29 Self Help Books That Will Guide You Through Life
1. Think And Grow Rich — Napoleon Hill
Date of reading: 19th-28th of December, 2016
Description: It’s a 13 step action plan on how to think and grow reach, accumulate wealth, plan smart and implement it correctly.
Impression: You need to desire something strong enough, create a plan on how to achieve it and then stick to it. It’s no wonder this is a self-help classic.
Quotes: “When you begin to THINK AND GROW RICH, you will observe that riches begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work. You, and every other person, ought to be interested in knowing how to acquire that state of mind which will attract riches.”
“You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice — we win, or we perish! They won.”
“SUCCESS REQUIRES NO APOLOGIES, FAILURE PERMITS NO ALIBIS.”
2. When Breath Becomes Air — Paul Kalinithi
Date of reading: 29th-30th of December, 2016
Description: It’s like watching Game of Thrones and your favorite character dying. You proclaim that they didn’t deserve it. The same thing applies to the autobiographical piece “When Breath Becomes Air.” A young neurosurgeon who had it all — his youth, a great and pregnant wife, an amazing career. And then he finds out he has a stage four lung cancer as a non-smoker.
Impression: Life is complicated and sometimes, it hits you with everything it has even if you’re on the peak of your life. At the moments when you could finally relax a bit and tell yourself that you’ve made it, life throws you a deadly illness at your doorstep and there is nothing you can do. This was the most emotional book I’ve read in 2016 and as I was flipping the last pages of it, I cried my eyes out (Bill Gates did too so I’m not the only one).
Quotes: You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.
I envied their happy faces, knowing that, statistically, they all probably had highly treatable forms of cancer, and reasonable life expectancies. Only 0.0012 percent of thirty-six-yearolds get lung cancer.
Yes, all cancer patients are unlucky, but there’s cancer, and then there’s CANCER, and you have to be really unlucky to have the latter.
Message to his 8-month old daughter just before he was about to close his eyes for the final time in his life:
When you come to one of the many moments in life where you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.
…what Paul saw and what I now carry deep in my bones, too: the inextricability of life and death, and the ability to cope, to find meaning despite this, because of this. What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.
3. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People — Stephen Covey
Date of reading: 16th — 24th of January, 2016
Description: The first three habits (Be Proactive, Begin With The End In Mind, and Put First Things First) are about self-mastery and you do them “behind closed doors.” Without achieving personal mastery, there is no external success. And the habits four (Think Win/Win), five (Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood), and six (Synergize) all focus on the social, exterior life. The seventh habit (Sharpen The Saw) is about taking the time to work on your capacity to take care of the remaining six habits.
Impression: Paradigm shifts, models on how to get from dependency to independency to interdependency, and habits on top of that with vivid examples make this one of the best self-help books ever written. I drew (and still do) plenty of valuable life lessons from this book.
Quotes: They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.
We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, of circumstances, or of past habits
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Private Victory precedes Public Victory.
4. Ego Is The Enemy — Ryan Holiday
Date of reading: 25th — 29th of January, 2017
Description: How can the Ego destroy us in three phases of our lives. The first one is when we are climbing toward success. The second one is when we are already successful. And the third one is when we are going downhill from it. The three-part book structure is something you can find in every single Ryan Holiday’s books.
Impression: As you probably noticed, I’ve read almost all the books by Ryan Holiday, but the first one that got me was “The Ego Is The Enemy.” The book profoundly showed me the perils of my own ego and made me skip the trap of thinking that I somehow defeated my ego forever. It’s a continuous battle and you can never let your guard down.
Quotes: The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.
— RICHARD FEYNMAN
In this way, ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It’s a magnet for enemies and errors. It is Scylla and Charybdis.
