7 books I wish I could download into my brain

7 books I wish I could download into my brain

Do you ever read a book and think, my life would be better if I could memorize every word in this thing? That’s how I felt after reading these titles.

When it comes to these 7 titles, I want every word to sink into my brain and permeate my worldview, because I think my life would be better for it.

Series: 7 books I wish I could download into my brain
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Author:
When I first brought this book home Will and I fought over who got to read it first! The author is a former hostage negotiator for the FBI. His workplace tales were fascinating, of course: he specialized in negotiating international kidnappings, and those did NOT play out like I expected. But I was also impressed at how he took those principles and applied them to everyday life—like negotiating a salary, or buying a house, or having normal, everyday conversations with your kids. This is one I want to read again, especially for the parenting bits, because I'm certain I didn't absorb everything on my first read. (I happened to read this RIGHT before we put our old house on the market, which was perfect timing!) More info →
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

The Heath brothers are whip-smart and really funny, making Decisive a million times better than your typical "business" book. I use the information I learned from this book—at least, the parts I can remember—nearly every day, and I wish I could download the rest straight into my brain. This story-driven business book teaches you how to make better decisions, drawing on diverse case studies covering all aspects of life, such as how to know it's time to fire an employee or if you should undergo a risky bone marrow transplant. Everyone will find a useful takeaway, even if they don't struggle mightily with decisions like I do! More info →
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Author:
Parker Palmer writes with warmth and wisdom about his own journey to finding his true vocation: the work he was uniquely made to do. His story is deeply personal, inspiring, and moving. Every page seems to be filled with the kind of insightful and witty comments about what it truly means to live a good life, and how we should all really be approaching our days. These are the kind of reminders that I would love to internalize—to fully incorporate into the way I see the world, because I think my life would be better for it if I could get more of this book into my brain. More info →
This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live

This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live

Author:
The premise of this great research-based and story-driven nonfiction read is that when it comes to loving the place you live, YOU have a lot more power than you probably realize. People who love their communities don't just live in great places, they're also extremely proactive about the ways they engage in their communities—and I wish I could rattle off every single one by memory! Practical, actionable, and bound to make a difference in your everyday life. More info →
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Author:
Do you ever read a book and think, my life would be better if I could memorize every word in this thing? That's how I felt after reading this. A fellow parent (who works as a psychologist at a local middle school) recommended this to me, saying it was a great roadmap for the tween and teen years. Parts of it were terrifying (because sometimes real life is like that), but I found this smart, helpful, and practical, and have been recommending it nonstop. Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code (also on this list!) said: "It’s a map, flashlight, and GPS device for navigating the landscape of adolescent girlhood." More info →
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

Author:
This book was huge in framing my expectations about relationships. Gottman's insights will heighten your self-awareness, and are applicable to other kinds of relationships. Surprising-but-true insights: most marital conflicts aren't solvable. Strong couples are good friends. Happiness is about how we respond to the little things. Successful marriages have a lot in common, and Gottman shows you how to incorporate these things into your own relationship. Investing in your marriage is easier than you might think. I like to revisit this practical, readable handbook every few years to remind me what we're doing right—and what we maybe could be doing better. And it's fascinating and fun to read. More info →
The Talent Code

The Talent Code

Author:
This book is all about how to get better at getting better—at anything, whether it's sports, music, math, or business. Coyle delves into the science of how the brain acquires skill, then shows dozens of ways top performers are putting those theories into practice every day, and how YOU can do the same. This book has changed how I work, and how I talk to my kids about their work and play, and I wish I knew more of it by heart. More info →

Have you read any terrific books you wish YOU could download into YOUR brain? Tell us what they are and why they’re important in comments!

7 books I want to download

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60 comments

  1. Ashley S says:

    I haven’t finished it yet but I’m pretty sure one of my many would be Connie Rossini’s “A Spiritual Growth Plan for your Choleric Child.” Well also “The Temperament God Gave You” by Art and Laraine Bennet. And now that I’m glancing at my bookshelf, “The Way of Trust and Love” by Fr. Jacque Philippe.

