Why Books Still Matter

Naturally, as a book publisher, you would expect me to believe in the value of reading. But it is more than that. In fact, I got into book publishing because I was so committed to books as a tool for personal and cultural transformation.

A few months ago at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Ben Carson, world-renowned Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. Not bad for a child that was raised in extreme poverty by a single mother. Statistically speaking, he didn’t have a chance.

As a grade school student, he experienced difficulty academically, eventually falling to the bottom of his class. His mother, who was working two to three jobs, became alarmed. She did not want her two sons to drop out of school, believing that education was the only way they would escape a life of poverty.

She began to notice that the wealthy families she worked for watched little television. Instead, they spent their time reading books. As a result, she sold her television and insisted her sons read two library books a week, writing a book report on each one. She would then review the reports, make marks on them, and assign two more books. Several years later, to his surprise, Dr. Carson discovered that his mother couldn’t even read.

In the interview, Dr. Carson said to me, “Everything changed when I began to read. I started to see myself as a smart person who could learn anything. The whole world opened up to me.”

Indeed it did. This is the power of reading books.

Contrary to what is often reported in the mainstream media, books are not dead. They are still valuable today. But we must contend for their existence against all other forms of media. Books do for people what movies, television, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and social media will never do—fundamentally alter their worldview and inspire them to greatness.

I rarely meet a person who says, “that movie changed my life.” Or, “your blog post transformed me.” I’m not diminishing either of these. Both of their place in inspiring, educating, and entertaining others.

But there is just something about a book that changes everything. I have met thousands of people through the years who have reported, “That book changed my life.” I can certainly point to the books that have shaped my own life. In fact, we can point to specific books throughout history that have changed entire civilizations.

Watch my interview with Dr. Carson and see for yourself how books made a difference in his life. I hope this video once again inspire you to the potential and power of long-form reading. There is a lot at stake.

By the way, if you haven’t made plans to participate in this year’s Chick-fil-A Leadercast, you need to give it serious consideration. I will be once again hosting the backstage interviews with people like John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Sir Ken Robinson, Mack Brown, Robin Roberts, Muhtar Kent, and Dave Ramsey. You can either attend in person in Atlanta or host a simulcast of the event at your business or church.

Questions: How have books transformed your life? What books in particular have made a difference? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Get My New, 3-Part Video Series—FREE! Ready to accomplish more of what matters? 2015 can be your best year ever. In my new video series, I show you exactly how to set goals that work. Click here to get started. It’s free—but only until Monday, December 8th.

Get my FREE video series now!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://twitter.com/joannamuses joanna

    Obviously the bible :) When it comes to contemporary books, Bittersweet by Shauna Niequest and Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson have been huge over the last year. The first half of 2010 for me was quite a dark season- emotionally, spiritually and relationally. I came across Shauna and Anne’s books towards the end of that season. They were both tremendously helpful in finding ways to think and talk about what I was coming out of. Anne’s book also helped me find the courage to start having some hard but incredibly necessary conversations. Shauna’s book was also wonderful encouragement to start investing in relationships again after a period of being quite withdrawn.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am so glad you found Anne’s book helpful. I did, too.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    As a teenager I devoured anything written by Grace Livingston Hill and Emilie Loring. True both were romance authors, but in those days, the romance was chaste. Hill’s books were full of scripture, and I’m sure all those verses I read became part of my foundation in the Lord.

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    Awesome story about Dr. Carson!

    Three books have changed my life!

    1. The Bible – ‘nuf said.

    2. Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff Van Vonderen – Spurred my journey out of anorexia. Woke me up to the fact that I do not have to and should not try to measure up to anyone or anything in this world. Only Christ should be my plumb line.

    3. Trusting God’s Heart by Dr. Frank Cox – Challenged me to examine my faith and decide if I really believed that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

    I LOVE books…love the feel of them, the smell of them, the thrill of them. LOVE ‘em.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing your list. Obviously, the Bible is at the top of my list, too. I have not heard of the other, too.

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Tired of Trying to Measure Up is an older book but packs a huge punch as it speaks to those who were raised with shame based paradigms in their families. Many Type As fall into this catagory. I did not even realize that I had been until I read the book.

        Trusting God’s Heart is a selfpublished work (Baxter Press) by Dr. Cox and it is the story of he and his first wife, Debbie’s struggle with a brain tumor that took her life at 29 years of age. It is one of the most encouraging books, with regard to faith, that I’ve ever read. I read it twice in the year before my Dad was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and it challenged my faith greatly. I was able to walk through the trial with my Dad with a solidified faith in the Lord because of the book.

    • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

      You love the smell, I take it your not a big e-book fan! ;-)

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Dylan, I don’t even own anything that I could download an ebook to……….BUT, I’m considering the purchase of a Kindle. Just considering……. :)

        • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

          I LOVE my Kindle. It’s really fantastic. If you need any encouragement to get one, I can heartily recommend it.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      ‘Tired of Trying to Measure Up’ looks captivating. Thanks for sharing Leah!

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    The Commitment: When we make a commitment to reading a book, we grant ourselves the opportunity to be changed for life.

    I was introduced to Carson at that Leadercast and was so impressed, I wrote a post about it. I then bought the movie “Gifted Hands” about his life as well. Now, I just need to read the book! Yes, I also highly recommend Leadercast as well – you can not get a better leadership experience for the money. Thanks for sharing Michael.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      I love what you said about the commitment!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      So true! But, in order to be changed, we have to listen to what we read. Sometimes it’s too easy to not really pay attention.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    The power of books to transform our lives and the importance of reading cannot be explained in better terms than those of Gurcharas Das, the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble. In his book ‘The Elephant Paradigm’, Das wites —

    “We seem to have an incurable fear of ideas and tend to translate issues into a knee-jerk reaction, reducing all reflection to mere emotion. Since we do not read, the education of our sympathies and perceptions is left to what is accidentally supplied by people in our immediate circle. When we read, however, we learn to rise above the confines of our immediate environment. From those heights we get a broader view of the human experience, of history, of how others have tackled problems that beset us. We may not grow wiser as a consequence, or happier, but we learn to become more tolerant. We are never the same again.
    It is a matter of fulfilling our capability and potential. ………….. We are the only species in the world with a developed and reflective intelligence. One of the great rewards of that intelligence is language; and one of the greatest gifts from our ancestors is the discovery of writing. To be human is to read.”

    I need no more words to describe better the objective of reading in my life.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great quote, Uma. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/kpalmer71 Kerry Palmer

    I’m with several people here — the Bible tops my list.

    I also enjoy historical biography — especially US presidents. Among my favorite are Truman and John Adams (both by David McCullough). Like Dr. Carson, I found Up from Slavery to be hugely inspirational, and have asked my 8th grade teachers to include it on the required reading list next year for my students. Booker T. Washington also published Character Building, a collection of Sunday evening chapel talks to his students at Tuskegee. It is fantastic.

    My television set sits silent most of the time these days. My wife and I are readers and our kid are, too.

    Thanks for showing the interview. It really makes me look forward to this year’s Leadercast!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I should be looking for biographies of Truman and John Adams. Thanks for sharing Kerry!

  • Shari

    Yes, yes, yes! The more people come into the library to use our computers, the more books we check out. The more libraries make electronic books available, the more books we check out. We have formed a task force to specifically tackle the low level of adult literacy in our service area because we believe books and reading change people’s lives. They are game changers for the impoverished and open up whole new worlds for everyone. My children have grown up with a desire to travel, largely because of the books they’ve read throughout their younger years. Books are the great equalizer. I could go on and on but I’ll stop. I’m reposting. . .

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Shari. Adult literacy is very important. That’s one of the things I loved about interviewing Dr. Carson. His own testimony is compelling.

