These Books Taught Me More Than My College Degree

Covering multiple aspects of life, these books are empowering reads.

These Books Taught Me More Than My College Degree
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Covering multiple aspects of life, these books are empowering reads.

After I quit my full-time job to become a full-time writer, I often get asked, “Is a college degree worth it?”

I dodge this question because I’ve got mixed feelings about it.

Colleges are a great place to network, try new things, and learn time management. But when it comes to real-life knowledge and skills that help you become successful, the only way to do it is by self-learning.

And what better way to learn than by reading? When you read a book, you learn the key lessons the author learned in their life. The more books you read, the more life experiences you absorb, and the better your mindset evolves.

There are broadly three types of books everyone should read once in their lifetime:

  • One that ignites determination to drive you forward, 
  • One that teaches you a skill that can help you make money, and 
  • One that teaches you business and sales. 

Here are my three favorite reads that taught me more than my 4-year college degree.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Image: Goodreads

What do you think is the biggest motivator for success? 

The answers might differ for everyone. Some may say luxury, others may say money, fame, respect, or comfort. All the answers boil down to one thing: pleasure. But if you read case studies of the most accomplished people in any industry, it’s the pursuit of doing something meaningful that keeps them going.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl paves the way to finding purpose in your life amidst all sufferings. As humans, we have an innate capacity to turn around difficult circumstances to work in our favor. Some people do unimaginable things when faced with adversities while others give up and accept the situation. The only difference between these two groups is how attuned they are with the purpose of their existence.

This book is part-memoir of a holocaust survivor. The author’s deep insights and powerful writing will help you understand the human psyche. It emphasizes that we can’t control a situation, but we can always choose how to cope with it. And this makes all the difference. 

The second part of the book discusses the key aspects of Logotherapy, a psychological practice that helps people with PTSD find new meaning in their lives.

The darkest times of your life teach you the biggest lessons. You have only two ways of dealing with hardships, either give up or accept your sufferings and use them as catalysts to rise higher. Man’s Search for Meaning helped me realize that I hold the power to transform my life by remaining positive and resilient in any situation.

I kept this book on the list because colleges don’t teach us how to cope with adversities, find our purpose in life, and face challenges with positivity. You can grow only if you learn human psychology to deal with difficult circumstances and the art of being positive. 

My favorite quotes from Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
“In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Image: Goodreads

Writing is a skill everyone requires in all aspects of life, whether it’s writing professional emails, sharing your story, communicating with clients, or building a personal brand. They don’t teach in colleges how to use writing as a powerful tool.

If you ask me to tell you a single resource to learn the art of clear and precise writing, The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White is the only writing guide I swear by. This book will teach you everything about writing from scratch, such as the elements of style, grammar, sentence structuring, punctuation, and composition. The book also addresses the common pitfalls that writers encounter, giving clear examples and solutions to the problems.

I loved writing since childhood, but this book taught me how to excel in my craft. It taught me simple rules to improve my writing such as 

  • avoiding complexity, 
  • being straightforward, 
  • mastering grammar and punctuation, 
  • maintaining consistency, and 
  • masterfully editing my work.

The Elements of Style is a comprehensive guide for writers and encourages them to express themselves through writing. The book teaches how to engage with readers by using active voice more, avoiding complicated words, and maintaining the logical progression of ideas.

This book will teach you the most important skill in today’s times: writing. It’s a timeless reference for all aspiring writers to master their craft and learn effective communication.

My favorite quotes from The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

“When a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus, brevity is a by-product of vigor.”
“Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.”
“A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, diminishes the whole, and a carefree superlative has the power to destroy, for the reader, the object of the writer’s enthusiasm.”
“Consciously or unconsciously, the reader is dissatisfied with being told only what is not; the reader wishes to be told what is… If your every sentence admits a doubt, your writing will lack authority.”

The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

Image: Goodreads

Once upon a time, there was a poor camel boy Hafid who wanted to become the greatest salesman in the world. His life changed when he crossed paths with a trader Pathros who became his mentor and gifted him ten ancient scrolls. Each scroll had important life lessons to succeed in business. What happens next? For that you’ll have to read Og Mandino’s timeless classic, The Greatest Salesman in the World.

I was curious why this book written in the 1960s is still relevant. After I went through each scroll, I realized this book is not only about sales but the way of life. Every scroll has principles focusing on life lessons, finding opportunities, persistence, and positivity. My key learnings from the book include:

  • Focus on what you’re doing in the present and make the most of it. The present is the only reality that exists.
  • Real wealth is the connections you have with people. If you want to be successful, the most important business value is to respect everyone. 
  • The more you have a giving mindset, the more you’ll receive.
  • Constantly learning and pursuing knowledge is the only way to thrive in this dynamic world. Keep challenging yourself and breaking free of the comfort zone.
  • Think of long-term success and be determined to work towards it. Patience and perseverance are the greatest qualities a businessman can have.
  • See challenges as opportunities to grow rather than fearing them.
  • The greatest investment you can make in yourself is building systems or habits that give you long-term rewards.

The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino is for anyone who wants to excel in life. It’s a life-changing book I keep re-reading every year. My advice would be to take your time while reading this book and implement the principles you come across in each scroll.

My favorite quotes from The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

“Wealth, my son, should never be your goal in life. Your words are eloquent but they are mere words. True wealth is of the heart, not of the purse.”
“No, my son, do not aspire for wealth and labor not only to be rich. Strive instead for happiness, to be loved and to love, and most important to acquire peace of mind and serenity.”
“Never feel shame for trying and failing for he who has never failed is he who has never tried.”

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