Every book I've ever read*
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
In 100 Words or Less: Meditation is simply exercise for your brain; proven and powerful. Setting aside the cultural and religious trappings, a growing body of scientific research demonstrates that mindfulness meditation helps you to become less reactive, reduce stress and to live more fully in the present moment. This moment, here and now, is the only one you ever really possess; we must live in it, without being carried away by our "monkey mind" into the past or future. Meditation won't solve your problems, but it will, in the words of the author, make you "10% happier".
80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More
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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
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Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future
In 100 Words or Less: Rapid change is a given; we must adapt or fall behind. Change is hard because we don't like being bad at things. Start with managing your self-talk, your internal dialogue. Use the “4 R’s”: recognition (simply noticing it), recording (writing thoughts down helps us to see them as an impartial observer), rethinking (contemplating and substituting these thoughts with more accurate or helpful ones) and repeating (building any new habit involves repetition over time). Visualizing how you will feel when you have achieved helps you to power through difficult times. Be curious; ask "why", "how" or "I wonder".
Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling
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In 100 Words or Less: In many industries, the middle man is disappearing; job security is at an all-time low. No one will give you what you need; you have to Choose Yourself. Protect your time; be willing to say no to the non-essential. Ask, and ye shall receive ... at least, more than you expect to. Continuously invest in your life, pushing your limits creatively, financially, physically and spiritually. When you're down, focus on the basics; healthy eating, exercise, sleep. To renew yourself and avoid burnout, make regular time for things you enjoy; your daily practice. Be honest, be grateful and avoid negative people.
Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself
In 100 Words or Less: Each day, our bodies are subjected to many toxic substances; chemicals and heavy metals in our environment, foods we did not evolve to digest and even the burden of unhealthy thoughts. Over time, the effects are cumulative and our bodies manifest in a variety of debilitating illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, IBS and more. Alejandro Junger, M.D. is a cardiologist and practitioner of "functional medicine" and the Clean program is his life's work; a protocol which subtracts potential irritants and prescribes twenty-one days of whole, nutritious foods and various supplements, to cleanse the body and restore health.
Common Sense on Mutual Funds
In 100 Words or Less: Invest continuously in low-cost index funds; buy and hold for decades. While a decidedly unsexy investment strategy, the data show it is the safest approach and often the most lucrative too. Do not try to time the market. Many, if not most, investments actually under-perform the market and particularly when you consider the management and transaction fees that are siphoned off.
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
In 100 Words or Less: For all of our progress in mitigating once-fatal diseases, modern medicine remains a fundamentally fragile, human endeavor. Even our most-skilled physicians share the same, predictable biases which are common to us all. Experience matters, but in medicine, there is a constant tension between providing the best possible outcomes and training newer practitioners which necessarily involves making mistakes. Generally, a focus on specialization -- the repetitive practice of routine -- reduces error and negative outcomes. There are many mysteries of the human body which we are still figuring out.
Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence
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Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers
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Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body
In 100 Words or Less: Conventional science and medicine tend to overlook the connection between mind and body. Yet in much the same way that stress, anxiety or traumatic experiences can damage our health, a growing array of genuine, scientific research shows that belief and thought can actually heal in some cases too; producing tangible, biological changes. This is much more than a placebo effect; merely perceiving an improvement in the absence of objective evidence. There is a line which separates science from pseudoscience and genuine cures from delusional shams, but that line is not always as obvious as we'd like it to be.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
In 100 Words or Less: When faced with a difficult decision, the four villains of decision making are (1) narrow-framing (asking "whether or not" causes us to miss out on valuable alternatives), (2) confirmation bias (we notice evidence which confirms our beliefs, and ignore or discredit evidence which contradicts them), (3) short-term emotion (it's difficult to separate ourselves from ourselves), and (4) overconfidence (we think we know more than we do). You can't eliminate these biases, but you can employ a systematic process which will help you to be mindful of them and make better decisions.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
In 100 Words or Less: "Deep work" is important, complex work which requires intense, uninterrupted concentration. Multitasking extracts a massive price; there are cognitive "switching costs" whenever we jump from A to B. Many modern workplaces are optimized for "collaboration" at the expense of focus. In order to do important work efficiently, we must ruthlessly eliminate distraction and create helpful structure and routines for ourselves, scheduling breaks as needed for things like social media or email.
Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
In 100 Words or Less: Whether you want to persuade someone or avoid being persuaded, this book offers a great discussion of framing. For example, framing the public discussion of gay marriage as a matter of "equal rights" or "an attack on family values", depending on your view. It's written by a Democratic speechwriter but the concepts are relevant to everyday life, no matter what you believe or who you vote for.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
In 100 Words or Less: Traditional views of motivation have always focused on the use of carrots (rewards) and sticks (punishment). In Drive, Daniel Pink convincingly argues that we are rather motivated by autonomy (freedom to do what we want), mastery (being good at things we enjoy) and purpose (doing things which are meaningful to us).
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
In 100 Words or Less: Rather than spread ourselves thin -- making "a millimeter of progress in a million directions" -- we will be happiest when we "make [our] highest contribution towards the things that really matter". Our lives are cluttered with too many well-intentioned commitments, but we truly can't have or do it all. This means learning to say no and owning our choices; affirming that we "choose" to, rather than "have" to. ("If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will.") Essentialism calls us to "live by design, not by default; ... distinguishing the vital few from the trivial many". Working smarter trumps working harder.
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
In 100 Words or Less: Luck or randomness frequently plays an under-appreciated role in successful outcomes, and is instead assumed to reflect skill or intelligence. Human brains look for patterns but make wrong inferences; human brains tend to simplify things but some, important ideas cannot be readily simplified. "Lucky fools do not bear the slightest suspicion that they may be lucky fools." Random doesn't mean equally probable; average should not be confused with median. We pay special attention to observed outcomes, but have great difficulty imagining unobserved outcomes (survivorship bias). Rare events are fundamentally unpredictable, yet we behave as if they can be predicted.
Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe
In 100 Words or Less: Human beings crave certainty and safety, but paradoxically, our efforts to achieve them produce unintended consequences. Efforts to control risk often result in merely shifting that risk elsewhere. Catastrophic events -- particularly within complex systems like economies -- are fundamentally unpredictable, yet we behave as if they can be anticipated. Moral hazard means that when we are protected from risk, we may be incentivized to behave recklessly. Fear can protect us, but may discourage us from taking risks which may help; it can also cause us to overreact when things do go wrong.
Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
In 100 Words or Less: We suffer needlessly when we don't possess a reliable system for capturing and tracking what we need to do. This vague sense of "what am I forgetting?" lingers at the edges of our brain and robs us of our concentration and sense of purpose. Getting Things Done offers a great framework for staying organized and on task. Please note that you don't have to adopt his precise method to benefit.
Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web
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Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices
In 100 Words or Less: Whenever I read Thich Nhat Hanh, I cannot help but to be impressed with his gentle spirit and clear thinking. His love of life and people is infused into every word. This is a simple book which prescribes simple changes that anyone can make to better appreciate their daily miracle of life.
How to Eat
In 100 Words or Less: Many of us have a conflicted or even hostile relationship with food; including me! We eat more than we mean to, or too much unhealthy food. How to Eat seeks to transform our attitude toward food as something to be received with gratitude and awareness for all of the life that goes into providing it. I jokingly refer to it as the Buddhist diet, but I've found that when I'm able to eat this way, I really do eat less and eat healthier.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
In 100 Words or Less: I've long been a fan of Dilbert and its capability to so accurately portray dysfunction in the modern workplace. So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised to find out that Dilbert's author is also a really insightful guy. Scott shares some of his life story and a lot of the things he's learned along the way; as you'd expect, it's very entertaining as well.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich
In 100 Words or Less: As a child, I loved to read, but somewhere in the process of my becoming an adult, it took a backseat in my life. I credit Ramit's blog with re-igniting my love of learning. I wouldn't blame you for rolling your eyes at the title, but Ramit really knows his stuff. His "pull-no-punches" personality can be off-putting at times, but if you've ever wished you had a better handle on your personal finances, this is a great place to start.
Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization
In 100 Words or Less: When we know what must be done and we are genuinely motivated to achieve it; yet, we're unable to honor our commitment. What gives? The surprising answer; a competing commitment, likely rooted in subconscious assumption. Immunity to Change exposes the surprising ways in which we undermine ourselves and how we can overcome these difficult obstacles.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
In 100 Words or Less: Before there were entire corners of the bookstore dedicated to the art and science of persuasion, Influence was the godfather to them all. It looks at six different methods we human beings wield over one another; reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. Some of the particular tactics discussed are outdated -- Hare Krishnas no longer hand out flowers in airports, for example -- but the underlying concepts remain a part of our culture and human nature. Influence is a classic with profound implications for all walks of life.
