7 Books That Changed My Life
Posted by Michael Vacanti
I get a lot of email.
A shocking percentage actually go like this:
“hey Mike – I see you reading books in your youtube vlogs – what books should I read?
Books are interesting because the state and needs of the reader are just as relevant as the quality of the book.
So, what you will find below are not the seven greatest books ever written; rather, they are the ones that impacted me the most.
Which is why a choose-your-own-adventure self-help book made the list, and I never even finished Frankl’s world renowned masterpiece.
Anyway… here they are.
Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable
Author Tim Grover was the personal trainer for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade.
This book is about the obsessive dedication displayed by the best of the best – those whom Grover refers to as “cleaners.”
It’s a barrage of in-your-face, fucking-work-harder-right-now rah rah. Which might not be your thing. But it’s hyperbolic message gave me permission to go all-in. It made me feel less “weird” for not understanding the “balanced” life that society pedestals.
And probably most importantly, it gave me the reassurance that I’m not the only one who dips into a dark place for deeper and sustained motivation.
Who Should Read It: Anyone who wants to be “the best” at anything.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
If you hang out with me here at OTR, you have seen cute Harry Potter references spliced into my fitness content.
Or even full articles, like the one that alludes to the fact that Snape should have just started lifting weights to get over Lily, rather than join a cult of genocidal dark wizards.
But this book didn’t make the list for last minute snitch grabs or thrilling invisibility cloak adventures; Harry Potter is on this list because a poor, single-mom grinder in the UK impacted me more in a single chapter (Chapter Thirty-Four: The Forest Again) than anything else I’ve read in my entire life.
Who should read [this series]: Every single human being including those of you who have already read them.
Your Best Year Yet
On the surface, this is a cheesy self-help book.
The book forces you to take a hard look at your life and what you really want, then map out those goals in actionable steps.
It’s one of those you get out what you put in kind of books where results are directly correlated with your effort and how much caffeine you ingest while reading it.
Who Should Read It: Someone at a crossroad, looking to make a big change.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
How a South African kid who got bullied in grade school is now revolutionizing multiple industries.
Elon’s disgusting work ethic, stomach for huge risk, ability to think big (multi-planet species are you kidding?!?), and of course, his intelligence, makes us realize that even our big goals are much smaller and easily achievable than we previously believed.
Who Should Read It: Everyone.
The War Of Art
Author of Turning Pro and Do The Work, Steven Pressfield had me underlining and margin-scribbling nonstop throughout this easily consumable book.
In fact, I just opened to a random page to find an underlined quote that I love:
The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had the guts.
This book was also my first exposure to the idea that sex can be used incorrectly, not for connection or pleasure but rather, as escapism, validation, and procrastination from doing the work (aka bumbling instead of writing!).
Who Should Read This: Anyone who makes stuff.
I have spent every single day with this dude for 656 days.
I’ve also consumed the majority of his content online – keynotes, youtube, etc.
The audiobook version of #askgaryvee had at least 5 nuggets that were brand new to me.
It’s a book about entrepreneurship and how to win at business in 2016.
Some parts are motivating as hell. Some parts make you think. And most importantly, there are parts that reinforced beliefs I already have that were buried so deep that I didn’t know they were there.
For example, I struggle with distribution of content. Making stuff is my strength. Telling people to go consume my stuff is not.
When a reader asked a question about introverted entrepreneurs in networking situations, Gary surprised me with his reply:
Don’t go. Bet on your strengths. If you make good enough stuff they will come to you; you don’t have to go to them.
Lightbulb moments like that make the time investment for this book a no-brainer.
Who Should Read It: Anyone who works for themself or wants to work for themself.
To be honest, I don’t remember this book.
But I also don’t have time to reread before I hit publish.
Here is what I do remember: It’s raw and honest, and it made me feel happy, entertained, and ready to pump out more and better content.
Who Should Read It: Anyone who puts stuff on the internet (or wants to).
Bonus: Fitness Content
I don’t read a ton of fitness books. Other than an anatomy textbook and my PT book, it’s mostly good blogs, PubMed, Examine, and countless training programs.
However, I figured I’d share a few resources that came to mind:
Lyle McDonald’s website, forums, and books are what laid the ground work for my nutrition knowledge. Back in college, I stayed up until 4am many nights devouring every word of his content.
This is the only fitness podcast I listen to. Mike Matthews is not only very intelligent, a clear articulator of ideas, and walks the walk, but he pumps out content at a rate that makes me hate myself.
I read this book twice on back-to-back days after buying it. It wasn’t the “fitness” part that grabbed me, although there is great information on intermittent fasting and an awesome training program. The Hero’s Journey arch made it incredibly enjoyable, and the lessons on how to live as a good person still stick with me today.
ps if you are the captain obvious who is going to tell me I should have included affiliate links so that I could make six dollars and thirty-seven cents on this blog post, I don’t wanna hear it. You focus on your game, plenty there to keep you busy.