The 5 Books that Changed My Life and Why You Should Read Them

1024 1022 Simone Heng

If you follow me on social media, you know I read constantly. I gave up reading during my 20s and I definitely became dumber for it. While living in Perth, following my mother’s stroke, I began to feel very demotivated, ungrateful and generally depressed. I didn’t understand the link between my happiness and what I do for a living. In short, I don’t think I understood myself very well at all.

My doctor at the time, didn’t recommend pills, therapy or meditation. He recommended a simple, small book and this book changed my life. It also became the catalyst for all of the reading I have since been doing that has helped me get to know myself and others better. I hope this post may be able to do the same for you.

So here are the 5 books that changed my life:

  1. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl: This book is so famous that I feel ashamed I had never heard of it until 2015 but it literally changed my life. I had always feared that maybe I attached my identity and esteem to my job, but what this book reminded me was that I absolutely adore what I do and this had nothing to do with validating my sense of self-worth. When I started in media, I would have done my job for FREE, I loved it.  What I learnt through this book, through the amazing wisdom that only a Holocaust survivor like Frankl could provide, was that those of us who have a meaning bigger than ourselves to exist have a heightened resilience and will to live. I don’t want to give away too much more but when I mentor young girls who are lost for career direction, this is the book I always prescribe (yes, I “prescribe” it just like my GP did back in 2015), not only because it emphasises the importance of being driven by a vocation but also because the experiences it describes encourages us all to be more grateful for our lives.
  2. “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert: This book clearly defines the differences between a hobby, a job, a career and a vocation and it will help anyone in a career rut. I think what blew me away about this book was how beautifully the creative process is demystified. Sometimes, as creators, we are so arty that we don’t even think about process. We don’t know how to replicate our successes. I recently watched a Cristiano Ronaldo documentary and that man understands how to create success and how he can replicate it. He is really present in his process in a way I never was during the height of my career in Dubai. I was largely lead by emotion and my triggers when I would embark on a new project, this book helped me to pull apart the creative process. “Eat Pray Love” author Gilbert, takes it from being some magical thing on a pedestal to being something I could understand, define and replicate. It is all about replication!
  3. “Talk Like Ted” by Carmine Gallo : This is the updated version of Dale Carnegie’s “Effective Public Speaking” to me. It shows how the success of Ted events and their speeches has changed the way public speaking has been perceived and is conducted. This book is so well researched, down to timing the exact speed we should be speaking at (I still speak a little too fast at the moment). I also love how he pulls apart the process of building a speech with better clarity than anyone else on the market.
  4. “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson: This book was HUGE in the nineties after Oprah featured it on her show. My friend couriered a well-loved copy of this book to my workplace and it changed my life because it spoke almost solely of compassion and kindness. “Returning to love” is all about putting love before our own selfish agenda in any situation. Things that at that time I felt very cynical about. I decided to follow what the book preached, to forgive and treat people better than I even expected to be treated. I became compassionate in my thinking towards everyone, including my boss, men I was dating and people I met on the street. I began asking everyone “How can I be of service to you?” This book changed me for the better. Please, please get it.
  5. “The Art of People” by Dave Kerpen: I will be honest, I read this book during a time in my life when I was unsure about whether I wanted to continue working in radio. However, this book stopped me from making a life-changing mistake! The power of learning! There is a personality test at the beginning of the book called the Enneagram and it shows you what your are motivated by in life. I am motivated by being “excited” which means I love variety in my work: radio, speaking, mcing, social media and voice overs all in tandem. Not one without the other. I realised that keeping different colours in my crayon box was what was making me happy and has been keeping me happy since 2005. If you want to get to know yourself deeply and how to deal with others better, this book is life changing. It is also written in a really easy to read way, so easy, that I ended up buying the author’s original bestseller “Likeable Social Media.”