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20 Books Which Will Surely Change Your Life

20 Books Which Will Surely Change Your Life

Reading the right book at the right time can have a profound effect on a human being. The best books leave a reader with a shifted perspective, about the world, society, or himself. Although many books on this list chronicle some awful and disturbing events in history, they all offer a glimmer of hope for humanity in some way, and act as guides to how we should live our life.

Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
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    What it’s about: 16-year-old Holden Caulfield drops out of school, flees to New York City, and searches for a meaning to his life in a world in which it seems, to him, that nobody cares either way.

    Why it will change your life: For many high school students, it’s the first (and only) assigned book they can actually relate to. Salinger truly captures the nuances of being an adolescent, unsure of where his life will lead him. If you re-read the book in adulthood, you’ll find you can no longer relate to poor Holden, but you definitely still sympathize with the poor guy.

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
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      What it’s about: 15-year-old Charlie tells the story of his freshman year: the friends he meets, the ups and downs, and a life-altering realization about his past.

      Why it will change your life: While it probably won’t ever be assigned reading, every high school student should read this book before they’re too old to relate to Charlie, because we’ve all felt happy and sad at the same time and wondered how that could be – because we all deserve to feel infinite.

      Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff

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        What it’s about:

        14-year-old LaVaughn begins working as a babysitter for Jolly, a teenage high-school dropout who is barely scraping by while raising her two young children.

        Why it will change your life: Jolly’s transformation throughout the novel will inspire those from all walks of life, especially those who feel like they’ll never amount to much. Make Lemonade also teaches readers to recognize their accomplishments in life, no matter how small they may seem at the time.

        From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg

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          What it’s about:

          Two children run away from home in New York, and find shelter in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While there, they hope to uncover the mystery behind a sculpture of an angel believed to have been created by Michelangelo himself.

          Why it will change your life: The magic of The Big Apple is never quite the same as it was when you’re a child. The thought of two young children surviving on their own in New York, let alone figuring out a mystery that plagues even museum curators, is enough to keep that sense of wonder alive in even the most “grown-up” of adults.

          The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

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            What it’s about:

            I would imagine anyone reading this knows what The Hobbit is about, but just in case you don’t: A loner hobbit who reluctantly goes on an adventure with thirteen dwarves and the magical Gandalf.

            Why it will change your life: Even those who aren’t into fantasy will be able to dive right into this prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s possibly the finest adventure tale ever written. Anyone who’s ever said “no” when propositioned with a day trip to parts unknown will surely think twice the next time they’re asked after reading this masterpiece.

            Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

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              What it’s about:

              Professional businessmen and women fighting against government corruption that inhibits production in America, ultimately leading to the country’s downfall.

              Why it will change your life: No other novel (except maybe Rand’s The Fountainhead) captures the ideals of putting in a hard day’s work in such a blunt fashion. Warning: After getting through this massive novel, you’ll have a tough time dealing with idiocy in the workplace for a very long time. You won’t tolerate laziness, ineptitude, or the “not my job, not my problem” attitude that plagues many businesses throughout the country.

              First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung

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                What it’s about:

                A first-hand account of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s.

                Why it will change your life: When you hear the word “genocide,” you probably think “Holocaust.” This eye-opening novel reveals the atrocities of one of the most brutally calculated mass-murders in modern history, a topic your history teachers probably never even mentioned. The book is also a testament to the triumph of the human spirit, and to the idea that, although there will always be evil in this world, good will always prevail in some way.

                The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

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                  What it’s about:

                  A personal journal kept during World War II by Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager who would ultimately be captured and killed by the Nazi regime.

                  Why it will change your life: Though the Holocaust is well-documented and understood as one of the most atrocious events in human history, Anne’s diary puts a name, face, and reality to the horrors that occurred during World War II at the hands of Adolf Hitler. However, we can also find solace in Anne’s words: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

                  Night, Elie Wiesel

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                    What it’s about:

                    A young man’s struggle to survive while also protecting his father after being captured by the Nazi regime and sent to Auschwitz.

                    Why it will change your life: In less than 100 pages, Wiesel paints a vivid picture of the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, as well as his internal struggle of becoming caretaker to his father, his coming to terms with the loss of God, and his disgust with humanity. His words articulate what it is to be a true victim of war.

                    A Higher Call, Adam Makos and Larry Alexander

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                      What it’s about:

                      The historical novel recounts interweaving stories from two World War II pilots from opposing sides of battle.

                      Why it will change your life: We tend to see the two sides of a war as “good” and “bad.” This historical account shatters that image, as it sheds light on the life of a typical German man who was forced to fight for his country, regardless of whether or not he supported the cause. The heroic actions taken by both men exemplify courage at its finest.

                      To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

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                        What it’s about:

                        The events leading up to, and the fall-out from, the trial and conviction of an innocent African American during Depression-era Georgia, as seen through the eyes the six-year-old daughter of the man’s attorney.

                        Why it will change your life: One of the most important novels in American history, To Kill a Mockingbird sheds light on the realities of race relations before the Civil Rights movement, as well as the injustices and corruption of our judicial system. Seeing all of this through the eyes of a young child who doesn’t quite understand everything makes the events of the novel that much more poignant.

                        Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, Dr. Seuss

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                          What it’s about:

                          Life. Period.