Is College Worth It? A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education
In 100 Words or Less: For decades, college has been the default next stop of every high school graduate; not a question of if, but where and how much. However, there are good reasons to question the conventional wisdom and explore the growing range of alternatives.
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them)
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Launch: An Internet Millionaire's Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams
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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
In 100 Words or Less: For all of the advancements in equality that our society has made, we have so much work yet to do. Fifty percent of college graduates are women, yet men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in our government and our businesses. Sheryl Sandberg is COO of Facebook and Lean In is both her personal story and her take on why women continue to be so under-represented. As a husband and father, I contend that if we want a better, fairer world for our wives and daughters, we need to make it a point to hear her story and others like them.
Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want
In 100 Words or Less: Many of us live our lives reacting to circumstances and events us around us; we feel adrift and directionless, but it doesn't have to be this way. Rather, we can chart our course and live our lives with clarity and purpose.
In 100 Words or Less: This is a quick, thought-provoking book which asks, is it ever okay to lie? Particularly, we may tell our children to be honest with us ("tell me the truth about the broken lamp") but dishonest or less than honest with others ("it's rude to say that grandpa's cooking was yucky.") Although some of Sam's conclusions were a bit unsatisfactory to me personally, it's really worth re-thinking the white lies many of us tell, sometimes without even realizing it.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
In 100 Words or Less: Even boring ideas can be made memorable. Sticky ideas follow a basic formula, SUCCESs; they are Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Stories. Simplicity means finding the core, not dumbing things down. ("Don't bury the lead".) Unexpected means something counterintuitive or surprising; creating mystery. To be concrete is to be specific and clear. (Arguably the simplest step.) Credibility comes from expert testimony, trusted friends, relevant statistics or in sharing many details. Emotional connection is formed in associating things we don't know or care about to things we do and in answering, "what's in it for me (or my group?)". Finally, stories make everything real.
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think
In 100 Words or Less: Most diets fail because they treat the symptoms (eating too much or too much crap) and not the underlying cause (the cues in our environment which trigger unhealthy eating in the first place). Mindless Eating argues that once you understand and address these cues, you can enjoy food mindfully and without resorting to short-term deprivation. If you've struggled with eating, this is an excellent place to start.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
In 100 Words or Less: A fixed mindset assumes that a person's qualities and skills are largely set; in contrast, a growth mindset believes that they can be cultivated with effort. If your traits are fixed, your worth is reflected in what you already can or can't do, so there is little motivation to try or be vulnerable to the possibility of failure. We are far more capable of change than we give ourselves credit for; those with growth mindsets tend to be happier and more successful.
Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
In 100 Words or Less: Antibiotics are a modern, medical miracle; they have saved millions of lives. But for many, they also mean life-changing but poorly understood side effects. The potential risks are greatest during early childhood, yet the average American receives seventeen courses before they are twenty years old. This book is both fascinating and terrifying, but it's important to know that research in this emerging field has only just begun.
Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
In 100 Words or Less: It's easy to find fault in others, but difficult to see our own mistakes. Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we feel when confronted with new information which contradicts our most prized beliefs, including the belief that we are intelligent, moral people; this leads us to deny or to justify our mistakes. Confirmation bias causes us to emphasize evidence which supports our beliefs and discredit facts which do not. Hedonic bias causes us to credit ourselves for our successes and blame external situations for our failures. Cultivating awareness of these limitations is the first step to making smarter, more deliberate choices.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
In 100 Words or Less: You've heard it said that your network is your net worth; for better and for worse, what you know is often less important than who you know. In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi argues that we should be as generous as possible to others both because it's the right thing to do and because it opens doors for you in life. This is a book that tells you how to establish your network in an authentic and selfless way.
Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing
In 100 Words or Less: Uncertainty is uncomfortable and we'll often go to great lengths to avoid it; this leads us to make costly mistakes. We develop beliefs because we need to make sense of the world, but we oversimplify at the cost of genuine understanding. Excessive confidence causes us to overlook important information, stop asking questions and make risky wagers. Arrogance poisons our relationships, reduces empathy and inspires fundamentalism.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships
In 100 Words or Less: Most of us have been conditioned since birth to approach conflict in coercive, manipulative terms; we state what someone else should do, rather than express clearly our feelings and underlying needs. Use of this "life-alienating" language disconnects us from ourselves and others and insofar as it stokes defensiveness, it also makes it less likely that we’ll actually receive what we want. Moralistic judgments -- e.g. "he should, she needs to, you must" -- are actually expressions of unmet value judgments, e.g., a personal preference for honesty, cleanliness, or timeliness. Once we have empathized with someone, we may make specific, positive and present requests of them.
