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

I wish I could have “forced’’ my past self to stop overlooking these books.


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

Who are we and where did we come from?

This is the age-old question that plagues us.

These recommended reads by Naval Ravikant answer this question in different aspects of the human world. Our history, brain, spirituality, and the influence that we have on others.

The following summaries will entice you enough to get your hands on these books.


Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.


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

Humans are Gods on a slippery slope.

Covering human history from the time that we were cave dwellers to the time that we created great AI technology, this book combines natural and social sciences. It takes us on a chronological trip through time.

The author discusses, at times in funny ways, his analysis and hypotheses of human evolution.

The book is divided into four parts with multiple chapters in each of them:

  1. The Cognitive Revolution

  2. The Agricultural Revolution

  3. The Unification of Humankind

  4. The Scientific Revolution

The main argument put forth by Harari is the fact that only humans have the power to imagine things. Other living organisms cannot. That is why humans rule the world today.

“Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.”

Shared imaginations are myths.

Shared beliefs help mankind work together. Like two Catholics, even though strangers can go on a crusade together because they believe in Christianity.

Concepts of nations, Gods, and money, all are fiction that allow humans to cooperate. Ideologies like liberalism, feminism, human rights, etc, also work like religions.

The difference is only in the semantics, Harari says.

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

Harari also asks the ‘happiness’ question and summarizes that we are less happy as compared to our ancestors.

In the end, he predicts the end of Homo Sapiens because of how much more control we have now. We can replicate natural selection by gene editing for example.

Religious or not, once you begin reading this book, it will be hard to put it down due to its storytelling, anecdotes, and fresh perspective.



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

Taleb is a rebel, is the conclusion I have made.

He challenges everything. Big Pharma, the education system, bureaucracy, and the suited-booted gurus on Youtube.

Taleb calls for rationale, science, and logic. He warns us to NEVER take advice from those who will not suffer the consequences of it i.e. have no skin in the game. When people have ‘skin in the game’, they act much more ethically.

For example: A corporation dumps toxic waste in water with no issues unless they fear being sued by a bunch of residents.

“Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.”

Asymmetry is when one party has nothing to lose.

We have to increase symmetry and divide consequences across the majority to have social justice.

I enjoyed Taleb’s thoughts and the way he breaks down different concepts. Many of his conclusions mirrored my own experience of this world.

“Purely monotheistic religions such as Protestant Christianity, Salafi Islam, or fundamentalist atheism accommodate literalist and mediocre minds that cannot handle ambiguity.”

I’d like to end this summary by sharing the three-point advice given by the author.

  1. Never engage in virtue signaling;

  2. Never engage in rent-seeking;

  3. Put yourself on the line, and start a business.




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

The winner writes the history.

This is what my dad says whenever we discuss past events of the world.

I consider my dad a very logical person. He taught me to doubt before I trust. Interestingly, Will and Ariel Durant tell us the same. They want us to know that historical accounts are not factual.

“Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.”

This book looks at ‘ideas’ as being the strongest thing passed down the human lineage. The way Will and Amy Durant discuss history is somewhat similar to Noah Harari’s ‘Sapiens’, the first book in this list of recommendations.

“The goal of religion and morals and ethics and really any shared belief system is at least partially to overcome the impulses of our hunter-gatherer, reptilian brain.”

Along their discussions, they share multiple lessons from the history of humans.

One of the most important lessons of history is that man remains the same. He might change his ways but he cannot change his instincts.

Another lesson that I find particularly intriguing is that religions have a way of reviving themselves. Religion gives people a belief so they can face the challenges of life. Over time, societies have maintained their morality through it.

Will and Amy Durant wrote ‘The Lessons of History’ when they were on the 10th volume of their 11-volume set of books ‘The History of Civilization’.

Using their knowledge and wisdom, they share important insights in this book. It’s like sitting in their company without actually sitting in their company.

I can’t help but recommend this book to history enthusiasts.



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

Reciting self-affirmations in front of the mirror isn’t my cup of tea.

I have a really hard time repeating an affirmation even when my yoga instructor tells us to do so. For many, it works. The same is true for Kamal Ravikant. This book is his account of discovering self-love.

Everyone has a truth to live. For Ravikant, it is to repeat the phrase ‘I love myself’ daily. Even though my path to self-love is different than the author’s, I believe that what he says about the power of thoughts stands true.

“If you had a thought once, it has no power over you. Repeat it again and again, especially with emotional intensity, feeling it, and over time, you’re creating the grooves, the mental river. Then it controls you.”

When we are stuck in a negative mental loop, we let ourselves be consumed by it and see nothing besides it.

Once we choose to overcome the clouds surrounding ourselves through the power of positive thought and meditation, we win.

I agree.

“As you love yourself, life loves you back.”

That is because inner security lets us look at life through positivity and curiosity.



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

You’re lying to yourself every passing minute.

Seems like a bold claim. Not when you read this book.

Published in 2017, this 400-page book discusses the hidden motives behind human behavior.