  • Mike Waggoner

    First and foremost, the Bible. I grew up with a mother who loved reading, especially the Bible, and she instilled within me a great love for reading it. Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis had a big impact on me as well as Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and more recently, Radical by David Platt and The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns (I’m sure you know those last two quite well!) I’ve always had a “Christian worldview”, but after reading these books, comparing them with what the Bible has to say and mulling them over…I now have a “Jesus worldview”. They not only changed my life but inspired me to become a writer as well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. The Hole in Our Gospel had a profound impact on me.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I have it, but haven’t read it yet. It’s in my queue for this year.

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      Cost of Discipleship was huge for me as well. I am currently reading the Hole in Our Gospel as well and it is likely to make the top list for me. I’ll have to check out the others you mentioned. Thank you for sharing!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Loved Cost of Discipleship!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer seems compelling to me. I have added it to my list. Thanks Waggoner!

  • http://www.jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy@confessionsofalegalist

    I agree with what you are saying about books, but any ideas why this is true. Is it because with books our brains actually have to engage with what we are reading? Or is it because books can explore and discuss ideas that TV shows do not? Maybe TV shows are only meant to entertain while books actually teach?

    • Shari

      Jeremy, I think you ask a great question and I think there are a lot of reasons to this phenomena. Mostly, I think it’s because the reader engages personally and has freedom to “see” the characters, form opinions about them, etc., without having the information spoon fed to them. I remember reading Gone with the Wind in the 6th grade. My mother made me read it prior to going to see the movie. Wow! I was so excited when Scarlett’s green velvet dress looked just like I’d imagined. But when that doesn’t coincide, that’s okay. I have the freedom to disagree with the movie-maker’s interpretation (or, alas, change my mind).

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I love that about reading, too. It engages your imagination, so that you become an active participant in creating the story or content.

        • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

          True Mike! Our imagination is engaged when we read and killed when we watch TV or movie.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it is because long-form reading requires us to focus and go deeper in our thinking.

  • Shari

    As far as lifechanging books for me, these are the ones that readily come to mind: The Bible (too obvious?), John Holt’s Why Children Fail, The Libertarian Reader, Screwtape Letters, and most recently, Switch.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I loved Switch, too! It really taught me a lot about human motivation.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        I find generally the works of Heath brothers insightful and resourceful.

  • Carla

    this is so inspiring. I got rid of cable and found more time again for my love of reading. some times I have 2-3 books going at once bc of my diverse interests. I am convinced my reading of Biblical archaeology and fine art and painting how to books long before I became a parent, during my pregnancy and through my daughter’s younger years influenced her choice of archaeology and fine art as college options. she is a prolific reader and when we visit often we each have a book and a cup of tea and enjoy being together with our books! I LOVE BOOKS. thanks for the post

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      We dumped cable as well. The only way we can watch TV is to put a movie in or watch via Netflix. It’s created intionality in what we watch. Best thing we did for the family, one of them anyway.

  • Bgantayet

    There is a lot of debate, but I am convince about the life-enhancing power of books. Personally, I have been a voracious reader, always running out of sources to acquire more to read. Fortunately now with access to libraries, online books, Amazon, etc. I am more comfortable.
    Books make me think, dream, critically evaluate, want to make notes, share thoughts and put myself in the author’s shoes trying to imagine what he must be thinking while writing. These are things I cannot feel with the digital side of things.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    While it might be that for many of us, the Bible goes without saying—I’ll say it anyway. The Bible.

    Next: Epitaphs for Eager Preachers by J.D. Grey, a pastor in Louisiana. He covered, briefly, little things preachers tend to do to get in trouble. As a preacher, I’ve watched myself nearly do a lot of them—and the book’s been a good help.

    The Lost Choice by Andy Andrews would be a recent one.

    In all, books have helped me to know and grow far beyond any formalized education. Reading gives me the benefits of other people’s experiences to add to my own.

    On the idea of hearing someone state that a “blog post transformed me”: this week I got an email asking for some help with a few life issues. The essence was this: been reading your blog, it’s great and helpful. What *books* should I read to really grow? Not a request for blog info or other blogs, but books. There’s a recognition of the effect of books!

  • Claude

    I watched the video. Then I read your comments below it. Your comments are better. More concise and to the point. That didn’t take 15 minutes to read. Those comments of yours are a summary of what’s being said in the interview. In Philosophy school we call this “Contraction”

    I appreciate your skills. You are getting excellent…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Claude. Whenever I have a video, I try to summarize the salient points via text for those who prefer that method of consumption. You should be surprised though at how many requests I get for more video. I am trying to keep the videos to one a week. Thanks again.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great interview, Michael. I really enjoyed your Leadercast series.

    As far as books go, I have some foundational ones…

    The Bible is foundational to my faith

    Made to Stick is foundational to my speaking

    Dr. Carson’s Take the Risk is foundational to decision making

    Strengths Finder is foundational in how I view my strengths

    As far as books that motivate me… almost anything by Og Mandino or Andy Andrews will lift my spirits.

    As far as Leadership goes…MichaelHyatt.com is the best reference there is!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. You are kind to say so about me in the last sentence!

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      The Bible without a doubt is the best book and the one we should all build our lives on…

      Some really great books that I have read in the last 2 yrs have been:

      -Guerilla Lovers by Vince Antonucci
      -Do Hard Things by the Harris Brothers
      -I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris
      -Every Young Man’s Battle

      These have by far been the most helpful and most engaging to me!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks John for suggessting Dr. Carson’s Take the Risk.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

    I agree with the power of books. I even remember when people would talk about books on tape take over the written book and then with digitalized books on kindle and other e-readers that books in the written form would go away. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle, can speak enough about it. But there is still something to be said for the written book. Sometimes it is not on the content of the book itself, but the history of the actually physical book. I have a Bible, the most influential book I have ever read, that has been passed down from generation to generation for several generations. I also have the Bible I was given when I was baptized. The Bible radically changed who I was as an individual and moved me toward my current ministry. The next most influence book I read was Covey’s Seven Habits. This book redefined the way that I looked and myself and how to manage time. Couple that with David Allen’s Getting Things Done and it created a whole new methodology for dealing with time. Frankl’s Man’s Serach for Meaning truly opened my eyes to choices and how much of an impact that can make and profoundly change me as an individual. Then between Tolkien and Lewis it is hard to say which was more of an influence, but each profoundly changed my worldview and personal view. I could go on and on because books are such a huge part of my world. The fascinating part was that I did not even pick up reading till after college and now I average 3 books a month. Can’t put them down.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I am counting Frankl’s Man’s Serach for Meaning in my current reading plan. Thanks for sharing Jim!

  • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

    I think the key to keeping books a part of your life is finding the format that works for you. With ebooks and audio books, even Cliff’s Notes type of summary books, we can learn a lot. I know my Kindle is revitalizing my reading experience.

    Books that have shaped me include:
    1) “The Heart of a Great Pastor” by H.B. London and Neil B. Wiseman
    2) “21 … Laws of Leadership”, “Failing Forward” (and others) by John Maxwell

    Two books I’m reading now will definitely have a lasting impact: “The 7 Habits…” by Steven R. Covey and “Communicating for a Change” by Andy Stanley.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Stanley’s book on communication is excellent!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      “The 7 Habits…” by Covey had a profound impact on me too Chris!

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Personally for me reading books was my only-way to get out of Mexico’s poorest place. This was my thought at that time : Either I read and learn or work farming for others with a miminal wage ($3 to $4 a day). Started reading at early age, then went to school, but started reading for the pleasure of learning after school, this has giving me a lot of opportunities in my life, one of them is to come to live in US, became a US citizen, working for a great company and possible moving into my own business down the road. Again, reading has opened the eyes to see beyond the foggy vision we have, reading books let’s me think better or have a new perspective about live, God, success, career, etc. Yes Books ar the door to success!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Agreed Juan!

