I Read Non-Fiction for a Year – 3 Books Changed My Life

A year ago, I committed to reading non-fiction — for the entire year.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I primarily read fiction because it provided a great escape from work or any source of stress in my life.

But, last year my husband and I decided to quit our jobs to explore the world (more about that here), and I decided that it was critical that I find a way to keep learning. So, I read non-fiction for the year.

The three non-fiction books below were life-changing. Specifically, they taught me how to:

  • Be more self-compassionate
  • Simplify my life
  • Have a better relationship with money

(And I added another book to the bottom of the list—a favorite of all time. It’s a page-turning true story that’s so entertaining that it seems like fiction.)


Top 3 Life Changing Books 

1) How I Learned to Be More Self-Compassionate

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

This book was so powerful that I plan to read it once a year. It gave me the courage to write a book, one of the hardest things I have ever done, and the strength to be more compassionate towards myself when I feel like I’ve failed. 

Dweck’s life-changing concept is the growth mindset, which involves adopting the perspective that you are always developing; your abilities are not fixed. 

With a growth mindset, no setback is a failure — you’re just learning and developing your skills. And, you can learn your way to personal success and fulfillment, in all areas of your life.

2) How I Learned to Simplify – and Organize – my Life

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

As someone with mild hoarding tendencies, this book was life-changing. I always wanted to live a more simplistic life — to be less encumbered by “stuff,” but I had a really hard time giving things away. (Like the dress I wore on a date with my husband ten years ago or the coffee mug a friend gave me that I’ve never used, but it looks really cool.) 

Kondo provides solid advice on how to clean out your home — and how to simplify your life. The basic principle is simple: only keep things that “spark joy.” 

After applying her methods, I successfully gave away fifteen large garbage bags full of “joyless stuff” to Goodwill. And we are living happier, less-crowded, more simple lives as a result.

3) How I Cultivated a Better Relationship with Money

The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources by Lynne Twist

If you asked me about my relationship with money, the answer would be: “It’s complicated.” But it’s less complicated after reading this book. 

Before reading this book, I saw money as a source of stress, guilt and scarcity (i.e. never enough!). But, this book enabled me to see money as a source of good in my life. 

I realized that money can be a powerful way to express my values — and to do good in the world. For example, I now make a conscious effort to buy more sustainably produced goods. And, I recommitted to giving 10% of my entire savings each year to non-profits whose missions I support.


A Fascinating True Story

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

Okay, my reading wasn’t all serious. This was just a really entertaining true story — a non-fiction book that reads so much like fiction that I stayed up until 4am two nights in a row to finish it. It’s one of those rare books where I felt sad to finish because I knew that it would be a long time before I found another true story that was this good.

What non-fiction books have you read that have changed your life?  Share in the comments.

For more non-fiction book recommendations, check out my reading list: http://heatherhund.com/reading-list/

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