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If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Towards a meaningful life

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev:

You don’t have to read a million books to keep your brain active.

Instead, you can pick a few. The important thing is being consistent. Reading a few pages daily is better than not reading at all.

To make it easy, we have chosen 10 books for the current year. These books will help you overcome your inner blocks and live a happier and meaningful life.

Let’s go through their overview!

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

You can overcome the worst.

Dr. Edith Eva Eger (also called Edie) is one of those who endured the horrors of the holocaust as a teen. Her experience and subsequent success are a testament to the strength and resilience of the human soul.

She is currently 96 years old and continues to spread her wise words.

Edie and her family were forced to live in a ghetto and later in a brick factory after the German occupation of Hungary. Later they were transported to Auschwitz.

“Our painful experiences aren’t a liability — they’re a gift.”

There, her parents perished in gas chambers. The death of her mother was ordered by Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi physician. On the evening of the murder, Mengele asked Edie to dance for him and gave her a loaf of bread after she did so.

Ultimately Edie and her sister Magda were rescued from Gunskirchen when Americans liberated the camp.

“There is no hierarchy of suffering. There’s nothing that makes my pain worse or better than yours.”

Edie recovered, married, and moved to the US. There, she continued her studies and became a psychologist specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Appreciating the silence…

A calm mind is necessary for true introspection.

If a mind is anxious and on edge, it will be hard for it to form a realistic view of the world.

“When people who don’t know you well admire you, they are seeing their projected illusion, not your real self.”

How can we build the ability to be calm in a chaotic world? Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk teaches us exactly that.

He gives us the analogy of music. Music is beautiful because of the pauses between the notes. This distance is what makes a speech eloquent. Sunim tells us to take a breath and notice the silence that exists in between.

“The person leading you toward spiritual awakening is not the one who praises you or is nice to you. Your spirituality deepens because of those who insult you and give you a hard time.”

The author reframes how we view the people who cause us trouble. He calls them ‘spiritual leaders in disguise’. They are the ones that propel us to our spiritual awakening.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

How to gain and keep power?

Power doesn’t have to be the traditional military or government power. It can be the power we hold over other people in our everyday life.

In order to reclaim your own and defend yourself from the power of others, you need to understand it.

Using 48 ‘laws’, Robert Greene teaches us just that.

Here is one example. Law 25 in the book states:

“Re-Create Yourself”

We all were molded according to certain expectations from our parents and from society. The author motivates us to create our own image.

Other laws touch on other behaviors and strategies. Some of those are downright manipulative. I think any ethical person would be a good judge of which strategies can be applied and which ones should be avoided.

“Many a serious thinker has been produced in prisons, where we have nothing to do but think.”

This book is interesting and a bit scary.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Success comes after discipline.

In order to attain success, one has to work consistently. This means one has to battle temptations and distractions.

What helps in achieving this? Discipline.

“In a world of distraction, focusing is a superpower.”

Discipline means exerting self-control. This virtue helps us focus. Thanks to discipline, we are able to make a routine. We can have a good night’s sleep, eat healthy, and exercise.

The author tells us that discipline helps us live a good life. Because we work on our purpose and control our emotions. If we don’t do this our life will be miserable.

What do we need to feel good? Ryan Holiday lists down the basics:

  1. Food and water

  2. Work that challenges us

  3. A calm mind

  4. Sleep

  5. A solid routine

  6. A cause we are committed to

  7. Something we’re getting better at

Makes sense to me. It again comes down to having a purpose and meaning in life. The same is advocated by the other books in this list.

“Most happy people don’t need you to know how happy they are — they aren’t thinking about you at all.”

Remember, even if you are a messy person and a procrastinator (trust me I am one), you can still be disciplined in your life. Discipline doesn’t equal being rigid.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Stoic philosophy by the Emperor of Rome.

Marcus Aurelius is a Stoic philosopher and a Roman Emperor.

His personal journal of reflections went on to be a source of guidance for many. It is named, ‘Meditations’.

An emperor has to make many decisions. He also has to deal with many kinds of people. Add personal life to the mix. As you can see, stress is part of the job.

“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”

Marcus Aurelius uses journaling as a way to remind himself of what is important and to help him manage the many facets of his life.

He talks about the importance of being grateful by looking at things that one has. Well, that was the lesson my mom gave me too.

“Give yourself a gift: the present moment.”

