I don’t think there was a time in my life when I wasn’t in the middle of a book. I don’t have a favorite genre, and read everything that excites me at any given moment: from history and biographies to fantasy and economics. I feel no obligation to finish any book, and if I get stuck because the information doesn’t resonate with me or is simply boring, I’d move onto another one. I’m usually always in the middle of at least 3-5 books, and this way, I can always be excited about reading at least one of them at any time.
This is the collection of my favorite books that either profoundly influenced my life or were simply fascinating to read.
Rationality: From AI to Zombies
by Eliezer Yudkowsky
This is a collection of essays by Eliezer Yudkowsky that were originally published on Less Wrong and Overcoming Bias, which have since given birth to an incredible community of rationalists.
In Eliezer’s own words, “These essays are fumbling attempts to put into words lessons better taught by experience. But at least there’s underlying math, plus experimental evidence from cognitive psychology on how humans actually think. Maybe that will be enough to cross the stratospherically high threshold required for a discipline that lets you actually get it right, instead of just constraining you into interesting new mistakes.”
What does it actually mean to be rational? Why is that a good idea to act rationally? What prevents us from making optimal decisions? How can we fix ourselves? Do we even need fixing if we feel happy? These are just some of the questions that are being explored in the book.
It will help you understand a broad set of principles, including evolution, foundations of science, the human brain, quantum mechanics, BayesCraft, clear thinking, probability theory, and much much more.
This is a must-read for those who want to see and understand this world a bit more accurately and learn a set of tools to see everything around them in a new light.
Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way
by Lao Tzu, Ursula K. Le Guin
One of my favorite translations of the timeless wisdom of Laozi (Lao Tzu). This is one of the few books that I carry a paperback copy with me wherever I go and read almost daily.
by Marcus Aurelius
This is one of the few books that I had read almost every single translation available, been re-reading at least every couple of months for a few years now, and still keep finding new gems every time I do.
Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur
by Derek Sivers
This is a very short book, but it’s the one that can easily change your entire perspective on how you do business and live your life (it has certainly changed mine).
The Tao of Pooh & The Te of Piglet
by Benjamin Hoff
Probably the best introduction to Taoism through the eyes of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
The book that changed my perspective on being an introvert, helped me to embrace it instead of trying to become an extravert and leverage all the benefits.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
This book helped me make a life-altering decision, changed how I live, and the way I make short, medium, and long-term decisions.
Stillness Is the Key
by Ryan Holiday
A book about stillness – a virtue that is the key to being better at everything you do. This time (it’s the third book in the trilogy), Ryan goes beyond Stoicism and shows that inner peace is the highest good in virtually any religion and philosophical school. “And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.”
What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture
by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz’s new book is a great blend of storytelling, anecdotes, and examples on understanding, building, and eventually changing the organization’s culture. It’s an excellent and thoughtfully prepared read that should be on the reading list of any founder/CEO.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
by Matthew Walker
“Why We Sleep” has probably been one of the most important instruments to raise general awareness on the importance of sleep in recent years.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
by Michael E. Gerber
An updated edition of a timeless bestseller about the importance of working on your business instead of working in your business. Gerber believes that entrepreneurs – typically brimming with good but distracting ideas – make poor businesspeople. He argues that everybody who goes into business is actually three people in one: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician. Each of them gets in the way of two others. It was recommended to me by a friend who, after reading this book, was finally able to break free from working 12 hours a day in his business and who now travels all the time while the business continues to grow.
Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals
by Tyler Cowen
This book is packed with big ideas and questions, interesting thought experiments, and fascinating theories. It represents the best of multi-disciplinary thinking and has something for everyone. Cowen delves into economics, philosophy, philanthropy, sociology, geopolitics, history, and even pop culture.
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It
by Kamal Ravikant
When you love yourself, life loves you back.
The first version of this book was self-published in 2012 and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. Kamal worked on this expanded version (the first one was 8,000 words, this one is over 50,000) for over a year, and it’s basically a completely new book.
One of the key points that stood out for me in the book is asking yourself: “If I loved myself truly and deeply, what would I do?” before making a decision.
