Even if you buy books and never read them you still benefit. Why? Because read books are less valuable than unread books. And I learned when you have stacks of unread books you have an antilibrary.
At 10:00 p.m. I shut all screens off, make a cup of Yogi bedtime tea, light candles in my bedroom (the lavender ones), and do a headstand for a minute. Then I get in bed and read for one hour.
I’m still doing that, only now I start earlier because I added one hour of meditation (doctor’s orders). So, these are the top five books I read this year. The ones that had the biggest impact on my life.
And last year you guys left comments with your favorites, this year I’d love it if you did the same.
THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY
The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
If you’re not familiar with the ancient Greek philosophy of life from guys like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus, this book is a great start. (And if you want to go straight to the source my favorite is Letters from a Stoic by Seneca.)
Ryan Holiday takes Stoic wisdom and applies it to the modern world using examples from people like Steve Jobs, Amelia Earhart, and John D. Rockefeller. How they framed their challenges as opportunities, and the tactics they used to overcome them.
Look, we all deal with problems, and what I like about this book is when I’m struggling it’s easy to pick it up and read a few pages to get a different perspective, and to see the hidden opportunity.
THE WAR OF ART
Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Steven Pressfield asks, “Are you a writer who doesn’t write? A painter that doesn’t paint? An entrepreneur who never starts a venture?” If deep down you know what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, and you’re not doing it, read this book.
I’m not a professional writer so when I started this site I had a lot of self-doubt. Even as I continue writing and getting better I feel like everything I put out is bad. And I don’t know if these feelings ever go away.
But Pressfield says that’s a good sign. That the more we’re paralyzed with the fear of self-doubt, the more it means we’re doing what we’re meant to be doing. We just need to start acting like a professional, and stop seeing ourselves as an amateur.
The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
No matter how many times I take the Myers-Briggs personality test it comes up introvert. This doesn’t mean I don’t like people. I love people. What it means is people drain my energy and I need time alone to recharge.
My last job required me to be an extrovert because being more successful in the business world means being more extroverted. So after work I wouldn’t want to socialize. But now that I have more solitude during the day my social life is amazing.
If you’re an introvert you should read this book to embrace who you are. And if you’re an extrovert you should read this book to understand how not everyone can spend hours socializing every day.
SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU
Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
If I read this book when I started my career I wouldn’t have wasted so much time in my 20s being stagnant. I would’ve known that to advance my career I needed to spend my time mastering more skills.
Most people don’t understand that how much money you make depends on your value. And you increase this value by building what Cal Newport calls “career capital”, or honing more and more skills. That’s how you get the leverage you need to get what you want when it comes to negotiating aspects of your work life.
This book is a good reminder that success doesn’t come easy. It comes after years of deliberate practice, and if you can commit to that it pays off.
THE MILLIONAIRE FASTLANE
Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime
Okay, so I’m still not sure if I should recommend this book. But I’m going to anyways because what it gets right is the mindset to become wealthy, or rich, or whatever you want to call it.
One way is to work a 9-5 job, invest 10% of what you earn, and after a few decades you have a pretty good chance of becoming a millionaire. And that’s the slowlane. The fastlane is to become an entrepreneur. I think this is completely logical.
Know that this book is filled with driving analogies, it’s repetitive, and it doesn’t offer tactics or step-by-step instructions to do what you need to do to become a millionaire. But if you can overlook those things, and want a book that inspires you, it’s a good choice.