Five Books to Feed Your Mind
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." -Frederick Douglass
📚Hey, good evening!
First off, let's welcome all the new people who joined us since last time!
There are 2,393 of us in total now.
Thank you (yes, you!) for trusting me to bring you the absolute best book recommendations I can each and every week!
As always, these are long emails full of great books and tons of cool surprises.
But I never expect that everyone will be interested in every single thing I publish.
So, feel free to jump around and dive into whatever does interest you!
Today we've got...
An introduction to today's "Five Books"
The book quote of the week
My personal news, and the best of what I'm reading and sharing right now
Two online creator friends of mine you need to know about
Three of my favorite newsletters that I always open
A new book alert: featuring an anthology of wisdom from one of the sharpest minds today
The latest book breakdown from the Stairway to Wisdom
The Paradox of Abundance
My Monthly Reading Recap where I share the 13 books I read last month
The 3 rules of winning
How developing a “Lamborghini Mindset” skyrocketed the profits in my business
My top 5 book recommendations this week
A special gift for reading all the way to the end
In one sentence…
Do Hard Things lays out a new model of mental toughness that involves accurate self-appraisal and building toughness on a foundation of experience and earned confidence.
The Simple Path to Wealth is an excellent introduction to stock market investing, also good for people who want to simplify their financial lives, get out of debt, and start looking further ahead into the future.
The Four Agreements is one of the most popular spiritual books of all time and carries a deceptively simple message of self-reliance, self-trust, and self-love.
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life is one of the first Wayne Dyer books I ever read, and it’s where he breaks down each chapter of the famous Tao Te Ching and shows how it can enhance every aspect of our lives.
Thank You for Arguing is an exceptionally funny, but also exceptionally valuable book about persuasion, charisma, and arguing for your the truth of your own ideas.
Here in this email are summaries of each book, along with a sample of my best notes, and if you want my complete set of notes on these books, you can find them on my Patreon .
Pro Learning Tip:
Getting a membership to Medium is one of the best investments I've ever made in my continuing education. The quality of the writing on Medium is superb, and some of the smartest, most interesting thinkers publish there regularly.
1) I’m starting a podcast! After spending far too much time equivocating, watching other people pump out podcasts consistently, week after week, and building their brand that way, I’m going to get in on it too.
It’s going to be called The Competitive Advantage Podcast, after my other publication of the same name, and I’ll be recording the first few episodes this week!
The structure won’t be groundbreaking and never-before-seen or anything like that; it’ll simply be about the books that have helped me get to where I am today, the ones that have given me a competitive advantage over everyone else.
If you listen to podcasts and think you might want to spend 5-10 minutes 2x a week listening to my voice, go here to get notified when the first episode comes out!
I'm also listening to Living Untethered, by Michael A. Singer on Audible. It’s read by him, which is usually what I look for in an audiobook! I don’t know, it just adds a little something to have the author narrate his own book.
Nowadays, I listen to about 3-4 audiobooks a month, and I always listen to them on Audible. No other audiobook service even compares. You can also get a 30-day free trial right here .
You know I love to support new and old friends of mine who are doing awesome things (or simply amazing people I've stumbled upon around the internet), and so here are a few great people you should know about:
1) First up is Jim from Get Better with Books on Instagram, one of the best #Bookstagram accounts on there, in my opinion, who’s back after he took some time off recently.
He always comes through with excellent book recommendations, and also some REALLY funny reels that I always end up watching several times in a row. Great books, solid humor…that’s pretty everything you want in a creator!
2) Next up is a relatively new friend of mine I met on Twitter (where it seems like I meet ALL my friends nowadays!) named Taylin John Simmonds.
Man, you wanna talk about impressive. Okay, so he was a college professor a few years back…hated the lack of financial opportunity available to him in that profession. So he starts a ghostwriting agency, grows it to $40k per month. Is he finished?
No, of course not. Then the dude pushes that aside and builds an epic personal brand on X and launches the creator economy’s first university-level education experience with his Digital Identity cohort.
I could go on and on, but this is all time that could be spent heading over to X (Twitter lol) and following him immediately.