  • Pamela Mason

    Some of your last words — “long form reading”– are what struck me as so important and so lacking for all of us today. I find myself skimming so much throughout the day and making small, but important, mistakes. With one eye on the clock on the bottom corner of my laptop, I see my day ticking away via blogs and networking, with little real productivity of my own getting done. And the hundreds of books idle on my Kindle calling to me, because of all the snips and comments and tweets I attend to….
    My long form reading muscles have relaxed.
    There is much to be said for the long, well thought, well rounded and crafted plotted story that follows a fictional character’s journey from one point in life to another. To read and be enlightened through that journey, to see dimensions and perspectives we may be too distracted by the busyness of our lives to see in ourselves… that long form is what changes lives.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post here.

  • Brasscastlearts

    The hard-copy book may well be a valuable archive to preserve an author’s original words, to retain the point of view of a culture at a certain point in time. A culture which disposes of hard-copy books in favor of strictly electronic communication becomes subject to the rewriting of history to accommodate changing points of view, to submit to political correctness. There is a real and present danger that our history will be lost if we throw away the printed page. Knowledge is power, and there are those out there who would diminish or eliminate our knowledge in order to gain power over us. As the Irish monks preserved written texts during the Dark Ages, saving the archives of civilization, so will private and public entities preserve our own civilization through the upkeep of their libraries.

  • Karl Mealor

    I was sick a lot as a child, so a lot of my time was spent reading. Thank God for: 1) public libraries, 2) family who invested in purchasing books for me. (My sister worked at a book bindery while in college. She could purchase defects for a nickel. She frequently brought home 3 or 4 books a day.)

    At one point, I had read just about every book in the juvenile section of my small-time public library. My other sister took me with her to college (University of GA) one day and we went to the UGA library. I remember looking at those stacks with mixed emotions. Iwas excited because I then knew I would never run out of books to read, but I was saddened as I also recognized I would never be able to read all of those books!

    I still read obsessively, primarily nonfiction. My concerns: 1) Am I reading too many books (shallowly and not deeply)? 2) Am I substituting reading for action? Does anyone have any advice?

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Karl! My take on your concerns

      1) Am I reading too many books (shallowly and not deeply)? — It all depends on how you take measures to implement the learning from reading a book, You can create a to-do list and follow up at regular intervals. On the other hand, reading makes you generally resourceful and insighful.

      2) Am I substituting reading for action? — Ultimately, it is your responsibility to internalize the takeaways from a book and gain from it.

  • http://www.cherrycreekmortgage.com/lbettag Larry Bettag

    Mike….hope all is well. I’ve followed Dr. Carson since his book, Gifted Hands came out. I have read his other books as well. His follow up book is just as good as every other chapter is written by his mother who had to overcome a lot herself. Needless to say, every summer, I have my kids read a book a week and do a book report on it as well. Dr. Carson is brilliant. I’d love to see him speak. Good stuff!

  • Karl Mealor

    Michael, have you ever posted the books that have most influenced your life?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Go to the link at the top of my blog that says “My Bookshelf.” I have a list there by category. Thanks.

  • http://www.churchthought.com Matt Steen

    I can not tell you how much I respect Dr. Carson, thank you for posting this.

    The book that has affected me the most of late is called “Life Inc.” by Douglas Rushkoff, this book has caused me to be thinking through how our systems are steering our culture. It is a conspiracy theorists dream.

    The book that has most affected my life, outside of the Bible, was McGee’s Search for Significance. It helped me to embrace my identity as a Christ follower early in my walk with Christ.

    Thank you again for posting this…. Have I mentioned how much I respect Dr. Carson?

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Will be looking McGee’s Search for Significance. Thanks Matt for reminding me about this book!

  • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

    Mike, blogs and similar media forms utilize one of the same tools as books: the written word. But I agree with you that there is just something different<em) about books.

    Why do you think this is? What is it that gives them a more powerful influence than other forms of communication?

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I wonder if part of it has to do with the high priority (worship?) we’ve placed on education. As Americans, we’ve placed a pretty high priority to higher education, and have rewaded that with higher paying jobs than for those who don’t continue their education. And you can read story after story of people who pulled themselves out of poor and/or humble beginnings, such as Dr. Carson.

      Books are so influential. I’ve met many people who will believe just about anything if it’s in print.

      I’m sure there are many factors to this, but I wonder if this might be one of them…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I think they represent so much symbolically: scholarship, education, advancement, knowledge, wisdom, etc.

  • Brettvaden

    Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, by John Piper
    No Man is an Island, by Thomas Merton
    The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
    Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

  • Anonymous

    Oh, this is so good! My parents and I immigrated to the U.S. from communist Romania via a refugee camp in Italy. Not speaking English and experiencing multi level culture shock, it seemed the odds were stacked against me as I was just trying to survive. My visionary, wise mother bought me Dr. Carson’s book “Gifted Hands”. I didn’t understand it all but I understood enough to be inspired to believe and do the next thing in front of me. Three years later I was accepted into a very competitive Microbiology program at the University of Michigan which I successfully completed. To this day, nothing touches me like the written word and I’m so glad that w/ God’s help and the investment of wise people in my life I pressed through the language barrier to reading books in the beginning. There are several authors whom I consider mentors because of the consistent deep influence they had on me especially in the last decade. John Maxwell, Beth Moore, John Eldredge, Cloud & Townsend just to name a few. My life has taken many turns since those early days. I went on to four more years of Chiropractic school, opened my own practice, ran it for seven years, went on to do many forms of international missions, as the Holy Spirit was influencing my heart more and more, and now I’m in full time ministry. This journey of discovery, decision making, investing, loosing, leading, following, etc. had at it’s core the gems I gleaned from constant interaction w/ the thoughts of authors as I read their books. Going to spend some time w/ Frederick Buechner now:)

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Monika! Thanks for sharing your touching story.

  • Tracy Atcheson

    I love the Bible, especially the book of Romans. I read many books but few do I re-read and read a third time or more. That’s the joy of books, I treasure like Henry Blackaby’s and Claude King’s classic, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God; Andy Stanley’s Visioneering, Andrew Murray’s Humility and David Platt’s Radical. Those you savor and glean from every time you pick them up.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Tracy! I love all the works by Andrew Murray.

  • Cindiet

    I totally agree with you. The TV is rarely on in my home and I am surrounded my books. For me, the book that totally transformed my life is the Bible. As someone who had struggled with a painful childhood Psalm 139 changed my view of myself as I was able to see myself through God’s eyes. One of my all time favorite books is “See You at the House by Bob Benson…it is no longer in print, but a collection of his essays.
    For enjoyment I love reading Karen Kingsbury and presently I am reading “Transforming Prayer” by Daniel Henderson and am enjoying that.

    • http://underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com Jan Cox

      Our TV is only used as a movie screen and to see the news on the Internet. I have read Karen Kingsbury but also like Lynn Austin. In the past two days your book Transforming Prayer has been mentioned. I think I had better order this one. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Anonymous

    I never realized how much books could change one’s life until this last year and a half. The 4:8 Principle was life-changing. Captivating. There are really too many to count, but those are two key ones.

  • Steve Barkley

    1. Bible
    2. Any biography or autobiography
    3. 7 habits & The 8th Habit
    4. The Richest Man in Babylon
    5. How to Win Friends and Influence People
    6. A Walk Across America
    7. Man in Black
    8. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations On and Off the Court

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      There are a couple here that I think I need to add to my library…

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Yes Steve! I too love to read biographies!

    • Rick Cooke

      I read A Walk Across America several years ago, loved it.  Don’t know what Peter is doing now but hope he’s well.  

  • Dean Deguara

    In addition to the bible- early in my walk with God:

    1. Pursuit of God- AW Tozer
    2. Father Heart of God- Floyd McClung
    3. Calvary’s Road
    4. Is That Really You God- Loren Cunningham

    1. 21 Laws of Leadership
    2. Developing Leaders Around You
    3. Purpose Driven Church
    4. Where Do We Go from Here?

