Reading is a pretty new thing for me. I’ve always been able to read, though I didn’t find the time to read until nomad life. I was inspired to start reading books partially due to the Tim Ferriss Podcast. Every intelligent and thoughtful human he interviewed had a plethora of books to recommend.
There is a particular episode where Tim is interviewing Naval Ravikant. Naval talks about reading for pleasure rather than to finish books. He also mentioned how he reads multiple books at the same time. In the past, I had always read one book at a time, I would often feel stuck on whichever book I was reading. If I wasn’t in the mood or mental space for the one book, I wouldn’t read at all. I’ve adopted a system similar to Naval’s where I have several books going at once. This way I can tap into whichever book fits my mental, similar to choosing TV channels.
Given our limited space in the Scamp, I primarily read on my iPad. The experience doesn’t feel quite as organic as reading a physical book, but I’ve found the positive aspects of digital books to outweigh that sentiment. My entire library is in one indexable place, all the bookmarks and notes are quick to reference, digital books are cheap, I can import my collection onto whatever device I choose, the list goes on.
If you’re struggling to get into reading for whatever reason, try stretching while you read. I often stretch while I read, this alleviates the frustration of not retaining information, or reading too slowly. “At least I’m getting a good stretch in.”
Here’s a list of books that have enhanced my perspective.
Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari
This book is awesome. It’s a factual walkthrough of how our species has progressed from one of many apes to ruling the world. Harari demystifies culture, law, religion and many other myths which have influenced our trajectory as a species, crediting myths for bringing us together in large numbers.
The story is told in a massively informative narrative. The book reads like a riveting movie. Sapiens has given me perspective into the brevity of our time here as a species, and helped me understand what I can do to prolong this existence.
I can’t recommend this book enough. If you don’t want to read the whole book, at least listen to a podcast with Harari. He’s been on the Tim Ferriss, Kevin Rose, James Altucher, Russel Brand, and Sam Harris podcasts.
Tribe of Mentors - Tim Ferriss
If you’ve never read any of Tim’s books, I suggest you check them out. The Four Hour Work Week fundamentally changed how I approach work. I’ve implemented many of the suggestions from Tools of Titans into my daily routine. Tribe of Mentors is the grandaddy of all the Tim Ferriss interviews and hacks.
He also has an excellent podcast that I highly recommend. Interviews with awesome humans across many disciplines.Some of my favorites form the podcasts and books are Derek Sivers, Naval Ravikant, Josh Waitzkin, Tim Urban and many more. Check out my podcasts page for recommendations.
Where Good Ideas Come From - Steven Johnson
A brilliantly written book about how concepts like convergence, adjacent possibles, and liquid networks catalyze new ideas.
The concept of adjacent possibles stuck out to me. The adjacent possibles are the subsequent possibilities unlocked with new discoveries/ideas/inventions. Some adjacent possibles from our acquiring our Yeti 1000 (solar charged battery): ice maker, pressure cooker, power drill, water heater/boiler, etc. Think of all the adjacent possibles things like the internet or telescope unlocked.
This book has me looking for opportunity in many places I’d otherwise have missed.
Wisdom for the way - Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee is known primarily for his aptitude as a martial artist and actor. His philosophical prowess is just as impressive. This book is a collection of quick philosophical bits and ideas on how to be.
One of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Research your own experience;
absorb what is useful,
reject what is useless and
add what is essentially
- Bruce Lee
The Daily Stoic - Ryan Holiday
Quick doses of Stoic brilliance. Stoicism is a logical approach to how to be. My first introduction to Stoicism was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Meditations was a lot for me to unpack, I would often read a page and be sent on a thought journey for several days. The Daily Stoic bite sizes the philosophy of ancient Stoics like Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus, followed by a short reflection on the writings. This format makes the wisdom more palpable.
I often dig into Stoic writings when I’m feeling down or lacking vision. The pragmatic and sensible approach to life is refreshing and directly applicable to my daily tribulations.
The Elon Musk Blog Series - Tim Urban
Elon musk is saving us from ourselves via solar power, electric vehicles and space colonization. Musk reached out to Tim Urban directly to write about the things he’s working on because he loves Urban’s writing style. If you haven’t heard of “Wait But Why” give it a look. Urban’s stick figure drawings, sense of humor and breadth of information have a unique way of communicating otherwise esoteric concepts. This is a deep dive into how and why Musk does what he does in each of the verticals he’s currently in.
Benjamin Franklin - Walter Isaacson
Franklin was quite a character. An excellent writer, inventor and politician. He was a polymath, learning and doing all the things. I am inspired by Franklin’s desire to solve problems in many facets of life. His fundamental principals are frugality and industry, both of which resonate with me deeply. I couldn’t put this book down when I first began reading it.
My Inventions - Nikola Tesla
Tesla was a brilliant man. He could visualize his inventions in his head before creating them, actually watching them work and ware over time. I feel inspired to tinker and invent solutions after reading this book.
It’s interesting to peer into the mind of a genius, and inspiring to realize how deeply troubled and normal the man was. This is a short read with lots of idea pathways to explore.
Rework - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
This book taught me that a business can be idealistic and unique. We don’t have to do things the same old way, because we live in the future and constraints have changed. Growth for the sake of growth is cancerous. It’s possible to cut all of the archaic bullshit out of business and be successful.
This is the story and principles of an intentionally small company which created Basecamp (project management software), and developed Ruby on Rails. Remote is a great book too, on the virtues of hiring and working remotely.
Let My People Go Surfing - Yvon Chouinard
I honestly didn’t have much respect for Patagonia (the brand) before reading this book. I thought Patagonia was just overpriced clothing for people who act like they do outdoor stuff. Although this may be partially true, Patagonia is also a brand that broke the traditional mold.
This is the story of a climber/blacksmith that became a reluctant business man for 50+ years. Chouinard proves that its possible to maintain a virtuous path and succeed in American business, something I had previously thought to be near impossible. He has a matter of fact writing style reminiscent of conversations with my grandpa.
Thanks for reading! Comment below if you want to geek on any of this. :]