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10 Books That Inspired Me

Did you ever as a child disobey your parents? Did you love something so much that despite threats and discipline you still went ahead.10 Books That Inspired Me

Was the passion for something so strong that you just did it?

Don’t ignore that signal.

If you have, you are maybe doing something everyday that you hate.

It is called a job.

It is your soul talking. A hint and an inkling of your possible destiny and life work if you listen to that still small voice.

When I discovered reading and the journeys it took me on, I consumed books day and night. Despite the lights out rule that applied at 8.30 every night and the threat of parental disapproval, I continued to read under the covers with my bedside lamp at my elbow.

I travelled the world enjoying tropical beaches, jungles and daring adventures while wearing pyjamas.My imagination was my free pass to the world without ever leaving the house.

Reading, learning and consuming information and ideas is now a big part of my destiny and purpose. Some books change you more than others. My rule of thumb is that if I get one good idea, it is one book worth reading.

Here are 10 books that have inspired, educated and entertained me. They are woven into my imagination muscles.

#1. The 4 Hour Work Week

I read this book by Tim Ferriss about 5 years ago when the future promise of the web was starting to become very real as social media took hold. Twitter was just starting and Facebook was getting traction. The book promises to take you from the drudgery of the day job to the dream of doing what you love doing and monetize it on the web.

This book inspired me to start my blog.


Find out more: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

#2. The Element

This book by Ken Robinson I have read more than once. As I have been a teacher in a previous life, it resonated with me. It provides an inspiring insight into how when finding your passion and combining it with your innate abilities and talents can take a life from drudgery to a masterpiece. He calls this intersection “The Element”. Included are examples from famous people that have have found the element such as Paul McCartney, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington.

Want to learn some of the secrets to take your life to another level? Then read it.

The Element

Find out more: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

#3. Made to Stick

This book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is about ideas. If a book inspires you  to write a blog post about it, then you know it has touched you. They outline the  6 principles of “Sticky Ideas” that I now consider when writing or communicating. What are those six principles?

Simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness,credibility, emotions and stories.

If you want to improve your communication skills and make your ideas memorable, then this book should not be ignored.

Made to stick

Find out more: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

#4. On Writing

Stephen King is known more for fiction books than non-fiction. This book is part memoir (for the first 100 pages) and then he reveals in the last 200 pages the basic toolkit for becoming a good or even a great writer.

His passion for writing is obvious and compelling. His life journey is revealing. Three key messages impressed me…the importance of simplicity, starting and persistence. That is just the start of what you will find between its covers.

This book is not just about writing, it is about life. 

On Writing

Find out more: On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

#5. ReWork

This book is written by Jason Fried and David Hansson who are the founders of 37 Signals which is a very successful software development company (ever heard of the software “Basecamp”). What you find is a lot of ideas to rework your business that they have discovered from personal experience. If you are living in the 21st century and want to know how business is being reinvented that works in a knowledge economy then it is worth reading.

Short punchy chapters packed full of cool ideas and inspiration.

Find out more: Rework

#6. Start with Why

Simon Sinek impressed me when I heard him speak. His core message is what makes leaders great and how that leads to companies that succeed and excel. He uses examples (stories) starting with the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs.

Get the “Why” right and then the fun starts. It is also about the art of influence.

start with why

Find out more: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

#7. The New Rules of Marketing and PR

I must confess I read it more than twice and hence it has a lot of coffee stains. What I loved about this book was its revelations on how to communicate and market in a digital world. I was tired of the old ways of marketing and selling and David Meerman Scott opened up my eyes to a new paradigm. It is about being authentic and  talking plainly. It is also social media 101.

This book preceded the launching of my blog but it is woven into its tapestry.

It should be sitting in your Kindle book list or parked on your shelf after it has been consumed and underlined.

 The new rules of marketing and PR

Find out more: The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly

#8. The Millionaire Messenger

Brendon Burchard is like a “mini me” Tony Robbins. Don’t let that fool you. In this book he reveals how to monetise your knowledge ten different ways and have fun while doing so while adding value to people’s lives.

He provides a glimpse into what he has learned about presenting, writing a book, creating promotional partners (affiliates), promoting seminars, educating online and much more.

If you are a expert or thought leader and you don’t know how to package your ideas and knowledge and sell it, then read this book.

Find out more: The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice

#9. The War of Art

If you want to learn more about the art, the challenges and the processes of the creative sphere then this book is packed full of insights. If you are an artist writer, musician, business person or you are breathing and have a pulse….doesn’t everything involve being creative?…then read this book.

It is about overcoming roadblocks and resistance in life. It is about “doing the work” that is congruent with your purpose and destiny.

The war of art

Find out more: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

#10.  Permission Marketing

Seth Godin is so visible in the marketing world that he is like a global beacon. I read this book while also reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR. This book flips the model of push marketing to attraction marketing. This book was also instrumental in starting my blogging journey. It is about people giving permission for you to sell to them. I thought that was a cool concept.

