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These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Apply these lessons and reach for the stars

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

I am not saying university degrees are useless.

But with the boom in higher education and related financial interests, we should be cautious of one thing. Are we doing a degree just for the sake of doing a degree or are we learning something substantial?

Learning spans life far more than a formal degree. It helps you grow and change in many positive ways.

You can learn from anyone regardless of their age. You can also self-study any subject you want with the help of books.

To kickstart your journey to a better life, spend money on the following books!

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Pleasure, power, or meaning?

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist.

He spent almost 3 years in the captivity of the Nazis. This book details his experiences, how he survived, and his therapeutic approach, ‘logotherapy’.

Despite his struggles, he doesn’t compare the suffering of different people. He gives the analogy of a gas in a chamber. No matter how much the gas is, it fills an empty chamber regardless of its size.

Similarly, suffering, whether great or little, fills the human soul completely.

Frankl believes that a person can survive through everything if he has meaning in life.

“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning.”

The author’s focus is on individual responsibility. He considers it a responsibility of everyone to find his own meaning in life.

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsiblity on the West Coast.”

The book is filled with reflections and poignant observations. It will teach you a whole new way to look at life and suffering.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Hack the habit loop to your advantage.

Duhigg tells us about the habit loop.

  1. Cue: A trigger that tells the brain to go for a certain habit.

  2. Routine: The actions of the habit.

  3. Reward: It’s a positive feeling associated with that habit.

For example: If you have a habit of having tea after your breakfast, the end of breakfast will be a cue. Getting up, making tea, and drinking it will be routine. The feeling of alertness after you drink it is a reward.

The author tells us that changing negative habits into positive ones is easier than getting rid of a bad habit completely.

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

The brain uses habits to conserve willpower. Since the habit goes into our unconscious, we don’t have to think every time when repeating the loop.

Habits are a great tool for self-discipline, and self-discipline beats innate talents.

“Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes.”

Making small positive changes leads to further positive changes. And the effects reverberate through one’s whole life.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Let’s go into the command center!

We are ignorant of the world. It is our mind that assigns coherence and sense to everything around us.

How does our mind do that?

Kahneman shows us exactly that. Our fast thinking or intuition and slow thinking or analytical thinking are at play in our brains.

“If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do.”

These two types of thinking help us make decisions and navigate the world. But they are not without their pitfalls and biases.

“The worse the consequence, the greater the hindsight bias.”

By learning how these two systems interact with each other and their strengths and weaknesses, we can make better decisions.

The author also uses concepts of behavioral economics to explain our actions in various situations.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Digging up the past…

This book starts with the big bang and the emergence of life.

It goes on to trace the evolutionary tree of humans, i.e. Homo Sapiens. The author tells us about the six different species of humans that used to live on the earth.

“This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.”

Harari also tells us about the development of humankind through different revolutions.

The book is not only about human history. The author also shares many different reflections and analyses.

“Each year the US population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry people in the rest of the world.”

The author says that humans are now able to control natural selection according to their own wishes. This is possible due to genetic engineering and other technological advancements.

The book also discusses the concept of Happiness, specifically in Buddhist tradition. Harari draws a parallel between Buddhist philosophy and what science has discovered about happiness.

In short, happiness is due to internal processes, rather than the outside world.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

How Nike ran to the top…

Originally Nike was Blue Ribbon Sports.

The founder of Nike is Phil Knight. ‘Shoe Dog’ is his memoir. It details Knight’s life and his experiences in establishing Nike.

We learn that Knight was a runner himself and had an affinity for sports.

“Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats.”

The Nike dream started when Knight started importing shoes from Japan. After its initial success, Blue Ribbon started producing its own shoes which were called Nikes.

For the production of shoes, Knight partnered with his college coach, Bob Bowerman. Bowerman designed the shoes.

We learn many important entrepreneurial lessons from the book.

Knight tells us something that goes against the popular ‘never give up’ advice. He says that knowing when to give up is important. And it doesn’t mean stopping.

“Like it or not, life is a game.”

He also acknowledges the huge role of luck in business and life. This reminds me of the emphasis on the role of luck in Housel’s ‘Psychology of Money’.

“Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.”

This book is an interesting look behind the scenes of the Nike brand.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

A basket of wisdom.

