Knowledge is an investment we make into ourselves. It’s information we can use to understand the world better and improve our lives. Reading is one of the best way to gathering it. There are a lot of books we should all read but this list covers only 10 of them which I consider to be most important.
Over the course of history there have been countless people who all faced the same challenges as we do. Ancient pamphlets, texts, writing and stories are all accounts which depict the wisdom of philosophers, scientists, artists and writers.
It’s remarkable to think of how all of their knowledge has been transported through centuries and hasn’t been covered by the sands of time. We shouldn’t take this for granted and do the best we can to preserve this precious part of history. These are books we should all read as the information they provide us with is ageless and something we can all benefit from.
However, that doesn’t mean that quality literature was written only in the past. Recent and even current authors have as much to offer and their knowledge shouldn’t be neglected either. In fact, because of the contemporary setting and narrative they provide it’s even more relevant for our modern world.
10 Books we should all read.
In no particular order here are the 10 books we should all read. I’ll give brief summaries about what is written and how they have changed my life.
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Written in the 2nd century AD by the emperor of the Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius. He was considered to be the last of the good emperors and is also the old man in the movie Gladiator. It’s actually a collection of his personal diaries and not something he himself published. Every night he sat down and wrote about his personal challenges and spiritual reflections on life. He was the most powerful man in the world yet remained incredibly humble and grateful. This book is one of the core texts in the school of stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius contemplates over the nature of the universe, moral virtue, human rationality, his own thoughts and emotions. He also listed out some of the exercises which made him a better man. For me this book is quite profound because it not only exemplifies righteous behaviour but also reveals insight to the power within us all. My favourite quote from it is: “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength,” which sums it up nicely.
- Mastery by Robert Greene. We all look up to the greatest people of all time such as Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte etc. They’re considered to be geniuses and masters of their craft. What Robert Greene does in his book is debunk the myth of innate talent. By analyzing the lives of extraordinary performers he reveals the true secrets of greatness. It’s not only an insight to what’s necessary for reaching mastery but also ignites your inner desire to take action as you read along. For me this book is significant because it reminds me that our results aren’t predetermined and that hard work will eventually pay off. Also, that the path towards mastery is intrinsically rewarding and it’ll never be complete. Those who walk the road of apprenticeship devote themselves to something higher and attain a purpose.
- On the Shortness of Life by Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Throughout history mankind has been trying to find immortality. Death is inevitable and haunts us all. This book is another one of the stoic classics and teaches a lot about the art of living. The feeling about the shortness of life comes from never being alive. Life isn’t short, it’s just that men waste it and thus think that not enough was given. The experience is definitely subjective but the idea remains. Because time is constantly running down on us we have to always be mindful of how we use this precious currency. We ought to make the most of what we’ve got and spend as little time doing things that don’t actually serve us. A fulfilling life begins with attaining a purpose and not deviating from it. After reading it you’ll definitely redefine your relationship with time and how you spend it.
- Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. Have you ever been immersed with something that you completely got lost in it? As if your self-consciousness disappears for a moment and the sensation of time fades. That phenomenon is called “flow”. It’s a state of optimal experience when we’re being challenged by an activity, are actively engaged with it and totally absorbed by it. We attain laser-like focus and achieve peak performance. In my opinion it’s also when we feel most alive. While working at something difficult, being intrinsically attracted by it and getting great results we reach the pinnacle of existence. Nothing else matters and we experience presence for what it truly is despite our conscious awareness of it. It’s the secret to all extraordinary performers, athletes and writers. In the book the author (can’t pronounce that name) reveals all of the necessary conditions of “flow” and shows how to bring more of it into our everyday lives. I’ve also written a post about it how to use it to increase our concentration. Check it out!
- The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease by Daniel E. Liebermann. Knowing the origin and history of our species is very important for understanding ourself in the present. Despite the modern setting we’re still stuck with our primal minds and bodies which still have a lot of the characteristics of our hunter-gatherer forefathers. This book shows how Homo Sapiens has evolved through eons and is still adapting to the current environment. The reason why we’re struggling with the obesity epidemic and rise in cardiovascular disease is the cause of just that. In addition to that it’s also a story of how we developed the traits that distinguish us the most from the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s a narration that follows the foot steps of foragers from the savannah to all across the planet that describes evolution and science as a fascinating tale from which we all came from.
