“The difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read.” ~ Jim Rohn
Most people don’t read any more.
Most people also never get anywhere in life.
It’s a shame.
Reading not only keeps your mind sharp and strengthens your vocabulary, but it gives you a broad perspective from which to view the world from.
Learning is and should be a lifelong goal for everyone.
We should constantly remind ourselves just how little we actually know about the world, and strive to soak up as much information as possible until the day we die.
Whether you are 25 or 75, you could ALWAYS learn something new.
I try to read at least 2 books per month.
I think this is a reasonable and attainable goal for just about anyone.
I decided I would use this post to list The Top 10 Books I’ve read in the past year.
Hopefully, it will give those of you who are not yet in the habit some place to start, and the rest of you some new material to add to your collection.
1. How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
First published in 1937, this timeless classic became on overnight success and has since sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Dale Carnegie spent countless hours studying the lives of the country’s most successful leaders and businessmen, from Abraham Lincoln to Charles Schwab. He came to the conclusion that success in life was due to 15% professional knowledge and 85% the ability to express ideas, assume leadership, and arouse enthusiasm in others. He teaches these “skills” through underlying principles of dealing with people. It’s one of the most important books I have ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get ahead in life.
2. Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl spent 3 years in German concentration camps, from 1942 to 1945. During this time, he lost his parents, brother, and pregnant wife. In his memoir, he writes about life in these death camps and its lessons on spiritual survival. He argues that we can’t avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Based on his own experiences and the experiences of others he later treated, he devised a whole new psychological theory known as “logo-therapy.” Frankl theorized that our primary driving force in life was not pleasure, as Freud claimed, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally found meaningful. The book has been translated into over 20 languages and sold millions of copies since it was first published in 1946. A 1991 reader survey of the Library of Congress found Man’s Search For Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.
3. The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon
Jon Gordon’s books and talks have inspired audiences all around the world. Drawing upon his work with professional sports teams, fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals, and non profits, he lays out an engaging and entertaining story while revealing the 10 steps for approaching life and work with the kind of positive energy and outlook necessary to achieve your dreams and become a great leader.
4. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who learned he had pancreatic cancer at the age of 47; he was given a terminal diagnosis less than one year later. Before he passed in 2008, he gave a “Last Lecture” to his students and faculty at the university titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” The lecture focused on the importance of living life to the fullest and not only achieving your dreams, but enabling others to achieve theirs. Randy was a brilliant human being, and the book is a summation of everything he had come to believe in and the ideals and principles he strove for throughout his life as a son, professor, husband and father.
5. The Untold History of The United States, by Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone
Written as a companion to their Showtime documentary of the same name, academy award winning director Oliver Stone and renowned historian Peter Kuznick provide a critical view of American imperialism in the 20th century. The book is a daring revisionist study and shatters many foreign policy myths starting from the first World War up until the two wars we are currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It shows us exactly how the United State came to be the most powerful country on earth, and how the struggle to maintain our empire will go on despite which political party holds office. It is a phenomenal book – and documentary series – not just for the history and political “buff”, but for all Americans.
6. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan
Dr. Reza Aslan has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with an emphasis on scripture and traditions, and a minor in biblical Greek. He has a master of theological studies degree from Harvard in world religions, and a PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the sociology of religions. In his New York Times best seller, he writes a provocative and meticulously researched biography on the man we knew as Jesus of Nazareth. The book sheds new light on history’s most popular and influential figure by examining his life through the lens of the city and era in which he lived: first century Palestine. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Reza yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told and provides us a thorough and thought provoking biography on the man who would forever be known as the “Son of God.”
7. Who Stole The American Dream?, by Hedrick Smith
We live in a day and age where the top 1% of our country owns more than half the wealth; it wasn’t always that way. Pulitzer Prize winning author Hedrick Smith provides us an incredibly eye opening account of how, over the past four decades, this came to be. This book is, in my opinion, essential reading for anyone who wants to understand our country as it is today, or why average Americans are struggling so much. The economic problems we face today weren’t created over night, or by any single politician or president (despite what people may say). They are the product of over 40 years of bad policies and laws that were altered while the public wasn’t looking. Smith offers an unbiased account of how we got here, and offers common sense reforms to fixing these problems and getting the middle class back to prosperity.
8. The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo
Paulo Coehlo is considered one of the most influential authors of our time. He has been published in over 80 languages, 170 countries, and sold over 165 million books. The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic and is universally admired. It centers around Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy in search of a worldly treasure. Throughout his journey, Santiago learns about love, listening to his heart and following his dreams. The book’s main theme is about destiny, and as an old king tells Santiago, “When you really want something, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.” This is indeed the core of the novel’s philosophy and one that I happen to believe in wholeheartedly.
9. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz
Don Miguel Ruiz is a shamanic teacher, healer, and author. In The Four Agreements, he passes down the wisdom of his Toltec ancestors and exposes the self limiting beliefs we all share as well as a simple yet effective code of personal conduct to help us break away from these mental barriers we place on ourselves. The agreements are: 1. Be Impeccable With Your Word, 2. Don’t Take Anything Personally, 3. Don’t Make Assumptions, and 4. Always Do Your Best. While adopting and committing to these agreements is quite simple, living up to them can be quite hard but truly life changing. Join Don Miguel in his quest to becoming a Spiritual Warrior and win the battle against illusions and fear based beliefs.
10. Mastery, by Robert Greene
This is, by far, the best book I have read to date.
Robert Greene has a degree in classical studies and is the author of New York Times Bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and the 50th Law. He defines Mastery as “the feeling that we have a greater command of reality, other people, and ourselves.” In the book, Greene analyzes the lives of past masters such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as interviewing 9 contemporary masters including tech guru Paul Graham. He debunks many of our culture’s myths surrounding genius and distills timeless wisdom and the “secrets” to achieving greatness that lie within each and every one of us.