5 Life Development Books That Don’t DRY UP Halfway Through

Win one of them in my GIVEAWAY!

I love books.  But sometimes, I read a life development book with a great premise, then, halfway through it just dries up.  ::cue the music::  Wah waaaahhhh.  Ever have that happen?

Photo credit: sebastiansantanam8qnfs (MorgueFile)

It’s a shame, because the author put a lot of time and effort into writing the book.

But.  Every now and then, a book comes along that is completely unique.  It takes the same subject, but writes in a way that causes it to stand out.

I’m always on the hunt for those.

Don’t get me wrong.  Straight forward has its time and place.  In fact, sometimes it’s essential.  For example, I don’t want my prescription medication to be written in sonnets.

Tis my sole wish to care for thee,

To cleanse thine body of infection.

You shall take me two times each morn, nought three,

Else your ailment is beyond my protection. 


So even though we need cut and dry, I crave variety.  Especially when I’m reading a book with great information.  Help me out, author.  Make me laugh.  Tell a tale.  Make it memorable.  This stuff could change my life!


So that’s why I compiled this list of 5 life development books – each one treading off the beaten path, inviting you to slosh through the mud with it.


1.  “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything”
by Stephen D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Category:  Economics

This book uses statistics to answer the questions you never would have asked.  Ever wonder what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?  Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?  One chapter is called “Why drug dealers live with their mothers”.

There’s even a chapter on baby names and how they affect a person’s chances for success. Is that really a thing?  This book will tell you!


2.  “The Traveler’s Gift:  Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success” by Andy Andrews

Category:  Life Development

I can’t think of a “self-help” book that breaks the mold more completely than a work of creative fiction.  

Rather than list the seven decisions that determine personal success with bullet points, examples, or the ever popular mind map, Andrews takes you on a quest.  You journey through time and converse about life with presidents, kings and soldiers.  You duck behind boulders as bullets whiz by.  You walk through a warehouse next to an angel.

What a remarkable departure for your brain to take while learning great life lessons.


3.  “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck” by Jon Acuff

Category:  Career

Acuff had me in stitches from the first chapter.

He issues a very clear challenge to “rescue Monday” and “reinvent your work”.  Then he spends the rest of the book dishing out truth while making you laugh.  What makes this book stand out, other than its screaming yellow cover, is that you are in community with him.  It’s like you’re sitting around his kitchen table.  I kept expecting him to pause, mid-paragraph, and ask, “Can I get you some more tea?”

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

[Tweet “”The distance between comfortable and comatose is surprisingly short.” @jonacuff”]

“Want a better job right this second?  Choose your attitude and adjust your expectations.”

“When a stranger criticizes your entire life because of one thing you posted on Facebook, that’s like someone driving by your house and yelling from his car, ‘Your yard is horrible, I bet your heart is too!’”


4.  “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)” by Seth Godin

Category:  Career

In 80 pages, you will change your life.  Godin doesn’t flower things up, he doesn’t use bullet points, he doesn’t use lists.  I’m pretty sure I know how he feels about mind maps.

The “dip” occurs in everyone’s business or personal endeavors.  When the going gets tough, most people quit.  However, people who push through the dip are those same people who achieve greatness.

Godin raises the stakes.  He walks you to the starting line of the race.  By the end of the book, you’re running.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

[Tweet ““You’re astonishing. How dare you waste it.” – Seth Godin”]

“If you’ve got as much as you’ve got, use it. Use it to become the best in the world.”

If it’s not going to put a dent in the world, quit.


5.  “Some Assembly Required:  A Journal of My Son’s First Son” by Anne Lamott

Category:  Parenting

Here’s a parenting memoir that skips everything conventional about a baby’s first year and goes straight to belly laughs.  Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers because she says what everyone else is thinking.  And she relates to her readers by sharing all the ups and downs of her imperfect, unconventional family dynamics.

For example:

“Jax [Lamott’s grandson] mostly sleeps, nurses, poops, blinks at you with black google eyes, pees on you while you are changing him, passes out.”

“Either you learn to live with paradox and ambiguities or you will be six years old for the rest of your life.”



I’ve chosen to give away a brand new copy of #3 on my list, “Do Over” by Jon Acuff!  This book rocks and is SO funny.  It’s changing a lot of people’s careers (and lives).  And now it’s time for me to pass it on to you.

