A Journey of Books
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
This all started when I came across an interview with Tim Ferris in Entrepreneur Magazine. In the middle of the article he says, "Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty." That was me all over the place, and I was ready to stop.
The article then starts his famous fear-setting exercise for overcoming which starts with, "What is the worst that could happen if you did what you are considering?" and ends with, "What are you waiting for?" I quit my job.
Since then I have been reading a lot of books, including those of Tim Ferris. I have been reading books that I might not normally give a second glance; and trying to learn from some crazy big footsteps. This not out of some desire to be famous, or rich; or out of a belief that these people have all of the answers. I simply want to chose happiness over certainty. I do not want to make decisions based on fear. I want to learn to do what inspires me, and to help others do what inspires them.
This list will be ongoing. I will include an opinion where appropriate. Some of these books I will attempt to summarize in order to clarify my own interpretation, and I will include those here as well. There may be odd turns - missteps. As Ramit Sethi says, "If you learn one thing it is worth reading the book." Join me if you like!
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. I cannot recommend this book enough. Full of insight, inspiration, and advice for every day. In fact, I open it up any day that I need some motivation or inspiration.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. The tagline pretty much covers it, and there is plenty online about it. This one is a life changer.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Summary Here.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. A must read. Summary Here.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. A comic's life journey, from the very beginning; with all of the practice, stumbling, mistakes, practice, experimentation, more practice, and successes, told in Steve Martin's wonderful voice.
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman. How to describe this book? The very definition of the kind of book where someone says, "You have lived an amazing life, you should write a book!" and Mr. Feynman says, "Sure! I have never done that before." And so he did. He won a nobel prize, but he doesn't say much about that, except to mention that he couldn't think of a way to get out of it. He does tell about how he failed and succeeded to pick up girls - something he loved to do. And about his time in Los Alamos during the development of the Atomic Bomb and how he figured out how to crack secure safes - mostly because it was pretty boring there, and he thought he could. The memoir, told in Feynman's matter of fact voice, reminds one, over and again how a life lived with pure curiosity, and very little ego, makes for a some great adventures and limitless opportunities.
"On the Shortness of Life" by Seneca. My first book of philosophy. My first anything of philosophy. In fact, I never actually realized that philosophy is the area study that seeks to answer the question, "How should I best live my life?"
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron with Mark Bryan. This book has earned it's popularity, and may become my most recommended and even most gifted book. It is such a multi-purpose tool, and I know that as I talk to people I will find myself thinking, "Your life might be better if you experience this book."
For me, the most important reminders were that we are meant to be bountiful and live rather than suffer and struggle; that to take the time to play, feeds the soul; and that maintaining the discipline and luxury of daily writing and exercise are not self-indulgent - all these things are steps to creativity.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. I did write a summary of this. But then I realized that it is not really a book you can successfully summarize. Most of the book is told in poignant stories and real life examples, and you just have to BE there. So here is a quote from the book and my shortened summary: “The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.” The more we know, the more complex a problem becomes. A well conceived, properly used checklist saves lives, time and money in practically any field. However, getting people to use a checklist is the real problem. The book is so much better.
The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. I will read anything by this man. And everything he writes seems to be full of treasure.
The Big Red Fez - How to Make any Website Better by Seth Godin. As promised. A fun, quick read; and now I need to go update my entire site.
Multiple Streams of Income - How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth by Robert G. Allen. I find books and hyperbole like this embarrassing. Is that a sort of old school snobbery on my part, or fear of being seen as naive? BUT in my self-regulated quest for information, all bets are off. I am trying to explore every option, if only to understand what I can disregard. So, I had my doubts. I am 3/4 of the way through this one, but I have pages of notes, and there is a lot of information to absorb.
Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
"Some things are inherently interesting, and some are inherently UNinteresting. We remember the interesting ones. So, what is it that makes them stick? Are interesting ideas born or made? This is a nurture book." The irony is that summarizing this book entirely removes it's stickiness to anyone but me. But here is the summary. Read this book! but only if you are interested in getting people to listen to you, or understand what you are saying, or act on your ideas.
Economix, How our economy works (and doesn't work) in words and pictures. By Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr. A Graphic Novel about the economy, really the history of our economy. It felt a bit like cheating, but economics is just so vast, and I will do what I have to to get a better grasp of it. I definitely felt smarter after having read it.
Outliers, the Story of Success; by Malcolm Gladwell. Outliers will change the way you think of success. Oddly, I think this is a great book for parents to read. Fascinating and eye opening. Another author I can honestly say, I will read anything he writes.
Switch; how to change things, when change is hard; by Chip and Dan Heath. "What looks like a people problem, is often a situation problem." Summary here, but it is more a list of reminders.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. More crazy insight into the counterintuitive workings of... everything, including our own heads.