Most of the important things I’ve learned have come from books, articles, speeches, and other media. After seeing how Derek Sivers publicizes his book notes, I decided I would publicize all of my summaries and notes from books, speeches, articles, and other things I was reading.
To get the notes, click on any linked title. I included short snippets and ratings to give you an idea of what you might find interesting. I’ve roughly categorized it by topic, some of these are broad, some are narrow, it’ll change with time.
The notes and summaries are meant to be concise, reminding me of high-level concepts and not trying to recreate the whole book. You can use them to remind yourself of something you read or to decide on something new to read.
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (10/10)
The most important, influential, and quotable lines from the timeless "Letters from a Stoic" by Seneca
The “cook vs chef” dynamic is one that I’ve been thinking about more and more. WBW gives the best start to finish overview of the difference between reasoning from first principles and following the crowd.
Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin (10/10)
Simply the best book on improving your decision making there is. It's dense and hard to get through if you're not truly interested, but it's well worth it.
Antifragile by Nassim Taleb (10/10)
The book that’s had the greatest influence on my thinking and writing. A must read, and if you enjoy the content on this site, you’ll love Antifragile.
It's incredibly written, deeply complex, confusing as hell, and you'll probably throw it at the wall when it's done. But then you'll kinda go "okay... I'm glad I did that" and maybe start it again.
The Dialogues of Socrates (10/10)
Socrates remains the greatest foundational influence on philosophy, and to understand his method, you have to read his dialogues. The rhetoric is brilliant, and at times, even hilarious.
This is the best book on mastering a skill that I’ve found. Anders is the real deal, doing most of the research that other books on this topic are based on. If you only read one book on mastering your craft, read this one.
Phenomenal book on how our fear of death is the core of our psychological disturbances, and our motivation for life. It will make you think about why we do things and behave in certain ways in an entirely new fashion, and the language within it is delicious.
A phenomenal book on understanding your own "hidden motivations in everyday life" and why we do what we do. Widely applicable to all parts of life, and the kind of explanations you can't stop thinking about after reading.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing (10/10)
Holy shit what a ride! Absolutely amazing story of perseverance and leadership, a must read. Whatever struggles you think you are going through simply cannot compare.
Much better organized and fleshed out than the original PDF. It gets very slow in the work principles, definitely skim those based on your interest. The life principles are phenomenal, though. Would highly recommend.
Absolutely phenomenal. One of the best and most concise guides to creating an order and direction for your life, from the most successful hedge fund manager in the world. It’s short, you can get through it in one sitting, and come back to it regularly.
Crony Beliefs by Kevin Simler (10/10)
A “crony belief” is a belief that we have for social and political benefit (virtue / tribal signaling), instead of for accurately modeling the world. An easy way to tell if a belief is crony is whether you feel offended by it being challenged, vs. happy to have your knowledge improved.
A painful and gruesome story about life in Hiroshima right after the bombing. Hachiya kept a diary of his experience nearly dying, then working to save his friends and peers as a doctor working in Hiroshima before and after the bomb went off.
It’s an oddly written, extremely concise, very thought-provoking book. It definitely needs to be re-read 2-3 times. Make sure you’re thinking on the plane of infinite play.
The best book on getting your most important work done. Read this instead of every other “productivity” book.
Everyone needs to read this book. The observations were made in a pre-internet era, and they're 10x as relevant today. Nothing will do more to help cure...
This book stretched my mind more than almost any other book I’ve read. It’s tough at parts, it’s long, but you’ll come out of it thinking about brains, minds, intelligence, and AI in an entirely new way.
Summary of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Such an incredible book on becoming a better chef, with little tricks and methods I use almost every day now. Plus the recipes in the back are delicious!
Beautiful, gripping story. It’s six different points in history and the future that overlap and influence each other, you might find the first one kind of dull but keep going! Also, don’t watch the movie first, the book is much richer.
My favorite explicit, directional book on writing better. A must-read for anyone who does any amount of writing.
The book is a fantastic primer on how we're tricked, daily, by the sneaky use of statistics. It's a must-read for anyone.
One of my favorite pieces of science fiction. Fantastic adventure through the singularity, I highly recommend it!
The Bhagavad Gita (9/10)
Fantastic, many similar ideas to Stoicism and Virtue Ethics, though with more mystical elements thrown in. Would highly recommend it as a "first taste" of eastern religion.
Fantastic, one of Robert Greene's best. The idea of fearlessness is essential for individual success outside of a traditional path, and even within it. If you can master fearlessness and take control of your own destiny, there is no limit on what you can accomplish.
One of the best books on speech and copywriting. It'll take your awareness of political messaging to new heights, and give you a greater ability to influence others through your word choice alone.
Way of the Superior Man, better than any other book I've found, made me more comfortable with the important distinctions between masculine and feminine...
No other book can get me into a good groove of thought as quickly as this one. The joy of aphorisms is that they’re bite sized pieces of thought meant to get you going, so you can jump around and find ones that fit the moment and you’re off. Don’t read this as your first Taleb book though.
Any book on self-improvement or harnessing your own psychology written since this one is merely a footnote. You could forego every other pop-psych book, just read this one, and you’d be set.
