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20 Books Everyone Should Read Before Age 40

20 Books Everyone Should Read Before Age 40

Books are wonderful things. Information, entertainment, wisdom and imagination all wrapped up in a nice little bundle of pages… or an electronic file as the case may be.

But there are so many. Millions actually, so the question becomes, “What are the must reads?”, especially in the first half of your life when you’re trying to do so much and seeking all that life has to offer so diligently. I’ll start by saying that there are so many books that could have made my list, but I suspect that you, like me, read many of those throughout your educational years. Still, it might be worth another read through of some of the classics.

My list of 20 must-read books:

(In no particular order, some classic, and some modern)

anne frank

    The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank- I hope I don’t need to explain why this book is so important. You probably read this as a student, but read it again. It may be the ultimate book about the power of hope and strength in the midst of unspeakable atrocities, and it serves to remind us that there will always be evil in the world, but that we must not let it win.

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

      I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – Poverty. Racism. Rape. Coming of age amidst all that. It’s both heartbreaking and empowering, like only Maya can do.

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      Attitudes of Gratitude- How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life

        Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life by M.J. Ryan – Ryan shows us that when we let ourselves feel and express our appreciation, we feel happier, younger, and healthier.  Gratitude creates a powerful state of happiness where we notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong, which teaches us how to unlock the fullness of life.

        To Kill a Mockingbird

          To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Another book many of us read in school, but it’s worth another read through adult eyes. Be brave enough to do what you know is right—enough said.

          Emotional Intelligence 2.0

            Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, Patrick Lencioni – It’s no secret that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to success, but knowing what emotional intelligence is and knowing how to use it to improve your life are two very different things. Emotional intelligence shows us how to use self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management to achieve our fullest potential.

            The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

              The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey – It’s a classic for a reason: still one of the most valuable personal development books of all time. Covey prescribes a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach to help us lead the best life possible.

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              The Power of Now

                The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – The message is simple: living in the now is the path to happiness (and enlightenment.) An excellent manual of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of our ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.

                Mans Search for Meaning

                  Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – Based on his own experience in Nazi death camps, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

                  Now, Discover Your Strengths

                    Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton – Unfortunately, most of us spend our lives trying to combat our weaknesses instead of developing our strengths, when the truth is that it is actually our strengths that lead us to personal and professional success.

                    Traveling Mercies- Some Thoughts on Faith

                      Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott – Anne Lamott says the two best prayers she knows are: “Help me” and “Thank you.” Irreverent and witty, Lamott shows us how to own the reality of our own brokenness while coming closer to a real understanding of grace.

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                      making-marriage-simple-10-truths-for-changing-the-relationship-you-have-into-the-one-you-want

                        Making Marriage Simple: Ten Truths for Changing the Relationship You Have into the One You Want by Harville Hendrix, Helen LaKelly Hunt – A guide to building a strong partnership in today’s world. It gives practical tools needed to transform one’s relationship into a rewarding and joyous one.

                        Tuesdays with Morrie

                          Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom – Reminds us of the importance of having mentors, and that the lessons they teach us about living robustly and fully impact our lives in ways that we may not understand at the time.

                          The Artists Way

                            The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – An inspiring and invaluable guide on living a life of creativity and passion.

                            The Gifts of Imperfection

                              The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown – This book lays out ten guideposts for Wholehearted living. Brown teaches how to combat the barrage of messages from society telling us who, what, and how we should be, to discover that we are worthy just as we are.

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                              The Tipping Point- How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

                                The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell – The tipping point is that critical moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, then tips, and spreads like wildfire. Gladwell explores the tipping point phenomenon and how it’s changing the way people throughout the world think about the development and dissemination of ideas.

                                Imagine- How Creativity Works

                                  Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer – Discusses the importance of thinking like a child, daydreaming, and adopting an outsider’s perspective. He talks about creative collaboration, criticism and how we can use creativity to better our world.

                                  The Last Lecture

                                    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – At one time or another, we all consider our deaths and ruminate on what matters mos; the wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance. This lecture given by Pausch, a computer science professor recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, expresses the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, and of seizing every moment.

                                    The Notebook

                                      The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – This is more than a simple story of love, lost and found—it’s one about the choices we make and the hardships we face. Whether you feel it’s a love story or a tragedy, it’s about a journey to happiness and ultimately deciding what or who is important to us in life.

                                      The Power of Full Engagement

                                        The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz – Shows us how managing energy, not time, is the key to performance, health, happiness, and life balance. This fundamental insight has the power to revolutionize the way we live.

                                        Your chosen book on your spiritual path or philosophical leanings – A must, and probably should have been listed first. Whether it’s the Bible, Tao Te Ching, Bhagavad Gita, works by Plato, Aristotle, or one of the many spiritual books out there, whatever book helps you to understand your place in the larger picture of life, that gives you purpose and meaning, may be the most important book you ever read.

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                                        Royale Scuderi

                                        A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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                                        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                                        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                                        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                                        1. Work on the small tasks.

                                        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                                        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                                        2. Take a break from your work desk.

                                        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                                        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                                        3. Upgrade yourself

                                        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                                        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                                        4. Talk to a friend.

                                        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                                        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                                        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                                        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                                        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                                        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                                        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                                        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                                        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                                        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                                        7. Read a book (or blog).

                                        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                                        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                                        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                                        8. Have a quick nap.

                                        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                                        9. Remember why you are doing this.

                                        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                                        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                                        10. Find some competition.

                                        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                                        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                                        11. Go exercise.

                                        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                                        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                                        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                                        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                                        12. Take a good break.

                                        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                                        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                                        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                                        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                                        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                                        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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