6 Transformational Books To Read This Winter

I loved seeing people’s year end posts on social about how many books they read over the year. I like to switch between genres with my reading. Going from an autobiography- learning the twists and turns in a person’s life to get where they are today fascinates me (which is how Life Simmsulated came to be), to a fluffy fictional rom-com or mystery novel. Near and dear to my heart, and library card, are personal and professional development books – I cannot get enough. I’m deep in to reading during the winter months, so I thought I would share a few books that have made an impact on me. For anyone else out there who loves a little PD, here are 6 transformational books to read this winter.

1. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama XIV & Howard Cutler

I first read this book when I was an angsty teen in high school. I was struggling with so many emotions at the time, and ‘happiness’ seemed to elude me. It was when Chapters stores first came to Canada and, oh, how I loved browsing the aisles of books. I saw this one on an end cap and the idea of happiness being an art form intrigued me.
It was definitely over my head at the time, but I read it, underlined parts, and tried to really understand his words and teachings. The book is made up of a series of interviews Cutler conducted with his Holiness around the idea that happiness doesn’t come from outside or environmental influences. He poses many relatable questions and scenarios. I’ve since read it twice more in the last two decades of my life, and its hit differently each time. It’s written from a philosophical perspective, but the genuine lessons of getting down to what’s important, and training yourself on behaviours that lead to a happy life, are definitely worth taking in. This is a book I will likely reread every decade of my life for continued personal development, and take away something new each time.

2. Good to Great by Jim Collins

I got this book as a Christmas gift a couple of years back, and I’m glad I did. I’m not analytically minded so it was a harder read for me, but the takeaways were priceless. If you’re a person who geeks out on research, you’ll really enjoy this book, but don’t be discouraged if you’re not!
This book is great if you are building, or work with a team. As a small business owner with a small but growing team, I loved the theory around getting the right people on the bus and dissecting the different levels of effective leadership. It was equally great that the book uses examples of what doesn’t work as well. It asked a lot of questions, and I made a lot of notes reading this book. It’s an excellent tool for professional development. Check out Jim Collins site here.

3. The Stoic Challenge by William B. Irvine

My partner Tyson read this book and thought it was something I would enjoy – spoiler alert: he was right! Who isn’t looking for a ‘guide to becoming tougher, calmer and more resilient’? I was hooked by the first chapter entitled ‘A Day at the Airport’. This is something I’m very familiar with, which is rarely without its stresses and anxieties.
This book is quite optimistic in its approach to treat life’s constant borage of unpredictability as a series of tests from a hypothetical Stoic God. It looks at examining our emotional reactions to different scenarios, and learning to reframe events that happen in our lives, from every day stresses to a crisis. This book really made me stop and examine how I react to things. Its a great guide for dealing with the road blocks life is bound to throw at you. Check out more from William B. Irvine here.

4. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

This was the first Brené Brown book I read, and I knew it would not be my last. I had just finished a leadership course where we had talked about this book, and Brené’s research, when a trip to my local book store had this puppy sitting on a table out front. I decided to pick it up and so my love of Brené Brown’s work began (I’ve since read almost all of her books).

Like all her work, she talks about wrestling with vulnerability, shame and empathy, but this book views it through the lense of being a leader and leading. It’s an excellent handbook to anyone looking to be a more empathic leader in their business, team or relationships honestly. Even if you’ve read other titles by Brené, I would highly recommend picking this up to further your professional development. Honestly, its also great personal development, which in turn makes you a better professional! See more from Brené here.

5. Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

I borrowed this book from a good friend, and after I finished it, I had to get my own copy. This truly is a workbook, and I did every activity Marie laid out. It was an excellent tool for mapping out what you want for yourself and your business, as well as dealing with the dreaded worst case scenarios. I focused in on dream situations for my business and myself, and drilled down on goals I had but wasn’t fully working toward.

This is an incredibly thought-provoking and actionable book. I would highly recommend to anyone looking to get clearer on their goals and dreams. It also helps to work out a lot of the ‘what if’s that stand in our way. This is personal AND professional development to the max! Check out more from Marie here.

6. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I’ve saved the best for last. If you follow me on social, I’ve talked about this book before, and I’m sure I will again. I think this is the single most transformative book I’ve ever read. This should be taught to kids in high school – maybe even younger. It is FULL of fundamentals on understanding and dealing with shame, and vulnerability that we should be taught all our lives, but we’re not. This book is helpful in regards to working on relationships of every kind: family or romantic relationships, parenting and at work.

You can literally apply it to understanding every area of your life. I would have lived my life so differently had I found this book earlier – that is to say, I feel like I could have weathered the shame storms I found myself in as opposed to lose myself in them. I think of the relationship problems I’ve had, and how so many problems are rooted in shame and vulnerability we may not even realize we’re feeling. Obviously, I highly recommend this book no matter what stage of your life you find yourself in. It truly is the peak of personal development.

I hope this has been informative for you, and some of these books speak to your own reading goals. Perhaps I’ll work on a fiction list! I’m always looking for recommendations so feel free to share your own with me here. May these titles help you on your own personal and professional development paths! Happy reading!

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