Below are the best books I've read so far. They have been both a source of inspiration and continuous learning.
If you think you might tackle the entire list, I recommend reading them in the order I present below, as they're organized both in order of impact and based on how the ideas within each book contains relate to those of others on the list.
Want more ideas on what to read next?
Check out what I'm currently reading or just finished reading, the F2P "Books" blog, as well links to past F2P-related book posts, all of this is listed on the righthand side of this page. Here's also a quick search bar for all book-related content.
Have some book recommendations of your own? Drop me a line by visiting the contact page or post a comment on one of the book-related posts. Can't wait to hear some of your favourites!
1. Man's Search for Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl
Though I only discovered it in 2015, it's my top pick. Despite being a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Frankl focuses not on this difficult part of his life but on what he learned from it. His main takeaway? Purpose and meaning helps us cope with almost any circumstance. His work should be required reading for everyone (preferably at least once a decade), serving as a reminder that establishing meaning for one’s existence—one that only we and we alone can fulfill—provides a reservoir of resilience and fuels the drive for continuous personal growth. Ultimately, purpose and meaning is the stuff that makes life worth living, no matter what.
2. Your Money or Your Life
by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin
The most important book on personal finance. Ever. It addresses the ultimate tradeoff we make when it comes to money: we trade our life force—our time—for it. We can always create more money, but we can't create more time and, because of this fact, we must guard our use of time more fiercely than we've been taught. The fundamental question this work raises is why we blindly seek to make more than we can possibly use to lead a happy life. By making enough money to sustain ourselves without working—by having investment income displace earned income—we can remove money from our consideration and do what we find most valuable and fulfilling with our time. A priceless book.
3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert. M Pirsig
I'm grateful to finally have read this book, which I've heard so much about. It is so powerful that it's one of the rare books I decided to make a permanent part of my library.
Pirsig's book helped me understand why I've learned more through self-education than I ever did in structured learning. Despite what we're lead to believe, we learn more when there's no external driver to our accomplishments, just our appetite to discover. Grades and set curricula tend to kill the appetite for learning. We seek direction from the outside and just try to "get through" the learning process, as opposed to thrive within it.
The main thrust of the book: When we're free to explore, driven only by our curiosity, the information sticks. It sticks because it's interesting. To us. Now. Not only that, but satisfying our curiosity in one area usually makes us aware of others we might also want to explore.
4. The Last Lecture
by Randy Pausch
This book, and the lecture on which it was based, is a good reminder that childhood dreams are not only important but that we're not being true to ourselves if we don’t pursue them. Sometimes by accident and sometimes with great intention, Pausch shows us how he managed to make his dreams a reality in interesting and unexpected ways, despite the fact that his life would be cut short by pancreatic cancer. Pausch was wise beyond his years and I dare you not to be inspired.
5. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
by John. C. Bogle
6. Happy Money
by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton
This work, based on solid research, shows that how we spend money in Western society is at odds with maximizing happiness. Think a bigger home and a nicer car will make you happier? Think again. If you’re like most of us, chances are you're spending over 50% of your yearly income on things that barely increase your potential for happiness. What matters most? It lies in the less tangible (such as experiences & relationships), especially when delayed gratification and paying in advance are involved. It's changed how we spend our money in my household. Definitely worth the read in more ways than one.
7. Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Pure genius, despite being somewhat overwhelming. Every chapter of this book could be a book in and of itself and I'd suggest approaching it this way. Indeed, that's exactly how I've approached reading it—by chewing on a chapter for a while before tackling another. Kahneman provides a tremendous amount of insight regarding how we think, which helps us make better use of the most powerful tool in our possession: our mind. The author offers explores both the strengths and weaknesses of human thought and problem solving and helps us understand these weaknesses by applying them to real life problems and situations. I learned a great deal from this book and it's one that I go back to regularly to remind myself of how best to go about deconstructing a problem or opportunity to help increase my likelihood of success.
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
10. Mating in Captivity
by Esther Perel
11. More Than Money
by Mark Albion
12. Why We Work
by Barry Schwartz
13. The Art of Non-Conformity
by Chris Guillebeau
The title of this book doesn't mislead. Guillebeau invites the reader to explore the unconventional in all aspects of life, including work and education. The book contains the implicit message that our personal growth and value lies in how we use our strengths to pursue and achieve what we want, not in following a preset pattern of behaviour. He easily convinces us to step outside our comfort zones in order to grow and, most importantly, ensure this personal growth is on our terms.
This is a book about possibilities; a book about reinventing how we get from A to B because following convention might not be the right path for you. I’ve been living this art form for a few years and I feel I'm a much better, more fulfilled version of me. I dare you not to at least consider a different “how” after reading his work. You can also find much of Chris’s work at www.chrisguillebeau.com