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10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Take the wheel of your own life

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Let’s learn from an intern-epreneur!

Well, that’s my term for someone who does business on the internet.

Ali Abdaal is a medical doctor turned Youtuber and podcaster. Four days ago, he hit 5 million subscribers on YouTube and 400K followers on his podcast, Deep Dive.

Ali Abdaal’s work revolves around productivity. He also talks about books, finance, and tech in his videos.

Here is a list of his recommended books!

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

A blast from the past.

Harari has written this book to bring us mankind’s history.

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

You’ll walk among the hunter-gatherers, as mankind settles down and learns agriculture.

From the agricultural revolution, we go to the industrial revolution and then the scientific revolution.

The author tells us that the reason humans collaborate in large groups, unlike any other species, is because we believe in collective myths. For example, religion, democracy, and money.

“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”

Our collective belief makes us trust other members of our species and achieve amazing feats together.

Starting the first chapter with the Big Bang, the author ends the last chapter on Artificial intelligence.

He says that natural selection has placed certain limitations on us, but thanks to artificial intelligence, we might be able to transcend them. And that will be the end of Homo Sapiens.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Advice from a businessman.

Stephen R. Covey is an American businessman and author.

This book of his has sold 20 million copies since its publication in 1989.

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.”

In this book, the author tells us that success is not only about money and fame. It is about growth and fulfillment. Many ‘successful’ individuals struggle with their self-image.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

Covey also distinguishes between ‘character ethic’ and ‘personality ethic’. He criticizes the self-help books’ focus on ‘personality ethic’ which is more about public image than about genuine cultivation of good traits.

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control — myself.”

As the title indicates, the book discusses 7 habits for success which are as follows:

  1. Be Proactive

  2. Begin With the End in Mind

  3. Put First Things First

  4. Think Win-Win

  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

  6. Synergize

  7. Sharpen the Saw

This book is filled with insights and wisdom for all.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

It’s time to climb.

David Brooks is an English author and culture critic.

In this book, Brooks teaches us how to live a purposeful life.

He uses an analogy of two mountains to explain the difference between individualistic life and communal life.

“On the first mountain, a person makes individual choices and keeps their options open. The second mountain is a vale of promise making. It is about making commitments, tying oneself down, and giving oneself away.”

Our education, career, and other achievements are on the first mountain. Whereas the second mountain is about helping others and committing ourselves to a cause.

Reflecting on Brooks’ words, I think of my own life. Being from a collectivistic culture, ours is the one that focuses on giving and being together. Sometimes, I am unable to gather the Western cultural practices that focus solely on individual success.

“A person who tries to treat life as if it were an extension of school often becomes what the Danish novelist Matias Dalsgaard calls an “insecure overachiever”…”

This book focuses on the importance of building a meaningful life that serves others.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

It’s time to ship your work.

The name of this book reminds me of ‘Deep Practice’ from the book, the Talent Code.

“We become creative when we ship the work.”

If I had to summarize the lesson from the book, I’d say it tells us to be committed to our creative work, make time for it, and share it.

For this, Godin advises us to stick to a schedule. When you do your work regularly without focusing on whether you feel like doing it or not, you are staying committed. He asks us to keep doing the creative work, even if it is not perfect.

The author says that when you ‘ship the work’, i.e. create and share regularly, you create ‘practice.’

“Your work is too important to be left to how you feel today.”

This will help you become even more creative.

One of the most important things this book tells us is that creatives are made not born. Anyone can become creative by establishing ‘practice’.

I must say, I like this concept.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Learn the laws of success.

This book tells us of a young professional, Joe who feels stuck. Joe is a true go-getter but he finds himself wanting to make a key sale at the end of a bad quarter.

He meets ‘The Chairman’ for advice who introduces him to his friends.

“Sometimes you feel foolish, even look foolish, but you do the thing anyway.”

Through them, Joe learns the ‘Five Laws of Stratospheric Success’.

Through these laws, he learns how to become a giver instead of a taker. We learn too, alongside Joe.

We learn that we should ask ourselves how our business serves others. The better we serve others, the more value our business holds.

“Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”

The book also touches on the importance of building a good personal brand. The most important thing that you offer others is yourself, it says.

This book is an easy but very important read. You’ll be able to relate it to your life.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

It’s time to step out of the ‘nice’ role.

Don’t be fooled by the title. The author doesn’t tell guys to be jerks.

