10 Books That Changed How I Saw The World

I know it’s not what the cool kids like to do, but I like to read non-fiction. Lots of nonfiction, and my favorite moment reading nonfiction is when a book slaps my brain and completely alters my view of the world. I love it. It’s like entering the woods with nothing more than a journal and a child-like sense of wonder. In no particular order, here are 10 books that convinced me I knew nothing.

 

ANTIFRAGILE

What it's about:

As humans, we are inherently biased against noticing both the number of random events in our lives and the impact these events have on us. Taleb calls these events Black Swans. Black Swans, due to the exponential scaling of technology, are becoming more common. Therefore, we should build up systems (and ourselves) to be “antifragile,” that is to construct our lives and infrastructures in a way that benefits from the volatility of major events.

For example, stress on a manmade machine will deteriorate the machine. In contrast, a lack of stress on the human body will deteriorate the body. As a such, you should frequently seek out stressors to improve any system including you as an individual.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Natalie Portman, in her black swan costume, tripping you on the treadmill with an evil smile as your face heads straight for the wall.

Read this book if:

Your workout consists of running on the treadmill, using the elliptical, or any other such machine.

 

ZERO TO ONE

What it's about:

Advice and musings of an incredibly successful venture capitalist on what does (and does not) make startups successful.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A screenshot of an empty bank account because, recalling all those soccer trophies you won as kid and your mom telling you were special, your “amazing” business idea turned out not to be.

Read this book if:

You hear the siren call of silicon valley.

 

START WITH WHY

What it's about:

How the most effective leaders communicate and why companies like Apple gain cult followings.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Justin Long standing next to John Hodgman.

Read this book if:

People stop listening when you start speaking.

 

THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA

What it's about:

The reason established companies talk a lot about innovation but fail to deliver.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Bill Lumbergh standing over your cubicle with a coffee mug telling you the company needs to be more innovative.

Read this book if:

You decided to make the “responsible” decision by working for The Man, are now working in a cubicle, and are secretly envious of your friends working at startups.

 

THE POWER OF HABIT

What it's about:

How humans are merely summations of their habits. Duhigg makes a very compelling case for understanding habit loops and developing a framework to alter them.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Looking at your credit card statement and seeing a pattern of Dunkin Donuts charges next to your gym membership fee.

Read this book if:

You suck at New Years resolutions.

 

STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS

What it's about:

How we as humans inaccurately judge what made us happy in the past, what will make us happy in the future, and even what is making us happy right now.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A dog named “Humanity” chasing it’s own tail with a big slobbery smile.

Read this book if:

You find yourself in credit card debit because that new dress was "such a great deal!" 

 

SEX AT DAWN

What it's about:

Challenging social norms around sexuality, marriage, compatibility, and lifetime monogamy. It makes a strong argument for how lifetime monogamy, established through marriage, is actually a recent human development.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A 5 year old holding a one dollar bill in the right hand and snickers bar in the left, staring longingly in the candy isle, while his mom tells him he can only pick one.

Read this book if:

You have ever questioned the institution of marriage or monogamy.

 

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

What it's about:

Why thinking is so hard.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A kid huddled over his laptop reviewing the SparkNotes version of The Great Gatsby at 1 am.

Read this book if:

You make terrible life decisions.

 

THE TRUE BELIEVER

What it's about:

Why people give in to fanaticism, fundamentalism, or extremist ideologies.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

An open hand, heading straight for your face.

Read this book if:

You think you are always the “rationale” one.

 

RAY DALIO'S PRINCIPLES

Note: This is not officially a book. Nevertheless, it’s a must read and can be downloaded for free by Googling Ray Dalio’s Principles

What it's about:

You have no idea what you believe (i.e. principles) and people who spend time to critically articulate and challenge their principles are most likely to get what they want out of life.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Mike Tyson punching the crap out of a training bag called your Ego.

Read this book if:

If you think you know what you believe. You probably don’t.