Humble in our aspirations
Gracious in our success
Resilient in our failures
If your purpose is something larger than you — to accomplish something, to prove something to yourself — then suddenly everything becomes both easier and more difficult. Easier in the sense that you know now what it is you need to do and what is important to you. The other “choices” wash away, as they aren’t really choices at all. They’re distractions. It’s about the doing, not the recognition. Easier in the sense that you don’t need to compromise.
Harder because each opportunity — no matter how gratifying or rewarding — must be evaluated along strict guidelines: Does this help me do what I have set out to do? Does this allow me to do what I need to do? Am I being selfish or selfless?
5. Awaken The Giant Within — Tony Robbins
Date of reading: 7th — 21st of February, 2017
Description: Half biography- half life tutorial from the greatest self-help guru who ever lived on the planet. You will learn everything from how to communicate with others, to setting your own values, to carefully using words to put yourself in (or out) of the desired state.
Impression: People either love or hate Tony Robbins, you simply can’t be indifferent to him. Well, I most certainly am indifferent to him and because of that, I believe I’m in the objective position to recommend you to read this book. There will be things which won’t resonate with you, but then there will be things that hit you straight in the gut. There is a reason Tony Robbins is the greatest. Use what you can, ignore the rest.
Quotes: Changing an organization, a company, a country — or a world — begins with the simple step of changing yourself. And you change yourself by raising your standards: What you won’t tolerate, what you won’t accept in life and what you aspire to become.
You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know.
Knowing is not enough! You must take action.
6. The Four Agreements — Don Miguel Ruiz
Date of reading: 27th of February — 1st of March, 2017
Description: The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best.
Impression: This is a short, but very impactful book. The examples in the book and the way the author presents them are one-of-a-kind. Heavily recommend to you and you can even use it as a gift to certain people, especially focusing on the second Agreement.
Quotes: The reward feels good, and we keep doing what others want us to do in order to get the reward. With that fear of being punished and that fear of not getting the reward, we start pretending to be what we are not, just to please others, just to be good enough for someone else. We try to please Mom and Dad, we try to please the teachers at school, we try to please the church, and so we start acting. We pretend to be what we are not because we are afraid of being rejected.
Wherever you go you will find people lying to you, and as your awareness grows, you will notice that you also lie to yourself. Do not expect people to tell you the truth because they also lie to themselves. You have to trust yourself and choose to believe or not to believe what someone says to you.
7. The Promise Of A Pencil
Date of reading: 25th — 29th of March, 2017
Description: How Adam Braun figured out what he wanted to in his, how it took years to figure it out and how that produced one of the most successful “For Purpose” organizations this world has ever seen — Pencils of Promise. The organization built over 400 schools in third world countries, providing education where there was none.
Impression: You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. Adam Braun had it all. Great Ivy League education, an amazing job at Mckinsey, and a safe and secure future. But he didn’t have his heart in it. He found his purpose when asking a small Indian girl what she wanted from life and she responded “a pencil.” It was the trigger which pushed him to live his life the way it was meant to be, not the way it planned to be.
Quotes: Up until that point, I had always thought that I was too young to make a difference. I had been told that without the ability to make a large donation to a charity, I couldn’t help change someone’s life. But through the small act of giving one child one pencil, that belief was shattered. I realized that even big waves start with small ripples. This is my thing, I thought. Rather than offering money or nothing at all, I’m going to give kids pencils and pens as I travel.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the beautiful irony of a Jew reading the Christian Bible aloud in a town called Palestina.
8. Come As You Are — Emily Nagoski
Date of reading: 27th of May — 5th of June, 2017
Description: How sexuality works for both men and women. And that almost all of it is normal.
Impression: There is one sentence from this book that helped me through the years and it’s this one: It’s not how you feel. It’s how you feel about how you feel.
Quotes: It’s not how you feel — it’s not even being aware of how you feel. It’s how you feel about how you feel. And people who feel nonjudging about their feelings do better.
This is as literal as it gets: It’s not how you feel (pain). It’s how you feel (tolerant or not) about how you feel.