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      There are a couple here that I feel I should to add to my reading list.

  • Roger H

    Michael, had you not shared this interview, I would never have known about Dr. Carson. What a great story about hope and the power of books. I plan to share this with the librarian in the elementary school where I work.

    As a young father of 3, I learned what a valuable resource the local public library was. When we car problems or plumbing problems, I could go to the local library and find a book that would tell me how to fix it. After a while I developed the attitude that if I can find a book about it, I can solve most any problem. Probably 95% of my reading is nonfiction because I love to learn new things. I am always amazed out how many people do not take advantage of the huge resources available at their local library.

    One book that has really stuck with me is Dietrich Bonhoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. A very difficult book to read but also very profound and inspiring.

    Thank you for this post. You started my day off right.


  • http://twitter.com/bigmet Metric

    Growing up books were something that wasn’t strongly advocated so TV was my outlet. As a matter of fact I read so little that in 5th grade I was put in a remedial reading class (later I was diagnosed dyslexic). I started to read required books in high school and eventually begin reading magazines more. I didn’t read a book on my own until my freshman year in college. 14 years later I’ve amassed my own personal library and have begin to help my 5 year old son build his own library. My former seminary president, Chuck Swindoll, once said “If you don’t want to read, get out of the ministry!” Though it wasn’t (and sadly in many ways still isn’t) strongly advocated among many in my community – the African-American community – books have become woven into the fabric of my life.

  • http://twitter.com/gribi Elena Gribincea

    Books have had a life-changing effect on me, too.

    Almost every (good) book I read opens up parts of myself, of the world, of God that I’ve not known before.

    Some books that have shaped my life are:
    The Bible
    Mere Christianity [C. S. Lewis]
    What’s So Amazing About Grace [Philip Yancey]
    Making of a Leader [Dr. J. Robert Clinton]
    Emotionally Healthy Spirituality [Peter Scazzero]

    I’m currently reading Tim Keller’s Reason for God and will probably be putting that one on my life-changing reads, too.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Elena! Philip Yancey is an ace. I like all his writings.

      • http://twitter.com/gribi Elena Gribincea


        Philip Yancey’s one of my favs – I’ve only read a few books of his, but will definitely be reading more :)

  • http://twitter.com/gribi Elena Gribincea

    Almost every (good) book I read opens up parts of myself, of the world, of God that I’ve not known before.

    Some books that have shaped my life are:

    The Bible
    Mere Christianity [C. S. Lewis]
    What’s So Amazing About Grace [Philip Yancey]
    Making of a Leader [Dr. J. Robert Clinton]
    Emotionally Healthy Spirituality [Peter Scazzero]

    I’m currently reading Tim Keller’s Reason for God and will probably be putting that one on my life-changing reads, too.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JLVZINPL3DRRNQ7KXGNKXX3PPE Beverli

    W O W !
    The power that reading, listening, taking notes has still amazes me.
    When I was growing up I loved to read but there was just one problem I couldn’t remember what I had just read.
    In College if it was a class that was taught from the book. I would have to read the chapter out loud, record it on cassette, and play it back.
    Now, I’m just so thankful that I can remember what I read. Answered prayer.
    Favorite books are:
    Bible, Devotional Books, Books on Leadership, Books by Andy Stanley, Max Lucado, John Maxwell, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore and the list continues.

  • http://twitter.com/NewEnglandHiker Roy Wallen

    Books matter, amen. My children had the benefit of being raised with no television for most of their lives. Books would arrive by the score in our house when we lived overseas during their formative years. To this day, our family has more books and a greater love of books than any other medium. They can, as you and your guest say, be truly life-changing.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    Great post. Very intriguing observation by his mother about the amount read versus television watched by the wealthy. It shows hard work really does pay off.

  • http://twitter.com/lindseygilstrap Lindsey

    I agree, Michael, books have been transformational in my life like no other form of media or communication. Last year I read a number of books that definitely changed me.

    Looking For God by Nancy Ortberg
    Rethinking the Church by James Emery White
    Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard

    And last but not least, Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. This book was the most transformational book in my life, only second to the Bible.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I loved Frankl’s book and often refer to it in my speaking.

  • Steve Bradley

    Fascinating topic, Michael. Here are a few books that really changed me:
    1. The Bible, specifically the KJV (the KJV has specific thought-forms and ways of saying things that, though archaic or quaint, still have great power); I have been a lifelong student of the Bible.
    2. The book, The Genesis Flood, by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris (I eventually studied under Dr. Whitcomb).
    3. The Greek New Testament (I became so enamored of the original language of the New Testament that I became a seminary teacher). I still read the Greek New Testament.
    4. Many, many books on science–including David Hawking’s books.
    5. Detective fiction (taught me to “look for things”); specifically books by British authors.
    6. Books on counseling, specifically books by Jay Adams (Competent to Counsel was his first);
    7. Larry Richards’ books on teaching (don’t now remember all the titles)
    8. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, by Alfred Edersheim.
    9. Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan; Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, by John Bunyan.
    10. Plato’s philosophy.
    There are many others that have added to my thinking, or changed it in some way. What changed my life more than reading, though, was WRITING. I took a writing class from a professional author my second year in college. THAT transformed my thinking. He taught us to think when we wrote, and critiqued us with a certain level of “friendly brutality” that I still remember. That class, more than any other, has influenced my thought processes, since writing trains us far more than reading–if we don’t just regurgitate “other people’s stuff.” This particular professor (Noel Loomis) taught us NOT to do that, both by example and by his critiques of what we wrote. Since that day, I have been an avid writer, as well as an avid reader. Virtually all my teaching material still exists in written form, and when I look back on it, I can still see his influence, and the influence of the fact that Mr. Loomis taught us to put words to paper in a cogent, well-reasoned way.
    Thanks for asking, Mike. You gave me a great trip down “memory lane.”
    Steve Bradley

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Isn’t it interesting how so often our lives are defined by the books that shaped us?

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I can never forget the impact “Pilgrim’s Progress” created in me. A real classic.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    Oh I really agree and we [usually] limit our TV viewing to only the weekends (and even then, it’s not “tv”, it’s dvd’s).

    There have been several books that have really shaped my life. One is “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace. It has taught me SO much about being a godly wife that much of it is second nature (though I’m far from perfect and am always a work in progress). I studied the contents of that book (and taught it to other women) for about 2 1/2 years. I could/should probably revisit it! ;-)

    Another book that has really shaped my thinking (though I haven’t put those thoughts to action and I ought to) is Educating the WholeHearted Child by Sally and Clay Clarkson. This book is packed with information, scripture, quotes, encouragement, etc. on homeschooling. I just got it last year and now a new edition is about to be released in June. Mmm hmmm. Looking forward to that since the edition is about 10 years newer. But honestly? The one I have is still invaluable. My reason for buying the new edition? The authors have learned more and want to share their wisdom thus far.

    I love books and am an avid reader. I tend to read books that can help me out in life (I hesitate calling them ‘self-help’ because they don’t just help me, but everyone around me).

    As a homeschooling mom, I am learning to embrace historical fiction and auto/biographies as well. :) So much to be learned from these treasures.

    Thank you, Mr. Hyatt for summarizing the video for those of us who don’t always have the time to watch them. I enjoy videos, just don’t always have time for them. (This comment alone was written in “spurts”, lol)

  • Priscilla Johnson

    Dr. Carson is one of my favorite doctors because he is thoughtful, wise and humble. His thoughts on integrative/preventative health is just one of the things that makes him one of the top 20 doctors in our country. His books are a very good read and can be bought or checked out at your local library. Thanks for sharing Stephen.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      He really is humble. I was so struck by that when I met him. I instantly connected to him.

  • Desertrose5173

    Yes, I’ve found many books that have changed my life. Those are “keepers” in my library. I go back and page through them on occasion to refresh my understanding or to pass the information on to others.

