28 Life-Changing Books + Free Printable List

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Do you believe books can change your life? I surely do! Books are bae! 

My fondness for a good page-turner came after leaving college. That’s when I realized no one was gonna save me from my debt or give me the life that I wanted BUT ME!

The local library became my pusha and books, my drug of choice. Books taught me how to dream bigger and manage money better.

This year, I decided to read all of the 28 life-changing books curated by @FutureNow, formerly @FutureSuccessors, of Instagram. I had already read 8 by coincidence. So 2019 is marked for reading the remaining 20 books on the list. 

I’ll also apply, at least, one thing that I learned from each book. Knowledge alone isn’t power. Applied knowledge is power.

Do you want to join me? You don’t have to read all 28 books this year, but start by reading 12 (an average of 1 per month). 

SIDE NOTE: How cool would it be if my debt freedom book, The G.O.O.D. Life Start Set, made a list like this one day?!

The Life-Changing Books List

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
  2. The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing by Benjamin Graham
  3. The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime by MJ DeMarco
  4. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy
  5. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  6. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
  7. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  8. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
  9. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and Word-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss
  10. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
  11. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod
  12. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
  13. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  14. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John
  15. Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2013 by Carol J. Loomis
  16. The Magic of Thinking Big: Acquire the Secrets to Success…And Everything You’ve Always Wanted by David J. Schwartz
  17. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  18. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
  19. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
  20. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
  21. Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life by Grant Cardone
  22. How to Win Friends & Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success by Dale Carnegie
  23. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  24. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
  25. Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
  26. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
  27. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! by Tony Robbins
  28. The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy

I’ve created a handy-dandy book list and reading log to track my progress and jot down notes, especially about what action steps I’ll take. I’ve given you, newsletter subscribers, a free copy of one book in the Freebies section, too. Shhhh…don’t tell anybody. Don’t say I never gave you anything, OK? 😉

Wise Woman Wallet Book List and Reading Log Blog Graphic

Which book should I read first? What are Wise Woman Wallet’s favorite books?

Those are tough questions. As of October 1, 2019, I’ve read 22 out of 28 books (8 of them before I discovered this curated list). 

Two books I didn’t know I needed are The Millionaire Fastlane and CRUSHING IT! I didn’t pay any attention to them until I saw the list in late 2018, but they have motivated me BIG TIME!

As of October 1, 2019, I have read 22 of the 28 life-changing books. They’re marked checks—green marks were read before 2019 and yellow marks were red in 2019. Books I’m currently reading are marked by the purple and white star).

WARNING: Don’t read The Millionaire Fastlane if Dave Ramsey is third only to your god and your mama. LOL!

The Millionaire Fastlane blew my mind by explaining how the people, like Ramsey, who usually encourage us to budget, work hard and invest in your employer plan for decades DID NOT GET RICH doing that. They got rich by starting successful businesses and giving the people what they want. They are in “The Fastlane” getting rich off people in “The Slowlane” or “The Sidewalk.”

Author MJ DeMarco keeps it all the way real in this book by describing how we’re either on three financial roadmaps to wealth and their wealth equations:

  1. The Sidewalk a.k.a. Poverty (no financial plan, Wealth = Income + Debt, consumers who buy and sell depreciating assets)
  2. The Slowlane a.k.a. Mediocrity (work and invest for decades, Wealth = (Primary Income Source: Job) + (Wealth Accelerator: Market Investments), consumers who buy and sell depreciating assets)
  3. The Fastlane a.k.a. Wealth (rapid wealth accumulation, Wealth = Net Value + Asset Value, producers who buy and sell appreciating assets)

Each roadmap contains key mindsets acting as signposts or “mindposts”: debt perception, time perception, education perception, money perception, primary income source, primary wealth accelerator, wealth perception, wealth equation, destination, responsibility and control and life perception. MJ DeMarco goes through each mindpost for each of the three roadmaps.

In The Millionaire Fastlane, MJ DeMarco compares the chances of people becoming wealthy based on three, proverbial roadmaps: The Sidewalk, The Slowlane and The Fastlane.

Through MJ’s descriptions, I self-diagnosed as a person in The Slowlane. A proven wealth-building strategy, but not the fastest route. 

He says getting rich slow is getting rich old (The Slowlane). This lane— the natural course correction from The Sidewalk—is “a plan that takes decades to succeed, requiring masterful political prowess in a corporate environment, frugality, and Wall-Street wizardry. … For the Slowlaner, Saturday and Sunday is the paycheck for Monday through Friday.” 

MJ adds: “To attract large sums of money, two things are absolutely required: control and leverage. The Slowlane has NEITHER.”

The Fastlane is about building a better system, a better contraption, a better product, or a better “something” that will leverage your work. In the Slowlane, you are the source of heavy lifting, while in the Fastlane, you construct a system that does it for you. On your wealth road trip, the Slowlane roadmap asks that you endure a long, tiresome walk to wealth. The toil of wealth is the process itself. In the Fastlane, wealth is driven in a business system you create—the toil is the creation and management of the system itself.

