We’re nearing the end of the year.. recently I’ve read some really good books.
(This is a bit of a follow-up to this post discussing 5 good books to read)
I find the experience of reading a book is either one of two things – either I like it a lot, or I think it’s just so-so. The difference is night and day. If I only sort of like a book, I meander through and maybe won’t even finish. But if I really like a book I will spend all my spare time reading it and usually finish within 3-4 days or a week at most.
These are all books I really liked. Hope you enjoy!
1) Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It (Amazon)
by Kamal Ravikant
This is a very short book but it’s well worth the read. Kamal Ravikant was depressed, recovering from a breakup and a business failure, lying in a hospital bed ready to die. Then he starts repeating to himself “I love myself”, over and over again, until.. well, I won’t ruin it for you.
This book is so short that you could read it in a day or even an hour. I highly recommend you do.
2) Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita (Amazon)
by Ram Dass
This book was recommended by Duncan Trussell, frequent guest on the Joe Rogan Experience and host of his own podcast as well. Trussell is always going off about Ram Dass, or the Bhagavad Gita, or both – all of which sounded interesting to me, but I had no idea where to start. (Diving right into ancient Hindu scripture seemed a bit daunting.)
So when he mentioned this book I thought “That’s it!” and picked it up shortly after.
Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) was a Harvard professor in the 1960s who began exploring Eastern philosophy, psychedelics, and travelling to India – he then went “full hippie”, changed his name to Ram Dass and became a well-known spiritual teacher in the West. This book is compiled from a series of lectures he gave on the Bhagavad Gita in the 1970s.
Get through the first few pages (5-10) of the book where Ram Dass explains the background leading up to the main scene of the Bhagavad Gita, and then it starts to get really good.
It’s a organized thematically and consists mostly of how the lessons of the Gita can be applied to our modern daily lives, mixed in with an overview of some major philosophical Hindu concepts as well as stories from Ram Dass’ quite interesting and unusual life.
- Leaving behind old notions of yourself and “letting go” on the spiritual path
- The paradox of free will in human beings (we sort of have it, but we sort of don’t)
- Mental models of spirituality, spiritual growth and enlightenment
- Concepts like karma and dharma
This is all explained in a very easy-to-understand and digestible way. Highly recommended if you like this sort of thing – if you haven’t read anything “spiritual”, however, this might not be the best place to start. It runs counter to the rational-scientific paradigm we’re accustomed to and might seem too ‘woo-woo’.
But to tell you the truth – as of writing this I haven’t even finished the book yet, and I’m still recommending it. That’s how good it is!
3) How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Amazon)
by Mohsin Hamid
This book isn’t exactly what it sounds like – it’s not a “How to” guide but actually a novel. The story follows the life and entrepreneurial journey of an ambitious young man in a fast-growing South Asian metropolis.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is written in the second person, meaning the main character is referred to as “you”. This alone makes for an interesting and unusual read.
Besides that the story is pretty gripping, and it sometimes plays on tropes of the self-help genre which is entertaining.
I remember feeling emotionally very intense after finishing this book – almost like I’d lived the lives of the characters along with them and really “been in” the story. It made me reflect on the arc of my own life and my mortality as well.
Something about this book had a sort of power that made it seem very real, to me at least. I would highly recommend it.
4) How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (Amazon)
by Scott Adams
I owe Robert from 30 Days to X for this recommendation – Scott Adams is best known for creating the comic strip Dilbert, but here he has written a ‘self-help’/success book that is quite unique in its approach and perspective. It’s also pretty funny.
Adams offers a realistic and practical approach to success, based on his own winding journey wrought with many, many failed attempts. He has a positive and down-to-earth writing style, as well as certain unique ideas about goals vs. systems and combining skills that I’d never heard before. Although the diet/exercise advice is too basic if you already lift or know about nutrition, generally this book is full of excellent information. Definitely worth the read.
5) Snow Crash (Amazon)
by Neal Stephenson
Let me start by saying that this book isn’t for everyone. But if you like sci-fi or ‘cyberpunk’ and don’t mind long, rambling (but entertaining) tangents, then it might be… I don’t read a ton of fiction but I really liked this book.
Snow Crash is full of cool stuff like sword fights, car chases, shoot outs, the Mafia, virtual reality, drugs, and robot dogs.. Some of the action scenes are better than a movie, and I mean that with 100% sincerity. There’s also a lot of commentary on the nature of society, capitalism, bureaucracy, and religion in particular which is funny and at times very insightful.
Stephenson is also an exceptional writer – I mentioned this book briefly in a previous post about writing better.
My suggestion for this book is to read the whole of the first ‘scene’ – if you like the first scene, you’ll like the entire book. If you don’t like the beginning, then you won’t like the rest either.
Really though, this is some of the best fiction I’ve read in a long time. I keep looking for more books in the same genre or by the same author – but really all I’m looking for is another Snow Crash.
Have you read any good books lately? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below :)