“Don’t let schoolin’ get in the way of your education” – Mark Twain
Anyone who reads this blog regularly has probably picked up that reading is pretty important to me.
I dropped out of college because I realized that what the lecturer was going to take a month to teach me I could easily read and learn in about three days if I put my mind to it. Ever since then, I’ve never gone back into formal education and have devoured several hundred books in my quest to better understand the world.
But what do books have to do with mens self-development, which is the theme of this blog?
Everything! The fact is, every single thing you could ever wish to know is written in a book somewhere. We all know that accurate knowledge is the foundation of making great plans, and great plans combined with disciplined action are how we achieve our goals.
As well as that, having a broad general knowledge will help you in many ways in life. It will enable you to talk with others from a wide variety of backgrounds about a vast number of subjects. It will give you a greater understanding of the world (if you read the right type of books) and it will make you….drumroll….smarter!
Books are a tool, and if you aren’t using them to your advantage you’re selling yourself short. I’m going to recommend nine of the best books I have ever read which changed my life for the better so you can get the same benefits if you choose to do so.
Jack Welch was pretty much a badass in the world of corporate business who took names, kicked butt and chewed up his competition and spat them out on the curb. This guy came from a very humble background to lead the biggest company in the world at the time (GE) and brought it both consistent profits and the wisdom to weather several very testing storms.
You simply cannot replace the type of knowledge this guy accumulated over the course of his life. He touches on management techniques, work-life balance, how to make it through hard times and some important business strategy.
How much would you pay to sit down with this guy and pick his brains for several hours before starting a new venture or trying to win at something? Well now you don’t have to, because he’s written this book and you can learn it all for under $10.
This book absolutely blew my mind, because it showed me step by step how the history of human thought has developed from way back when to its present day form.
We tend to believe we are separate, individual thinkers, but until you read this and see how the society around people has shaped their thoughts and behaviour for centuries, you can never fully appreciate how you are influenced by your own.
Philosophy isn’t for everyone, but for those of you who like to think about life, wrestle with some of the greatest dilemmas and issues in life, this book will tickle you and give you food for thought. It will certainly alter how you see things!
The worlds greatest entrepreneur has a lot to say, and so he should. Most people who know who this man is would line up for a few hours to have a conversation with him and try to get inside his head, but this book will save you the hassle and allow you to do that without flying to the British Virgin Islands where he lives in solitude.
Branson is not just a businessman, he’s a visionary. Anyone who attempts to take on British Airways and go into space just for the challenge of it deserves to be heard and probably has something of value to teach you.
This book is full of little nuggets of wisdom and insights on the life of an entrepreneur, running a business and overcoming some sticky situations. It’s a unique insight into the man and how he thinks.
When Tyson boxed I was not a fan. In fact, I hated the guy because I was a Lennox Lewis fanatic and I didn’t like his loud mouthed style.
After I read his book my perception of the man and respect for him did a 180 degree turn. This is one of the most insane, sensational and mind opening books I have ever had the pleasure to read.
Tyson is a wise man nowadays. A life of battles, hardship and mistakes has taught him many valuable lessons and he shares them all with you in this book. I really have never read a book that showed me how little we know about those we judge and think we understand through the media and what they tell us.
This is definitely the best book I read in 2014 and is in the top ten of my all time favourites (out of several hundred).
Robert Greenes books are not what I would call nice.
They pack some harsh truths about life and take a pretty cynical view on human nature, but nonetheless the 48 laws of power is essential to anyone who is in, or aspires to be in, a position of power in life.
Whether you know about them or not, power games are at play all the time – in your relationship, in your place of work, in virtually all interactions with others.
It may not be nice to realize the things Greene teaches in this book, but life isn’t always nice, and you better prepare for it. In this case what you don’t know CAN hurt you.
Tony Robbins is a former overweight janitor turned self-improvement guru who now travels around in a private jet making tens of millions of dollars per year teaching others how to overcome their mental issues and achieve their goals.
His book Unlimited Power is the classic introduction to his teachings and philosophy, which centres around NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming.
Tony is badass and his results pretty much speak for themselves. He has already proven that his methods work (look at the life he has made for himself) and millions of people testify that his seminars have changed them forever.
This book is dense, packed full of practical, useful material and very challenging. Well worth the investment.
This book is a seriously interesting look at the past 2000 years of the worlds richest men.
From the kings of Europe to the adventurer/traders of the British East India company to Russian Oligarchs and modern tech geeks, this book covers it all and shows how they lived, how the acquired their wealth and gives us insights into various aspects of their character.
For anyone who is interested in getting rich themselves this book is insightful, but most of all it’s just extremely entertaining. What some of these men got up to was just plain wrong on every level, but there are a few gems in there who have done good things with their money.
I recommend this book simply because I really enjoyed reading it and it gave a good wide stroke picture of how money has been obtained, has changed hands and what kind of lives those who do get super rich live.
This gem of a book helped me understand what is going on in the world today on a geopolitical level, which anyone who’s informed about it will understand is a Pandora’s box of madness. The seeming chaos actually has a couple of very good reasons behind it, and this book sheds light on what those are.
Thomas Friedman has traveled all over the world in his capacity as a journalist, and has learned a lot about how the world works in the process. He has written this excellent book to help others understand what is going on and why, and how the world we currently live in is the best in history in terms of opportunity to build the kind of life you wish.
This book is now a little bit dated because it was written pre 9/11 and a lot has obviously changed since then. Nonetheless, I highly recommend it for anyone who plans to take advantage of globalization and its many opportunities.
Influencing people is pretty important if we want to get our way in the world. Having friends is also pretty important if we want to be happy.
In order to achieve these two goals we need to be able to connect with people, talk to them and build a rapport with them. This book distills the contents of Carnegie’s’ world famous workshops and puts them into an easy to read, insightful little book.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to overcome shyness and talk to people more easily, and how to almost guarantee you will get a warm reception when you do.
There you have it, my nine recommended books to get you started. These are all high quality, packed full of useful information and I have personally read every single one of them or I would not recommend them to you.
Enjoy, and remember, what you don’t know can hurt you.
Desire. Decide. Persist.