Reading is the most consistent aspect of my life over the past couple of decades.
But books have always been there. I read a lot and also believe in using audiobooks to avoid wasting time. Here’s my review of Audible, an audiobook subscription service I subscribe to. You can get a free book during their trial offer period.
I have boxes of book from college stashed at my parents house. I have boxes of books that my ex-wife probably threw away. I’ve donated carousels of books to libraries over the years.
A few books stand out.
People want my book recommendations. You may be disappointed as you’ll notice something. I’m a nerd.
By the way, if you are used to only reading blogs, some of these books will knock you on your ass.
But you will have an understanding of the world and yourself that fewer than 1% of men have.
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy – Unbridled will meets the Wild West in this tale of violence and savagery. Although the violence is extensive, it’s not gratuitous. McCarthy has a point.
Violence and war are as natural to men as sleeping. Men will always seek warfare. In the Wild Wild they will murder and maim. In the modern world, they will start businesses and start “Twitter wars.”
The means may change but the motivation remains the same – the will to conquer and destroy.
Blood Meridian is lyrically riche prose. If you grew up reading the King James Version Bible, you’ll find Blood Meridian to be damned poetic.
(Judge Holden’s Speech on War)
Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition by Joseph Heller – It’s fiction that you should read like it’s non-fiction, as it’s one of the best explication of human thinking around. It also got me over puppy love. I was 19 when I read it, and could not understand why this girl whom I treated nicely ended the relationship to date a jerk. She wants a nice guy but if you’re nice she doesn’t want you – that’s a Catch-22. More broadly: People want what they want until they get it, in which case they don’t want it anymore. This is completely nuts, but such is the human condition.
On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche – Where did morality come from? What drives it? What’s its purpose? Nietzsche was a philogist, and it showed. Through tracing the history and development of morality, we learn that morality exists for one reason – to oppress.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie – I listed to this audiobook as a humble teenage boy during a road trip. It changed my life.
Dale Carnegie (yes, the same guy who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People) gives you countless methods to learn how to overcome anxiety.
It’s an easily accessible book that is also deep. In fact, I try copying his writing style.
Dale Carnegie was also doing lists before list posts were popular.
How to Break the Worry Habit Before It Breaks You
- Keep busy
- Don’t fuss about trifles
- Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries
- Cooperate with the Inevitable
- Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more
- Don’t worry about the past
Seven Ways to Cultivate A Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace and Happiness
- Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health, and hope
- Never try to get even with your enemies
- Expect ingratitude
- Count your blessings, not your troubles
- Find Yourself and Be Yourself (Remember There Is No One Else on Earth Like You)
- Try to profit from your losses
- Create happiness for others
Three Ways to Prevent Fatigue and Worry and Keep Your Energy and Spirits High
- Rest before you get tired
- Learn to relax at your work
- Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home
Four Good Working Habits That Will Help Prevent Fatigue and Worry
- Clear your desk of all the papers except those relating to the immediate problem at hand
- Do things in the order of their importance
- When you face a problem, solve it then and there if you have the facts necessary to make a decision
- Put enthusiasm into your work
Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger – Arnold is one of the most interesting men to have ever lived. His success is due to one thing – pain. Most people move away from pain. They think that the absence of pain leads to pleasure. Yet people who have lived pain-free lives are boring and almost always unsuccessful. Always seek pain in what you do, because pain leads to pleasure. That’s true of life inside the weight room and outside of the weight room.
The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright – In the Moral Animal, Wright introduces evolutionary psychology to a wider audience. I read all of the original books (e.g., The Selfish Gene, Sociobiology) after reading Wright’s book. The Moral Animal does a great job of summarizing all of the earlier works and is a great introduction to evolutionary psychology.
Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle – While there is much good in the Ethics, most important of all is Aristotle’s discussion of friendship. No one after Aristotle has anything interesting to say about friendship, and if a person created his friendships based on the Ethics, he would live a fulfilled life.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Although I outgrew my childish objectivism, Rand does a remarkable job of describing the ressentiment (a concept from Nietzsche) that public officials and so-called public servants feel towards productive members of society.
Those who claim to act in the public interest – characters such as Wesley Mouch – are actually haters.
Public servants very often hate those who are more successful and directly undermine them.
Or they seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the public. Al Gore says he is fighting global warming. Yet he flies on gas-guzzling private jets and lives in a Tennessee McMansion that sucks the power grid dry. Al Gore earns six-figure speaking fees. WHy doesn’t he give this money to the poor? Does he really need $100 million dollars?
Al Gore, like Goldman Sachs, lobbies for cap-and-trade and continues to propagandize about global warming. Why? Because the best way to enrich one’s self is to hide the profit motive underneath a cloak of public service.
Never trust anyone who says, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday by Gerry Spence – Gerry Spence fills up a room. When he walks into a room, you feel it before you see him. Your neck hairs will stand up.
In fact, I have met a lot of rich people. I’ve met Mark Zuckerberg. I’ve had dinner at Sheryl Sandberg’s home with deci-millionaires and billionaires.
They have no presence, especially compared to someone like Gerry Spence. I’ve attended several of his training courses and there is something about him that you cannot explain with words. You meet the man and … you just feel something.
If you want to learn how to become charismatic, How to Argue and Win Every Time is a great start.
Bonus: Sometime I’ll tell how I got fired for calling Gerry Spence a limousine liberal on my old legal blog.
Great Dialogues of Plato by Plato – If you want to become a better writer or thinker, you have to learn how to ask better questions.
Socrates got me thinking philosophically, and changed how I questioned common truths.
I don’t agree with Plato’s metaphysics (Forms). The value in Plato is learning to question everything.
Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski – I have had a “nervous breakdown.” Society teaches that such breakdowns are harmful, when in fact breakdowns are necessary for spiritual and personal growth.
In a world of child molestation, animal cruelty, false rape accusations, and all around oppressiveness: How can a decent person not have a nervous breakdown?
According to Dabrowski, every complex person will have a nervous breakdown. These breakdowns can lead to higher levels of consciousness.
The disintegration of lower-levels of consciousness is positive. Neurosis and breakdowns are not diseases. They are merely stages that a complex man will undergo on his question for truth.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – Yes, The Little Prince s a “kid’s book.” It’s also a book I’ve read at least a dozen times.
In 70 pages – with pictures – I challenge anyone to better describe love (the rose), the obsession with money (the fat banker), and vicious cycles (the alcoholic).
The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making by Scott Plous – More than any other book in the past few years, The Psychology of Judgment and Decisionmaking changed the way I think. It’s an introduction to cognitive bias.
The Psychology of Judgment and Decisionmaking has changed how I think about my own life, and the means and methods I use when persuading others. I bought several copies to give as gifts, and recommended it to everyone I respected.
The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson) by Ralph Waldo Emerson – I’ve been reading Emerson since my teenage years and still am inspired by his message.
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.” Free online, too, if you Google around.
[gss-content-box color=”yellow”]Easily save the entire book list as a PDF by downloading it onto your computer, tablet, etc. and read it later when you have some free time or while you’re on the go. Just click on the ebook below to download now.[/gss-content-box]
(What if you can only read 3 books?)