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10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Learn how to live.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

You can live your life better.

I am not saying your life is bad right now. Maybe, you are doing better than most already.


There is always room to improve. And once you read today’s books, you’ll end up with a fresh and renewed perspective that is sure to help you.

Let’s go!

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Small book, big thoughts.

Epictetus is a Greek philosopher from the 1st and early 2nd centuries C.E. He is known for his work in Stoicism.

This book is an easy read. The ideas are important and make all the sense. It’s like a Greek man has time-traveled to let you in on timeless truths.

“No one can steal your peace of mind unless you let them.”

One of the important lessons in the book is about the locus of control. Some things are in our power and some things aren’t. If we keep worrying about things that are not in our power, we will be frustrated.

Focus on things you can control.

Similarly, the author tells us that things are not good or bad. Our perception of them makes them good or bad to us.

“Whenever a challenge arises, turn inward and ask what power you can exercise in the situation.”

The wisdom in this book is not to be missed.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

How to learn new things fast?

The author teaches us ultralearning as a way to acquire new skills in an intense and self-directed way.

Young is a living example. He did the 4-year MIT Computer Science program in 1 year with online videos and textbooks.

“The best ultralearners are those who blend the practical reasons for learning a skill with an inspiration that comes from something that excites them.”

There is a lot of motivation in the book.

Have you ever thought of learning a new language but not know how to go about it? Well, Young lays out a different kind of plan for us.

Again, he gives us his own example.

He went to Spain on the condition that he wouldn’t speak a word of English for 3 months. And guess what? He learned Spanish.

“If you want to pass a test, practice solving the kinds of problems that are likely to appear on it…”

Critics of the book say it is more anecdotal than practical.

Even if you don’t get to apply the whole ultralearning approach, there are practical takeaways that will help you do better in your professional life.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

The adventures of a quirky scientist.

Feynman is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. This humorous and light-hearted book is based on his audio conversations with his close friend.

The incidents narrated in this book acquaint us with the quirks of Feynman’s personality.

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

At the heart of Feynman’s dedication to science is his curious nature. In his teens, Feynman tinkered with electronics and figured out what worked and what did not. This exercise made him persistent in solving problems.

He also talks about his work on the atomic bomb in America’s ‘Manhattan Project’.

The correspondence between him and his wife was censored. They started to use codewords which annoyed the censors.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding; they learn by some other way — by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!”

This book will show you a different side to a great scientist.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

You had me at ‘Stress-Free’.

Stress helps no one.

When we have too much to do, our brain becomes frazzled. As a result, we make even more blunders.

Undone tasks continue to nag us in the back of our minds. And the task we are currently doing gets affected.

What to do?

“Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does.”

Allen tells us that we should create a bucket and put the task in it. Whether it is a physical bucket, diary, or a phone app.

Knowing that this task will be dealt with, will put our brain at ease boosting our productivity.

“Suffice it to say that something automatic and extraordinary happens in your mind when you create and focus on a clear picture of what you want.”

The author also recommends doing a weekly review of everything.

This is a great book that will help you get your life in order… literally.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Social media ain’t helping us with focus.

We live in a distracted world. And it is not doing us any favors.

Newport tells us that to remain valuable, we have to master deep work. Mastering deep work requires doing tasks in a distraction-free environment with full-on concentration.

“To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things.”

The author writes about different philosophies that one can follow to incorporate deep work in his/her life.

He also tells us to follow a shut-down ritual. In short, work when you have to work. Be done with it when you are done.

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets … it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

In order for our brain to work deeply, it requires boredom. Newport encourages us to quit social media. He asks us to spend 30 days without it and see if we feel better or worse after it.

This book is surely needed in current times.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Learn to be still in a fast world.

The book is divided into three parts. Mind, Spirit, and Body.

Holiday teaches us to let go, to concentrate, to focus on the often missed beauty around us. All this, to attain stillness.

“This is what the best journals look like… They are for the writer. To slow the mind down. To wage peace with oneself.”

