June 21, 2009

What books fundamentally changed the way you think?

I am curious about this: what 2 or 3 (or 4) books have fundamentally changed the way you think about yourself, your work, people, life? What was it about those books that changed the way you think and how did it influence you, to what did it lead? Hope to hear from you and, of course. Here is my personal list:
  1. You Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer. While I now think this book is probably not the most sophisticated book on psychology, it did ignite my curiosity for psychology.
  2. Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern by Douglas Hofstadter. This book, more than the famous Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid opened a fascinating world for me and got me hooked on reading and learning. It introduced me to such things as artificial intelligence, social dilemmas and skepticism.
  3. The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril In The Age of Networked Intelligence by Don Tapscott. This book woke me up to the phenomenon of Internet. After reading it I kept on talking to people about it and they often confidently dismissed the idea that 10 years from then they would do a lot of stuff via The Internet. Now they do. This book inspired me to take the Internet very seriously. I still do.
  4. Interviewing for Solutions by Peter De Jong and Insoo Kim Berg. When I read this book in 2000 I knew the approach it described would easily keep be busy for many, many years which turned out to be true. The solution-focused approach changed the very foundation from which I approach my work and many situations beyond work. It was a great privilege to get to know Insoo personally and to work and write with her.
Here are the lists (for full explanations read the comments section):


1.        Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert Pirsig
2.        Le petit Prince by Antoine sant-Excupéry
3.        Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Kevin Clouthier:
1.        100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
2.        The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Casteneda
3.        The Saturated Self by Ken Gergen
4.        Leadership & the New Science by Margaret Wheatley
5.        Change: Principles of Problem Formation & Problem Resolution by Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland & Richard Fisch
6.        The Heroic Client by Barry Duncan & Scott Miller
7.        Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
8.        Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers

Margreeth van der Kooij:
1.        Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan
2.        Presence by Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski and Otto Scharmer
3.        Theory-U by Otto Scharmer
4.        When Nietzshe wept by Irvin D. Yalom

Neil Usher:

Liselotte Baeijaert:
1.        The art of Happiness by Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler
2.        Going to pieces without falling apart by Mark Epstein
3.        Interviewing for Solutions by Peter De Jong & Insoo Kim Berg
4.        The resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert
5.        Guèrir by Dr. David Servan Schreiber

Erik Volkers
1.        I'm OK, you're OK by Thomas Harris
2.        Life and how to survive it by Robert Skynner & John Cleese
4.        Ancient wisdom, modern world by Dalai Lama
5.        Living deliberately by Harry Palmer

Gwenda Schlundt Bodien:
1.        Eline Vere by Louis Couperus
2.          J'ai quinze ans et je ne veux pas mourier by Christine Arnothy
3.           Le Deuxième sexe by Simone de Beauvoir
4.          A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
5.          Abolishing performance appraisals by Tom Coens & Mary Jenkins
6.           Interviews with brief therapy experts by Michael Hoyt
7.           One small step by Yvonne Dolan
8.           Doen wat werkt by Coert Visser

1.        The Road to Freedom by Jean Paul Sartre
2.        The Tin Drum by Gunther Grass
3.        Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas


Anna M. Vos
1.        Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Bill O' Hanlon:
1.        Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.
2.        A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis.
3.        The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge.
4.         The Structure of Magic by Richard Bandler and John Grinder.
5.         Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

Anton Stellamans:
1.        Wegmarken by Martin Heidegger
2.        Violence et Metaphysique by Jacques Derrida
3.        Ethica by Baruch Spinoza
4.        Words Were Originally Magic by Steve De Shazer
5.        De pathologie van de veldslag by Eelco Runia
6.        The long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela
7.        Tao Te Ching I Tjing & Lao Tzu

1.        Godel, Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter
2.        Shifting Contexts by Bill O'Hanlon and James Wilk
4.        Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations by Marie McGinn (in conjunction with the original)

1.        Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein
2.        On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein
3.        Languages of Art by Nelson Goodman
4.        Process and Reality by Whitehead

My list:
1.        Your Erroneous Zones - Wayne Dyer.
4.        Interviewing for Solutions by Peter De Jong and Insoo Kim Berg.

