“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin
Books can change your life
I used to hardly read books. I did not see the value in them and the return on investment took too long. I knew there were aspects of my life that I wanted to change and areas I was interested in but I lacked the books to take me there. This all changed with one book, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. A friend of mine recommended it to me in passing.
Once I started reading this book it expanded my mind in a million directions. I jumped from one book to the next almost as if I was on a quest to reach a treasure of knowledge and each book was another map getting me closer to my goal. Now I am an avid reader and it is difficult to find me without a book in my hand. My only problem now is that there are too many good books and not enough time.
All it takes is one book to put you on a quest for knowledge and learning new things. That is why I have curated the list of books below. Out of all my readings, these books hold a special connection to me because they fundamentally changed the way I think, feel and act.
If you are anything like me and at a place of uncertainty, lack of interest or direction I would strongly urge some recommendations from this list. I sincerely hope that at least one of these books is able to leave an impact on you and potentially change your life for the better.
1. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
A book for people looking to learn the secrets of world-class performers.
A distilled insight into tools, tactics, lessons, principles, and techniques from more than 200 world-class performers (billionaires, athletes, coaches, actors, scientists, military commanders…etc) interviewed by Tim Ferris.
How It Changed My Life:
Prior to turning 30, I was pretty close-minded. All of the knowledge I had was either from academia or friends and family. I hardly researched and sought the correct or best ways of doing something. The principles, tools, and techniques in this book opened my mind to the proper way of doing things in the areas of fitness, finance, self-motivation, learning and leadership to gain the best outcome. I was able to apply a lot of the information in this book directly into my life. Over a few days, I reconfigured the way I do things and have been able to see amazing returns. For example:
- Implemented effective training principles to increase my deadlift
- Incorporated holistic stretching techniques to reduce muscle inflammation and increase flexibility
- Increased mindfulness by implementing self-centering exercises
- Improved blood circulation and heart health by introducing natural herbs and plants to my diet
As a side note, Tools of Titans and Tim Ferriss has such a profound impact on my life and quest for knowledge that it inspired me to start this blog and improve my life in the areas of fitness, health, self, and business.
Rather than spend hundreds of hours researching, Tim Ferriss has already done the hard work by synthesizing the best information from the world’s top performers. Each chapter is short and easy to follow with pictures and diagrams.
How To Read:
This book should be read like an encyclopedia rather than a novel. You can easily skip material you are not interested in or quickly navigate to content relevant to your needs.
2. MONEY Master The Game by Tony Robbins
A book for learning how much money you are losing by not managing your personal finances.
Based on extensive research and interviews with some of the most legendary investors at work today (John Bogle, Warren Buffett, Paul Tudor Jones, Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn, and many others), Tony Robbins has created a 7-step blueprint for securing financial freedom. With advice about taking control of your financial decisions, to set up a savings and investing plan, to financial freedom.
How It Changed My Life:
Before this book, I had no clue about managing my personal finances. My savings were poorly invested, my 401ks were performing terrible and I had a lot of debt. This book educated me on the basics of personal finance and investment options. While reading this book I was able to completely transform my personal finances into a machine that reduced debt, reduced taxes and maximized returns. For example:
- Re-allocated my 401k to perform better than the market average
- Reduced unnecessary expenses from managed investment accounts and managed the investments myself
- Utilized high-yield savings accounts and CDs to earn 5x interest than traditional banks
- Broadened my understanding of financial instruments available to me for maximizing retirement
Tony Robbins takes a similar approach as Tim Ferris. He does the hard work interviewing top hedge fund managers and wall-street gurus with decades of experience to find the strategies, portfolios, investment vehicles, techniques, and principles that they use. He provides excellent explanation and repetition of difficult concepts so that all readers can follow along.
How To Read:
This book does have a lot of “sales pitch” plugging. Tony often plugs the names of certain companies and groups that he has partnered with to offer special promotions or offers for those reading the book. Ignore that stuff. Focus on the concepts explained and the reasoning behind them. This is a great gateway to explaining the world of finance.
3. The Tao of Charlie Munger by David Clark
A book for people who want to understand how the stock market works from the eyes of the best investor on wall street.
A compilation and explanation of quotes and statements from Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth.
