Chasing Dreams Life Rambles

5 Inspiring Books That Changed My Life

Books have always been a reliable companion in my life, leading me to new worlds and new knowledge. Here are 5 inspiring books that played a part in changing my life.

Being a voracious reader since I was young, I reckon I’ve read thousands of books. Amongst them, some played a part in shaping me into the person I am today. Here are the 5 inspiring books (for me) that you may like to consider reading/re-reading:

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 

‘People leap into express trains,’ said the little prince, ‘but they no longer know what they’re looking for. So they get agitated and go round in circles.’

And he added: ‘it’s not worth the trouble.’

What the book is about

I find myself struggling to put into words what The Little Prince is about, as this classic story is seemingly simple yet deeply profound. It is about exploration, friendship, love, loneliness and so much more. The story follows the journey of the little prince who left his planet to explore ‘the outside world’. During his trip, he visited various planets including Earth and met intriguing figures – like adults – who don’t always make sense.

Why I liked it

Many mistake The Little Prince as a children’s book and in a way it is; for adults used to be children too. I think Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was trying to reach out to the child that we once were.  I discovered The Little Prince when I was a teenager. Then, I often wondered about the meaning of life and the purpose of my existence. I identified with the little prince’s restless search for I-don’t-know-what, his perplexion over adults’ obsession with things (that don’t often make sense), the budding friendship with the wise fox, etc.  

What I learnt

‘It is the time you have wasted on your rose that makes your rose so important.’

‘It is the time I have wasted on my rose…’ repeated the little prince, so as to remember.

‘People have forgotten this truth,’ said the fox. ‘But you must not forget. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.’

Through the life metaphors, the book imparted several nuggets of wisdom that influenced me to keep exploring and gain different experiences in order to learn. Now you know why I love to travel. In Saint-Exupéry’s world, adults are absurd and no fun at all. I totally agree (mostly!). This may sound like an excuse but I was determined to stay true to self instead of conforming to society’s expectations. I think the Little Prince would approve. That probably explains the job-hopping phase during my 20s. 

I was probably 14 or 15 years old when I discovered The Little Prince. Friends around me were having crushes and discovering ‘love’. It all seemed frivolous to me then, as people could easily get into a relationship and break it off the next moment. In a way, The Little Prince shaped my beliefs in love and friendship, how it is worth making effort to build and maintain relationships that matter, and to be responsible for what/whom we have ‘tamed’

The Man Who Quit Money

By Mark Sundeen

“I’m employed by the universe. Since everywhere I go is the universe, I am always secure. Life has flourished for billions of years like this. I never knew such security before I gave up money. Wealth is what we are dependent upon for security. My wealth never leaves me. Do you think Bill Gates is more secure than I?”

Daniel Suelo

What the book is about

The Man Who Quit Money recounts the true story of Daniel Suelo who started living without money at the turn of the millennium, with the author providing insights on how it happened and how Suelo managed a moneyless lifestyle. In some ways, Suelo’s story reminded me of Christopher McCandless (check out Into the Wild) as both men were on a search for ‘something’, renounced all their possessions and encountered several situations during their travels that changed them. 

Why I liked it

Reading about Daniel Suelo’s life without money and his zero currency philosophies was liberating. In fact, it tops my list of inspiring books. I recalled sharing his story with mum and close friends enthusiastically; about how he stays in a cave in Utah, survives on wild vegetation, scavenges roadkill, pulls food from dumpsters, and his belief in giving freely and receiving freely. While there were those in the society who frowned upon his actions, I applauded his courage, determination and good sense. I’d rather get food from the dumpster than to be part of a throwaway society.   

What I learnt

In Singapore, we are constantly reminded to stay competitive and be relevant to the world. It is a major rat race here, and sometimes it seems like the focus is off. Why do I have to work so hard to show others I’m living ‘well’? I was never comfortable being in the middle of a rat race, and Suelo’s ideals led my mid-20 self to question the importance of money, seek simpler ways of living and be more mindful in the face of rising consumerism

Many Lives, Many Masters

By Dr. Brian Weiss

“According to most writers, groups of souls tend to reincarnate together again and again, working out their karma (debts owed to others and to the self, lessons to be learned) over the span of many lifetimes.” 

