5 Books That Tangibly Improved My Life

Non-fiction reads that left their impact without being too preachy

5 Books That Tangibly Improved My Life
Anangsha Alammyan on Instagram

Non-fiction reads that left their impact without being too preachy

Whenever someone asks me for book recommendations, I always name a fiction novel, and they groan, “Can’t you tell me a book that will significantly improve my life?”

I’ve told them several times that fiction has tremendous potential to change your life for the better, but well, some people only love non-fiction.

As for me, I’ve always been a lover of fiction. But there’ve been some non-fiction books that have left a tangible impact on my life. This article lists 5 such books that will leave a deep-seated impact on your life. They cover various topics such as self-love, entrepreneurship, human psychology, and so much more.

(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

1. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Image: Goodreads

You guessed this book would be on this list from the feature image, didn’t you?

This book changed my mindset about entrepreneurship. The core idea is that if you copy the already successful people, you’re effectively repeating what the world already knows.

In essence, you’re taking them from 1 to n, i.e., adding more of something familiar. However, if you create something completely new, you’re taking the world from o to 1. You’re establishing something no one had thought of before. This can be a product, a service, or your own niche in the field you’re working on. Going from 0 to 1 is the guaranteed way to make your business succeed. This book teaches you how to do that.

“The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.”

How this book changed my life

Peter Thiel encouraged me to have unorthodox ideas and not be afraid of holding on to them. If I do what everyone else is doing, there’s no way I’ll succeed. But if I innovate and think out of the box, I’ll be the queen — a pioneer — in my category.

Purchase this book here.

2. Educated by Tara Westover

Image: Goodreads

This is a powerful story of a woman who was home-schooled by her mother and only set foot in a formal classroom for the first time when she was seventeen.

Growin up in a religious household which resolutely turned a blind eye to mental illness, Tara outgrows the box she was cast into since childhood and finds her way in the world. It’s sometimes hard to believe that the beliefs talked about in this book aren’t from centuries ago but from the 1990s, making the narrative horrifyingly gut-wrenching.

The book is hard to read but impossible to put down.

“The thing about having a mental breakdown is that no matter how obvious it is that you’re having one, it is somehow not obvious to you. I’m fine, you think. So what if I watched TV for twenty-four straight hours yesterday. I’m not falling apart. I’m just lazy. Why it’s better to think yourself lazy than think yourself in distress, I’m not sure.”

How this book changed my life

I always prided myself on my ability to learn things by myself. But Tara Westover’s skill of figuring things on her own gave me a whole new perspective. It showed me a new way of picking up skills and also strengthened my ability to unlearn beliefs I’d held on to for all my life. Strangely, this book also made my relationship with my parents better.

Purchase this book here.

3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

Image: Goodreads

No matter how strongly they deny it, very few people haven’t struggled with these questions:

  • Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations?
  • What will people think if I fail or give up?
  • When can I stop proving myself?

In this book, Dr. Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living — a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

How this book changed my life

During several paragraphs in the book, it felt as if Dr. Brown was writing my story. The conversational tone of the book made it feel more like talking to a friend. A dear friend who tells me showing my weakness to the world is not just important, but it’s also one of the strongest acts of self-love I can commit. But before I go there, I need to embrace my flaws, fears, and everything I perceive as my weakness.

Purchase this book here.

4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Image: Goodreads

A treatise on living your best life as a creative person — this book is filled with theories and anecdotes that will change the way you look at your workflow.

Liz Gilbert puts forward the idea that the universe buries strange jewels deep within all the living beings and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover these jewels is what she calls Creative Living.

The biggest obstacle between where you are now, and your creative best is fear. It tries to hold you back from achieving your potential. This book teaches you to befriend that fear and uncover the jewels hidden in your soul.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.”

How this book changed my life

My biggest takeaways from the book are:

  • Every idea in the world has already been worked upon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn't create content around it. Ultimately, your authenticity matters more than your uniqueness.
  • Treat an idea with respect and start working on it the moment inspiration strikes you. But that doesn’t mean you’ll sit and wait for ideas to come. You’ve got to work on your skills.

Purchase this book here.

5. The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

Image: Goodreads

I can already hear you rolling your eyes and saying, “Please, not another self-help book,” but hear me out. The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz is not your average self-help book that’s all talk and no substance. The author offers precise, implementable steps that can actually hugely impact your life.

The agreements laid out here are so simple, you’ll often find yourself wondering how they are not common knowledge. But isn’t that how most of us live life? Knowing what’s best for us and yet, choosing to stay in denial. This book will force you to shatter that perspective and take a cold, hard look at the things that can actually help improve your life at least 10x.

“If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is.

How this book changed my life

It taught me the Four Agreements I’ve since then tried hard to incorporate into my life.

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

Purchase this book here.

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