“How can you read so much?”
“Where do you find the time to read?”
“Reading books on your free time? Why do that — the course literature is enough.”
“Maybe you should spend more of your time studying instead of reading?”
–What a joke.
People seem to think that the university has a monopoly on education. They think they’ll learn everything they need in school. Is this true?
I’d say. . . No.
I’d say that public education is way too narrow, too specialized.
You want to get a real education?
Then you have to read.
And real education means self-education. You have to take matters into your own hands. No one will “give you” education. Not even the university.
Let me tell you. . .
In a few months I’ll be graduating from university and getting my degree. Just like many other people. Will this make my degree less valuable? Should I be worried about the competition?
But I can understand why many other people think like that. And they should. . . .because they don’t have any real knowledge.
You know, a degree is just a piece of paper. Just because someone hands you a piece of paper doesn’t automatically mean that you’re smart or that you can produce value. Nor does it entitle you to a high wage.
But if you read lots of good books, learn useful things and know how to use these things in the right context–then you’re onto something. (Keeping a book summary book is a great way for doing this.)
Note: If you’re reading this because you’re looking for book recommendations, other than the ones in this article, be sure to check out these two:
- The 2nd edition:“Another 23 Excellent Books You Should Read“
- My “Sacred Tomes” (the select few best books I’ve ever read).
My peers read maybe 1-10 popular books per year to keep up with the trends. They read silly detective stories. Compare that to a person who reads 30-100 serious books per year, and applies what he learns.
These two people are NOT comparable in terms of intelligence and competence.
When you become a regular reader of quality books you gain knowledge. You learn to combine, synthesize and apply ideas from different disciplines in a way that normal people cannot do. This is an acquired skill and it takes practice to acquire it.
Normal people, who only read the books they’re given in school, rarely develop this skill. Their education is lacking.
What is “real” education?
Education is meant to provide confidence, competence, and freedom. Does school provide that? I don’t think so.
In school you have a limited control over what you learn. You’re “forced” to learn outdated theory and politically correct bullshit, like corporate social responsibility — CSR. In real life you’re free to learn whatever you choose.
Any serious person with drive, intelligence, and ambition knows this. And so he eventually realizes that there are better places to invest his time.
In 2013 I read 80+ books.
I think I’ll read about 55-60 books in 2014, since it looks like I’ll be much more busy with other things this year. I ended up reading just over 80 books in 2014 as well.
I take reading very seriously–and so should you.
Never skimp on your self-education. You should allocate a certain amount of time each day (at the very minimum 30 minutes) to reading and learning new things.
Few people become rich or successful without being voracious readers. The only exception that comes to mind is Rick Ross (not the rapper). He became a multimillionaire without knowing how to read. But he was a big time drug dealer. And you’re probably not.
Anyhow, Rick Ross actually did learn to read eventually, when he was put in jail and had to read law books to get himself out of there.
What books should you read?
Here’s a list of 23 books that I’ve read. And they were excellent. So I recommend you read them too.
Very detailed depiction of Caesar’s entire life as well as other important events in the Roman Empire. You’ll learn much about the history of Rome; how they waged war, and how the political system worked.
To my knowledge, this is the longest and most accurate biography on Napoleon Bonaparte’s life. You may consider reading an easier and “more entertaining” book on Napoleon before reading this one, to get more associations in your head. (If you already have some associations it becomes easier, and more fun, to keep building on that. It’s a smart learning hack.)
You can get the books for free on Project Gutenberg if you care to read 1200+ pages on your computer screen.
Ali was one hell of a guy.
What I like most about this book is that it gives such a clear peek into Ali’s work ethic and mindset.
There’s was no coincidence that he became as successful as he was. He outworked every other boxer. He outpromoted every other boxer. He outentertained every other boxer.
46 pages of awesomeness. The fact that Tesla wrote down his life story in just 46 pages says a lot about his personality. Tesla was probably the closest thing to a superhuman genius this world has ever seen. His childhood was very strange.
You can get the PDF for free here.
I loved reading this book. Arnold is so much smarter than he is given credit for.
It was especially interesting to learn about his humble beginnings, his raw ambition, and his inability to compromise on goals. His methods for marketing, networking and self-discipline are also useful to learn about.
This is a well-written and entertaining book. It contains a number of practical lessons on business, management, salesmanship and charisma if you read between the lines.
If you’re not very interested in the book, but would like to know some of these lessons, you can read my popular article on Addicted2Success.
I think Hitler is one of the most interesting people in history. There are many biographies on Hitler’s life. But there are very few books on his early life.
This book is said to be the most accurate portrait of the young Hitler. Unfortunately it doesn’t cover the darkest and most crucial period of his life from 1908-1914 . That epoch will remain a mystery.
Download the book free on your computer here.
Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead for the purpose of portraying the ideal man. She succeeded. Read the book!
Ayn Rand depicts the boring and empty lives that most people lead; lives lacking in integrity and self-respect, which ultimately leads them to seek external validation to make up for their inner emptiness.
Be selfish for “man’s ego is the fountainhead of all progress.”
This book is a lot like Atlas Shrugged — only better. It’s more concise (700 pages vs 1200 pages) and entertaining. In Atlas, the story suffers from Rand’s lengthy philosophical outbursts, and the philosophy sometimes suffers from her lengthy descriptions of the environment. In Fountainhead there isn’t much of that.
