Book Summaries: Full List
I started reading books back in 2016. And some of the most important things I learned about life, business, and love came from books. After seeing Nat Eliason publicizing his reading list, I decided to do the same.
To get the summary, just click on the linked title. I’ve included short descriptions of the book alongside a 1-10 rating of the book. Currently, there are only four categories for the books (business, self-help, marketing, psychology), but the categories will expand over time as I publish more reviews, summaries, and notes.
Notes and summaries all follow the same eight-part structure, but they’re not the same in length. Since I wrote detailed summaries, some books will have more content (like The 48 Laws of Power) and some will be shorter with less content (like The Excellence Habit).
You can use the notes to get an understanding of what’s the book about, remind yourself about the concepts, or just get inspired to read something new.
Looking for something in particular? Try with the search bar.
Book Summaries, Review and Notes
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson. (9/10) 12 Rules for Life explains how to walk the thin thread of life that’s situated between Order and Chaos. The 12 rules are what will give you direction so you don’t fall in too much Chaos (or Order). A bestseller that sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. (9/10) How a $15 billion company with more than 1000 employees was actually a lie with a product which doesn’t work. Horrifying story of today’s Enron — Theranos.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker. (9/10) The book answers the question, “What really produces success?” by presenting the dichotomous view we have of success— is it who we know or what we know, do nice guys finish first or last, do quitters never win and winners never quit.
Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson. (7/10) It’s a counter-part to his previous book, 12 Rules For Life, where Peterson talks about creating order where in this book, Peterson explains the rules that bring the best out of chaos in your life.
Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne tha God. (7/10) Black Privilege is an autobiography of Charlamagne tha God (Lenard Larry McKelvey), a radio presenter and host of The Breakfast Club. The story follows Charlamagne from his childhood at Moncks Corner, South Carolina, all the way to his success at The Breakfast Club.
Choose Yourself by James Altucher. (6/10) Choose Yourself! is James Altucher’s way of going true life while staying true to yourself. It’s a book full of his personal successes and a lot of failures (and I mean a lot!).
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. (4/10) Come As You Are teaches us how sexuality works for both men and women. And that almost all of it is normal.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On Book Summary by Jonah Berger. (8/10) What causes certain products, ideas, and behaviors to be talked about more? The book explains that it’s about six principles that make an idea, product, or behavior contagious: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories.
Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday. (9/10) This book has a classical Ryan Holiday structure— three parts of approximately equal size filled with smaller chapters that are no longer than a couple of pages. The structure here follows your ego on three separate occasions— during your rise to success, when you’re on top, and when you’re going down (failing).
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. (10/10) Endurance is an unbelievable true story about how the Trans-Antarctic expedition led by Ernest Shackleton lost their ship and spent two years trying to get back to civilization in the harshest environment known to mankind—Antarctica.
Expert Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Creating a Mass Movement of People Who Will Pay for Your Advice by Russell Brunson. (8/10) Expert Secrets is a book about creating a marketing plan and executing on it. The book helps you pack your knowledge, skills, and expertise into a buyable format for your audience. A lot of tactics in the book are unethical and immoral, but unfortunately, all of this works and is being used by a lot of (scam) artists aka contrapreneurs.
Faking It How To Seem Like A Better Person by College Humor. (6/10) How to appear like a better person without actually improving. This is the lazy person’s guide to success, happiness, and sex in life. You do actually learn things from this book and it’s a worthy read, at least for the fun of it. Read this if you need something easy to read, but hate those popular crime novellas.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. (5/10) The book describes many different themes, from a love marriage (triangle) of wife, husband, and husband’s best friend, to the state of the Iraqi war, politics, sports, nature conservation, mother-son, father-daughter relationships, etc.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal. (6/10) How to use the Hook model (Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, Investment) to achieve widespread attention and engagement for your product.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Second Edition: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi. (9/10) The book’s title explains it all: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. But it’s more about just being “rich.” The book tells you how to “beat banks,” regulate your credit cards, invest, consciously spend, and how to maintain and grow your money systems that lead to a rich life.
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon. (9/10) Keep Going by Austin Kleon teaches us how to stay productive, creative, and prolific as an artist during the good and the bad times.
Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss. (10/10) Never Split The Difference teaches us about the art of negotiating in a way that doesn’t leave anything at the table. And its foundation doesn’t come from theory, but practical iteration from negotiating with terrorists and abductors for 30 years.