As A Man Thinketh
by James Allen
Your internal environment creates your external reality. Your thoughts and beliefs create the world around you. This is true in all of life, and this short book that you can read in less than an hour is a great reminder of just how important your thoughts are. Everything starts with a thought, and therefore if you want to improve any area of your life, you should start with your thoughts and beliefs. Thoughts are like seeds – if you plant beautiful seeds, beautiful things will grow, and vice versa.
How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy
by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman
This book is a collection of essays by fifteen philosophers presenting an introductory guide to choosing a philosophy for living an examined and meaningful life. Each author is explaining their philosophical view on life: from ancient Eastern approaches such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Daoism to Western ones such as Aristotelianism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism; from venerable religious traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to modern ones such as Ethical Culture, existentialism, effective altruism, pragmatism, and secular humanism.
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict
by The Arbinger Institute
“What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstand that cause? And what if, as a result, we systematically perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?” This is arguably one of the best ‘personal development’ books that I’ve read. It’s thought-provoking but doesn’t pressure you into thinking that your life is a mess and they have the solution. It simply suggests, encourages, and recognizes that we all stumble and fail sometimes. The key is to get up, open our hearts, and keep on trying.
Japonisme: Ikigai, Forest Bathing, Wabi-Sabi and More
by Erin Niimi Longhurst
In this gorgeous book, half British, half Japanese lifestyle blogger Erin Niimi Longhurst exploring the Japanese art of living a happier, healthier, more thoughtful life. In her own words, she “wants to inspire and provide guidance on ways to enrich and complement your lifestyle through a new lens.”
It’s broken down into three sections:
— Kokoro 心 – the heart and the mind, which includes the concepts of Ikigai (our purpose, what drives us to do what we do), Wabi-Sabi (the beauty of impermanence), and Kintsugi (finding beauty in imperfection);
— Karada 体 – the body, how we nourish it, how we engage with our surroundings, and how we stimulate our minds. It includes the concepts of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), Ikebana, Tabemono, Ocha, Onsen, Caligraphy, and the Japanese home.
— Shukanka 習慣化 — developing the habit.
The book is filled with gorgeous illustrations by Ryo Takemasa, pictures by the author, and beautifully designed Japanese proverbs, making it one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I’ve ever owned.
Your Music and People
by Derek Sivers
“A philosophy of getting your work to the world by being creative, considerate, resourceful, and connected.”
Like all other Derek’s books, this is a very short, highly digestible, and immediately actionable read.
Even though it’s written with musicians in mind, the advice and lessons are highly relevant and applicable for pretty much anyone.
Hell Yeah or No
by Derek Sivers
“Thoughts around what’s worth doing, fixing faulty thinking, and making things happen.”
This is one of those extremely rare books with zero fluff and full of great points that you want to highlight entire chapters of.
Some of my favorite chapters (on parenting/excitement in finding things/what matters most) need to be read in full, so I highly recommend reading the entire book (it’s a very short read and can be completed in less than 2 hours).
by Matthew McConaughey
Wildly entertaining, remarkably wise, and candid, this memoir brings you on a philosophical and inspiring journey of McConaughey’s life.
As McConaughey says at the end of the book, “I hope it can be useful and lend a hand if you need it, that it might teach you something, inspire you, make you laugh, remind you, help you forget, and arm you with some life tools to better march forward as more of yourself.” – and I can confirm that it does all that and more.
The Psychology of Money
by Morgan Housel
This book’s premise is that doing well with money has little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave.
A genius who loses control of their emotions can be a financial disaster, while ordinary people with no financial education can be wealthy if they have a handful of behavioral skills that have nothing to do with formal measures of intelligence.
It’s short—only 19 straight-to-the-point chapters—but a very enjoyable read with lots of stories and examples illustrating just how weird and complicated our relationships with money are, and practical advice to make it easier.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
by Jordan B. Peterson
12 practical rules for life.
Even though I like to listen to Jordan Peterson’s interviews, and some of his world views even resonate with me, I’m still not quite sure that this book needs to be 416 pages long, hence lower than average rating.
