The transformative power of a book

A book could be the compass that guides you on the path of personal growth or helps you build a different vision

These words come in response to a comment I read recently, from someone who was looking for suggestions for personal development books capable of impacting the lives of their readers.

Among the various recommendations, one answer in particular left me perplexed: «I'm not interested in those types of books».

This statement, which sounded as if reading this genre were a cardinal sin, led me to reflect on the importance and transformative potential of these works. I remembered the famous phrase from an old advertisement that said: “Don’t deny from the outset a science you don’t know”.

Personal development and self-help books are among the most read literary genres in the world. There are excellent works and others not so much, but the truth is that it all depends on the reader's individual needs and tastes.

One of the most famous aphorisms in history, “know yourself”, which is said to have been inscribed on the entrance porch of the temple of the god Apollo, in Delphi, Greece, in the fourth century BC, illustrates the need inherent in being human to know.

Personal development books represent the modern incarnation of this motto, they provide us with a navigation map through the complexities of being, serving as possible lighthouses on the journey of human existence.

One of the most notable powers of these books lies in their ability to inspire us to dream. They challenge us to question self-imposed limits and encourage us to pursue goals with a renewed vision. All we need is to be receptive.

I had the opportunity to read three books of this genre, which had a significant impact on different moments in my life.

To begin with, going back to the 90s, when I was 25 years old, the first book that marked me was «Who Moved My Cheese?», by Spencer Johnson.

Don't be fooled despite the reduced number of pages and the apparent simplicity of the story, a parable involving mice and goblins. This is a transformative book.

One of the phrases that impacted me the most at the time was: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” This question helped shape an entire professional and personal career. The message is simple: don't settle, don't take anything for granted, fight for what you want to achieve, because change is part of life. Inspiring, no?

Another book that left a mark was «How to Win Friends and Influence People», by Dale Carnegie. With more than 15 million copies sold, this work is one of the great classics of motivational literature.

When I took on my first management position, this book remained on my bedside table, and its principles continue to guide my personal and professional life. According to Carnegie, the secret to success lies in the genuine relationships we build with others. I could not agree more.

One of the fundamental teachings I absorbed from this work was the importance of addressing people by name. Notice how in many companies employees have badges. How about starting to use this information when requesting something or to say a simple “good morning”? We all want to be recognized, and hearing our name is something that gives us satisfaction. Here's a suggestion.

Last but not least, when I faced a burnout, the book «The Power of Now», by Eckhart Tolle, helped me to stay in the present, calm my mind and find some inner peace. Although it was not the solution, it was valuable support.

Personal development books have the ability to offer practical advice on how to face emotional challenges, overcome self-sabotage, and (eventually) find a deeper purpose in life.

With careful reading and some reflection, they help us understand vulnerabilities and work to improve them. In a world full of uncertainty and adversity, these works teach us to face challenges with more courage and (some) optimism.

They are not a shortcut, but rather windows that open in this zeitgeist uncertain, inviting us to explore the territory of human potential.

Don't underestimate the transformative power of a book. This could be the compass that will guide you on the path of personal growth or help you build a different vision, perhaps essential at a certain moment in your life. For me, these three books worked. I leave you with the reflection and these proposals.


Author: Analita Alves dos Santos is an author and literary mentor


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