33 Books to Read Before You Die

33 Books to read before you die

Happiness / Being Content

1. Mastery

Mastery looks at intuition and the process of going from no skill to world class. It’s also a case study of many famous/revered people and what their learning process looked like. Finally, Greene touches upon the mystical level of skill that some people possess, and explains why there’s nothing magical about it.

2. Magic of Thinking Big

This book is a blueprint for happiness and achievement. There is so much content in The Magic of Thinking Big that other authors have taken a single chapter and turned it into a book. It’s practical, immediately applicable and easy to read.

3. Letters from a Stoic

The advice, though thousands of years old, might as well have been written yesterday. It’s a breeze to read and digest. If you were to shape your life around this book you’d have a good time of it here on earth.

4. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

This book is a guide to becoming a decent human being and tackling challenges. Written by one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, Wooden has a lifetime of wisdom to offer.

5. As a Man Thinketh

What you think about and focus on is what you achieve. This makes sense. Have you ever obsessed about a problem that never seems to go away? This book explains why it’s better to focus on a solution. It’s a short read with a large impact.

Spiritual

1. Power of Now

If you haven’t read about spiritual development or reducing stress in a healthy way, this is the book to start with. And if you can’t stand this new age approach, maybe you’ll like Spiritual Enlightenment by Jed McKenna, which is a polar opposite..

2. My Big TOE

My Big TOE (My Big Theory of Everything) is an exploration of non-physical realities. It also defines the meaning of life (entropy reduction). I think this is an important book because it presents other possibilities and Thomas Campbell doesn’t ask you to believe him, he asks you to think for yourself.

3. Spiritual Enlightenment

Jed McKenna has a no-nonsense approach to spiritual enlightenment. For example, he causally makes the claim that “all of the world’s religions are bullshit”. Reading Spiritual Enlightenment is like running a marathon, it can suck but it feels really good after.

4. The Bhagavad Gita

Do the work for its own sake, forget the result. Easier said than done, but it’s an interesting ideal to work towards. This book is also “The Bible” of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and reading it will help to explain why those chaps sit around and bang on bells.

5. The Kybalion

A book about different levels of consciousness, the characteristics of these levels and “vibrational energy”. The Kybalion goes deep on this energy, particularly how we’re affected by people around us.

Novels

1. Shantaram

I couldn’t put Shantaram down. I read its 900+ pages in a couple of weeks. It’s the gripping story of a man who escapes from prison and finds himself in India. He makes friends, learns the language, and is put on a dangerous path by a nefarious mentor.

2. The Fountainhead

Howard Roark is a socially uninterested gentlemen who cares about becoming an architect, nothing more. Along the way he encounters obstacles that would crush most people but he keeps going. I think that philosophy aside, this novel is brilliant and it’s easier to digest than Atlas Shrugged.

3. Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson is a gifted writer. In this novel, published in 2000, he predicted the future. A compelling book, even if science fiction isn’t you’re thing you’ll still get a kick out of this. The characters are believable and the plot is unpredictable and fun.

4. For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a beautifully written story. The vivid characters feel as real as any person you’ve met. Strength, sacrifice and love are all wrapped up into a couple of hundred pages.

5. Dune

In terms of characters and plot structure, Dune is one in a billion. The beginning of the book is steep but the journey is worth the effort. You’ll meet the Atreides family as they struggle to survive on a hostile planet.

Money Management / Wealth Creation

1. Richest Man in Babylon

Money management, retirement savings and getting out of debt 101. The lessons are simple but powerful. Follow them and you will find yourself in a better financial situation. I like it because it’s written through parables which makes it more interesting to read.

2. Think and Grow Rich

Perhaps the most respected book on wealth creation, Think and Grow Rich dictates that you must set a target wealth then aim for it. Imagine yourself with the money and think what you’ll do with it. Based on the experience of some of the richest people to have ever lived, Think and Grow Rich is famous in its sphere.

3. The Millionaire Fastlane

Written by M.J. DeMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane states that people don’t become millionaires by working a regular job. The best way to make a fortune is to start your own business and find a way to earn money while you sleep.

