I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. -Charlie Munger
I take reading seriously and have made it a daily habit. My favorite types of books are those that challenge my beliefs, provide me with new perspectives, or make me smarter in some way. Feel free to send me any recommendations!
*** 2014 ***
Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America
This book is awesome. Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America, posits that in order to rejuvenate the American economy going forward, we need the smartest and brightest college students to build companies rather than follow the well-worn paths of investment banking, management consulting, and law/medicine. Having been sucked into the corporate recruitment process, the message really spoke to me. This book should be required reading for college students or anyone interested in entrepreneurship.
More Than Money: Questions Every MBA Needs to Answer: Redefining Risk and Reward for a Life of Purpose
The premise of this book essentially boils down to the Fisherman and the Banker parable. The book focuses on graduating MBAs, but the message applies to everyone. We need to redefine what “success” means in order to live a life of happiness. The first step is looking past the money.
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth
Easily one of my favorite books ever. I’m going to be rereading this and applying the principles. As I’ve mentioned, I love books that provide me with new perspectives or shift my thinking, and this book does both.
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
Another amazing book by Austin Kleon that will inspire you to create something and show your work. I’ll be going back to this book frequently.
How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships
Essentially an update to the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” on how to build rapport with people in the modern world. I enjoyed the read and took away some good points. One of my favorite takeaways was to try something completely new every month. Also: don’t ask ‘what do you do,’ say ‘how do you spend your time?’ and always provide detail when answering where you’re from.
The Last Lecture
If you knew how long you had to live, how would you live your life? This is the situation Randy Pausch, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, faces when he is told he has six months to live before he dies of pancreatic cancer. This book is his literal last lecture, and he recounts his story and leaves behind his advice and lessons learned.
Models: Attract Women Through Honesty
Models, by Mark Manson, is a lifestyle book dedicated to men about how to properly attract women through honest interactions. This was a really refreshing read after having read The Game a while back and learning about PUA, which I thought (and still do) was deplorable. Manson seems to agree, criticizing the PUA community for its band-aid approach to dating. He breaks down the attraction process and provides a roadmap for how to improve yourself (inner game) in a very conversational and no bullshit way. Every guy should read this book, it’ll provide you a new lens to view attraction and become a better man.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
I have to say I’m really glad I read this now, after being inundated with information from lifestyle design experts. The premise of the book is that the mantra “follow your passion” can actually be terrible advice and detrimental. We live in a society that trumpets “courage culture,” where ostensibly the only thing we need to find happiness is to drop everything and pursue what we love. Cal Newport claims that building career capital (becoming so good they can’t ignore you), adopting a craftsman mindset, building career capital through deliberate practice, and finding control of your work is a much better bet. However, this book isn’t without its flaws: lack of compelling data, anecdotal evidence, and Cal clearly had an agenda to push with this book. Still worth a read.
In contrast with Cal Newport’s book above, the message of this classic book is that everyone has their true calling in life and most people squander it, but if you pursue your ‘passion’ or ‘dreams,’ eventually you will find richness and happiness. I decided to read this because of a “5 Must-Read Books” list. I don’t think it belongs there, but it is an inspiring little fable.
Cold Hard Truth On Business, Money and Life
An entertaining and interesting look into Kevin O’Leary’s past and how he amassed his fortune and became known as the venture capitalist known as “Mr. Wonderful” today. He shares his unique perspectives on business, money and life while recounting his story.
How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets
If you read a book titled ‘How to Get Rich,’ you’d hope the author is rich and actually knows what he’s talking about. The author, Felix Dennis, is indeed a billionaire and tells it like it is. The first half of the book offered some great advice on the mindset required to obtain wealth and how to deal with your inner fear. The second half turned autobiographical and was more relevant for how he ran and maintained his businesses, which is good but not so relevant to me at this point.
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
This book inspired me to write this post on originality and helped me break away from the fears of thinking content had to be new to be of value. It’s a short read and it’ll provide you a new perspective when you look at creative work of any type.
Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree
A quick read on the ‘unschooling’ movement of forgoing traditional educational institutions to pursue self-directed learning. I love reading anything that is centered around breaking convention. Definitely something to consider, especially for current high school students.
Man’s Search for Meaning
This is often cited as a “must-read,” and for good reason. Viktor Frankl recounts his story of living in a Nazi prison camp and delivers profound insights on his idea of the meaning of life, backed by his years of psychiatric training. Life cannot go on without a purpose, and it differs for each individual. But the biggest takeaway I got was that you have the ability to choose your attitude in any circumstance, and it’s this attitude that shapes how you will react and deal with it.
The Art of Being Unmistakable: A Collection of Essays About Making a Dent in the Universe
A quick, inspirational read on one man’s journey for his pursuit of freedom by carving out a path of his own.
Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
This book is a compilation of hundreds of studies on health, fitness, diet, and sleep that will guide you to making better, healthier decisions. You will learn about the dangers of sitting too much, sleeping too little, eating too much, and simple tips to guide you to make the right decisions.
