In chronological order, Napoleon Hill’s works were my first exploration of this stuff at a young age, because his writings taught me how to be a functional (and even successful) human being, back when I actually didn’t have a clue on that front, so he gets an honourable mention as being the first person to wake me up to the possibility that I can choose what to think, believe, and therefore feel in almost any situation, instead of going with the flow and letting the most convincing arguments programme me into accepting their version of reality.
No-one had ever introduced me to that idea in all my childhood and teenage years: I’d been taught that truth is external, absolute, and must be sought through comparing ideas until you find the RIGHT one (which is usually the one most approved of by the people who matter the most in your life), so the first time I read his teachings I felt so incredibly liberated and alive that it was like I’d been living all my life in darkness, and suddenly he turned on the lights.
All the New Thought and Law Of Mind stuff, which I researched next, and all the Saivite & vedantic stuff I studied also informed my understanding of life and especially metaphysics.
The Kybalion, because those 7 laws apply to E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G in life, in the mind, in my own perception.
Everything else made sense once I truly understood that little gem, I spent a couple of days making such dense notes on it I virtually copied the entire text out over again, and understanding that “the universe is mental” plus the rest helped me make sense of why the world is as it is, why I’m as I am, why the people whose lives I know about happen the way they do, with the same situations usually unfolding again and again.
David Neagle helped me understand how these ideas apply in everyday situations through his blog, and the old newsletters he used to do called David’s Diamonds which took all those teachings and applied them to real-life concerns.
Stephen Flowers’ book Lords Of The Left-Hand Path came into my life at just the right time and helped me shake off the last few chains of conventional thought about the purpose of my life and the validity of my goals.
Then fairly recently Psycho-Cybernetics by Maltz for giving me a rational explanation of precisely how (and why) we create the things in our lives that we do, and Prometheus Rising ties into that from a more magickal POV, so the former helped me to truly place the latter in context and made it more useful.
And so much more, but those all marked a quantum leap in my understanding of reality and myself, and gave me the ability to transcend “beliefs” that are formed through reaction and habit, like one of Pavlov’s poor dogs (some of my family were quite political when I was growing up and it seemed like a self-imposed restriction to only see the world in one certain way), and move instead into making choices, including subsequent choices on what to bother investing belief in at all, as a willed act instead of a dumb reaction to external cues.