And finally this is the last article on the books I read last year. There’s books of every size, color and topic in this one. From financial advice, to sales teachings, to biographies, mindfulness and getting things done. Take a look, you may find something you like.
On Productivity, Stop Procrastrinating and Inspiration
I find that there are certain books that tremendously boost my determination, motivation and inspire me to get things done. Most of these books are written by other creative people (as in people that create things) who confide their own struggles and provide techniques or ideas they have develop to push through and do the work. These were three inspiring books of this kind that I read this year:
- The War Of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
- Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
- Leap First: Create Work that Matters
The War of Art
Ever told yourself…
- I’m too tired today, I’ll do it tomorrow
- I have had a shitty day today, I’ll just chill this afternoon, recover and continue writing tomorrow
- It’s cold and raining outside, I’ll run tomorrow when there’s better weather
That’s the Resistance talking. It’s telling you to seek short-term gratification instead of long-term growth. It’s telling you to be uncommited, to be comfortable. The Resistance is your worst enemy.
The War Of Art is a book about The Resistance. About how to detect it, in your daily life, in your endless rationalization and settling for less. It is a book that tells you how to beat it by just doing the work. A book about being a professional and just sitting and doing the fucking work.
Great book with a ton of wisdom. Just check out these quotes:
There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.
Are you a writer that doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity … will elicit Resistance.
Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, ‘I’m never going to write my symphony.’ Instead we say, ‘I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.’
If you find yourself criticizing other people, you’re probably doing it out of Resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own. Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement.
Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor. It’s Resistance’s way of hiding the Big Stick behind its back. Instead of showing us our fear (which might shame us and impel us to do our work), Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn’t do our work.
The professional conducts his business in the real world. Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged. The field is level, the professional understands, only in heaven.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.
Seth Godin is god. I listened to this 2 hours audio book on Audible and it felt like I was there in person listening to him confiding his wisdom to me and a chosen few. What he said was great but how he said it, [wo]man, Seth Godin is a master storyteller. Very recommended.
Are You Ready to Raise a Ruckus?
You’re probably good at your job, maybe even great. But secretly, do you yearn to fly higher? To challenge the rules and surprise us with something remarkable? To instigate delight, connection, and real change? To choose better over safer?
Business and cultural visionary Seth Godin has transformed the terrain of marketing and commerce more than once. But many of his readers remain stuck in their own work lives. So what’s keeping us back? “The problem isn’t a lack of knowledge or skill,” he’s realized. “The problem is fear.”
Eat That Frog!
In a similar vein to The War of Art but much more mundane, specific and practical Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time offers 21 ways to help you to become productive. I already knew about all the techniques in the book so it wasn’t mindblowing but a nice refresher. Read it if you haven’t read any on productivity before.
On How to Stop Caring and Embracing the Bomb
The Obstacle is The Way
One of my favorite books this year was The Obstacle is The Way. The book brings parts of the stoic philosophy to our modern times and teaches us how to handle adversities and turn them into advantages.
The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics control the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck.
If you’re feeling frustrated, demoralized, or stuck in a rut, this book can help you turn your problems into your biggest advantages. And along the way it will inspire you with dozens of true stories of the greats from every age and era.
This is one of those books that you should re-read every year.
Mindfulness, a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantric World
Mindfulness, a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantric World is a great introduction to mindfulness. It is structured like a course with different types of meditations and exercises that you’ll need to carry out each week and which will make you progressively more mindful about each moment and the world around you. Great complement to headspace.
The Art of Letting Go
Letting go in what sense you may ask yourself? Well, the book has a lot of specific examples and different situations but I think it all boils down to letting go of our expectations. We all have expectations about how life should be, about how a person should behave towards us, about how a specific situation should play out. When things don’t go our way we feel frustrated, we feel angry, we feel deceived or unwanted. The secret is to let go of that expectations and embrace each moment as it is.
On How to Read Twice the Amount in Half the Time
Some time in the middle of the year I realized that I had a ton of books that I wanted to read in my backlog. And I though… wait! If I read twice as fast… I’ll be able to read em’ all!. And so I read a couple of books on speed reading:
- Speed Reading: How to double or triple your reading speed in just one hour
- Speed Reading for Beginners
Both books were pretty similar and offer much of the same advice:
- Stop reading out loud
- Stop enunciating every word you are reading in your mind
- Start reading only with your eyes
- Use your peripheric vision
- Read faster while keeping your comprehesion
- Practice, practice, practice.
I am still practicing but I need to make a conscious effort when I speed read.
On Learning From the Lives of Great People
I have been wanting to learn more about Elon Musk and so I picked his biography: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the quest for a fantastic future. It was super inspiring and super awesome to learn more about his trajectory, work and philosophy. There’s a true thought leader and innovative person. Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, keep it going man!
I really admire the sales prowess of Fredrik Eklund, and he is Swedish, so I decided to read The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone expecting to find the ultimate salesmanship treaty. The book although entertaining, fun and interesting is more of a biography of Fredrik’s life than a book on salesmanship.
Daily Rituals - How Artists Work is a compilation of the habits of the great minds of humanity. I found it extremely boring. And I have a very low threshold for liking stuff. I like practically everything! :) So don’t read it. You are probably much more demanding than I am :)
On Publishing Your Own Books
This year I published my first book so, before I did that, I decided to read a book on self-publishing. I chose Authority: Become an Expert, Build a Following and Gain Financial Independence because it seemed to be the best book on the topic written by a very succesful self-published author. The book is good but I don’t think it offers enough value for its costs.
On Managing Your Finances and Being Happy
Wouldn’t it be nice to become financially independent and don’t need to work? To work because you want to and not because you have to? To be completely free and choose how you spend every second of your day? Money: Master the Game, 7 Easy Steps to Financial Freedom is a book that can help you get there.
You just need to work your ass off, save money, invest and when you have invested enough get an annuity that ensures that your money will continue growing while you get a monthly salary for life. The book is particularly interesting because in addition to financial advice it provides interviews with very successful financial geniouses such as Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, Ray Dalio and Steve Forbes. Tony Robbins also spends a lot of time talking about happiness and how to cultivate it.
And a Couple More Books
- Debt Updated and Expanded: The First 5000 years, a interesting but dense book on the concept of debt.
- Trust me, I am lying: Confessions of a media manipulator, an interesting book on how easy it is to manipulate the media, and how fake planted news travel from low credibility blogs and outlets to the highly credible traditional media.
Well, time to continue reading. Getting more food for the mind. And remember, the most important thing about reading books is not the reading of the book itself, it is how you reflect, ponder, understand the ideas in each book. And how you later incorporate those ideas into your own life. Happy reading!!
Written by Jaime González García , Front-end software engineer, tinkerer and master of the arcane arts. You should follow him on Twitter where he shares useful stuff!Follow @vintharas