Want to see what is important about marketing in a web centric world. Then read this book.

permission marketing
Find out more: Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers

 So What About You?

What books have inspired you. What books have made a difference to your life. Have they helped you launch a business, blog or even write a book?

Look forward to hearing about those books that made a difference in your life.

Want to learn more about how to create compelling content?

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 130,000.

Download and read it now.

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Karey

    Thank you very much for this post — there are so many books out there it’s hard to know which would be helpful. I am definitely putting these on my “to read” list.

  • Jeff,

    There are a few I’ve read recently, and a few I read eons ago.

    1) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, was a life changer for me.
    2) Fascinate by Sally Hogshead, helped me understand myself and those around me. What makes us tick?
    3) The Challenger Sale, has provide lots of wise ideas based on studies in human behavior.

    These were all recent reads.

    Some old favorites:

    1) The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Aurthur Conan Doyle. Fictional character thinks and teaches us to think logically and deductively.
    2) Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, the ultimate in courage, teamwork, loyalty, and companionship.
    3) On The Road, by Jack Kerouac, is my favorite adventure. I spent many an hour fantasizing about the life on the road and the freewheeling romantic way I would have liked to live.

    Some of my random ramblings.


  • I’ve read about half of these, and The Element is definitely one of my favorites. GREAT book! Thanks for pointing out more that will now be on my list.

  • Thank You Jeff for sharing your book collection. I already read four of them #1,3,7,10, and will plan to read your #2,5,6,8..and below is my collection..

  • Thank you for a very inspiring and well-curated list Jeff…I found #4 by Stephen King a particularly intriguing addition and will be checking that out.

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful book collection here. I haven’t run any of them so far. But surely will order all these during this weekend.

  • Nothing makes me happier than a good book list. thanks for all the new ideas for my To Read list.

  • All good ones! Loved good to great by Jim Collins. Little Red book of selling, gitomer.

  • Thank you very much for this selection Jeff. Greetings from Barcelona

  • I read half of the books that you mentioned in the article. They are really great books. I’ve been following your articles for a while and appreciate the information you share.

  • Thanks for those book tips. I will have to check them out.

    • DS

      I love reading and learning – it’s always great to hear from others who value the same.

  • sarah

    The War of Art is amazing. I wish I’d read it 20 years ago!

  • I actually have read that one and is worth a read. Thanks for the tip Ed. 🙂

  • the best part about this post is that I got to listen to that story in real life 🙂 i’m going to read all of them – starting by the Stephen King one. Thanks a lot for the recommendations! Loved to meet you at SMMW!

    • Hi Paola It was great to meet you at SMMW. I look forward to sharing your story about empowerment using social media from South America 🙂

  • These are really good books which could help us a lot. There is one famous saying from Harvard that the difference between people could come from how you utilize the daily time from 8:00PM to 10:00PM. If you insist on using this time to reading for several years. Then you can feel the difference one day.

  • Some great books on this list! Several have been on my “to read” list while others are already in my collection. Thanks for pointing out a few new ones to take a look at as well Jeff! A few I’ve enjoyed either recently or over the years you might want to take a look at include ‘Nice Companies Finish First’ by Peter Shankman, ‘Relationship Selling’ by Jim Cathcart, ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell, and ‘The Evolution of an Entrepreneur’ by Jack Nadel.

  • Ronald Dorhout Mees

    Thanks for the reminder. I put ReWork on my ‘bucket-list’. Holiday season is coming..

  • Stephen Introcaso

    Will check these out – looks good! I’ve really enjoyed Ken Blanchard, esp. the trio with Sheldon Bowles. I’m now reading my 2nd Daniel Pink book, too, “To Sell is Human.” A very inspirational, factual story is “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea.” Great story of how a very brilliant and determined mind overcame countless hurdles.

  • Rowena Piek

    I love this inspirational list – Could really do with a speed-reading course now! Thank you very much for sharing!

  • Trust Agents

  • David Meerman Scott

    Jeff, I’ve read half the books on your list and all of them inspired me. I’m stunned that you included my “New Rules” among such greats. Thank you!

    • David, your book was one of the inspirations to start my blog. 5 Years later and 4 million visitors a year. I think you have made a difference!!! 🙂

  • Jeff, I didn’t expect one book from Stephen King, I’m curious to read it now. 😉

    BTW I recently read a very inspiring and helpful (I’m an entrepreneur) book, it’s called The Fortune Cookie Principle by Bernardette Jiwa. It’s a book perfect for any kind of company, from micro to big one and it helps understand why branding is about and how to create one.

    Have a nice day!

  • Thanks for sharing! Always love to learn what others found valuable! Here is my list 🙂 Of course it’s hard to limit to just a few. http://dreamboxcreative.com/learn/books/

  • This is a great list! I just finished reading ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, which I found really inspiring – from a strictly business perspective its a really great and interesting read. My thoughts on it are here if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/1D3CIfv

  • My top choice is “On Writing” by Stephen King… definitely going to grab the book and start reading..
    Thanks for reminding me ..