We feel that we are doing XYZ because of ABC. In reality, we aren’t.

It’s not our fault. Humans are hardwired to live in social groups and that’s the how and why of their behaviour as well.

“Our brains are built to act in our self-interest while at the same time trying hard not to appear selfish in front of other people.”

In the first part of the book, the authors introduce us to the subjects of animal behaviors. This provides the basis for the second part of the book, ‘Hidden Motives in Everyday Life’. In the second part, different aspects of human behavior like body language, charity, laughter, and education are discussed.

We laugh 30 times more in social situations than we do so alone.

Why do we laugh? It can range from anything to ‘Oh I didn’t get it’ to ‘I was just joking’. But one thing is clear, laughter helps us connect, just as humans are meant to. This book is an insightful ‘peek behind the scenes’ of our actions.



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

Don’t blame the chaos, blame yourself!

Fragility is when external events can easily break something. Resilience is when external events don’t change something, rather they are unable to affect it.

Antifragility is when external events cause something to become stronger and better. Taleb applies the concept of antifragility everywhere. Our body, financial institutions, industries, and more.

He argues that modern society has become more complex and fragile. We have started taking drugs for otherwise normal mood swings. We have started consuming man-made, processed food.

“Ancestral life had no homework, no boss, no civil servants, no academic grades, no conversation with the dean, no consultant with an MBA, no table of procedure, no application form, no trip to New Jersey, no grammatical stickler, no conversation with someone boring you: all life was random stimuli and nothing, good or bad, ever felt like work. Dangerous, yes, but boring, never.”

Over-controlling leads to fragility. To make our kids antifragile, we have to let them experience risk, even danger.

I feel understood as I read Taleb’s thoughts. It irritates me when a parent at the playground constantly interferes with a child playing happily and experimenting with risk.

‘Don’t do this.’ ‘Don’t do that.’ ‘Don’t climb there.’

These dialogues frustrate me. They are hindering the development or as Taleb calls it, ‘antifragility’ of their children.

This book is a must-read for everyone. Although, those who are too comfortable with the luxuries of modern life might find it a bit of an idealistic take.



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

The present moment is a gift, but it’s up to you to open it.

“Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

We are constantly bogged down by our past worries, struggles, and pain.

OR

We are worried about what will happen in the future.

Whatever the case, we forget the moment we are living in. The laughter of our friends, the smell of the rain, and the sip of water when we are thirsty. We fail to enjoy these little things because we are too busy being stressed.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present,” says Master Shifu to Po in KungFu Panda.

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.”

Tolle also tells us how to tap into our spiritual potential, connecting with the central power (whatever its name), and letting everything else melt away.

A mindful life is a joyful life. If you are wondering how perhaps it’s time to pick up this book.



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

Don’t miss the magic in the mundane.

We have to do the same old boring stuff again and again to harness the power of habit. But how?

By using the cue, routine, and reward loop.

For this, we need willpower. The author likens willpower to a muscle, which gets tired with use. We need to strengthen the willpower muscle. When we do so, it benefits us across all facets of life.

“As people strengthened their willpower muscles in one part of their lives — in the gym, or a money management program — that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked. Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.”

Self-discipline will take you to the finish line while talent may only get you started.

“Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ.”


On Amazon


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

Like a dystopian nightmare, this book will keep you up at night if you take it too seriously.

After covering a few of the points from his earlier book, “Sapiens: A Brief History Through Time”, Noah attempts to tackle the question of the future.

This book offers a grim and pessimistic prospect for mankind’s future, which was a little hard for me to digest.

You see, I’d like to keep hope that just like we reverse the hole in the ozone layer, we are capable of making decisions that will help our earth become a better place.

The authors build on the lessons from the past to predict our future.

“Fiction isn’t bad. It is vital.”

Humans have long used shared stories and fiction to collaborate. Today ‘humanism’ is the story that dominates the world. Due to the free flow of information, humans have softened the bounds of religion. Instead, we celebrate humans, their freedom, and their achievements.

With technological advancements, humanism will die. Dataism will take its place. The first step will be techno-humans, where humans will use technology to enhance their capabilities. Humans will absorb more data. Ultimately, we will no longer be what made us human.

We will become algorithms.

Harari ends the book with this question:

“What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?”

Although you look at the future with optimism or pessimism, Noah Harari’s work will leave you with a lot to think about.



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

Just as you prime the canvas before painting, prepare people’s minds before convincing them.

Although, a marketer’s handbook, I’d suggest it to anyone who would like to improve their communication skills.

Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing teaches us many tips and tricks for connecting with people, manipulating their attention, and making them say yes.

“…what we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.”

Humans don’t operate by logic, but rather by feelings and intuitions. ‘Pre-suasion’ tells us how to create favorable feelings before we attempt to persuade someone.

“He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word…”

This book will not only teach you how to persuade others but will also decode the secrets of how persuasion works on you.

This way you can be more aware next time a salesperson is putting the charm on to get a deal done.



 

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

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