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These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

Deep reads for a curious mind

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance
Photo by cottonbro studio

Put your thinking hat on!

The books in today’s list are sure to make you reflect deeply. The various topics covered range from death and wealth to science and history.

Each of these reads will leave you with insight and knowledge about yourself and the world around you.

Let’s explore what is inside each book!

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

What is one fear that everyone has?

Ernest Becker explores how fear of death is behind everything we do.

“…the Eastern sages also knew, man is a worm and food for worms.”

We want to defeat death. We want to transcend it. This is why we become part of ‘immortality projects.’

The author gives us three different types of immortality projects:

  • Personal immortality projects

  • Societal immortality projects

  • Religious immortality projects

Religion helps us cope with death by promising a literal afterlife. Other projects allow us to live on symbolically.

“The man of knowledge in our time is bowed down under a burden he never imagined he would ever have: the overproduction of truth that cannot be consumed.”

The writer draws on many philosophical and psychological ideas.

One of my life goals is to leave a good legacy behind. A business, a book, or something else. Becker made me realize that my desire for legacy stems from my desire to transcend death.

This book will acquaint you with your mortality and your feelings about it.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

The psychology of mass movements.

Mass movements attract… ‘masses’.

But how? What is their appeal? And how do they work?

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents.”

Eric Hoffer came from a working-class background and had an insatiable thirst for reading.

He writes an eye-opening account of the rise and fall of the mass movements in this book.

According to the book, ‘a true believer’ is someone who wants united action and is motivated by feelings of self-sacrifice. He or she is an ideal recruit for mass movements.

“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”

The movements might be driven by different ideologies but the psychology behind them is the same. They appeal to people’s frustrations.

The author also discusses the life cycle of these movements.

You will view the different movements in a new light after reading this book.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

The warning signs of oppression.

Democracy should be defended against authoritarian governments. This book tells us how.

“You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.”

The author tells us to not allow the dismantling of institutions. This is what an authoritative rule seeks to do.

He also tells the reader to stick to ethics. When the government asks to put morality aside, it is all the more reason to stick to it.

The Nazi government asked doctors, soldiers, and police to put their ethics aside. When they did so, they played a huge part in the atrocities of the Holocaust.

“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.”

Snyder asks us to be wary of the paramilitary forces. He also wants those with weapons to be reflective of how they are using force.

This is a good book. It teaches the readers to stand on the right side of history by resisting tyranny in all forms.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

An invite to understand Darwinism.

Daniel C. Dennett is a cognitive scientist and philosopher.

“Science, however, is not just a matter of making mistakes, but of making mistakes in public. Making mistakes for all to see, in the hopes of getting the others to help with the corrections.”

In this book, he explores the theory of Darwinian evolution and why it meets with resistance.

This is not a science book, but rather it discusses the effect of evolutionary theory across multiple disciplines.

Before the theory of evolution, people only had one explanation for everything. God.

The dangerous idea is that life originated from the blind process of natural selection. Unlike religious explanations, there is no why.

The author himself is irreligious and calls out the problems posed by religious faith.

“There is no future in a sacred myth. Why not? Because of our curiosity.”

Dennett gives religions some credit as ethical guides. He says they might have some great ideas. But he warns us to be careful, just like we are with ancient folk medicine.

We shouldn’t take religious ideas based only on faith.

For students of philosophy and science, this is an interesting read.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

Cancer is part of human evolution.

Understanding cancer!

This book helps us understand cancer like we have never before.

Mukherjee, an oncologist himself tells us that cancer is not a disease created by modern society.

In fact, cancer was unveiled because we extended human life. It is an age-related disease. Mutations keep happening in our cells. Even more so as we age.

“Down to their innate molecular core, cancer cells are hyperactive, survival-endowed, scrappy, fecund, inventive copies of ourselves.”

Due to this, the chance of cancer goes up.

Cells divide, complete a life cycle and die. In the case of cancer, the mutations change the cell. It doesn’t respond to growth inhibition signals and continues to divide uncontrollably. It also starts to invade other organs.

“Specificity refers to the ability of any medicine to discriminate between its intended target and its host.”

The author says that killing cancer cells is not difficult. The issue is that we want to kill the patient’s healthy cells while killing the cancer cells.

