The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That book affected me in a very profound way. It won't help you get a better job in the same way that a philosophy degree doesn't prepare you to fix air conditioners. But I have found through my purely anecdotal and in no way scientific studies that the first step to improving your life is to understand and appreciate fully who you have been and how you got wherever you now find yourself. Once you understand who got you here, you can become the person who gets you somewhere else. And that is my Cliff's Notes version of just about every self-help book ever written. Especially Think and Grow Rich. Now that's a real stinker of a book. Horrible pacing, forgettable characters, and it just goes nowhere. No, fuck that shit.
So what have I taken away from The Guide? Lots of useless funny stuff. How does that help me succeed? I'll try to break down a couple of the main teachings of this holy book:
0) Everything can and will change fundamentally from time to time without warning.
1) The world ending is not necessarily the end of the world.
2) Computers are just as breathtakingly stupid as their creators.
3) You can have as many second chances as you like.
4) Impulsiveness is more frequently rewarded than punished.
5) Total commitment to a course of action often results in minor injuries.
6) Radical change is necessary for growth and shouldn't be avoided.
7) Panic is rarely a productive strategy.
8) Assistance can come from very unlikely and improbable sources.
9) If you are very very good at something, you can make a living at it, even if it is silly.
I would have to say that this book has overall improved my general outlook and perspective on life and enabled me to be the hoopy frood you all see before you today.