  2. Karen says:

    Regarding your email –
    I’m not sure about the movie for Hillbilly Elegy. I appreciated the book and the clearer understanding I have for the area – some of the things I didn’t understand when we lived in Illinois back in the 70’s are a lot clearer now. But it seems a stretch to make it a movie…

  3. Aimee says:

    I love this post, Anne! Thinking about what books I would want to memorize was a great mental exercise for me and reminded me of some good literary friends I need to revisit. So thank you! (My picks would be Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger by Sider, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish, Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott).

  4. Sarah says:

    Yes, Essentialism, changed the course of my life.
    And God’s Astounding Opinion of You (Harris) threw open windows (and doors), of understanding…and turned on all the lights…well, blew the walls out too. Incredible. Seeps into every pore and every relationship and every old negative thought I’m so weary of. Life changer. Recently read it again and made a 16 pg. booklet of cliff notes, kinda with the intention of memorizing it, not gonna happen, but wish

  5. Kristy says:

    Thank you for your Parker recommendation I have downloaded it now to read. “Emotional Agility” by Susan David is a must read for every adult!

  6. Elizabeth Schroer says:

    I always think this when I read Jen Hatmaker’s “7”(I reread it a couple times a year). A great thought provoking book, written in a surprisingly humorous way.

  7. Kristin says:

    I would love to be able to download the Bible into my brain! Otherwise, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, Love Does by Bob Goff, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller…I could go on and on, probably!

  8. The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work is fantastic! My husband and I read it a year or so ago and it was a great resource for us. In fact, it’s one of the marriage books I recommend most frequently on my blog. I am so glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Breanne says:

    I absolutely loved This is Where You Belong and found myself thinking and talking about it for months after. And wishing I had it in my brain so I could quote correctly all her fascinating tidbits.

  10. Because I love Jayber Crow’s theology and Wendell Berry’s gorgeous prose, I’d like to engulf that book in hope that it would somehow inhabit my own writing style and thinking about faith.
    Or . . . the complete works of Eugene Peterson?

  11. I haven’t ever read these books! I’ll need to check them out. I have a few that I wish I could remember for always and forever.

    The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer by Art Berg, Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

  12. noga says:

    a book I wanted to download into my head was Loving Was Is, by Byron Katie. It is the guide to “The Work of Byron Katie” her method for putting an end to any suffering that’s a result of stressful thoughts; how to detect those thought and then how to apply her “4 questions and turnarounds” to see whether what you’re thinking is even true. Being a mother of many, I hoped this would be a book that would help me with my struggles as a mother. I wanted to download it into my brain… so I started writing a journal in which I wrote down my thoughts and my answers to the questions. I ended up doing that on a daily basis, for 2 years straight. Eventually it’s become a part of me so much that today facilitating other mothers through The Work. Download complete.:)

  13. Erin says:

    I immediately added Never Split the Difference to my Amazon cart! My husband is a master negotiator, but I HATE any sort of conflict, even when it’s necessary and unavoidable.

    I can’t think of any titles off the top of my head, but every time we go to Europe I wish I knew more about art. It would help me appreciate all those museums and churches so much more if I had a better understanding of art history!

  14. Cori says:

    The Gottman book is one of mine, too. Also, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish and Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. I keep checking them out of the library every few years…I really should just buy them and perhaps one day I will actually have the contents memorized!

  15. Teresa Starkey says:

    Madeline L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journals (A Circle of Quiet; The Summer of the Great-Grandmother; The Irrational Season; A Two-Part Invention – The Story of a Marriage) were assigned during a summer writing course I took over 30 years ago. Even as a young 20-something those stories instantly resonated with me. I still feel their presence. I have reread a few of them, but A Two-Part Invention is a book I’ve given as a gift to many (some as a wedding present and others at the loss of a spouse or partner), as well as a book I’ve read multiple times, when my dad died and when my own husband died 5 years after. I was so surprised to learn of the numerous books L’Engle wrote for adults. It was so easy to be guided not only by her writing style, but by her spirituality.
    Another favorite author is Marianne Williamson, and as others have mentioned, Parker Palmer. As an educator myself, his work has had a significant impact both personally and professionally.

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