Peter Damoc:
1.        The Kingdom of God is within you by Leo Tolstoy.
2.        Awareness by Anthony de Mello.
3.        The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
4.        Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
5.        The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Phillip Ziegler:
1.        Be here now by Ram Dass
2.        The Heroic Client by Barry Duncan & Scott Miller
3.        The Great Psychotherapy Debate by Bruce Wampold

Peter Millecam:
1.        Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
2.        How full is your bucket? by Tom Rath & Donald Clifton
3.        Levensregel voor beginners by Wil Derksen.

1.        You'll See It When You Believe It by Wayne Dyer
2.        The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

Bertrand Weegenaar:
1.        The Hite Report by Shere Hite
2.        Story of a Life by Konstantin Paustovsky
3.        The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
4.        Keres' Best Games of Chess by Fred Reinfeld & Paul Keres.

1.        Disney's illustrated book on Nuclear Physics
2.        Tree of Knowledge by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela
3.        The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
4.        Google links to neuroscience labs.
5.        Emotional Awareness by Paul Ekman and Dalai Lama

1.        The dance of wounded souls by Robert Burney
2.        The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
3.        The artist's way by Julia Cameron
4.        Non violent communication, a language of compassion by Marshall Rosenberg

1.        The Emotional Brain by Joseph Ledoux
2.        The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

1.        Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
2.        Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

1.        Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein
2.        The Nurture Assumption by J.R. Harris
3.        Interviewing for Solutions by Peter De Jong & Insoo Kim Berg
4.        Chaos by J. Gleick

know the question is hard, but let's hear it folks, what are the books that changed you?

34 comments:

  1. hard question!
    I just turned around, and I see my booshelves overflowing with books... (BTW that is why I hope Kindle comes soon to Europe - I would LOVE to carry my books with me on my biz trips!). OK, enough of geek talk :)

    I would say:
    - Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations; it healed me. I could finally step out of the traps language set for me, and that led me to graduate in Philosophy (of science). Wittgenstein says a philosopher is someone who needs to work hard before coming to the conclusions of common sense. Right on point.
    - "The Nurture Assumption", J.R. Harris. Woke me up from my slumber, and led me to Pinker, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology... It sparked my passion for science. It made me realize that almost all I was taught at the University re psychology, dominated by a psychoanalytic / post-modernist paradigm, was wrong.
    - "Interviewing for Solutions" by De Jong, Berg; it introduced me to Solution-Focused thinking and practice.

    And if I may,a foruth entry. A book that I read as a freshman in college and guided my thinking in studying philosophy of science and later on led to my first employment: "Chaos", by J. Gleick, on Nonlinead Dynamic Systems.

    Thanks for the interesting question, looking forward to hearing from others!

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  2. Hi Paolo, interesting, I read only two of them..

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  3. My selection...
    1. The Emotional Brain by Joseph Ledoux for opening up a whole new way of understanding human behaviour and demonstrating links to our evolutionary past.
    2. The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge for amplifying the concept of neuroplasticity and showing us what the healing profession might look like in the future.

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  4. Thanks for the invitation Coert. Here is my booklist.

    1. 'The dance of wounded souls' written by Robert Burney. It was the first spiritual book that I read and it had the effect of an earthquake. I could surrender to the idea that there is a loving way to look at myself, to life and its purpose.

    2. 'The Alchemist' written by Paulo Coelho. I read it several times and each time it puts me in a state of magic. It helps me to go for the pot of gold that is inside of me. It is about finding my personal legend, the reason for being here in this lifetime.

    3. 'The artists way' written by Julia Cameron. It opened up my eyes for the idea that having a talent or gift for creativity, is not just enough. Practice, training and exercise on a daily basis are required to make the energy of creation flow into my life and into my creations.

    I definitely want to mention a fourth book: 'Non violent communication, a language of compassion' written by Marshall Rosenberg. The titel of the book says it all.

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  5. Hi all,
    Yes hard questions. Some books that changed the way I think I haven't really read fully, I've always used books as jumping grounds. Halfway trough, I get something, that leads me to read something else. But I'll try anyway

    (1) Some kind of popular science "Disney's illustrated book on Nuclear Physics" that I read over and over when I was about 9. I've lost the book but not the sense of wonder about the universe.

