I get a lot of questions about books that I recommend around happiness, personal development or just ones that have awesome philosophical messages. So I thought it’d be useful to put together a page of my top books everyone can check out.
Don’t forget that you can also join the ‘Book Club’ to get monthly updates on what I’m reading, awesome books I’ve recently discovered and to share yours too.
My Top 5 Fiction
For me, fiction is where it’s at. I just think you can’t beat a book with amazing lessons and insights on life that’s wrapped up in a fucking badass story. Here are my fav fiction books:
- “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
Set in India, Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin’s search for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha. His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, from the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation.
- “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk
Wow! I thought the movie was awesome, but the novel is just incredible. It’s not a long one (I read it in under 72 hours) but holy crap is it powerful and gripping. The story is about an unnamed insomniac protagonist who leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret boxing matches in the basements of bars. This is surrounded by some amazing social commentary, satire and thought-provoking dialogue.
- “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson
Escaping the drudgery of his 100th birthday party through his bedroom window, Allan Karlsson makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan’s earlier life is revealed. A life in which – remarkably – he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.
- “Demian” by Hermann Hesse
Yes, another Hesse book. But I couldn’t not throw this in there. Demian is a psychological masterpiece of modern literature. This novel explores the duality of human nature and the alienation of man’s soul. A powerful coming of age story.
- “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
Ok, ok, the cliche alarm is going crazy here. But I read this book at a time when I really needed it so I’m putting it in here. Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognising opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
My Top 5 Non-Fiction
I would say about 90% of non-fiction, self-help books I start and get so bored of the repetitive nature of them that I can’t finish. But then there’s that 10% that serve up some incredible life lessons and wisdom for us all to learn from. I don’t read much non-fiction as I tend to want to blow my brains out when there’s no narrative involved, but here are the ones that I found particularly awesome:
- “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius
It is incredible that this book exists. A Roman Emperor, the most powerful man in the world at the time, writing down his personal musings on self-improvement and self-discipline. Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 CE, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy.
- “Mastery” by Robert Greene
An absolute beast of a book that’s all about how we can all attain mastery in life and our respective fields. This book puts a very rational look at the process of achieving mastery and shows how it is not something you are either born with or not. Rather, Greene takes you through several examples of ‘extraordinary people’ from history and how they honed their talents and carved their own path without simply relying on some mystical ‘natural talent’.
- “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz
This a classic of the human potential and self-improvement movement. Cybernetics (loosely translated from the Greek): a helmsman who steers his ship to port. Psycho-Cybernetics is a term coined by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, which means, steering your mind to a productive, useful goal so you can reach the greatest port in the world, peace of mind.
- “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen
What are you thinking right now? Is it moving you forward or holding you back? In James Allen’s classic text, As a Man Thinketh, you’ll learn the skills needed to change the way you think, and in doing so change the direction of your life.
- “Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way” by Steven Pressfield
This is an awesome little book that really helps in getting focused and, as the title suggests, getting shit done when you find yourself resisting it. Do The Work takes the reader from the start to the finish of any long-form project—novel, screenplay, album, software piece, you name it. It identifies the predictable Resistance Points along the way and walks you through each of them.
- Amazon Kindle
I do get the whole “I prefer a real book” thing. But Kindles are just fucking awesome! Especially if you tend to travel around a lot like I do. Just keep your Kindle with you and you have immediate and constant access to pretty every book ever written. So I highly recommend giving it a try.
I used to find audio books were something that didn’t work for me. And then I learned how to make them work. So now I absolute love them and I highly recommend getting Audible. You can get a 30 day free trial here (or click here for the US site).
*Please note that some of the above are affiliate links, meaning I would receive a small commission at no additional cost to you should you decide to make a purchase. I’m not a douchebag listing off anyone who will pay me a commission though. All of the above are simply books I’ve read and found useful or interesting that I want to share and also happen to pay commissions in some cases. I’d still share them if they didn’t.