40 Books That Shaped My Life



I have just turned 40.  Yes, the much dreaded big 4-0. I was consumed by the blues, days leading up to my birthday. Hence, my absence on the blog.  I felt a sense of panic and a feeling of utmost emptiness for the lack of accomplishment. The life I had envisioned for myself is nowhere near what reality shows me now. 

During my birthday month, I'll be writing about personal stories and reflections.  I  thought about the questions that followed me everywhere since I gained consciousness, to better understand our existence in this world. 

In search for answers, I found solace and nuggets of wisdom in books. So I have made a list of books that shaped me throughout the years:

1.  The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

"Life is difficult. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

"Love is honesty, hard work and discipline. " 

If there was one life-changing book for me, this would be it. This extraordinary book kept me company during a really dark and painful period in my life. It allowed me to dig deep, accept and grieve for the truth that I was too blind to see and understand. It opened my eyes and inspired me to stand my ground. 

2. All of Judith McNaught's novels
While all of my classmates were busy devouring Sweet Dreams, I was already fascinated by the historical period drama of the Westmorelands and the characters that Judith McNaught created. I owe her a great deal for my vocabulary. I have read each of her written and published novels more than once. I even read Something Wonderful three times.  

3. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

"The Celestine Prophecy contains secrets that are currently changing our world. Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your own life right now...and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come!"


This book solidified my oath to self to visit Peru, explorations of energy and aura, as well as sensitivity to events and synchronicity.

4. The Tenth Insight by James Redfield
This is the sequel to The Celestine Prophecy


Photo by Caio Resende from Pexels

5. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
I read this book during my one-year sabbatical. It's an inspiring tale of Julian Mantle, a lawyer forced to examine and change his out of balance life to pursue a life of purpose, passion and peace.

6. How to Make Love All the Time by Barbara de Angelis
At a time when I was supposed to be reading romantic novels during my teenage years, I was more interested in finding out what makes a relationship fail and thrive.

7. Secrets about Men Every Women Should Know by Barbara de Angelis
I was fascinated by the psychology and the great divide between men and women. This book does not offer 'tricks'. This delves into the male psyche and a very helpful relationship guide to help us women understand how to communicate with them better.

8. Soul Mates, Karma and Reincarnation by Jaime Licauco
This was my introduction to the world of soul mates, karma and reincarnation. This book sparked questions that I once dared ask a priest and I was warned to stop, since such questions are considered blasphemous. I have nothing against any particular religion. I am merely fascinated to explore different beliefs.

My curiosity further led me to discover my past lives through regression and the desire to study and experience different religions and practices to know who God really is and find Him. 

9. Places to Know by Childcraft
You must have seen this book mentioned here many many times. Geography, history and lots of pictures. This is an encyclopedia of interesting places to see around the world that ignited my wanderlust.  I have earmarked each place I wanted to visit in this book. 
Self mastery within. This classifies as a new age book which I don't think has been published commercially. It's a book given to me while I was heavily meditating and was a student of a meditation program. This was a period when I was a strict vegetarian for 7 years.  I have experimented on some practices in this book. I still read it from time to time and I attribute successful outcomes to beliefs and knowledge I have gained from this, which I still hold on to, to this day. 

11. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill studied for twenty years the lives of the people who have amassed massive fortunes, which made him write the 13 Principles or "laws' to achieve success.  This ignited my curiosity to get acquainted with the lives of the rich, since I am required to work with them on a daily basis with my sales job in the luxury industry. 

I read this book from cover to cover during my 6-8 hour plane ride from the Philippines to Dubai when I accepted a sales job to work in the Middle East.

While I had no previous sales experience, this book felt like I earned a college degree in sales management when my flight landed.  Tried and tested, I have successfully applied the practical techniques I have gained from this book. 

13. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
A beautifully written non-fiction, it is a brilliant memoir of the author's relationship with his dying mentor and former professor. 

14. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than I.Q. by Daniel Goleman
This book illustrates the importance of emotional intelligence. It dissects how the human mind functions as a result of our evolution, our upbringing and how our diverse levels of EI impact the way we react to the world and cope with challenges. I have always been a psychology nut. 

15. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
If this book wasn't assigned to me for a book report, I never would have thought about reading this. However, the story stayed with me for reasons I couldn't explain. It examines the destructive effects of greed, materialism and envy. The story left me with tremendous sadness knowing that (spoiler alert!) he lost everything that is truly precious to him because of that stupid pearl!

16.The Kama Sutra by Anne Hooper
Yes, you read this one right. Complete with illustrations I read this book from start to finish and learned a lot about the art of sex and sensual pleasures. I can almost see you raising your eyebrows. Lol Grab a copy now! 



This book introduced me to pursue the journey towards financial freedom and ignited my love for real estate.  Growing up in a culture that considers discussing money as a taboo subject, reading this book altered my mindset towards money and wise spending.  This book definitely changed my life. 

This is a follow up to the first book discussing further in detail tips in improving cash flow and generating wealth as he discussed different approaches by dividing them into four quadrants. 

This is a controversial book but  with an open mind, this book mentions numerous points that  coincided with personal core beliefs I have gained throughout many years of exploration.  This is definitely not a book about religion but a mindset that highlights that "We are all ONE" What resonates with me the most is the passage about "Love being the opposite of Fear. "  
"Every human thought and every human action is based on either love or fear." Choices based on love will bring good things to your life and choices based on fear will do the opposite. 


The sequel to number 21.

21. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

 "When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true."

It's a story about Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who embarks on a journey in search for a worldly treasure. The premise of the story is about finding one's destiny. This book spoke to me. Its message was something I needed at a time when I was trying to fit myself in an impossibly small hole to fulfill a purpose.


22. Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho
"Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, plenty of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up."

I easily empathized with Veronika, even though our lives have no parallelism, but I do understand the void, the bottomless pit that we have to climb out of as we question our existence in this world. 

23. Demain est Un Autre Jour by Lori Nelson Spielman
The English version of this novel is The Life List.  I read the French Version and it's the first French novel I've completed.   

Brett Bohlinger, a 34 year old woman seems to have everything going for her, a handsome boyfriend, a lucrative job, and a spacious loft.  When her mother passes away, she faces a stipulation in her mother's will that in order to receive her inheritance, she must accomplish and fulfill a life list that her 14-year old self has written within a year. 

An inspiring page turner. This is one of those books that I'd like to watch on the big screen. Now, I wonder which actress would be perfect to play Brett. 

24. Anne of Green Gables
Anne Shirley, the redhead orphan in the farm of Avonlea is a refreshing character that I truly admire. Gifted with great imagination, her optimism and zest for life are infectious and a part of me yearns to inherit some of her spirit. 

25. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
We all look up to 16 year-old Katniss Everdeen of District 12, who volunteers to compete in the Hunger Games in lieu of her younger sister.  Her ISTJ personality exudes through and through from every fearless decision making, self sacrifice and logical thought process.

26. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I feel sympathy for the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby for having fallen so hard for his former flame, Daisy Buchanan, but I admire his ambitious determination to win her back. Just imagine his flamboyant and ostentatious parties in the decadent 20s.  The setting and theme of his parties were enough to keep me daydreaming. 

Photo by Thought Catalog from Pexels

27. Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Bonjour Robert Langdon! Set in Paris' Louvre Museum, this novel stirred my french wanderlust. I am grateful to have read it before visiting Paris in 2004.  Our Harvard professor and French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu solve riddles to follow a trail of clues sparked by the death of the Louvre's curator. 

The way Da Vinci Code lured me to spend a long time inside the Louvre Museum (to my husband's annoyance) was similar to the manner this book roused my desire to explore Rome and the Vatican.  Our clever hero, Robert Langdon is back and this book made me read more Dan Brown novels afterwards.

29. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
I picked this up from my husband's bedside table because their boss asked all of their staff to read it. I don't remember much except for how the characters were running through a maze to look for cheese and they set up cheese stations.  It's basically about how we individually cope and handle change especially in the corporate environment.

30. The Secrets of a Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
This is one of those books that I regret giving away because I don't mind reading it over and over as a reminder.  Each one of us has a money blueprint, how our childhood influences shaped our financial destiny. Changing the way we perceive money, thus revising our money blueprint is delved in this book. 

31. The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen
This inspirational and empowering book speaks about the power of two words - "I Am--" How our thoughts especially our words have direct impact towards our actions and external events.  Reading this brings a wave of peace and joy. It serves as a daily reminder to be extremely careful which adjectives we use to follow these two words.

32. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
This novel made me cry and laugh so hard, it left a lasting impression even after reading it. A story about letting go and learning to love again. When Holly's husband, Gerry dies from an illness, she was drowning in grief until she started receiving series of letters that her husband left her before he died. I love the book more than the film.

33. The Secret
This book holds great promise but dreaming and declaring things shouldn't stop there. In reality, many factors are at play and it's rather more complex than merely ordering a happy meal from the universe, but if everything is aligned (our thoughts, our spirit and being, the cosmos, our karmic pull and our actions) then yes, we'll get what we ask for from the universe. There are times when I felt overwhelmed by its hyper optimism. Reading through the pages feels like getting high on something but the message of this book is clear. 

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

34. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
A friend gave this to me. I skimmed through it and found helpful verses.

35. Every Day a Friday by Joel Osteen
Again, this is one of those books I wish I would have held on to.  Pastor Joel Osteen shares his positive message how we can generate joy and contentment every day of the week. True happiness is not limited to Fridays. 

36. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
In an extroverted world, my in-denial introverted self struggled with making and keeping friends. It's a book about how to get along with people and it makes it seem so easy.  I don't remember much except that tips I have picked up from here I have applied.

 37. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
This book is perfect for the worry warts.

38. Be the Miracle by Regina Brett
50 lessons for making the impossible possible.  Each chapter is a short essay of a life lesson which is a stand alone and these 50 lessons are compiled by the author based on her own life experiences as a cancer survivor as well as other people she met and interviewed during her 24 year stint as a journalist.  I still have this book to this day and I sometimes randomly pick a page to read. 

39. Le Jour Ou J'ai Appris a Vivre by Laurent Gounelle
This is translated as "The Day I Learned to Live" and can be classified as a self-help and psychology read.  The story is set on on sunny Sunday in San Francisco where Jonathan receives a random prediction from a stranger that his death is imminent.  He suddenly finds himself questioning his existence as we follow him on a journey towards transformation and finding his inner freedom and inner peace. 

40. Emmanuel's Book : A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos by Pat Rodegast
Regardless of religion, this beautifully written book offers unique insights and wisdom spoken by Emmanuel, a channeled spirit. 

That's about it for now. I am currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo and I have several books in the pipeline. 

What are the books that greatly influenced you?
Which books are currently on your nightstand?
Love & Light,
Arni

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