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
In 100 Words or Less: Full of counterintuitive and interesting research which challenges conventional parenting wisdom. There are some important truths here for parents and teachers everywhere.
Outliers: The Story of Success
In 100 Words or Less: Particularly in the West, we love a great "self-made" story; the determined entrepreneur with a brilliant idea who worked hard to make it big. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that intelligence and hard work are only part of the story; the very successful benefit from unique opportunity and heritage as well. (For example, Bill Gates is unquestionably brilliant and a hard worker, but he is also a household name because he had nearly unlimited access to a mainframe during his formative years at an elite private school, in an era in which computers were rare.) For those of us that study success and desire to be successful, these are important ideas. As always, Gladwell makes reading about them entertaining as well.
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
In 100 Words or Less: Why do some people become exceptional at what they do? Anders Ericsson has studied elite performers from all walks of life and he concludes that the answer to this question isn't talent; rather, it's an approach he calls deliberate practice. Whether you're gunning for the record books or just want to get better at the guitar, Peak will show you how it's done.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
In 100 Words or Less: We assume that people are rational beings, or at least we act as if we are. However, we are all irrational in important ways. Dan Ariely examines fifteen different, counterintuitive findings about our human nature; ways in which our brains predictably mislead us in our quest for happiness and fulfillment.
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)
In 100 Words or Less: Have you ever paid too much for something? Trick question; we all have! What's more, we continue to do so on a regular basis. Priceless exposes the variety of sleight-of-hand maneuvers retailers employee whenever we buy anything, from peanut butter to a wristwatch to life insurance.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
In 100 Words or Less: As an introvert myself, I dearly wish I had read this book twenty years ago. For years, I couldn't understand why talking to people -- or at least some people, some of the time -- felt so difficult for me when it was obviously so enjoyable to others. This lead me to adopt harmful and limiting beliefs. In Quiet, Susan shares the latest research on introversion and extroversion in our relationships, our workplaces and even our churches. She also offers great advice for maximizing our relationships with those of a different temperament.
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
In 100 Words or Less: Many of us believe, if only deep down, that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We are unworthy. We hate feeling that way and will generally do whatever we can to avoid it. Some of us try to bury those feelings in achievement; others may try to drink them away. We each suffer needlessly because we don't know how to process these very real, very persistent emotions in a healthy way. Radical Acceptance argues that "imperfection is not our personal problem--it is a natural part of existing ... The way out of our cage begins with accepting absolutely everything about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience." If you would like to be free of your unworthiness, Radical Acceptance will show you exactly how to go about it. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Real Love in Marriage: The Truth About Finding Genuine Happiness Now and Forever
In 100 Words or Less: Real Love is unconditional love, but most of us have only known conditional, imitation love. Conditional love is characterized by disappointment and anger; someone who is disappointed or angry is primarily concerned for herself. Imitation love is a mutual exchange of Praise, Power, Pleasure and Safety; in the absence of Real love, it will do for awhile, but Imitiation love inevitably fades. Eventually, we turn to Getting and Protecting behaviors; Lying, Attacking, Acting Like a Victim, Running and Clinging. Because every person is free to make their own choices, it is wrong to have expectations of our partners or blame them for our mistakes; love must be given freely, as a gift.
Real Love in Parenting: Nine Simple and Powerfully Effective Principles for Raising Happy and Responsible Children
In 100 Words or Less: "When I'm angry, I'm wrong." This is just one of several critical lessons that Real Love in Parenting has taught me. Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done; it's also by far the most difficult. Of course, this makes sense when you reflect upon it; who of us is ever "ready" to be a parent? In spite of our best intentions, we've received little to no meaningful training. Setting aside the endless questions of "what" to teach my children and when, Real Love in Parenting devotes the majority of its focus to how. It is by far the best book I've ever read on the topic of raising children to be happy, loving and responsible.
Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock in White Advantage
In 100 Words or Less: Even as intentional racism becomes less frequent, major racial disparities persist; people of color are disproportionately affected by poverty, imprisonment and infant mortality. These disadvantages are now "locked in", in much the same way that Microsoft's monopoly over operating systems continued after courts ordered them to cease anti-competitive behavior. Unions, homeowners associations, the LSAT and voter registration laws were just some of the devices used to promote white advantage. Through positive feedback loops, early advantages can reproduce themselves and remain unresolved without intervention (as demonstrated by the Polya urn). Opportunity begets opportunity; access to opportunity is limited by social networks.
Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Cooperation
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Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation
In 100 Words or Less: We are encouraged to "think positive", but positive thinking actually has important limits. Positive thinking can blind us to important obstacles and counterintuitively, dreaming about a better future can make us complacent in actually taking steps to achieve it
In 100 Words or Less: This is a book about "building a better business", but I've included it here because it also offers all kinds of valuable ways of thinking which promote a happier life. It's a collection of mostly republished blog posts, so it's an easy read; I love the wisdom and their no-nonsense delivery. If you'd like to read something which is equal parts insightful and inspiring, give Rework a shot.
Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
In 100 Words or Less: An abundance of evidence from anthropology, archaeology and anatomy -- as well as study of chimps and bonobos -- all suggest that human beings are not evolved to be monogamous. This explains why so many of us have such great difficulty remaining so, even in the face of intense religious and cultural pressure. For hundreds of thousands of years, homo sapiens lived primarily as hunter-foragers in small, intimate groups whom shared food, parenting responsibilities and sexual partners with one another, until the shift to settled, agricultural societies some 10,000 years ago.
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
In 100 Words or Less: "Sleep is the secret sauce"; vitally important to every facet of our physical, mental and emotional health. In order to sleep well, we should -- amongst other things -- get enough sunlight; avoid electronic light before bedtime; minimize caffeine and alcohol, sleep in a room that is 60-68 degrees F, be in bed by 10 P.M., try to sleep in multiples of 90 minutes, get some exercise and meditate.
Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
In 100 Words or Less: Smartcuts is primarily a book of case studies; a roundup of "overachievers" who found success in their respective fields via an unconventional approach. In a way, it's a book about "working smarter, not harder." The advice is good, if not vague at times; all the same, I can always find value in these stories.
So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
In 100 Words or Less: We're always encouraged to "follow your passion", but this well-meaning advice ignores several important realities which Cal details in So Good They Can't Ignore You. I don't necessarily agree with everything Cal advocates, but his ideas are well worth considering in your quest for meaningful, lucrative work.
Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying)
In 100 Words or Less: Americans spend billions of dollars every year to look and feel younger, but which of the countless "miracle cures" being peddled today actually work? Spring Chicken is a roundup of the latest aging research which examines the role of supplements, diet, weight loss and more in preventing everything from flabby skin to cognitive decline to going bald. Bonus points: Bill is also a very entertaining writer.
Stumbling on Happiness
In 100 Words or Less: Happiness is difficult to define but is a subjective reaction to objective circumstances. When recalling what made us happy yesterday or imagining what will make us happy tomorrow, our brains continue to make the same mistakes. We reconstruct even our most vivid memories from a few, overarching feelings, rather than recalling series of facts. When we can’t change our experience, we subconsciously adapt our view of it. Our minds tend to linger over unusual and unlikely events and we pay special attention to evidence which confirms our prized beliefs. It's difficult to imagine tomorrow and when we try, it looks too much like today.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
In 100 Words or Less: Most change can be thought of as three different things: (1) directing the Rider (our rational brain needs clarity), (2) motivating the Elephant (our emotional brain must want it) and (3) shaping the Path (making adjustments to the environment which encourage the desired behavior). Switch explains how to pull off all three.
The 4-Hour Workweek
In 100 Words or Less: Setting aside the snake-oil salesman title, this book surprised me. At the end of the day, 4-Hour Workweek is less about working as little as possible (although if you can do it, power to you!), as it is seeking the road less traveled. It's about understanding all of the options (sometimes, they're not obvious) and living an intentional life now, rather than forever putting off the life you want for later. I love Tim's willingness to experiment and to challenge conventional wisdom and our self-defeating assumptions.
