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Life Altering Books

Apr 2, 2023 8:17:43 PM / by Tim McCarthy

What books changed how you think?  The list below is a small but significant sample of the ones that have changed mine.

The Bible, Old Testament; New Testament

When my mom told me to not ask Alice to convert to Catholicism, I asked why?  She said, “because she and her mom read and follow the Bible, we can learn from them”.  For all its misinterpretations and factual uncertainty, the Bible makes the same point as the Ten Commandments: “Read and remember these tips on how to lead a great life.”

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

For my money, this is the secular version of the bible.  I try to follow these habits as closely as I try to follow the commandments.


Man’s Search for Meaning and Night  

Two extremely hard to read books that should be required for conscience formation.  May we never forget the human cost of hatred and exclusion.

Warmth of Other Suns and Caste

These two Isabel Wilkerson books, the former fascinating, the latter soul crushing, serve the same purpose of reminding us of the human cost of exclusion.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The one book historical fiction lovers (like me) can’t miss.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The greatest spy novel by the all-time spy novel writer.

Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” and anything written by Carl Hiaasen

When you just need a good laugh.

“When Everything You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough”

Rabbi Howard Kushner does his version of “getting off the hedonic treadmill”.  I read this during a weekend away in 1989 and the simple, actionable thoughts are still with me.


Facts still exist.  This nicely researched book by the Rosling family compares some historical facts with what our media drenched brains think of as facts.  Science and history need not be altered to match one’s political beliefs. 



Tim McCarthy

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Tim McCarthy

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