I Was Blind But Now I See: Time to Be Happy
Another great book from James Altucher. What I love about him and this book is that he isn’t afraid to question deep-seated norms in society. He talks about why he’ll never own a home again, why kids shouldn’t go to college, why and how to leave your job, and why politics is a frivolous endeavour.
The Firm: A Novel
I heard of John Grisham’s amazing success as a fiction writer and decided to check out his most popular book. An enjoyable read and I’ll probably watch the movie starring Tom Cruise eventually.
The Purple Cow
The Purple Cow is a marketing book written by Seth Godin. I love Seth Godin but I thought the book was drawn out and a bit of a letdown. The premise of the book is basically this: the TV-Industrial Era is over. Companies can no longer simply produce a mediocre product, advertise it on TV, and reap the cash. The product has to be a purple cow – unique and shocking that causes people to tell their friends (ie. word of mouth advertising).
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World
A quick read on living an unconventional life. You’ll discover how to live on your own terms by exploring creative self-employment, radical goal-setting, contrarian travel, and embracing life as a constant adventure.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, divulges his secrets to success while taking you through his many failures along the way. He proclaims he is merely ‘good’ at many things and why every skill you learn doubles your chances of success. He emphasizes the importance of having a system instead of a goal, taking care of the basics like diet/exercise/sleep, and the power of affirmations. Part autobiographical, part self-improvement, and part humor, this book is definitely worth a read.
This book by Jason Fried, founder of 37 signals, tears apart everything you think you know about business. The book is short and right to the point, making it a quick read, but I also wished it expanded on some of the topics further. Nonetheless, you will gain a new perspective after reading this. It’s also got some rave reviews, including from Mark Cuban: “If given a choice between investing in someone who has read REWORK or has an MBA, I’m investing in REWORK every time.”
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
This book breaks down love into five universal languages: physical touch, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and words of affirmation. It asserts that every person has a primary love language that they respond to best, and just like how an English speaker will have a hard time understanding Chinese, someone with one love language will have a difficult time understanding someone with another. Every couple would benefit from reading this book; it could literally save your relationship.
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
A great look into how microbusinesses are popping up everywhere and making their mark on the world. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need huge venture capital and an 80-page business plan to get started. Chris Guillebeau provides actionable steps as to how you can create your own $100 startup with empirical evidence from thousands of successful entrepreneurs and his own experience.
I decided to reread 1984 as the last time I read it was in high school. What struck me this time was just how amazing George Orwell is to have thought out such a world and fleshed out its intricacies in such detail.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
I put off reading this book for years, but it may have been for the better, as I would not have gotten much out of it in high school. Much of the book involves Tim Ferriss teaching the reader how to automate their life or business through virtual assistants. The book does serve as great motivation to ‘live the life’, but I’m more impressed with Tim’s self-promotional abilities to sell the millions of copies he did than the content of the book itself. Worth a skim.
Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
Ryan Holiday takes the reader into his life as a media manipulator, discussing all the tricks he’s used to manipulate some of the biggest blogs for his or his clients’ benefits. The book also delves into why the current media system is broken, from the pageview clickbaiting headlines to the lack of investigative journalism to how easy it is to game even the biggest news sites. An interesting read, and will most likely lead to a cynicism with the news.
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
A short read on how Kamal Ravikant got his life back together after going through divorce, the death of a friend, and a depressed business by repeating the phrase, “I love myself.” He offers meditation practices that worked for him and insights into why self love may be the element you’re missing in your life.
The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
Neil Strauss recounts his foray into the underground world of seduction. He takes you from the beginnings of it all starting from NLP to the Internet pick-up artist community to how it all came crashing down at Project Hollywood. The book provides brief outlines of the “rules” of pickup but it’s more of an autobiographical piece. I wasn’t a fan of PUA before having read the book, and wasn’t a fan after, either.
Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School For?
Seth Godin brilliantly describes all that is wrong with the modern education system in this manifesto. The current schooling system hasn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution, and he argues we’re training kids to become factory workers. The system emphasizes obedience and rote memorization at the expense of creativity, leadership, and innovation at a time when those traits are most needed to solve the complex problems of today.
Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur: What It Takes to Win in High-Stakes Commercial Real Estate
Jim Randel takes you through some of his best and worst commercial real estate deals to teach you lessons he’s learned in his decades as a real estate entrepreneur. He recommends pushing for favourable contract terms such as escape clauses, hidden rent concessions, and disguised option agreements. Some of the information may be a bit outdated (buying apartments and turning them into condos to resell at a higher valuation) and unethical, so take everything with a grain of salt.
Probably one of my favourite books of all time. James Altucher is a hero and argues in this book why you need to choose yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. He shares actionable ideas and ways to improve your life. This is a book I will be going back to often.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
One of the best books I’ve read to date, detailing the science behind habits, habits formation, and how to break them. Charles Duhigg describes the habit loop consisting of the Cue, Routine, and Reward. He provides real world examples, which include how an NFL coach turned the worst team in the league into Superbowl champions, Michael Phelps’ training routine that earned him 18 gold medals, and how Starbucks, Alcoa and Febreze became the giants they are today.