And if you want to build your personal brand - ahem, sorry, your Digital Identity - the right way, go here and he’ll help you out tremendously.
Do you know someone I should know?
I’m always looking to connect with accomplished, inspirational, and good-hearted people who share the same interests that I do…especially books!
So if you have a favorite author, influencer, creator, etc. that you think I might love to meet (and maybe feature here), let me know! You can just hit reply to this email anytime and tell me about them. Thanks!
📚 Alex and Books Newsletter: Become smarter, happier, and wiser with 5-minute book summaries. Plus advice on how to develop a reading habit, become a better reader, & more.
📚 Sahil Bloom’s Curiosity Chronicle: Join 400,000+ others who receive the 2x weekly newsletter, where Sahil provides actionable ideas to help you build a high-performing, healthy, wealthy life.
📚 The Imperfectionist: Oliver Burkeman’s twice-monthly email on productivity, mortality, the power of limits, and building a meaningful life in an age of bewilderment.
📚 Start Your Own Newsletter with Beehiiv: This is the email platform I use personally to support my publications, The Reading Life, and The Competitive Advantage. I recently switched to Beehiiv and I will never, ever go back!
Okay, so Eric Jorgenson is another author who, when he comes out with a new book, I just buy it, no questions asked.
I’ve written a complete breakdown of one of his earlier books, The Almanack of Naval Ravikant (highly recommend), and I’ve even read his super-short but super-valuable Career Advice for Uniquely Ambitious People.
Now he’s coming out with a new book, and I’m eagerly awaiting this one as well! You just know it’s going to be good.
Want to sit with Balaji and spend a few hours deep in conversation to absorb all of his biggest ideas?
That’s exactly what this book feels like. It has all of the most useful and timeless ideas from tweets, podcasts, and essays across his entire career.
Balaji is a brilliant entrepreneur, investor, and futurist. Applying his unique perspective will help you see opportunities, identify breakthrough technologies, and build something tremendous.
This book is a guide to thinking for yourself, seeing possible futures, and learning how to build a piece of the future. By reading this book, you might pick the next great investment, start a billion-dollar company, or start an entirely new country.
The philosopher Alan Watts believed that the most fascinating question one could ever ask was simply, "Who am I?"
He was right in that the answer is so elusive, so bottomless, as to never give us a chance to reach any sort of definitive conclusion. It's a question we could keep asking about ourselves, over and over and over again for the rest of our lives, and still not have a complete, straightforward answer to.
Yet, wherever we look today, we see people constantly, insistently pushing their own identities in our faces (either their group identity or their personal identity), aggressively asserting that they are uniquely special and marvelous and that we should recognize this about them.
It's all so...tedious and boring! And it's also pretty much constant.
In this book, however, Lama Marut demonstrates the immense and enduring freedom that comes with giving up that whole game and just being nobody. Which, paradoxically, allows you to be yourself.
The trouble, as Marut explains, is that this drive to be somebody usually means that we're striving to be somebody else. As you'll come to see, this makes it even more difficult to find out who you really are! If you're always trying to be somebody else, you'll never discover who you already are and what that means.
Marut's solution (which is, really, the timeless, eternal solution reached by sages and mystics throughout history and all over the world) is to deliberately become nobody. After all, nobody's perfect. So why not be nobody?
Briefly stated, the Paradox of Abundance refers to the phenomenon where, as greater numbers of people gain access to a particular resource, a minority of people profit immensely and the majority of people are adversely affected.
As David Perell puts it:
I find this really interesting, how, for example, we have all this access to incredibly detailed, diverse information, and yet paying attention to most of it is bad for you.
Where the news is concerned, their business model is fear, and yet billions of people each day tune into their preferred "fear factory" to get their daily dose of disaster and death.
Yet, if you know what to look for, and if you choose your sources carefully, this access to virtually infinite amounts of information can make your life a paradise by giving you exactly what you need in order to thrive.
