87 books like First Things First

By Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

Here are 87 books that First Things First fans have personally recommended if you like First Things First. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Dave Hersh Author Of Reignition: Transforming Stuck Startups Into Breakout Winners

From my list on leaders feeling lonely at the top.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a founder, CEO, venture capitalist, buyout specialist, Chairman, author, consultant, and coach. I’ve seen the startup world from every angle and also seen how destructive it can be if we don’t take care of our inner lives. My work now is to help people understand how we can transform ourselves to transform our businesses. These books were helpful to me when I needed them most and shaped not only my leadership approach but also my life. 

Dave's book list on leaders feeling lonely at the top

Dave Hersh Why did Dave love this book?

Being “lonely at the top” is often a problem of being stuck inside an infinite loop of cycling voices in your head. I can get insanely maniacal about the little things and have difficulty breaking out of the cycle.

This book came at a time when I was deep in one of those cycles. It was a mind-blowing look into why we are who we are and how homo sapiens systematically took over the planet. It was such an “aha” moment for me that it made all the voices go away, and I could see why and how my life was playing out in this way.

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Sapiens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the…


Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Denise Brinkmeyer Author Of Project Orienteering: A Field Guide For Project Leadership

From my list on servant leaders who get things done.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the oldest child, and former teacher turned technology innovator. As the only girl, growing up with three brothers gave me the tenacity to overcome limiting beliefs. Information technology has helped me create an environment where I can help a lot of people. At the end of the day, what I love most is helping someone turn an idea into a tangible solution while motivating team members to see the beauty and joy in this type of service.  

Denise's book list on servant leaders who get things done

Denise Brinkmeyer Why did Denise love this book?

I love this book because I like to write. 

Anne makes me feel normal when I immobilize my writing by fearing that no one will like it or, worse yet, that no one will even care to read it.  When I am pulled off my joy of writing, I re-read this book and find my joy again.

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…


Book cover of Influence: Science and Practice

Keith Ellis Author Of Magic Bullet

From my list on help us know ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

We live in the age of selfies, when it’s easy to snap a picture of ourselves in the day-to-day activities of our lives. But a deeper and far more satisfying journey is to take a selfie of our inner selves to better understand who we are, what we want, and how to get it. I’ve spent a lifetime on this journey. Self discovery and self understanding, and through them self-empowerment, these are the essence of my work. As a #1 bestselling author, my purpose is to help others discover their purpose, and live it. The five books I’ve recommended here have helped me greatly along that path.

Keith's book list on help us know ourselves

Keith Ellis Why did Keith love this book?

Entire industries exist to manipulate us based on characteristics of human psychology that nature has programmed into us. An important part of knowing ourselves is to know these characteristics and understand how to use them for our benefit, instead of the benefit of those who would use our human nature against us.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Influence: Science and Practice is an examination of the psychology of compliance (i.e. uncovering which factors cause a person to say "yes" to another's request).

Written in a narrative style combined with scholarly research, Cialdini combines evidence from experimental work with the techniques and strategies he gathered while working as a salesperson, fundraiser, advertiser, and in other positions inside organizations that commonly use compliance tactics to get us to say "yes." Widely used in classes, as well as sold to people operating successfully in the business world, the eagerly awaited revision of Influence reminds the reader of the power of…


Book cover of On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

James Phelps Author Of Australia's Most Infamous Jail: Inside the walls of Pentridge Prison

From my list on getting any writer started in the industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about this book list because it helped me get where I am today, a multiple-times bestselling author and an award-winning senior reporter. I began working as an overnight police round reporter before moving into sports, where I became one of Australia's best news-breaking rugby league journalists. I was then appointed News Corp Australia's Chief National Motorsports Writer and traveled the world chasing Formula 1 story, as well as covering Australia's V8 Supercar races. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for me, this list of books helped me begin and continue to grow to reach the level of success that I have.

James' book list on getting any writer started in the industry

James Phelps Why did James love this book?

