I read a lot of books, and this page contains links to some of the best books I’ve come across. You won’t find any fluff here; this list contains only what I consider to be the most influential books I’ve ever read. These books have shaped the way I view the world, and I wholeheartedly recommend these books to anyone looking to grow and collect new ideas.
(Full disclosure: the Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. If you purchase the book via the links on this page, I get a small percentage of the sale.)
Personal Socrates by Marc Champagne
This is my new favorite book. It’s a collection of short character studies of famous people, paired with reflection questions that you can apply in your own life. The whole book is built on the premise that if you can learn to ask better questions, you can achieve better results. As author Marc Champagne says, we are all one question away from a different life.
The Great Mental Models Volume 1 by Rhiannon Beaubien & Shane Parrish
Mental models are the tools or lenses that we use to look at the world and interpret what’s happening around us. And this book does a great job of explaining some of the most essential mental models (Occam’s Razor, The Map is Not the Territory, etc.) clearly and visually. This book may not be for everyone, but if you’re a curious tinkerer like me who wants to put a few more tools in your mental toolbox, I can’t recommend this book enough.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
This book will mess you up (in a good way) and show you things aren’t nearly as bad as maybe you think they are. It’s impossible to read this book and not be inspired by the author’s attitude and simultaneously appalled by the evil of the Nazi concentration camps. It’s not easy to get through due to the graphic descriptions of the concentration camps, but it’s a book I believe everyone should read at least once in their life.
The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul
A phenomenal book about how we can use our environments to help us think better. Some really powerful ideas in this one, like cognitive reprisal where you can reframe the feelings in your body to help you move towards instead of away from things you know you should be doing.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
One of the best leadership books I’ve ever read. Written by two Navy SEALS, each chapter contains 3 components: 1) a story from their deployment in Iraq, 2) a discussion of the leadership principle, and 3) a story of how it relates to business. A challenging book that calls you to look in the mirror and take responsibility for things, but that’s actually very empowering because it also means you have the power to fix things. A very entertaining and enlightening read.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Phenomenal book on habits and habit formation. Offers much more insight and application than The Power of Habit. Takes the concept of the Habit Loop a bit further by adding a fourth step, and explains the importance of routines and showing up every day. James has a very straightforward yet entertaining writing style, and I learn a lot every time I go through it (I’ve re-read this one multiple times).
The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan
The basic idea is pretty straightforward, but the application of the clarifying question (What is the ONE THING that by doing it will make everything else easier or unnecessary?) has yielded some pretty powerful results in my own life. When it comes to goal achievement, less can be more. An easy-to-read book with lots of visuals to support the main ideas.
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Cal Newport is one seriously smart dude. In this book, he breaks down how focus works, shows you how to develop your focus muscle, and explains why it matters as he makes a strong case for the ability to focus being the coveted soft skill in the new economy. There’s so much I love about this book. It has forever changed the way that I approach “knowledge work” (the type of stuff I do every day) and I believe it’s a big reason why I’m able to do what I do.
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Overcoming a fixed mindset and developing a growth mindset is one of the most important mindset shifts you can make if you want to reach your full potential. This book showed me that failure wasn’t final and taught me to grow from my mistakes. Dr. Dweck does an excellent job explaining what a growth mindset is and how to cultivate it in yourself (and your kids). The more time that passes, the more I realize how much this book truly impacted me.
Hyper Focus by Chris Bailey
This book is about a lot more than just doing deep work. Chris does a great job explaining both hyperfocus and scatterfocus (the other mode we need to recharge before hyperfocusing again) and explaining how they work together. If you want an approachable, complete look at all sides of how focus works, I highly recommend this book.
The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky
Building something great is never as easy or as simple as it seems. While most people will focus on the start and the finish, Scott encourages us to own the messy process in between. While this book is written from a business perspective, there’s a lot of gold here for creatives who tend to get bogged down in the middle of the process.