Daily Dispatch

12 Books That Will Change How You Live

I’m 23 years old. I’ve not been on this planet long, and I’ve yet to collect enough knowledge and experience in my eyes to position myself as someone who can give out advice. I try hard not to give advice outside of music production (of which I’ve spent a decade studying) as who am I to tell you anything? What do I know? I try and write my blog posts from the perspective of sharing something interesting or thought-provoking that I’ve found, and then adding my thoughts below which you can take or leave as you please. The objective is to share an idea that’s helped me in some way, because just maybe it will help someone else reading, perhaps even more profoundly that it has served me.

Anyway, I’m here to recommend some books. I’ve received countless requests for a list of my favourite books. I’d like to firstly state that I’ve only been reading seriously for 2–3 years, and currently, I’ve got around 100 books, finished, in my bookcase. My bookcase is my trophy case by the way. Some of the books below I did read quite some time ago, and in order to not give the wrong impression of each book I have chosen to use the best synopsis I could find, many of which came from Good Reads. I believe this will ensure that each recommendation is unbiased, detailed and gives an accurate description of what each book contains.

The list is in no particular order.

1. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.

2. The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” — Marcus Aurelius

We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn’t be this way. There is a formula for success that’s been followed by the icons of history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they found the astounding triumphs we all seek.

These men and women were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted. Their success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor who struggled to articulate a method for excellence in any and all situations.

This book reveals that formula for the first time—and shows us how we can turn our own adversity into advantage.

3. Mastery – Robert Greene

Mastery synthesizes the years of research Robert Greene conducted while writing the international bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction and demonstrates that the ultimate form of power is mastery itself. By analyzing the lives of such past masters as Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Leonard da Vinci, as well as by interviewing nine contemporary masters, including tech guru Paul Graham and animal rights advocate Temple Grandin, Greene debunks our culture’s many myths about genius and distills the wisdom of the ages to reveal the secret to greatness. With this seminal text as a guide, readers will learn how to unlock the passion within and become masters.

4. Principles: Life and Work – Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he’s developed, refined, and used over the past forty years to create unique results in both life and business—and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals.

In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency,” include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. He also describes the innovative tools the firm uses to bring an idea meritocracy to life, such as creating “baseball cards” for all employees that distill their strengths and weaknesses, and employing computerized decision-making systems to make believability-weighted decisions. While the book brims with novel ideas for organizations and institutions, Principles also offers a clear, straightforward approach to decision-making that Dalio believes anyone can apply, no matter what they’re seeking to achieve.

The book is split into two halves. The first book tells the story of Dalio’s career and explains his overarching approach to life using principles that affect everything he does—most importantly, how he pursues meaningful work and meaningful relationships.

The second book explains the unusual way Dalio ran Bridgewater Associates for over 40 years, and how the firm’s unique approach to working together led to its unique results.

5. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Jordan B. Peterson 

Acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson has influenced the modern understanding of personality, and now he has become one of the world’s most popular public thinkers, with his lectures on topics from the Bible to romantic relationships to mythology drawing tens of millions of viewers. In an era of unprecedented change and polarizing politics, his frank and refreshing message about the value of individual responsibility and ancient wisdom has resonated around the world.

In this book, he provides twelve profound and practical principles for how to live a meaningful life, from setting your house in order before criticising others to comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, not someone else today. Happiness is a pointless goal, he shows us. Instead, we must search for meaning, not for its own sake, but as a defence against the suffering that is intrinsic to our existence.

Drawing on vivid examples from the author’s clinical practice and personal life, cutting-edge psychology and philosophy, and lessons from humanity’s oldest myths and stories, 12 Rules for Life offers a deeply rewarding antidote to the chaos in our lives: eternal truths applied to our modern problems.

6. Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday

Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.

The Ego is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to history. We meet fascinating figures like Howard Hughes, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, all of whom reached the highest levels of power and success by conquering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.

But why should we bother fighting ego in an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion?  Armed with the lessons in this book, as Holiday writes, “you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.

7. Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership—at every level—is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields.

Now, detailing the mindset and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment.

A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership revolutionizes business management and challenges leaders everywhere to fulfil their ultimate purpose: lead and win.

8. On the Shortness of Life – Seneca 

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.

The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.

9. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers – Tim Ferriss 

From the author:

“For the last two years, I’ve interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing, etc.) to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. For most of my guests, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to a two-to-three-hour interview. This unusual depth has helped make The Tim Ferriss Show the first business/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads.

What makes the show different is a relentless focus on actionable details. This is reflected in the questions. For example: What do these people do in the first sixty minutes of each morning? What do their workout routines look like, and why? What books have they gifted most to other people? What are the biggest wastes of time for novices in their field? What supplements do they take on a daily basis?

I don’t view myself as an interviewer. I view myself as an experimenter. If I can’t test something and replicate results in the messy reality of everyday life, I’m not interested.

Everything within these pages has been vetted, explored, and applied to my own life in some fashion. I’ve used dozens of the tactics and philosophies in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk environments, or large business dealings. The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved me years of wasted effort and frustration.

10. A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy – Miyamoto Musashi

Five Rings, a manifesto on swordsmanship, strategy, and winning for his students and generations of samurai to come, he created one of the most perceptive and incisive texts on strategic thinking ever to come from Asia.

Musashi gives timeless advice on defeating an adversary, throwing an opponent off-guard, creating confusion, and other techniques for overpowering an assailant that will resonate with both martial artists and everyone else interested in skillfully dealing with conflict. For Musashi, the way of the martial arts was a mastery of the mind rather than simply technical prowess—and it is this path to mastery that is the core teaching in The Book of Five Rings.

 

11. Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts – Ryan Holiday

We can all identify with products that seem to last forever and just keep selling. But how can we create things that can and should last, especially in an environment where short-term gain and flash-in-the-pan success are so often the benchmark, where Hollywood movies are written off after a weekend or Silicon Valley start-ups are considered to have failed if they don’t go viral?
Enter Ryan Holiday and his concept of the Perennial Seller, products that exist in every creative industry, timeless, dependable resources and unsung money-makers, increasing in value over time and outlasting and outstretching the competition.

Holiday shows us that creating a classic doesn’t have to be a fluke or just a matter of luck. In Perennial Seller he takes us back to the first principles of the models and thinking that underpin the creation of something built to last. Featuring interviews with some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and creatives and grounded in a deep study of the classics from every genre, the book shares a mindset and approach we can all adopt to make and market a classic work. Whether you have a book or a business, a song or the next great screenplay, Holiday reveals the recipe for perennial success.

12. Your Forces and How To Use Them – Christian D. Larson 

One often hears about the power of positive thinking, but rarely is a book so practical in teaching the reader how to refine such thought and use it as a foundation for achieving success. With chapters such as “How Man Becomes What He Thinks,” “The Art of Changing for the Better,” and “The Building of a Great Mind,” Larson challenges readers to use thought as a transformational force in order to become “greater and richer and more worthy as individuals.” This guide to self-improvement is as timely now as when it was first written a century ago.

Bonus Fiction Recommendations:

13. Musashi – Eiji Yoshikawa

Currently, this is my favourite fiction book. Be prepared for a long read though; this book is 1000 pages in length. Although, in some ways, I prefer this. When you’re reading a book that you’re thoroughly enjoying, you never want it to end. Musashi is the perfect length to display its profoundly intricate storytelling, as well as some of the best character development I’ve ever read (of which you need many pages to tell).

Synopsis: The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman. Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese storytelling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety and absolute dedication to the Way of the Samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely.

14. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

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