    The most recent book, is Money and Marriage by Matt Bell, Words by Ginny Yrttup, Flight Plan by Burns and Brady. My all-time favorites are Color the Sidewalk for Me by Brandilyn Collins and Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers, as they both deal with personal reconciliation between family members, leaving me with hope for issues in my own personal life.

  • Jim McHugh


    Must be the day for blog posts about the power of books. You might find this interesting from my alma maters daily blog (Hawthorne and Grocho Marx both quoted?!)…


    Best wishes

  • Anonymous

    growing up with an abusive father, reading was an escape for me. I read a lot of science fiction through my teenage years. I read sci-fi because the only time there was truly happiness in our house was when dad was watching Star Trek. I also read my required studies for school. Reading was my sanctuary. I became an engineer because of all the science fiction I read. I fell in love with the technology in the books. I’m a huge Isaac Asimov fan. Reading saved my life.

    Now, I read to learn new things. I still have all those books I read in Junior & Senior High School. And yes my brother and I are still big Science Fiction fans.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      This is awesome Laurinda! I know many forensic accountants deriving their inspiration from thriller, suspense & mystery novels

  • Ken Shaddox

    Wonderful interview. Full of great insights. I can’t express to you how much I appreciate and learn from your daily blog. This interview made me want to go out and buy another handful of books!

  • A Christopherparks

    Failing forward by John C. Maxwell. It was great to see that failure is neither fatal nor permanent.

  • http://www.allgroanup.com Paul Angone

    At the ripe old age of 27 I worry sometimes about my generation and the lost art of reading an ACTUAL book. Like from cover to cover. Like while NOT also watching Season Three of Lost, while tweeting, while downloading music, while…

    So much noise these days that the quiet whisper of a transformative book barely reaches our ears.

    But I say “Nay” to this trend and just started a series of book reviews called “20 for 20methings,” which highlights books that all 20somethings (and 30, 40, 50something) need to read. I started it off with a commentary on The World is Flat. Very crucial, timely book. http://tinyurl.com/worldisflatt

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your series idea. Excellent!

      • http://www.allgroanup.com Paul Angone

        Thanks Michael! There will definitely be a Thomas Nelson book in there!

  • Andrea

    I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Dr. Carson. He is intelligent, passionate and an inspiration. The book that transformed my life is the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. His teachings on the Toltec wisdom spoke to me and though it’s simple to comprehend, it can be difficult to implement. These days the bible is influencing me more than any book can. Thanks for this great blog post.

  • http://twitter.com/bethanyplanton Bethany Planton

    I absolutely love reading, and there are many books that have transformed me. One in particular that has transformed my way of thinking is Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I recommend it for every woman and any man who has a woman in his life.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That book had a big impact on my daughters.

  • http://twitter.com/sdshaw Sherry Shaw

    Books have opened up new worlds for me, taken me places I don’t know if I will ever be able to go to and taught me so much that I could never have had time to learn about in University or even Grad school. As a child my favorite thing to do was to go to our public library or my school’s library and get lost in the bookstacks, hunker down with a book and immerse myself in that little world that was unfolding for me. So children’s books were huge influencers on my life…funny but the ones I remember most are Amelia Bedelia stories; Beverly Cleary’s books for instance the Mouse and the Motorcycle (smile) and Ghost stories from my home state of NC.

    As I got into older elementary my Bible became a huge influence for me because my parents bought me a Living Bible. All of a sudden I could understand the words in it rather than struggle with the KJV that I had had since first grade. My favorite stories from it then and now are Elijah and his dealings with the Prophets of Baal, Jesus and the children, Queen Esther, Jesus’ meeting with the Disciples after His resurrection, just to name a few. As I moved into college years I was given an NIV Study Bible (yes I know not a Thomas Nelson product, sorry) But I learned so much and wanted to keep digging because of the helps that it contained. The other influencer: God Calling and Streams in the Desert ..they helped me see different passages of scripture through a new lens and of course encouraged me in my relationship with Jesus.

    Now I am a preschool minister and books are still key sources of education, information and encouragement. I am in a constant state of learning for my role as an educator but personally I still want to learn as much as I can and books are still a big source of that for me. Currently my most used resources are: A Faith to Grow On; I Believe in Jesus; Amazing Questions Kids Ask Series; Focus on the Families Baby and Child Care.

  • http://www.careeroutlook.in/mba-jobs/ MBA Jobs

    Books are still our best friends and will remain always :)

  • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. I can’t imagine the drive his mother had-encourage her sons to read when she couldn’t do it herself.
    I use to hate to read. In fact I didn’t complete a assigned book for school until my junior year of high school. Fortunately my wife has her Masters’ degree as a reading specialist and has helped push me to read more. Now I read at least two books a week. I just finished Enchantment over the weekend- read it less than 24 hours simply because I could not put it down. Other books that I read recently that have had a major impact on me are Graceonimcs by Mike Foster, Poke the Box by Seth Godin, and The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethane.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am reading Poke the Box now. So far, I love it.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        Me too. I am about a quarter of the way through it and have been challenged with taking a look at what kind of ‘initiative’ that I really have and how much more intentional I need to be.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I just added this to my Amazon wish list.

          • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

            Just finished the audio book. Powerful content. When should you buy it? As Seth would say, “Soon is not as good as now.”

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            That good, eh? I’ll have to figure how to get it sooner rather than later now.

  • http://twitter.com/davidteems David Teems

    I have to admit I am not a big reader of non-fiction other than the histories and bios necessary to write the books I have written myself. I lean toward the novel. The great literature, from the masters of the early twentieth century all the way back to Cervantes, have so much to tell about who we are at this present moment. Without their voice, our appraisals are incomplete, the mirror is dull.

    Great literature is indeed the storehouse of cultural memory. To know ourselves completely today, we cannot ignore the psychologiesof the past—the movements, the subtleties, the odd revolution. There is as much to be found in HAMLET as any 10 books on the current NY Times Bestseller list, books that will often be dated and irrelevant in a few months time. Great literature mocks at time.

    Books are our memory. We are tending toward a continuous present with no memory at all, and that is unfortunate. Even the most current bible translations reflect this. “Give me information NOW,” they say, “I don’t have time to sing. I must be on my way.” Translations that have replaced rhapsody for explanation, and, ironically, of a God who is not obligated to explain anything.

    The books that have truly changed my life are the Bible [KJV/NIV], the works of William Shakespeare, and the novels of Thomas Wolfe [LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL and OF TIME AND THE RIVER specifically]. It was after reading Thomas Wolfe years ago that I knew I wanted to be a writer.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I was with you until you mentioned the NIV. ;-)

      Seriously, your comment is beautifully written—deserving of a blog post on its own.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’ve gotten a little disenchanted with the NIV as well. I’m moved more to the NASB, and am reading this year in the KJV for a change.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          You might try the NKJV. I was reading it long before I came to Thomas Nelson. It does a great job retaining the majesty of the KJV but the accessibility of a modern language translation.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I meant NKJV. The “N” got dropped and I didn’t notice. Oops.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      Nicely said. I am one that has had a hard time getting into the classics. With what you have written, I many now find myself trying the likes of Shakespeare and Wolfe. :-)

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I love a lot of the classics. But I have to read them when I have no distractions around. I have to use so much more concentration. Shakespeare is great. I enjoyed Ivanhoe. I love the poetry of Frost, Shelley and Burns too.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    “But it is more than that. In fact, I got into book publishing because I was so committed to books as a tool for personal and cultural transformation.”

    Thanks for this, it’s a wonderful message.

  • Anonymous

    What a wonderful interview – thanks for sharing!

    A few books that have impacted me:
    The Old Man and The Sea – Hemmingway
    Wild at Heart – Eldredge
    Season of Life – Jeffrey Marx
    A Million Miles in A Thousand Years – Miller
    A Different Mirror – Takaki
    White Like Me – Tim Wise

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Justin! Ernst Hemmingway is one of my all time favorites

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Growing up, I didn’t like to read very much. Actually, until a couple of years ago, I did not read a whole lot. Reading was such a laborious task for me – it always took a long time to get through a book and, invariably, I would get bogged down in the middle and have a hard time finishing. Things have changed and I now find myself reading a lot.