How It Changed My Life:
Before this book, I had very little understanding of the stock market and how it works. I found myself making risky and bad decisions because I listened to youtube personalities and new-age investing gurus. This book taught me the principles to become a disciplined and prudent investor. I also gained a comprehensive understanding of global markets and key concepts like debt, interest, bear market, bull market, inflation…etc. I was able to realign my investing priorities and create strategies for long-term wealth in the stock market. For example:
- Re-allocated my diversified investments to index funds to match market performance
- Create bull and bear market strategies for how to prevent losses and maximize returns
- Understood analysis techniques for evaluating margin of safety and intrinsic values for stocks
- Built automated checks for calculating sticker price to determine if I was underpaying or overpaying for a stock
This book provided an insight into the unique perspective and logic of Charlie Munger on life, business, investing and people. The internet is limited on content from this very wise man. This book does a great job of collecting all of his best sayings and providing useful commentary to explain them and provide examples for context.
The information in this book it will never go out-of-style. Most of the saying from Charlie Munger came from before 2009 and they are still relevant. Charlie Munger has lived through multiple recessions and meltdowns, the knowledge he possesses is from someone who has experienced every life cycle of business and investing. This is not an investing book, however, in my opinion, it should be taught in every business school.
4. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
A book for people who struggle with focusing their time and efforts.
Essentialism is a whole new way of doing everything. It is a way of concentrating and focusing on the things that matter while discarding the things that are not essential to your life.
How It Changed My Life:
Before this book, I was a non-essentialist. I tried to do multiple things at once and provide satisfactory results across the board. This book taught me the discipline of essentialism. It trained me to focus on only those things that are essential to me. In all aspects of my life, I now perform the exercises to identify what is essential in each situation and disregard anything that is not. For example:
- Reset my goals to a few, descriptive, highly specific items
- Train my attention to only focus on one task at hand rather than scatter and multi-task
- Realign my priorities of who I spend time with
- De-clutter my closet and house by getting rid of unnecessary items that I do not use or need
This book provided an insight into the unique perspective and mindset of concentrating on only those things that matter. Author Greg McKeown does a great job of providing examples and practical ways of applying for how to change from a non-essentialist to an essentialist.
How To Read:
The book is slow to start (as most self-help books are) but when it gets into the principles and concepts of essentialism it goes pretty fast. I would encourage that this book be read twice. The first time to understand the mindset of an essentialist. The second time to pick up on the small changes and techniques to become an essentialist. If you try to do both in the same read you might lose some of the context and meaning behind what the author is suggesting.
5. Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies By Micheal Ausiello
A book for people who want to understand what it means to “live each day like it is your last”.
A heartbreaking and darkly hilarious memoir of TV writer Michael Ausiello and his husband Kit’s battle with cancer. Michael tells the story of his harrowing and challenging last year with Kit while revisiting the thirteen years that preceded it, and the undeniably powerful bond between him and Kit.
How It Changed My Life:
During the time I read this book I had a lot of mixed emotions and thoughts in my head without the ability to rationalize them or release them. My aunt had passed away from ALS and two close family friends had been diagnosed with cancer (one of them eventually passing away). This book provided me the emotional release and rationalization I needed. Through Micheal Ausiello’s brilliant and comedic writing style I was able to immerse myself in the story and go through each feeling of grief, sadness, and happiness with the characters.
After finishing the book, I was able to gain a sense of closure. I was comforted that the same fears and thoughts going through my mind were also going through his. In the end, I was left with a powerful bond/connection with the author. Even though we have never met, I feel as though I would be able to hug him and tell him how much his story impacted my life.
I have never gone through a book as fast and intimately as I did this one. I found myself reading it at all hours of the day and during every spare moment I could get. I even re-read sections of the book because they were eloquently described feelings that I did not know how to. They put words to what I was trying to internalize. This was a fantastic book and became therapy for me.
This book provided an intimate view of the harsh realities of battling cancer but also the strength of support. I did not walk away scared of cancer, I walked away understanding how powerful the support of friends and family. We forget how important it is to have people around you who are there to pick you when you are at your lowest point. Build and maintain relationships with people who are there for you through good and bad. These people are more valuable than any book, doctor, scientist, medicine or therapist.
Allow yourself to release feelings. It is okay to hurt. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to feel proud. Bottling up these emotions and feelings prevents you from being yourself. Sometimes the best way to rationalize or get through something is to accept your mercy to it and succumb to your emotions. It is only after doing that you can start to think clearly and act objectively.