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10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

A unique compilation of books that are well worth your time


10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)
Photo: Maria Midoes

Let’s time-travel to the past!


Most of the books in today’s list deal with history.


Topics covered include the formation of the universe, the evolution of humans, the rise and fall of Hitler in Germany, and the autobiography of Robert Moses from New York.


Apart from history, there are two heart-touching books as well. One of them is about grief. The other one is the story of poor families from a Mumbai slum.


Let’s go through the overview of today’s books!



10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Physics for dummies.


In this 1988 book, Stephen Hawkings explains difficult physics concepts in easy terms for a layperson.


“We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?”

The concepts discussed include the universe, time, space, light, and black holes.


Aristotle was the first one to say that the earth is round. He also thought that Earth was in the center of space. In 1687, Newton gave the concept of gravity. He also said that time and space are linear and constant.


Today, we understand the universe and its workings according to Einstein’s theory of relativity. It turns out time and space are neither linear nor constant.


“…black holes are not really black after all: they glow like a hot body, and the smaller they are, the more they glow.”

The book goes on to discuss forces like electromagnetic force and thermodynamics as well.


This is a science book that everyone should read. Even if you don’t understand physics.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

How did Nazis rise to power?


This book explores the Nazi regime in Germany.


The author talks about the conditions in Germany after World War 1. Germany was struggling politically and financially.


“Between the Left and the Right, Germany lacked a politically powerful middle class, which in other countries — in France, in England, in the United States — had proved to be the backbone of democracy.”

At that time, Hilter’s Nazi party rose to power. We know how that goes…


The country was plunged into a totalitarian regime. Shirer then discusses the Nazi foreign and diplomatic policies and events that led to the Second World War.


He goes on to talk about the issues faced by the Nazi administration as Germany started descending into defeat.


“A totalitarian dictatorship, by its very nature, works in great secrecy and knows how to preserve that secrecy from the prying eyes of outsiders.”

The book also maps the events after the war like the Nuremberg Trials.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Realizing dreams through power.


Robert Moses is one of the most influential people in the history of New York City.


During the 20th century, he held various important positions in Urban Planning. This book tells his story.


“Hospitality has always been a potent political weapon. Moses used it like a master. Coupled with his overpowering personality, a buffet often did as much for a proposal as a bribe.”

This biography will show you that Moses was a shrewd individual. He learned that nothing is possible without power so he worked hard in order to make the government reliant on him.


Despite never being elected, he held as many as up to twelve government positions at one time.


He also formed the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. TBTA had its own police, staff, and taxation.


“Science, knowledge, logic and brilliance might be useful tools but they didn’t build highways or civil service systems. Power built highways and civil service systems.”

Through his influence, Moses transformed the city of New York in various ways. He built many roads, highways, and bridges.


There is a decline after every rise. Moses’ rise also came to a halt. He faced increased skepticism and criticism.


This book will tell you the story of a fascinating man. You’ll be confused about whether you should like him or hate him.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Even when we are not selfish, we actually are.


Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist.


In this book, he explains evolution through natural selection. Dawkins supports the gene-centric view of evolution.


“Unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop being true.”

It means that it is our genes that want to survive. And they use our bodies as vehicles to replicate themselves and spread.


“In the beginning was simplicity.”

Darwin discusses the origin of life.


He discusses selfishness and altruism in great detail. Even when organisms are being altruistic, they are doing it for selfish purposes, says Darwin. Animals or other organisms cooperate because doing so will ensure the survival of their genes.


The author says that genes aren’t selfish by choice. They are not conscious. He talks about how favorable traits are passed onto the next generation ensuring the survival of those genes.


The book is an important read for everyone interested in biology and the origin of life.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Live among the hunter-gatherers and the ancient farmers!


Who are we and where did we come from?


After touching briefly on the universe’s origin, the author goes on to discuss the rise of humans.


He tells us how human evolution included cognitive improvement. This allowed humans to cooperate with each other and form ideas.


“Homo sapiens has no natural rights, just as spiders, hyenas and chimpanzees have no natural rights.”

Through religion and various ideologies, humans worked together. The author traces the ups and downs of human history.


“Farmers tend to eat a very limited and unbalanced diet.”

Harari calls into question the nutrition of food that a farmer in premodern times ate.