Great book on basic dog training. It was really helpful with learning some of the basic foundational stuff around shaping, training, reinforcement, and especially how to make sure your puppy doesn’t develop bad habits.
A phenomenal wide-ranging book touching on everything from physics to history to economics. If you like books like Sapines or Godel Escher Bach, check it out.
It's a guide to not feeling lost in your 30s and 40s from a clinical psychologist who sees young people. It's a must read if you're in your 20s. Some of the research and examples are suspect, but the advice is excellent.
Absolutely beautiful, a must read. No crazy plot, but there doesn't need to be.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel (9/10)
This is, in my mind, the best book on starting a real COMPANY. Lean startup is great for something that won't die, but this is the book on...
Primarily useful in its ability to inspire introspection, worth reading for practicioners of mindfulness. Keep the concept of beginner's mind present to avoid hubris, or limited potential.
Absolutely beautiful language and commentary on the human condition. At the end, you have lived and died a full life.
An excellent primer on pursuing more freedom in your life. Very impersonal egoist influenced, and it makes good arguments around honesty, priorities, and the traps that we put ourselves in. One of the few self-help books I'd recommend.
Powerful, concise, worth reading multiple times to redigest what is both a simple yet profound idea.
Complete game changer in thinking about sudden, unexpected events. Not only does it help you be less foolish in interpreting the world around you...
It provides a compelling argument for each of us finding a reason to live, while reminding us of how terrible humans can be to one another.
Hands down the best startup marketing book out there, and the first one I recommend to people who want to get into startup marketing. I still use some form of the Bullseye Method in it for thinking about digital marketing, and the list of channels to brainstorm new ideas.
This is the most disjointed of his three books, but the first section alone makes it worthwhile. Tim breaks down his methodology to learning anything which has been incredibly useful to me for writing and marketing, and a number of other skills I’ve picked up bits and pieces of.
Mastery by Robert Greene (9/10)
Learn Robert Greene's step-by-step process for becoming a master of your craft, based on the lessons of the greatest masters throughout history.
Massively influential in my life, giving me the idea that I could pursue my own entrepreneurial projects to sustain myself immediately after college. Haven't gone back to it in a while, but it's still one of the first books I recommend for someone going down the entrepreneurial path.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (9/10)
Fantastic history of humankind! Read it! Very interesting, you’ll learn about history, psychology, economics, it’s many lessons rolled into one compelling narrative.
The quintessential marketing book. Always worth referring back to. Yet to be outdone in its straightforward usefulness.
This book sneaks up on you. You're reading these fun stories about Feynman's life, and then you look back and realize you learned about the scientific process along the way. Extremely readable, packed with wisdom, and fun!
A fantastic book told through 8 interviews done on the power of myth in our lives. It really made me think about how we lack cultural traditions and narratives, and how few people go through rites of initiation or make sacrifices for big commitments in their lives.
On Writing by Stephen King (9/10)
Of the books on writing better, this is my favorite. It has less direct, tactical advice than “On Writing Well” but it caries you along better and has more stories in it. I think you should read both though.
Probably the best, non-charlatanic book on improving your thinking that I've found. I only wish I'd found it sooner.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book High Output Management
Likely the only copywriting book you'll ever need. Fantastic, and extremely readable.
An excellent intro guide to the "Zettlekasten" method you can use to take useful notes from everything you read. Strong recommend for improving your note taking and the usefulness of everything you're reading.
The Truth by Neil Strauss (9/10)
Every guy should read this book, especially after reading The Game. It covers the struggle between monogamy and desire, and how Neil experience and dealt with it.
It’s about much more than Tennis. It’s about how to get out of your own way so you can perform at your best. How to “get out of your head” so you don’t try to control your unconscious processes with your conscious mind. Kind of like a guide to zen for people who aren’t into all of the “zen-y” parts.
At the time I’m sure this reality seemed much more far-flung than it does now, but it remains a prescient look at what the emerging VR/AR Metaverse could be like (and a great story to go with it!)
Very much a “zero to one” book, where after you read it you see the world differently. Extremely helpful meta-tactic for evaluating how to improve systems, and I wish I had read it sooner.
Extremely useful book for the beginning photographer, full of heuristics for better photo taking. It was fun reading it then going through the National Geographic award-winning photos, since I could pick out some of the elements discussed in the book and how they helped make the photos work.
Fantastic modern stoic wisdom. Reading this with a bit of background in Seneca or Epictetus makes it evident where Emerson drew his inspiration from, but he adds a bit more of a "RAH! GET AFTER IT!" attitude that makes it more invigorating.
One of the craziest, most impressive stories of business smarts I've come across and from someone otherwise unknown. Like a real-life Francisco d'Anconia from Atlas Shrugged.
One of the most knowledge-dense books I’ve ever picked up. It’s short, but you’ll learn more than you expect about how trends of the past can influence our thinking about today.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (9/10)
Some of the oldest food for thought in the world. Needs to be re-read regularly, you'll find new things each time.
A fascinating book on how governments, and the desire to govern, have shaped human life, for better or worse. Here are the key takeaways.
