Judy Blume told me, “I defined your childhood, correct?”
“Yes Judy Blume,” I said.
“So listen to me.” And I did. I did. And I still do.
Judy Blume has sold 150 million copies of her books. Books I read as a kid. Books I grew up on. Books that helped me survive the agony of growing from a child into an adult.
Books make my life better. Every day. That’s why I love the authors. And I live to read. And I read to live.
It’s taken me a long time to learn to surround myself with the best possible people. The people that inspire me. The people that I love. The people that change me for the better.
So I’m grateful for them. These people are my family. Family are constantly changing. Even family can turn toxic. But these people who I love and help and who love and help me are my family.
The authors of books become my virtual family. I surround myself with my virtual family.
I try not to think of the past. People who have done me wrong and don’t think of what I have done for them.
When I think of that, I get upset. I get filled with regret.
Another second wasted! Now a Minute! Now a Day!
The days add up.
What does this have to do with books?
Books have saved my life. Since I was a little kid. Since I read Judy Blume’s “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”. Or Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber”.
Or Lao Tzu’s “The Tao Te Ching”. A tattered version my grandfather gave my dad who gave me and I started reading it when I was around ten. Every day.
I dive into a book and it breathes life into me. I’m a vampire who sucks the words out of the author until I have absorbed his or her life.
Now I have lived my life and the author’s life.
I live more and more lives. I absorb them and become them, even for a moment. But that moment turns into a memory, turns into knowledge, turns into tools I can use to make my life better.
I’m so grateful to have many of my favorite authors on my podcast: Judy Blume, Nassim Taleb, Tim Ferriss, Jordan Peterson, Amy Morin, Cheryl Strayed, James Frey, Steven Pressfield, Brad Melzer, and on and on. Grateful grateful grateful.
Here are reasons I read:
- To be inspired. Sometimes I forget that the key to life is to revolve your days and moments around MEANING. That meaning is the fuel of myth and story. Meaning creates The Hero. Meaning is the call to action that drives the hero from a normal person to one who surpasses all his/her prior abilities and achieves immortality.
- To learn facts. I never argue with people. Most people learn their opinions from their culture, from their parents or friends, from the location they grew up in. I like to learn facts from books. If I want to understand the effect of tariffs on the economy, I read the history of economies. If I want to understand how my favorite comedians succeeded against all odds, I read their biographies. If I want to learn about the effect sugar has on the body I read books about sugar. If I want to learn that radiation leaves a black hole when even gravity can’t leave a black hole I read books about physics.
- To get better at something I love. If I love chess, I read books about chess. If I love investing, I read books about the best investors and the best investment strategies. If I love psychology I read books by the best psychologists.
- To get smarter. After EVERY single book I read in the below list, I felt as if my intelligence was higher, if even for a day.
- To be a better person. What is the role of habits in success? What are the common qualities of people who are happier than others? How have my favorite authors dealt with sorrow and loss and fear?
I want to close a book at the end and immediately want to re-read it. I want to close a book at the end and say, “I am a better person because I have read this book.”
Not “better” than anyone else. Better than the person I was yesterday.
And finally, I want to escape. Sometimes I just simply want to escape.
The journey to the center of the Universe is a long one. The journey to other dimensions is filled with perilous adventure.
The journey to a new me happens every day and without books I’d be very afraid.
Instead, I grow. It’s such a great thing to read a book and grow.
- “ ” by Victor Frankl
- “ ” by Nassim Taleb (and “ ” and “ ” and “Skin in the Game” by him)
- “ ” by Cheryl Strayed
- “ ” by Don Miguel Ruiz (and, of course, “The Four Agreements”)
- “ ” by Derek Sivers
- “ ” by Yuval Harari
- “Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson (not fiction, not nonfiction, but the best written book ever. You will improve as a writer if you read this book)
- “ ” by Matt Ridley (and “The Evolution of Everything” by him)
- “ ” by Peter D. and Steven Kotler
- “ ” by Malcolm Gladwell
- “ ” by Anders Ericsson
- “ ” by Michael Singer (along with “The Untethered Soul” by him)
- “ ” by Stephen Batchelor
- “ ” by Robert Greene (and the new release, “Laws of Human Nature”)
- “ ” by Peter Thiel
- “ ” by Stephen Pressfield (and “ “)
- “ ” by Charles Bukowski (supposedly fiction, but actually nonfiction)
- “ ” by Seth Godin (and all of his books)
- “ ” by Art Spiegelman
- “ ” by Stephen King
- “ ” by Stephen Johnson (and his book on ideas)
- “Ready. Fire. Aim” by Michael Masterson
- “ ” by Judd Apatow
- “ ” by Steve Martin
- “ ” by Eckhart Tolle (and “ ” by him)
- “A Thousand Thanks” by AJ Jacobs (and all his books)
- “Freakonomics” by Stephen Dubner
- “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” by Tucker Max
- “Perennial Seller” by Ryan Holiday
- “Meditation is for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris
- “Tools of the Titans” by Tim Ferriss
- “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson
- “I Am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj
- “Influence” by Robert Cialdini (and “Pre-suasion”)
- “Love Yourself…” by Kamal Ravikant
- “Mastering Fear” by Brandon Webb
- “Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke
- “ ” by Gary Chapman
- “ ” by Harry Browne
- “ ” by James Frey
- “ ” by Haruki Murakami
- “ ” by Dan Buettner
- “ ” by Art Devaney
- “ ” by Mike Sacks
- “The Tools” by Barry Michels
- “ ” by Anne Lamott
- “ ” by Loretta Breuning
- “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson
- “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink
- “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins
And of course, “The Tao Te Ching” by little-known author, master pastry chef, and cross-country skier, Lao Tzu.
This is NOT a complete list. I’ve left out books that should be #1. This is not in any order. These are just books off the top of my head on a pre-coffee morning.
These are not even my top 200 books. Or 400. I’ve left out too many great writers, books, knowledge.
But each one of these books I’ve read at least twice. At least five of these books I’ve read over 100 times. One book I’ve read over 300 times.
This is not in any order. But I love these books. And 1,000 more. I’ll list more on future lists. I’ll add to this one.
Forgive me. But read these books.
The worst thing about this list is the number of books I’m leaving off.
The best thing about this list is that every single one of these books has changed my life.
These books changed me from a victim to a hero.
And so has therapy.Share This Post