9. Superhuman By Habit — Tynan
Date of reading: 5th — 6th of July, 2017
Description: This is a tactic-oriented book about habits. With a mere 80 pages, the author shows us a step-by- process on how he lost most of his bad habits and how he grew some great habits.
Impression: If you don’t want to read extensive research about habits, but just want a clear pathway and plan on how to lose a bad habit or gain a great one, this is the book to read. It goes straight into the how, without trying to thin itself to 250 pages like some books do.
Quotes: What surprised me was the freedom which habits gave me. Rather than making me feel like a robot running through routines, building habits has made so much of my life automatic that it feels like I have complete autonomy because I don’t have to worry about the basics. They get done in the background.
Well, for six months of focused effort I now get fifty years or so of loving to work and the enjoyment of the dividends it pays. For me it was unequivocally worth it, but of course as you build your own habits.
10. Black Privilege — Charlamagne Tha God
Date of reading: 15th — 23rd of July, 2017
Description: How to live as a poor African-American in the South, have a long, potty mouth and still succeed in life.
Impression: Even drug dealers can change if they follow their authentic self and stay true to their value set. Charlamagne lost so many battles because he stood by his values. And that’s why he won.
Quotes: I’ve been a bully (and been bullied). I’ve been a drug dealer. A so-called thug. A so-called nerd. I’ve been to jail a few times. I’ve come within inches — on more than one occasion — of fulfilling my father’s prediction for Darnell and all the other knuckleheads in our town: broke under a tree, dead in the ground, or rotting in jail.
Remember shit is the best fertilizer; it’s what helps the flowers grow.
When the roots are deep there is no reason to fear the wind.
— African Proverb
11. Choose Yourself! — James Altucher
Date of reading: 3rd — 7th of August, 2017
Description: How to find and choose yourself in today’s fast-paced world. The author does this through a plethora of horrible personal experiences which somehow, in the end, made him happy and successful in a weird way.
Impression: James Altucher lives a weird life. From millions in the bank to bankruptcy to millions again on the bank and bankruptcy again to living with his parents to flying in helicopters and playing chess in the park. It’s super unconventional, but that’s what makes it real life.
Quotes: There’s no one path. There’s every path. Every path starts with this one moment. Did you choose yourself for this moment? Can you be bold? Then all paths will lead to the same place. Right now.
In the past twenty years I’ve failed at about eighteen of the twenty businesses I’ve started. I’ve probably switched careers five or six times in various sectors ranging from software to finance to media. I’ve written ten books. I’ve lost multiple jobs. I’ve been crushed, on the floor, suicidal, desperate, anxious, depressed. And each time, I’ve had to reinvent myself, reinvent my goals and my career. On most occasions, I didn’t realize what steps I was repeating over and over, both positive and negative. Once I achieved success I would inevitably return to my negative habits and start squandering my good fortune.
12. Shoe Dog — Phil Knight
Date of reading: 8th — 17th of August, 2017
Description: Autobiography of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and the way he created Blue Ribbon Sports (Nike later on) to the way he played on the edge of failure for years.
Impression: Most people loved this book but for me, it was quite boring to read. Nonetheless, lessons of perseverance, success, positive role models, and dealing with loss in the family are what can be found in the book.
Quotes: Earned a master’s from a top business school — Stanford. Survived a yearlong hitch in the U.S. Army — Fort Lewis and Fort Eustis. My résumé said I was a learned, accomplished soldier, a twenty-four-year-old man in full . . . So why, I wondered, why do I still feel like a kid?
The last thing I wanted was to pack up and return to Oregon. But I couldn’t see traveling around the world alone, either. Go home, a faint inner voice told me. Get a normal job. Be a normal person.
Then I heard another faint voice, equally emphatic. No, don’t go home. Keep going. Don’t stop.
…the goddess Athena, thought to be the bringer of “nike,” or victory…Temple of Nike, in which the warrior gives the king a gift — a pair of new shoes.
