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25 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time According to Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, the renowned investor, philanthropist, and founder of Bridgewater Associates, is not just known for his success in the world of finance.

He's also a voracious reader with a deep appreciation for nonfiction books that offer valuable insights into human nature, economics, history, and personal development.

Over the years, Dalio has curated a list of 25 nonfiction books that he believes are some of the best of all time.

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at this remarkable reading list and explore why these books have earned a place on Dalio's must-read list.

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

Neuroscientist Jill Taylor shares her remarkable journey of experiencing a stroke from a unique perspective. Through her vivid account, readers gain insight into the inner workings of the human brain as she describes her altered perceptions, the loss of language, and the profound transformation of her consciousness during the stroke.

Taylor's book offers a rare and deeply personal glimpse into the mysteries of the mind.

“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.”― Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

J. Anderson Thomson delves into the evolutionary origins of religious beliefs in "Why We Believe in God(s)." Drawing on scientific research and cognitive psychology, Thomson explores why humans have a natural inclination to seek meaning and purpose in the world, shedding light on the evolutionary roots of religious and spiritual experiences.

“Genuine morality is doing what is right regardless of what we may be told; religious morality is doing what we are told.”― J. Anderson Thomson, Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith

Edward Conard challenges conventional wisdom about income inequality in "The Upside of Inequality." He argues that, when understood in the context of innovation and economic growth, inequality can be a driving force for prosperity. Conard's book provides a fresh perspective on a contentious and complex topic, encouraging readers to reconsider their views on economic disparities.

“Today displaced workers wait for entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and other properly trained risk-takers to create jobs that employ them at high wages.”― Edward Conard, The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class

Kay Jamison's "An Unquiet Mind" is a profoundly moving memoir that offers an intimate look at her life with bipolar disorder. As both a psychiatrist and a patient, Jamison provides a candid exploration of the challenges and triumphs of living with a mental illness. Her narrative serves as a testament to resilience, the pursuit of stability, and the importance of mental health awareness.

“If I can't feel, if I can't move, if I can't think, and I can't care, then what conceivable point is there in living?”― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins takes readers on a fascinating journey through the world of genetics and evolution in "River Out of Eden." Dawkins explores the concept of "selfish genes" and explains how natural selection has shaped the breathtaking diversity of life on Earth. This book offers a profound understanding of the processes that have driven the evolution of species.

“Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous—indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.”― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

Paul Kennedy's seminal work, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," offers a sweeping historical analysis of how great empires and nations have ascended and declined throughout history. Through meticulous research and insightful commentary, Kennedy provides valuable lessons about the dynamics of global power and the forces that shape the destinies of nations.

“A large military establishment may, like a great monument, look imposing to the impressionable observer; but if it is not resting upon a firm foundation (in this case, a productive national economy), it runs the risk of a future collapse.”― Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000

In "What It Takes," Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, shares the principles and strategies that have guided his successful career in finance and business. This memoir offers a candid look at the world of high finance and provides valuable lessons in leadership, entrepreneurship, and the art of dealmaking.

“Success breeds arrogance and complacency, he said. You only learn from your mistakes and when the worst happens.”― Stephen A. Schwarzman, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence

Former monk Jay Shetty draws on his years of spiritual practice and personal growth in "Think Like a Monk." He translates ancient wisdom into practical advice for modern life, covering topics such as mindfulness, purpose, and finding fulfillment in a fast-paced world. Shetty's book encourages readers to cultivate a monk's mindset in their daily lives.

“Remember, saying whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want, is not freedom. Real freedom is not feeling the need to say these things.”― Jay Shetty, Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day

Tim Ferriss compiles wisdom from a diverse group of mentors and experts in "Tribe of Mentors." The book serves as a treasure trove of life and career advice, offering insights and actionable tips from some of the world's most accomplished individuals. It provides a roadmap for personal and professional growth.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste. It’s the universe challenging you to learn something new and rise to the next level of your potential.”― Timothy Ferriss, Tribe Of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World

Neuroscientist David Eagleman delves into the hidden workings of the human brain in "Incognito." He reveals how much of our mental activity occurs beneath our conscious awareness, shaping our perceptions, decisions, and behaviors. Eagleman's exploration of the subconscious mind sheds light on the complexities of human cognition.

“We believe we're seeing the world just fine until it's called to our attention that we're not.”― David Eagleman, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

Philosopher Daniel Dennett takes on the age-old question of consciousness and the nature of the human mind in "From Bacteria to Bach and Back." He presents a compelling argument about the evolution of human intelligence, the role of memes in culture, and the mechanisms behind our cognitive processes.

“We Homo sapiens are the only species (so far) with richly cumulative culture, and the key ingredient of culture that makes this possible is language.”― Daniel C. Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds

Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs offers an intimate and comprehensive portrait of the co-founder of Apple Inc. Readers gain insight into Jobs' creativity, innovation, and relentless pursuit of excellence, as well as the challenges he faced on his journey to revolutionize multiple industries.