This book is a very deep and informational read.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

Trade facts for assumptions!

This book will challenge how you view the world.

We all think that the world is getting worse. The gap between rich and poor is getting wider. There is so much violence, etc. That can’t be farther from the truth.

“I do not believe that fake news is the major culprit for our distorted worldview: we haven’t only just started to get the world wrong, I think we have always gotten it wrong.”

You are not alone in having a faulty view. All sorts of people from different walks of life struggle to have an accurate view of the world.

This is due to the dramatic instincts of humans that distort our worldview.

Through data and facts, Rosling shows us the actual global trends. Poverty and violence are in decline. The infant mortality rate has also reduced greatly over time.

“…the data shows that half the increase in child survival in the world happens because the mothers can read and write.”

This book will make you feel positive and hopeful.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

Speed up to success!

We all want to be rich. And we all want to know how.

MJ DeMarco tells us how we can become rich fast. He tells us that true wealth consists of 3 Fs.

  1. Family (relationships)

  2. Fitness (health)

  3. Freedom (choice)

The author tells us about Faux wealth. It means owning flashy things that you cannot afford. Such expenditure makes you even more dependent on your current sources of income.

“All events of wealth are precluded by process, a backstory of trial, risk, hard work, and sacrifice. If you try to skip process, you’ll never experience events.”

People in Slowlane depend on a job. Here they work for a paycheck from their employer. Fastlane is when you use wealth to free your time to focus on other important things.

The author recommends the following types of Fastlane businesses:

  • Rental systems

  • Computer/software systems

  • Content systems

  • Distribution systems

  • Human resource systems

“The owner of an idea is not he who imagines it, but he who executes it.”

This book will tell you how to be wealthy in the true sense.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

‘What’ and ‘How’ come after why.

Simon Sinek is an author and a motivational speaker in business leadership.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”

In this book, he gives us the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is the one that has ‘why’ and it lies at the very center.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

Sinek argues that all great companies focus on ‘why’ instead of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.

And these companies beat their competitors and get ahead in the market.

The important questions are: Why are we here? Why are we doing what we are doing?

‘Why’ points to the underlying belief. Leaders can inspire people by explaining the why.

This will also give them a sense of belonging by working towards a common goal.

“Average companies give their people something to work on. In contrast, the most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.”

The author also gives practical exercises for finding out your own ‘why’, guided by your personal beliefs and practices.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

A great king or a barbaric ruler?

Weatherford brings us a unique analysis of the Mongol empire and its effect on the modern world.

The general view of Genghis Khan (original name Temujin) is that he was a brutal ruler. The author of this book questions this understanding.

“In probably the first law of its kind anywhere in the world, Genghis Khan decreed complete and total religious freedom for everyone.”

By using non-Western sources, the author tells us about Genghis Khan’s rise to power and his subsequent conquests.

Mongols used to kill the ruling class. That contributed to the understanding that they were savages.

The writer tells us about the positive side of the Mongols’ rule. Light taxes, the tolerance of local traditions, and the spread of literacy for boys.

“Genghis Khan was a doer.”

The Mongol Empire suffered a great blow when the Black Death spread between the years 1328 and 1332. This led to the downfall of the Mongols.

“…the poorest Mongol soldier ate mostly protein, thereby giving him strong teeth and bones.”

This book brings to light the positive contributions of the Mongols to the world.

These Books are So Good — You Will Get Swept Away by Their Brilliance

Was America developed by Europeans?

This book is a retelling of American history before Columbus.

“In 1491 the Inka ruled the greatest empire on earth.”

The writer criticizes the Eurocentric view of American history. The general understanding is that before Europeans arrived, America was all wilderness.

As Mann tells us, it was not. The complexity and diversity of cultures that existed at that time are sadly ignored.

“Few things are more sublime or characteristically human than the cross-fertilization of cultures.”

The author tells us about the Inca Empire and the Aztec Empire.

He also discusses the genetic and geographic origin of Native Americans. The book tells us about the agricultural and fishing practices of that time as well.

“Cultures are like books, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once remarked, each a volume in the great library of humankind.”

This book won the National Academies Communication Award for best book of the year in 2006.


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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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