From the New York Times bestselling book on lifestyle design to spiritual enlightenment, to the book the Library of Congress dubs the second most influential next to the bible, here are my top five recent books that have had serious impact on my lifestyle, values and perspectives.
Approx. reading time: 1-3 hours
“Are you willing to wear your white belt?”
This is my favourite book, bar none, on the topic of achievement. An ex-fighter pilot instructor and Aikido instructor, Leonard is a believer that the improvement of any skill are gradual rising steps of plateaus, and that mastery is not a destination, but a lifetime journey.To love the practice and the plateau of any skill, is the mark of a master. Short and to the point, it’s an easy read but packed with zen philosophies and case studies that will inspire your training in any new hobby, sport or career field. Perfect for the overachievers in your life.
Buy Mastery by George Leonard here.
Approx. reading time: 12-18 hours
The fundamental philosophies of Tibetan Buddhism translated by renowned Tibetan teacher and interpreter, Sogyal Rinpoche.Buddhists believe it is easier to live fully if you are comfortable with the notion of your own death. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate this kind of wisdom. Not an easy read, but it’s one book you will read over and over again. I am the first to admit, as a new student of spirituality, that I was frustrated with this book at first. However, the rewards of contemplating 2000 years of spiritual learnings on what it means to live and how to deal with death is well worth the gruel. And compared to other involved Buddhist literature out there, this book is spoon-feeding.
Sogyal also includes several meditation exercises which I find helpful in day-to-day relaxation.
Buy The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying here.
Approx. reading time: 4-8 hours
A primer to lifestyle design, the 4-Hour Workweek will change the way you look at time, entrepreneurship and productivity and what it really means to have financial freedom. Tim Ferriss has had some astonishing accomplishments- he has managed to build and sell a multi-national sports supplement company, become a world record holder in Tango, learn to speak five languages, win the Chinese kickboxing championship (albeit pushing dudes off the ring, but nonetheless), play a role in a Hong Kong hit TV series and yes- he works four hour weeks. His mantra to success in this kind of lifestyle is quite simple: Focus on personal productivity rather than to sacrifice time and freedom by prioritizing the important and eliminating the clutter. Ferriss also explains a step by step process in creating, outsourcing and eventually automating an online business that can generate passive income.
Tim Ferris is a life enthusiast to the nth degree and provides a refreshing take on entrepreneurship as a way of squeezing the most out of life. This book sits permanently on my reading desk as a reference guide. Highly recommended.
Buy The 4 Hour Work Week here.
Approx. reading time: 2-4 hours
This book has been a shift kick in the ass several times in my life when I was in a slump and comfortable being there. I have read and reread this book countless times. Sometimes I will go back to certain chapters or certain pages for inspiration in my daily life. It is one of those rare books that keeps on giving long after you’ve read it for the first time. David Deida offers a comprehensive and practical spiritual guide for navigating everyday life. Although geared towards a male audience, Deida’s insight on relationships and sexuality of the masculine and feminine should be equally fascinating and helpful to both sexes. This book also shares a permanent spot on my reading desk.
Buy The Way of the Superior Man here.
Approx. reading time: 15-20 hours
I don’t read many fictional books anymore, but Atlas Shrugged should be on the top of everybody’s reading list. I was introduced to this book years ago but never got around to reading it until recently. It is good thing I did, as this is a fascinating read. Voted as the second most influential book next to the bible in a survey done by the Library of Congress, this is considered the magnum opus of Ayn Rand (famed philosopher and author of The Fountainhead).
Rand’s book is known for her profound understanding of the human condition and the ability to convey them in her writing with incredible precision and poetics. As a character study, John Galt is particularly fascinating and inspiring. It is Rand’s illustration of what it means to be a “man”- who he is, what his goals are and what he stands for.
But the greatest gift of this book is Rand’s effortless examination of the questions that men has pondered since time immemorial:
“What is the purpose of life?”
“What should we live for?”
Pick up Ayn Rand’s masterpiece here.
Ah, the Kindle…
I love this device. Hands down, my favourite solution for reading and storing books while commuting, traveling or everyday leisure: the Kindle 6′ Display E-reader with 3G. I have been using this for the last 6 months, and it has been gem when traveling. It can store up to 1,500 books and features text-to-speech function that reads to you- great for lazy readers like myself. It features a 3G Whispernet service that delivers ebooks to your device on demand. I spent 2 months traveling abroad and this baby hasn’t failed me yet. The connectivity will surprise you… I was downloading books through Kindle’s 3G in China in places that didn’t even have internet cafes.
Update: I’ve been using the 2nd generation Kindle, and it seems Amazon is introducing a new, more compact Kindle that features built-in WiFi and a better native PDF reader. Definitely check this one out.
What are your picks for the most influential, catalyzing or perspective changing books?