top of page
  • Writer's pictureNovel Nest

These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

It’s time to level up


These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

Books are magical.


Whenever you read them with the right intentions, they leave you with some of that magic. And that helps you level up to a better and improved version of yourself.


Whether it is your understanding of the world or your personal life, getting better is always a good thing. Books in today’s list will do just that.


Let’s read through their overviews!



These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

Space taught this astronaut a lot and he decided to write a book.


Chris Hadfield is a retired Canadian astronaut. His achievements include two space shuttle missions and commanding an International Space Station.


After being 3 times in space, Hadfield wrote this memoir. His memoir combines these experiences with the multitude of lessons he learned during his training and subsequent journeys.


“As I have discovered again and again, things are never as bad (or as good) as they seem at the time”.

In the author’s childhood, Canada didn’t have a space agency. And NASA only hired Americans. But Hadfield didn’t give up.


He did everything in his power to attain the right knowledge and skills.


“An astronaut is someone who’s able to make good decisions quickly, with incomplete information, when the consequences really matter”.

As fate would have it, Canada eventually launched its space agency, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The author applied and was selected.


“‘Be ready. Work. Hard. Enjoy it!’ It fits every situation.”

Hadfield brings us numerous pieces of advice. When applied to your life, they will help you be better in your personal life, career, and more.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

Old ideas, new evidence.


In case you don’t remember, Jonathan Haidt is also the author of the brilliant book, ‘The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion’ which we have covered on Novel Nest before.


This book is from 2020.


We all chase happiness. Why have I ordered fried chicken? Because I think it will make me happy.


This book takes ideas from the great minds of the past (Budha, Jesus, etc.) and uses contemporary research to explain them.


“…you don’t really have to be good at everything.”

While there are many worthwhile lessons in the book, I’ll share a few of them.


The author tells us to make our New Year resolutions such that they work on enhancing our strengths. They shouldn’t be about fixing a flaw. If you choose to work on a weakness, you won’t enjoy the process, says Haidt.


Moral judgment is one of the sources of our frustration. ‘Why don’t they understand?’

Because you and them, both are approaching the issue from feelings, not from reason.


“Two people feel strongly about an issue, their feelings come first, and their reasons are invented on the fly, to throw at each other.”

The book recognizes that happiness is born when we have a good understanding of our life’s purpose and have other relationships like people and work, in line with that.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

What do you want to be when you die?


Death is a reality.


Whether we like it or not, one day we’ll be lying motionless and others will be bathing and moving us.


“Being dead is unsightly and stinky and embarrassing, and there’s not a damn thing to be done about it.”

After death, a whole other journey starts. And this book explores all of it.


Roach discusses what happens to the body after death from all angles. The decomposition, the use in medical research, and safety tests.


Cadavers have shaped our history since ancient times. And we should be grateful to them.


“It’s just that there are other ways to spend your time as a cadaver. Get involved with science. Be an art exhibit. Become part of a tree. Some options for you to think about.”

This book will tell you how much we owe to the people who have passed but chose to donate their bodies to science and research.


It will help you ponder on your own mortality and what you want to happen to your body after death. Perhaps you want to donate an organ, or just return to earth and keep the cycle of life going.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

Let’s understand fungi.


Merlin Sheldrake is a British biologist. This is his first book.


Owing to his research in fungal biology Sheldrake shares his knowledge and experiences. The book has 8 chapters. Each of them explores a different aspect of fungi.


“Science isn’t an exercise in cold-blooded rationality. Scientists are — and have always been — emotional, creative, intuitive, whole human beings, asking questions about a world that was never made to be catalogued and systematized.”

The author discusses mycelial networks in detail. Mycelium is made up of small filaments. They make up most of the fungal structures.


Fungi’s symbiotic relationship with other organisms shows that living organisms depend on each other for survival.


In the lab, mycelial networks have shown ‘intelligence’. They have solved mazes and sent electrical signals.


“Whether one calls slime molds, fungi, and plants “intelligent” depends on one’s point of view.”

The author also explores the mind-altering effect of fungi on humans, animals, and insects.


In short, this book discusses in depth the role of fungi in holding up the ecological system.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

From food to poop.


You guessed it! In this book, we are going to enter the mouth and follow the path of food.


Along the way, we are going to learn about every stop and its role.


The simple act of chewing is not so simple. It requires coordination of jaw muscles, tongue, and soft palate.


“People are messy, unpredictable things.”

The book goes on to discuss what happens in the rest of the alimentary canal. The author tells us how scientists have studied digestion through people who had holes in their stomachs.


The book also touches on flatulence and burps.


“Breast milk and amniotic fluid carry the flavors of the mother’s foods, and studies consistently show that babies grow up to be more accepting of flavors they’ve sampled while in the womb and while breastfeeding.”

And yes, it is totally possible to die by overeating.


