Reading books is cool – They allow you to learn from other peoples’ mistakes and improve your life quality exponentially.
Yet there’s an abundance in non-fiction/self-improvement literature these days. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the never-ending supply of “must-have” books.
Here’s my personal top five that will dramatically improve the quality of your life.
Just five – that’s all.
These are ones that I keep returning to, the ones I’ve read front-to-back, multiple times. Five books I’m even considering buying hardback.
And I’m a cheapskate – trust me.
#1) 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
“I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,”
Category: Mindset, Productivity & Communication
This is probably the most practical, effective book on personal development you’ll ever read. The grandfather of all modern-day books that’ll make you 100% responsible for your life.
If you only read one book, pick this one. (Read notes at the end of this post first)
I return many times to it – now still. It talks about the inward-out personal growth based on character. It addresses topics like goal setting, productivity, time-management, visualization, relationships, communication, ethics, self-esteem and more in an elaborate manner.
A total package. There’s nothing I’ve found that’s quite like it. Maybe “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill but this one is much more practical (and better written) (and less ambiguous)
It’s the blueprint for personal (and interpersonal) effective living.
#2) Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz
“Your brain serves you, not the other way around”
This book has introduced me to the workings of our brain (and psychology) and how we can use it to change how we think about ourself and our life. The way we see ourselves and the world around us will literally define our altitude in life. Mostly it’s not your potential that hold you back but your own damn mind.
Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself, right?
He talks about visualization, self-image, belief systems, corrective feedback, aging and many more. It’s a total re-programming of your mind. (A bit comparable to “The Magic Of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz – but this one has a more scientific/reliable background)
Consider it the manual for your brain. It’s a mindset-builder.
#3) The Way Of The Superior Man – David Deida
“Men search freedom through challenge. Women search fullness through love”
This book addresses the need for men to re-find direction in their life and manage their relationship effectively after the existential depression and identity crises men deal with these days.
It solved the question for me why I was lost in this world and how I could re-find myself. It also was the first book that showed me what women really want, why they test you (and nag). How I can further develop my skills to deal with the day-to-day struggles in life and lay the blueprint to become an autonomous, self-directed man.
It also expanded greatly on the polarity between men and women. How there are “feminine” and “masculine” poles in each relationship and how to manage those.
It’s a bit (too?) “spiritual” but in my eyes it is the foundation on becoming a man.
(If you’re looking for a book specifically on dating/attraction – “Models” by Mark Manson)
#4) The One Thing – Gary Keller
“Extraordinary results are determined by how narrow your focus is”
Category: Effectivity & Efficiency
The best I’ve read about getting things done. This book literally has zero filler. It talks about ego depletion, prioritization, goal setting, focus and time-management.
Further it expands on the myths about willpower, “big thinking”, multitasking, balancing work-life and to-do lists.
Want to get more stuff done? This condensed book will teach you how.
Can’t get any better than that.
Although there are some prioritization and time-management principles present in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People already, I’ve found those insufficient to really focus on what matters.
#5) Millionaire Fastlane – MJ Demarco
“The leading cause of poorness is poor choices”
A complete guide on the differences between rich people and poor people. How they think, where they spend their money, how they generate income and much much more.
It goes into detail about the importance of business ownership. The tax advantages, how to avoid the trap of living a 9-5 paycheck-to-paycheck and “retire” young by making smarter choices in your life.
It expands on what kind of businesses you should get into, what factors you should look after, the essential components of each business and how to make better long-term decisions,
I had to choose between this one and Rich Dad, Poor Dad – but this one takes the crown on depth and detail by far. Although there’s some fluff in there like “The Sidewalk Roadmap” and “The Slowlane Roadmap” which basically talks about why people are poor.
It’s best to skip directly to “The Fastlane Roadmap” and learn why the rich are rich. (And how to emulate their behavior)
Notes On Buying Books
I’m reading six different books at the moment – which is incredibly stupid. Additionally, I have about four books I’ve bought but never even started in them.
I made bad purchasing decisions.
Here’s a few notes on how you can buy books you’ll actually read.
- Don’t buy recommendations instantly just because someone tells you to. Check reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. Check the contents/chapters on Google Books and ask yourself; “How will this book help me?”
- Read one book at a time (two max) – seriously. There will always be more stuff you want to read. Skipping back and forth between multiple books is inefficient.
- If you won’t read a book in the next 7 days, don’t even buy it. Limit yourself to buying books until you’ve finished the former. Stock will be present, delivery will be instant – no reason to hurry.
- Keep a “To Read” list. Mark down the author, title and the reason you want to read that book. Don’t buy books until you’ve found a legit reason to get it. If it says “Recommended By Simon” – delete it from your list.