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Most of us can’t even comprehend how much power each and every one of us actually has. As a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps Viktor Frankl and his companions realised that the human condition allowed them to endure incredible suffering. They were in terrible circumstances and were treated in a way that had no justifications to them. In addition to hard physical labour they endured hunger, punishment, terror and humiliation. Instead of being defeated they decided to not give in and persevere by associating their turmoil with something greater than themselves. Some were even thankful that their families weren’t alongside them and away from harm. It’s an incredible story about the power of the human spirit which cannot be broken. Those who managed to cultivate enough meaning found strength to carry on even past the point of fatigue and eventually survived.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A classical personal development book that has sold millions of copies across the world. In my opinion it’s one of the books we should all read because it talks about the fundamental rules of communication. Us humans are all incredibly similar and most of the principles apply to everyone. By following these guidelines we can improve our socializing skills and get what we want in regards to people. It’s not about manipulating but simply having more meaningful conversations and thus getting more out of life. The knowledge provided by this book will make us a better person and highly valuable in the eyes of others. Dale Carnegie has also several other creations which are as fundamental such as How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and The Art of Public Speaking. All of them are great reads and beneficial for someone wanting to take their development to the next level.
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu. In Ancient China warfare was a part of everyday life. In order to control such a vast civilization the emperors had to be masters of not only the game of politics but also strategy, manipulation and deception. Back then it wasn’t child’s play and all encounters ended with death. To win a general had to outmaneuver his foes. They had to read their enemies like a book and take advantage of their weaknesses. The one with the largest army didn’t win but the one who had perfected the art of war did. These same principles of strategic thinking apply to everything else in life as well. Our habitual dwelling is as much a battlefield as it was back then. Whether we realize it or not but we’re all participating at the art of war but in a different setting. School, business, relationships, socializing etc. follow the same rules of engagement. Those who master it will be victorious and succeed. A prime example of how these strategies are timeless is a book by Robert Greene called The 48 Laws of Power which illustrates how people have used these principles throughout history and have thus managed to get what they want.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This is the father of all personal development books that laid the path to the rest. The author accepted an apprenticeship under the richest man of that time Andrew Carnegie to investigate why some people become successful and others don’t. As it turned out there are a lot of principles that those who succeed follow. The underlying factor is one’s mindset. How we think has a profound way on how we see and thus experience the world. If one sees himself as rich then one shall become one. That’s what the author as a young man learned throughout his studies and wrote down. As it has been discovered by many ancient texts before our mind is powerful beyond measure. What we believe to be true and focus on most will begin to grow. We can achieve anything we want but only if we truly think it’s possible and take the necessary action towards attaining it. Very motivational and truly one of the books we should all read.
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. What we see re-emerging throughout this list is the profound influence of our mind on our life. Thoughts have as much power behind them as any other source of energy. They actually vibrate on a different plane of reality and are constantly surrounding us. The conversations we have in our head dictate the way we see the world. It’s a feedback loop between our perception and the subconsciousness that interprets whatever we feed it as real. Our mental vibrations also score on a measurable scale and can either be positive or negative. In our life we’re going to encounter both but the former is always more powerful. Negativity is motivated to destroy while positivity creates. I think we know which one we want to tap into for the majority of the time. By using the power of positive thinking we can achieve more because of what we feed our mind with. We begin to manifest that which we believe.
So there you have it – 10 books we should all read. Of course, there’s definitely a lot more than that and this is only a short list. There could be countless worthy nominees but these are the ones that have changed my life the most. This covers life in general and I will make more lists like this about specific topics as well.
Don’t be afraid of the quantity and length of them. Instead of wasting countless hours on going through all of the books we should all read we can do it a lot more quicker. Speed-reading is an amazing way to get more knowledge with less time. It’s actually very simple and anyone can do it. Like with any other skill it can be improved upon. I’m quite good at it and have written a post about it that teaches you how to become a better reader.
What I didn’t include in here is my own book called Becoming a Self-Empowered Being. It’s about achieving holistic body mind mastery, reaching your truest potential and living your calling. For me it’s a collection of principles and guidelines about what it means to take charge of your own life. The lessons I’ve learned so far can and will help everyone who reads them because they’re timeless and applicable to any context. What it teaches is how to create our own reality by becoming a master of oneself. There’s a lot of knowledge gathered from this list of the 10 books we should all read and even more. Topics covered are nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, discipline, motivation, habits, purposeful living, overcoming adversity, never-ending growth, personal development, living your dreams and improving the overall quality of our life. I wrote it because I wanted to share the essence of what it means to become self-empowered and how to attain. It has transformed my being and can do the same for yours.
On a different note I’m currently writing my second book as well called The Self-Empowered Superhuman Diet. The subtitle is Achieve Optimal Health and High Performance and it provides just that. It’s a way of eating that approached nutrition objectively and in a way that’s best for oneself. The book offers more than that and teaches the practitioner to not only improve their wellbeing but increase the overall quality of their life. After its release it would have to be added to this list of the books we should all read. Read the details and the first introduction chapter.