This is my list of books I recommend reading – out of all of the books I’ve read, these are the ones that are the most unique, useful, or interesting. So far there are two lists:
- Favorite Books of All Time
- Highly Recommended
Check back every now and then! I have a lot of interests and I’m always reading new books.
Favorite Books of All Time:
These are amazing books that have had a profound effect on me, and I count them as the best books I’ve ever read. No book (or author) is perfect, and sometimes I’ll disagree with books I find amazing – but the value in these books far outweighs anything I can criticize. I recommend these books to everyone. Listed in order of how much I recommend them.
Comments: The Lessons of History was born from the Durant’s earlier multi-volume work, The Story of Civilization. They went through every book in the series, pulling out the most important lessons as they went. This short book – 10,000 years of human civilization in 100 pages – was the result. The most important insight: while human society has changed over thousands of years, humans have not. History, and the lessons it teaches, is the best available guide to how future humans will act, and the events of the future. Even if you disagree with their conclusions, you will walk away with a more complex view of humanity – and a lot to think about.
“Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Tim Ferriss
Comments: Tools of Titans was created after Tim Ferriss started his own podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, and wanted to turn the most valuable advice and ideas into a set of concise notes. It eventually became this 600 page book. Split into sections of Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, you’ll learn about diet and exercise from Olympians, financial advice from billionaires, inner peace from philosophers, what books have impacted them most, and so much more. One of the books with the most value per page you can possibly read.
Comments: Making of the Modern World follows the life and legacy of Genghis Khan, from his rise on the Mongolian steppe through the breakup of the Mongol Empire. Khan’s legacy is both horrific and impressive – he was an illiterate warlord who founded the largest land empire in history; the Mongol Empire maintained values of meritocracy, religious freedom, and free trade in a world of tribalism and intolerance; by the end of the book you will be thankful that the world is not as barbaric as it used to be. Many will call it Mongol apologia (and they’re right), but overall it’s a fantastic and engaging book.
Comments: Total Recall is the story of an incredible human being – bodybuilder, businessman, actor, and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. The musclebound man on screen is in reality an intelligent, articulate, insightful, and engaging author. You’ll learn his entire life story – growing up in a small Austrian village, dreaming of being a bodybuilder in America, becoming a wildly successful actor, and eventually becoming Governor of California – along with some of the mistakes he’s made along the way. Read this to understand what’s really possible for one human being to accomplish.
Comments: The Selfish Gene is not about a gene for selfishness, or genes being selfish – arguably it’s one of the worst titles in history. Instead, it is about a gene’s eye view of evolution, and how our genes unconsciously use our bodies, minds, and behaviors to try to reproduce them as much as possible – at the expense of everything else. Our genes don’t care about us or about ethics – but we can use our brains override the programming of our genes in favor of higher ideals. The implications of The Selfish Gene are absolutely staggering, and might just break your brain. It’s a classic for a reason, and required reading for anyone who wants to understand (or change) the world.
Comments: Elon Musk is no ordinary man. He’s a man who has decided from a young age that he doesn’t care if something has never been done before – if it’s possible within the laws of physics, it’s possible for him. This book follows Musk’s entire life: Growing up in South Africa. Moving to North America. Revolutionizing online finance with Paypal. Making resuable rockets with SpaceX. Making electric cars mainstream with Tesla. Love him or hate him, there’s a lot we can learn from Elon Musk about pursuing our dreams and building the future.
Comments: Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is a criminally underrated book. It’s not just about self-esteem – it’s about what goes wrong if you don’t have it, and what you need to do on a daily basis to have healthy self-esteem. Why read this? Because you’re not going to learn healthy self-esteem at school, at work, or in popular culture. Because self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself, and if you don’t pay attention to the foundations of self-esteem, you’ll have to live with a poisoned self-image for the rest of your life. Because in a world of politicians, marketers, and influencers that want to keep you small, miserable, and dependent on them, having healthy self-esteem is more important than ever.
