- Here is a list of my favorite books
- My Goodreads profile
- My favorite books of 2017
- My favorite books of 2018
- My favorite books of 2019
Essentialism by Greg Mckeown (audio version):
Excellent book on essentialism with lots of practical ideas how to apply the principles. I especially enjoyed the ideas on “saying no”. I will revisit this book regularly to improve my ability to focus on what is truly important.
Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell (audio version):
Timeless wisdom by Lao-Tzu on life and the nature of reality. It’s one of those books that you can read or listen to many times. The energy of it is very high and it has calming and elevating properties. I especially enjoyed it when I was in bed with the flu, half awake and half dreaming, the perfect food for my soul.
Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins (audio version):
Jim Collins is one of my favorite business thinkers. This monograph is a 48-page addition to his masterpiece Good to Great. I can highly recommend reading all of his books. Also, his podcasts on Tim Ferriss and Farnam Street were packed with wisdom, and I enjoyed them both.
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer (audio version):
Excellent and recently updated book about philanthropy. It offers a helpful guide for donors to improve their capital allocation and to maximize the effectiveness of each $1. The book inspired me to think more deeply about my own capital allocation in this regard. The author has bought back the book rights and is now giving away the book for free, so that these ideas can spread more rapidly. You can download the ebook or audiobook by clicking here.
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (audio version):
This is one of the most important books I have ever read. It’s a great companion book to Levels of Energy and The Good Life Handbook. It’s a thorough study of the subconscious mind, and offers practical solutions to fundamental human problems: how to be healthier, happier, calmer, more prosperous etc. I’m taking a deep dive and will spend 1-2 months on it.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown (audio version):
Great science-fiction story on Mars. It takes place in a time when the solar system has been colonized by humans. It’s great entertainment and offers a sneak peak into possible future scenarios. It’s a trilogy and I’ll continue with the story.
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin (audio version):
A great book for everyone who is interested in FIRE (financial independence, retire early). It offers some great tools and ideas. If you want to fix your finances in 2020, you might want to start with this book.
The Good Life Handbook (Enchiridion) by Epictetus (audio version):
This is my favorite Stoic text by Epictetus. The ultimate guide on how to live a good life. It’s short and takes less than one hour. There is a free audio edition on LibriVox. I have read it many times, and will continue to revisit it.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (audio version): This is a book that keeps getting recommended over and over again. Now I understand why. It’s long, and well worth it. It’s about creativity, communism, and life. I wish there were more Dagny Taggart’s, John Galt’s and Hank Rearden’s in the world. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
Levels of Energy by Frederick Dodson (audio version): This book provides an incredibly useful framework for how to view and work with different levels of energy. Especially how to read the energy levels of other people and how to elevate your own level. I highly recommend it and will reread it in the future.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (audio version): This was a surprisingly interesting book. It especially enriches the debate about security and privacy, and offers some suggestions that may be worthwhile for further research. His main point is that the most practical solution to enhance your privacy is to use encryption.
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown (audio version): This book has been recommended by one of my heroes, David Allen. It’s a thorough study of how our respiratory system works, and how we can improve it. It turns out that most of us over-breathe chronically. It prompted me to create a “Breathing” project, to study this topic further (especially in light of Wim Hof’s work), and then take the appropriate actions.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (audio version): I’ve read recommendations for Ayn Rand for many years, and have decided to take a dive. I’ve started with Anthem, a very quick read. Then I continued with Fountainhead. I loved the story and philosophy behind it. I was especially inspired by the character of Howard Roark. Next on the list is Atlas Shrugged, her most recommended book.
Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): I‘ve spent 50+ hours listening to all books of the Mars trilogy. It turns out you get used to space elevators, terraforming and humans on Mars pretty fast. I especially liked the scientific and societal aspects of the story. The books have been written between 1992 and 1996, and the science and technology feels quite realistic in 2019.
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher (audio version): Warren Buffett famously said that he is 85% Benjamin Graham and 15% Philip Fisher. I’ve read this book before, but I see it now with different eyes after reading 100 Baggers. Also, the audiobook is newly available in an unabridged version. An investment classic!
100 Baggers by Christopher Mayer (audio version): An excellent investing book that I plan to re-read multiple times. It helps challenge short-term thinking by focusing on long-term compounding. Instead of wasting your energy on finding short-term opportunities, it proposes to spend this energy to find big ones instead. And if you find them, you need to hold them for a long time, as it takes 26 years on average for a 100 bagger to 100x. Here’s a great video summary of the book.
Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): This is the second book in Robinson’s Mars trilogy. The story continues: life on Mars, terraforming, an overpopulated Earth. Great food for thought. I’m looking forward to the last book of the series.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): This is an enjoyable sci-fi story written in 1992. It described the journey of the first 100 people that colonize Mars. It also goes into great detail about terraforming and building a space elevator. After this book, I am actually quite happy with staying on Earth for the time being. This book is part of a trilogy and I plan to read the other two books as well.
Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (audio version): An entertaining story about the Bitcoin adventures of the Winklevoss brothers, how they turned their Facebook settlement into a cryptocurrency fortune. It’s a good companion book to Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper.
Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper (audio version): Many people have an opinion about Bitcoin. But most never actually took the time to learn about its origin story and how it really works. This book by New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper is a great starting point. If after, you want to go down the rabbit hole – as I did a few years back – I recommend this compilation of resources.
#AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk (audio version): It’s a great compilation of the thoughts and principles of Gary Vaynerchuk. This finishes my quest through all of Gary’s books. I admire his energy, enthusiasm and skill, and can recommend all of his books. But if I had to pick a favorite, it’s an easy choice: it’s Crush It!
Lee Kuan Yew by Graham Allison (only on Audible): Charlie Munger is a big fan of Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, so I wanted to learn more about him. This audiobook is a collection of his views and wisdom. It was fascinating to hear his views on China, India and the future of the world in general.
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy (audio version): A surprisingly good book about time management, with lots of time-tested practical suggestions. If you care about productivity or how to stop procrastination, I highly recommend this book.
Lying by Sam Harris (audio version): Is it okay to lie? What about innocent white lies? This is the second time I have read this book. Ever since reading it, this book has helped me to become much more honest in my communication. It makes a strong case against all lies, even the seemingly small and innocent ones.
The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish (audio version): As a fan of Charlie Munger and a reader of the Farnam Street blog, I really enjoyed this book. It compiles 9 mental models that you can use to improve your thinking and decision-making. In fact, I have already read it twice, and will re-read it again. This is volume 1 of a series and I’m looking forward to the next volumes.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (audio version): It’s a good book that summarizes the key messages from Sapiens and Homo Deus and brings them to the present moment. I like Yuval’s writing and recommend to start with Sapiens if you haven’t read it yet.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (audio version): After re-reading Sapiens I continued with the same author. This book focuses on the future, and what the author thinks the main directions will be. One mega-trend is the “search for happiness/meaning”. There will be a growing market for products and services in this space. I also enjoyed the discussions on “algorithms” and “humanism”.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (audio version): This is another one from the category “I wish I have read this 10 years ago”. I’m currently taking a deep dive into Nonviolent Communication and am reading everything by Marshall Rosenberg. If you speak German, I highly recommend Konflikte lösen durch Gewaltfreie Kommunikation as a starting point. It’s in dialogue form and a very light read. If I ever build a school, Nonviolent Communication will be a mandatory skill to learn. It’s remarkable how much impact this can have on your happiness and ability to build deep relationships in business and life!
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence by Gary Vaynerchuk (audio version): After reading Crush It, I discovered that there was a freshly published sequel, showcasing other entrepreneurs applying the Crush It principles. So I jumped on it and enjoyed it. It’s a light book to inspire entrepreneurs wanting to start a business or side project by showing how other people have done it.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (audio version): After reading Guns, Germs and Steel, I re-read this book about the history of humankind. The first time I read it it blew my mind, and it’s great to get an occasional refresh.
Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (audio version): If I’d ever publish a “how to create a lifestyle business” curriculum, this book would be required reading (together with This is Marketing by Seth Godin, How to Make $100,000 per Year in Passive Income by Chase Andrews, and other similar books). This book has been published 10 years ago and all the principles are truer than ever. Gary’s style is loud and screamy, which I don’t always find healthy, but he applies what he preaches and has been consistent for over 10 years. I respect that, and find his material very helpful (in a healthy dosage…).
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (audio version): I’ve had this book in my library for a long time, as it is frequently recommended. Charlie Munger’s recommendation in Poor Charlie’s Almanack has finally convinced me to read it now. It’s a wonderful book about the history of civilization. If you liked Sapiens, you will like this as well. I didn’t take away any actionable things, but it’s still great to know how this all happened. I listened to it with 1.5x speed which I find perfect for these kinds of books.