13. High Performance Habits — Brendon Burchard
Date of reading: 7th of November — 15th of November, 2017
Description: High Performance Habits is a book for people who think, believe, and act successfully but still think that something is missing. Brendon Burchard goes into details on how to have it all and gives examples of people who do have it all.
Impression: What I love about this book is that it doesn’t just talk about things that work but it shows how they work (plan) and why they work (science behind it). If you want to be a high achiever in every single area of your life, this is a must-read.
Quotes: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
What you need is a reliable set of practices for unleashing your greatest abilities. Study high performers and you will see that they have systems built into their days that drive their success.
Systems are what separate the pro from the novice, and science from armchair philosophy. Without systems, you cannot test hypothesis, track progress, or repeatedly deliver exceptional results. In personal and professional development, these systems and procedures are, ultimately, habits. But which ones work?
14. The Power Of Now — Eckhart Tolle
Date of reading: 25th of November — 2nd of December, 2017
Description: I’m not really into woo-woo kind of books but this is definitely not one of those. There is a reason The Power of Now is called the most spiritual book of the 20th century. If you hear about mindfulness and presence all around you but don’t know where it comes from or what the fundamentals are, I definitely recommend The Power of Now.
Impression: A lot of my bad habits, ticks, and crap that I was doing for years was solved at least partially with this book. I had a nagging habit of biting my nails and even though I read many habit building (and breaking) books, the one that pushed me over the edge was actually the Power of Now. When you focus just on the present moment, miraculous stuff tends to happen. Try it out.
Quotes: I do so not in order to compare, but to draw your attention to the fact that in essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms. Some of these forms, such as the ancient religions, have become so overlaid with extraneous matter that their spiritual essence has become almost completely obscured by it.
Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought.
15. The Obstacle Is The Way — Ryan Holiday
Date of reading: 3rd — 6th of December, 2017
Description: When life becomes unbearable and things seem grim, remember that the only way around is through the problem. This needs to be a must-read for people at the age of 14–18 to prepare them for real life.
Impression: As you will notice, I read 5/6 books by Ryan Holiday and there is a reason for it. He writes with a clear structure in mind, the claims are backed up by research and stories which are not from personal life, but from other people which just shows how much time and effort went into the book. The book teaches you about the long lost philosophy of the Roman Stoicism, something we could use more than ever today. No matter where you are in life, this book will push you forward.
Quotes: The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
It’s simple. Simple but, of course, not easy.
While others are excited or afraid, we will remain calm and imperturbable. We will see things simply and straightforwardly, as they truly are — neither good nor bad. This will be an incredible advantage for us in the fight against obstacles.
16. Walden — Henry David Thoreau
Date of reading: 7th — 18th of December, 2017
Description: Your purpose for life is always bigger than you and it involves you doing something for the sake of others. But you only find what you want to do in others when you look deep within you. And that is almost impossible in a hectic and noisy world. Thoreau figured that out back in the 1840s so he secluded himself, alone, in a forest for two years to figure his life out. And what came out of that seclusion was Walden, one of the best self-reliance texts ever written in the history.
Impression: It’s weird to read about something which happened almost 200 years ago and realize that it’s almost the same life. Politics, noise, greed and the inability to think, pollute our society and to figure your life out, you need to seclude yourself from the outer noise to hear the voice within you. Only then can you return to society because your purpose will be clear and your actions focused.
Quotes: What old people say you cannot do you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.
“But,” says one, “you do not mean that the students should go to work with their hands instead of their heads?” I do not mean that exactly, but I mean something which he might think a good deal like that; I mean that they should not play life, or study it merely, while the community supports them at this expensive game, but earnestly live it from beginning to end.