File under “the books that should’ve been a blog post.”
The Case for Space
by Robert Zubrin
An updated edition of a brilliant book “Entering Space” from the author of “The Case for Mars” that inspired Elon Musk’s ambition to settle the Red Planet.
Part 1 of the book shows how we can conquer space, and part 2 gives reasons why we must. The Case for Space offers insights into what awaits us near Jupiter and Saturn, the strengths and weaknesses of SpaceX, and why we need a new frontier to drive innovation and prevent cultural and intellectual stagnation.
Incredibly well written and enlightening, this is an absolute must-read for all space and science enthusiasts.
How to Live
by Derek Sivers
Another brilliant work by Derek Sivers. Completing the series (“Your Music and People” and “Hell Yeah or No“) this book offers you 27 answers to one of the most important questions: How to Live?
The brilliance is in giving you different, often contradicting perspectives on the same subject, which helps you to see the whole picture.
Charlie Munger once said, “I never allow myself to hold an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.” And “How to Live” makes it much easier to form your own opinion by giving you arguments for both sides without sounding prescriptive.
To be formatted:
«Atomic Habits» by James Clear
«Ego Is The Enemy» and «The Obstacle is The Way» by Ryan Holiday
«Letters From a Stoic» by Seneca
«Lord of the Rings» by J.R.R. Tolkien
«Sapiens» by Yuval Noah Harari
«Tools of Titans» by Tim Ferris
«Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feyman!» by R. Feynman
«Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality» by Eliezer Yudkowsky
«Shoe Dog» by Phil Knight
«The Hard Thing About Hard Things» by Ben Horowitz
«Dotcom Secrets» by Russel Brunson
«Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking» by Malcolm Gladwell
«The Brain» by David Eagleman
«The Inevitable» by Kevin Kelly
«The Secret Life of Salvador Dali» by Salvador Dali
«Benjamin Franklin: An American Life» by Walter Isaacson
«A. Lincoln: A Biography» by Ronald C. White Jr.
«The Name of The Wind» by Patrick Rothfuss
«Influence» and «Pre-Suasion» by R. Cialdini
«Living with a SEAL» by Jesse Itzler
«Principles: Life and Work» by Ray Dalio
«The Art Of Learning» by Josh Waitzkin
«Discourses» by Epictetus
«How to Be a Stoic» by Massimo Pigliucci
«Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln» by Doris Goodwin
«Antifragile» by Nassim Taleb
«Man’s Search For Meaning» by Viktor Frankl
«The Courage to Be Disliked» by Ichiro Kishimi
«Brief Answers to the Big Questions» by Stephen Hawking
«Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds» by David Goggins (audio version)
«Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It» by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz
«How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius» by Donald Robertson
«Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality» by Eliezer Yudkowsky
«A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy» by William B. Irvine
«Awareness: Conversations with the Masters» by Anthony de Mello
«Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries» by Neil deGrasse Tyson
«Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues» by Michael Sugrue
«Cosmos» by Carl Sagan
«Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story» by Arnold Schwarzenegger
«Fierce Intimacy» by Terry Real
«The Order of Time» by Carlo Rovelli
«The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth» by Michio Kaku
«The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now» by Thich Nhat Hanh
«Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life» by Thich Nhat Hanh
«Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience» by Indre Viskontas
«What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture» by Ben Horowitz
«A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street» by Edward O. Thorp
«Lifespan: Why We Age-and Why We Don’t Have To» by David Sinclair
«Nonviolent Communication» by Marshall Rosenberg
«The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity» by Steven Strogatz
«A Short History of Nearly Everything» by Bill Bryson
«Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries» by Safi Bahcall
«The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca» by Emily Wilson
«Psycho-Cybernetics» by Maxwell Maltz
«Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World» by Mark Miodownik, Sarah Scarlett
«At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds» by Dan Hooper
«Alex’s Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics» by Alex Bellos
«Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity» by Carlo Rovelli
«The Great Mental Models Volume 1: General Thinking Concepts» by Shane Parrish
«The Great Mental Models Volume 2: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology» by Shane Parrish