What the book is about

Dr. Brian Weiss is an American psychiatrist who followed the traditional concepts of medicine. Originally published in 1988, Many Lives, Many Masters shares the true story of Dr. Weiss’s experience with a patient who recalled her past life, his changing views on reincarnations, and how he eventually ventured into past-life therapy to help his patients. 

Why I liked it

Being a Buddhist, the concept of reincarnation is not new to me. What stood out most and appealed to me in Dr. Weiss’s account was how lives are intertwined over several lifetimes. People who are in our lives or whom we encounter are likely to be part of our lives in another lifetime, another dimension. It may sound far-fetched but this idea appeals to me, and it is very comforting to think about loved ones in this sense, especially those who are no longer in our lives.   

“There is someone special for everyone. Often there are two or three or even four. They come from different generations. They travel across oceans of time and the depths of heavenly dimensions to be with you again.”

What I learnt

I read this book when I was a photojournalist intern in Japan. Interestingly, a fellow intern whom I hit it off with was reading the same book then. Dr Weiss’s account made me question more about religions and spiritual beliefs. It cemented my belief that there’s no coincidence in this world, and all things happen for a reason – even if we may not know why. Instead of just following a faith blindly, I became interested in learning all there is to know about different religions, as well as to stay open to possibilities

The Tale of the Rose

By Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry 

“I loved him, but I also realized how calm my life was without him.” 

What the book is about

This is the love story behind The Little Prince, which was never meant to be published. A memoir by the wife and muse of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ( author of The Little Prince), The Tale of the Rose gives insights to the celebrated author and his muse, their intense marriage and an enduring love in spite of the ups and downs. 

Why I liked it

I was recommended to the book by a fellow tour guide classmate who loves The Little Prince. It was kind of mind-boggling to learn about the other side of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, for it deviates greatly from the perception that I (and most people?) share of the famous author. The memoir was raw and honest, and so skilfully written that it creates a connection between the writer and reader, compelling one to feel what she felt.

What I learnt

Reading about others’ experiences can help one to gain insights and understanding.  Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry unwittingly conveyed how imperfect or ill-suited individuals can sometimes fall in love, do stupid things to hurt one another, and be so good and bad for each other all at the same time. Such love could be intense and intoxicating, and it is ok to hang on or to let go. At the end of the day, what is essential is to be truthful to oneself and follow your heart. As Stephen Chbosky said, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” So, be bold and don’t shortchange yourself.   

The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy  

By Viktor Frankl  

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” 

What the book is about

Viktor Frankl is a holocaust survivor. In The Will to Meaning, he explains the ideas on finding meaning in life as a motivating force in a person’s life. The book elaborated on the concepts and approaches of Logotherapy – a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the future and one’s ability to endure hardship and suffering through a search for purpose. 

Why I liked it

The concept is interesting and easy to digest for a layman like myself. While there are different schools of thoughts when it comes to one’s meaning of life, the idea of Logotherapy is more convincing (to me) and Dr. Frankl’s experiences lend great credibility to his theory. In a way similar to being ‘master of our own destiny’, logotherapy presents hope and is commonly used for treating addiction, depression, grief, anxiety, etc.

What I learnt

Regardless of what happens, life always goes on and it is up to one to find meaning in life and make the most of the situation. Mindlessly pursuing something can be frustrating and demoralising. Instead of searching for a profound higher calling to one’s life, it sure makes sense to create one’s own meaning in order to live wholly. 

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” 

Books that inspire

The simplest things can give the most pleasure, and I’m most thankful to mum for helping me to cultivate a love for reading. Books have always been a reliable companion in my life, leading me to new worlds and new knowledge, providing solace whenever I feel lonely and giving advice when I’m lost.

What about you? Share in the comment box below if you have read any of the abovementioned inspiring books and your thoughts. All book recommendations are welcome. (:

The beginning is always tough, and it’s even tougher when one tries to get back into a routine that one has neglected. Of late, I am on a mission to rediscover buried passions and pursue new dreams. If you have enjoyed the above article, please leave a comment below and stay tuned for more.  

The above information is based on the author’s own experience and should only be used as a reference.  

2 comments on “5 Inspiring Books That Changed My Life

  1. 书让人变成dreamer耶,也让人知道为什么会变dreamer

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