Excellent, one of my favorite books of aphorisms. It’s clearly influenced by Taoism and Zen Buddhism, but with some more aggressive Stoic-style undertones to it as well. Highly recommend.
“For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18... Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel."
A wonderful mix of literary and science fiction, I enjoyed this much more than Slaughterhouse 5.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book Built to Sell by John Warrillow.
The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (9/10)
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu.
A summary of Never Split the Difference. The most useful book on negotiation I've read, filled with great stories and examples to help carry you through the methods.
Red Notice by Bill Browder (9/10)
A Summary of Red Notice: A fantastic real-life thriller of one banker taking on the Russian government.
A summary of The Power Broker. An incredible biography of Robert Moses. It can be a little slow and dense at times, but it's worth pushing through for the full story.
Breath by James Nestor (9/10)
A summary of Breath. The most important highlights and takeaways from the book.
A summary of The Psychology of Money. The most important highlights and takeaways from the book.
My notes from this fantastic book on core elements of good storytelling. Highly recommend it for non-fiction writers too.
A must read for anyone who has trouble relaxing, or who works 8+ hours a day. I like re-reading it when I start to feel guilty for not buckling down and working all day every day.
Fantastic, it’s everything you expect from Peterson and more. Billed as a “self-help” style book, it beautifully interweaves history, religion, science, and philosophy into a highly pragmatic book on how to be a fulfilled, successful, better human being.
This was one of the first productivity books that really changed how I thought about life and work. I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking for a more robust productivity system.
A useful book for reducing your addiction to and reliance on technology, while increasing the benefits you derive from it. Good for being mindful about controlling your tech, instead of letting it control you.
The best book on public speaking I've found. If you want to speak better, or improve your confidence speaking, this is for you.
Fantastic introduction to biases and how to identify them in ourselves and others. Read it! Sort of like the other-minded companion to Paradox of Choice.
A fun and informative look at modern dating culture. Nothing that "new," persay, but having it presented by Aziz makes it fun. Their data is interesting too.
Some of the best writing on productivity and knowledge management that I’ve found. Definitely worth reading through, and since it’s a series of essays you can easily jump around if any of them doesn’t speak to you.
As a heuristic and set of ideas for distinguishing between the "slowlane" traditional wealth method and the "fastlane" superior method, it's fantastic.
The last few pages are amazing... worth a read for anyone who tends to work hard at the expense of everything else in life.
Extremely useful if you do any kind of advice-work, like consulting, freelancing, or working on an agency.
It's not just about tidying up (though it's an excellent book on that). Underlying it is a powerful philosophy on handling our cluttered lives...
A lovely and quick read on reframing how we think about sexuality. Less practical, more for affecting our mental attitudes towards it and conversations around it.
Who by Geoff Smart (8/10)
An excellent tactical resource on hiring, needs to be re-read when I'm actually hiring people.
An excellent book on high-level investing advice that's likely to shift your thinking in at least one or two key ways. These are each of the "important things" and their takeaways.
Peter Attia's multi-part series on what you should know about cholesterol may as well be a short book, so I took notes on it as if it were one. Enjoy!
A fantastic resource for someone starting a company, and especially growing one. The nice thing about this book is that it's less on "starting a startup" and more on all the hard parts that come after, which is a refreshing change.
One of those few books where you see the world differently after reading it. The next couple decades of technological advancements will give us unprecedented ability to live in ways that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago.
Fantastic resource on moving beyond the typical "peak" type orgasms, both for men and women. Also a good primer on communicating more...
The Game by Neil Strauss (8/10)
Great, compelling story. The parts on pickup and dating aren't as good as a book like Models, but the story here is fantastic.
A fun book of life advice built around stories from Adams's experience becoming a famous cartoonist, among other endeavours...
Darker and crazier than the movie, though the twist is a little more obvious. Highly recommend it if you enjoyed the movie.
Lying by Sam Harris (8/10)
Don't lie, it's not worth it, here's why. Thinking about how we erode trust through white lies told in front of other people was particularly interesting.
A book of aphorisms, it's a useful tool for sparking your own clear thoughts.
Finding meaning in life, spinning bad situations to their positives, learning through action, downsides of fearing failure, perceptions shaping reality, appreciating what you have.
The Dip by Seth Godin (8/10)
A helpful little book for figuring out when to stick out your project, and when to quit. I think the most useful piece is learning to distinguish between Dips and Cul-de-Sacs, and keeping in mind that it’s not worth being in the middle.
I really loved every part of Walden not about the mechanics of living there. The philosophy is beautiful and empowering, discussing taking your own path, living simply, happiness, and standing out confidently. Skip over the financial statements.
The Way of Zen by Alan Watts (8/10)
The most helpful overview of Zen Buddhism that I’ve come across. I didn’t realize there was such a difference between Southern Indian Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism, and I realized that I like the style of Zen Buddhism much better.
A wonderful book about evolution and what it means for our interpretation of life. It’s tough to get through at parts, there’s a ~100pg section refuting his critics that you can mostly skip, but it’s brilliant and makes you rethink the meaning of life.