“One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.”― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

Joseph Campbell's groundbreaking work, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," explores the common myths and archetypes that transcend cultures and civilizations. Through the lens of the hero's journey, Campbell uncovers universal themes that resonate with the human experience, inviting readers to consider the timeless narratives that shape our understanding of the world.

“It is only when a man tames his own demons that he becomes the king of himself if not of the world.”― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Reed Hastings, the co-founder and CEO of Netflix, shares the principles that have driven the success of the streaming giant in "No Rules Rules." He offers a glimpse into the innovative and dynamic culture of the company and its approach to business, leadership, and corporate philosophy.

“If you give employees more freedom instead of developing processes to prevent them from exercising their own judgment, they will make better decisions and it’s easier to hold them accountable.”― Reed Hastings, No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

In "Keeping At It," Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, reflects on his storied career in public service and offers insights into economic policy and financial regulation. His experiences provide a valuable perspective on the challenges of managing the U.S. economy during critical periods in history.

“The 1980s have been described as the “lost decade” for Latin America. My view is different: it was one of lost opportunities.”― Paul A. Volcker, Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government

Walter Isaacson's biography of Benjamin Franklin delves into the multifaceted life of one of America's most influential founding fathers. Readers discover Franklin's contributions to science, politics, diplomacy, and more, painting a vivid portrait of this remarkable figure who helped shape the course of American history.

“When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him.”― Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, shares his entrepreneurial journey and the principles that have guided the growth of his cloud computing company in "Trailblazer." His insights into technology, innovation, and corporate culture provide valuable lessons for business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs alike.

“Doing well by doing good is no longer just a competitive advantage. It’s becoming a business imperative.”― Marc Benioff, Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change

Charles Duhigg explores the science of habit formation and change in "The Power of Habit." Drawing on research from psychology, neuroscience, and real-life examples, he reveals how habits are formed, how they can be transformed, and the impact they have on our personal and professional lives. This book offers a practical guide to harnessing the power of habits for positive change.

“Change might not be fast and it isn't always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Graham Allison's "Destined For War" examines the complex relationship between the United States and China and the potential for conflict between these two superpowers in the 21st century. Allison provides a thought-provoking analysis of the geopolitical landscape, the challenges of great power rivalry, and the implications for global stability.

“To escape Thucydides’s Trap, we must be willing to think the unthinkable—and imagine the unimaginable. Avoiding Thucydides’s Trap in this case will require nothing less than bending the arc of history.”― Graham Allison, Destined For War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?

Michael Lewis tells the captivating story of the collaboration between psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in "The Undoing Project." Their groundbreaking work on decision-making and cognitive biases revolutionized our understanding of human behavior. Lewis explores the complex personalities of these two brilliant minds and the enduring impact of their research on fields ranging from economics to medicine.

“When you are a pessimist and the bad thing happens, you live it twice, Amos”― Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World

Walter Isaacson's biography of Albert Einstein offers a comprehensive exploration of the life, work, and personality of one of the greatest scientists in history. Readers gain insight into Einstein's revolutionary theories, his struggles, and his impact on our understanding of the universe. This biography delves beyond the scientific discoveries to reveal the personal and philosophical dimensions of Einstein's life.

“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think, he [Einstein] said.”― Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe

Will and Ariel Durant distill the wisdom of human history into a concise and thought-provoking book in "The Lessons of History." They explore the patterns and recurring themes that have shaped civilizations over millennia, offering timeless insights into human nature, culture, leadership, and the rise and fall of nations. This book serves as a

compact yet profound guide to understanding the complexities of our shared past.

“you can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”― Will Durant, The Lessons of History

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman presents a groundbreaking exploration of human thinking and decision-making in "Thinking, Fast and Slow." He introduces the concept of two systems of thinking—fast and intuitive, and slow and deliberative—and explains how they influence our choices and judgments. Drawing on decades of research,

Kahneman unravels the mysteries of cognitive biases, heuristics, and the ways in which our minds process information. This book invites readers to embark on a journey of self-discovery and critical thinking.

“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

Adam Grant investigates the qualities and behaviors of original thinkers and innovators in "Originals." He dispels common myths about creativity and offers practical advice on how individuals and organizations can foster innovation and encourage non-conformity. Drawing on research from psychology, economics, and history, Grant provides a roadmap for unleashing creative potential and driving positive change.

“In the deepest sense of the word, a friend is someone who sees more potential in you than you see in yourself, someone who helps you become the best version of yourself.”― Adam M. Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

In "Sapiens," Yuval Noah Harari takes readers on a sweeping journey through the history of humankind. From the emergence of Homo sapiens to the rise of civilizations and the impact of technology, Harari offers a thought-provoking exploration of our species' remarkable journey. This book challenges conventional narratives and encourages readers to contemplate the collective history of humanity, the forces that have shaped our world, and the questions that continue to define our future.

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out more similar list on my on my blog —

Ray Dalio's list of the 25 best nonfiction books of all time is a testament to his diverse interests and the breadth of knowledge he seeks.


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