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10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Adventure, history, memoirs…


10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)
Courtesy of James Clear

History buffs can’t miss today’s list.


James Clear is a writer and a speaker. His degree is in Biomechanics.


Clear is also the author of the book, ‘Atomic Habits.’ The lesson of the book is to keep improving every day and not to exchange this with deterioration. Small habits make a huge difference over the years. It is one of those lessons that stay with me.


Today, we are going to explore the books that have been recommended by James Clear.



10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

He knew death was coming.


Paul Kalnithi was a neurosurgeon.


He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Staring death in the face, he decided to write his memoir.


His memoir starts from his childhood. His mother was very concerned about her kids’ education and did her best.


“Life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.”

Kalanithi initially wasn’t interested in being a physician but eventually enrolled in medical college. There, he met his wife Lucy too.


The book also details his life after the diagnosis. Kalanithi and his wife decided to have a child. They were blessed with a daughter, Cady, whose birth Kalanithi was able to attend despite his illness.


“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything.”

The author shares his thoughts about life, death, and more. The literary references in the book give it charm.


Sadly, Kalnithi passed away before the book could be published. His wife wrote the epilogue of this book.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Journey of humankind to the top.


This book starts with the formation of the universe i.e. the Big Bang.


The writer gives us a brief overview of how life formed on Earth before humans. He then goes on to trace the evolution of different human species and the journey of Homo Sapiens to become the top.


“History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.”

Harari tells us about the various revolutions humankind has gone through.


The history of humans includes the formation of money, religion, ideologies, etc. The author labels money as the most efficient means of mutual trust.


“The romantic contrast between modern industry that “destroys nature” and our ancestors who “lived in harmony with nature” is groundless.”

The author says that way before the Industrial Revolution Homo Sapiens had driven many species to extinction. I understand what he is saying but I have a slight disagreement.


There is a difference between a bunch of humans hunting for food and industrialized hunting. Like in the case of Codfish. Sadly, the latter is much more efficient in bringing species to extinction.


If you are into history, don’t miss out on this book.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

What happened on Everest?


In 1996, a disaster unfolded on the world’s highest mountain. Eight climbers were killed in a snowstorm.


“In order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die.”

This book details the experience of the writer because he was part of the climber group who were on their way to the top.


Initially, Krakauer was to go to the Everest base camp for a journalism assignment. But his desire to climb took over and he trained hard in order to join the full climb.


Krakauer was part of the expedition led by the guide Rob Hall. Hall is one of those who didn’t make it.


“Thus the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses.”

The author shows us what went wrong and when did it go wrong. He also explains the rescue efforts of the fellow climbers.


The author analyzes that due to competition between rival agencies, sometimes the safety precautions are ignored.


This book will make you inspired and scared at the same time.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

A hilarious biography of a world-famous physicist.


Feynman has many recorded conversations with his friend and drumming partner Ralph Leighton.


This book is based on those recordings.


“Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that’s the end of you.”

It covers Feynman’s biography, perhaps, not in the way in which biographies are written.


It has anecdotes about Feynman’s life. He shares many fond memories.


“Learn what the rest of the world is like. The variety is worthwhile.”

Feynman talks about his learning of various languages and his fascination with safe-cracking.


The book also talks about Feynman’s time at the Manhattan Project (US Nuclear project) and his nervousness at presenting his graduate work.


The title of the book comes from a woman who exclaimed this after Feynman put in a weird tea order. One with lemon and cream.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

What difference does geography make?


This book shows us how different societies ended up differently.


The writer explains to us, through facts, that the way societies and countries evolved depends a lot on their geography.


“Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots.”

Were they surrounded by mountains? Are they landlocked? Do they have accessible trade routes? etc.


The writer also talks about food production and how it helped different countries advance. This was also dependent on the availability of livestock and a favorable climate.


“It invites a search for ultimate causes: why were Europeans, rather than Africans or Native Americans, the ones to end up with guns, the nastiest germs, and steel?”

In short, the advancement of societies is not due to the intelligence of humans from a certain area. It depends on their geography and surroundings.


This book makes an interesting case. It will make you look at the earth’s history with new eyes.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Wisdom from an old Stoic philosopher.


This book is filled with life-changing advice for everyone out there.


The author teaches us to differentiate between things that are in our power and not in our power. We cannot influence those who are not in our power. That is why we need to let go of control.


“You become what you give your attention to.”

Epictetus also tells us to be responsible for our minds. What do we think? How do we handle external challenges?


We might not have control over circumstances but we do have control on our mind.


In short, this is about taking ownership and responsibility for your mind, emotions, and behavior.


“It is unrealistic to expect people to see you as you see yourself.”

The author also reminds us to never forget death. When we remember we have to die, we don’t waste time on petty grievances, or chasing after material possessions.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Learn how to make people say ‘yes’.


The book shows us how in different situations, people are subconsciously inclined to agree.


“Be as precise as possible about your need for aid.”

If someone gives you something for free, there is an automatic feeling of debt. When you reply to them with a gift, your debt is paid.


Cialdini tells us about the free samples being handed out at the mall. They indirectly encourage people to buy something by applying the reciprocation principle.


“Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence.”

Similarly, there are many other scenarios where people are more likely to be convinced. For example, The scarcity principle.


‘Limited Stock’ is one of the more common uses of the scarcity principle. When we know something is rare, we want it even more.


This book will help you become good at negotiations and discussions.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Control your mind, and find happiness.


This is another book filled with stoic wisdom. It was written by a Roman Emperor.


Aurelius believes that humans are meant to pursue wisdom and virtue.


“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

There is a very strong self-reflection theme in this book. Aurelius observes himself, his mind, and his emotions. By writing about them, he understands himself better.


As with every book on stoicism, this one also tells us that we don’t have control over everything.


We cannot influence our environment but we can influence our responses to the environment.


“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

The book also tells us not to worry about other people. What they are saying, what they are doing… etc. This should not take up your precious time.


Another great book of ancient wisdom.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

No physics, no problem.


This book is written for people who don’t have a background in physics.


Hawking tells us about the formation and expansion of the universe. He tells us about the black holes, space, time, and more.


“The universe doesn’t allow perfection.”

The book tells us about the ancient models of how the universe works. Hawking goes in depth when explaining time and space.


Hawking talks about wormholes and time travel too.


“Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest.”

Hawking also tried to remind the reader of the importance of philosophical discussions.

He thinks that the field of cosmology has become increasingly divorced from its philosophical understanding.


Even if you hated physics, you might love this book. Come on! Give it a shot.




10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time According to James Clear - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

You have to create, no matter what!


Pressfield differentiates between an amateur and a professional.


Amateurs work as a hobby only. While professionals work regardless of circumstances.


“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us.”

We all face challenges when we start to do creative work. This book guides us in overcoming those blocks that come our way.


Pressfield calls procrastination, ‘Resistance’. He says that resistance stands between the creative and his work. Resistance can appear in other forms also such as addiction.


“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

Similarly, the use of drugs is thought to enhance creativity. The author tells us that in reality, people become more creative AFTER they quit alcohol and drugs.


Pressfield calls creative work a gift to the world.


The most important lesson in this book is to not look for inspiration but to keep working regardless.



 

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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog- https://www.thenovelnest.com/blog


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