4. The Education of Millionaires

Michael Ellsberg argues that many wealthy people gained their education outside of the classroom. If you have lofty goals for your life, a traditional education is probably not the best route. I like this message because I consider myself an autodidact and much of what I’ve learned didn’t come from a classroom

5. Rich Dad Poor Dad

Similar to The Richest Man in BabylonRich Dad Poor Dad teaches basic financial literacy skills. It shows the power of compound interest, investing in your business and taking risks. Multiple stories are used to backup the points and I consider it an instrumental book about the mindset of the wealthy.

Kicking Ass

1. Relentless

The best person on the court is the one who has practiced the most. While Relentless is written through the medium of basketball, it’s designed for everyone. The message: go out and practice. The people at the top of every field are the people who work the hardest, are you willing to put in the hours?

2. The Art of Learning

One of my favorite books of all time, The Art of Learning follows Josh Waitzkin as he becomes a chess grandmaster and then a world champion at Push Hands. Few people ever become world-class at a single skill, let alone two skills which are seemingly unrelated.

3. The Slight Edge

The little things that we do every day matter. It’s the incremental 0.01% improvements that eventually lead to massive success. The current focus on getting results without hard work is unfounded and The Slight Edge presents a more realistic way to achieve what we want.

4. Way of the Peaceful Warrior

One of my favorite books about becoming an optimal version of yourself. There are many lessons about healthy eating, personal responsibility, long term thinking and so forth. All of these are wrapped up in a compelling package which keeps you wanting more.

5. The 10X Rule

Grant Cardone is a guy obsessed with money and his barometer for success seems to be wealth. I disagree with this notion but his ideas are sound. Namely, in order to achieve massive success you’ll need to put in 10x more work than the average person. When I told my dad about this book (an entrepreneur and small business owner of 20+ years) his response was,

Only 10x more work? To me it’s always felt like 20x more..” 

Psychology / Philosophy

1. Influence

Influence shows how marketers, advertisers and salesmen use strategies to gain compliance from their targets. Or, it shows you how to gain compliance from your own unwitting targets. Whether you use this book for good or evil, knowledge is power.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow is interesting and informative, but dry. That being said, it gives you a deep understanding of how humans thinks and why we act so irrationally. Reading Thinking, Fast and Slow won’t change your life over night, but it is written by Daniel Kahneman who has won a Nobel Prize.

3. Antifragile

Antifragile is one of those books that people from multiple disciplines recommend. The idea is that in order to thrive you need to be antifragile. That is, you won’t be hurt by cataclysmic events. I found it to be an easier read than Taleb’s other well-known book: The Black Swan.

4. Personality Types

Personality Types speaks about the nine personality types that define every living human. Within each personality type are nine subsets of that. When you read about your own personality type and subset it’s creepy. You’ll also read about others and say “That’s my mom!” or “That’s my best friend!”

Motivational People / True Stories

1. Unbroken

Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini. As a young man he had the potential to set a world record for sprint speed but ended up in a Japanese internment camp. That’s the story of Unbroken and it’s uplifting. Perseverance and a refusal to quit are the key takeaways from this incredible book.

2. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

Mr. Feynman worked on a number of high profile projects but he never lost his sense of humor. He’s done a lot of really fascinating things with his life, from cracking government safes to learning Japanese. The book is filled with gems and it’s tough to put down.

3. The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff begins by describing the scene of a young aviator who’s spilled his brains out over a tree. The story goes on to describe the hot-shot test pilots who were the envy of the Air Force, and who were eventually usurped by astronauts. You’ll learn what “augered in” means and how well beer and super-sonic flying go together.

4. Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People

This book won’t teach you how to be a better person or change the world, but it is funny as hell. Amarillo Slim is a genius in his own right and his exploits put most of our lives to shame. I loved reading this book and finished it in a week. Even if you have no affinity for gambling there are plenty of other engaging stories.

Still looking for more? Check out a full list of all the books that I’ve read.

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