Should we commit suicide? Is life absurd? What is meaningful? This thoughtful essay from Camus makes you question the nature of our existence.
The best book on getting a basic understanding of Flow states and how to get there. Highly recommend it since it’s much more approachable than the landmark book “Flow.”
Some very important lessons for the aspiring writer. The best way to use it is to read through it and find the examples where you can't immediately tell what is wrong, study the explanations, and then apply those learnings to your own writing.
One of the original works of virtue ethics, this book on living a good life by Aristotle has some great advice on being a good, thriving person, through moderating your excesses and deficiencies and striving to improve yourself.
Want to do something big, or unsure if you should go after something big? You need this book. It is also an excellent book on simply being a better person.
A fun book about one journalists journey to learn to become a “master of memory” and ultimately win the US memory championship in under a year. It teaches you how to significantly improve your own memory through the story of his journey, making it both highly tactical and a fun read.
We think ads "incept" us with associations between products and unrelated states of mind or status symbols, but this isn't true. Kevin Simler explains why.
Smartcuts by Shane Snow (8/10)
Smartcuts is a useful tool for thinking about problems differently. The most frequent path or obvious path is usually the worst, and if you can approach problems differently using some “smartcuts” you’ll typically do much better, or get to the goal much faster.
Everything you need to know from The Sales Acceleration Formula, whether you've already read it or are thinking of reading it for the first time.
Short, you can read it in an hour, but a motivating meditation on the importance of “right thoughts.” The belief that powerful thoughts, pointed in the right direction, are the foundation and base on which all happiness and success is built. Reminds me of the power of affirmations.
A great overview from Marc Andreesen, of a16z, on how you can hire amazing employees.
Models by Mark Manson (8/10)
The best book I've seen on attraction and dating strategy. It's not about being scummy and pickup-y, rather focusing on becoming a more attractive...
The most useful book on naming that I’ve found. Good to read for the stories and examples, but you could also use my summary.
Discourses by Epictetus (8/10)
One of the three pillars of stoic writing, Discourses is interesting since Epictetus was a freed slave. Useful aphorisms and quotes as always with the stoics.
Emergency by Neil Strauss (8/10)
A fun, easy to read journey from zero to full apocalypse readiness. It definitely falls more on the “story” side than the “how to” side, but it provides a good overview of prepping and how you can get started.
An excellent collection of lessons from history based primarily around warfare. The author died while writing it, unfortunately, but it’s still jam packed with insights.
One of the best “productivity” books I’ve read. It discusses how chefs work, and how you can apply it to your daily life. I’ve implemented a number of the strategies into my personal system, and I think most people could benefit from reading through it.
Blue Zones by Dan Buettner (8/10)
A great overview of how you can live forever, drawing from what we can learn from the regions of the world where people are more likely to live to 100+ (the Blue Zones).
10% Happier by Dan Harris (8/10)
Great participatory journalism exploring the world of modern mindfulness and meditation. If you're skeptical of the benefits of meditation, especially if...
Be happy now, don’t put off being happy till later and get stuck on the “deferred life plan,” ESPECIALLY if you do a “high power” or “high-income” job. If you already believe that, you don’t need this book, but you might enjoy the stories.
A fantastic resource for finding great photos all around you. Helpful ideas for when you can’t travel but want to get practice near home, and for finding more photos in any setting you’re in.
The Martian by Andy Weir (8/10)
Amazing science and a gripping story. The dialogue can be a little jarring at times, but the quality of the SF more than makes up for it.
Great ideas around skin in the game and having some stake in the advice you’re getting, but I didn’t find this book as mind blowing as Antifragile or Black Swan. Still worth a read, though.
It’s an interesting set of reminders on life from someone who’s gone through more emotional hardship than most of us ever will. Some might feel familiar, other topics new, but it’s definitely worth reading through.
This is a great summary from Slate Star Codex about why "basic jobs" are a terrible idea compared to "basic income," despite the amount of positive coverage the idea seems to be getting.
Waking Up by Sam Harris (8/10)
I love Waking Up as a compelling argument for meditation and mindfulness for the otherwise non-spiritual person. I think Harris spends too much time bashing on religion, but aside from that, it's excellent.
Great book on landscape photography, for novices and intermediate photographers alike.
The most successful people manage themselves. Drucker outlines how to do that, including effective questions to ask yourself and others in order to make sure you're playing to your strengths and that everyone is lifting each other up. Not allowing differences to become conflicts.
I love Decisive, I think it’s one of the most practical “decision theory” books out there. They break down many of the biases and heuristics covered in other books in a way that makes them easier to manage, instead of simply pointing them out and saying “well, have fun!”
It's much more than about sexual seduction, it's about how to seduce anyone, politically, socially, and yes, sexually. Extremely interesting analogs from history, highly recommend it.
I like that this book breaks down some of the mystique around learning, but I think it goes too far by suggesting that NOTHING is innate. There is certainly room for both.
I found this book most useful of the lean startup related books. The roadmap at the end is gold, and worth referring back to regularly when you aren't sure what to do at a given stage of growing a business.