                          Why it will change your life: Whether you’re 5, 18, or 50, this book resonates with you in some way. Think of all that you’ve accomplished, all you hope for; all the time you’ve wasted, all the time you’ve spent working hard; all the times you were scared, and all the times you were elated. Everything you’ve ever felt and known is touched on in this silly book full of made-up words.

                          The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

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                            What it’s about:

                            A boy lives his life, always coming back to the tree he had climbed, swung on, and eaten apples from as a child. The tree is always eager to provide whatever she can to help the boy as he grows.

                            Why it will change your life: The way the boy’s needs and wants change as he grows simplifies societal life changes, and how, too often, we take, take, take, without ever appreciating what we have, or what we’ve been given. There are many interpretations of this short children’s story, but it’s well-agreed that it is not just for children.

                            The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

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                              What it’s about:

                              Based on Randy’s “last lecture” to students at Carnegie Mellon University upon his diagnosis of terminal cancer, the book relates all the knowledge and wisdom the professor wishes to pass along to his children after his death.

                              Why it will change your life: His lessons revolve around one central theme: Have fun with life. Don’t let anyone, or anything, stop you from enjoying every precious second you have on Earth. You never know when it could all be taken away from you.

                              One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

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                                What it’s about:

                                Life inside an insane asylum in 1950s America, as told through the eyes of one of the institution’s patients, “Chief” Bromden.

                                Why it will change your life: Kesey sheds light on the atrocious conditions of asylums in the 1950s, as well as the horrific treatment of the patients within them. The novel also portrays the characters as they are (human), rather than how they are perceived by the nurses and general public (crazy humans). Kesey also works his commentary on the inhumane practices of electroshock therapy and lobotomies as “treatment” for mental patients.

                                The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

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                                  What it’s about:

                                  The popular self-help book discusses approaches to all aspects of life that will lead to a person to success.

                                  Why it will change your life: Covey offers advice that pertains to friendships, relationships, personal goals, and professional careers in such a way that makes everyone involved a winner. The book discusses the importance of continuous improvement; once a goal is reached, a person must set another goal, therefore guaranteeing constant growth. A great book for those who feel stagnant in life and in need of improvement.

                                  Gratitude: A Daily Journal, Jack Canfield
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                                    What it’s about: A journal focused on seeing the beauty in everything around you, and appreciating what you have.

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                                    Why it will change your life: Gratitude allows readers to take stock in their surroundings: What do they have? What do they need? Do they actually have too much? Am I as appreciative as I should be? In our daily life, it’s easy to get caught up in “how awful our week’s been” or how we don’t have the perfect job, house, etc., but by looking at what we do have, we gain an appreciation for all of it, and realize that our happiness is not something defined by others, but by ourselves.

                                    Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon

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                                      What it’s about:

                                      Kleon’s message to the world that “nothing is original,” and that writers, authors, poets, and musicians must free themselves from the idea that they must reinvent the wheel with every piece they create, and instead use influential works to create their own voice.

                                      Why it will change your life: Especially in the digital age, in which almost anything a person can think of has already been done, Steal Like an Artist allows artists get past the idea that their idea is not original, and move on to the realization that, since it is their idea, it surely is original. It also helps artists realize that sometimes simply going through the motions is the best inspiration for that creative break they’ve been looking for.

                                      Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain

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                                        What it’s about:

                                        A celebration of introverted people, from the everyday college student to successful actors, authors, musicians, and businessmen.

                                        Why it will change your life: American society often celebrates the extroverts who flaunt their accomplishments and make themselves known to the world, overlooking the accomplishments of those who did so quietly with little fanfare. Cain examines this phenomenon and why it persists, and also celebrates the lives of many self-proclaimed introverts, many of whom are household names.

                                        Ishmael, Daniel Quinn

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                                          What it’s about:

                                          A man and a gorilla converse about the preconceptions of modern society based on the mythological beliefs of religion, and the effect these preconceptions have had on humanity and the planet.

                                          Why it will change your life: Ishmael will absolutely shatter any preconceived notion you may have had about why we humans are here, where we have been, and where we will be in the future. It challenges the notion that we’re number one, top of the food chain, the Supreme Being that the planet was waiting for billions of years for, and warns us as to what will come if we continue to think this way. If any book on this list will change the way you see the world, this is the one.

                                          Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                          Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                                          Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                                          For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                                          Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                                          1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                                          A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                                          It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                                          It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                                          How it helps you:

                                          If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                                          Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                                          2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                                          Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                                          Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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                                          How it helps you:

                                          Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                                          Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                                          If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                                          Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                                          3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                                          Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                                          Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                                          How it helps you:

                                          This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                                          For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                                          Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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                                          A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                                          4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                                          To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                                          A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                                          How it helps you:

                                          One word: hierarchy.

                                          All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                                          In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                                          If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                                          5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                                          Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                                          Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                                          How it helps you:

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                                          Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                                          If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                                          This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                                          6. What do you like about working here?

                                          This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                                          Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                                          How it helps you:

                                          You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                                          Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                                          Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                                          7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                                          What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                                          As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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                                          How it helps you:

                                          What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                                          First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                                          Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                                          Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                                          Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                                          Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                                          Making Your Interview Work for You

                                          Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                                          Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                                          More Resources About Job Interviews

                                          Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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