I’ve never been much of a reader. Having learned English via ESL classes at the age of 11, my drive to read was as good as eating broccoli at that age–non-existent.

In fact, my biggest motivation in reading was when I was in middle school during the summer months when the school would entice students to read a certain amount of books in exchange for a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. I was all over that. Much like a dog, food was a fantastic motivator for me.

Fast forward to my thirties and I slowly realized that I needed a challenge. Since most of my life was surrounded by physical challenges, I wanted this challenge to take on my cognitive ability.

Trust me, that is a challenge for me.

I set out to read 50 books in one year. That’s about four books per month. At the time, four books was about the lifetime total number of books I had read cover to cover.

So it was a challenge first, but soon became a healthy addiction. Self-help and psychology books were my go to and I felt this immense thirst to learn and share unlike ever before.

My life has truly changed since beginning this challenge and I thought I’d share the positive effects that took place for me. By no means am I writing this blog to boast about my achievement of reading books. Instead, I’m writing in order to share the after effect of this experience and hopefully inspire some of you to take on a similar challenge in order to create a positive shift in your life as well.


Here are some of the transformations I experienced after reading 60 books (including in audiobook format) in one year (yes, it was that addicting that I went over by 10).

I’ve adapted a state of gratitude on a daily basis. As cheesy as that sounds, gratitude is one of the most studied positive emotions out there and it can lead to some profound changes in your life.

I’ve learned to be more disciplined with my time.

Better understanding of my purpose in life.

Less anxiety & fear. Practicing non attachment to things and situations has been very helpful in decreasing anxiety and fear.

Improvement in my communication skills. I’ve been able to impact more people by facing my fear of public speaking via attending Toastmasters club meetings and landing a one year contract to speak monthly as a wellness consultant to a local company.

Gained better control of my emotions. I’ve been able to develop the “brake system” to my thoughts. Instead of reacting to every thought, I’ve learned to carefully rationalize automatic behavior. Books such as “Feeling Good” and “Learned Optimism” highlight the concept of cognitive therapy which teaches some very useful methods to gain control of your mindset.

I’ve been able to develop healthier habits; from drinking water to eating a hearty breakfast to biking to work.

Understanding the law of reciprocity. What you put out in the world comes back to you, not necessarily in the same form or right away, but in other ways you may not expect.

Gave up watching news and TV besides a few sports game. At first it was because I needed to carve out more time to read (I’m a very slow reader), then I realized how useless TV really was. I didn’t get much from it and found more peace without it.

Completed a Positive Psychology course from UNC.

Completed Master’s program after procrastinating for 5 years.

Implemented a morning power hour which includes a few minutes of meditation, gratitude, reading and (sometimes) writing. All this is done before grabbing the cell phone or checking email and social media. This has taught me to be less reactive to the world and more proactive in molding the kind of start to the day that I want. This makes for a much better day, no matter the stress that comes your way.

Better sleep (which may change once the little one arrives in a few weeks) =)

I learned that emotions are not facts. You don’t need to listen to the chatter that goes on in your head.

I learned to love deeper and give more.

Now, many of the items above are still a work in progress and I think that’s what the reading challenge ultimately provided for me—an opportunity for continuous growth. I’ve been able to add the emotional and psychological component to my work as a personal trainer.

Lunges and pushups can only take you so far, but the real magic happens in the emotional and psychological re-conditioning of the mind. The emotional re-conditioning of the mind is key if you want to take control of your emotions and your life and I see it first hand with the clients that succeed versus those that are inconsistent and always “busy” for their health.

This all starts with educating yourself.

The list that follows are books done by experts in their field. Many of them are best sellers.

One of the best ways to be successful in anything is to model success. Take the golden nuggets and run with it. Don’t linger and obsess on the topic that doesn’t resonate with you. Not everything has to be perfect and not all lessons will apply to you.

Reading these books have transformed my life dramatically, but this doesn’t mean that I’ve become this zen like creature that’s always happy and positive. That’s simply not realistic, nor healthy as you’ll find out by some of the readings. Instead, I’ve been able to apply a sort of emotional break system in order to catch myself when I’m in a state of anger, fear, judgement, or attachment.

Book list:
1.) Secrets of the millionaire mind – Harv Eker
2.) E-Myth: Why small businesses fail and what to do about it- Michael Gerber
3.) The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho
4.) Eat That Frog! -Brian Tracy
5.) As a Man Thinketh -James Allen
6.) Man’s Search for Meaning-Viktor Frankl
7.) The Last Lecture -Randy Pausch
8.) Mindset. The new psychology of success. -Carol Dweck, PhD
9.) Unlimited Power. -Tony Robbins
10.) Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. -Dr F. Batmanghelidj MD
11.) The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. -John Maxwell
12.) Aspire. Discovering your purpose through the power of words. -Kevin Hall
13.) Talk Like Ted. -Carmine Gallo
14.) Outwitting the Devil. -Napoleon Hill
15.) Three Feet from Gold -Sharon Lechter and Greg Reid
16.) The Perfect Day Formula -Craig Ballantyne
17.) The Go Giver – Bob Burg and John David Mann
18.) The ABC’s of Success – Bob Proctor
19.) Spark – John Ratey, MD
20.) 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership -John Maxwell
21.) The School of Greatness -Lewis Howes
22.) The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking -Oliver Burkeman
23.) The Practicing Mind- Thomas Sterner
24.) The Art of Mental Training – DC Gonzalez
25.) The Power of Purpose- Les Brown
26.) The Greatest Salesman in the World -OG Mandino
27.) The Seasons of Life – Jim Rohn
28.) The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod
29.) 7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness -Jim Rohn
30.) How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age -Dale Carnegie
31.) Your Erroneous Zones -Dr Wayne Dyer
32.) Be a Leader, Become a Success- Zig Ziglar
33.) The User’s Guide to the Human Mind – Dr Shawn Smith
34.) Positivity – Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.
35.) The Greatest Miracle in the World – OG Mandino
36.) Feeling Good – Dr David Burns, MD
37.) The Philosophy for Successful Living – Jim Rohn
38.) Acres of Diamonds -Russell Conwell
39.) Piranha Marketing -Joe Polish
40.) The Power of Ambition- Jim Rohn
41.) Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman, PhD
42.) Simplify – Joshua Becker
43.) Essentialism -Greg McKeown
44.) The 6-Figure Speaker -Brian Tracy
45.) Awaken the Giant Within -Tony Robbins
46.) Think and Grow Rich -Napoleon Hill
47.) Your Greatest Power – Martin Kohe
48.) The Richest Man in Babylon – George Clason
49.) Power Habits -Chris Luke
50.) 5 minute Morning Boosters -Rachel Rofe
51.) Managing Oneself -Peter Drucker
52.) The Healthy Habit Revolution -Derek Doepker
53.) The Productive Person – Chandler Bolt and James Roper
54.) The Power of the Other -Henry Cloud
55.) Book Launch -Chandler Bolt
56.) Zen- Chris Prentiss
57.) The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown
58.) The Compound Effect -Darren Hardy
59.) The Rhythm of Life -Matthew Kelly
60.) The Miracle Morning for Writers -Hal Elrod and Steve Scott

If you feel anxiety, depression, a sense of not belonging or you’re simply stuck in trying to find motivation in the current chapter of your life, I highly recommend you setting aside a few minutes per day to do a little reading and self developing. The results will vary and you may come out with much different outcomes than I did, yet no matter what I think you’ll be amazed at how much clarity you’ll get and how impactful your life may become.

Thanks for reading! If you have any title suggestions not listed above, please mention below…I’m always looking for other great books =)