The author shares many interesting facts that will blow your mind. Did you know mother’s food choices during pregnancy affect the palate of the baby once they grow up?


This book is a thrilling exploration of the whole digestive process and what happens before and after it.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

More choices, less happiness.


Having more choices is not a good thing.


In fact, it is a problem.


Schwartz proposes that by reducing the number of choices we have to make, we can lessen our anxiety. Such might be difficult in times when the internet has given us access to almost all possible options.


“…choose less and feel better.”

Psychologically, the abundance is leading to feelings of loneliness and depression. The modern lifestyle is not doing our mental health any favors.


The author tells us that when we are presented with an array of options, we indulge in hypothetical trade-offs. We think of what we would miss if we chose this or that.

As a result, we are not satisfied, regardless of what we choose.


The book lays down the following steps for a good decision-making process.


  1. Figure out your goal or goals.

  2. Evaluate the importance of each goal.

  3. Array the options.

  4. Evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals.

  5. Pick the winning option.


“We are surrounded by modern, time-saving devices, but we never seem to have enough time.”

Honestly, this book reminds me of my mom. When I was too indecisive, she would force me to make a decision. Her mantra! ‘Nothing is perfect’.


And I am grateful to her for teaching me to be content with whatever I get.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

The key to living a fulfilling and extraordinary life.


Holiday uses stoic wisdom and examples of many men from the past. Through them, he tells us the importance of courage and how to cultivate it.


“Start small…on something big.”

Holiday considers courage the basis of everything. Risk, sacrifice, truth, determination, and more…


He also talks about the importance of training. Soldiers train. They train hard. And this is how they overcome their fears.


“History is written with blood, sweat, and tears, and it is etched into eternity by the quiet endurance of courageous people.”

Holiday tells us not to operate out of fear. He tells us to be confident in whatever we are pursuing.


The author tells us that we have agency and choice to end our captivity. It’s like he is gently prodding you to make the leap that you’ve always wanted to make.


I personally have dreams that are yet unattained. It’s not like I never tried to achieve them. I did.


But…


This book makes me want to be aggressive in their pursuit and not give up, no matter what.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

Being ready for anything…


A crisis can happen at any time.


We need to be prepared.


This is exactly what Neil Strauss explores. After realizing that he wasn’t ready to face uncertain events, he sets out to be better informed and prepared. Through his book, he shares his quest and teaches us all that he learned.


“We’re just fragile machines programmed with a false sense of our own importance.”

Strauss discusses all types of unrest and disasters. He focuses on building a community and being resilient in times of crisis.


From basic survival skills like making fire and navigating to food storage and water purification, the book covers it all.


“True endurance, I think, comes from the inside. It comes from motivation and belief in what you’re doing.”

The author shares his discussions with various experts like survivalists and military personnel.


Because he himself is on the journey of self-reliance, the author’s exploration of concepts feels much more real and practical.




These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

The good, the bad, and the in-between of AI.


Max Tegmark is a Swedish-American physicist who has researched machine learning. In this book, he discusses the effects of AI on industries, economies, and human existence.

The author divides life into three different types:


  1. Life 1.0: Bacteria to complex organisms. They evolve over long time periods.

  2. Life 2.0: Humans. They can upgrade their thinking (software) through learning and culture.

  3. Life 3.0: Life that can upgrade both its hardware and software. It will improve at an unprecedented rate.


“An AI with the goal of eliminating cancer might find a naive solution: killing anyone prone to cancer.”

The question is… what will the onset of Life 3.0 mean for humans?


Tegmark discusses the economic, ethical, and existential effects of Artificial Intelligence.


He goes on to lay down steps that can ensure that AI is beneficial to humans. For example: AI should be designed to respect human values. There should also be international cooperation to prevent the monopoly and misuse of AI.


“Never before has a conversation about something that could kill us all felt so fascinating.”

The author also touches on the possibility of AI takeover expanding to the whole universe.



These 10 Lesser-Known Books Will Make You The Best Possible Version of Yourself

A scientist explores the universe.


The author discusses the universe and various ways of looking at it. Whether it is biology, physics, or psychology, each of them looks at the same world from different angles.


The author labels this as poetic naturalism.


He also questions the level of trust that scientists put in different theories. Well, it is possible that the Big Bang was the start of the universe. But was it really? We don’t know.


“The construction of meaning is a fundamentally individual, subjective, creative enterprise, and an intimidating responsibility.”

The author motivates us to question our beliefs. They might be an illusion. He says that illusion might make us happy. But the truth has a greater reward.


Science doesn’t tell us what could be or what should be. It only tells us what is.

“Science has a simple goal: to figure out what the world actually is.”

The book is not only a discussion of the physical universe but also our incompetence as humans to see everything for what it is. We have biased brains. We are not rational and logical machines.


This book is a poetic discussion of life and the universe.



 

If you found this article useful and want to support NovelNest, join my email list below to get notified whenever I publish something new.


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


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

bottom of page