Enchiridion by Epictetus (8/10)
Epictetus’s aphoristic Stoic wisdom. It flows less than other stoic works, naturally, but it’s a good reminder of the underlying principles.
The sword fighting lessons aren't as useful, naturally, but the underlying strategy and wisdom is fascinating. A great read for strategy or philosophy.
My least favorite of the 3 famous stoic philosophers. Still motivational and interesting to read, especially considering these were his reminders to himself while he was essentially emperor of the world.
Is Universal Basic Income a good idea? Yang makes a compelling case in this book that it's at least the best option for a pretty terrible situation. Lots of great statistics and historical data.
Very important! College students are stuck on traditional, "safe" paths and end up with jobs they don't like so they can buy shit they don't need to...
An ancient book of stoic wisdom, it’s remarkable how many of these aphorisms are common phrases today. Since it’s aphorisms, you’ll get different things out of it each time, and you can open it to any page and find something to ruminate on.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts (8/10)
Not convinced you can travel for a long period inexpensively? This is your book!
The world is getting more and more addictive. If you don't take direct actions to fight the addictiveness, you'll get swept up in it and lose greater and greater control as the years go on and tech gets better.
Good to Great by Jim Collins (8/10)
Primarily about what makes a business great, but also a useful tool for making your own life great. Where do you want to be great, not just have success?
A lovely book of aphoristic wisdom. You'll find different parts speak to you on each readthrough. It echoes of the stoics.
Written in short chapters on different ideas for leadership and success in competitive fields, Walsh's memoir on leadership is excellent even if...
The Art of Learning is a wonderful collection of stories on learning from Josh’s own life. It gives a look into the practicing mind of a master, instead of pure prescription. It’s less directly tactical than Peak, but it gives you many of the ideas through an ongoing story that’s exciting to read.
The best book on language learning that I've found. You can skip a lot of this if you have full immersion available to you, but either way, the techniques..
Always love Taleb. I found this book less practical than Antifragile, but it lays a conceptual groundwork for Black Swan and Antifragile to “warm you up” for his next books.
Makes you think about... well everything. Excellent history, highly recommend it.
A fantastic productivity resource on how to get more done when you’re managing multiple projects. Even if you’re not a CIO (which I’m not) you can learn a lot from this book about how to better manage your many projects.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book Energy and Civilization by Vaclav Smil.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard.
A summary of The Art of Fermentation. A fantastic intro to fermentation that helped me get started making some sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented chili peppers, and a lot more.
Scale by Geoffrey West (8/10)
A summary of Scale. A fascinating wide-ranging book combining insights from various disciplines into how things grow, how they change as they grow, and what we can infer about life, cities, and businesses.
A summary of Food of the Gods. A really interesting look at the history of our relationship with psychedelics, and how we might rekindle some of that communication with nature.
A summary of The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. The most important highlights and takeaways from the book.
A summary of The Rise of the Creative Class. The most important highlights and takeaways from the book.
A summary of Count Down by Shanna H. Swan and Stacey Colino. The most important highlights and takeaways from the book.
Die With Zero (8/10)
Fantastic core idea around not wasting more time working to accumulate resources you'll never use. You can probably skim it. Rating reflects the quality of the core idea.
An excellent work of philosophy exploring our underlying anxiety caused by the ultimate freedom afforded to us by modern living, and our desire to escape that freedom for a more comfortable life.
The Dictator's Handbook (8/10)
An excellent book on political incentives. It will make you see politics and politicians in a whole new light, similar to the effect from reading 48 Laws of Power.
A good kick in the ass to focus on the work that matters and stop being an amateur.
The Odyssey by Homer (8/10)
Honestly a fun, good story, that highlights the storytelling abilities of Homer and ancient poetry. Worth the read. Much better than The Iliad.
Works and Days by Hesiod (8/10)
Fun old book on work and wealth building, like a 2500 year old business book.
A wonderful book that will show you how deeply language influences our interpretation of the world around us.
The Analects of Confucius (8/10)
A fantastic dialogue-style record of Confucius's wisdom. Very readable and approachable, and relevant for life today.
An extremely motivating and fun to read book about Goggins's ability to overcome the challenges laid out in front of them. It'll make you want to push yourself much, much harder.
In this series of essays, Venkatesh explores the workings of organizations through the lens of The Office.
A good primer on being smart with your finances, but not as good as Money Master the Game. It is shorter, though, and an easier entry point to being smarter with your savings and investing.
The best book on negotiation and effective argumentation. Useful even if you're not in business, since in some form, you're always negotiating.
Fantastic guide to photo editing, this was the first post-processing course I took so I gained a ton from it.
Mindwise by Nicholas Epley (7/10)
Good for breaking down the notion that you have any idea why you do what you do, or why other people do what they do, or that you understand how you or others behave or what you or others think. Basically, we know nothing.
Good history of Franklin’s life, but I found it kind of hard to get through at times, likely from the older language. Still worth a read, though, especially for some of his thinking around self-improvement. Also, I never realized how old he was during the revolution!
A useful overview of how to read and interpret financial statements for non-accounting people, great for helping you know what to do with your money as an early stage founder.