The Art of Learning
In 100 Words or Less: This book suffers from a misleading title; it's really an autobiography which dispenses some useful insights along the way. Josh is a world chess champion and martial artist; he also differs from the vast majority of his readers in that these pursuits are his full-time occupation. Despite these flaws, there are some solid takeaways for someone who desires to achieve mastery in any pursuit. If you happen to like chess or martial arts, the many accounts of competitions past are particularly of interest.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
In 100 Words or Less: For thousands of years, everyone knew that swans were white. This remained the case until European explorers "discovered" Australia in the late 18th century and encountered, for the first time, a black swan. Of course, a black bird is of little consequence, but the "black swan" as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb illustrates a fundamental problem with the way we learn about the world, which is to say primarily by observation and experience. In other words, we don't know what we don't know. This is a book about not knowing and what happens when we think we do. Amongst other topics, the Black Swan offers a fascinating look at the role of randomness (or luck) and uncertainty in our daily lives.
The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest
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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
In 100 Words or Less: Traumatic events actually change the physiology of our bodies and minds and with them, our experience of everyday life. These powerful symptoms will linger indefinitely until we find effective ways to resolve them. Medications, though helpful in some circumstances, typically suppress symptoms and carry unwanted side effects. Though this book speaks primarily to the treatment of victims of acute trauma -- soldiers returning from war or survivors of rape or child abuse, for example -- there are useful insights for everyday life as well. It would benefit from aggressive editing; it can be repetitive and excessively detailed. Still, if you or someone you love have ever been traumatized, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The Charisma Myth
In 100 Words or Less: Charisma isn’t a mystical gift, something that a lucky few are born into or merely happen to possess; it is actually a set of tangible skills that anyone can learn. Olivia Fox Cabane shows the reader exactly how to become more likable, memorable and persuasive in any social situation.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
In 100 Words or Less: We have unprecedented access to information and expertise, yet we're victimized by avoidable failures which cost us time, money and even our lives. Incredibly, the answer may be something as simple as a checklist.
The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do
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The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul
In 100 Words or Less: Let me state clearly that I'm not "the type of guy" who would read a book called The Desire Map unless someone I trust recommended it to me. Having said that, I actually enjoyed it and found it thought-provoking. Danielle opens by arguing that we often ask ourselves "what should I do", when we should ask "how do I want to feel?" What follows is a discussion of living with purpose and getting in touch with our true feelings. It's a wonderful blend of awareness of our innermost desires without becoming attached to a particular result; of recognizing that we cannot always choose what happens to us, but that we can always choose how we feel about it.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
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The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5
In 100 Words or Less: "Earning a living" used to be a relatively simple, predictable thing; it is no longer simple or predictable. Globalization and innovation are rapidly disrupting entire industries and the jobs of tens of millions of loyal employees along with them. Although I disagree with the notion that "everyone" can or should be an entrepreneur, this is a great overview of our global economy in transition.
The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence
In 100 Words or Less: Murder is currently on the decline, but America still has a major problem with violent crime. Gavin de Becker reminds us that a predator can strike any one at any time and that "your safety is yours." He goes on to caution that "we want to believe that human violence is somehow beyond our understanding, because as long as it remains a mystery, we have no duty to avoid it, explore it, or anticipate it." The Gift of Fear explores the many ways in which we actually can predict impending violence and protect ourselves and those we love.
The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
In 100 Words or Less: Many of us are disorganized, sometimes badly so. We don't realize it, but clutter of any kind imposes a sort of omnipresent mental burden upon our lives. As Marie Kondo, organization expert says in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: "A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming." I find Marie's approach to be extreme but intriguing; if you struggle with keeping things clean, it's worth a read.
The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health
In 100 Words or Less:
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
In 100 Words or Less: The present moment is life itself; the only life we ever possess. Yet many of us race through our day mindlessly, our minds always preoccupied what has happened or may happen tomorrow. The answer, in a word, is meditation. Unfortunately, meditation is still poorly understood in the west; many of us picture flowery gurus on Oprah or monks sitting cross-legged in orange robes. Miracle of Mindfulness is a great primer; it's brief and a joy to read.
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
In 100 Words or Less: Conflict is inevitable; a common thread woven into the human experience. We may not always choose our trials, but we can always choose how we respond to them. This book finds its roots in Stoicism and the writings of Marcus Aurelius, sources I have little familiarity with (although there are commonalities with Buddhism as well). Ryan suggests that we can actually receive obstacles as an opportunity to grow and improve, depending upon how we choose to perceive them. The Obstacle is the Way offers a lot of inspirational truth which may benefit anyone in their time of need.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
In 100 Words or Less: We love having choices, but too many can paralyze rather than empower us. Barry Schwartz argues that we lead happier, more fulfilled lives when we're willing to embrace some constraints and settle for "good enough". There's a lot of research which suggests he's right.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
In 100 Words or Less: Did you know that we spend roughly 40% of our waking hours on autopilot? The Power of Habit shows us the many ways in which habits shape our lives and how we go about rewriting these invisible scripts once and for all.
The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy
In 100 Words or Less: The School of Greatness broadly defines greatness as comprised of eight different areas of focus and continuous improvement. The book wanders at times and feels a bit ... lofty, for lack of a better word. Still, there are a lots of good things here.
The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness
In 100 Words or Less: Countless, unsexy and seemingly insignificant decisions, when added up over time, make all the difference. Doing the right thing, right now, can be difficult because you don't always receive immediate, positive feedback. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so just get started already.
The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection
In 100 Words or Less: I rank The Untethered Soul as one of the top two or three best books I've ever read ... which is why I had great expectations of Michael Singer's follow up, The Surrender Experiment. In a word: disappointing. In fact, a total let-down. I readily agree that we should all surrender to the flow of life more often, but that point could've been made in 20 pages. In retelling Michael's personal story of unusual success, it almost felt like a Buddhist version of Joel Osteen's prosperity gospel. There are better books which provide more useful instruction on the topic of surrender.
The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy
In 100 Words or Less: If you've ever wondered what the world's ultrawealthy can teach you about money ... keep wondering. Reading The Thin Green Line won't make you a gazillionaire, but there are some important, if not common-sense, insights on acquiring and keeping wealth. If nothing else, it's sort of refreshing to be reminded that the stupidly wealthy are still human beings just like you and I.
The Trauma of Everyday Life
In 100 Words or Less: This is an insightful and inspiring book for anyone who has suffered significant loss or deals with recurrent anxiety (*raises hand*). It's also an excellent primer on practical Buddhism, minus the metaphysics. It meanders at times and is heavy on psychoanalysis, but I highly recommend it.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
In 100 Words or Less: This is one of the greatest books I have ever read. Setting aside the flowery title, it is a true masterpiece which offers all kinds of practical, actionable insight for understanding oneself, taming the voice inside your head, living a life of non-resistance and much more. If you read one book this year, start here.
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
In 100 Words or Less: Our failures aren't a moral defect; rather, a misunderstanding of willpower. Mindfulness helps you to become aware of exactly how and when you go off the rails; recognizing the thoughts and feelings that lead you astray and creating a space between impulse and reaction. Body affects mind; a healthy, rested body is a sharper, more resilient mind. Willpower is like a muscle; it tires with use. Our brains often insist that something will make us happy, which doesn't. Distraction reduces willpower; if you know you'll be tempted, consider making important decisions in advance.
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain
In 100 Words or Less: One problem with assumptions is that we are often unaware that we make them. This is an entertaining book devoted to revealing some of the many errors that we are especially susceptible to. Of course, the authors also recommend how we can do better. The Freakonomics series is popular for good reason; Thinking Like a Freak is a fun, easy and enlightening read.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
In 100 Words or Less: This is an excellent, detailed and scientifically rigorous survey of how and why we perceive, think and respond to events in life. It's a bit dense at times, but always relevant.
Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
In 100 Words or Less: If you read or watch the news, you owe it to yourself to understand how its sourced; it's astonishing to learn how even the most "credible" publications are easily manipulated. Shocking, scary and a gripping read.
What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars
In 100 Words or Less: It seems that everyone is a stock trader these days, but this is a book which accurately describes why most of us -- including our own financial advisors -- shouldn't be. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars is equal parts investing strategy and psychological study; the latter is particularly useful no matter what your approach to investing.
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
In 100 Words or Less: Contrary to conventional wisdom, scientific research demonstrates that weight loss is not a matter of burning more calories than we consume. Eating too many carbohydrates floods our bodies with insulin which stores dietary calories as fat. Eating more [healthy] fat and protein reduces insulin spikes, dampens hunger and actually promotes use of stored fat tissues. Severe calorie restriction is unsustainable because it makes us lethargic and irritable. Exercise confers many benefits, but losing weight isn't really one of them.
Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
In 100 Words or Less: Although its primary focus is entrepreneurs, Zero to One also packs some valuable insights for everyday life. (I also generally enjoy reading various tech founders and Peter is one of the most prominent for good reason.) Always thought-provoking, but there are a couple of points I disagree with.