17. The Mask Of Masculinity — Lewis Howes
Date of reading: 4th — 6th of February, 2018
Description: How we men carry, throughout our entire lives, nine masks of masculinity which prevent us from being the authentic, true self. The masks are stoic, athletic, material, sexual, aggressive, clown, invincible, know-it-all, and alpha. Lewis Howes shows us how each mask is formed, how to beat it and who are the people who successfully managed to do that.
Impression: Damn, I loved this book. A lot! If you’re a man, you will find yourself in at least one of the masks above. If you’re not a man, you can use this book to understand the men around you better. The book was an eye opener for many different categories and identities I had in my life.
Quotes: Masculinity is about discovering yourself and owning what you find. It’s about being kind to others, and pursuing your dreams with all the passion and energy you can muster. It’s about doing something that is meaningful to you that brings value to others. That’s how you build a legacy.
Masculinity is not about being the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the one who sleeps with the most girls, and the one who has the most money. The one who has the most accomplishments is not the most masculine. In fact, it is often the men who covet these things most who are covering and compensating for the greatest insecurities. Let us revere the one who loves others deeply, loves himself deeply, and has a dream that he is inspired to live with and by and through. He is a man.
18. The Art Of Non-Conformity — Chris Guillebeau
Date of reading: 22nd — 28th of February. 2018
Description: The world is filled with bad ideas which a lot of people follow without ever questioning them. The biggest life regret of dying people is that they never lived their life the way they wanted to, but they instead listened to society, parents, spouse or someone else. The Art of Non-Conformity teaches you how to find your way of life and live it through.
Impression: I tend to just read the books from people who walk-the-walk. And Chris is a guy who traveled all around the world, volunteering for years in Africa while maintaining his lifestyle through the income from the book and his website. He shows us how you can live your authentic life no matter where you are and no matter what your life’s situation is.
Quotes: “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” The idea is that it’s not good to do something stupid, even if everyone else is doing it. The logic is, Think for yourself instead of following the crowd.
It’s not bad advice, even if it’s sometimes used to exert control more than to support independent thinking. But one day, you grow up and suddenly the tables are turned. People start expecting you to behave very much like they do. If you disagree and don’t conform to their expectations, some of them get confused or irritated. It’s almost as if they are asking: “Hey, everyone else is jumping off the bridge. Why aren’t you?”
My story is not complete, and I certainly don’t know it all. An important part of the guru-free philosophy is that no one is better than anyone else, and most of what you need to know, you already know — we’re just going to fill it out a little. If you’re just starting on your own unconventional journey, the best way to understand it is to talk about monkeys.
19. Meditations — Marcus Aurelius
Date of reading: 23rd — 29th of March, 2018
Description: Roman Stoic philosophy from one the “The Big Five’s” of the Roman Empire. Marcus Aurelius was a wise emperor who understood the way of dealing with people and, luckily for us, he managed to inscribe most of that wisdom in his Meditations. This is a book about philosophy, a word which used to mean a way of life, not something you talk about at 2:00 am with your friends after you’re drunk. This is a book of life, a way of life, a code of life.
Impression: If it doesn’t harm your character, it can’t harm you. The impediment to action becomes action itself. What stands in the way becomes the way. The amount of wisdom this book provides is over 9000!!!!
Quotes: When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.
If there were anything harmful on the other side of death, they would have made sure that the ability to avoid it was within you. If it doesn’t harm your character, how can it harm your life?
Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people — unless it affects the common good.
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
20. The Checklist Manifesto — Atul Gawande
Date of reading: 17th — 23rd of April, 2018
Description: If information is all it would take to solve our problems in life, everyone with an internet connection would be problem-free. We know a lot, but when it comes to the right implementation of actions and in the right order, we completely suck. Solution? A checklist. But how to create one which provides direction, but isn’t too stifling and a nuisance? The Checklist Manifesto answers that question.
Impression: After I’ve read this book, I created a simple checklist for the creation of my blog posts. I have only 6 elements in it which I need to “check off” to have the blog post ready: paint black, SEO, Grammarly, opt-in, sidebar, categories. They are unclear to you, but they are a must-have for me.
