With just over 125 books read and listened to this year, it seemed only fitting to recognize the Top 10 non-fiction books I'd encourage anyone to read. Note that these are physical books and the audiobooks will come later. Check the Instagram feed for more info on each of the books and let me know if you have read these or have others to suggest.
1. The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday) A book that needs no introduction, The Obstacle is the Way focuses on the mindset needed to overcome the obstacles that we place in the way. "We decide what we will make of each and every situation. We decide whether we'll break or whether we'll resist. We decide whether we'll assent or reject. No one can force us to give up or to believe something that is untrue. Our perceptions are the thing that we're in complete control of." The style of writing makes this easily accessible and recommended for anyone who needs a subtle push to overcome anything or just a reminder of the stories we tell ourselves.
2. The Art of Living (Epictetus) One of the earliest and perhaps most important books for self-development, this book found its way through history including the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Tom Wolfe, and Salinger. This version is one of the simplest texts and aims to distill many of Epictetus' thoughts on living down to their barest form. "Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. It is not to be found in your personal associations, nor can it be found in the regard of other people ... Grow up! Who cares what other people think about you! Create your own merit." - Epictetus
3. A Deadly Wandering (Matt Richtel) A must read. The true story of the devastation caused by texting and driving that weaves the story and the science in a compelling enough way you don't want to put the book down. From tragedy to redemption this book has everything. One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read that covers something we all take for granted. You will never text and drive again after reading this one.
4. Dreamland (Sam Quinones) The opioid crisis we are currently seeing is all laid out in this amazing tale of greed and inhumanity. The companies that are supposed to be helping us created a monster that has never been put back in the closet. San Quinones covers all of the major players including the companies who created the drug, the companies pushing the pills, the dealers, and people and the towns affected. Turning on the TV, we can see the current effects as people are overdosing on a daily basis and opioids become one of the biggest problems facing the West.
5. Reclaiming Conversation (Sherry Turkle) When we look around today it seems like the world has turned inward towards their phones and social media. You are here reading a blog that's driven from an Instagram page so the irony isn't lost. Sherry's book tries to help reclaim the conversation that we may have been used to in the past. To help pry the phones away from our hands and get more conversation face to face. The science presented in this book is a great reminder that we are human beings and our need for connection is deeply ingrained within us.
6. 12 Rules For Life (Jordan B. Peterson) An important book for anyone. It's a book to help figure out your own life and also put into perspective everything going on around us today in this seemingly chaotic world. It's fascinating to watch the polarization that Jordan creates from his bluntness and honesty and strong opinions. He is articulate and a storyteller and this is packed full of myth, psychology, and history. "You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward ... Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean. Act out what you say, so you can find out what happens. Then pay attention. Note your errors. Articulate them. Strive to correct them. That is how you discover the meaning of your life. That will protect you from the tragedy of your life. ... Confront the chaos of Being. Take aim against a sea of troubles. Specify your destination, and chart your course. Admit to what you want. Tell those around you who you are. Narrow, and gaze attentively, and move forward. Forthrightly." - Jordan B. Peterson
7. The Blank Slate (Steven Pinker) One of Steven Pinker's earlier books, The Blank Slate still holds power and controversy when asking the question where we come from and who we really are. Do you believe in nurture or are you on team nature? This book helps to answer that question by diving into the science. It isn't scared to ask questions about men and women and even race. Sometimes we must look at our differences to truly understand why we are so similar.
8. Lost Connections (Johann Hari) Depression seems to be the sickness of our generation and Hari has written a book that tries to find the human connection and the reasons behind it. Taking the focus off pills and medication, Hari dives into the societal reasons why we may be feeling the way we do. Similar to Sherry's book on the human conversation, our loss of human connection could be of the big reasons why we seem to be feeling this way. The ideas presented are thoughtful and well written and offer solutions that may help to move the needle on depression and anxiety.
9. Grit (Angela Duckworth) "On your own, you can grow your grit "from the inside out": You can cultivate your interests. You can develop a habit of daily challenge-exceeding-skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to home when all seems lost." - Angela Duckworth. This book was a fantastic look at perseverance and resilience and how we can grow our own over time. Thoroughly researched and written like a storyteller, this is a must read for everyone.
10. The Laws of Human Nature (Robert Greene) A lengthy and in-depth look at humanity in the form of storytelling that Robert Greene always delivers on. The historical stories that encompass each chapter on human nature help to frame the science and psychology behind each idea. Each chapter offers up a pathway to more knowledge if you, the reader, choose to follow. A great book to follow up Jordan Peterson's book with for sure.