One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer. (6/10) The greatest change is made through the smallest steps and that’s the essence of the Kaizen way. Kaizen— Japanese for continuous improvement— is a principle that states you can overcome the fear of change and procrastination through small, incremental steps that eventually transform your life.
Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins. (8/10) Real Artists Don’t Starve teaches us how to go from a striving to a thriving artist by adapting three unique things in our art: the right mindset to start creating art, becoming professionals by tackling the market, and mastering our relationship with money to make more art.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. (6/10) Shoe Dog is the autobiography of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. The story follows Knight from starting Nike (Blue Ribbon Sports at the start) all the way up to the 2010s’. Knight reveals stories about his personal life, his first group of employees, and his relationship with his mentor Bill Bowerman.
Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau. (7/10) Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau shows us how to create an additional stream of income (side hustle) that generates anything between $400 to $3000 a month.
Start With Why by Simon Sinek. (8/10) The book describes the Golden Circle – the Why (Why you do what you do), the How (How you do what you do), and What (What you actually do). All companies know what they do, some companies know how they do it, but only a handful of them know why they do what they do. The secret lies in leading with Why you do what you do.
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. (10/10) There are 48 laws of power and it’s our obligation to know them. The Laws work and, whether we like them or not, we need to know them so they’re not used against us. There’s a reason why this book is banned in most U.S. federal prisons. Greene provides us with historical examples of people who followed the laws, but also the tragic examples of those who dared to ignore them. Learn the laws and apply them according to your own judgment.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. (7/10) The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande teaches us how to ensure that you consistently, correctly, and safely execute the knowledge and training you received throughout the years? Simple— with a checklist. And that’s what The Checklist Manifesto is all about.
The Excellence Habit – How Small Changes In Our Mindset Can Make A Big Difference In Our Lives by Vlad Zachary. (6/10) The Excellence Habit is about making changes in our mindset to make a big difference in our lives. The book focuses on creating a habit of excellence and stated the difference between success and excellence. Success is tied to results (things you can’t control) while excellence is tied to the process (a habit and a mindset) that you can control.
The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. (8/10) The Hero With A Thousand Faces is a book that describes the shared patterns of all the mythologies in the world. The 14 points that all mythological stories share have become the foundation of the “hero’s journey.” The popular characters of Frodo, Luke Skywalker, or Harry Potter have all been based on the points of the hero’s journey which makes Campbell’s book a foundational piece.
The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art Of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday. (10/10) The Obstacle Is The Way is a book on stoicism that doesn’t want to rewrite the ancient texts; the book shares the ancient wisdom needed to deal with something that’s urgent for every single one of us— overcoming obstacles in any shape or form.
The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business by Charles Duhigg. (8/10) The Power Of Habit teaches you how habits form (in a scientific way), how they function, and explains the major impact habits, both good and bad, have on individuals, organizations, and societies.
The Power Of Now By Eckhart Tolle. (9/10) There’s a reason why “The Power of Now” is called the most spiritual book of the 20th century. This isn’t a woo-woo type of book, but more of a spiritual guide to enlightenment that combines the wisdom of religious texts with the freshness of New Age spirituality.
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun. (8/10) Adam Braun prepared for a life at Wall Street Hedge Funds and a young boy’s response to the question “what do you want most in life?” completely changed his course in life. “A pencil” was the answer that made Adam Braun start Pencils of Promise and build more than 350 schools in impoverished countries all around the world.
The War Of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. (9/10) The War Of Art is a book about a single thing haunting all the creatives (especially authors) out there—a blank page. It’s so prevalent in every writer’s career that Pressfield has given it a name—Resistance. The book helps you identify and beat the Resistance on a daily basis.
Tribe by Sebastian Junger. (6/10) 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.
UNSCRIPTED by MJ DeMarco. (10/10) The simplest way to explain it would be to say it’s about structuring life for liberty and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. But this book is so much more— it’s a guide on how to live the best possible life by leveraging the right type of entrepreneurship to achieve freedom, acquire time, and gain liberty.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. (10/10) 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 stage four lung cancer as a non-smoker.
Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money by Pat Flynn. (6/10) Will It Fly by Pat Flynn shows us how to figure out (fast) if your business idea has merit, will it succeed, and is it the right business for you—in other words, testing out will your idea fly.