective thought, emotional intelligence, love, heartbreak, hope, faith and wonder along the journey of life, roll it all into the backdrop of some of the most significant events in history, and you have the life of Thomas Merton.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Do I think this is the best written book I’ve ever read? No. Are there parts that are sad and depressing? Yes. But there’s also a reason why this book endures, why several films have been made about it, including one starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and why its themes continue to have relevancy both to our personal journeys and those of the American spirit.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

I found this book by doing research a few years ago on financial/investing books. Incredibly, despite the deceiving title, this book has very, very little to do with investing or making “riches” in the form of money. Quite the opposite. Instead, what Napoleon Hill talks about is the power to harness our faith, focus on desire, planning and positive attitude.

Leading from the Heart by Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) and author Donald T. Phillips

I read this book three years ago right in the middle of basketball season while coaching a boys varsity team in New York City. I’ve never been a big Duke basketball fan so I’ve always kind of respected and admired Coach K — from a distance. This book changed my opinion of the man and provided me with insight into why his teams have been so successful. Preparation is paramount.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

My Uncle Brian recommended this book to me several years ago. But even then, it took me another few years to read it. I was skeptical at first because the title really threw me for a loop. “Win friends”?? Give me a break, I thought. Do me a favor- don’t grow cynical before you’ve read the book!

Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson and author Hugh Delehanty

I read this book during the final year of graduate school and it inspired me to become a high school basketball coach. One of the smartest and most satisfying decisions I’ve ever made. Phil Jackson is possibly the greatest professional basketball coach in history. He has won more NBA titles than any head coach and he has coached the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen.

Inside-Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann

Another book that only furthered and supplemented my growth as a basketball coach, Joe Ehrmann’s part-biography, part-personal development book on his football playing and coaching experience is genius. It’s extremely inspirational yet at times depressing. It’s thought-provoking and dynamic.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Theodore Roosevelt is my favorite figure in American history and certainly one of my favorite people in history. His life story was so incredible, so full of accomplishments and so empowering, it should be read by all. This book focuses on the time from his birth to his rise to become President of the United States. Easily one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

If I could only include one C.S. Lewis book, this would be the one. Fair to say, the man is my favorite author and his imagination, wit, emotional intelligence, sentence construction and storytelling is unparalleled. He offers up his beliefs and his defense of the Christian faith. He does so in an inimitable way, detailing his own journey and providing logical thought and common sense.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The book that inspired my all-time favorite movie, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy book is a world of pure imagination. It’s also really dark and at times creepy! It’s so unique and creative that it’s amazing someone came up with the idea for it in the first place.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This is perhaps the most unrealistic real story that I have ever read. There’s no way it’s real. Except it is. There’s no way everything in this book really happened. Except, it did. Read about the life of one Louis Zamperini. I will not offer any more. Just go read the book.

JFK and the Unspeakable — Why He Died and Why It Matters by James Douglass

I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family in the northeastern part of the United States. Yet amazingly, it took me a while to read about the life of President John F. Kennedy. It took me longer to delve into the details surrounding his assassination. In the interest of time, I cannot possibly explain all of the reasons why you should read this book.

1776 by David McCullough

I read the “New England” portion of this book while I was living in Boston and, the “New York” portion while I was living in New York. This book’s subject, as you might expect, is the American Revolution and the events that lead up to it. One of the best history books I’ve ever read and a remarkable tale of how the fight for American independence began.

(The) Odyssey by Homer

An epic poem written in what is believed to be 8th Century BC, Odyssey by Homer is the story of Odysseus’ long, 10 year struggle as he tries to make his way home following The Trojan War. I’m a sucker for Greek and Roman history, as well as philosophy and mythology, so this book is right up my alley. The geography, history, imagination and personal journey enchant me and make me re-read this book from time-to-time.

Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Given to me by a close friend during a time of emotional pain and distress, I come back to read this book more than any other I own. It’s a very quick read — though then again, it’s not. Only 134 pages, it would seem that you can rip through this book in an hour. And maybe you can.

Even More Reading!

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Christopher D. Connors

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I will coach you to achieve career-changing results. Contact: http://chrisdconnors.com. My bestselling book- The Value of You: http://amzn.to/2gPBvEz.

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org