This is a short 40-page book from Sam Harris arguing why telling lies, even white lies, is never correct. If you want to live a more honest life, give this a read.
The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide To Decisionmaking And Investment
An oldie but a very solid primer on what it takes to thrive in the commercial real estate world from Bill Poorvu, a Harvard real real estate professor and entrepreneur.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Susan Cain brilliantly argues in Quiet why we why the world needs introverts more than ever in the increasingly Extrovert Ideal world. She explores how we dramatically undervalue introverts and how much we lose by doing so. Cain backs her thesis with extensive research spanning numerous fields, empirical evidence, and historical evidence citing the world’s most famous introverts, including Rosa Parks, Chopin, Wozniak, and Dr. Seuss. Approximately 1/3 of us are introverts, so this book is a must read for everyone to permanently change how we view introverts.
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
This book is a mash-up of some of Mark Cuban’s best blog entries. While short, there is still valuable insight in every page and serves as a great motivator to anyone interested in entrepreneurship. It’s also an entertaining read and Cuban’s awesome.
Meditations: A New Translation
Meditations is a journal of personal writings from Marcus Aurelius setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy. You’d be hardpressed to find anyone who read this book and did not come out with a better appreciation towards life. It is truly amazing how timeless his thoughts are even today. I’ll be referring back to this one often.
Abducted (The Lizzy Gardner Series #1)
I had heard TR Ragan was making it big from self-publishing and decided to read one of her novels. A relatively fun read, but don’t expect JK Rowling or Stephen King.
*** 2013 ***
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
The premise of this book by Daniel Pink is that we are all sales people. We sell ourselves to clients, to bosses, to friends, to potential partners, every day. He reveals successors to the elevator pitch, how to make your message clearer, and how to understand others’ perspectives. Pink’s works always receive positive feedback, but I felt like the message of the book could be summed up with “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
The Power Of Why
The book aims to change the way we think about innovation. It describes how kids are innately curious but gradually lose that quality due to the educational system and why we need to reignite that in ourselves. It draws from a range of individual and company case studies backed by some scientific research.
Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL
Roger Martin discusses why we need to reinvent the way businesses operate from a shareholder-value perspective to a customer-value perspective. He brings up analogies to the NFL to make his point, giving readers a simple framework to understand his points.
The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It
An entertaining read focusing on the profiles of Peter Muller, Ken Griffin, Cliff Asness, and Boaz Weinstein, some of the biggest names on Wall Street, and their stories leading up to the crash of 2008.
The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do
The Culture Code promises to provide you with a new set of lenses to view the world after you’re finished reading it. I would agree. The author describes how certain cultural phenomenon are intrinsic to specific countries, and offers some insight into why it is. For example, the American culture is wholly adolescent due to the country never having a monarchy system.
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire
This book seeks to answer some of the timeless questions that men face: what is your true purpose in life; what do women really want; what makes a good lover; along with issues ranging from career to family to women and spirituality. At a time where young men are confused about the concept of masculinity, this book can serve as a good framework. However, just be careful about taking it too seriously; most of the claims are not backed by science or any real analysis.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
A pretty good read on how to build relationships with people and how to expand your network. Provides some tips on how to reach even the most famous and busiest people. What matters is actually applying the concepts learned though. I’d recommend reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People first though.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
The big daddy of how to socialize and ‘win friends.’ It’s just as useful today as when it was published in 1937, as Carnegie’s understanding of human nature will never be outdated. He explains that by appealing to the other person’s highest ideals, remembering the other person’s name, letting the other person do most of the talking, speaking in terms of the other person’s interests, allowing the other to save face, by “throwing down a challenge,” etc., you can make a friend out of just about anyone.
Trump: The Art of the Deal
The Art of the Deal is Donald Trump’s first published book out of many. It’s part memoir, part business advice. He talks about his childhood and his lead-up into building The Trump Organization while taking you through what a day in the life is like. One of the quotes that resounded with me was, “You can’t be scared. You do your thing, you hold your ground, you stand up tall, and whatever happens, happens.” Love him or hate him, it’s an inspirational read.
The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime.
This book single-handedly changed my perspective on entrepreneurship and life in general. The book asserts that there are three lanes in life: the sidewalk, which encompasses the people ridden by debt bouncing from check to check; the slow lane, which encompasses the traditional 9-5 worker who works until 65; and the fast lane, which encompasses entrepreneurs who are willing to work their ass off for a number of years to enjoy early freedom. The rules of the fastlane are NECST: Need, Entry, Control, Scale, Time. Prepare to be blown away after reading this.
The 48 Laws of Power
Robert Greene describes the 48 laws of power that will either grant you power or know when you’re being manipulated. For each power, he references true stories about people who successfully observed it or foolishly transgressed it. Exercise caution though when practicing what you learn, it can be easy to cross the line between power and deception.
The Art of War
Know yourself, know your enemy, and only fight battles you can win. It’s a book of wisdom and principles on how to win. A classic.