    Someone once told me that the books I read will change who I become. After spending so many years without reading much and then spending the last couple of years reading more and more, I can attest to the outcome and say that reading is changing my life.

  • Ron

    If Dr. Carson’s mother is still living, you should interview her. She’s the inspiration, she’s a person I’d like to meet. What book influenced my life? It was “Pouring New Wine into Old Wineskins,” by Dr. Aubrey Malphurs. Back in 1994 I walked into Scripture Press bookstore (no longer there) in Wheaton, IL, and picked up the book, and it was the beginning of a journey that told me there was more to church and more to “doing” church than what I was experiencing in my ELCA congregation. I began driving the 40 minutes to Willow Creek CC and attended there for two years, and I began reading book after book about church growth, church health, church vitality — and a different way of experiencing God. Ten years later I got to meet Dr. Malphurs and told him how that one book of his made a difference in my faith and church life. Today I edit Church Executive, which brings together the managing and leading of larger churches…and how I got to Phoenix and to that job is another providential story. RK

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      She would make a great interview. I don’t know if she is living or not.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    True…great post!

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    -Church History in Plain Langauge by Bruce Shelley

    I was amazed when I really started reading about and studying church at how much it increased my faith.

  • Monica

    Great video! I’m wondering though, is there a way to load these so we can watch them on a faster speed? I really enjoy the interviews, but it’s more of a commitment to watch, as I can read much faster than I watch.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Not that I am aware of. Sorry.

  • C J Marr

    I found the movie, “Gifted Hands”, in a markdown bin at our local grocery store. It looked like a wholesome story so I took it home. I was very impressed. I did not know Dr. Carlson before that. We need more of these inspiring stories.
    On the subject of books, there are many books that have inspired me during my lifetime. My Dad read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to us as a serial at bedtime when I was a child, long before we had TV. I still have images in my head because of the use of my imagination of life during that period from that reading. I think books promote the use of the imagination more than TV allows. I like watching a good movie but books should never go out of date. Our education is not complete unless we make use of all mediums.
    Regarding, your blog, I enjoyed the content, but I am very persnickety about spelling and grammar and noticed several places where words were left out or misspelled and that bothered me, especially knowing that you are a publisher. Probably a proofreader/rereading would have caught that and made it easier for me to read.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry about the misspellings and grammar. I am wide open to anything you see. You can either email me at michael dot hyatt at gmail dot com or Twitter me at @michaelhyatt. It is difficult to catch my own errors, though I read them through several times.

      Not to be defensive, but the blog world is not the book publishing world. When you have a mistake in a book, it is permanent. In a blog it is temporary; you can change it on the fly. Using a proofreader becomes more cumbersome than it’s worth. It ends up delaying the whole process. And, as someone who has been in publishing for thirty years, proofers don’t always catch every mistake or typo.

      Thanks for your input.

  • Michael

    Books that changed my life? The Rest of the Gospel (Dan Stone), To Own a Dragon (Donald Miller), What’s So Amazing About Grace (Phillip Yancey), Mere Churchianity (Michael Spencer), A New Kind of Christian (Brian McLaren). Those books were transformative in my faith. For business I would say the E-Myth (Revisited) and The Myth of Excellence.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I should be adding a couple to my library from your list, Thanks Michael.

  • Pingback: Why Books Still Matter: World-Renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson « TrueNorth Publishing()

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    A couple of the books that have impacted me are Primal by Mark Batterson, and Leading On Empty by Wayne Cordeiro. The Winning Attitude, by John Maxwell ranks up there as well.

    I’m a reader. To the tune of 150-200 books a year usually. I feel like books are trusted friends that I can go to for what they have to say. (And it’s pretty easy to shut them up, too….). When I need something, my first thought is to find a book and read it on the subject. Doesn’t matter if it’s a software manual, or a marriage issue, my first response is to read.

    Reading is such a large part of my life that I can’t imagine not having the ability or opportunity.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      About 150-200 books — That’s really amazing Jeff!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Thanks Uma! I really read a lot. My wife tells me I waste a good book, because I finish it so quickly.

        But I love reading, and I enjoy learning. So I do it a lot.

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

    The Lord of the Rings has had a profound impact on me, on growing my faith and guiding me to my vocation which is to write. I have also enjoyed books on spiritual growth/finding your path (in no particular order): Believe That You Can! by Jentezen Franklin, Love Your Life by Victoria Osteen, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr. Jacques Philippe and Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen.

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree on Lord of the Rings. Amazing.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        One of my all-time favorites.

  • Peggy

    When I was a teenager, I discovered A Tale of Two Cities in some boxes of books belonging to a deceased relative. The book captivated my imagination from the opening lines: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Now as the author of young adult biographies, I have had the honor of having my biography of Charles Dickens published.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Great video Mike! It’s always encouraging to see people make such a great change in their life. Living in Michigan and seeing the situations Dr. Carson grew up in, this gives me hope that people are able to change and improve their circumstances.

  • http://underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com Jan Cox

    So what is wrong with the NIV? I grew up with the KJV and didn’t understand very much of it. When I had a full understanding of the necessity of a personal relationship with Christ in 2001 – I turned to the NIV, asked God to help me understand it and a whole new world and truth has opened up.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Nothing, other than my company, Thomas Nelson, didn’t publish it. ;-)

      Seriously, it is a solid translation. I have even been known to dip into it occasionally. (Shhh. Don’t tell my colleagues.)

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

    I inhaled Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” in grade eight in less than a week. Got in trouble with my mom, because I hid a light under my bed to read all night. I can still visualize the scenes where Jean Valjean steals the priest’s silver. I remember the emotional and spiritual impact when the priest insists the stolen items were a gift and shoves silver candlesticks into Valjean’s bag. What an amazing example of how we are to live out God’s story of redemption. When others labeled my children’s futures as doomed, Ben Carson’s story offered me “Jeremiah 29:11- 14a” hope as a single mom. Our God redeems broken lives in a broken world.

  • Gtdarnell

    There have been several at the time I read them they had a special impact. Recently Unbroken , the story of Louie Zamperini . This book is my all time favorite. When it finished it I cried like I had lost a dear friend.

  • John Young

    If visitors here have never read Dr Carson’s great book, Gift Hands, you should. If you missed the TNT movie about him a couple of years ago, find it..Cuba Gooding was fabulous.
    Because Cecil Murphy in Atlanta wrote Ben’s books, I was able to do a back door and interview Dr Carson several years ago and what I love in Mike’s interview now is what I sensed then:
    as one of the country’s great surgeons, with a made for tv movie and appearances on Oprah and a successful book about his life, the Doctor remains incredibly humble. He never plugged his book. He has never allowed celebrity to change him. He never fell into the trap of change that captures some authors and celebrities when they become well known.
    He walks the walk and leads by example. Can you imagine going into surgery with him? Several heart and brain surgeons I personally know struggle with ego and rock star status.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep. He is the real deal.

  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    Without books I would not be where I am today. They ignited a passion for leadership and personal growth. I first started to read John Maxwell books and went from their. He is the one who really helped my leadership grow. Still the book I try and read the most is the bible.

  • http://musicroad.blogspot.com kerrydexter

    while I agree with you about the power of books, I would also say that image and music may have similar transformative power, conveying ideas and spirit in differing ways. at times they combine, as well, of course. several of the books which have had strong effect on me are books of photographs.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    The War of Art changed how I approach writing, and life.
    The psalms of David changed how I pray.
    Tribes changed how I lead.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Those are many of my favorites as well.

      • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

        I went to an antique store in Franklin on Saturday and picked up an old book – The House of the Seven Gables, I think. I just stood in awe of the beauty of the old binding, the feel of the paper, and the classic look of the font. I love books.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          There is no experience quite like that. It is why I like to visit Landmark books periodically in Franklin.

          • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins


  • nzvictoria

    Born during the Japanese occupation of China, I arrived in NZ 63 yrs ago and lived in a small room without windows to the outside world (glass, TV or English-speaking parents) but books were my salvation, although I don’t really think I fully understood the full import of what was written until about 40 after going to uni and building up cultural capital. Any kid who reads can transcend their background, as they can then learn for themselves. However, I do believe early nutrition/lack of stimulation in a variety of areas, encouragement, opportunity etc. can hinder rich neural networks, thus limiting ability to even manage certain subjects e.g. philosophy/maths/science etc.

    I do not see the case cited as being one of huge deprivation as being born in the western world confers so many advantages anyway e.g. language and concepts are absorbed early and quickly compared to those foreign born in wartime.

  • Pingback: Why Books Still Matter: World-Renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson « TrueNorth Quest()

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I like books, but without a control clone who’s never read any, I cannot tell the extent to which books have “transformed” my life.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mikehardin63 Mike Hardin

    That guy reminds me of Cuba Gooding Jr. for some reason.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    The books that have changed my life the most are ones that explain to me who I am, how others are unique and how to communicate and connect with others for instance:

    The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    Now Discover Your Strengths by Marucs Buckingham
    Why You Act the Way You Do by Tim La haye

  • http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I am such a bibliophile, there is not enough room to list all the books I hold dear and have changed my life or my thinking.

  • http://twitter.com/chosenbyjesus Christine G

    I am fascinated by medical science and the things Dr. Carson was talking about. It’s interesting his take on books, and I agree with him whole heartedly. I broke the family TV when I was just a toddler, and as my mom tells me, it really got me into books (didn’t get a TV again until I was 7 or 8, but I would read for hours!). I still read as much as I can today, at 30. That desire never goes away.

  • http://www.krissiwyss.wordpress.com Krissi Wyss

    I must gush…I love books. I love Dr. Carson’s story. Books, ebooks, kindle, whatever form, I love books. Although I am thrilled to be able to read on my kindle, I buy whatever works at the moment. Right now we have 15+ books overdue at the library. I let my kids check out as many as they want (within card limitations) each visit, which means we pay our fair share in “library contributions” (aka fines). Gushing finished. For now.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love it when people gush about books!

  • eccle0412

    Bible daily at least
    recently, Cloud, Integrity, Linchpin, Waiting for Superman, Iconoclast, Freakenomics, Born to Run and I do, Into the Wild, Donald Miller, Radical, La’s Orchestra, Gladwell, Sarah’s Key,..For fun I love the Yada Yada Prayer group and Sister Chicks. But the library doesn’t have them all.
    I used to read a majority of NY Times Best Sellers just to see what the world was reading and Christian non fiction also.
    Now I peruse leadership podcasts (3) and a 2 blogs for what you all are reading.
    I regularly scope out books stores and then put books on hold at the library.
    Screens rule our lives too much.
    I like paper and I did I say I love the library. Community. Good stewardship.
    I buy the books I want to write in and keep.

  • http://www.inspirebusinessconcepts.com Scott Arrieta

    Normally, I would resist being so conformist, but I would have to say that the Bible is hands down the most influential book I’ve ever read. It’s pretty amazing because it speaks to me in completely different ways every time I read it, depending on what I happen to be going through at the time. I suppose that’s how God designed it.

    But there have definitely been times in my life when my faith has been shaken and I found myself questioning the very fundamentals that the Bible is based on. During these times, Lee Strobel’s books, The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator set me back on the path.

    Besides that, I think that Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud was a fantastic book that helped to set me on solid footing as I entered people leadership.

  • TNeal

    I smiled. I laughed. I listened. Dr. Carson amazed me.

  • TNeal

    C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and his Narnia series impacted my faith and my writing.

  • Furuknap

    I think you’re missing the point. A book is a format, and completely irrelevant in the context of changing or affecting anyone. Ironically, you use a blog post to argue your point; why didn’t you write a book? I am fairly certain the answer is that you chose the format based on the message you try to get across.

    I’m a publisher myself, and an author, having written 17 books and journals at this time. I don’t care about books; I care about the content of the books. I choose to write a book when writing a book is the best way to get a piece of opinion, a message, or knowledge across.

    People fall too much in love with the medium used to transmit information and fight battles over which medium is best rather than what the message is. They argue that televison is bad, or that books are better than magazines, or that radio has so much better pictures. Despite that, some of the most compelling stories are told in blogs, in theaters, in the movies, or in home videos.

    So, books aren’t important, any more than the paper of a love letter is important, or the film used to transmit a movie, or the bits and bytes used to put this message out to millions (or at least thousands) of readers.


    PS. I’m trying to comment using FaceBook, but apparently it’s not working. I’m furuknap, and I’m sure you can find a book somewhere to learn who I am. Or, just use a different medium and google it :-)

  • Cmnancymom

    I think reading a book that I am holding in my hands is relaxing, while reading electronic stuff is not so much. I love imagining how I think the scenes look. And I can read if I only have 5 or 10 minutes, while watching a movie in fits and starts would drive me crazy.

    I read in part because I love to learn. so I read many genres, biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction (Christian and secular), and lots of different types of non-fiction. Books about teaching are some of my favorites, including The Marva Collins Way by Marva Collins, Teach Like Your Hair Is On Fire by Rafe Esquity, and The essential 55 by Ron Clark. I used adeas from these books when I began to homeschool my children. Hawaii by James Michener taught me a lot about how not to introduce a new idea to an old culture.

    Like many of your other commentors, the Bible had a huge influence on my life, helping me become a believer at the age of 20. Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible had a major impact since I love to study and really knew that there was a right way to study God’s word if only I could find it.

    I love to give books as gifts to everyone on my list, especially my 4 and 2 yr. old grandchildren. Hopefully the books they receive and the time spent with loving family members reading to them will birth in them a love of reading that will them a lifetime, no matter the technology changes :)

  • http://twitter.com/barrykahan Barry Kahan

    Wow. I saw this show up in my weekly review and almost passed it over. Once I started to watch I was captivated and watched completely. What an interesting and facinating man to listen and learn from. ( Of course I mean you too Michael :)) . Could possibly be one of my favorite interview I have ever watched.

    All parents and grandparents need to watch this and understand the power of reading. If a parent is not reading to their kids to start this process….shame on them.

    Great work! (Side note…just bought a Kindle last night based on your reviews….love it already)

  • Pingback: Laudable Linkage and Fun Videos « Stray Thoughts()

  • Pingback: Do books still matter? « Strengthened by Grace()

  • Anonymous

    While I enjoy nonfiction (Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” comes immediately to mind), fiction has also had a powerful effect on my life. Stories better illustrate the truths that a nonfiction book seeks to impart. A couple examples from the top my list: At the risk of geeking out, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is absolutely riddled with examples of temptation, heroism, and loyalty. The novels of Wendell Berry’s Port William membership, especially “Jayber Crow,” illustrate what real community can be. And Frederick Buechner’s novels about sinner-saints (Godric and Brendan) give ample evidence of what grace does in the life of the surrendered.

  • Jetta

    I associate books with love and safety–sitting in Daddy’s lap as he read to me, unlocking adventures before I could read. Creaky leather chairs in our 1950’s library cushioned my entry into Nancy Drew’s adventures. I read avidly, inhabiting ‘Little Women’ and so many more. Reading assignments weren’t drudgery (well, except for Thomas Hardy) but a pleasure.

    My adult Christian journey has been shaped by books: C.S. Lewis’ books were primary after the Bible, but The Cost of Discipleship, A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, The Pursuit of God, collections of Spurgeon and Chambers, all tutored me through the years.

