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30 books that changed my life

24 Aug 2011 on Books

It’s safe to say that I have passed my quarter-life crisis. And the single biggest factor was me reading so much.

Back then, despite being totally clueless with life, I made a wise decision to at least start reading - reading the books that could change my life, reading to find out my options and reading to learn from those who thought deeply enough to change the world. After more than 4 years down the road, I can say some of these books have influenced me, changed me. Just as a man can be judged by the company he keeps, I think a man’s interest, beliefs and passion can most certainly be known by the books he devoured and loved.

I hope you too can find some gems of life within some of these books! If you too have picked them up, I would love to hear about it! And if these books strike a chord with you, tell me what other dissimilar and similar books can I read?

  1. Buffettology by Mary Buffett and David Clark [Value Investing strategies of Warren Buffett]

Warren has adopted the concentrated–portfolio approach, which means that h holds a small number of investments he really understands and intends holding for a long period of time.

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill [How to train your thoughts towards success]

The subconscious mind in the intermediary, which translates ones’s prayers into terms which Infinite Intelligence can recognise, presents the message, and bring back the answer in the form of a definite plan or idea for procuring the object of the prayer.

  1. Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham [Startups, Technology and Philosophy]

I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly.

  1. Night by Elie Wiesel [World War II Holocaust Survival account of a young boy]

Our first act as free men was to throw ourselves onto the provisions. That’s all we thought about. No thought of revenge or of parents. Only of bread. And even when we were no longer hungry, not one of us thought of revenge.

  1. Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland [Making Art and it’s uncanny similarities with coding]

What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is your guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work.

  1. How to be Free by Tom Hodkingson [Oh Yeah! Free life, Create your own, be happy! ]

as an idler and an anarchist, I love people from all classes who are fighting to be free. I love aristocrats, I love the underclass and I love the Bohemian Bourgeoisie (of which I am one). I love the criminals and the drug addicts. If you want to join the elect, the colourful, the creative, it is very very easy. Create your own life. Cast of resentment. Reject the ides of ‘have-tos’. You don’t have to do anything. You have free will. Exercise it.

  1. Iconoclast by Gregory Berns [A neurologist’s revelation on how iconoclasts differ - perception, social intelligence, fear tolerance]

To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before. Novelty releases the perceptual process from the shackles of past experience and forces the brain to make new judgements… Iconoclasts, at least the successful ones, have a preternatural affinity for new experiences. Where most people shy away from things that are different, the iconoclast embraces novelty.

  1. Pleasure of Finding Things out by Richard Feynman [Curiosity always wins the day]

I don’t see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish Academy decides that this work is noble enough to receive a prize – I’ve already gotten the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it – those are the real things, honours are unreal to me.

  1. Anything You want by Derek Divers [Organic ideas, happiness minus the MBA]

But “revolution” is a term that people use only when you’re successful. Before that, you’re just a quirky person who does things differently. People think revolution needs to involve loud provocations, fists in the air, and bloodshed. But if you think true love looks like Romeo and Juliet, you’ll overlook a great relationship that grows slowly… When you’re on to something great, it won’t feel like revolution. It’ll feel like uncommon sense.

  1. God Delusion by Richard Dawkins [A deeply religious non-believer]

Our consciousness is also raised by the cruelty and wastefulness of natural selection. Predators seem beautifully ‘designed’ to catch prey animals, while the prey animals seem equally beautifully ‘designed’ to escape them. Whose side is God on?

  1. iWoz by Steve Wozniak [Autobiography]

I think most people with day jobs like to do something totally different when they get home. Some people like to come home and watch TV. But my thing was electronics projects. It was my passion and it was my pastime. Working on projects was something I did on my own time to reward myself, even though i wasn’t getting rewarded on the outside, with money or other visible signs of success.

  1. Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson [Autobiography]

Convention dictates that a company should look after its shareholders first, its customers next and last of all worry about its employees. Virgin does the opposite. For us, our employees matter most. It just seems common sense to me that if you start off with a happy, well-motivated workforce, you’re much more likely to have happy customers. And in due course the resulting profits will make you shareholders happy.

  1. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert [How to be happy and striking psychological tests]

wonderful things are especially wonderful for the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition. … another way to beat habituation is to increase the amount of time that separates repetitions of the experience.

