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Books.  I’m really not sure where – or who – I’d be without them.
I remember devouring books from as young as 3 and 4. Memorizing them. Caring for them like little baby dolls. Realizing, all at once, like a big bang burst of lightning straight to my heart, that people wrote them. People. Ordinary, every day people. Wow. What an great thing to be able to do!

Now, as a bestselling author myself, I have a brand new appreciation for where books have allowed me to get in my life and how they’ve formed me.

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(This is me crying when Cured by Nature came in the mail for the first time!)

Recently I’ve been getting questions about what some of my favorite books are, so I want to share with you 5 books that have truly shaped my life.

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Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

I am not exaggerating when I say that Autobiography of a Yogi is the BEST book I have ever read.

You know that one book that you have copies of just laying around to give to your friends? This is that book for me.

When Autobiography came into my life in 2011, the timing could NOT have been better. I was lost, confused, and about to embark on one of the most arduous, heart breaking, life-affirming, crazy journeys I’d ever been on! Autobiography was handed to me and  it truly, truly changed the course of my life. There is something in here for everyone. My one critique is that the beginning is a bit slow, and I’ve seen people put it down because of that. Don’t! You owe it to yourself to experience the magic in this amazing book.

There is roughly 1 miracle per page, all told from the perspective of Yogananda, who is now regarded as one of the great spiritual figures of our time. Born in northern India, he came to the United States in 1920, where for more than 30 years he taught the ancient science of meditation and the art of balanced spiritual living. Yogananda writes with humility, love and eloquence about his entire life – from his early memories in the womb until his death (one that he predicted to his students.) To paraphrase one of the best reviews on Amazon, in all my reading in spirituality, yoga, and comparative religion, I have discovered no other body of work that so completely embraces the concept that yoga science (the whole science, not just the athletic postures) will offer you ”undreamed-of possibilities” as Yogananda’s autobiography. This book brought it home for me.

A bonus? Any time someone sees that you are reading this book, you’ll make an instant new friend. Today, I live just blocks away from The Self Realization Temple and Self Realization Fellowships, which Yogananda founded. Talk about a life changer!

Screw It – Let’s Do It by Sir Richard Branson

I had the privilege of meeting Richard Branson this year at a Grammy After-Party at the Playboy Mansion (not to bragalicious, but I also met Buzz Aldrin that night and YES – it was the BEST.NIGHT.EVER) and the first thing I said to him was, “Man I LOVE your books!”

I’m not sure he gets that a lot.

Of all the things Richard has done with his life, his concise but action-packed, wisdom filled books are probably not up there with the things people clammer to verbally assault him about. But truthfully, they’re great.

Screw It – Let’s Do It is my favorite so far. It’s the closest to an autobiography I’ve ever read from Branson, with witty, laugh-out-loud parts and a lot of insight to boot. He gives you a look into his start in business and even delves into many hurdles he’s faced (and overcome) as a businessman. Plus – it’s a light read. Finished it in a day.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

I’ve read this book no less than 20 times, and every single time I learn something brand new and amazing about myself.

Written by one of the world’s most highly respected leadership experts, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is the fictional story of Julian Mantle, a successful businessman whose spiritual crisis sent him on an extraordinary odyssey to find his true purpose in life. This book is beyond delightful, beautifully written and completely uplifting. Julian finds himself at the kitchen table of an old business associate, waxing poetic about his spiritual journey, and I truly believe that every single page has some beautiful guidance for anyone who is just beginning or far into their own spiritual path. Written with beautiful anecdotes about what’s truly important at the end of the day.

The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life by Deepak Chopra

I picked this book up the DAY after my Dad passed away, and the first chapter is all about how Deepak dealt with his Dad’s death. I was… astounded. Could not have come into my life at a better time and really, truly set a beautiful stage for my own healing process.

Chopra writes of death, “Imagine yourself into a new form with a new location in space and time.”

This book explains healing on a level only Deepak can: eloquently, scientifically and poetically. You’ll take a personal excursion into healing, life, death and afterlife with scientific facts, studies and personal experiences. This incredible work reveals truths about ourselves, the universe, and this longitudinal mystery that we know as our daily life. Chopra’s book not only lifts the spirit, but opens up doors that many authors won’t even touch. Deepak gives us the tools, insights, and knowledge that can truly change and alter our world if we are open to letting them. If you’re seeking answers, I can guarantee you that you’ll find at least some of them in this book.

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Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball

I am truly a musical theater girl at heart, and this book appealed to the performer in me a lot!

Todd bought this for me awhile ago (he knows I love her!) and it was a beautiful surprise. Lucille writes so candidly and honestly about her life, from working her way up the long showbiz ladder up to running her own Hollywood empire, it’s not surprising she kept her autobiography shelved for decades. She makes you feel like you’re in it with her, which is my favorite part!

On top of that, it’s a must have for any busy business-woman for one reason alone: to bring yourself back to a time where women got the short end of everything, and a 40 year old actress has still somehow successfully made a name for herself. Seriously entertaining, insightful and inspiring.  A wealth of detail and information about her life, the entertainment industry, and how she completely (and almost single-handedly!) revolutionized television and the role women play in it. Written with wisdom in Lucy’s authentic voice, which I just adore.