Stillness requires us to remove ourselves from the chaos that exists. It brings us a clear perspective and the right inspiration.

“Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections.”

To make his point, Holiday brings us many examples from history. Those examples show us that great people have done admirable stuff by embracing stillness.

John F. Kennedy avoided military conflict with Russia by emotionally detaching himself and looking at the situation with an unbiased view.

“Be present.”

To achieve stillness, our mind, body, and soul must be in harmony. This book teaches us exactly how to do that.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

The earth treated us all differently.

The author explores mankind’s history. He discusses why different societies ended up differently.

From the rise of humans to their domination of all the continents, they have faced various situations. The author focuses on food production specifically.

Some environments are more suited for crops and livestock than others.

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves…”

Societies that were blessed with an environment more suited for food production advanced more rapidly. This is not because they were superior. It was a result of the circumstances.

Not worrying about food allows a society to explore other disciplines like science, religion, etc.

“History as well as life itself is complicated — neither life nor history is an enterprise for those who seek simplicity and consistency.”

This book views history from a unique perspective which many will appreciate.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Movies lie to us.

They often show a protagonist doing something that he/she doesn’t love. And then the realization hits that he/she is not following his/her ‘passion’.

And thus begins a journey to pursue it. In doing so, the protagonist usually leaves a well-built and promising path.

“Giving people more control over what they do and how they do it increases their happiness, engagement, and sense of fulfillment.”

This book tells us that in real life, ‘follow your passion’ is not good advice. The only thing that matters is building valuable skills.

In all honesty, I am a fully functioning adult with a family and I haven’t been able to figure out my passion. Yet.

Learning that passion is a myth is freeing.

The author says that the things we know how to do well are enjoyable to do. The things that we don’t know require ‘deliberate’ effort. And that needs focus and attention.

Did you know that Steve Jobs didn’t love computers? He got into the business to get cash. And here we are seeing the result of his dedication.

“If a young Steve Jobs had taken his own advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today as one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers.”

This book is enlightening and will help you do what’s really good for your life and career.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Real life and education, how do they fit?

David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. The speech has since then become known for its material.

This book is the published version of that speech.

Wallace starts by narrating a story. Two young fish were swimming. They met an older fish. He says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ After swimming on for a bit, one young fish asks the other, ‘What the hell is water?’

This story made me chuckle loudly. When we are young, we are so blind to our own ignorance.

“…in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism.”

Wallace goes on to discuss liberal arts education. He says that academic education makes us over-intellectualize stuff, ignoring the obvious around us.

There are some deep reflections about life in Wallace’s speech. He says that in real life there is no such thing as atheism. Everyone worships something.

It can be a spiritual God, some ethical principles, money, looks, power, etc.

“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.”

He tells students to work on how they view things. He calls this ‘freedom of a real education.’ To be aware and informed. And to decide what you want to worship.

This is surely an amazing read. It was very sad for me to learn that Wallace died in 2009 of suicide after battling depression for many years.

10 Books I Find Myself Returning to Time and Again (but Never Tire Of)

Arguing is not the path to truth.

We have an idealistic view of reason. We think that ‘reasoning’ is our way to figure out the truth.

This book provides an interesting view. Reasoning is our attempt at justifying ourselves.

“We produce reasons in order to justify our thoughts and actions to others and to produce arguments to convince others to think and act as we suggest.”

For humans, reasoning and argumentation are a way of living socially. It helps us to persuade, negotiate, and build connections. Humans form groups and successful collaborations around ideas that attract them.

The author tells us that human communication is complex. We lie and deceive. Children by the age of 4 start to exhibit deception.

“Linguistic signals can be produced at will to inform or to mislead.”

This book has opened my eyes to look at ‘reason’ in a new way. I am usually the one who wants to stick to the right thing. It doesn’t help that I am not afraid of arguing.

But that isn’t always the way to go.

This book has taught me to be aware of my own predispositions. Am I arguing because it is the truth? Or am I arguing to justify myself?


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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