  1. Start with WHY by Simon Sinek [Why first, then how and what]

Ot all starts with clarity. You have to know WHY you do WHAT you do. If people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it, so it follows that if you don’t know WHY you do WHAT you do, how will anyone else? … The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone who simply wants what you have. If should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe.

  1. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan [Our humbling tiny earth in the vast universe]

The evidence, so far at least and laws of Nature aside, does not require a Designer. Maybe there is one hiding, maddeningly unwilling to be revealed. Sometimes it seems a very slender hope. The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. ..If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.

  1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [Journey to get the dream - a fiction!]

But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.

  1. The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch [Living the last moments of life]

Leaving the doctor’s office, I thought about what I’d said to Jai in the water park in the after glow of the speed slide. “Even if the scan results are bad tomorrow,” I had told her, “I just want you to know that it feels great to be alive, and to be here today, alive with you. Whatever news we get about the scans, I’m not going to die when we hear it. I won’t die the next next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, well this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I’m enjoying it. ”

I thought about that, and about Jai’s smile. I knew then. That’s the way the rest of my life would need to be lived.

  1. Art of War by Sun Tzu [ancient military strategies for winning the war]

The supreme act of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting

  1. Getting Things Done by David Allen [how to get things done in a mind like water]

The methods I present here are all based on 2 key objectives 1). Capturing all the things that need to get done – now, later, someday, big, little or in between – into a logical and trusted system outside of your head and off your mind 2). Disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the inputs you let into your life so that you will always have a plan for ‘next actions’ that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment.

  1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Exupery [life’s simpleness through a story]

“Here is my secret. It is very simple: one sees well only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes.”

  1. Tribes by Seth Godin [how to lead a movement]

The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. The hardest thing is to initiate.

  1. The Power of NOW by Ekhart Tolle [The only moment to be contented is right now, the present moment]

Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be. It is an intrinsic but un-manifested part of every sound, every musical note, every song, every word. The un-manifested is present in this world as silence. This is why it has been said that nothing in this world is so like God as silence.

  1. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore [introducing technology in the market]

Crossing the chasm required moving from an environment of support among the visionaries back into one of skepticism among the pragmatists. It means moving form the familiar ground of product-oriented issues to the unfamiliar ground of market-oriented ones, and from familiar audience of like minded specialists to the unfamiliar audience of essentially uninterested generalists.

  1. Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawkings [cosmological history of the universe]

The discovery of a complete unified theory, therefore, may not aid the survival of our species. It may not even affect our lifestyle. But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.

  1. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu [ancient teachings]

When rare things are not assigned a value, the thief has no reason to steam them.

The best of the best is like water. Water is beneficial to everything and it does not demand anything for itself in return.

Superior virtue is not aware of being a superior virtue

Non-existence can penetrate the hardest of all.

  1. Best Software Writings by Joel Spolsky & other Authors [best software practices and thoughts]

With the ubiquity of the Internet today, one of the best ways to build awareness of your product is to develop it “in the open” … Developing software takes time. Doing it in the “open” can be a great way of using that time to build awareness as you go.

  1. Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham [value and security investing]

There is a great advantage for the young capitalist to begin his financial education and experience early. If he is going to operate as an aggressive investor he is certain to make some mistakes and take some losses. You can stand these disappointments and profit by them. We urge beginner in security buying not to waste his money in trying to beat the market. Let him study security values and tests out his judgement on price vs. value with the smallest possible sums initially.

  1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki [how to get rich and its principles]

10 step process to develop god given powers: (1) I need a reason greater than reality (2) I choose daily (3) Choose friends carefully (4) master a formular and then learn a new one (5) Pay yourself first (6) Pay your brokers well (7) Be an “Indian” giver (8) Assets buy luxuries (9) The need for heroes (10) Teach and you shall receive

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey [strategies to get ahead]

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

  1. Story of my Life by Helen Keler [living a fulfilled life as a deaf and blind girl]

It seems to me that there is in each of us a capacity to comprehend the impressions and emotions which have been experienced by mankind from the beginning. Each individual has a subconscious memory of the green earth and murmuring waters, and blindness and deafness cannot rob him of this gift from past generations.