Last Update: May 2020
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.
Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggeston by Émile Coué:
A wonderful companion to Psycho-Cybernetics, explaining how the subconscious mind works and how to use it to your benefit. Many others, from Napoleon Hill to Maxwell Maltz, were influenced and inspired by Émile Coué. If you are interested in the subconscious mind, 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.
The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobelli (audio version): This was the most important book I read in 2018 (I’ve read the original German version). The book was so good that I have read it twice and have scheduled to re-read it at least once a year. It gives very practical recommendations of how to live a better life, and I’ve been able to implement multiple things.
A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine (audio version): It’s a great companion to Rolf Dobelli’s book (see above), and it’s a wonderful introduction to the stoic way of life. I’ve decided to not only read it, but to study it, and to integrate these practices into my life. This little iPhone app is helping me to practice it every day.
The Intelligent Investor: Here I have followed the recommendation of Warren Buffett, who claims that this was probably the most important book of his life. I like Ben Graham’s cautious principles rooted in fundamentals, especially his distinction between “investing” and “speculating, his concept of “margin of safety”, and his concept of “Mr. Market” who is an emotional wreck. In case you ever consider investing your money in stocks or bonds, read this first.
Getting Things Done: Encountered this book in 2007 when I had a very difficult time, being unorganized and in an internal and external mess. Probably saved me from a burnout or even nervous breakdown. It was the right book at the right time and blew my mind away. I’ve learned how to organize myself using the reliable GTD system. Today GTD is my operating system. I use it for physical and digital data management, for managing my email, for project management, even for grocery shopping. It has given me efficiency and peace of mind. Please also don’t miss Zen To Done, a fantastic summary of GTD and other productivity techniques (Download Free E-Book in German).
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: A well-written classic. A nice supplement to GTD, The 4-Hour Workweek and all the other productivity books. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” has become an important principle for me.
The Checklist Manifesto: Fantastic and game-changing book. Shows that the use of simple checklists can save more lives in hospitals than super-expensive equipment. Checklists are applicable everywhere and I am a huge fan.
Influence: The #1 favourite book of Charlie Munger. Perfect overview over human biases and behavioral economics. Loved it!
Purple Cow: Learn how to build remarkable products. I loved the audio version.
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.
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…).
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.
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard (audio version): Probably my favorite business book of all time. Great blueprint for how build a responsible and long-term business. I especially loved their idea of “The 100-Year Company”.
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christenson (audio version): It’s my favorite book on innovation, and can be applied to entrepreneurship, investing and many other areas of life. It was the favorite business book of Steve Jobs, and now I know why.
The Little Book of Behavioral Investing by James Montier (audio version): In my opinion, the “behavioral” part is one of the most important aspects of investing. This is an excellent book about this topic.
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!
How to Win Friends and Influence People: Deep and rich book about how to deal with people, despite the quite shallow title. Showed me how 30 simple — but certainly not always easily applicable — principles can minimize my conflicts, enrich my relationships and generally make me a happier, more peaceful human being. The book is filled with a vast collection of valuable case studies and examples. This book is my reference whenever I encounter a difficult relationship that requires skillful communication.
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.
Start with Why: A very important book for me. Gave me clarity on my own life’s purpose. Must read for everybody who wants to find a deeper sense of fulfillment and direction in life. The same principles are applied by the most successful companies in the world, so it’s not only relevant for you personally, but also for your business.
Flow: Fantastic book about how to find a sense of fulfillment in life. Since then sentences like “This is a flow experience for me” are part of my everyday vocabulary. I loved the audio version.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: Very good exploration of death, the process of dying and the art of dying. Derived from ancient Tibetan knowledge and wisdom. One important point is that if you are prepared for death and know what to expect, it gives you peace of mind, reduces fear, and makes it easier to live your current life fully. I’ve bought several copies of this book and distributed it amongst the people close to me, with my wish that I want do die as instructed in this book, and that I want to have this book read to me on my death bed. In case you are confronted with death in your close circle, consider reading some passages of this book to the one who is dying, to ease their fear and to prepare them for what is coming.
The 4-Hour Workweek: This book has been quite important and inspiring for me. It reinforced my desire to simplify my life and to focus on what’s truly important. I’ve started to use the 80/20 Pareto-principle much more often in my life.
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.
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.
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman (audio version): What a wonderful (and funny!) biography by theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. I had this book in my library for many years, as multiple people have recommended it (e.g. Google Founder Sergey Brin).
The Why Cafe by John Strelecky (audio version): Fantastic book, helping you to face the “big” questions of life: Why are you here? Do you fear death? Are you fulfilled? I’ve read it before and recommend it 100%.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser (audio version): We are writing so many things: Emails, blog posts, websites, social media posts. Learning how to write well is a basic skill that everybody should master. I will certainly revisit this book.