Reading List

“I’m not saying that you have to be a reader to save your soul in the modern world. I’m saying it helps.” Walter Mosley

Books soothe the soul. Books allow you to tap into centuries of knowledge and wisdom from the world’s greatest thinkers across every discipline.

Books teach you how to live, how to be a good person, how to lead, and how to succeed. A great book is worth its weight in gold. Below I summarize and rate every book. I will update this page as I read more.  that I’ve read using a simple 1 to 5 system.

The best books for each category appear first in the list. The recommendation score is based on the following 1 to 5 system:

(1) Never read  (2) Recommend against  (3) Neutral  (4) Recommend for  (5) Must read

My Top 5 Books

Man’s Search For Meaning –  by Viktor Frankl

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

This book changed my life. It taught me about how we still can choose our response even under the most horrible of circumstances. In it, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl recounts and reflects on his experience as a Holocaust survivor and discusses his psychological theory, logotherapy, which contends that humans are motivated by the search for meaning, not power (Adler) or pleasure (Freud).

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – by Yuval Noah Harari

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

Absolute must read for everyone. Harari provides a refreshingly comprehensive, engaging, and scientific account of history. By the end, you will understand the broad strokes of history and be able to contextualize modern concerns and questions.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – by Mark Manson

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

A must read. Manson provides philosophical and candid thoughts on how we can live a better life. He explores embracing the negative, taking responsibility for how we respond to everything that happens to us, and prioritizing the right values.

Awaken the Giant Within – by Tony Robbins

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A book for anyone who wants to dive deep into their life and figure out how to master their mind, body, emotions, and finances. You’ll learn about the motivating forces of pain and pleasure, the importance of the questions we ask, and the necessity of clarifying and living by our values. Read it slowly and do the exercises as you go along.

Meditations: A New Translation – by Marcus Aurelius

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A book for anyone who wants to dive deep into their life and figure out how to master their mind, body, emotions, and finances. You’ll learn about the motivating forces of pain and pleasure, the importance of the questions we ask, and the necessity of clarifying and living by our values. Read it slowly and do the exercises as you go along.

Biographies

Shoe Dog – by Phil Knight

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

Phil Knight recounts his struggles, victories, and lessons learned from building Nike from a small startup to a billion dollar shoe giant. He tells engaging and inspiring stories that highlight his personal philosophies on life. Knight encourages us all to seek and pursue a calling, even if we don’t yet know what that means.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – by Ashlee Vance

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

An inspiring account of Elon Musk’s life. Through detailed stories of Musk’s efforts with SpaceX and Tesla, Vance provides insight into Musk’s impressive and audacious entrepreneurial goals, triumphs, and failures. You will walk away thinking bigger and bolder.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! – by Richard Feynman

Year read: 2016; Find it on Amazon

A collection of interesting stories from the life of the fascinating, infinitely curious, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman reminds you of the importance of questioning the status quo, the joy of learning and acquiring new skills, and how to approach life with an open mind and sense of adventure.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds – by Michael Lewis

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A well-told story about the partnership of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, pioneers in the field of the decision making and judgment. Their work reshaped the way we understand the human cognitive process, challenging the well-regarded rational actor models and informing us about important cognitive principles that permeate our daily lives.

Sam Walton: Made In America – by John Huey

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

Sam Walton founded and grew Wal-Mart with his strong passion to compete, humble nature, and bias towards action. He used simple and timeless principles, such as hiring and empowering young and hungry individuals, striving for constant change, and giving praise. This is good inspiration for scaling a business despite big challenges.

Fiction

Siddhartha –  by Hermann Hesse

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A must-read, beautiful novel about a young Brahmin’s search for meaning.

The Alchemist –  by Paulo Coelho

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

An elegant narrative about the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy. In it, Coelho conveys valuable life lessons, including the importance of pursuing your passions, living in the present, and doing things with love and enthusiasm.

The Stranger –  by Albert Camus

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A short novel that explores the disturbing nature of human consciousness through the story about an ordinary man who commits a senseless crime.

100 Years of Solitude – by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

Thorough the story of the Buendia family and the mythical town of Macondo, Garcia Marquez intricacies and circular nature of life.

The Prophet – by Kahlil Gibran

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A series of short essays on love, giving, pain, law, friendship, children, and more. You’ll gain insight into the importance of doing work you love, the relationship between joy and sorrow, the purpose of friendship, and the origins of pain.

