The books and movies that shaped my life.

Updated: Jun 9

When I am asked about my top recommendations for personal development resources, I think about all of the books and movies that have enriched my life.

I've been an avid reader for the last 10 years. Before that, I only read 3 books in 20 years. Mind you, they were awesome 3 books - Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and the first Harry Potter. The first two taught me two crucially important lessons:

1) If I truly BELIEVE that I can have what I want, it will eventually happen.

2) If I am smart with Money, I can achieve financial freedom fairly quickly.

In my early 20s I was deeply hungry for purpose, for quality relationships, for freedom and for success. I hence devoured all the books on Entrepreneurship, Confidence, Communication, Business, Success, Happiness, Spirituality, Purpose... I could get my hands on.

Not only that, I Loved (still do) watching high quality, inspiring movies and some of them have had a deep impact on my life.

There is no way I can write all of them down in one go. So this will be a real time list that I will keep updating as more of them come to mind.

Books (not in order of preference):

1- The Prosperous Coach, Ritch Litvin & Steve Chandler

2- Siddharta, Hermann Hesse

3- Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, Rolf Potts

4- The 4 hour work week, Tim Ferris

5- Walden or life in the woods, Henry David Thoreau

6- The Magic of Thinking Big, David J.Schwartz

7- Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, Danny Meyer

8- Freedom from the Known, J. Krishnamurti

10- The 4 agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

11- The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, Pema Chodron

12- Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, Derek Sivers

13- The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life, Michael Roach

14- The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael Singer

15- PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, Chip Conley

16- The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm in a Busy World, Haemin Sunim

17- Letters to a young poet, Rainer Maria Rilke

18- Man's search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl


1- Fight Club - To me, this movie is about personal power and freedom. Breaking free from a status quo that binds our authenticity, makes us feel like we are not enough and pushes us to consume. It is waking up to the reality that we are much more powerful and resilient than we think we are.

2- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - This movie inspires me to the bones. Based on the true story novel created by Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffered a stroke and had to live with a paralyzed body. The only way he could communicate was with his left eye - and then he wrote this book!!

3- The great debaters - True story of hard working African American underdogs who end up winning the national debate competition at a very critical time in the racial conflict in the US.

4- The Beach - Sparked my wonderlust. There is so much out there that we can experience!

5- Revolver (the one by Gui Ritchie) - Ego is the enemy.

6- Kobe Bryant’s Muse - Loads of learning on the mindset, the being and the discipline of one of the best athletes in the world.

7- Rush - Hunger and Drive to make our dreams come true. If it came down to one thing it is this: people who achieve tremendous things are ready to die in the process.

8- Samsara - Simply pure craftsmanship. I learn so much from high quality Art.

9- The perks of being a wallflower - How so much of what we do is truly about belonging and being connected to others we care about. “We accept the Love we think we deserve”.

10- La La Land - “Here’s to the fools who Dream!”

11- The last samurai - Resilience, respect and the richness of living outside of our home culture.

12- Gladiator - Do I need to explain?

13- It's all gone Pete Tong - The real life story of a DJ who turned Deaf but still reached the climax of his success AFTER that. Nothing is impossible!

14- A Good Year - A successful Trader in London realises the good life is not about making more money and gaining more power.

15- American Gangster - Putting aside that it’s about heroin, it’s full of business lessons. Not the least of which that “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room”.

16- The Notebook - We have to honor our inner voice no matter what external influences pull us into. Otherwise, we will be giving up on deep fulfillment and as Thoreau said “Lead lives of quiet desperation.”

17- The King’s speech - What life changing coaching is really about. Hint: 50% is about the determination, hunger and investment of the coach-ee.

18- Rudy - Based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger this movie reinforced (and keeps reinforcing) my resolve to refuse to give up on my dream—even when the thousandth obstacle tries to bring me down. This is one of the most inspirational, resilience inducing movie of all times.


1- Chef’s Table - Masters share bits and pieces of themselves, their dreams, their challenges, and their work ethic.

2- Genius: Einstein - The life of Einstein as he became ”Einstein”. We all have forces pulling against our aspirations. What it really comes

down to is how bad we want it and are we willing to go against the people and forces that expect us to be a certain way?

Mark Twain said "I will not let my schooling get in the way of my education". Even though I graduated from an Ivy League School, I can tell you with confidence that reading and re-reading these books, watching and re-watching those movies, following their authors on youtube and podcasts, seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes has been my most impactful education. Not bad for 1/100th of the price...


© 2019 by Elie Dagher.