Perell goes on to quote Naval Ravikant, a favorite author and thinker of mine:
Further Reading: The Stairway to Wisdom
Note: This is a sample from my other newsletter, Stairway to Wisdom. Along with the book breakdowns, you get a premium weekly newsletter packed with insights and ideas like this one. Get your 14-day free trial right here .
Here is my Monthly Reading Recap, where I talk about the 13 books I read in August of 2023, including an INSTANT favorite by one of my most beloved fiction writers.
I don't usually finish books I hate, but there's also one of those in there. I don't REGRET reading it, but I do kinda wish it had never been written.
You'll understand why when you watch the video.
That being said, there are some GREAT books in here - new favorites - and so August was a FANTASTIC reading month. I toss in a few bonus book recommendations in there along the way too.
Have you read any of these books before? Let me know! I read every comment.
THIS right here is the attitude you need to have if you want to win. No matter what game you’re playing.
Sports, Business, Life…
I talk all the time about the similarities between each, what you can learn from each, and the skills that transfer over between each.
THIS is how winners think…
I’m about to make a bold move here, and some people will be turned off by it. Most people won’t care, a few will be envious, but the people I’m talking to — and hopefully, I’m talking to YOU — will be inspired by it.
You see, I’ve never earned more than $100k in a single year, but in just 8 short months from now I am going to be selling my Porsche Boxster and buying a Lamborghini Aventador. Now, why should you care at all?
Well in this article I’m going to (briefly) explain how I got to where I am, what set me up to be able to buy the Lambo, and how you can replicate my results.
Let’s start in the middle, right in the center of the action, where I was at my lowest point all year. I didn’t stay there for long…[Read Time: 5 Mins ]
We've never really understood the true nature of mental toughness until now.
Before Steve Magness and the pioneering scientists whose research he presents in this book came along, we've seen only one side of it, and this book will show you that there's more to toughness than we usually realize and more inside you than you've ever known.
The old model of mental toughness was based on fear and ridicule, shame and doubt. It was based on hiding all evidence of weakness, and the old style of coaching and leadership involved yelling and screaming at people until they get closer to what we wanted them to be - not for the purpose of allowing them to reach their full potential.
That changes today, and it changes with this book, Do Hard Things.
Steve Magness is a high-performance coach and scientist who works with Olympic athletes and people of comparable ability and prowess, and his book is a compelling and useful attempt to "fix" our old definition of mental toughness and replace it with something more flexible, more insightful, and ultimately, more useful.
Do Hard Things draws from the very latest in science and psychology to teach us how we can work with our body, emotions, and feelings, and how we can shift the very meaning of discomfort in our minds by leaning in, paying attention, and allowing ourselves the mental freedom to perform at the highest level of which we are capable.
The new model of toughness is all about embracing reality, listening to what our body is trying to tell us, responding instead of reacting, and transcending discomfort by tapping into the deeper meaning behind it all. The old model made everything look like a nail, so the only tool it could offer us was a hammer.
There's everything in this book from mindfulness, military case studies, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and more, and it all comes together in a wonderful book that ends up being more growth-focused, intent on building you up, rather than tearing you down. Focusing on what's right with you, what you can accomplish, rather than what you lack or what is temporarily out of reach.
You already have everything you need within you in order to become more resilient, stronger, tougher, more flexible, and more adaptable. To paraphrase the great psychologist, Abraham Maslow, toughness isn't about adding something to you that isn't there already, it's about acting, striving, and competing as the person you are...with nothing taken away.
There are approximately eight hundred gazillion books out there about investing, but this is one of the best ones. It also comes with an extremely easy-to-follow formula for building wealth over time:
Spend less than you earn. Invest the surplus. Avoid debt.
And that's pretty much it. The financial world is notoriously murky and opaque, and much of what goes on there appears to be random, but The Simple Path to Wealth cuts through all the noise and deception and gives you the straight facts.
It's also for people who don't want to invest a ton of time learning everything there is to know about money. Everybody wants financial security and freedom, but most people don't have any interest in becoming financial experts. This book bridges that gap beautifully.