Anyway, these 5 books will give you 80% of the knowledge you’ll need to get started with building a GREAT life for yourself. Five books that should be standard reading for everyone in all schools instead of heavy, classic, old, useless literature.
So many books are simply rehashes of previous copies or talk about the same damn subjects over and over again.
All of these five books are concentrated sources of essential knowledge. Gold mines.
They will effectively address your mindset, productivity, dating, social life, wealth, personal fulfillment, time management and a whole array of others.
The most bang for your buck IMO.
If I find better books – I’ll simply update this page (I’ll also include them in my Resources Page)
What are your top 5 Books?
Note: The links provided in the titles are affiliate links – meaning I’ll get a small commission if you decide to purchase the books through my link. The price stays the same.
NoteNote: Reading books is only potential power. Always take more action than you’re reading books (This is something I only discovered recently). Knowledge is useless unless practically applicable to improve your life quality. I suggest you to be a “producer/action-taker” in the morning and a “consumer/manager” in the evening/afternoon.
NoteNoteNote: As final addition I recommend a school textbook on standard/evolutionary psychology. A big tome that includes the essentials on motivation, learning, social influence, instincts, emotions, intelligence, … . This should be standard in each school. (I haven’t read an English textbook on psychology so I can’t really recommend one)
If you’re having more questions about these books, be sure to leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get to you asap.
Well I am deeply inspired by this bolg. Came across it in my “reading” on happiness and success. Something that eludes us most…..
Anyway, would you believe I started those books a few years ago and recently started re-reading them? And I now I get the “wow” factor. Why did I not understand this before?.. Even understanding what you read I guess comes with time…
Keep up the good work!
I’m glad you like what I’m writing man! Most definitely something everyone is looking for.
Yeah, there’s actually a quote in the back of 7 habits that says;
“As we sincerely seek to understand and integrate these principles into our lives, I am convinced we will discover and rediscover the truth of T. S. Eliot’s observation:
We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”
Good book :)
Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time. Not many blogs do this however my generalisation is made on limited information.
Im reading the millionaire mind by T. Harv Eker. Brilliant book.
Ive also read the Bible which is life changing experience. I then came across the blog of Tony Gaskins who links his life to the prodigal son which I found interesting. All the answers to life are in that book.
How to win and influence people – Dale Carnegie. Also a favourite.
Im going to go through your list and share my learnings. With that in mind, what is your approach when reading books and learnings. Do you summarise as you go through or do you wait until your finished, interested to hear your thoughts..
No problem man. Interesting. I should probably throw it on my “to read” pile.
HTWFAIP is indeed a great one – it almost made my list but the 7 habits already deals with the core of social relationships from my perspective.
I’ve actually made a post about how I read books here; http://www.basicgrowth.com/optimal-learning/
My process goes somewhat like this;
> Am I alert & focused?
> What do I want to learn from this book?
> Read cover, back, contents, introduction and conclusion
> Find the chapters that are most likely to solve the question I’m having –> Read these first whilst taking notes (and skipping the rest.) If it’s interesting I read the whole book. If not – I don’t
> Summarize my notes & put it in my onenote archive
If you wait until the end to take notes you’ll most likely forgotten everything already. When it comes to learning: don’t trust your own brain to memorize things. It’s ridiculously ineffective at memorizing haha :)
Thanks Simon, I look forward to reading the post. The summary on the process makes sense to me. Something I never really appreciated which was reading what was important for you in the book rather than spending the time reading from cover to cover. Much more efficient process I guess.
Good point with the brain and remembering what you’ve read. Having said that, I do wonder whether our subconscious minds learns materially and files to help our intuition with making decisions. I believe the guts has a nerve which helps us feel when something is right or wrong. I wonder how much it plays a part with making the right decision from reading books.
Your right in saying that by teaching someone what you’ve learnt is proven to help you memorise the material.
It’s what I’ve found to be most efficient :) You can always re-read the chapters you’ve missed – they aren’t going anywhere.
Hope you like it man!
I find your quote ironic – “There Is No Truth. There Is Only Perception.” – Gustave Flaubert He is making a truth statement about there being no truth. I guess it’s not true.
Haha – yeah, all is just perception. There are no absolutes. All we can do is share our perception right?
My top 5 books:
1. The Bible. Although it is not a book in a strict sense. You need to study it for years and the cultural background to really get something out of it. Plus, if you are a believer it works just 1000 times better. (I read it both as an atheist and a believer).
2. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. It changed my life and not just mine.
3. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. A one of precursors of Law of Attraction. In some places it’s more woo-woo than a doped hippie. But it’s very to the point and concise. In the end it’s a practical manual. Only decades later there were some discoveries made, which explains part of why it really works (like Psycho-Cybernetics).
