You are what you read…
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If you ever want to get a sense of someone’s character, all you have to do is take a look at their bookshelf – assuming they still have one, of course. And if they do, that says a lot about them already.
We don’t have to tell you about all the wonderful benefits of reading. We’d be here all day if we even started listing that.
But it is worth noting that throughout history, every successful man used to read, a lot. In fact, that’s the one thing all great men of history have in common – their love for books.
If you want to learn a skill, develop your personality, and grow as a person, there is no faster way of doing that than through reading.
Whether you have the ambitions of starting a successful business or want to be remembered in time, you need to be taking in as much information as possible.
So, the question you might now have is – what should I read? Where do I begin?
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choice and everyone having their own version of the long lists of books every man should read. But the truth is, there is no wrong answer. If there’s anything that sticks out to you that you want to learn more about, start there.
But if you want to learn specifically about personal development, businesses, socializing, self-mastery and actualization, then this list is for you.
With that said, you can’t go wrong with any of the below books.
Here’s the list of 9 quintessential books we believe every man should read (at least once), in no particular order –
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?”
Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?Dale Carnegie
Everyone should read this book, at least once. It’s an essential regardless of your background, position, or beliefs.
Though this book was written in 1936, it still holds up to this day and will be relevant as long as we’re communicating. This is the quintessential book when it comes to socializing and becoming a better conversationalist.
In it, Carnegie writes about the importance of looking at things from other peoples’ perspective, getting people to like you, how to instantly get along with people you just met, and more. The advice from the book is more than 80 years old and just as applicable today.
At the end of the day, people haven’t changed. The mindset people had back then is the same as today. Essentially, people can be selfish and care about themselves. You can use this to your advantage and make deep-rooted connections by being genuinely interested in other peoples’ lives.
People love talking about themselves, if you can tap into that, you can communicate with just about anyone.
The concepts from the book, if applied correctly, can be life-changing. This is why it’s a must-read for everyone whether you think you lack communication skills or want to attain any form of a leadership position.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselvesViktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist and surgeon who was captured and sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. Despite going through unspeakable horrors and losing his family, Frankl never lost hope and instead leaned on his rich mindset to get him through the concentration camp.
Upon his release, he dubbed his school of psychology “Logotherapy“, and the main idea behind it is that we are highly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully. Logos is Greek for “meaning” and Frankl believes that the meaning of life, which is different for everyone, must be discovered in the world.
For this, Frankl stresses the importance of mindset. Happiness is internal and depends entirely on your mindset. After going through a bad experience, there are two different ways you can react. Either you get annoyed and it ruins your day, or you treat it as a learning experience and move on. Your mindset is the deciding factor.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
As a man thinketh in his heart, so shall he beJames Allen
James Allen wrote this book in 1903 and it now serves as the foundation for most self-help and development books. In it, he talks about the importance of a growth mindset and internalization.
The key to mastering life is being able to control your inner thoughts and your mindset. Every action you take begins with a thought. And how you control and harness your worldview in turn, shapes the foundation of the steps you take.
Allen explains that our lives always depend on our inner state and thoughts. We are a product of our thoughts and if we can visualize something, we can also actualize it.
The idea behind the book is fairly simple, and the length is short as well. But what matters is actually meditating on the lessons you take away from the book. Because, at the end of the day, no one but you can alter your condition. Your vision is the promise of what you will achieve one day, so, everything begins with a dream or a vision.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.Paulo Coelho
This is the only fiction in the book and for a good reason too. In the novel, Coelho tells the story of a young shepherd who gets recurring dreams that it is his Personal Legend to travel to Egypt and find treasure in the pyramids.
In his journey, he meets many characters and learns about himself, life, happiness, and more. All of which turn out to be more valuable than any treasure he could find. Through a hyperbolic style, Coelho manages to tell the story of humankind and talks about the importance of decision making, following your dream, and living life to its full purpose.
Essentially, Coelho’s philosophy boils down to the law of attraction. This means that if you put positive energy into the universe, you will be rewarded with positive energy in return. If you want to grow as a person and gain habits you will practice for the rest of your life – this book is for you.
The Art Of War by Sun Tzu
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”Sun Tzu
To this day, The Art of War still remains the best book about strategic warfare and thinking ahead. Chances are, you have no immediate plans to become a soldier. That’s understandable. But the lessons found in this book are not applicable only in war. They’re just as relevant in our daily lives, business, negotiation and more.
If you analyze each step you take, regardless of the context, and think ten steps ahead like a military general, you will surely come out on top. The elements of combat can be found in every interaction, if you want to gain something, you have to plan ahead. Since the 6th century, Sun Tzu has been influencing military leaders, as well as businessmen and politicians alike. It is very likely that you will also find some proverbs in there to refresh your tactical prowess.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.”Mark Manson
With a title as controversial as that, it can be hard to take the book seriously. But that would be a grave mistake because the content inside the book goes beyond than what the title suggests.
In the book, Manson challenges the reader and suggests focusing on things that actually matter, instead of being a yes-man. The author encourages saying “no” more often and focusing on our own personal values. While that may sound selfish, the idea is that we can’t do everything and please everyone at once. Instead, we should narrow down our choices and be comfortable with being different.
The moral of not giving a f*ck is that you should reconsider your expectations for life and think about what matters and what doesn’t. You should, in other words, stop giving too many f*cks about trivial things that bother you and instead focus on the legitimate things in life you care about.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.Marcus Aurelius
Meditations is basically Marcus Aurelius’s diary in which he used to write down life lessons he wanted to remember and somehow it turned into a book. Good thing too because this is probably the most powerful self-development book out there.
This book is the direct consequence of one Roman emperor sitting day after day to reflect on humility, his passions, how to overcome adversity and stoicism. Essentially, the book is a manual on how to live. This book will challenge you, make you appreciate the small things in life, help you face your problems and in the end – turn you into a better person.
It’s hard to summarize what makes this book so good because its lessons branch out to every aspect of life. While it also stresses the importance of mindset, the main philosophy is that you should always be in control of yourself. There are things outside our control, and instead of worrying about that, we should worry about how we will react instead. Auerlius claims that everything we see and perceive is just a matter of perspective. And everything we hear – an opinion.
This philosophy is built for action, not for endless discussion of complicated theories.
The closest shortcut we have to wisdom is through reading. If, for some reason, you haven’t been reading a lot until now, you have no reason not to start now. Whether you’re looking to gain business wisdom, be interesting or just to reduce stress and take your mind off things – reading is a great way to lose yourself in something new.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, just pick one and start randomly, you can’t go wrong with any of the above books. There is no other better time to start reading than now.
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.George R.R. Martin