Collins himself is a personal finance blogger who has built up an exceptionally loyal audience over the years, and in these pages, he comes across as an agendaless, effortlessly helpful neighbor who just wants you to succeed with money and be happy. The kind of guy who would invite you over for a barbeque and would actually make you want to go.
The Simple Path to Wealth goes a bit deeper into his personal philosophy as well, which is fundamentally about freedom. It's about getting this "money" thing handled, and thus expanding the possibilities for your own life.
Speaking of freedom, it strikes me that many people believe that their personal freedom is much further away than it actually is. JL Collins repeatedly dispels this myth on page after page, and by the end of it, you're left with this confidence, this inner knowing, that you can do this. You can earn your freedom. You can build wealth and reach financial independence, and it's not going to take you until the end of your days to do it.
Of course, freedom is far away if you choose to remain financially illiterate and don’t take time to learn how the stock market works, what the difference is between an index fund and a mutual fund, what an IRA is, and all this basic financial literacy stuff that he covers in this book.
But more than that, Collins gives you the confidence that you can figure this stuff out; you can make meaningful changes to your financial strategy that will significantly improve your situation; you can do it, and thinking about money doesn't have to take over your whole life.
This book is extremely practical, and you'll learn what, specifically, to invest in (and to avoid) that will give you the greatest chance of building significant wealth over time. But the overall theme - the main takeaway - is that the stock market is the world's most powerful wealth-building tool, and, over a long-enough time horizon, it always goes up. Always.
The whole process of reaching financial independence involves five simple steps, which are as follows:
Save Aggressively: This involves paying off most debt as soon as humanly possible, and, where it makes sense, aiming to save 50% or more of your pre-tax income. I know, I know, 50% is a lot. But we're going to discuss how 50% (or something close to it) is a lot more realistic than you might expect.
Invest Strategically: You're going to have to decide for yourself how much risk you'd like to take on (which will determine your specific investment allocation, re: stocks vs. bonds, etc.), and then you're going to buy low-cost index funds such as Vanguard...and then hold them for decades. Do not pull your money out of the market when stocks start to tank, as they almost inevitably will at least some of the time that you're invested in the stock market. Trying to time the market and pulling out when things get rough (and before the market inevitably recovers) is how people go broke.
Be Prepared: You're also going to want to keep some cash on hand for emergencies and to pay for various life events such as home renovations, car repairs, etc. Don't get caught off guard! When you prepare for them beforehand, big emergencies often turn into small inconveniences.
Be Tax-Efficient: This is where the book is most valuable to U.S.-based readers and mind-numbingly boring to non-U.S. readers. But if you live in the United States, you're going to want to fill up all of your tax-advantaged accounts first, and this section will show you exactly how to do that. In the View from the Opposition section below, I link to similar resources for international readers.
Don't Stop: That is until you can afford to live off 4% of your investment portfolio each year. It may take a while, but your wealth accumulation will speed up over time, especially if you're reinvesting the dividends from your investments along the way.
There are plenty of other topics discussed in the book, such as where traditional investing advice goes wrong and what actually works; the inner workings of the stock market and how to avoid being taken for a ride; how to change your investment strategy depending on which season of life you're currently in, how the market is faring, etc.; how fund managers are costing you literally thousands of dollars in extra fees; what financial independence actually looks like, and how to protect it, and so much more.
Most importantly, there's nothing in this book that's beyond your comprehension. You can learn everything you need to know to set yourself up for freedom and independence for life, and it doesn't have to consume your life.
You can spend just a few hours learning the basics of investing, money management, and finance, and then you can begin to apply them immediately to make your entire life better from this day forward. Very few investing books come with that kind of ROI.
See? ROI! We're starting to think like investors already!
Investing legend Warren Buffet once said that unless you figure out how to make money in your sleep, you're going to have to work until you die. The Simple Path to Wealth will help you do precisely that so that going forward, your finances don't limit your possibilities.
Financial independence means that you'll no longer be forced to make decisions based on how little money you have. Instead, the money you accumulate will support the life decisions you're able to make because of the freedom you have.
It’s easy to hear everyone raving about this book, then look at what the four agreements actually are, and just think, “Really? That’s it?”