Quotes: In complex processes, after all, certain steps don’t always matter. Perhaps the elevator controls on airplanes are usually unlocked and a check is pointless most of the time. Perhaps measuring all four vital signs uncovers a worrisome issue in only one out of fifty patients. “This has never been a problem before,” people say. Until one day it is.
The successes have been sustained for several years now — all because of a stupid little checklist
21. The Way Of A Superior Man — David Deida
Date of reading: 24th — 26th of April, 2018
Description: How to become a man in the cruel today’s world. The line which separates an asshole who is always taking the win-lose situation from a good guy who is always taking the lose-win is tiny. And this book provides the way on how to dance on that tiny line. This should be a kind of a bible for men everywhere.
Impression: The sentences inside the book are the ones none of us men want to hear, but they are the ones that we need to hear. If you have a notion of relationships as romantic, happy-ever-after love affairs, you need to read this. It’s better to know the truth and learn how to handle it than it is to ignore it and fall into a pit of despair, heartbreaks, and sorrow.
Quotes: The more a man is playing his real edge, the more valuable he is as good company for other men, the more he can be trusted to be authentic and fully pre- sent. Where a man’s edge is located is less important than whether he is actually living his edge in truth, rather than being lazy or deluded.
Admit to yourself that if you had to choose one or the other, the perfect intimate relationship or achieving your highest purpose in life, you would choose to succeed at your purpose. Just this self-knowledge often relieves much pressure a man feels to prioritize his relationship when, in fact, it is not his highest priority. Your mission is your priority
22. How To Win Friends & Influence People — Dale Carnegie
Date of reading: 2nd — 7th of June, 2018
Description: There is a reason How To Win Friends & Influence People sold more than 30 million copies since it was written in the 1930s’. The book teaches you how to win people over, create win-win situations, deal with problems, and make every situation count. A classic by itself.
Impression: If you can “lower” your ego down and speak to the other person like they are superior to you, you will get many win-win situations. This gets harder and harder to do over time, but the results that this approach will bring you is 100X of anything else. If you can hold your ego at check (and most of us struggle with that), you will fare well in this world.
Quotes: One of his favourite quotations was ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ And when Mrs Lincoln and others spoke harshly of the southern people, Lincoln replied: ‘Don’t criticise them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.’
Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving. ‘A great man shows his greatness,’ said Carlyle, ‘by the way he treats little men.’
23. Mastery — Robert Greene
Date of reading: 17th — 28th of July, 2018
Description: How the Great before us became Great and how we, too, can become like that. The book emphasizes that mastery is an asymptote — you can never touch it, but you can get damn close to it. If you think about mastery as a continuous process of learning and apply that in your life, you will one day become a master, but the process of learning will never be done. The book also debunks a myth that certain people, like Michelangelo, were born as masters of the craft. Mastery is always a product of years and years of hard work, effort, continuous learning, and education. Period.
Impression: Robert Green was on my reading for far too long so it was time to read something by him. Mastery, a 450-page long work of art, was definitely worth the time invested. The stories Greene finds and the way he structures his book are magnificent. It’s no wonder it takes him around 10 years to write a single book. It’s damn worth it!
Quotes: Some 2,600 years ago the ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote, “Become who you are by learning who you are.” What he meant is the following: You are born with a particular makeup and tendencies that mark you as a piece of fate. It is who you are to the core. Some people never become who they are; they stop trusting in themselves; they conform to the tastes of others, and they end up wearing a mask that hides their true nature. If you allow yourself to learn who you really are by paying attention to that voice and force within you, then you can become what you were fated to become — an individual, a Master.
This passivity has even assumed a moral stance: “mastery and power are evil; they are the domain of patriarchal elites who oppress us; power is inherently bad; better to opt out of the system altogether,” or at least make it look that way.
