Instead of the normal “top 5” lists that everyone seems to post about their favorite “must-read” books, I decided to write about my top five books that I must read but haven’t yet. It is not as simple as picking them up and reading them, however, since my bedside table is full of other great reads like I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell: Part 3 and Chelsea Handler’s new exciting book on travel.
If you are a voracious reader and love to discover new books as much as you like reading them, you’ll understand my predicament. There is only so much reading you can do in between hours of binge-watching Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Curiosity Stream (the latter added to appear worldly). That’s why I keep a “watchlist” of books that I want to read. I add it to my Amazon cart and update my Goodreads page, where it sits, marinating, waiting to feed my growing primate mind.
1. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. I am not going to lie, I kind of have a hardcore mancrush on this guy. Mostly because he reads way more than I do and people ask him to talk about how much he reads which allows him to talk authoritatively about books and reading. He also has a cool job title, strategist. I wish I was a strategist too, coming up with cool strategies for all sorts of things. The book is of course, about establishing a strategy to conquer the toughest obstacle of all: yourself. Based on the ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism, it emphasizes resilience over the things we cannot control and mastery of the things we can. I can picture myself reading this book, mastering my emotions, and stroking my non-existent, graying beard. Also be on the lookout for my #stoicAF post on FB, IG, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.
2. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. This guy is legit and I appreciate his straight to the point, no holds barred style of delivery. Jocko is a very decorated, battle-hardened Navy SEAL that reads a lot and is, of course, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt. Since I already used my one mancrush reference, let’s just say I really like his style. The premise is very simple and are we not all tired of leadership books that draw parallels to Navy Seals in combat? But still, this one feels different. It has extreme in the title.
3. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. I have already read this book, once, many moons ago in a faraway land (Missouri). So why read it again? Because I didn’t understand what I was reading the first time I read it. It was like I was too narrow-minded to fully appreciate the words that I was reading. It’s funny when I think about it, that we read books to help objectively widen our view of the world, yet sometimes it doesn’t work. The Art of Learning is about a journey of self-discovery and how that can lead to optimal performance. Take it from Waitzkin, who has accomplished many things: grandmaster chess playing prodigy, Tai Chi Chuan World Champion, and after writing the book, he became the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the Michael Jordan of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It would appear that he is qualified to write about learning things fast, as each of these endeavors can easily be lifelong pursuits.
4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. I think too many people are professional “settlers.” Too many people just settle with what they have in life. Sometimes they may go to college, get a job, buy a car, get married, blah, blah, and then settle. Done. Regardless of the path, almost everybody learns to settle at some point in their life. This is why I like the idea of Thinking Big and the idea of not settling. The idea that there is always something else, maybe even something bigger, to pursue. This simple idea can keep many other, more complex problems from surfacing.
5. The Age of Unreason by Charles Handy. It is a ridiculous statistic. Something like 13,000 business books is published each year. It is definitely too much and we tend to forget about books that were published sometime in the not so distant past. We instead like to focus on two extremes: new releases by the next and newest or on the ancient-philosophy-old-type-of-book. The not so distant past tends to get lumped into the no longer relevant book pile due to fancy new things like “technology.” The Age of Unreason is about the uncertainty of the 21st Century, which I think is still a concern today. There is also a kind of thinking that deals with this change, to embrace it and to use it as an advantage.
PS — check out the Outwork Book Club for more recommendations and lists.