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10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Live life with renewed vigor

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones
Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

You only get one life.

You cannot just throw it away.

Some books advise us well on how to get the best out of the one life that we have. They have deep and profound lessons for us.

The books in today’s list are from that category. Each of them is important in its own way. So much so that you’ll feel the need to return to them time and again.

Let’s go!

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Timeless lessons from the past.

Donald J. Robertson is a cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist. He has also been teaching Stoicism for twenty years.

In this book, Robertson explores the life of the famous Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who was also a great Stoic. The book also informs us in detail about Stoic philosophy and how those principles can be applied today.

“Wisdom, in all these forms, mainly requires understanding the difference between good, bad, and indifferent things.”

We get to know Marcus in his childhood, youth, and as an emperor. We also get to know about his relationship with other Stoics and his own adoptive brother.

The author also shows us how stoic philosophy and psychology are intertwined.

“We don’t control our initial reaction, perhaps, but we do control how we respond to it: it’s not what happens first that matters but what you do next.”

The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom, from both Robertson and Aurelius, making it a valuable resource.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Don’t miss the scenery while trying to catch the train.

This book is not for people like me. Those who already give themselves plenty of rest as and when needed. I have a productive life so don’t judge me, okay?

But I know the importance of slowing down and enjoying the moment. Having a kid teaches you that.

I imagine someone totally embroiled in a corporate job, not taking time to rest properly, eat properly, or spend time with loved ones. That person really needs to read this book.

“Creativity cannot be institutionalized.”

Efficiency is not everything. Meaning and happiness are important.

Headlee teaches us to be happy with less. She tells us that after a certain level of income is reached, more money doesn’t guarantee happiness. But trading it for free time does.

The author reminds us to not be strict in our habits. She tells us that we work best when there is flexibility in our habits.

“As they say, another way to spell “perfectionism” is p-a-r-a-l-y-s-i-s.”

This book will help you hack your perception of time for the better. It will also guide you in cultivating meaningful idle time.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Taking back control…

Discipline is an important part of life.

If the sun and the moon didn’t follow a rhythm our world wouldn’t work. Similarly, we as individuals need to implement discipline in our lives for greater happiness and success.

Ryan Holiday teaches us discipline from the perspective of Stoicism.

“Technology, access, success, power, privilege — this is only a blessing when accompanied by the second of the cardinal virtues: self-restraint.”

The first step is to exercise control over our physical body. If we don’t, outside forces will dominate it.

Fleeting pleasures have a strong allure. Like eating unhealthy or not working out. But do they benefit us in the long run? Nope. Instead, they harm us.

“Now is the time. Because now is the only time you have.”

Holiday motivates us to use discipline in order to organize our time and achieve great things.

The author also warns us about the pitfalls of hurrying. Whatever you’re doing, do it well, and it will go fast anyway.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

The sea of knowledge is never ending.

The premise of the book is simple:

Scientific growth comes from the human quest for explanations.

“Because we are universal explainers, we are not simply obeying our genes.”

The author argues that human senses are not the reason for knowledge. Instead, it is our minds that create theories. And then we test them to understand their viability.

Knowledge grows when humans critique and improve on the already existing theories.

The author says that knowledge is infinite. We don’t know what is yet to be discovered.

“To choose an option, rationally, is to choose the associated explanation. Therefore, rational decision-making consists not of weighing evidence but of explaining it, in the course of explaining the world.”

The author also discusses ‘ideas’. The ideas that can be replicated under various and diverse circumstances by different people are true ideas.

And after surviving over many generations, they can become ‘deep truths’.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Can religion fill in where science lacks?

Feynman was a gifted physicist who also won a Nobel Prize.

This book was published posthumously. It is based on three lectures that Feynman delivered at the University of Washington in 1963.

“Words can be meaningless. If they are used in such a way that no sharp conclusions can be drawn.”

The topics of the three lectures are:

  1. The Uncertainty of Science

  2. The Uncertainty of Values

  3. This Unscientific Age

In the first one, Feynman explores the uncertain nature of science. There is always doubt and room for improvement. This is how science progresses. Blind conformation can never allow scientific ideas to thrive.