4. Manuscript on Purgatory. A great spiritual read which helped me to set my whole life in a proper perspective.
5. Start Over, Finish Rich by David Bach. There is no stagerring wisdom inside, but THIS book helped me to quarduple my savings ratio. I value the results over the form any time.
I’ve always been intrigued by the bible. Not by the literal meaning of the text but the moral laws it presents to people. Might pick this up in the future, there’s a lot of wisdom in there and something everyone probably should read at least once in their life.
I haven’t reached a conclusion/opinion on religion yet though – I keep my options open ;)
Didn’t really like Science of getting rich. I’ve found it vague at best.
Haven’t read the rest – but thanks for sharing! I’ll look into it :)
Take care man,
Hey Simon, firstly cool blog bro. I like your choice of books a lot. I’m definitely going to read. I have read MF and it flipped my life around since then. The first self-improvement book I ever read was “7 habits for highly effective teens” by Covey’s son. I loved it then but I never applied. If only I had! Now I do though, many many years later. What are some of the other books you’ve read?
My list is as follows favorite to so forth:
1. Six pillars of self-esteem: I read this book 3 months ago but I’m learning from it every single day from my experiences. I think this will be the most influential book of my life.
2. Fountainhead: This changed my life too. It is impossible to do it justice with a description. All I can say it will change your life if you haven’t read it previously.
3. Flow: When I read this book I did for pickup. But it changed the whole way in which I view work. It isnt a manual but it can really teach you how to make anything fun if you read between the lines.
4. Principles by Ray Dalio: Ray is billionaire hedge fund manager who has no time to write a book. He just quickly put together something to help the people of the world. So I have to say this book could have been written better. But the content is 100% solid. Zero fluff.
5. How to fail at everything and still win big: This another book that is fucking amazing. I also love how the book is written in such a simple humorous manner, but it really conveys some solid concepts that you never read about in self-improvement books. It discusses things like “simplify vs. optimise”, “systems vs. goals” etc.
Charlie Munger’s Almanac: I’m currently reading this book very slowly. Lots and lots of wisdom in this book about intelligent decision making by one of the best decision makers of all time.
Also, with respect to books: Please pirate the books if you cant afford them. Yeah I said it! And I did because I have no doubt that authors of good books would rather have people read their books for free if you cant afford them than not read them at all. Of course, don’t be a cheapskate. Help out the author who has helped you out so much.
I used to pirate books all the time when I was dirt poor. So much so that now I can only read ebooks. I still pirate it, but thats only because it is quicker and I can scan full books before reading them. Around christmas time I buy a copy of each of these books and gift it to my friends or strangers. This way I support the author, and introduce other people to some good stuff.
Thanks :) MF IS life-changing. A lot of people struggle with problems that could (easily) be solved by reading books.
Here’s some more I liked;
> Man’s search for meaning – Viktor Frankl
> Models by Mark Manson (great on dating)
> Quiet by Susan Cain gave great insight on positioning yourself according to your strengths
as did Managing Oneself by peter drucker
> How to win friends & influence people
Don’t agree on your stance on piracy though. I’ve changed in that regard. People should be rewarded for their work.Equal transaction of value keeps the world spinning.
However – I’ve done my fair share of pirating in the past; video games, music, books, movies and then some. I’ve quit downloading new stuff since April last year but kept some of the book/movie copies I really liked though.
So there’s that.
Take care man,
But I am supporting the author though. Like I said around Christmas time I buy every single book I read. I’m not a believer in something being wrong just because it is against the law.
Compare the legal system where a library buys one book and thousands of people read it vs. my system where I buy one copy which me and one of my friends reads it.
Like I said, it is about supporting the author at the end of the day.
” I’m not a believer in something being wrong just because it is against the law.”
Yeah – maybe I should change my view on this. It’s indeed about supporting the creator in the end. Good point.
Thanks for sharing the list. Being a fan of digitization, I used to always turn to Internet for reading, until some months back I discovered the charm of reading paperback books. Not to mention that my serious interest towards self improvement was one of the main reasons of this realization.
That’s how I stumbled upon your blog via an article on addicted2success written by you. I really appreciate some of your articles. I am glad that one book that I have recently ordered tops your list, by Stephen R Covey!
The next book Pyscho Cybernetics is on my list, I will surely order from your link. I have already read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and found it impressive.!
I had made a list of 100 books that I aspire to read. I am focused towards reading only one book at a time and take 7 days to finish one. I have finished reading 5 books.
Will share my top 5 soon :) Keep rocking!
I’m glad you liked it Kashish. Books are great and you’ll definitely like the 7 habits and psycho-cybernetics. Life-changing in many aspects if you haven’t read anything similar yet.
Reading is invaluable in improving your life quality. Yet don’t stay stuck at “just reading”. Knowledge is potential power. I’d recommend to read 50 books and spend the other half of time of taking action on what you’re reading.
Just some thoughts ;)