Naval Ravikant, ‘The Angel Philosopher’ is known for his thoughts about life and happiness along with wealth and business.

This book is a compilation of his quotes and reflections which he has shared on different platforms over the years.

It is packed with valuable lessons for anyone who really wants to benefit.

Ravikant calls life a single-player game. You are born alone, you die alone.

“The hardest thing is not doing what you want — it’s knowing what you want.”

We all get jealous. Perhaps of someone’s success, wealth, or family.

Ravikant says if you don’t want to do a 100 percent swap with someone, there is no point in being jealous.

Think of a celebrity whose life you admire. Would you take all their struggles too whether it is marital issues, divorce, mental health issues, or physical health issues? No, right?

So kick jealousy to the curb.

“Earn with your mind, not your time.”

There are lessons about wealth too. Ravikant advises against renting out our time to build wealth.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Your personal finance guide.

Nick Magguiulli is a finance blogger at and COO of Ritholtz Wealth Management.

His finance advice is based on data.

In simple terms:

“You should invest as soon and as often as you can.”

Maggiuilli says that the guilt-driven focus on cutting expenditure is misguided. While extreme spending isn’t good in any way, no one has become rich by saving.

As you can guess, it is all a game of investing.

“By investing your money, you are rebuilding yourself as a financial asset equivalent that can provide you with income once you are no longer employed.”

The author is a proponent of dollar-cost averaging instead of buying in ‘the dip’. If you wait till there is a dip, there is a chance you’ll still buy at a higher price if you don’t factor in the fluctuation in the cost of the dollar.

“Time is an equity investor’s friend.”

This book is practical, logical, and based on facts. A must-read for everyone who wants to build financial security.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

How are we manipulated?

Caldini has worked a lot on the psychology of compliance. He details 6 principles that are used to persuade people.

As you read through them, you’ll realize a lot of contexts especially marketing where we fall victim to these.

“Apparently we have such an automatically positive reaction to compliments that we can fall victim to someone who uses them in an obvious attempt to win our favor.”

The 6 principles are:

  1. Reciprocity: When someone gives us a favor, we give it back. E.g. Free product samples

  2. Scarcity: The less something is, the more valuable it is. E.g. Limited stock

  3. Authority: When an authority figure endorses something, it is easier to agree. E.g. Endorsement by a celebrity

  4. Commitment/Consistency: When we make a choice, we stick by it. E.g. Signing up

  5. Liking: When you like someone, there is more chance that you’ll say yes. E.g. Salesperson finding connection with clients

  6. Consensus/Social Proof: Others’ behavior influences our own. E.g. This product is ‘popular’

Cialdini’s writing will help you be aware of the persuasion that exists all around us. It will also teach you how to persuade others.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Save your money! Read this book!

Is an MBA worth it? As a business graduate, I ask myself this.

Kaufman certainly thinks it’s the person who makes it, not the business school.

“Business schools don’t create successful people. They simply accept them, then take credit for their success.”

This book compiles the business knowledge that is available in the form of expensive MBAs. Kaufman acquaints us with various business terminologies and processes.

He tells us what a successful business really is.

A successful business:

  1. Provides something of value

  2. Something that people want/need

  3. It has a price that people are willing to pay

  4. Satisfies needs and expectations

  5. Generate enough revenue that the business keeps running

“Ideas are cheap — what counts is the ability to translate an idea into reality, which is much more difficult than recognizing a good idea.”

The author tells us about the importance of turning ideas into reality.

As an idea machine, that hits hard. My ideas are useless until they turn into something tangible.

These Books Are Worth More Than a University Degree

Gain mastery of the pen!

Stephen King is a horror and suspense fiction author. He has written novels like ‘Carrie’, ‘Salem’s Lot’, and ‘The Shining’.

This book details his writing journey and his advice for those who want to be a writer.

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

King’s advice ranges from the goal of writing to something as simple as the use of adverbs.

King doesn’t think that the goal of writing should be about getting money or getting famous. It is about enriching the lives of those who read you, he says.

The author goes on to add:

“It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

While there is a lot one can learn from this masterpiece, I’d like to share one simple piece of advice.

In order to be a writer… Read a lot. Write a lot.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Aspiring writers cannot afford to miss this book.


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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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