    (2) Maturana and Varela's Tree of Knowledge was a electrifying experience back in 1988 or something. It was the first thing that took a really grand view from everywhere, and still was reasonably scientific. In 90 I met Maturana, and was a bit disapointed. But I've come back to Varela's neurophenomelogy just recently. (The film "Monte Grande" about Varela is very moving, intellectually and emotionally)

    (3) Steven Pinker's Blank Slate was another chocker a few years ago. (And I didn't even finish the book. This is the kind of book that can bounce you away in all directions) It brought me back to scientific sanity after several years in post-modernia.

    (4) "Google links to neuroscience labs". Eh, not a book, but bouncing from lab to lab, harvesting pdf-papers from Ledoux, Richard Davidson, Damasio, Ramachandran, Jean Decety.... it never ends. A laptop is like a space-craft to a universe of knowledge.

    (5) Most recently Paul Ekman and Dalai Lamas Emotional Awareness Ekman has an ubelieavably sharp scientific eye, and on the few occations Ekman slightly levitates from the darwinian terra firma, Dalai Lama (!) pulls him back by reminding him that they are not talking about religion, lets get back to science and Darwin. Periodically Dalai Lama wakes you up by saying unpredictable things like "hm, George Bush... I met him...he is good man". I've realized Ekman is soooo much more than "Lie to me".

    And then also....oh, you said 2 or 3 books...gerard, can I borrow the cogmed working memory training program I saw on your site? (Just kidding, Klingberg is here in Stockholm. And I like your site, the grand all-over approach in the new psychology!)

    Be well
    Michael

    Michael

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  6. Hello Coert, maybe the following is a strange list, but anyway:
    The Hite Report introduced me to the sexual thinking of women. Educational at times,
    Konstantin Paustovsky's "Story of a Life" which was my first read on Russian Literature and has inspired me still;
    and on the business level: Clay Christensen's The Innovation Dilemma which has given me an insight and model to implement web 2.0 and mobile thinking in business;
    Last yes, because it's another side of me the collection of best chessgames by and from Paul Keres.

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  7. Hi Paolo, Gerard, Michael, Bertrand, Peter, and Riccardo, thanks for your lists. Some of those books I have never heard of so I'll check them out. I hope we'll get more interesting lists!

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  8. You'll See It When You Believe It, Wayne Dyer
    The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron

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  9. What about YOUR list, Coert??
    We are curious!! :)

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  10. Hi Paolo, ok, I'll do it today. Only one book of my list of 4 has already been mentioned by the others

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  11. A little bit late but here is my list:

    The Kingdom of God is within you by Leo Tolstoy. After reading this book I stopped a wedding, stopped being a Catholic, stopped eating meat and started becoming interested in the personal development field.

    Awareness by Anthony de Mello. This was an important milestone in my journey towards peace. It completely changed the way I view "what matters".


    The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. This book is insane. The shortest big books I've read. A small story broken into 3 parts about managing people. It fundamentally changed the way I view controlling people.

    Man's Search for Meaning by
    Viktor Frankl. This book made me fall in love with psychology. It showed me the true capacity of the human mind. It is because of this book that I ended up joining Psychology faculty.

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  12. Hi all,

    Here is my list. I have left out wonderful books by authors like Rcobert H. Frank, Carol Dweck, Jeffrey Pfeffer, David Maister, Umberto Eco, Albert Lazlo Barabasi, (even) Charles Darwin, (even) Steve De Shazer, Alfie Kohn, Robert Sternberg, Clayton Christensen, Mihaly Cskszentmihalyi, Douglas McGregor, Martin Seligman, Matt Ridley, et cetera.

    Anyway, here is the list of books that actually change my thinking drastically:

    1. You Erroneous Zones - Wayne Dyer. While I now think this book is probably not the most sophisticated book on psychology, it did ignite my curiosity for psychology.

    2. Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern by Douglas Hofstadter. This book, more than the famous Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid opened a fascinating world for me and got me hooked on reading and learning. It introduced me to such things as artificial intelligence, social dilemmas and skepticism.

    3. The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril In The Age of Networked Intelligence by Don Tapscott. This book woke me up to the phenomenon of Internet. After reading it I kept on talking to people about it and they often confidently dismissed the idea that 10 years from then they would do a lot of stuff via The Internet. Now they do. This book inspired me to take the Internet very seriously. I still do.