24. The 48 Laws Of Power — Robert Greene
Date of reading: 29th of July — 21st of August, 2018
Description: There are 48 laws of power and whether we like them or not, whether we want to implement them or not, we have an obligation to know them. Greene shows the laws of power and provides us examples of people who (successfully) followed the laws, but also the (tragic) stories of those who ignored the laws. Learn the rules and then trust your best judgment and ethics to use them accordingly.
Impression: What do you do when you finish a 450-page long by Robert Greene. You take another 450-pages long book by Robert Greene and just feel captivated. There is no lazy writing in neither of the books and he doesn’t repeat the examples, even though he totally could because they matched the criteria. I highly recommend you to read at least one of Greene’s books.
Quotes: In fact, the better you are at dealing with power, the better friend, lover, husband, wife, and person you become.
You cannot repress anger or love, or avoid feeling them, and you should not try. But you should be careful about how you express them, and most important, they should never influence your plans and strategies in any way.
25. The Happiness Equation — Neil Pasricha
Date of reading: 22nd — 30th of August, 2018
Description: The Happiness Equation started as a lecture which kept incorporating more and more material until, finally, it became an international bestseller with nine secrets to happiness: Be Happy First, Do It For You, Remember The Lottery, Never Retire, Overvalue You, Create Space, Just Do It, Be You, Don’t Take Advice
Impression: After I read 900+ pages of Robert Greene, it was time for something a little bit lighter. So I took Neil Pasricha’s The Happiness Equation and it was a phenomenal piece. The book is super easy to read, the challenges are fun, and the author goes an extra mile to make all of his stories memorable (the Granny and the Stamp story is one of them). If you need something light to read, this is the book for you.
Quotes: American philosopher William James says, “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
The Happiness Advantage author Shawn Achor says, “It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.”
William Shakespeare says, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Rather than find good results and make them better, our brains do this:
1. Look for problem.
2. Find problem.
3. Improve problem.
That’s what our brains have been trained to do for two hundred thousand years.
26. The Tribe — Sebastian Junger
Date of reading: 27th — 28th of September, 2018
Description: The problem with individualistic societies is that they don’t have an automatic group belonging. Every individual is responsible for finding and emotionally connecting with any group he wants to. This forces some people into religion, others to the military, third into lonesome life in a forest. But most people don’t find that group belonging and that’s why suicide is the “privilege” of wealthy societies. The book is about finding your own “tribe,” a place where you truly feel you belong.
Impression: The strongest bond a human can feel toward other human being is in the face of the biggest danger, possibly a life-threatening situation. This is why some people go to war — not because they love the war. But because they love the feeling of trust and comradeship toward their tribe of warriors. The book helped me understand what my father went through in the war better than anything else ever could.
Quotes: How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage?
And as society modernized, people found themselves able to live independently from any communal group. A person living in a modern city or a suburb can, for the first time in history, go through an entire day — or an entire life — mostly encountering complete strangers. They can be surrounded by others and yet feel deeply, dangerously alone.
27. 12 Rules For Life — Jordan Peterson
Date of reading: 29th of September — 10th of October, 2018
Description: The great Jordan Peterson and his bestselling book which sold 3 million copies in 2018–12 Rules Of Life. The book describes the relationship between order and chaos. Have too much order and life becomes unbearable. Have too much chaos and life becomes unbearable too. The solution? Just the right amount of order and chaos. How to do that? Through the 12 Rules For Life.
They are: Stand up straight with your shoulders back, Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping, Make friends with people who want the best for you, Compare yourself to who you were yesterday not to who someone else is today, Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them, Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world, Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient), Tell the truth- or at least don’t lie, Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t, Be precise in your speech, Do not bother children when they are skateboarding, Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.
Impression: Jordan Peterson is one of the most prominent thinkers of the 21st century and his work touches millions of people in the entire world. The same thing happened to me and plenty of my friends who discovered Peterson. A great book even though I love his lectures more (I just have to see his hands move center to side and up-down).
