The 10 Most Important Books to Expand Your Brain – Observer
Books suck. No question about it, almost everyone who writes a book is a crappy writer.
And this is a good thing.
Itâ€™s because the writer spent his life getting GOOD at what he was writing about. He didnâ€™t spend his life being good at writing.
He didnâ€™t spend his life typing. He ran a country. Or built a robot. Or discovered DNA or walked between the twin towers.
He or She DID something. Something that changed lives. Something that went from his or her head out into the real world.
But thatâ€™s ok. There are a few good books out there.
I like reading billion-person books. Books, that if read widely, would change a billion lives.
I like reading books where I feel my brain have an IQ orgasm. Like, I literally feel my IQ go up while reading the book.
And, (please let me stick with this metaphor one more sentence), I might have a little brain-child that turns into my own special idea or book after reading a great book.
Before I give my list, I want to mention there are three kinds of non-fiction books: (and Iâ€™m only dealing with non-fiction. Fiction is another category).
â€“ BUSINESS CARD BOOKS:
These are books like How to be a leader.
They establish the author as an expert. The author then uses this book to get speaking gigs or coaching or consulting gigs.
These books usually suck. Donâ€™t read one. But nothing wrong with writing one.
In fact, writing one might be desperately important to your career.
â€“ BOOKS THAT SHOULD BE CHAPTERS:
A publisher will see an article somewhere like, â€œ12 ways to become smarterâ€ and say, â€œthat should be a book.â€
Then the writer mistakenly says, â€œO.K.â€ and he has to undergo the agony of changing something that was a perfectly good 2,000-word article into a 60,000-word book.
Those books suck. Donâ€™t read one. And DEFINITELY donâ€™t write one. Unless you want to waste a year of your life. I wasted 2004-2009 doing that.
â€“ BRAINGASM BOOKS
Hereâ€™s my top 10 list of braingasm books. Books that will raise your IQ between the time you start and the time you end.
By the way, there are more than 10 of these books. This is just my TOP 10. Although not really in that order. Itâ€™s hard for a small mind like mine to order these.
[Note: I KNOW, Jeff, that I have a monthly book club. Donâ€™t yell at me!]
But this is separate. Thatâ€™s 10 books A MONTH.
This is my top 10 of ALL TIME, although it might change. In fact, I know itâ€™s going to change tomorrow. Iâ€™m reading a good book right now.
Sometimes it changes everyday.].
MASTERYÂ by Robert Greene
This book is like a curated version of 1000 biographies all under the guise, â€œhow to become a master at what you loveâ€.
BOLDÂ by Peter Diamondis and Steven Kotler
Basically if you want to know the future, read this.
Supplement it with Abundance by the same two and Tomorrowland by Steven Kotler and even The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.
I feel Abundance is like a sequel to The Rational Optimist. So Iâ€™m giving you four books with one recommendation.
OUTLIERSÂ by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell is not the first person to come up with the 10,000-hour rule. Nor is he the first person to document what it takes to become the best in the world at something.
But his stories are so great as he explains these deep concepts.
How did the Beatles become the best? Why are professional hockey players born in January, February and March?
And so on.
WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROMÂ by Steven Johnson
Also add to this: How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson.
Basically: donâ€™t believe the myth of the lonely genius.
Ideas come from a confluence of history, â€œthe adjacent possibleâ€ specific geographic locations, etc.
The connections Johnson makes are brilliant. For instance, The Gutenberg Press (which, in itself, was invented because of improvements in sewing looms), made everyone realize they had bad vision.
So the science of lenses was created. So microscopes were eventually created. So germs were eventually discovered. So modern medical science was discovered.
And so on. Johnson is a thinker and a linker and tells a good story.
MANâ€™S SEARCH FOR MEANINGÂ by Victor Frankl
Iâ€™m at a loss for words here. Just read it.
Donâ€™t read it for the Holocaust. Or psychological theory.
Read it because when youâ€™re about halfway through you will realize your life is no longer the same.
And next time you get a chance to whisper in the ear of someone about to kill himself, whisper words from this book.
BORN STANDING UPÂ by Steve Martin
And while you are at it, throw in Bounce by Mathew Syed, who was the U.K. Ping Pong champion when he was younger.
I love any book where someone took their passion, documented it, and shared it with us. Thatâ€™s when you can see the subtleties, the hard work, the luck, the talent, the skill, all come together to form a champion.
Heck, throw in, An Astronautâ€™s Guide to Earth by Commander Chris Hadfield.
ZERO TO ONEÂ by Peter Thiel
Thereâ€™s a lot of business books out there. Ninety-nine percentÂ of them are BS. Read this one.
So many concepts really changed my attitude about not only business but capitalism.
Thiel, the founder of PayPal, and first investor in Facebook, is brilliant in how he simply shares his theories on building a billion dollar business.
I love his story on my podcast what exactly happened in the room when a 24-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was offered $250 million and refused it in two minutes.
QUIETÂ by Susan Cain
Probably half the world is introverts.
Maybe more. Itâ€™s not an easy life to live.
I sometimes have that feeling in a room full of people, â€œuh-oh. I just shut down. I canâ€™t talk anymore and thereâ€™s a lock on my mouth and this crowd threw away the key.â€
Do you ever get that feeling? Please? I hope you do. Letâ€™s try to lock eyes at the party.
Quiet shows the reader how to unlock the secret powers that probably half the world needs to unlock.
And, please Susan Cain come on my podcast.
ANTIFRAGILEÂ by Nassim Taleb
And throw in The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness.
â€œFragileâ€ means if you hit something might break.
â€œResilientâ€ means if you hit something, it will stay the same.
My podcast Nassim discusses â€œAntifragilityâ€â€Šâ€”â€Šbuilding a system, even on that works for you on a personal level, where you if you harm your self in some way it becomes stronger.
That podcast changed my life
He discusses Antifragility throughout history, up to our current economic situation, and even in our personal situations.
MINDSETÂ by Carol Dweck
Again, I am fascinated by the field of mastery.
Not self-improvement (eat well, sleep well, etc) but on how can you continue a path of improvement so that you can really enjoy the subtleties at a very deep level of whatever it is you love.
Carol Dweck, through massive research and storytelling, shows the reader how to continue on the path of improvement and why so many people fall off that path.