MJ’s life is centered on two things: wealth + youth. That means I gotta hop in The Fastlane, too.  The book explains in layman’s terms how to accumulate wealth quickly. It described how I can push Wise Woman Wallet in a direction that helps me get into The Fastlane, like these folks below.

Examples of Fastlaners.

DANG! I’ve gotten excited just by describing the book. I’m gonna read the book again so I can start executing better.

CRUSHING IT! came into my life when I was struggling to believe in myself as an entrepreneur and was too scared to turn Wise Woman Wallet into more than an inspirational blog and Instagram feed.

When I went back to North Carolina in July for a brief visit, I borrowed my mom’s library card. A neon yellow, plastic cover jumped out at me in the personal finance section. It was CRUSHING IT!

I’d seen Gary Vee everywhere on social media, but his book wasn’t on my radar. When I cracked open the book, the encouragement to JUST DO IT! leapt from the pages. I devoured that book over 3 or 4 days during my 10-day stint. 

Gary gives tips for how to leverage yourself as your brand and provides examples of small-and large-scale entrepreneurs who are crushing it in their own way. (Basically, the folks that DJ DeMarco described as being Fastlaners.) Gary also goes into detail about how to leverage every single, popular social media platform and ones I’d never heard of. 

CRUSHING IT! is both a kick in the butt and a hug in the form of a social media manual. Check it out.

The first two books that actually changed my life, though, were The Millionaire Next Door and Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I read these popular gems before I even saw this list of life-changing books.

The Millionaire Next Door showed me that it was possible for little, ol’ me—a black woman from rural North Carolina—to become wealthy through a solid strategy, consistency and perseverance. Roughly 80% of millionaires in the U.S. were first-generation millionaires, the authors said.

This book was one of the first to study the habits of millionaires—what cars did they drive, how much did they pay for their homes. Peeling back those layers helped me get into the millionaire mindset and inspire me to think I could change my family tree in one generation, too.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad really rocked my world. Robert T. Kiyosaki grew up in Hawaii. His biological dad was a higher-up in the state’s education department. He thought getting a well-paid job with benefits and more degrees and certificates would increase his income and produce wealth. He’s Poor Dad. Kiyosaki considered his childhood friend’s father his other dad, in a sense. Rich Dad was not formally educated, but he became one of Hawaii’s most successful businessman. Rich Dad taught Kiyosaki everything about creating wealth.

The book made me realize how I had been living by so many money myths, how mindset plays such a significant role in whether you’ll build wealth, and how the U.S. education system has been producing sheep-like employees who toil 9-to-5 for decades at a job.

And then he showed this chart about how rich- and poor-minded folks think about money, assets and liabilities. MIND=BLOWN! I immediately saw I had been screwing up with money. If you want the full context this chart, then read the book now.

Rich Dad Poor Dad's cash patterns of the rich versus the middle class.

If you like to get swept away in good storytelling and eat medicine in your candy, The Alchemist and The Richest Man in Babylon are awesome choices.

In The Alchemist, a shepherd named Santiago travels from his home in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure. As you can imagine, he meets quite a few characters and several roadblocks. I don’t want to give away all of the lessons, but the book reiterated that failure is part of success. Failure is feedback. Learn the lessons and move on with a different strategy, but don’t give up on the goal.

The Richest Man in Babylon gives you direct instructions on how to do well with money through engaging parables set centuries ago. At first, you’re like “What in the world could I learn from camel trader and chariot builder stories?” But then you get sucked into the vivid descriptions and lively dialogue.

The book starts off with Arkad, the Richest Man in Babylon. His friends from back in the day complain to him about how he dons the finest clothes and eats the rarest foods while they still struggle. They wonder how they started out at the same level and in the same field of clay tablet scribing, but he’s the only one who achieved major success. Arkad reveals how he learned from an old, rich man, and then teaches others at the Temple of Learning the Seven Cures for a Lean Purse.


The Richest Man in Babylon was first published in 1926. I read it over 2-3 days on my phone while I was traveling in 2018 and found that everything—and I mean EVERYTHING— in the book about budgeting, saving, and investing still applies today. If you only read the Seven Cures for a Lean Purse, you’ll have a blueprint for financial success.

How can I read these books on the cheap?

  • Get a library card and check out all of the books you can carry to your car.
  • If you have a valid library card or school ID, perhaps you can borrow ebooks from your library or school’s digital collection using the OverDrive app.
  • Get free 30-day trials through Audible.com, Audiobooks.com or Scribd.com and listen to the audiobooks while you’re taking a stroll, commuting or cleaning. (Set an alarm on your phone a few days before the trial ends to cancel your subscription if you don’t want to start getting charged. Spread out your free trials i.e. get 1 per month consecutively.)
  • Borrow books from your friends. If you start a book club, perhaps you could trade books at the end of each month.
  • Buy used books from a store like McKay’s, which caters to North Carolina and Tennessee residents. Perhaps your city might have a used bookstore, too. Here’s the cool thing about McKay’s: You can trade in toys, games, books and DVDs for other items in the store. Declutter and save!
  • Buy used books at a local thrift store or library sales.

Will you join the reading challenge? Have you read any of these books? Please tell me about what you learned from the books in the comments below.

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