Quotes: Nature is not simply dynamic, either. Some things change quickly, but they are nested within other things that change less quickly (music frequently models this, too). Leaves change more quickly than trees, and trees more quickly than forests. Weather changes faster than climate.
There is very little difference between the capacity for mayhem and destruction, integrated, and strength of character. This is one of the most difficult lessons of life. Maybe you are a loser. And maybe you’re not — but if you are, you don’t have to continue in that mode. As the great Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn insisted, the
line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
28. The Art Of Learning — Josh Waitzkin
Date of reading: 3rd — 8th of December, 2018
Description: Optimal way of learning anything from the guy who became a national champion in chess, deemed to be the new Bobby Fischer, but then decided to move to completely opposite field of martial arts, learn Tai Chi, and become a world champion in it after 5 years of training. This is a miraculous book about learning from someone who walked-the-talk.
Impression: While reading this book, somewhere around page 90–94, I had a Satori moment. It was a moment of pure enlightenment, where things in my head just “connected” and I suddenly looked at everything differently. The thing that prompted this moment was the two ways you could play chess.
You can either play a Karpov type of chess (defensive chess) or a Kasparov type of chess (offensive chess). The thing is that you’re inclined toward one or the other naturally (character plays a massive role), but to be the best, you need to learn both. But there is a trick in learning “the other side.” You need someone who speaks your language to teach you about the other side’s way of playing. Then, and only then, can you use the elements of both ways when they are needed. Sometimes, your opponent reacts poorly to slow and long games so you should shift your style of playing to more defensive chess. Sometimes, your opponents panic when you go fast, direct, and aggressive so you should play offensive chess. The book packs so many gems that I can’t recommend it enough.
Quotes: Let’s say there are two possible guides for him in this educational process. One is an esoteric classical composer who has never thought much of the “vulgarity of rock and roll,” and another is a fellow rocker who fell in love with classical music years ago and decided to dedicate his life to this different genre of music. The ex-rocker might touch a common nerve while the composer might feel like an alien. I needed to learn Karpov through a musician whose blood boiled just like mine.
Along the same lines, I have found that if we feed the unconscious, it will discover connections between what may appear to be disparate realities. The path to artistic insight in one direction often involves deep study of another — the intuition makes uncanny connections that lead to a crystallization of fragmented notions. The great Abstract Expressionist painters and sculptors, for example, came to their revolutionary ideas through precise realist training. Jackson Pollock could draw like a camera, but instead he chose to splatter paint in a wild manner that pulsed with emotion. He studied form to leave form. And in his work, the absence of classical structure somehow contains the essence of formal training — but without its ritualized limitations.
29. Everything Is F*cked—Mark Manson
Date of reading: 15th — 16th of May, 2019
Description: A book about hope that goes through the depths of nihilism, covers the psychological effects of never having enough, shatters the classical assumption that we must use our rational minds to control our emotions, and ends up giving people hope without hoping.
Impression: A masterpiece of philosophy told in a straight, easy-to-understand manner. Nietzsche, Kant, and developmental psychology all mixed in one, told through real-life stories by using the simplest possible language and many fucks. Was blown away by the book and I can‘t recommend it enough.
Quotes: If the Classic Assumption were true, if life were as simple as learning to control one‘s emotions and make decisions based on reason, then Elliot should have been an unstoppable badass, tirelessly industrious, and a ruthless decision-maker. Similarly, if the Classic Assumption were true, lobotomies should be all the rage. We‘d all be saving up for them as if they were boob jobs.
Self-control is an illusion. It‘s an illusion that occurs when both brains are aligned and pursuing the same course of action. It‘s an illusion designed to give people hope. And when the Thinking Brain isn‘t aligned with the Feeling
Brain, people feel powerless, and the world around them begins to feel hopeless.
The Formula of Humanity states, ―Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.