Books That Shaped My Life: A Reflection

Vishnu Dileesh
4 min readDec 15, 2022

As usual, the train was late. Me and my father choose to take a walk across the railway station. We were taking a journey to Kerala from Mumbai. As we walked aimlessly, my father asked me if I needed any books to read while on the train.

I was clueless, as I was in the 8th grade, and the only books I enjoyed reading were the NCERT English textbooks. I loved them, especially the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost had a lasting impression on me.

Unaffected by my clueless face, he pointed at a small stall of second-hand books. He picked up a few children’s books, and handed them over to me, after dusting them. I was unimpressed by those for some unknown reason.

Well, for a kid my age, it was obvious to pick the books with the most beautiful cover. But not me.

My eyes after wandering through the laid-out books struck upon a worn-out book titled — Rich Dad Poor Dad. I picked up the book and my father skeptically took the book from my hand and flipped through the pages. He looked at me and said, there are no pictures.

He was pondering if he should spend the money on the book as he was sure I won’t be able to read such a text-heavy book.

To this day, I still remember his doubtful look, he holding the book in his hand. Our eyes locked and he asked me the question — Give me one reason that made you choose this book. That question had me back out of many of the things I wanted to buy in my life. But not this time, I replied saying, I just want it.

Today little does he know that I have read that book more than ten times and in 4 different states. And to this day before making any purchase I ask the same question to myself — What is the one reason that is making me want to buy it?

The book laid the foundation for everything to come in my life. From a young age, I was able to set my relationship with work straight. When kids my age were chasing behind the cool-looking bikes on the roads and the smartest of smartphones. I was enthralled by the entrepreneurs that built them.

I am more interested in owning the shares of a business than owning its product. I would be happy to own 1lakh rupees worth of Apple shares than buy an iPhone. The whole idea of wanting to build businesses stayed with me, and years later, I dropped out of my degree in business administration and worked on a startup idea of my own.

Fascinated with the idea of running businesses, I started reading business biographies. Books like Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight became my all-time favorite books. When kids my age saw movie stars and sports persons as heroes, I was crazy about entrepreneurs. I admired them and set out to learn from them.

The journey was hard and filled with self-doubt and an emotional roller-coaster. The pages of the book — Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson are still soaked with my tears. I kept the book close to the pillow, the stories of the entrepreneurs became the support I needed in life.

I was never a small-talk person, and the books about these entrepreneurs made me feel like I was conversing with these entrepreneurs and the authors. To this day, I find it easy to read non-fiction books than fiction.

The spiritual books, Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty and Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master by Sri M helped me become emotionally stable. I started looking inward and started working towards improving myself.

In the journey of self-improvement, I came across books like Atomic Habits by James Clear and Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven. Those books added to the compounding and acted upon the butterfly effect — changed the direction of my life. I landed in a place where I found joy in improving myself every single day.

The curiosity to know more about myself and everyone around me made me pick up the book — Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It changed the way I looked at life, It made me feel both humble and know the importance of our existence at the same time.

Handed with the knowledge of my history I dived into learning the needed philosophy for the future ahead of me. I ended up in Stoicism, the book — Lives of the stoics by Ryan Holiday made me apply the philosophy in my daily life. Death became a compass in my life. Adding on to the effect, the book — How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie gave me the needed social skills.

Which I am trying to put into practice to this day.

The love for books and reading gave me the needed direction in life. I took up writing to distill down my reading and ended up in this amazing book club. And the shy kid is not a kid anymore and is now giving talks and conversing with people. The members have become family, and I don’t feel lonely anymore.

Everything comes down to applying the learning in life. Treating the world as a university and every book and every person as a vast ocean of wisdom to savor from.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin

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Vishnu Dileesh

Aspiring Social Entrepreneur | Software Engineer | Writer | Psychology Student