    4. Interviewing for Solutions by Peter De Jong and Insoo Kim Berg. When I read this book in the year 200o I knew the approach it described would easily keep be busy for many, many years which turned out to be true. The solution-focused approach changed the very foundation from which I approach my work and many situations beyond work. It was a great privilege to get to know Insoo personally and to work and write with her.

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  13. Wittgenstein: "Philosophical Investigations" and "On Certainty"
    Goodman: "Languages of Art"
    Whitehead: "Process and Reality"

    And Paolo -- I am using a device called "Bookeen Cybook Gen3". No more carrying around books for me :-)

    Kind regards from Tokyo where I am almost illiterate,

    Kirsten

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  14. A few of mine...

    * Godel, Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter

    * Shifting Contexts by Bill O'Hanlon and James Wilk

    * Complexity by Mitchell Waldrop

    * Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations by Marie McGinn (in conjunction with the original)

    Cheers
    Mark

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  15. The list is really developing into a very nice one! I hope there will be more people who´ll share there list of ´impact books´

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  16. Since we are at it I would add also The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This is the book that showed me the enemy naked. After I read it I could no longer pretend I don't know my enemy.

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Hi Coert,

    Here is my short list:

    1) Martin Heidegger, Wegmarken (my second anchor in philosophy after Wittgenstein)
    2) Jacques Derrida, Violence et Metaphysique. Essay sur la pensée d'Emmanuel Levinas (topic of my master thesis in philosophy. It proved to be a very interesting journey ... breaking away from strict adherence to one philosophy towards the enthousiasm of embracing plenty.)
    3) Spinoza, Ethica (what joy! The philosophy of happiness)
    4) Steve de Shazer, Words Were Originally Magic (nothing changed my way of thinking and living more than the solution focus. Also: Paul Z Jackson & Mark McKergow, The Solutions Focus)
    5) Eelco Runia, De pathologie van de veldslag. Geschiedenis en geschiedschrijving in Tolstoj's Oorlog en Vrede (Very intelligent commentary on one of the greatest books ever written: Tolstoy's War and Peace.)
    6) Nelson Mandela, The long walk to freedom (a must read on leadership and change. Equally important read: Aung San Suu Kyi, The Voice of Defiance)
    7) I Tjing & Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (change through poetry)

    Thank you for this interesting question, I enjoyed browsing through the my books and memories!
    Anton

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  19. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. A blueprint for a spiritual life. I read it in high school and it set my course. Later Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist solidified this view and approach to life.

    A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis. I never actually finished this book, but was electrified by the simple and new to me idea that changing one's thinking could change one's feelings could change one's life.

    The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. This one confirmed what I thought about the ability of people (and neurology and brain) to change over the course of a life. And reinforced my commitment to be a life-long learner. I read many books (on my Kindle and in print), usually several a week, and enjoy most of them but they don't always change my life. This one did. As a direct result, I gave up a life-long couch potato lifestyle and began exercising.

    This was followed by Younger Next Year and Spark, which sealed my commitment to stay fit and get regular exercise.

    The Structure of Magic by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. I read three blurbs about this book in the back of a Virginia Satir book. The blurbs were by Satir, Milton Erickson and Gregory Bateson and they all praised the book to such an extent that I thought, "If it is good enough for them, it's good enough for me." One of the few books I have read twice. I started it over again as soon as I read the last word. Not because it was so good, but because I had a sense that there was amazing stuff in it and I didn't fully understand it the first reading. It started me on a path to becoming a competent therapist and searching for people who could make the process more effective and more explicit.

    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. I re-read this one a few years ago and found it sexist and a bit fascist, but as a teenager, it showed me an alternate way of living and thinking.

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  20. The list itself is wonderful but the explanations are too ...

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  21. For me, for what it's worth, and in no order of preference:-
    Roads to Freedom - Sartre
    The Tin Drum - Gunther Grass
    Under Milk Wood - Dylan Thomas

    change, hope, humanity, belief, respect; ex-ego rather than ego.