He also talks about the most important part of Stoicism, the importance of the current moment. The present.

We think we are different from the people of the past. But this book will make you realize that at our core, we are the same.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

The ins and outs of money making.

We all want to be rich. How to go about it?

This book teaches us some important lessons. One of them is to understand the role of luck or chance in financial success.

The author gives us the example of Bill Gates and his classmate. Both were exposed to computer technology at their school (an oddity for that time). Bill Gates went on to be Microsoft’s founder, while his classmate died in a rock climbing accident.

This certainly gives us a new perspective. We can blame whoever we want for our financial perils, but we all know that factors outside anyone’s control play their role.

“The trick when dealing with failure is arranging your financial life in a way that a bad investment here and a missed financial goal there won’t wipe you out so you can keep playing until the odds fall in your favor.”

The author also teaches us the power of compounding in investments.

Again, there is an example. It’s that of Warren Buffet. He started investing very young. That led up to the wealth he has right now.

“Modern capitalism is a pro at two things: generating wealth and generating envy.”

The author warns us about giving into social comparison. He makes us realize that a feeling of ‘enough’ is important.

This book is a very good resource for financial understanding.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Learn from those who lived through a century.

Have you ever heard of the term Blue Zones?

Blue Zones are areas where people are known to live longer than average. Here, more people live past the age of 100 than in other places. One of these is Okinawa, Japan.

The authors take inspiration from the lives of centenarians (100+ years old people) and supercentenarians (110+ years old people).

“The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”

And through their examples, we get to know the secrets of a long and happy life.

The most important thing is having a purpose. Without it, life is meaningless. Find your ‘ikigai’! (reason to live)

Retirement is associated with increased health issues, whereas staying busy, even in your old age will keep you healthy and fit.

“The happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow.”

Another advice from Okinawans includes keeping anxiety at bay and building good relationships.

Have you ever thought about living to a hundred? If yes, this book is a great start.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Tactics for a military conflict.

If historic books fascinate you, you are in for a treat. Just guess how old this book is!

It is from the 5th century BC. The authorship is attributed to Sun Tzu. He was a Chinese military general from that time.

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

It is worth mentioning that Chinese military texts are an important part of China’s rich military and literary traditions. This book is one of those.

Divided into 13 chapters, the book covers various strategies for military conflict. This doesn’t only include heads on war, but also psychological warfare, covert operations, and espionage.

“Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

The author says that war is something not to be engaged in without serious reflection.

Sun Tzu also talks about the importance of unity among soldiers.

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

This book is full of advice and wisdom. All those who sit in top government and military positions should definitely read it.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Choose your love wisely!

Om Swami is a monk with his own Ashram.

This book explores the ways to handle the different ups and downs of life.

“The wheel of time churns relentlessly. Moments gone will never come back.”

The book is divided into 4 parts namely, Samsara, Loneliness, Self, and Awakening. Each part has stories and anecdotes to explain the concept at hand.

Swami encourages us to live in the present and not dwell on the past. To achieve that one has to give his or her life meaning.

We want all moments of our lives to be good and happy.

But life is cyclic. There are good times and there are bad times. Just because we dislike them, doesn’t mean that negative experiences won’t happen. They will, and we have to deal with them.

Remember the saying ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’?

Well, the same goes for the one we love. The author warns us to choose the love or center of our lives carefully.

“You always draw your energy and inspiration from whoever is the centre of your life. In love, you become the one you love.”

This is because we will start embodying the traits and qualities of the person we make our life’s center.

If You Only Read A Few Books In 2024, Read These Masterpieces

Understand yourself and your emotions.

Julie Smith is a psychologist.

In this book, she advocates for “mental health literacy”.

Smith tells us about the origin of emotions. They do not come out of nowhere. For example, in the case of low moods, one is usually stressed, dehydrated, and exhausted.

“…humans are not built to be in a constant happy state. We are built to respond to the challenges of survival.”

The author explains how emotions are a result of what is happening in and around us.

Whether we like it or not, our physical and emotional health are connected.

She shares tools and techniques to manage negative emotions. These incorporate nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.

Along with this, Smith dwells deeper into concepts of grief, criticism, mourning, confidence, failure, etc.

“If we associate failure with unworthiness, then starting anything new is going to feel overwhelming and procrastination will be front and centre.”

This book is a very comprehensive and holistic resource on the topic of mental health.


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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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