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book review

You’ve GOT to Read This Book!
55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life

by Jack Canfield and Gay Hendricks

Reviewed by Maileen Hamto

This compilation of essays from 55 men and women – including business luminaries and best-selling authors – provides an insight into little-known struggles and triumphs, and the works and writings that served as catalysts for real and lasting change.

The essays do more than introduce fiction and nonfiction titles that adorn the bookshelves of easily recognizable icons such as Dave Barry and Stephen Covey. Essayists also write about the circumstances in their lives that led to that cathartic moment that enabled their favorite book to become a change agent. Authors write about words of wisdom from Eastern religious traditions to Robert Benchley’s brand of humor.

Change is a constant, and the best among us need to so much more than raw talent, intelligence and resourcefulness – we need to be able to recognize opportune moments to seize opportunities and become masters of change. Louise Hay, one of the founders of the self-help movement, credits Florence Scovel Shinn’s The Game of Life and How to Play It. Cambridge Investment Research Chief Marketing Officer, writes about how learning about Four Noble Truths in The Teachings of the Buddha revealed a new and refreshing way of evaluating – and continuing – on one’s life path.

Essayists reveal how they were inspired by the example of literary and historical icons that changed the status quo. Michael E. Gerber, chairman and founder of E-Myth Worldwide, relishes his experience with living creatively, without following somebody else’s path. He writes about how his unconventional career path was inspired by his fascination with E.E. Cummings’ poetry. John Gray, author of the best-selling Men are from Venus, Women are from Mars, writes about how reading the Maharishi’s The Science of Being and Art of Living underscored the importance of identifying one’s special gifts and talents in an effort to bring “peace, happiness and fulfillment” to others.

Stephen Covey shares the books that influenced best-selling titles that emphasize the power of personal choice and self-mastery. His works later influenced Maynard Webb, chief operating officer at Ebay Inc., who writes about how the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People shaped his management philosophy: “Begin with the end in mind.” Lisa Nichols, coauthor of The Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul, credits Covey’s 7 Habits as the tool that allowed her “permission to rewrite her own life.”

For busy professionals and business owners, the true beauty of this book is that knowledge and inspiration are delivered in easily digestible chunks. The essayists masterfully merge important lessons learned from professional and personal setbacks, expertly wrapping them around the wisdom gained from influential, timeless and must-read books.

Fall 2006

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