5 Books You Should Read Immediately

  1. Meditations – Ryan Holiday recommends this as the best book ever written. You won’t be disappointed. Marcus Aurelias simply wrote about things he learned while living as the most powerful man in the world, and managed to write one of the most profound set of lessons and bits of wisdom ever. This book is one you can read at any point in time and feel as though the writing speaks directly into your particular life situation. If you read only one book in the next year, or 10 years, make it this one.unbroken
  2. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Louis Zamperini should have been the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. Instead, he survived a plane crash, lived over a month on a life raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and somehow suffered through years in Japanese POW camps during World War II before coming out alive. Reading this account of Zamperini’s life can be so outlandish it feels like reading a novel. The movie comes out soon, so make sure to read the book before you see it.Mastery_Cover
  3. Mastery – We all strive to be good at what we do every day, and Greene lays out a straightforward path, supported by historical examples, towards the mastery of one’s field. The road to true mastery takes years of learning, followed by a period of creative experimentation. Greene argues that the geniuses we revere, the Einsteins of the world, are simply people who have achieved mastery, and that this power can be achieved by anyone who truly devotes the time and energy because it comes from the evolution of our brains to think creatively and find patterns. It will open your mind to the possibilities of human intellect and make you think deeply about what you choose to do with your life.OmnivoresDilemma_full
  4. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals – Everything we eat is made of corn. And it’s slowing killing us. Read this book because it will open your eyes to the grotesque ways we produce food, the dependence we have on those industrialized processes simply to sustain our population explosion, and the glimmer of hope that can be found within certain people and places who believe there are better ways of eating. It will change the way you look at the grocery store and change the way you make decisions about what to eat every day.American_gods
  5. American Gods – In part, this is just a wonderfully written story. It has everything great about a novel: magic, mystery, travel, zombies. But it also critiques American society and beliefs in a particularly creative way. The story centers around a protagonist who gets mixed up in a war between the old and new Gods in America. The old Gods are those brought to the country throughout history by immigrants – Greek, Norse, and Christian. The new Gods represent those things that Americans now hold so dear – Technology, Cars, Television, Consumerism. The clashing of these two ideas, religion and modern technology, plays out in a way that is both thoroughly entertaining and thought provoking.

What I Read Last Week

At any point in time, I’m typically reading 3 or 4 books:

  1. Some work related non-fiction
  2. Other non-fiction
  3. A novel
  4. An audiobook, usually fiction

I generally avoid the news, but I read a number of online essays and other journals as well.

Here’s what I recommend from last week:

Managing Oneself - This is one of Peter Drucker’s famous essays, and a piece I would consider a must read. He lays out the the important questions that any successful individual must be able to answer in order to live a fulfilling life, including “What are my strengths?”, “How do I work?”, and “What are my values?”. Knowing how you operate is key to succeeding in any aspect of life, and Drucker does a fantastic job explaining the importance of answering these questions and, more importantly, how you use the answers to guide your life.

Tuesday’s with Morrie - Many people had that one teacher or professor who changed their life. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie, his college sociology professor. When Morrie gets diagnosed with ALS, Albom reconnects with Morrie and the two spend the Tuesdays leading up to Morrie’s death discussing life and death. With such lessons as “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live,” and “Love each other or perish,” this book is filled with nuggets that may even reshape the way you view your life.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - I listened to this, which may not have been the best idea because it is terribly long. It’s an entertaining story of magic and war that follows the lives of the two magicians named in the title. It received substantial critical acclaim, and is even considered to be some of the best fiction written in the early 2000s by some lists, and is definitely well written and interesting, but there are a lot of other books I would recommend above it.

Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem and The Brutal Ageism of Tech - Both of these articles highlight many of the problems associated with Silicon Valley’s trend towards only funding and hiring younger and younger talent, while older founders and engineers get left by the wayside or ignored altogether. The article from the Times is definitely the better of the two, but both are worth the read.