The main reason to read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is because these books will strengthen the mental image about who you want to become and the life you want to lead.
Victor Frankl is a Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. But he’s also a smart psychologist and a writer.
In this book he thoroughly analyzes what made the terrible circumstances of concentration camps endurable to some prisoners — such as himself — but unendurable to most others.
What gives life meaning in such a situation? Why do some people break down while others stay (somewhat) stable under gruesome conditions?
Frankl has written more books, but they suck. This one is good. It’ll teach you much about the power of visualization and mental rehearsal.
This is the best collection of philosophical essays I have ever read. Much better than Emerson’s or Bacon’s
Have you heard the Shakespearean quote, “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so” ? Shakespeare stole that from Montaigne, who said that “things are not bad in themselves, but our cowardice makes them so.”
Montaigne is also the guy who created the French word “essay“. Essay = to test your thoughts on a topic. He is also one of my role models when it comes to practicing metacognition and self-awareness.
Book 3 is the best one, in my opinion.
The first book of a trilogy about enlightenment.
If you think enlightenment means to experience a state of constant bliss, and that it is easily attained, think again…
Jed McKenna is a great wrter. His sense of simplicity, taken to the maximum, permeates through all the books. Even the design and text.
If you like this book, you will also like the other two books in the trilogy. And the follow-up book, Jed Mckenna’s Theory of Everything: The Enlightened Perspective. They’re all written in the same characteristic way.
Marcus Aurelius was the Roman philosopher king. Meditations was one of his private journals, in which he carried on a philosophical dialogue with himself to attain accurate thinking and make wiser decisions.
This is the single best piece of stoic literature. You don’t need to read Epictetus, Seneca, Zeno, and so on (unless you want to). This book will give you 80 % of the content you’re looking for if you’re interested in Stoicism.
I’ve listened to the audio book about 20 times for repetition’s sake.
The most important thing I got from it is to always ask myself:
“Is this one of the necessary things?”
The only book you need to read from Napoleon Hill, and really, traditional self-development. Every other book in the genre is merely a knock-off. Save yourself some time and read this book thoroughly instead.
Don’t read Think and Grow Rich or Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. Read the original book. Always try to get as close to the source as possible, instead of settling for dumbed-down versions of the same material.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to pronounce his last name to read the book.
This is a good book in which you’ll learn the psychology of how to get yourself into flow — the state in which you do optimal work, feel awesome and do little conscious thinking.
You’ll also learn a lot of cool and useful trivia. I highly recommend you read this book. I read it a few years ago after one of the richest men in Sweden (now dead) told me to read it. He told me it was the most important book he had ever read.
Probably my second favorite traditional self-development book. Contains a lot of concrete and practical advice that you can immediately implement. It also contains plenty of ways for you to think more efficiently when faced with certain challenging situations.
This book has a cheesy cover, but it’s short and easy to read. You can read it in one or two sittings.
It’s about the 177 differences between champions and average people.
If you aren’t a big reader, and if you aren’t already “super-knowledgeable” about self-development, I would recommend that you begin by reading this book because it’s very easy to read and it gives a great overview.
Great book on developing a stronger work ethic. Teaches you to disregard any illusions of easy success. Just focus on doing the work, and it’ll turn out well eventually. Beat the resistance every day.
If you’ve read my book Breaking out of Homeostasis, you’ll find that what Steven Pressfield refers to as “the resistance” is probably homeostasis. However, Pressfield is a lot more spiritual/metaphysical about it.
You will be inspired by reading it.
The book title is an oversell, just like everything else from Tim Ferris. Working four hours per week is for lazy people. The law of compensation is always at work. You either outwork and outsmart people for a number of years, or you work slowly all your life, like the average person does.
However, this book has a lot of practically useful tips. It’ll also open up your mind to some of the things that are possible to do — professionally speaking — if you do things differently.
Even if you currently don’t have any ambitions of making money online you should still read this book, because it’s filled with cool ideas and strategies. Many are outdated, and the author exaggerates greatly about how much money you can make. But you will get many good ideas. And remember, if you get even one good idea from a book, it was a book worth reading!
There’s zero fluff in it (except for some crappy product recommendation links).
Ogilvy was one of the greatest admen ever — and a great writer. If you’re into marketing, advertising, or writing, you need to read this book. It’s filled with brilliant stuff from the first page to the last.
The book is short, but highly concrete. It contains many practical tips on writing, presenting and pitching, and creating ads.
It took me a surprisingly long time to finish this book, because I transcribed almost the entire book.
You can get the pdf free here.
If you’re an employee looking to get an edge over your peers, you must read this book. Here’s how it works: You must become indispensable. When you are indispensable you will get paid much more, because the company desperately needs you.
And how do you become indispensable?
By becoming the go-to guy for different things. By handling essential clients. By over-delivering value. By daring to oppose the status quo. By daring to speak up and give useful feedback when other people are yes-men.
Free book written by one of the smartest and most successful people in the world. I highly recommend it.
The first half of the book is devoted to Dalio’s life philosophy and the second half is devoted to managerial principles. I wrote a summary article on it you can read.
Want more book recommendations?
Check out the second edition: