7 books that might change your life.
Or at least your perspective.
I talked about books last week. This is a post about books. And I’m probably gonna talk about books next week.
Sorry, it’s a personality trait. I don’t wear glasses, so books are my next best bet at looking smart.
But this post has the real gems. Books that haven’t just impacted my life, but millions of others. And hopefully a few that you either haven’t heard of or haven’t taken the initiative to read. Consider this your nudge.
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art is my favorite Pressfield book, but Turning Pro is just a smidge below it and applicable to a broader audience.
While The War of Art focuses on the resistance that creatives encounter along their path of creation, Turning Pro focuses on the path of growing up. And I don’t mean that in a condescending way, or in the literal transition from teen-hood to adulthood.
I mean growing up in the way that adults have to choose, at some point, to shed the inhibitions that have kept them from becoming the person they want to become. A novice holds on to their inhibitions, while a pro meets them head on.
If you’re an older millennial like myself, you grew up in a world where finding your passion was the raison d'être. If you’re a younger millennial or gen z, you grew up believing the path to contentedness runs directly through social media, virality, and fame.
Even though this book was written in 2012, its message only becomes more relevant as time passes, and anchors on the things that have always reliably led to meaningful careers.
Doing great work. Building skills that matter. And as the title so perfectly states (borrowed from legendary comedian Steve Martin)…being so good they can’t ignore you.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown
This is another book that ages like fine wine. Written in 2014, Essentialism cuts through the noise using simple language and simple ideas for getting control of our time and energy back. The best work is produced by the focused pursuit of the few.
In a world that has only gotten noisier since 2014, and will continue to do so, Essentialism becomes more important with each day that passes. I see it first-hand in coaching calls every single day. The future, much like that past, will be written by the people that direct their energy into the highest leverage things that they can, protecting their sanity and happiness in the process.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Frankl spent 3 years as a prisoner in concentration camps, including Auschwitz, during World War II. He survived, while his parents, brother, wife, and unborn child did not. Frankl went on to practice as a psychiatrist for decades after his survival, and this masterpiece is his memoir.
If there’s a book every human should read, this might be it.
Not only do you see the reality of these camps vividly detailed, but you learn about the mindset required to survive them, which became the foundation of his psychiatry practice. It would be impossible to read this book without your own perspective shifting for the better.
While it would be easy to dismiss stoicism in recent years as a fad that’s been wholesale adopted by athletes, influencers, bro culture, and everyone in-between, please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Stoicism has stood the test of time for over two thousand years, because the wisdom and practicality of its ideas are timeless. Ryan Holiday has made these ideas more accessible than any modern writer, and The Obstacle Is the Way is as good of a place as any to glean and digest one of its core concepts.
As the subtitle alludes to, adversity is as much a part of life as birth and death are, and the difference in suffering or triumphing amidst this adversity is the perspective through which we view it.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements is as practical of a guide as you will find to reduce or remove the things that steal our contentedness and joy in life. By boiling suffering down to four agreements that we have an opportunity to make with ourself, we are given a framework to operate our life from that makes the complex simple, and the confusing clear.
Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.
I think any of us would agree that if we consistently did these things, our lives would be better off because of them. This book makes the actual execution of these ideas feel within reach.
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
Many of us don’t think much about our breath. When we’re doing it, we’re alive. And when we’re not doing it, we’re dead.
But the breath, and the art and science of breathing, is the thing that provides vitality to our lives between those two states. It’s as elemental to living as water is, and by the end of this book you’ll want to give your breathing as much attention and care as you give to other foundational elements like fitness, diet, and mental health.
✌️ and ❤️,