This one didn’t change my life, but it did provide me with a no-nonsense guide to pesky things like conjunctions and clauses, superlatives and synonyms, prepositions and pronouns, and, obviously, alliteration. Ha. 

What I liked most about this book is that it isn’t written like a textbook. I read what is widely considered to be the writer's bible, The Elements of Style by William Struck and E.B. White, and considered giving up on my dream of becoming a writer because the book made me feel as if only someone with an Einstein-like intellect could write. 

But, as Mr. King wrote, the story is what matters; everything else is just dressing. But in saying that, being able to string together sentences helps (I think my jokes are funny, but no one else does), and this book gives a simple explanation of how to make your copy sing.

By William Zinsser,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked On Writing Well as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.

Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more…


Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Havard Mela Author Of How to Thrive in the 21st Century: By Avoiding Porn and Other Distractions

From my list on porn addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone who has felt the consequences of spending too much time online on distractions, I am compelled to share how much better life can be when we are conscious of the time we spend online. In my early twenties, I experienced digital addiction. I managed to turn things around by cultivating discipline and finding purpose in life. In the process, I developed a deep interest in neuroscience and psychology. My book explains how you can take conscious control of your life in a practical way based on my experience backed up by research.

Havard's book list on porn addiction

Havard Mela Why did Havard love this book?

This book is not a book that covers porn addiction, but it is a great book for understanding and creating new habits. This will be of great value to you if you want to stop watching porn.

I got a lot of value from reading this book; it is one of the books that can improve your life, no matter your situation. 

By James Clear,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Atomic Habits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller. Over 4 million copies sold!

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the…


Book cover of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Chris West Author Of The Karpman Drama Triangle Explained: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, Trainers, Therapists – and Everybody Else

From my list on really helpful psychology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by human behaviour since going to a school where we were told there was a right and a wrong way to do everything. That never felt right to me – human beings are much bigger than that! I studied Counselling and Therapy at Norwich City College in the 1990s and later specific courses on Transactional Analysis. Many years on, I am still learning…

Chris' book list on really helpful psychology

Chris West Why did Chris love this book?

Another classic from the Positive Psychology stable. "Flow" is that feeling of deep involvement in a task, especially one where our creativity and skill are challenged.

More generally, it is about clearing the mind of clutter and appreciating the moment. Another book I dip back into regularly. 

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Flow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Csikszentmihalyi arrives at an insight that many of us can intuitively grasp, despite our insistent (and culturally supported) denial of this truth. That is, it is not what happens to us that determines our happiness, but the manner in which we make sense of that reality. . . . The manner in which Csikszentmihalyi integrates research on consciousness, personal psychology and spirituality is illuminating.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

The bestselling classic that holds the key to unlocking meaning, creativity, peak performance, and true happiness.

Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an…


Book cover of The Little Prince

Gary Bernard Author Of The Moth and the Sun

From my list on picture books that promote creativity and critical thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always found the art of storytelling to be important. It’s taken me to places I’ve dreamed of as well as places others have created. Drawing has always been my passion, and the desire to entertain audiences of all ages has matured with time. When I realized I could make my own stories and illustrate them, it was clear that it was something I wanted to do. I always appreciated books that spoke up to me rather than down or too simply. The books on this list do just that.

Gary's book list on picture books that promote creativity and critical thinking

Gary Bernard Why did Gary love this book?

I hadn’t read this as a child, but upon reading it the first time, it made me feel like a child. The deep introspection, written with the imagination and voice of a young child, was calming, and I felt as if he knew how I thought as a child and adult.

I was living in France at the time, and the story had a foreign mood but was familiar. The book reached into personal childhood daydreams and fantasies. The prince’s way of thinking and expressing himself was definitely not from the modern day and it inspired me to write “up” to younger audiences. The immediacy and freshness of the illustrations motivated me to think less and feel more when creating.

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Richard Howard (translator),

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Little Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as 'The Little Prince'. Richard Howard's new translation of the beloved classic-published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's birth-beautifully reflects Saint-Exupery's unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this new edition has been restored to match in detail and in colour Saint-Exupery's original artwork. By combining the new…


Book cover of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Devora Zack Author Of Singletasking: Get More Done one Thing at a Time

From my list on to singletask what matters most.

