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Another Book List...

I never saw the value in writing a book list since there are thousands out there. Then the other day i realized that no one has ever written MY book list. And if someone asked for a book recommendation, i wouldn't know what i would say. And that is reason enough for me to do it. So, if i could only gift a few books, which would i choose?

My Top Three

There are many books that i will recommend below, but these three stand apart for me because they have all been foundational to my journey. Each teaching and re-teaching me the power of self improvement itself. In terms of gifting, I think I would choose one based on the receiver and what I feel they need.

If they are feeling overwhelmed or feeling busy, then Getting Things Done.

If they are starting a new project or business, then The ONE Thing.

If they know they want something but have no idea what, then 7 Habits.

One of the main lessons in all three books is the importance of setting aside time for a weekly review. A time to reflect on what you are doing and what needs to be done next week. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and i have written about here.

My Top Five

I read these two books back to back completely by chance, but they made for a wonderful pairing. I can’t tell if they are in the top five because of recency bias or not, but as of this moment I would say they are highly influential to how I pursue goals.

Atomic Habits taught me a lot about the practice of preparing, planning, and systematizing your goals into small and consistent actions. It focuses on changing your environment to maximize your opportunity to reach a flow state.

Can’t Hurt Me is about getting damn gritty. Getting dirty and uncomfortable and just grinding through pain with a smile. David Goggins is both inspiring and completely sickening at the same time. No matter the circumstances and no matter the obstacles in your way, just going out and giving it your absolute best effort.

I have discussed this dichotomy in the past. We must be the equipment manager and the athlete. We must prepare everything as best we can for success and we must compete regardless of any excuse or circumstance. Both will enable the other. Both are essential.

My Reading Strategy

Before kids I liked to read paperback books and take notes in Evernote. The note taking helped me to organize and codify lessons into my brain while also creating a summary resource to refer back to. Now that physical book reading time is laughable, I have turned to audio books which I can listen to during transitions throughout the day. For instance, from the time I finish my workout, clean up the gym, make my protein shake, use the restroom and settle in at my desk, is about 15 minutes. I’ve honestly tried to shorten it, but that’s just what it is. So I have learned I can listen to 5 minutes of 3 different books during that transition. Or 15 minutes of one book. Throw in driving time and time waiting for my son to fall asleep and it really compounds over the days and weeks. I have already finished 2 books in a month. My notes are not as copious as they used to be. And I often re-listen to a chapter. Audible has a nice snippet feature which is also helpful to save important bookmarks. I used to worry that I wouldn’t absorb information using this strategy but I have actually found that sprinkling in little bits of helpful information throughout the day has really helped me process and think about the content.

Something else i have been doing recently instead of reading books, particularly for authors that have written whole libraries, is to pick one format, YouTube or podcasts. Then find an assortment of the interviews and talks they have given and watch them using my same “transition time”. It may be like 10-15 hours of content but after i have done that, I feel i have essentially heard all of the major points from all of their books and ideas. It’s not a substitute for the books, but its sort of a nice short term hack. And i feel i have learned tons from this approach.

  • Seth Godin

  • Malcom Gladwell

  • Tony Robbins

  • Jocko Willink

  • Tim Ferriss

More Notable Titles

There is a principle about learning that I love. It states that all life is patterns. Learn one thing about engineering, apply the same principle to cooking. Learn a lesson about marriage, apply it to your business. It always amazes me how I find little nuggets of useful information in a book that is mainly about a completely different subject. The point is, the habit of reading is more important than picking the perfect subject. Just work on the practice, and the benefits are inevitable. I will leave a list here for you to peruse.


  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: Discipline equals freedom

  • Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: Take care of people

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: It’s not what you said it's how you said it


  • Rich Dad Poor Dad (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: Buy assets not liabilities

  • The Richest Man in Babylon (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: Pay yourself first


  • Miracle Morning (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: Being proactive is more energizing than sleep

  • 4 hour work week (affiliate link)

    1. My main takeaway: Don’t just look busy, be productive


  • No Bad Kids (affiliate link)

    • My main takeaway: Be calm, your kids respond to it.

  • 5 Love Languages (affiliate link)

    • My main takeaway: All the love in the world can be useless if expressed in the wrong form.

  • The Man’s Guide to Women (affiliate link)

    • My main takeaway: Women want to feel safe and have their feelings validated. And men are terrible at that.

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