So earlier this week, I wrote about my relationship with books and why some books deserve to be read over and over again. These are ‘quake books’. Books that irreversibly change the way you see yourself, life and the world around. These books have the power to set you down paths you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Here are 10 of mine, in chronological order.
Gifted Hands – Ben Carson
I read this book sometime while I was still in Secondary (High) School in Nigeria. As a pimply faced teenager experiencing his first version of heartbreak, I had thrown myself into my school work to cope (signs of times to come). Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands immersed me in the story of an unlikely success. A young boy who turned his destiny around from an angry violent delinquent to one of the most respected neurosurgeons in the country. How did he do it? Through the discovery of and respect for the power of books and learning. This book taught me that you can do anything if you truly set your mind to it.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki
This is perhaps the most impactful book I’ve ever read as far as the effects it has had on my life. I read this book at 16, in my final year at High school, and up on to this point, I was going to find the hardest, most lucrative degree I could possibly study and end up in a big corporate. That was my path. This book painted a different picture of what that path would actually look like in real life and opened up my mind to the way the world, finance, employment and life worked. Did I want to be highly successful, rich, but working all the time with limited freedom and being fully dependent on a paycheck? Or did I want to get rich and free? I have since tempered my views a bit since, but this one hit me hard. After this book, my path was irrevocably changed.
The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
I read Tim’s first book in 2010. A time of great upheaval in my life. Fresh out of university, and officially opting out ‘the system’, I was in a place where I was questioning everything – life, God, school, work. This book showed that yes indeed there existed many ways to be and live life. One didn’t have to be a cubicle slave. One could be free and live a rather remarkable life. If you were bold and unconventional enough to reach for it. It taught me that almost everything popular is wrong.
The 50thLaw – Robert Greene & 50 Cent
An incredible book by an unlikely pair. I had been introduced to Robert in High School actually, reading the 48 Laws of Power (why was I reading such so young?). I found this book on a long layover at the Qatar Airport at the end of 2010. This book is about fear, how to approach it and how to manage it. I had just committed to a new life, stepping off the ledge and trying to live and create a career on my terms outside the confines of ‘the system’. This book was the fuel I needed to move forward boldly.
The E-myth – Michael E Gerber
I first read this book in 2010, and I didn’t fully grasp its significance. Over the years, with growing experience in business and the workplace, I have come back to the book time and again, and each time the core message has sunk in deeper. There is a difference between knowing how to do a thing and building a business around it. These are different disciplines and anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur has to appreciate the difference. 
The Alchemist & Aleph – Paulo Coelho
I’ve only read each of these books once. Probably around 2011. The Alchemist is perhaps Paulo’s most popular book and is a powerful story about a boy who wanders in search of his destiny. Aleph I don’t even really remember the plot of, but I remember how it made me feel. Both these books introduced me to a way of living I would call intuitive. They taught me how to listen to my heart, go with the flow and to see ‘God’ in both the mundane and the sublime, showing me that this experience we call life is so much more expansive and multidimensional than we know.
The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday
I found Ryan on Tim Ferris’ blog in 2011 and through his writing and numerous books, he introduced me to Stoic Philosophy. Around this time, I had a vacuum of belief, not really knowing what to hold on to. Stoicism helped provide a new structure and a deeply pragmatic framework on how to wrestle with the problems of life. This particular book, The Obstacle is the Way helped me reframe all the problems I was facing at the time, (and even now), as the stepping stones I needed to propel me forward. This book teaches the alchemy of how to turn obstacles, and bad circumstances into tools for good. 
Deep Work – Cal Newport
Cal Newport is a blogger, author and speaker I’ve followed for a while. This specific book of his transformed the way I approach work and productivity. In a hyper-connected and hyper-distracted world, the ability to deeply focus has become a superpower. Here, Cal shows you how to develop it. This book probably tripled my productivity over the years by reintroducing the idea of just shutting everything else off and doing the damn work. 
The One Thing – Gary Keller
You have probably heard me mention this book a hundred times. It might be the most impactful book I’ve ever read. It is just an amazing philosophy on how to walk the path and embrace the process towards success. On the big scale of your lifetime, know what your one thing is, your one true north star, and move towards it. And every day, know what the one most important thing you need to do, and get that done. If you do things in this way, your effectiveness multiplies and the small actions you take ladder up to your big overarching goals. 
The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone
I read this book for the first time last year, and I’ve been re-reading it and listening to it on audible for the past week. If you want to light a fire under your ass and challenge yourself to vastly higher levels of achievement, this is the book to read. The core idea in this book is that we underestimate the level of success we need to attain, and we underestimate the amount of effort it will take to get there. Whatever we think we need to do, we need to 10X it. I’m hoping this book helps me dial my action-taking to 11.
Notable mentions
Trying to rank the books I’ve read and come up with a top 10 list is tricky. There are just so many books that have made an impact, and as I type these right now, many more spring to mind. Beyond books, there are also the countless blogs, personalities, teachers and podcasts I’ve followed over the years. 
Books that didn’t quite make the cut, but are still phenomenal life changing reads– Essentialism by Greg McKeown (which pairs well with The One Thing), Mastery by Robert Greene, The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg, The Truth by Neil Strauss, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Rework by Jason Fried, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and almost anything written by Steve Pavlina (perhaps the founding father of my personal development journey since 2006). 
What books have changed your life?
Copyright © 2019 Otoabasi Bassey, All rights reserved.

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