Most of his food came from a single crop. E.g. rice, potatoes, or wheat. It lacked important nutrition and vitamins.


Foragers in contrast ate a wide variety of food. Fruits, vegetables, and meat. They had all the necessary nutrients.


This book will take you to ancient times when man hunted and foraged to survive.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

We are killing the Earth’s inhabitants.


This book is a much-needed piece. It is an alarm bell for humans to wake up.


All over the world, various species are headed to extinction, all due to the choices made by humans.


“Ocean acidification is sometimes referred to as global warming’s ‘equally evil twin.’”

Human activities release a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. This CO2 gets dissolved in the ocean, lowering its pH.


This acidification of ocean water is detrimental to marine life.


“There is every reason to believe that if humans had not arrived on the scene, the Neanderthals would be there still, along with the wild horses and the woolly rhinos.”

Among other issues, one of the factors driving the sixth extinction is human travel. We have introduced species from different geographic areas to each other.


‘Invasive species’ decrease biodiversity.


If you want to save the world, this is a good book to start with.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Story of a teenager who survived the Holocaust.


This book is a semi-autobiographical account based on the author’s experiences of the Holocaust as a teenager. The narrator is Eliezer, a teenage character based on the author.


“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”

Eliezer is a religious teen who reads Torah and Kabbalah. He lives in Sighet, Hungary.


Despite warnings from an immigrant Jew who was deported, the Jews of Sighet don’t believe that Hitler will come after them.


After the German invasion, Jews were confined to two ghettos in Sighet.


What happened next?


They are rounded up and taken to concentration camps. They are taken from camp to camp and forced to work. Many are killed. Although many lose their whole families, Eliezer, and his father are together till his father dies in Buchenwald camp.


Almost 2 months after the death of his father, Eliezer gets freedom after an uprising among prisoners and the arrival of American troops.


“Bread, soup — these were my whole life. I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach. The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time.”

This book is enough to make anyone’s stomach churn.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

History of physics, chemistry, biology, and more…


Bill Bryson is a popular science author who has written many books.


This book explains how our universe was formed. The author tlks about the distance between celestial bodies, and the size of the earth.


“Protons give an atom its identity, electrons its personality.”

He touches on chemistry and those who were at the forefront of discoveries such as Marie Curie. She got two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics.


“Energy is liberated matter, matter is energy waiting to happen.”

The book discusses microbes, humans, evolution, the ice age, and a lot more.


“When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a height of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of a centimetre), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy.”

This book is humorous. Many will find it a light but informative read.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

One woman’s life with grief.


The author’s husband, John died in 2003 while their adopted daughter was unconscious in a hospital.


“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

Through this book, Didion shares her grief and struggles in the year that followed. She mourned her husband and cared for her daughter.


“I am a writer. Imagining what someone would say or do comes to me as naturally as breathing.”

She relived her husband’s death many times, always wondering what could she have done differently. Plunged into trauma and grief, she experiences magical thinking. She believes that John will return to her.


Suffering flashbacks, Didion tries to return to normal life multiple times.


“I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right but we were each the person the other trusted.”

This book is a raw and intimate look at grief and its many forms.




10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Mark Manson — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

They may be ignored, but you won’t be able to ignore them after reading this book.


This book takes us to Annawadi, a slum in Mumbai, India.


The author visited Mumbai many times with her husband. She was inspired to write about the people living in the slums. The book is written based on her interactions with the residents from 2007 to 2011.


“Like most people in the slum, and in the world, for that matter, he believed his own dreams properly aligned to his capacities.”

She traces their stories and their struggles with poverty, disease, and conflict. Everyone in the slum wants to get out of there.


The author tells us about Husains, a Muslim migrant family. They have built a successful recycling business. The family becomes embroiled in a murder case when their next-door neighbor commits suicide.


“The Indian criminal justice system was a market like garbage, Abdul now understood. Innocence and guilt could be bought and sold like a kilo of polyurethane bags.”

The book also tells the story of Asha, a woman who wants to be a slumlord and has relationships with authorities. She is giving a college education to her daughter Manju.


Other people mentioned in the book are Kalu, Sunil, and Meena.


This book is a heartbreaking account of what lives are truly like for those living behind the wall of Mumbai airport. This wall has an ad for a tile company that says ‘Beautiful Forever’. The title of the book is taken from here.


 

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