Books that changed your mind

Your favorite books and links
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Books that changed your mind

Post by Frosti85 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:43 am

Most of the books I read just seem to reinforce / confirm what I already think.
Confirmation bias is a bitch, I really need to focus on reading more books that might change my opinion... constantly challenging the mind
So I would be interested, what books did you read that really changed your mind on some topic?

For me:

Sam Harris - The Moral Landscape.
I was a moral relativist before reading it, and now I think this is a very stupid position and also very dangerous because you can justify every possible evil with it.

Jacob Lund Fisker - Early Retirement Extreme.
No explanation required

Milton Friedman - Capitalism and Freedom.
I was very pro government before reading it, now I'm more balanced, seeing the dangers for freedom with big government more clearly.

Andreas Marquart (and others) - Wir schaffen das - alleine!
(it's a german book about the dangers of the european union / big nation states, and argues that smaller states are better)

I was very pro european union before reading it, now I'm very sceptical and see the dangers with big super states

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by FBeyer » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:57 am

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Learning how much we are all controlled by psychological biases. I am not as rational as I thought I was.

Move Your DNA - How system's thinking can give us a much healthier life. How crooked our need for constant comfort has made us. I no longer crave my formerly-beloved recliner, nor do I long for sleeping in a bed. Furniture free living is not only a matter of robustness but also our general health.

ERE - How system's thinking can be applied as a life philosophy enabling, among other things, financial independence as a side-effect. I don't know jack motherf**** shit about how to save money... THIS guy does!

A Guide to the Good Life - Stoicism. I was not as calm as I used to think I was.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying - Why we're really just trying to be happy, and how possessions are not going to solve that in and of themselves (even though that might not have been the main point of the book). I don't need books, nor instruments to be well-educated nor culturally adept.

Linear Algebra - God F**** Damnit Math is awesome! I wish I had the intellectual chops to do math for a living. My view an almost everything in day to day life has changed dramatically after coming across linear algebra and the world that lies beyond it. Math is not just a necessity, it is a philosophy and artform that can stand on its own.

A Mind For Numbers. How to learn. Pro tip: Not the way I went about for the first 8 years in academia... :( I has brain made of of t3h dumb and habits made of good intentions and soggy noodles.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:34 pm

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Martha Stewart Cookbook

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Fish » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:21 pm

Not a book, but I changed my mind on getting a PhD after reading And for better or worse, I was already one week into grad school when I discovered it. Still traded a year of my life for a MS, but achieved that result with much less effort while avoiding burnout. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proud of dropping out, but not having to learn by experience/failure was immensely valuable in this case.)

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by rref » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:40 pm

Last edited by rref on Sat Nov 11, 2017 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by jacob » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:43 pm

I'm tempted to change the title to "books change your mind". There's a common saying that you're the average of the five people you surround yourself with. In my case, since age 12 or so, that's mostly been authors, live, dead, or otherwise.

For convenience, I'd divide books into 3-sigma events (odds 1:600), which are books that blow your mind/change your way of thinking; 2-sigma events (odds 1:40), which are books that add new mental tool or two; 1-sigma events (odds 1:6), which are books that add one new concept or one new particular perspective on [an already familiar to me] "tool"; <1-sigma events (5:6), which are books that may or may not have one or two clever phrasings buried in 300+ pages of bubble-gum edited blahh.

I dunno if lists are super useful because what may be mindblowing for one person might not work on another; and it even might not work at different stages of life. For example, I've heard of Sun Tzu's Art of War since I was 15 or so and I've read and owned several different editions, because everybody was praising it, but it wasn't until I was 35 or so that it 'clicked' for me and turned my experience from "meh" into "pure genius".

Adding my personal and very incomplete list(*) contributions to the 3-sigma level list: ... 960695400/ Before reading this (age 20-21 or so), I always figured that the difference between how I thought and most other people thought was a difference of degree rather than a difference of kind. See, not only did that book have the (novel to me) "idea", it also had tools and frameworks.

Cipolla's The Basic Laws of Human Studidity ... which is one of those rare "I wish I had thought of that" that is so obvious in retrospect. For better or worse, to a large degree, it changed how I deal with humans. It's simple, but not nearly as naive as how I used to operate.

(*) Given the number of books, I've read, there should be at least a couple more :-P

For some off of my 2-sigma list: ... books.html

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Loner » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:59 pm

rref wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:40 pm
Scarry: What Do People Do All Day?
Jansson: Moominland Midwinter
rref: Just checked it out. Isn't this a children's book? I'd be interested in knowing why you listed it.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Almost Cat » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:41 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:57 am
Linear Algebra
Which author?