Why am I passionate about this?

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” - Goethe. As Singletasking notes, we’ve become relentlessly disrespectful of the people and experiences right in front of us. Reversing this is a mission of mine. Nothing seems more important than redirecting our lifelong attention to what matters most. As an international author and speaker about both Singletasking and personality styles, I’m convinced paying attention to and honoring each other is the key to a meaningful life and deep relationships.

Devora's book list on to singletask what matters most

Devora Zack Why did Devora love this book?

The subtitle of Focus is The Hidden Driver of Excellence, yet this driver is arguably hidden no more upon the book’s release. As a journalist, psychologist, and top-notch researcher, Goleman is uniquely qualified to delve into the ‘science of attention.’ Plus, he has accumulated plenty of street cred from the various iterations of his Emotional Intelligence canon. 

Goleman compares attention to a muscle; requiring regular use to build it up. I couldn’t agree more. This premise is supported by myriad examples, accompanied by useful techniques for application in all aspects of life.

By Daniel Goleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Focus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For more than two decades, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman has been scouting the leading edge of the human sciences for what's new, surprising, and important. In Focus, he delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset that matters enormously for how we navigate life. Goleman boils down attention research into a three parts: inner, other, and outer focus. Goleman shows why high-achievers need all three kinds of focus, as demonstrated by rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and…


Book cover of Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

Paul Harris Author Of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

From my list on musical pedagogy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.

Paul's book list on musical pedagogy

Paul Harris Why did Paul love this book?

This book explores music in a delightfully refreshing way where the author considers music essentially an activity and develops his concept of ‘musicking’ or ‘doing music’ in all its various ways. He gives much confidence to those who may think ‘they are not very good at music’ to take part in a much more enthusiastic and practical way. It’s a lovely way in to the exploration of this wonderful art.

By Christopher Small,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Musicking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extending the inquiry of his early groundbreaking books, Christopher Small strikes at the heart of traditional studies of Western music by asserting that music is not a thing, but rather an activity. In this new book, Small outlines a theory of what he terms "musicking," a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singing in the shower.

Using Gregory Bateson's philosophy of mind and a Geertzian thick description of a typical concert in a typical symphony hall, Small demonstrates how musicking forms a ritual through which all the participants explore and…


Book cover of The Whatifs

Jennifer E. Morris Author Of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

From my list on worried or anxious children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a children’s book creator and a parent. Raising an anxious child can be challenging. Events that many children find fun and exciting can be overwhelming and scary for your child. Seemingly small changes in their daily routine can throw some youngsters into a swirl of emotions that is upsetting to them and to those who love them. When I was searching for picture books to help the young worrier in my life, I looked for books that acknowledged their distressing feelings while giving them some strategies with which to cope with their overwhelming emotions. That premise became the theme of my Maud the Koala book series. 

Jennifer's book list on worried or anxious children

Jennifer E. Morris Why did Jennifer love this book?

Cora has a bad case of the whatifs, whimiscal bug-like creatures that follow her everywhere. They fill her head with worries like “what if the dog runs away?” or “what if I forget my homework?” The whatifs become almost unbearable as Cora prepares for her big piano recital. What if no one comes? What if she makes a mistake? But through the help of her friend, Cora learns there are also happy whatifs. A good introduction to replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. 

By Emily Kilgore, Zoe Persico (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whatifs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

"Persico's atmospheric illustrations aptly reflect Cora's shifting emotions, and Kilgore successfully balances the whimsical with a tale grounded in reality." -Publishers Weekly

"Cora and her Whatifs have a charming appeal beyond their focus on tackling anxious thoughts, making an enjoyable read-aloud for wide audiences. . . . A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials." -Kirkus Reviews

Cora is struggling with her Whatif questions ahead of a big piano recital in this timely picture book about overcoming anxiety.

What if my dog runs away?
What if I forget my homework?
What if the sun stops shining?
What…


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