Here’s how to enter:

Leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post, sharing your thoughts on this list, or what books you might add to it.  I love to read people’s recommendations.  One commenter will be chosen AT RANDOM and announced on Friday, July 24th!

That’s it!

Happy Reading!


P.S.  The easiest way to follow my blog for future giveaways is to subscribe.  Click here to make sure you don’t miss the announcement of the winner next week!

P.P.S.  If you see a book you like, follow my affiliate link to buy it.  It’s my Amazon portal, so I receive a small commission every time you do – which is one way you can support my blog – so thank you!


(GIVEAWAY UPDATE 7-24-15:  THIS GIVEAWAY HAS EXPIRED.  Congratulations to Christine Naglewski, the winner of Jon Acuff’s newest book, “Do Over”!  May it be of encouragement and inspiration to you!  Stay tuned, Piggy Bank Readers – this will NOT be my last giveaway!)

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36 thoughts on “5 Life Development Books That Don’t DRY UP Halfway Through

  1. I’ve read a few of those. Great recommendations! I’ll be sure to check out the others! Thanks, Laura.:-)

  2. Of the books on this list, I’ve only read “The Dip” by Seth Godin, but I’ve heard great things about the others.

    To answer your question, I would add “Start” by Jon Acuff to this list. As you said, Jon is hilarious so I found myself chuckling the entire way through that book. Plus I love how he provided practical exercises to actually “Punch fear in the face, escape average and do work that matters” as the subtitle suggests.

    I would love to read “Do Over” as I know Jon’s books never disappoint; I just haven’t had a chance yet! Thanks for the chance to win it, Laura!

  3. I’ve read #1 and #2 and will definitely be adding the rest to my reading list! I’ve been wanting to read “Do Over” since you’ve been posting about it! Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Thanks Emily! I’m definitely going to read that one again soon for the laughs. I will warn you that there is a little language, but like I said, she’s pretty honest. Happy reading!

  4. Nice list! Personal Development is one of my favorite genres to read. Do Over is on my to-read, but Jon’s 2 earlier books (Quitter & Start) were both very good so I have high expectations. That said, some of my favorite self-betterment books are “Mindset” by Carol Dweck and “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy

    • He definitely ups the ante in “Do Over”. I really enjoyed it – and it was completely different information than in his first two. I’ll add those suggestions to my to-read list. Thanks Julie!

  5. Thanks for the recommendations! “Freakonomics” has been on my reading list for some time, and “The Dip” sounds really interesting. Amazon, here I come!

  6. The Traveler’s Gift is indeed a good one! Here is another little know one that is also good; “Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives” by Gergen & Vanourek.

    It talks about how to apply entrepreneurial skills to your whole life; not just career. How to create a purposeful life in all area’s. What I like best about it is that it offers stories & strategies. It’s both easy and entertaining to read. Thank you for sharing your list above!

  7. Interesting. I’ll have to add these to my reading list.

    I would also add the classic “Boundaries” (Cloud & Townsend) to the list. Learning how to say NO effectively is essential to being able to say YES to the things you need to do in life.

  8. I really enjoy Acuff’s style and wit. In terms of a book I don’t know how to box, “Love Does” by Bob Goff but it’s definitely a recent favorite to my list. It’s story with some principles that encourage an open handed and give-away lifestyle.

    • Yes, that was an unbelievable book, Jared! I just heard Bob Goff say in an interview that he gets dozens of calls every day because he added his cell phone number in the back of the book. He said it’s usually people who just want to connect, who just want to know if he’s the real deal. Pretty incredible guy.

  9. Quoted for truth: “When a stranger criticizes your entire life because of one thing you posted on Facebook, that’s like someone driving by your house and yelling from his car, ‘Your yard is horrible, I bet your heart is too!’”

  10. I have read Traveler’s Gift but need to put The Dip on my list. I’m always looking for a good book. And giving them away too. 🙂 I keep multiple copies of the best books on my shelf so I can lend or give them away without losing my copy. Read, people. Read.

    • I’m looking at one of my book shelves right now, just filled with books I haven’t gotten to yet. Yes, I too am always looking for a good book – and I nearly always get around to reading them. 🙂 Oh the torture. But I consider it a good problem to have.