I was bundled up in some clothes that at the time didn’t seem quite warm enough. Our family had just moved from Southern California to Wisconsin, and I was a few months from my 17th birthday. This particular day, I was out in the freezing garage looking through some boxes. I came across one uncovered box with a bunch of old paperback books destined for the trash bin. I decide to dig through it in search of something to help pass those long dark cold winter nights. Most of the box was full of cheap novels not worth the time to open. But then I came across a book with a title that intrigued me.
When I say a book changes my life, I mean that reading it results in long-term changes to my thinking and actions. This was one of those books. In fact other than the Bible and a hand full of Christian books, this book has probably had more influence on my life than any other book I’ve read. It’s a secular book, so there’s no mention of the Bible or anything religious in there. But funny enough, the whole thing is chalked full of principles you will find in Scripture.
The other interesting thing is that I have finished at least 150 other books since I first came across this one, and other than the Bible, I think this is the most quoted book I have ever read. That amount of publicity might just suggest others have found it helpful as well.
As you pick it up and get into it, the principles might sound simplistic. “Smile more”, “Look happy to see people when you meet them”, “Remember peoples’ names”, “Don’t talk about yourself too much”, “Proving someone wrong never helps you” etc. But in all reality, it’s the simple things we often neglect. The sign of a skilled teacher is someone who can make a complex subject sound elementary. The name of this book might sound self serving and manipulative, but in all honesty just by reading through the excerpt below I think you will come to see that it’s nothing of the sort. Dale Carnegie is a master at understanding people, and if you let it, his book How to Win Friends and Influence People will change your life.
I read this book once a year. As I consider how to interact with different people, I don’t think a single week will go by without his words popping into my head. I still have a long way to go, but I simply can’t recommend this book enough. If you only read one secular book a year, this is the one it should be! If you are as forgetful as I can be, I would read it every year.