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  22. Yea, but she cheated because she listed 8 books!! :)

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  23. fair point but had she not my book wouldn't be on it.....so, i think we need to be forgiving ;)

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  24. The art of Happiness
    by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

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  25. Thomas Harris: I'm OK, you're OK. First book on understanding myself and others I ever read. On the same subject: Life and how to survive it, by John Cleese and his therapist Robert Skynner.
    Louis Cauffman: Solution-Focused Management & Coaching: simple works best, first book I ever read about SFC. Coert, I read your book as well, but the first one always makes the biggest impression.
    Dalai Lama: ancient wisdom, modern world, which introduced me to Bhuddism.
    Living deliberately by Harry Palmer, which introduced me to the Avatar mind trainings that changed my life.

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  26. I am a really bad reader and I don't usually read books from beginning to end but here are some of my favorites (they keep traveling with me during holidays):
    * the art of Happiness -Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler
    * Going to pieces without falling apart - Mark Epstein
    * Interviewing for solutions - Peter de Jong and Insoo Kim Berg,
    * The resiliency Advantage - Al Siebert,
    * Guèrir - Dr. David Servan Schreiber
    (and my last top fiction book was: the kite runner by Khaled Hosseini)

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  27. How wonderfull these lists and reasons! I have a smile on my face now, pondering my mind about mine. Here are some:
    First is an article by David Cooperrider (it's a big article, so I allowe myself to cheat). The first thing I ever read about Appreciative Inquiry. My coaching and facilitating conferences were never the same after that. It took me to all the stuff about Whole Scale Change (and to Coert and Gwenda!)
    Then: Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan. I reread it twice. It gives a wonderfull insight in how lifeconditions are the most basic thing in changing. Either men or the world. As small and big as that!
    Presence and Theory-U by Otto Scharmer e.a. I would say there is a question in those two books to. It's about deep change. I'm still wondering about the difference or sameness to Solution-Focused thinking.
    There are many more but I'd like to mention When Nietzshe wept y Irvin D. Yalom. Very interesting look in the Belle Epoque, Freud, Nietzsche, psychotherapy/analysis and existentialism.

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  28. Hello Coert & others,

    What a terrific question to ask. I gave considerable thought and came up with these offerings, in no particular order:

    "100 Years of Solitude" - Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A wonderful story that provided opportunity to explore pattern and meaning through multiple generations of a family. Not some much about problems but of lived experience.

    "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge" - Carlos Casteneda
    This and other books in the series opened me to the world of possibility and power of the mind, relationship and discipline. Again, this entry changed my perspective of problem into quest for enlightenment.

    "The Saturated Self" - Ken Gergen
    This work succeeded in shifting my thinking about boundaries and definitions of self and the world.

    "Leadership & the New Science" - Margaret Wheatley
    I recall being introduced tyo complexity & chaos through the television series Nova and being enthralled by the notion of complex adaptive systems, attractors, etc. However, Wheatley helped to transition my understanding of complexity into human social systems.

    "Change: Principles of Problem Formation & Problem Resolution" - Watzlawick & Fisch
    Interactional view of problem formation.

    "The Heroic Client" - Duncan, Miller & Sparks
    The title says it all. After reading this book, I was released from working so hard.

    "Man's Search for Meaning" - Frankl
    The strength of the human spirit and power of our ability to overcome adversity.

    "Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future" - Senge, Flowers, Scharmer & Jaworski.
    As I was reading this book, I was excited and moved spiritually. I'm unable to say what exactly it did but the transcripts of the conversations between the authors are very powerful in their message.

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  29. In interchangeable order:
    - Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, Robert Pirsig
    - le petit Prince, Antoine sant-Excupéry
    - Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

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  30. Fore me:

    -Brief Coaching For Lasting Solutions
    -The Choice by Eliyahu Goldratt
    -The New Unconscious by Hassing, Uleman and Bargh
    -The Psychology of Goals by Muskowitz and Grant

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  31. I wouldn't be able to narrow it down to 2-4, so I will mention the 1st book I read that made a huge impact on me:

    The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

    The world was a larger and better place for me after reading it as a teenager. Really opened my mind to new thoughts, including a meta-level of thinking about new thoughts. Very cool stuff.

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  32. thanks, anonymous. I haven't read that book.

    ReplyDelete

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