While I review newer books that I read, many people have asked about my personal favorite books. I threw together a list of the most influential, memorable, and instructive books that I have read over my entire life.
I wanted to give an accurate glimpse into my mind so my rules for creating this list were simple:
- I did not look at my kindle or physical library
- I did not dig extra hard to come up with more books
I just sat down with my trusty moleskin notebook, and listed the first books that came to mind.
The times I’ve read these books spans as far back as age 18 and as recently as last year. All of the books here have been read multiple times and each has uniquely contributed to my personality, perspective and approach towards the world.
Without these books, I would not be the person I am today.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you use the links on this page to purchase a book, I get a small commission. So if you find any of my recommendations helpful, feel free to pick up the book from here.
The Art of Learning
The Art of Learning is a book written by chess prodigy and World Champion at the combat version Tai Chi Chuan. What I enjoyed most about this book is how Josh Waitzkin not only learns from his mistakes, but how he breaks down his learning process. He draws from Tai Chi Chuan to improve his chess and from chess to improve his Tai Chi Chuan.
At its heart, this is a book where you learn how to learn.
The biggest idea I took from The Art of Learning concerns how to practice. What you learn is composed of small pieces. You practice to fluently integrate the small pieces. You aim to discard extraneous movement. Weak action that takes lots of time/space is transformed into powerful action that takes no time/space. The aim is efficiency in all things.
The Talent Code
I have a trouble accepting the idea of “talent”.
This is because I have no natural talents myself.
I was not gifted with extreme athleticism or great ability at mathematics.
However, I am a professional boxer and physics major. Rather than accept that I was doomed to the result of ordinary genetics, I did something about it.
This book was part of that game plan.
The Talent Code discusses methods for improving your skills in areas where people believe that natural talent decides who will be the best. Drawing on neuroscience and first hand research, The Talent Code gives you the tools to practice in a way that you’ll actually improve.
It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to improve, but after reading The Talent Code you’ll know the best way to practice.
This book gave me the confidence to gain skills and abilities that I wanted instead of believing that natural genetic ability was going to dictate my life and the choices I made. Pick it up here.
Way of the Superior Man
Nowadays it seems like there are thousands of blogs on the Internet about masculinity. This is a good thing, because modern man desperately needs instruction and guidance. Society makes it difficult for men to feel good about being men.
Before the Internet was inundated with masculinity blogs, there was a book called Way of The Superior Man.
The book takes a “spiritual” approach to masculinity and the challenges men face. It helped me build a foundation for how to approach my interactions with the world and with women.
Some of the lessons and ideas do approach the esoteric, but for the most part I keep rereading this book because it’s such a practical foundation for masculinity. And it goes beyond what you do. Instead, the book focuses on how you see the world and how those perspectives motivate your actions.
If you want to adopt the mentality of a superior man, this is a great read.
The 10x Rule
The premise of this book is that you can have anything you want if you put 10x more effort and energy into getting it than you think you’ll actually need. Cardone believes this is the missing link between failure and success in any endeavor. This book was a random purchase with a gift card about a year ago. I’ve since fallen madly in love with it.
I’m not a big fan of motivational material. I believe that a person should already have the motivation for a better life and merely needs to be pointed in the right direction.
This book is not quite motivational, but it’s close.
Think of it like a road trip.
If motivation is the fuel, goals are the destination, and The 10x Rule is the transmission that takes you from one gear to the next.
I have applied the general idea to my training, writing and studying: do more to increase your chances of success. The 10x Rule gives you the blueprint.
Winning Through Intimidation
The book is a cross between sales and self-help. Not the type of self-help that makes you feel good about the world, but rather the kind that gets you to open your eyes to the nature of human beings.
People are always going to try to get the best deal for themselves in a negotiation. Life is one big series of negotiations. One of the ways they do this is through intimidation tactics. The best defense against them is to learn how to use the tactics yourself.
Winning Through Intimidation uses sales lessons to illustrate two main ideas:
Your results in life are inversely proportional to how intimidated you are.
It’s not what you say, but how you say it. In other words, if you enter any situation with courage and purpose, you stand a much better chance of getting a fair deal. If you go forth with your head hung low and a meek demeanor, the jackals of the world will rip you apart.
Winning Through Intimidation teaches you how to avoid becoming prey for the jackals of the world.
A Course in Miracles
A Course in Miracles claims to be the direct word of Jesus dictated to the author. She says she wrote down what Jesus told her over the course of some number of years.
Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant because you don’t need to be religious or spiritual to get something out of this text.
A Course in Miracles is the one of the reasons I approach all human beings with love and respect.
It’s also why I seek to forgive all transgressions against myself and humanity.
Lastly, it’s why I seek to understand rather than confront or argue.
No matter what your religious beliefs are, the book does not violate or infringe upon them. This is probably the book that is most important to me, because it developed my relationship with people and the world.
Caro’s Book of Poker Tells: The Psychology of Body Language and Poker
I’ve read a number of body language books.
Many of them are useful.
But this book stands out to me because it’s the first one to quantify the money you can expect to make from reading body language. It also gives the reliability of the “tell” based on the skill of the opponent doing it. This idea is incredible to me because it’s the only time I’ve seen the following expressed: lie detecting is an incomplete art rather than an iron clad science.
If you understand the ideas from this book and play with them (not just in poker, but in your everyday life), then you’ll intuitively learn that situational context is just as important as content when it comes to lie detection.
I also like that the book teaches you to read body language in the context of risk and negative feedback—two things you absolutely need to get better.
When money is on the line, you have no choice but to learn and learn fast.
That’s why this is my favorite body language book.
Think and Grow Rich
Think and Grow Rich is the book that started my mind on the right path. I actually haven’t read this one in quite sometime, but every self-help book or website you read today has it’s origins in something from this book.
You need nothing else but this book and you can change your life.
The change won’t just be financial. It will also be in your physical, emotional and mental constitution. You won’t just grow rich in your bank account but more importantly, in your life.
Pick up Napoleon Hill’s classic here.
Finally, the best one…
Of course, my favorite book is the one I wrote myself. If you’re interested in self-improvement and growing as a person, I know you’ll love it too.
Here’s what one reader had to say about it:
I love this book! Ed tells it like it is! I first ordered the kindle edition, and then ordered the paper back for my personal library.
Read this book with a highlighter, and take notes.
— Johnny Grube, verified purchaser
Click here to learn more about my book.