my formal eduction but it is a meaningful way to better myself.
Reading alone, however, isn’t enough. What you read and how you apply it
matters. In the past year, I started reading over 300 books and finished 161 of
Reading what everyone else reads is good for conversation, perhaps, but it’s
not going to help you to think differently. And if you can’t think differently,
you’re always going to be a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.
With that in mind, here are 5 books that you’ve (probably) never heard of
that will help you see things in a new light.
1. "Collected Maxims and Other Reflections" by La Rochefoucauld
Deceptively brief and easy to read, La Rochefoucauld’s unflattering analysis
of human behavior will stay with you for a lifetime. His maxims and reflections
influenced people like Nietzsche, Voltaire, Proust, de Gaulle, and Conan Doyle.
“The reader’s best policy,” Rochefoucauld suggests, “is to assume that none of
these maxims is directed at him, and that he is the sole exception. …. After
that, I guarantee that he will be the first to subscribe to them.”
2. "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene
I’ve never read this book in a cover-to-cover sense but I’ve read each of the
laws. More than that, I’ve broken each of the laws. I’ll give you an example.
The first law is “Never outshine the master.” Once I worked directly for a CEO.
I worked as hard as I ever have to show off my talents and skills and at every
turn it backfired over and over again. The lesson — “make your masters appear
more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.” I wish I
read this book earlier in my career, it certainly would have been helpful.
3. "Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War" by Xenophon
This book sat on my shelf for a year before I picked it up recently. This is
the biography of Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, who made the
oldest known declaration of human rights. The book is full of leadership
lessons. Here’s an example. “Brevity is the soul of command. Too much talking
suggests desperation on the part of the leader. Speak shortly, decisively and to
the point–and couch your desires in such natural logic that no one can raise
objections. Then move on.”
4. "Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son" by George Horace Lorimer
This no nonsense collection of 20 letters from a self-made man to his son are
nothing short of brilliant as far as I’m concerned. This is a great example of
timeless wisdom. The broad theme is how to raise your children in a world where
they have plenty but the lessons apply to parents and non-parents alike.
5. "Models of My Life" by Herbert Simon
An autobiography of Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, a remarkable polymath
who more people should know about. In an age of increasing specializing, he’s a
rare generalist — applying what he learned as a scientist to other aspects of
his life. Crossing disciplines, he was at the intersection of “information
sciences.” He won the Nobel for his theory of “bounded rationality,” and is
perhaps best known for his insightful quote “A wealth of information creates a
poverty of attention.”
6. "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius
Ok, this is a bonus pick as I figured a many of you might have read this
already. It was, after all, on the 2013 Farnam Street
reader’s choice list. If you bought it and haven’t read it,
consider this a nudge. The best way to sum up this book is: A simple and
powerful guide to life. This book was never intended for publication it was for
himself. How many people write a book of epigrams to themselves? Get it. Read
it. Live it.
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