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by FBeyer » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:58 am

@Almost Cat
I intentionally took the author out because linear algebra in itself is really what changed my world view. But the particular book I refer to is David C. Lay 3rd Ed.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Tyler9000 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:17 pm

"How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World" by Harry Browne definitely opened my eyes to the many ways people willingly trap themselves mentally. I already identified as a Libertarian before I read that, but it really helped me refocus on the idea of freedom as an individual choice independent of political constructs.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:56 pm

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and to a lesser extent Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. They saved a mind that was totally being consumed by dry academics and math and science, and awakened my "right brain" into elbowing its way to take an equal place next to my "left brain".

But that's probably not the type of thing you wanted to know about. :D

Common Sense on Mutual Funds by Bogle and How to Retire Wild, Happy, and Free by Zelinsky, maybe didn't change my mind per se, but they sort of put the finishing touches on changes that were happening anyway.

Generally I don't read philosophical nonfiction. YMMV

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by C40 » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:06 pm

Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage.

It's a book about a couple's extended bicycle touring in various parts of the world. It's not necessarily the greatest book. The timing was just right for me. Well, sort of.. It was just right to plant an idea that took about 4 years to sprout. I'd been getting more and more into bicycling in my early twenties. At age 22 or 23, right out of college and in my first few months of full-time career work, I read this book out of curiosity to see what touring is like. The book was great fun to read. I thought I'd like to go on an adventure like that myself. I hatched a plan. I'd get the touring gear, go on a week-long test trip, and if I enjoyed it a lot, I'd save up all I could for a year or so (maybe $20k), quit my job, and tour the world for as long as I could make the money last (maybe 2-3 years). Then I'd go back to work.

I got the gear. I went on the test trip. I liked it quite a lot. Then I never did the rest of my plan. I don't recall ever asking myself whether I wanted to do it or not. I just sort of forgot about it or became more interested in other things. About 5 years later I got into personal finance, read ERE, and then did more or less the same thing, but on a 'rest of life' scale instead of a few years.

I've read other books that have been extremely useful to me, and helped me further develop principles I already had (like ERE, How I found Freedom in an Unfree World, The Enchiridion). But when it comes to changing one's mind vs. further development of an idea, the timing is super important.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Kriegsspiel » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:53 pm

Packing For Mars, by Roach.

Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Salatin.

Every Knee Shall Bow by Walter.

A People's History Of The United States by Zinn.

The 10,000 Year Explosion by Cochran.

Cadillac Desert by Reisner.

Green Illusions by Zehler.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by BRUTE » Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:49 am

The 5 people you meet in heaven
Human Action

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:19 am

ERE: Changed my paradigm about how money works to allow money to become a tool in my life that will serve me rather than a carrot I chase my whole life.
Horse Sense: Helped me stop looking at what I wanted to do to build wealth and instead focus on the opportunities around me based on their chance of success.
Poor Charlie's Almanac: Taught about bias.
Think & Grow Rich: Focus works.
What Every Body is Saying: Taught me to read people more effectively and that their body is constantly sending information, that bodies tend to be more honest than words.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Farm_or » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:56 am

The Platinum Rule. Understanding personality traits and playing nice with others.

The Sin of Wages. Viewing the struggle for financial independence as an independent contractor instead of a proletariat slave.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by wolf » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:57 am

"The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey - my whole journey of self-discovery and personal development started with this book about 10 years ago

"The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living" by Janet Luhrs - This is the book which inspired me lot in order to find a minimal and simple life

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman (+1 Fbeyer) - because it added another dimension of thinking to my mind. Before the book I used to think in left and right brain. After the book I understood the difference between System 1 and System 2 thinking.

"How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World" by Harry Browne (+1 Tyler9000) - as the title goes - being free in an unfree country/society/state/company...

"Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great" by Joshua Medcalf - With this book I found balance between goal-orientiation and process-orientation. Setting longterm goals and doing shortterm actions based on habits, e.g. daily journal writing.

"The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clason - because of the universal and general principles about money

"Der Weg zur finanziellen Freiheit: Die erste Million" by Bodo Schäfer (translated: "The way to Financial Freedom: The first one million") - German book which was written 1998. I discovered it about 3 years ago and it let me to research more about Financial Freedom, which let me the way to ERE.

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by BRUTE » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:31 pm

oh, brute forgot one:
Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by Lillailler » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:05 am

Not a book as such, but an internet article; not so much changed my mind as spelt out for me something I sensed was there but could not see the details of:

"Mappers and Packers", part of "Thinking about Thinking" at

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Re: Books that changed your mind

Post by wolf » Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:21 pm

Principles by Ray Dalio

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