All 48 of the Laws of Power, my notes on them, and more details to help you quickly learn or review these timeless lessons from Robert Greene.
An interesting (and depressing) overview of the problems in American politics. Even more relevant with the recent Trump shenanigans.
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber (7/10)
The central message is to focus on building your business , such that it shouldn't require you. This is an important thing to keep in mind for distinguishing between having a job, and building a business. If your business needs you, it's not a business yet.
One of the best “bang for your buck” productivity books. Many of the concepts are presented elsewhere, but it’s a fun way of getting reintroduced to them and a good way of framing productivity.
Mostly it's a great story. Not sure I "learned" anything, but a fun ride!
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (7/10)
All sorts of messed up, but a gripping read! If you liked Fight Club then check this out too.
A useful tool for brainstorming how to make your products more habit forming, and thus addictive.
To Sell is Human by Dan Pink (7/10)
Useful insights on how to sell in a world with information equality, especially for people who generally don't like "Selling" (like me). Also lays out the argument that everyone has to become a salesperson of some type now if they wish to advance.
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (7/10)
A scary and interesting overview of the high-frequency trading world. Definitely got me scared for the next potential crash, which I imagine was part of...
A fascinating history of how the Sackler family created the modern opiate epidemic through their work at Purdue pharma, and how they've tried to cover it up. Well worth the long read.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (7/10)
This was another one I had a hard time getting into, I think because I didn't particularly like any of the characters. Except Levin. Levin was great.
Somewhere between Peak and Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, The Practicing Mind provides a good framework for thinking about your art in a nonjudgemental way. It helps with the spiritual side of skill development, instead of always just focusing on go go go.
One of the better health / self improvement books I’ve come across. It’s very no-bullshit and compact, well researched, and fun to read. One of those useful tactical books that can replace at least 3 or 4 less condensed ones.
Many of the ideas in this book were warped into ideologies like The Secret, but the underlying concepts here are good.
Not as good as Sapiens, but an interesting look at where our species might go in the future and what we should watch for over the coming decades.
A useful book on improving your habits, but maybe a little over simplistic. Still useful if you want to get more control over your life, though.
Contagious by Jonah Berger (7/10)
One of my favorite marketing books, it's a useful overview of why some things catch on, others don't, and how we might better engineer our messages.
It’s a great overview of the history of philosophy, told as a story where one set of ideas leads into the next. It’s just a bit dense and hard to get through at times.
An interesting though very dense and heavy book. If you want to become depressed over the potential of going extinct, well, here you go!
An excellent introduction to many of the early financial freedom concepts, it just felt like the narrative drifted too much at parts and had to be skimmed. Definitely some good lessons and takeaways, though.
More quotations than aphorisms, still some good wisdom here though. It’s short, too. You can get through all ~500 in a couple sittings. These ones were my favorites.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (7/10)
A novel that completely changed how I thought about the world the first time I read it. The characters are a little flat, true, but it's a highly motivating look at what can happen when we stop appreciating our own and others' ability to change the world.
Thought provoking on how America might lose its global prominence, and the steps we ought to take to preserve it.
A fun quick read on productivity and creativity, beating your "inner resistance." Skip the last 1/3 about angels and god.
The most important notes and details from the beginner’s guide to real estate investing from Bigger Pockets
I think this book is, maybe, a little over the top, but it's compelling. Grains = bad. Especially gluten. Also sugar. Cut them out. Any argument to the contrary is of the "you can't prove that's bad" vs "that's good" variety.
The quintessential networking book. I do find many of these behaviors annoying, though...
Half of why this is so good is the author's own hubris. It'd be a dull story without it, but with it, you get an entertaining look at the inner workings of startups and silicon valley tech giants.
Atomic Habits by James Clear (7/10)
The most useful book on changing your habits, more than The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I’d recommend this book over most books aimed at helping you get control over your life.
Important piece of political philosophy, though I found it a little dull to get through. Might be relevant in the current (2016) political climate…
This one is a good reminder of the principles in Peak and Talent Code. It’s quick, should only take you an hour, and has some useful tips on improving your skills. If think that if you read this without either of those books complementing it, you’d miss out on a lot though.
I’ve never come so close to throwing up from reading as I did with this book. Not for the faint of heart. Oddly gripping, but you’ll feel guilty for enjoying it.
Full of fun tidbits of philosophy on life and business, this is a great book for anyone who feels overworked and stressed.
Interesting info on how the college system became so messed up, felt fluffed though.
An interesting, and somewhat frightening overview of how our brains are being shaped by the Internet. A compelling case for spending less time "surfing."
I had a hard time getting into this, I know it's a "great book," but it didn't grip me. Not sure why not. The ending is exciting though.
Quick, and gives you some nice new ways to think about landscape photography. I didn’t know about the different kinds of lighting, so that was helpful, just a little low on details.
A short, powerful reminder to not be so hard on ourselves, and a few practical techniques for getting in the habit of respecting ourselves and treating ourselves better.
It’s a good book for some writing tips on making your stories more compelling. Especially important in a world with so many information sources competing for people’s attention. Very readable, quick, and you’ll get some good notes from it.