Habits & Productivity

The Power of Habit – by Charles Duhigg

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A highly digestible and well-researched look into why habits exist, how they work, and how you can change them. You’ll learn about the science behind habit formation, how certain habits (keystone habits) have the power to influence all areas of your life, and how to create good habits and break bad ones.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A practical guide to increasing your productivity and reducing your stress. Some parts were dry and less useful. That said, you will learn about the value of focusing on action, decluttering your mind, saying no more often, creating simple and streamlined task lists, and clarifying what you want to accomplish.

The Miracle Morning – by Hal Elrod

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

This book influenced my morning routine. It’s a deep dive into the value of morning routines, which have helped many high performers fuel their success. Elrod presents a specific morning routine aimed at allowing you to feel happier, less stressed, more centered, and excited about life.

Habit Stacking – by S.J. Scott

Recommendation: 2.5/5; Find it on Amazon

Scott explores how building a routine to capitalize on the compounding effect of daily habits can help you succeed in all areas of life. A few of the habits he suggests include doing your hardest task first, working in Pomodoro blocks, and practicing creative visualization.

History

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – by Yuval Noah Harari

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

Absolute must read for everyone. Harari provides a refreshingly comprehensive, engaging, and scientific account of history. By the end, you will understand the broad strokes of history and be able to contextualize modern concerns and questions.

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak – by Jean Hatzfeld, Susan Sontag, and Linda Coverdale

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A stomach-churning account of the Rwandan genocide between the Tutsis and Hutus.  You’ll learn how collective thinking shape human morality and ethics and can lead everyday humans to act in deplorable ways while feel relatively little remorse.

The Lessons of History – by Will and Ariel Durant

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A concise, thematic account of history that covers the core biological, social, economic, and philosophical lessons of life. The Durants introduce you to everything from the three fundamental biological lessons of history, to the origins of racial antipathies, to the natural and inevitable concentration of wealth and how it is periodically alleviated.

Negotiation

Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life – by Stuart Diamond

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A fantastic introduction to negotiation and learning how to get more as a way of life. Diamond challenges the conventional wisdom of using power and logic to negotiate and instead proposes that effective negotiation stems from understanding, valuing, and communicating with the person between you and your goals. A few key learnings include the power of persistence, understanding perceptions, framing and using standards, being incremental, and trading items of unequal value.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – by Chris Voss

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

International hostage negotiator Chris Voss provides a practical guide and set of principles to improve your effectiveness in negotiating for what you want. You’ll learn that being a good negotiator is about being an effective communicator, understanding what drives people’s decisions, and using counterintuitive techniques, such as asking calibrated questions, beginning with “no”, and listening actively and empathetically.

Personal Growth

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – by Mark Manson

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

A must read. Manson provides philosophical and candid thoughts on how we can live a better life. He explores embracing the negative, taking responsibility for how we respond to everything that happens to us, and prioritizing the right values.

Awaken the Giant Within – by Tony Robbins

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A book for anyone who wants to dive deep into their life and figure out how to master their mind, body, emotions, and finances. You’ll learn about the motivating forces of pain and pleasure, the importance of the questions we ask, and the necessity of clarifying and living by our values. Read it slowly and do the exercises as you go along.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – by Greg McKeown

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A compelling philosophy that aligns closely with how I live my life. It’s about living consciously and focusing on the essential things that allow you to achieve your highest point of contribution. McKeown shows you the dangers of ignoring tradeoffs, how to determine what is important, and why reflection and play are essential practices.

Reinvent Yourself – by James Altucher

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A series of interesting, short stories that contain nuggets of wisdom from writer James Altucher, his podcast guests, and people he has studied. You’ll learn about the importance and power of improving yourself 1% every day, persisting through challenges, and adding genuine value to those around you.

The Art of Possibility – by Rosamund and  Benjamin Zander

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

12 practices from the joint work of a conductor and a psychotherapist. This book will fuel your personal and professional development in surprising ways.

The Obstacle Is the Way – By Ryan Holiday

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A practical and actionable philosophy on how to perceive, act, and thrive in an uncertain and changing world. Leveraging the wisdom of the Stoics, Holiday explains how we can deliberately improve the way we perceive the world and find the opportunities in the obstacles we face.

Tools of Titans – by Tim Ferriss

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

Despite a slow start, this is a good resource that synthesizes the habits, tools, and philosophies of the top performers and leaders who Tim Ferriss has interviewed on his podcast. You will walk away with dozens of book/article recommendations and physical, mental, and spiritual habits to try out.

As a Man Thinketh – by James Allen

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A short and practical philosophy about how the quality and nature of our thoughts determines who we are, what we achieve, and who we become.