But science has one drawback.

It doesn’t provide any guide to morality. This is what Feynman discusses in the second lecture.

He suggests that religion can be taken for his moral guidance. At the same time, the mythical parts should be rejected.

“Religion gives inspiration to act well. Not only that, it gives inspiration to the arts and to many other activities of human beings.”

In the last lecture, Feynman laments the unscientific-ness of society.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

What is a hyper-niche?

The only introduction that Peter Thiel needs is that he co-founded PayPal. Later on, he used his expertise to enter the hedge fund and venture capital market.

Thiel convinces the entrepreneur of tomorrow that innovating something new is the way to go. Going from ‘zero to 1’ is better than going from ‘1 to n’.

“The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.”

The lesson is simple: Your startup should solve a unique problem. This will create value for the customers and result in a ‘happy company’.

Thiel advises the startup founders to pursue markets that have little to no competitors, a hyper-niche.

“You should focus relentlessly on something you’re good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future.”

This book has sound and solid advice from a businessman who has done it all.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

What happened atop Mount Everet in May 1996?

Jon Krakauer was hired to write about the commercialization of Mount Everest.

He decided to do the full climb and joined Adventure Consultants. His guide was Rob Hall.

“[There’s] an unspoken agreement on the mountain to pretend that these [bodies] weren’t real — [we didn’t] acknowledge what was at stake.”

Krakauer describes the varying levels of expertise among the climbers and the difficulties that they faced. Those include extreme exhaustion and weight loss.

During the final push to the summit, a turnaround time is fixed by Rob Hall. But it is not enforced.

The storms hit the climbers between 10 and 11 May.

“Remember that getting to the summit is the easy part; it’s getting back down that’s hard.”

This led to the death of many climbers including the writer’s guide, Rob Hall.

Krakauer describes the fate of those who vanished or died, and the few who made it despite the odds being against them.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Don’t commit half-heartedly.

Goggins’ life journey is extraordinary. Despite having a struggling childhood, he rose to the top.

Goggins wasn’t able to join the Air Force due to his health condition. But he didn’t give up.

“Denial is the ultimate comfort zone.”

His quest and determination led him to Navy SEALs. He became not only a SEAL but an extraordinary one.

The author pushed his physical and mental limits to be an outlier. He became an endurance athlete.

With every race and every challenge, his stamina increased. After having to quit racing, again due to medical issues, Goggins broke the world record for most pushups in 24 hours.

“Be more than motivated, be more than driven, become literally obsessed to the point where people think you’re fucking nuts.”

Through his experiences, Goggins motivates the reader through and through. You’ll come away from this book feeling like a transformed individual.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Handle life through love and laughter!

Charles Munger is Warren Buffet’s partner.

This book is filled with what he learned through his experiences. We get excellent life and business advice from Munger.

“Resist the craving for false precision, false certainties, etc.”

We learn of the importance of reading and old age for growing wisdom in a person.

Munger shares various mental models he used for decision-making. I am assuming he had to make a lot of decisions. He also tells us the importance of psychology in making decisions.

Munger also enlightens us about the biases that render our decisions wrong.

“If, in your thinking, you rely entirely on others — often through purchase of professional advice — whenever outside a small territory of your own, you will suffer much calamity.”

Life is hard. How to handle it?

Here is Munger’s advice:

  1. Have low expectations.

  2. Have a sense of humor.

  3. Surround yourself with the love of friends and family.

  4. Live with change and adapt to it.

10 Books I Return to Over and Over Again Instead of Starting New Ones

Habits govern our lives.

Charles Duhigg arms us with very important information through this book.

“Craving, it turns out, is what makes cues and rewards work. That craving is what powers the habit loop.”

Why are habits so powerful?

Habits create neurological cravings. And these cravings drive the habit loop.

“Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain.”

Habits are a part and parcel of our lives. In order to improve our lives, we need to improve our habits.

How to do that?

Every habit is made up of three things, a cue, a routine, and a reward. The author tells us that to change a habit, we need to keep the old cue and reward while changing the routine.

“… to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

This book will give you the key to transforming your life.


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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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