By ‘nice guy’ he refers to those who live their lives to please others, avoid conflict, and let people walk all over them.

“Just about everything a Nice Guy does is consciously or unconsciously calculated to gain someone’s approval or to avoid disapproval.”

Glover tells us to be comfortable with conflict. To acknowledge other people’s points of view and be vocal if we disagree.

“Relationships are messy and there is no way to eliminate the bumps and potholes, but we don’t have to make them any more difficult than they already are.”

What’s the opposite of being a ‘nice’ guy?

The book tells men to become integrated males.

An integrated male is comfortable with his masculinity. He has self-respect. He does what is right. He sets boundaries and is not afraid of conflict.

Although the description of the integrated male is meant for men, I feel this applies to women too. Any person who has good self-esteem will possess these qualities.

“Self-respect, courage, and integrity look good on a man.”

It’s a great book, especially for those who feel like their life is steered by others.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

A new approach to professional success.

This book gave me a term to define my professional life. I definitely fall into the pathless path category, perhaps not in the way the author intended. Sorry, Paul!

The author tells us about the ‘default path’ and the ‘pathless path’.

The default path is the one we all are taught. Get a degree, get a job, climb the ladder… hope you’ll be happy (someday).

“The pathless path is an alternative to the default path. It is an embrace of uncertainty and discomfort.”

The pathless path encourages us to embrace uncertainty. It makes us open to new possibilities.

The author discusses the barriers to the pathless path. We want to do what’s certain. We enjoy the social recognition that comes with our work. Hence, we are afraid to steer away from the default path.

Millerd tells us to find something that gives us meaning. Take a sabbatical from work, the author says.

“Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it. Use its energy to keep yourself going.”

In short, this book wants us to be curious about the world. And when adventure calls, we shouldn’t be afraid to answer.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Why are you not achieving your goals?

Our goals seem far away. They are not in reach.

This is because we feel we will achieve them ‘someday’, not today.

Matthew Dicks is here to push us out of that mindset.

“People who do great things don’t wait until the time is right. They make the time.”

He tells us to make use of our time and be productive. For that, he has numerous tips.

Focus on important tasks. Ditch the irrelevant ones. Similarly, hire people to complete unnecessary but important tasks.

The author weaves other important life advice through the discussion on time and productivity, for example, not wasting time on negative people, and not focusing on unimportant things just because of what others will think.

“When we are facing the last seconds of our lives, minutes become precious. The key is to understand their preciousness today when there is still time to make those minutes matter.”

There is one thing on which I disagree with the author. He tells us to use free time (even minutes) to work towards our goals.

But I need my free time to rest my brain and recharge. I understand what the author means but it gives me ‘hustle culture’ vibes.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

How to bring in bucks through writing?

This is ‘the’ book for people like me. Those who write online. Or want to do so.

The author distinguishes between a blog, a website, and writing online.

He tells us that we only need a website if we are building a company. If you want to ‘write’, start from an existing platform. Makes sense, eh?

“The Curiosity Gap in your headline tells the reader what this piece of writing is about, who it’s for, and what it’s promising — all without revealing the answer.”

Online writing is all about grabbing people’s attention. I know this personally. For every article that we post on our blog, our team works on the title to make sure it makes people click.

Cole tells us to pick a category, define our style, and optimize our writing speed.

“Give away 99% of your best writing for free. Monetize the last 1%.”

You have to be consistent, otherwise your readership is gone, he says.

Honestly, this book does a great job of telling us everything from where to write, how to structure a post, and how to monetize our writing.

I wish I would have found it sooner.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Ali Abdaal - Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Look ahead!

MacAskill brings us the term ‘longtermism’. It means that making sure the future is good is a moral priority for us.


Because this world doesn’t belong to us only. It belongs to our future generations as well. We need to plant trees under whose shade our descendants would sit.

“Whether the future is wonderful or terrible is, in part, up to us.”

The decisions our ancestors took shaped our world today. Like the American officers who drew the border between North and South Korea after World War 2.

The author says that the decisions that affect us the most today were taken at the time of ‘plasticity’. Plasticity is followed by a ‘cooling’ period which fixes those decisions for the future.

We have to be more wary of the decisions we take in times of crisis because they will have a strong effect on the world of tomorrow.

“If humanity is like a teenager, then she is one who speeds round blind corners, drunk, without wearing a seat belt.”

The writer also reminds us of the good things humans have achieved e.g. the decline in infant mortality rate. This means progress is possible.


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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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