Simple Rules by Donald Sull (7/10)
Absolutely essential concept, and one that I’ve been a fan of for a while. The book is useful in exploring simple rules and giving examples, but I get the sense they padded it a bit because it could be much shorter.
Not as good on "dating" as Models, but a very useful book on "Being a better guy." The psychology on understanding women's POV in dating was...
More good material on landscape photos, going into more detail on different situations than he did in the first part of the series. I think it rambles at times, though, could have used a bit more editing.
A useful book for someone getting started with microbusinesses, or lifestyle businesses, and wants some more guidance. Nothing revolutionary, though.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary.
A summary of Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! A good book on basic accounting for businesses doing less than $10M a year. It helped me make a simple spreadsheet for planning Growth Machine hiring which I appreciated a lot.
The first 1/3 is a great primer on the problems of popular parents styles and how that leads to depression, angst, and the excellent sheep problems. The rest is how to parent better, which I (obviously) did not find quite as useful (but if you’re a parent, read it!!!)
Don’t “follow your passion,” focus on getting really good at something and passion will follow. This summarizes the entire book, without offering as much tactical advice as Deep Work (to me). Many people think this is his better book though, so try it for yourself.
Extremely useful for learning to interpret other people’s body language. One of the best books on the subject. After you read it you’ll be noticing these little cues everywhere--it’ll be impossible to unsee them.
The best book I've found on crafting a compelling message. Useful for speaking, marketing, writing, any time you need to make people listen, believe, and act.
Different by Youngme Moon (6/10)
The message of this book is HUGE! Do NOT try to make sure your weaknesses are up to par as everyone else, love your weaknesses and accentuate your strengths.
This is an excellent book for someone who is new to cognitive biases and heuristics and who wants to improve their decision making. I didn’t get much out of it since I already knew a lot of it, but if you’re just getting into the topic it’s a good place to start.
Confusing… and one of the harder books I’ve ever read. I’m not sure I recommend it, but it’s good. Definitely gave me a much better understanding of postmodernist thought than by just going off of how it’s described in the popular media.
A more story-focused version of many of the lessons in Fooled by Randomness. If you understood that book, you won’t need this one.
Interesting, tough to get through at parts. It’s very “this happened, then this happened, then this happened…” Disturbing to see how few people could have such a large negative impact on the public understanding of science and health, though.
An interesting history on the medical and legal history of weed in the US. I didn't realize how bad the misinformation around it has been, or how much money and energy has been wasted in fighting its spread. Lower rating is just because it gets a little slow at times and it's LONG.
An entertaining read on science and astrophysics, but ultimately it felt a little shallow compared to books like A Brief History of Time.
A good introduction to functional medicine, and the many issues plaguing the medical, insurance, and health world of today.
While I think the ideas are compelling, and agree that leaders should take responsibility for their teams, there were plenty of cases in the book where the opposite of the concept could have been an equally valid argument.
An interesting overview of the role of serendipity in scientific and medical breakthroughs. It got a little dry at times, though, and somewhat repetitive. Still an interesting medical and scientific history though.
The heuristics for good street photos are great, but all of the editing is done with VSCO filters which was kind of annoying. Wanted to learn more about doing the editing myself.
My notes and takeaways from David Greene’s book on how to invest in real estate in different cities from here you live.
Remote by Jason Fried (6/10)
A light read on the benefits of remote work. Some bias since the authors work in a leading remote company...
An assorted collection of quotations and aphorisms on various subjects. Unrated since it didn't really introduce anything, just curate them. Good for a skim through to find interesting ideas and thinkers.
Deep Work by Cal Newport (6/10)
Learn how to focus intensely on your work to get more done in less time with this book from Cal Newport.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (6/10)
More about capitalism than the meat packing industry, it's an entertaining book, but fails to make a compelling case for socialism.
Mental model: create blue oceans, don't fight in the "Red oceans." The figures are useful for determining how to find your blue ocean strategies.
Technology has made us inhuman, this piece argues. I'm not sure how compelling it is since most of these habits are just deeper human desires manifest in new technology, but it's an interesting argument nonetheless.
An interesting story about the life of Seneca, though it made me realize that I care much more about his ideas than him as a person.
Some good ideas, but I would suggest an old philosophy book instead. If you enjoy his blog you'll enjoy the book, but to others, the writing style might seem unnecessarily coarse.
A little dull just reading through summaries of everyone’s routines, but it was cool to see how different famous people whose work I like worked. Lots of drugs, alcohol, bad habits, but also strong routines and rituals.
It’s just okay. There are some interesting stats on global prosperity, but it was kind of hard to get through at parts and felt overly optimistic in others. I’d rather read a more balanced perspective on the subject.
A decent book on getting more clients for your services business. You can probably just read the summary, lots of repetition.
This was a really useful toolkit for thinking about branding or rebranding your product. It helped a lot with putting together the new web copy for my agency, Growth Machine.
A densely packed book of information on meat and health, ethics, and the environment. Great if you're already bought in to the benefits of meat and want some data, but it'd have a hard time convincing a skeptic. I'm also having a hard time verifying some clams, so it warrants further research.
