4 Great Books to Change How You Think

quote-man-is-made-or-unmade-by-himself-by-the-right-choice-he-ascends-as-a-being-of-power-james-allen-3319I’ve always loved reading. I can’t remember going to the library and not being overwhelmed and excited by everything that it contained. All those stories! All that knowledge! I was never one to swoon over designer shoes, but give me something to think about and you’ll need to hold me back. I’ve read and enjoyed hundreds of books but these are a few of the best non-fiction books I’m really glad I took the time to read, and the ones I turn back to again and again.

1. As a Man Thinketh — James Allen

“Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all the delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will be built to last.”
I read this book when I was about 12. It was brilliant and changed my view of my world. It underlined my responsibility in my experience.  Now modern science has shown us that our feelings are controlled by substantially more than just our thoughts, but being aware that your thoughts have some role in my life gave me a lot of responsibility to start thinking differently at an age where the role of thinking isn’t talked about much.

2. Napkin Notes on the Art of Living — Micheal Durst
“Your life works to the extent that you’re willing to tell the truth about how you set it up.”

If As a Man Thinketh is the theme, Napkin Notes on the Art of Living is a sonata. It’s a fantastic book and at one point was selling used on Amazon for over $700. I have two copies, a copy I don’t share and a copy that I hope will come back to me. It’s an incredibly easy read with lots of fun illustrations.

3. The Language Instinct — Stephen Pinker

The workings of language are as far from our awareness as the rationale for egg-laying is from the fly’s.”

How do we think? Why do we speak? How do we speak? When I lived in Germany and was trying to simultaneously learn German while teaching English, I loved the thinking in this book. It made me reexamine my beliefs and understanding of language. I still think back to the lessons in this book and wish I could find someone as enthralled with this topic as I am.

4. How to Cook Everything — Mark Bittman
“An almost unbelievably sweet and wonderful side dish. The sugar in the beets caramelizes, and the flavours of the rosemary, beets and butter meld beautifully.”

I didn’t learn to cook at home really. I learned to open cans and use mixes. When I moved to Germany and the supermarket had NO familiar looking packages, I was screwed. I boiled eggs and ate fresh buns with honey as long as I could then I got on the phone and begged my mom to send me this cookbook (and a pair of jeans — long story). It taught me how to cook and how to love cooking. I would go to the market and buy the freshest stuff there — be it seafood, meat or vegetables. I would then go home and get my German-English dictionary and find out what I bought. Then I would get out this cookbook and find a recipe. I learned to make pie shells (badly), pasta sauce, cook mussels. I have a whole cupboard full of cookbooks — including the second edition of this one — and I still open this one first, every time.