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Friday Five: Most Influential Books In My Life

The most influential book in my life currently: The Holy Bible

Various Authors
Holy Bible

More than ever in my life, the Bible belongs at the top spot. However, I have never actually completed an entire front-to-back read of the Bible (I'm working my way through my complete first read this year!) As I spend more and more time diving into the Word, it becomes more powerful in my life. The Bible has transformational power in the world, and the wisdom contained in it is not bound by time and space. I've written several articles over the last few weeks, as well as a plethora of Instagram posts over the last few years about the growing importance of my faith in my life.

The Bible is not an easy read, but it's worth it every time I dive deeper into it. Every ounce of understanding I glean from it pours more into my life, and influences my daily mindset and decisions.

If you've yet to experience Jesus, give your local church a try. If that doesn't seem to fit, or organized religion isn't your thing. You can write me an email or DM me on social media and I'd love to have a conversation.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

1. Atomic Habits

James Clear

It may come as no surprise that one of the greatest selling books of all time had great influence on me, even down to influencing the company Iron Habits. Clear's book, Atomic Habits, is full of practical steps to improving your ability to create your outcomes. Step by step, this phenomenal book walks you through strategies to make your brain function the way you want it to. It is a book I frequently re-read and it influences my behavior.

2. Michael Jordan, The Life

Roland Lazenby
Michael Jordan, The Life by Roland Lazenby

This book inspired me in ways that you might not inspect. It's not the information about Jordan's life that was influential for me - he is an inspirational figure, but also a very flawed person who I would not always want to emulate. What stuck out to me was the level of detail and true scholarship that went into writing this book. It's a masterful work pulling from a variety of sources, and goes into the Jordan family lineage to craft a story of person in a way I'd never seen before reading this book.

I found this book at the right time in my life. I was a college underclassmen who went from high school being too easy to the challenge of college smacking me in the face. I picked up this book because I was a basketball fanatic, but put it down in awe of what knowledge and research could create. In a sense, I was inspired by Lazenby's masterful writing, more than I was inspired by MJ. I already knew many things about Jordan before the book, I had never understood how well someone could write before encountering Lazenby's storytelling in combination with research.

This book inspired me to be more of a reader and writer, and I came out of reading this book with a desire to truly study the history of basketball, which kept me in the library, kept me around the game, made me into a coach and also improved me as a student. I witnessed the depth of Lazenby's passion for writing, and wanted to emulate that in some way. This book turned me into an nerd, in the best way possible. It showed me how to combine my passions with scholarly research, and it's changed the way I think and act over the decade-plus since I first read it.

3. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition

Mark Rippetoe
Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition by Mark Rippetoe

No list of influential books in my life could be complete without Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition. Similar to Michael Jordan, the Life, Rippetoe's Starting Strength inspired me not just because of the changes it helped me make, but also because of the way it was written. I had never encountered a book on fitness like it. I'd read other books that use scientific findings to justify a program, what you should eat, what supplements you should take, etc., but I'd never found a book that used a proper analysis of each lift to such detail.

Rippetoe explains how the lifts should be done, why they should be done that way, in what order, with which rate of progression, all with critical levels of analysis. As has been the theme in the last few paragraphs, I'd never considered that fitness - rife with "bro" culture, could be so darn scientific - and not in the ethereal "studies say" kind of way, but in a way that was practical, absorbable, and so plainly displayed. It is le fin du fin of strength training texts.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends an Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is another book that came into my life at the perfect time. I read it when I was young and knew everything, and then it taught me just how much I didn't know. The book's premise is this: If you want to win over others, you must learn to listen to them, ask good questions, identify their emotions, and find ways to create positive feelings for them. This may sound dumb, but for an early twenty-somethings male, that is an important lesson.

5. Amazing Fantasy # 15

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

It may seem silly to include a comic book in this list, but timing is everything in life, and this one came at a critically impressionable time. I was 10 years old when I picked up a reprinted copy of this comic book, the first I had ever read. It started a nearly decade-long love and collection of comics. Especially in my pre-teen and early teen years, the lessons of perseverance gleaned from these comics provided great inspiration to me. These themes are especially present in the now antiquated style of comics of the 1960s and 70s. These cheesy stories are still a joy to read, and each year I go through a phase of thumbing through my old collection and getting lost in the Marvel Universe.

To this day, I love chatting with students who I see reading comics. Much of my reading and writing skills were developed by reading comics, and I firmly believe comics deserve more respect for the storytelling they host and they creativity they display. The whole genre of graphic novels carry stories as powerful as any of the classics, and I think a lot more people would enjoy reading them if they ever sauntered into a comic book shop.

Comic books turned me into a reader as a kid, at a time when I claimed I hated books. I dedicated time throughout the year, even during my summer vacation, to writing my own comics and even attempted to write a superhero TV show. They formed a lot of my psyche and brought me great joy as a child, and they still do occasionally as an adult.

Honorable Mentions

The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - Chip and Dan Heath

Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life - Eric Greitens

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

Fat Loss Forever: How to Lose Fat and KEEP It Off - Layne Norton and Peter Baker


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