The 40 Books That Saved My Life


Oh my god, another list of books I should read! I can’t help it, though.

These are the books I return to when I need help, guidance, solace in my life.

I’m going to cheat. I’m not going to look at my kindle to see what I’ve read. Forgive me if I get a title or an author’s name wrong.

If I can remember the books, then it means they had some impact on me. If I can’t remember them, then why would I recommend them?

For each one of these books: either they made me a better person, or I felt, even as I was reading them, that my IQ was getting better. Or, in the case of fiction, I felt like my writing was getting better by reading the book.

Or I simply escaped to another world. I like to travel to other worlds. To pretend to be a character in someone else’s story.

I think if you can find even one takeaway in a book that you remember afterwards, then it’s a great book.

Remember: It’s hard to remember more than 1% of a book.

Time is the ultimate judge of wisdom. How you bounce back from misery and despair in order to thrive. I hope I learned that from these books.

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl
  2. Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb (and “The Black Swan” and “Fooled by Randomness” by him)
  3. Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed
  4. Master of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz
  5. Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers
  6. Mindset” by Carol Dweck
  7. Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  8. Sapiens” by Yuval something.
  9. The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
  10. Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
  11. Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson (a collection of short stories, not a religious book)
  12. The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley (and the Evolution of Everything by him)
  13. Bold” by Peter D. and Steven Kotler
  14. Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell
  15. Peak” by Anders Ericsson
  16. The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer (along with The Untethered Soul by him)
  17. Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist” by Stephen Batchelor
  18. Mastery” by Robert Greene
  19. Zero to One” by Peter Thiel
  20. War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield (and “Turning Pro“)
  21. Post Office” by Charles Bukowski
  22. Purple Cow” by Seth Godin
  23. Maus” by Art Spiegelman
  24. On Writing” by Stephen King
  25. How We Got to Now” by Stephen Johnson (and his book on ideas)
  26. Creativity, Inc” by Ed Catmull
  27. Sick in the Head” by Judd Apatow
  28. Born Standing Up” by Steve Martin
  29. The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle (and “Practicing the Power of Now” by him)
  30. 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
  31. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” by Harry Browne
  32. Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
  33. A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey
  34. To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  35. What We Talk About When We talk about Running” by Haruki Murakami
  36. The Stranger” by Albert Camus
  37. The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo
  38. The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner
  39. The New Evolution Diet” by Art Devany
  40. Poking the Dead Frog” by Mike Sacks
  41. Socrates” by Paul Johnson
  42. Small Victories” by Anne Lamott
  43.  “Meet Your Happy Chemicals” by Lorette Breuning

Ugh, I’m not even halfway done. And I’m past 40 books.

When I read any of these books, I feel like a vampire. Like I’m sucking all of the blood out of the author. I’m stealing his soul and consuming it.

Thank you, author, for giving me your soul. For giving me immortality.

That’s why reading is great. It’s like I’ve lived 100s of lives as well as just my own.

One of these days someone will eat my soul also. I hope I have enough seasoning to taste good.

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