How To Win Friends and Influence People – by Dale Carnegie

Recommendation: 3.5/5

A classic set of practical principles that enable you to be more effective in every domain of life. A few of the key lessons include eliminating criticisms and complaints, developing a genuine interest in others, and learning how to actively and effectively listen. I recommend reading the Hubspot book summary instead of the book.

Personal Finance

A Random Walk Down Wall Street – by Burton Malkiel

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A classic investing guide that combines history, economics, and behavioral finance to offer practical and actionable advice for investing and establishing financial security. Malkiel’s central message is abundantly clear – begin a consistent savings plan as early as possible and invest the core of your portfolio in low-cost, broad-based index funds.

The Simple Path to Wealth – by JL Collins

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A guide that allows you to optimize your personal finances without spending days digging through spreadsheets and rebalancing your portfolio. Collins breaks down money management and wealth creation into a digestible, practical, and actionable set of investing advice so you can achieve financial freedom with minimal effort.

Money Master the Game – by Tony Robbins

Recommendation: 3/5; Find it on Amazon

Robbins helps you define and understand your own financial needs and journey, dispels a number of common myths, and provides a large set of tools you can consider to achieve financial success as you define it. Beyond the basic personal finance knowledge, he has interviews with financial titans including Ray Dalio, Charles Schwab, and Burton Malkiel.

I Will Teach You to be Rich – by Ramit Sethi

Recommendation: 3/5; Find it on Amazon

A beginner’s guide to managing and improving your personal finances. Sethi also has a well-regarded personal finance blog.

Think and Grow Rich – by Napoleon Hill

Recommendation: 2/5; Find it on Amazon

Despite being a very popular book, I thought this was dry and not particularly insightful. Hill focuses on how to acquire wealth and provides principles to help you translate your desires and goals into reality. Some key takeaways include the power of clear thoughts and desires, the importance of intelligent planning and persistence, and the value of having an open mind and a relentless hunger for knowledge.

Philosophy

Meditations: A New Translation – by Marcus Aurelius

Recommendation: 4.5/5; Find it on Amazon

A collection of philosophical and spiritual thoughts from the former Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The work is grounded in Stoicism, a practical philosophy that encourages us to keep our mortality in mind at all times, view things as they are, reflect thoughtfully, focus on what’s within our control, and practice virtues like generosity, honesty, and self-control.

Psychology

Man’s Search For Meaning –  by Viktor Frankl

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

This book changed my life. It taught me about how we still can choose our response even under the most horrible of circumstances. In it, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl recounts and reflects on his experience as a Holocaust survivor and discusses his psychological theory, logotherapy, which contends that humans are motivated by the search for meaning, not power (Adler) or pleasure (Freud).

It’s All Your Fault! – by Bill Eddy

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

If you have a difficult person in your life, this is a must read. It is a practical guide to understanding and working with individuals who have high conflict tendencies. You’ll learn about how high conflict people think, their primary fears, and productive ways of managing relationships with them.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – by Robert Cialdini

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A deep dive into what drives people to say “yes.” If you are interested in getting more in your personal and professional life, you will find this valuable. A few of the key lessons include the tendency to reciprocate favors, the power small commitments, and how what you see or experience first influences how you think about what comes next.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – by Daniel Kahneman

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A fantastic introduction to the psychology of judgment and decision making. Kahneman introduces you to the two basic systems of human thinking, the fast and intuitive System 1 and the more deliberate and logical System 2. You’ll also learn about the influence of priming and anchoring, loss aversion, ego depletion and overconfidence.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) – By Caroll Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

An insightful look into how and why we self-justify everything we do, the potential dangers of this tendency, and mechanisms to mitigate these dangers. You will walk away with a humbling skepticism about the reliability of your own memory and perceptions.

Spirituality

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – by Eckhart Tolle

Recommendation: 4/5; Find it on Amazon

A great introduction to and exploration of presence and spirituality. Tolle helps you understand what it means to be present, the most common sources of human pain, the problems with compulsive thinking and non-acceptance of reality, and how living a present life naturally reduces pain.

Writing & Creativity

The War of Art – by Steven Pressfield

Recommendation: 5/5; Find it on Amazon

If you write or create, this is a must read. Pressfield accurately names the ultimate killer of creative dreams: Resistance. He describes the many forms it can take, outlines a plan of action to overcome it, and recognizes the role of a higher order in creative pursuits. If you have creative ambitions, Pressfield will prepare and inspire you for the war ahead.

Show Your Work! – by Austin Kleon

Recommendation: 3.5/5; Find it on Amazon

Kleon encourages liberally sharing your creative work and process as a strategy to learn, find your audience, and improve your work. He provides practical advice on documenting your process, teaching others, and becoming a better storyteller to help you share the work you love with a like-minded community.

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