Excellent books on all subjects that I think are worth reading multiple times. Again, no book or author is perfect, but the value in these books outweighs anything I can criticize. Listed in order of how much I recommend them.
Comments: What can I say about 1984 that hasn’t already been said? Probably not much. If you’re a person who somehow has never read this, you need to read this now. Its warnings about totalitarianism, surveillance, and censorship are more important than ever. Just watch out for the last third, which is more chilling than the earlier two thirds combined. Best if read in combination with Animal Farm.
Comments: Principles represents a lifetime of thinking from investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio. Over the course of his career, anytime a challenge or obstacle has come up, Dalio has set out to come up with a general principle or rule for dealing with similar situations in the future. Principles has advice on all kinds of things – building a company, making decisions, building teams – all in accordance with cornerstone values like radical honesty and radical transparency. You may not agree with everything, and the biography section honestly isn’t as interesting – but the entire book is well worth considering and reflecting on.
Comments: Impro is an unusual book. It’s more than a book about improv comedy and theater: it’s about interpersonal roles, social status, personality, spontaneity, education, originality, and saying yes to life. It covers a lot of ground in interesting and unusual ways. Read this, and you won’t look at social situations (or yourself) in quite the same way.
Comments: Zero to One began with investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel teaching a course on startups at Stanford. Blake Masters took excellent notes, and they collaborated to produce this book. Zero to One is about creating things – but rather than making incremental improvements on what already exists, it’s about creating something that has never existed before. That requires finding secrets no one else can see, thinking for yourself, and being a definite optimist – making definite plans to improve the future. While Zero to One is nominally about technology startups, it’s a useful book to read even if you’re not in technology or at a startup.
Comments: Atomic Habits is probably the best book on habits (and changing them) that you can read. While there are a bunch of books on habits out there, Atomic Habits is incredibly practical, giving you a detailed breakdown both on why you have the habits you do, and how to create new ones. If you have a bunch of bad habits you need to break, or good habits you need to build for future success, read this book.
Comments: Meditations wasn’t meant to be read by anyone. It was the personal journal of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, writing private notes, thoughts, and reminders to himself for his own self-development. Thankfully for the rest of us, they didn’t stay private, and we can benefit from his insights. Aurelius wrote about many things: character, authenticity, honor, justice, ethics, and achieving inner peace, among other subjects. Mandatory reading for anyone interested in Stoicism, or in becoming a little wiser.
Comments: The 4 Hour Workweek is not about working four literal hours a week. It’s about being efficient with your time, and creating the best possible lifestyle for yourself with the least time or money. You don’t have to follow the “deferred-life plan” where you spend 40 years working, followed by 10 or 20 of retirement. You don’t have to wait a lifetime to live the way you actually want to live. You don’t have to do all the work yourself. Your time is your most valuable asset, and The 4 Hour Workweek is an excellent resource for using it wisely.
Comments: How to Win Friends and Influence People is about exactly that – winning friends and influencing people. It doesn’t just have the most descriptive title of any book, it also has some good advice about how to relate better to other people. Whether you’re trying to be a better businessman or a better friend, this is an important book. While it might be showing its age in a few places (1936), the principles themselves are timeless.
Comments: Foundation is about a Galactic Empire on the verge of inevitable collapse – and the effort by one scientist to hasten the rebirth of civilization. Through the science of psychohistory – the science of predicting the future of galactic civilization at a mass scale – Hari Seldon puts into motion a plan to preserve the knowledge and science of mankind through a thousand years of galactic darkness. A fascinating read.
Comments: Man’s Search for Meaning was born from Frankl’s experience surviving the Holocaust, combined with his practice as a psychiatrist. Man’s Search is about finding meaning in everyday of life, even in the most hopeless and torturous of circumstances. Whatever happens to you, you have a choice for how you respond and how you interpret the events of life – even in the depths of crisis. “He who has a why can bear almost any how” – and Man’s Search might just help you find a why in your life’s lowest points.