How to Make $100,000 per Year in Passive Income by Chase Andrews (audio version): I am always interested to learn about new income opportunities. I stumbled upon this book while searching for a different one, and was positively surprised. The main message of the book was to not focus on the money, but to first and foremost provide value for a very specific audience, to solve a real problem or need. This is an important message and can’t be repeated enough: You need to provide real value. The strategies themselves varied in quality. I found 5 or 6 of them really good, especially the education business ideas.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (audio version): I finally finished this 600 page book inspired by Charlie Munger’s admiration for Ben Franklin. I have to say, I was not disappointed at all. The story was well written and I learned a lot: About entrepreneurship, frugality, how to improve one’s character, and of course a lot of history. If you like biographies, this is a must-read.
Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger and Peter Kaufman: This is one of the books I wish I had read much sooner, and one I will re-read many times. It’s a collection of Charlie Munger’s talks and a lot of accompanying wisdom. If you are at all interested in the topics we discuss here in this newsletter, this book is a must-have. It’s not available on Amazon and must be ordered on the website of PCA Publications. And while you’re at it, simply order all the books they offer. You won’t be disappointed (and shipping costs per book get cheaper…).
The Messy Marketplace by Brent Beshore: Brent Beshore has evaluated 10.000 small to midsize businesses for purchase. In this book, he summarizes his process and offers a comprehensive guide for buying and selling private businesses. It’s especially useful for people who think about selling their business.
One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch (audio version): It’s the first book I read by legendary investor Peter Lynch. My main takeaways were “Invest in what you know” and “Look for stock ideas based on the products you and your family use and love”.
How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci (audio version): Good book about stoicism with some great reminders and nuggets. If you are new to stoicisim, I recommend to read A Guide To The Good Life first.
Benjamin Franklin – A Short Biography by Doug West (audio version): Inspired by Charlie Munger I want to learn more about Benjamin Franklin. My starting point was this 30 minute summary. Now I’m in the process of reading the longer version by Walter Isaacson.
Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus (audio version): I liked this book by fellow 360° life optimizer Aubrey Marcus. It’s a great summary and inspiration of how to improve your life. It inspired me to purchase a light therapy lamp to get more bright light during the dark winter months.
Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh (audio version): A great companion book to AI Superpowers, as it offers the Silicon Valley perspective of scaling up a startup. After reading both books, I still believe that China will continue to catch up to Silicon Valley.
The Fish That Ate The Whale by Rich Cohen (audio version): A wonderfully told story about Samuel Zemurray, who arrived in America in 1891 from Russia and built a banana empire from scratch, becoming one of the richest, most powerful men in the world. You also learn a lot about bananas and Central America. For example, that botanically, bananas are berries, and not fruit. Or that scorpions love banana trees, making the harvest very dangerous.
This is Marketing by Seth Godin (audio version): Seth Godin is one of my mentors and heroes. I love his thinking and I’ve read many of his books (and I will read many more). This book is a wonderful summary of how to think about marketing (and business in general) in the current age. It encourages readers to go out there and do great work. I am now reading it for the second time, so that these ideas can sink even deeper. I read this book twice.
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb (audio version): Great book about the role probability and luck, especially in the investing world. I had a bit trouble with the structure and style, but it was well worth pushing through.
Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker (audio version): Great and very short book about the art of managing oneself. The audio version is just 44 minutes. It’s a book I read regularly, as it’s quite important in today’s knowledge worker economy. I have a stack of them and gift them regularly.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (audio version): A great window into the Roman Emperor’s mind. I wish today’s leaders were as introspective and reflective. It’s worth trying different translations to find the version that speaks best to you. I will try different ones in the future as well.
On Anger by Seneca (audio version): I loved the detailed elaborations on anger. I never thought about this topic in such a deep way. It convinced me that anger is a pretty useless emotion, and I’m now making an effort to avoid it as often as possible.
The Millionaire Next Door by T. Stanley & W. Danko (audio version): Fantastic book about a study about millionaires: Who are they? How did they become wealthy? What do they do differently? If you are interested in building wealth, I highly recommend this book.
Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (audio version): It’s a deep dive into biology, evolution and genetics. The discussion of the Prisoner’s Dilemma showed the importance of the Tit for Tat strategy (= always start with being nice).
I used to spend significant money on Audible (which I still love and use). Then I discovered Scribd: for just $8.99/month, you access the whole library. I usually find about 70% of the books I’m looking for. If you click here, you get two months for free.
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