    Today I’m reading Buchanan’s Hidden in Plain Sight. I just purchased a biography of G.K. Chesterton, Defiant Joy. Obviously, I could go on and on. I can’t imagine life without that anticipation of the first page of an unread book–or the delight in re-visiting one I’ve read before.

  • Pingback: Best of March 2011 | Brimming Over()

  • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

    This is such a great story! It even made me consider getting rid of the TV in my house so that my kids will have more incentive to read!

  • Pingback: Why Books Still Matter: World-Renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson()

  • Pingback: Why Books Still Matter: World-Renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson()

  • Csharpe1110

    Dr. Carson is the morale of my Detroit experience story.  For 20 years, I voiced the why/how about the poorest, least educated of our country living within touch of our richest resources while the richest, most affluent live the furthest and most remotest distance away from the richest resources in our cities–their museums, galleries, theatres, universities.  Unclaimed value…

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.gibney.writer Louise

    Hi – Great post – the power of reading books shouldn’t be dismissed!
    Do you mind if I link to this blog on my Facebook writer’s page?ThanksLouise Gibneywww.facebook.com/louise.gibney.writer

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Great story, I relate Dr. Carson coming from a very poor Mexico’s farm town, the only way to get out of the extreme proverty has been thru reading books. I read everything that came accross my hands, just for the sake of learning.  Nowdays I am still an aavid reader, technology makes it easier, specially when you travel.  Great stuff keep it coming…

  • Jackie Brewton

    Wonderful interview. Is there any way to get a copy of this so that I can use clips with students to show them the power of reading? I’m not always presenting in a location that has an internet connection or I’d just show it from this web site.  

  • Anonymous

    I was just telling a friend today about how books were one of the biggest influences in helping me own my faith.
    Here are some of my favorite books:

    Safely Home (Randy Alcorn)
    The Singer (Calvin Miller)
    Radical (David Platt)
    Take The Risk (Ben Carson)
    Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan)
    God’s Outrageous Claims (Lee Strobel)
    Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
    The Principle of The Path (Andy Stanley)
    Becoming A Contagious Christian (Bill Hybels & Mark Mittelberg)
    A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
    Weird (Craig Groeschel)
    Lord Foulgrin’s Letters (Randy Alcorn)
    The Grace & Truth Paradox (Randy Alcorn)
    Letters From A Skeptic (Gregory Boyd)

    You might like my recent guest post on Guy Chmieleski’s blog, Faith ON Campus. The article is entitled, “5 Reasons To Start A Student Library” http://faithoncampus.com/5-reasons-to-start-a-student-library/

  • Allison

    Given the best book of all time the Bible that is my life guide to life.  But, if I had to pick the another one that has been the a very profound effect on my life would be the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

  • Ldgardner

    When reading my book to 5th graders during Read Across America Week, I asked, “How many readers do we have – those who read by flashlight after lights out at home or who sneak a book to finish reading during Math class? I was delightfully surprised at the number who shyly raised their hands (including one teacher).  Thanks for what you do to promote reading. Lillian Gardner

  • YapTGing

    A memoir about Iris Chang, the writer of ‘Rape of Nanking’. It was written by her mother, very touching and intimate account of her beloved daughter. I’ve felt Iris’ will and courage throughout the pages, her determination to expose a great atrocity to the world. There are some warm moments shared between mother and daughter and I’ve learnt a little more about Iris beyond her fame and external persona. To me, she has demonstrated what a writer can do beyond entertaining and sharing little hindsight to life. She has shown that writers can reveal truth, no matter how dark it is. This memoir inspired me to continue writing and stop dawdling about. 

  • Dr Mari

    Dr Carson is an inspiring man of God. I had the privilege of hearing him speak to a group of doctors a few years ago. His words encouraged and strengthened me as a Christian caregiver. I wrote about it briefly in my soon-to-be-published book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare. His books (Think Big, Take the Risk, Gifted Hands) are wonderful, and he provides one of the most intelligent arguments for creation vs. evolution I’ve ever read.

    Books change lives, and he’s a living example of that! Thanks for a great interview, Michael.

  • Theallenfam09

    Great article on books. This might as well have been my story. The one book that transformed my life was The 360 Degree Leader, by John Maxwell. I learned so much from this book, but the key take-away was that at different points in my leadership journey I will have to re-evaluate the landscape that I find myself facing. Overall relevancy matters.

  • poodles

    Life and Death in Shanghai, because until that time I never realized how a country could become communist. It is a personal story of baby steps towards communism until one day, the author, awoken to an army of youth stripping away her possesions and burning them in the street. At the same time the educated people were imprisoned or disappeared. It should be mandatory reading for people who believe, “It can’t happen here.”

  • http://twitter.com/KimunyaMugo Kimunya Mugo

    Awesome, just plain awesome! I have been fascinated by books and reading all my life. At first, it was to escape the poverty that reigned in our home. We had no electricity or TV at home. The transistor radio used dry-cell batteries that were so inefficient and kept on running out. With hardly any money to replace them when they ran out, I would place them out in the sun for the heat to catalyze any ‘remaining’ chemicals into some little more ‘airtime’.

    As I ate an otherwise unappetizing meal of boiled maize and beans garnished with a little sodium chloride (aka table salt), I would read about scrumptious meals in dog-eared 5th-generation copies of Enid Blyon’s “Famous Five” series. These books took me on journeys only existent in my wildest dreams.

    I have read Ben Carson’s “Gifted Hands” many times. My 7-year old daughter has read it cover to cover over 5 times in the last year. She’s fascinated by this man who overcame a lot of obstacles to do good. Our home is full of books, we have read for our three kids from when they were in their mom’s belly. Now, we can’t keep them off books. When snacking, the second thing they reach for other than their snack is a book. Our 5-yr old boy is reading fluently, his 3-yr old sister has demanded to be taught how to read.

    I can’t wait to get home to share this interview with the rest of my family. Thanks Michael for your dedicated work, and thanks Dr. Carson for the inspiration you are thousands of miles away. God bless ya’ll!

  • Guest

    My mother has seven children. When we were growing up, we did not have as many material items as other children, but what we did have was a library full of books available to us. During the summer, we would walk to the library and check out as many books as we could. Sometimes, I would have six books at a time by myself, and we would have to go back to the library less than a week later for more. Reading truly is fundamental, it opens you to new worlds, and it expands your mind. I believe reading was key to us because as children we were very thirsty for knowledge. Now, all seven of us can say we have college degrees. A few of us have two, and we each serve in a profession that continues to challenge and fulfill that thirst for knowledge.

  • brandonstarnes

    I would have to say the Bible has had the most impact on my life. I love this story I first came aware of Dr. Ben Carson from the movie that was done. To be honest growing up I hated reading but loved movies. If I had the same passion to read as I do for movies that would be a different story. It’s amazing the power that comes from reading he is a great testimony to that.

    2. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
    3. Biography of George Mueler

  • http://www.medicalaccountsolutions.com Misty Gilbert

    Michael, I absolutely LOVED this video interview!!! Awesome. I love books and there are so many reasons why. I try the eBooks, but I lose heart. I do some Audio Books but am only successful with this if I am literally stuck in the car and can not read one with my eyes. LOL!!!

    Yes, several books have transformed my life. This year, Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn was an incredible moving book for me! I have had others that have just rocked my world. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson was one. Fearless by Max Lucado was one.

    BTW: I received word last week through the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership Tribe I am apart of that the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast is no longer an affiliate of John Maxwell and that he is not speaking there this year. I am now questioning that this is true by what you have said. I have attended the last 3 years via simulcast and it is a highlight of my year!!! I truly hope you are right and the word out on this Facebook Forum is wrong.

    Keep up with the great work! You are an encouragement.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, that is correct about Leadercast. It looks like John Maxwell is not speaking this year. I am not involved either. I am confident, however, that it will be a great event.