Books. Highly underrated these days. Of the hundred of books that I have stashed away in boxes, these are the few that have influenced me in some profound way…at least that I can remember off the top of my head. Short notes are listed with Amazon links below to help fund my cheeseburger consumption. Full reviews will come as time allows. These are listed in no particular order.
I’ve given this book to two people. Both people found new jobs a couple months later. All career paths have a period where we must pay our dues. We don’t start at the top, we have to work our way there. The Dip reminds us to evaluate whether the eventual payoff is both likely and worth the hard work it will take to get there. Are we winning at a losing game? You can read this book in one sitting; I read it on an airplane. If you hate your current job or think there is something better out there for you, maybe this will help push you over the edge.
A full review of this book is coming, but I recently read this and it is really great. Although filled with real advice, it’s not particularly about strategy, but rather about accepting where you are as an artist. A came away from this book with an idea of where I want to go. It’s a short read, but it is clear that Kleon toiled over every page.
I read this book at a time when I struggled with the conflict between playing the game or not. When do we keep our mouths shut? Do we win if we allow our enemies to think we like them? Is obedience worth the mental price for the external gain? This books presents one side of the argument, the side that I had limited exposure to up until that time. While a small number of people may disagree with the premise of the book, which contains a completely utilitarian view of the world, the methods work and the stories are fantastic.
Though this book is about tennis, there are lessons here about life, the way we learn, and how we can perform at our best. While there are more recent books that address the science behind optimal performance, Gallwey laid a foundation that was perfect for me at the time. The basic premise of the book is that we perform best when our mind is quiet. Our brain knows what it’s doing, and often our conscious mind gets in the way. This books is both about the methods for making that happen as well as the discovery of the phenomenon.
I was fortunate enough to find science fiction at a young age. Huxley was a big part of that and, early on, altered my perception of how the world operates. Unlike Orwell’s vision that some central power would oppress us, Huxley believed that it we would be our own undoing. The drive for distraction and pleasure would limit our growth far beyond guns or propaganda.
Philosophy and the struggle between the bourgeois and the proletariat wrapped inside an allegory. Simply more great science fiction that I read early on. What I love about these books is the subject matter. If you were never a science fiction nerd, the draw of science fiction is not the science or the fantasy; rather, what makes it great are the lessons and ideas that don’t get injected into other genres. It’s as if a certain IQ is required for entry, but once you’re there, you get more than you asked for.
This is the pop-science version of how we learn and partially how the brain works. Key methods are broken down into simple steps, showing us the common similarities among those who perform at the highest levels and where they come from.
What sounds like a sleazy “get-rich-quick” book is actually quite the opposite. Once you get past the hype, DeMarco presents a mathematical approach to finance and business. He provides the tools to evaluate whether our current path can result in large dollar amounts and how to find models that do. I highly recommend this book. It is the polar opposite to the “Think and Grow Rich” garbage we’ve been spoon fed for years. Hard work and the right plan is what will get us there.
This book provides a series of lessons on how to increase your efficiency and potentially find a way to make it on your own as an entrepreneur. If I were to find fault anywhere in this book, it is that Tim makes things that are quite difficult sound very simple. Nonetheless, the principles laid down here are sound. Although not everyone will take the information here and execute it, many have had great success with this book. If nothing else, you will learn ways to make your day-to-day work easier.
Escape 101: The Four Secrets to Taking a Sabbatical or Career Break Without Losing Your Money or Your Mind – Dan Clements & Tara Gignac
What I like about this book is that it give us concrete solutions for our various excuses and objections to actually going out and traveling long term. You have a car? Sell it here or store it there. What do these solutions cost? How do you put together the budget and the plan? The answers are spelled out.
Another take on around the world and long term travel topics. Aimed less at cube dwellers than Escape 101, it presents the idea of continuous long term travel. Having known people who have done this, I’d say the advice in this book is very similar to what I’ve received from others that I know.
Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence – Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin
Recommended by a professor, Your Money or Your Life presents a simple argument: we trade money for time (work). Time is our life, and it is in very limited supply. So if we require less money to sustain ourselves, we get more life in return. This book then presents the methods for reducing expenses to the Nth degree. I believe that a more effective method is to increase dollars per hour worked; however, cutting expenses can often be done much faster than increasing income. That said, it’s good to see this side of the argument. Cutting expenses in the short term may allow you to sustain higher risk on the entrepreneur side for longer. Those I know who have taken this book and really ran with it, have been able to live lives far beyond what is normal with freedom to do as they wish with the majority of their days.
Everyone should read this book. If you want to live longer this gives you a road map for how to do it. The research methods here are pretty weak as there are few ways to do this experimentally, but the advice is pretty solid. More importantly it will make you think about where and how you want to spend your life for the long term.
Another book about tennis. The advice here applies to everything. At the core of Gilbert’s method is that attention to detail and preparation allows less talented people to beat more talented people who aren’t so prepared. Often the focus of our attention is drawn to things that are only tangentially related to winning. Gilbert focuses on what actually matters.
Andre Agassi’s autobiography, one that appears to have actually been written by the person it’s about. His ability to remember the finest details of his life and the games he played is amazing. I came away from this book with a sense of what it takes to become the very best. Honestly, the game drove this man to insanity from the very beginning. His tennis development was really to the exclusion of all else in his life. What makes us great is not balance. What makes us great is going way too far in one direction, and there is a price to pay for that greatness.
Sapolsky is a genius. If you’ve ever seen his lectures on iTunes, you know that he can ramble off a mind-blowing continuous stream of interesting information. This book teaches us about stress by going into the depths of how the brain and body work. Sapolsky is very entertaining and quite funny while writing about the most finite details of neuroanatomy. If you want a better understanding of how we behave, how to live longer, and how to be happier, this book has an insane amount of information.
I’m not all the way through this one, but I read it from time to time before going to bed. While a little dry, the lessons are valuable, and I like Seneca’s philosophy. Not unlike eastern philosophy in many ways. Worth the read.
Whether the story is true or fiction is not important. This book provides the basic model through which most of our foreign policy, and much of our economy, operates. An very entertaining read and a glimpse into a world most of us will never see.
Simply great books
Now that we’ve covered the important influential books, here are the books that I merely enjoy. These won’t make you a new person, but you might love them none the less. Many more to come here once I get around to it.
In my never ending quest to become Jason Bourne, I found this book sitting in the bookstore and picked it up. While I may never use the more advanced techniques laid out in this book, I have a new understanding of how people behave when being untruthful. This book was actually written by former CIA officers who were responsible for the development and execution of interrogation techniques and polygraph testing at the CIA for many years.
This is not a pop-psych book about how people touch their face when they are lying. This books covers a specific method for introducing stimuli in the form of questions and extracting both behaviors and verbal responses as a result of those stimuli. When you understand how this system works it becomes easy to identify the patterns, particularly in how people respond verbally.
Well written and full of real life examples from recent news.
This books describes the inner workings of the art world at the very highest level: what makes art sell, how is it priced, and who controls the markets. Entertaining and if you are an artist, an important read. Excellent examples and fascinating throughout.
My favorite cookbook. The Meatball Shop Cookbook is just that: a series of meatball recipes and sauces from the restaurant. They cover several cooking methods and many flavors. I’ve dialed in my meatball cooking to a science as a result. Great way to spend a half hour on Sunday afternoons to prepare a ton of protien for the next couple of days.