A good book on trying to get a sense of where you are in the broad cycles of the market. Skip to the last chapter and read that, then go forward for the parts you wanna go deeper on.
The beginning and end are fantastic for getting a better grip on how science is done, and understanding how it moves in cycles more than linear progress. The middle dragged a bit.
A good book on willpower, but I no longer recommend it since it seems like most of the research in it hasn't held up.
Better than Obstacle, it has some useful advice and good stories about how ego can lead to your downfall. It’s a tangent to stoic philosophy, so if you enjoy those concepts you’ll probably get something from this book.
Particularly useful is the “goal setting” so you know how much money you’re really shooting for.
Checklists are good for making sure things get done, even in complex fields like medicine. Make more of them. (That's most of the book).
An interesting collection of thoughts on where the future might be headed, but I found myself bored during it. It just feels like Kevin rambling over a couple drinks about what might happen. That said, if you’re in the tech startup space (or want to be), this will probably give you a lot of ideas.
It’s okay, not sure why it’s so popular. Most of it felt fairly intuitive. The outline for creating a good proposal was great, though, and easy to incorporate into my own work.
Bold by Peter Diamandis (5/10)
The first 2/3 of the book is an excellent primer on being bold as fuck, then the last third is a confusingly placed foray into crowdfunding (??). The first 2/3 are great though if you want to start thinking bigger with your goals.
A condensed summary of the Profit First method and what to take away from the book, whether you've already read it or are thinking of reading it.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown (5/10)
I didn't get much from this book, it's sort of in-between Paradox of Choice and some of the psychology of 4-Hour Workweek, but doesn't do as good a job...
A summary of Civilized to Death. A fine book on the decline of quality of life as a result of civilization, felt a little heavy handed at times though and I felt like I already knew most of it.
The Revolt of the Elites (5/10)
Enjoyed the first 1/3 which discussed our general failure to communicate effectively in our democracy. But it kinda dragged after that, got much less out of the last 2/3.
Unshakeable by Tony Robbins (4/10)
It's essentially a spark-notes for "Money Master the Game," I'd recommend reading the full book instead since it's much more thorough and worth the time investment.
I think there are better books out there for introducing you to these ideas, even though this is "the book" on them. Surprisingly light in useful detail.
I didn't get much from this one, I think some people like it, but I felt there was a lot of bias and bad research. I'd read other books on learning.
It's a good quick read on principles of thinking for yourself in today's economy. Worth reading through if you like Chris's blog, or if you're a student trying to get out of the typical school / career path.
Some interesting ideas, but read Immutable Laws instead.
I didn't feel there was much here, he's mostly commenting on other books and giving a textbook demonstration of narrative fallacy and confirmation bias.
A summary of The Logic of Collective Action. Some interesting ideas on how we work in groups, but I didn't get that much out of it.
The Iliad by Homer (4/10)
The story of Achilles's wrath during the battle of Troy. It lags for long parts, but is interesting to read for the historical value.
It's okay, didn't feel like there was anything groundbreaking here in the planning, productivity, or business space though.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (3/10)
I didn't get much from this one, not sure why there's so much hype around it. I don't write much fiction, though...
This is basically a much worse version of 4-Hour Chef. Kaufman doesn’t bring nearly as much to the table as Ferriss, and it feels a little rushed and under researched. Wouldn’t recommend it if you’re trying to quickly develop skills, I’d read 4-Hour Chef instead.
I don’t expect this will be a perennial bestseller. Fairly shallow marketing and writing advice, I’d recommend reading something else.
I found this book very hard to take seriously. Too much pumping you up rah rah you can do it, not enough substance. I think that's what his audience wants, though.
Say No to more things, even if it hurts. Think Hell Yeah or No. Got it? Good. Saved you a few dollars and hours.
A few useful ideas, but felt like it was reiterating a lot of entrepreneurship stuff you'll see in other books. Read 4HWW and Millionaire Fastlane instead.
Speak the language from day one, use visualizations to remember words. The rest of the book is mostly fluff on those two concepts...
Psych by Judd Biasiotto (3/10)
Some interesting thoughts on peak performance, but a bit too woo-woo without enough to back it up. Takeaway: meditation is good for performance.
I was disappointed. I love Tim’s work, but this didn’t deliver in the way his past books have. There’s zero thematic organization, so you can’t reference certain topics you want to learn more about except in a few cases.
The most important highlights and takeaways from the book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business by Gino Wickman
A fine intro to investing if you think you can reliably beat the market or that active trading is a good use of energy. If you're already bought in on index funds though, you won't find much here.
Borrows heavily from other copywriting books without attribution. I'd strongly recommend reading Boron Letters instead.
It's kinda like if The Secret was a novel, I wonder how many people read this and believe it's real...
Found this hard to read, and got little from it. There are some nice quotations, though.
Basically a bunch of guest posts rolled into a book. I'd look elsewhere.
End the Fed (2/10)
It's a book by a politician, about what you expect. Some interesting tid bits on the history of the Fed but you could get it from Wikipedia.
Don’t read it, she starts off with a bit of interesting material then gets into aligning your energy with the universe and anyone who respects reality has to stop at that point.