I totally get that. It’s a reasonable reaction, and though I can’t quite remember, that might have been my first reaction too. Anyway, don’t make assumptions. That’s literally one of the agreements!
These are extremely simple rules for living – flexible, pliant rules – and when followed, they just make everything better. I know that my own life changed when I made a commitment to doing my absolute best and aiming for excellence in everything.
Being impeccable with your word (another of the agreements) helps you live with yourself as well. It’s powerful. It's also something that you’ve probably heard a million times.
Well, the reason you’ve heard it a million times is that it’s absolutely amazing advice! I also highly recommend other similar books like The Three Questions, and The Mastery of Self, written by Ruiz’s son.
Get past the title, guys. I mean, come on, we’ve been over this!
Sometimes great books have dumb titles, and I would hate for someone to miss what Wayne Dyer has to say just because it sounds like some generic self-help platitude. Notwithstanding its being true, this book is about so much more than “mere” thoughts.
Wayne Dyer spent an entire year reading dozens of translations of the Tao Te Ching, a 2,500-year-old classic of Taoism about the natural order and rhythm of the universe, and wrote this book about applying the wisdom of the Tao to our everyday lives.
I read this in my early twenties, and it – no exaggeration – helped to change the entire trajectory of my one and only life. I owe Wayne Dyer so much, and all he ever asked of me was for the opportunity to be of service. He also introduced me to Alan Watts, a man who has also been instrumental in helping me reach my current state of calm, confident action and overflowing life.
You’ll probably recognize the phrase, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,’ and that comes directly from the Tao! It’s 2,500-year-old wisdom and there are 80 more verses where that came from.
The main message is that existence has a rhythm, a flow, and that we are inextricably bound up in it. We are part of everything that exists, and we can’t be separate from anyone or anything else in the entire universe. The universe is everything that exists – and we are it!
This is one of the better books out there on the subject of persuasion, but you don’t have to believe me.
There’s actually a ton of really valuable stuff in here, making the book deserving of a second or third reading. Heinrichs draws on classical rhetoric as well as modern politics to show dozens of ways that people can be persuaded.
Examples are from people as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, Cicero, Aristotle, and Bart Simpson, and the book’s fairly entertaining throughout.
You’re bound to learn some cool tricks – and some solid principles – for persuading people and larger audience to take your side on important issues and debates.
Today’s Five Books on Amazon:
You made it to the end! Congratulations!
You're now among the rarest of the rare.
I mean, that was a lot of books!
But I hope you found something here that looked interesting!
Personally, I’m obsessed with sharing the magic of books and reading, and so I love it when one or more of my book recommendations “hits.”
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I also want to thank you for reading this newsletter all the way through to the end and to thank you for real, I’m going to give you a 1-month free trial to the Stairway to Wisdom.
That’s twice the free trial period that most people get, because people who finish what they start - and have the patience to do a lot of reading - are usually the ones who love the Stairway to Wisdom the most.
And remember, you can just hit "reply" to this email to ask me a question or offer a book recommendation of your own. I may take a while to respond, but I read every one!
All the best,
P.S. Whenever you're ready, here are three more ways I can help you apply the wisdom found in the greatest books ever written to your life:
I’m going to be leaving some casual spots open for personal coaching, alongside what I do for my monthly clients, and the first choice always goes to the people on my email list.
Simply reply to this email or click here if this is something you're interested in working with me on, and I'll let you know more about it, answer all your questions, etc.
Areas I can help you with include reading more books and remembering more of what you read, growing your business, getting into better shape, and building mental toughness and resilience.
You’ll work 1-1 with me, and together we’ll be lining up big breakthroughs for you every single month.
I've released 50 complete, in-depth book breakdowns on the Stairway to Wisdom that respects both your time AND your intelligence and will help you become the person you've always known you were capable of being. Read them for free here.
Join my free Substack publication, The Competitive Advantage, where I teach high-level, high-impact self-discipline tactics and strategies to help you progress toward your goals.
You'll also join a supportive community of other winners all moving forward together in the direction of where we want to be in life. Join here.