A couple of years back I shared my reading list and wrote about the books I found most interesting. But then, after that, I have been reading some more over the past few months, here are my recent favorites:
1. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - by LessWrong
A "parallel universe" Harry Potter fiction written by Eliezer Yudkowsky (A.K.A. LessWrong), an AI researcher, writer and decision theorist at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. The fan fiction story illustrates topics in cognitive science and rationality, recasting the original story in an attempt to explain Harry's wizardry through the scientific method.
Petunia Evans has married an Oxford biochemistry professor and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and technology. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes surprising results. With magic now seemingly a proven reality, Harry now takes his place at Hogwarts, armed with Enlightenment ideals and the experimental spirit.
The text contains many clues: obvious clues, not-so-obvious clues and truly obscure hints. This is a rationalist story; its mysteries are solvable, and meant to be solved. All science mentioned is real science.
The fanfiction is known for possibly being the most reviewed Harry Potter fanfiction, with over 20,000 reviews on Fanfiction.net as of July, 2013.
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling owns Harry Potter, and no one owns the methods of rationality.
2. Influencer (The power to change anything) - by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
Leading is hard. And the only thing harder than leading a team towards a common vision – provided you are able to unite it in the first place – is leading a team through change. Change is harder.
There is no magic formula for managing change, but the book "Influencer: The Power to Change Anything" provides a great framework.
The authors first point out what does not work: talking. You can’t explain logically to people why they must change their behaviors and expect anything to happen. Peoples' behaviors are tuned to what they believe is in their best self interests. Unless you can change that belief, you have little chance of changing their behaviors.
Influence is about changing hearts, minds, and behavior to produce meaningful, sustainable results.
In short, don’t waste time on how to create change until you’ve clarified what you want, why you want it, and when you want it. The book explains how to find vital behaviors, use a strategic and varied approach to influence individuals and groups.
3. The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self - by Alex Lickerman
A book about how to surmount the challenges that life throws our way. It’s a powerful book that helps you cultivate your inner strength to face hard times with a fearless heart. It’s more than a book. It’s a set of tools for life.
The tools in this book help you stand strong when tested. The key, according to Dr. Lickerman, is turning adversity into wisdom. It’s that wisdom that helps you develop your resilience and achieve indestructible peace.
It’s also a beautiful blend of ancient wisdom and modern science, offering a set of guidelines not for solving problems but for establishing a life state that makes all problems solvable, and dramatically increase your ability to withstand adversity.
It doesn't just happen automatically, and it takes practice. Extraordinary people may be born, but they can also be made.
4. Who is pulling your strings? (how to break the cycle of manipulation and regain control) - by Harriet Braiker
In "Who's Pulling Your Strings?", Dr. Harriet B. Braiker exposes the most common methods of manipulators, and with the help of self-assessment quizzes, action plans, and how-to exercises, she helps you recognize, end and avoid the manipulative cycle (for good) through lots of straight-forward techniques.
5. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment - by Ekhart Tolle
A guide stressing the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of the past or future. The author writes that an individual should be aware of their "present moment" instead of losing themselves in worry and anxiety about the past or future.
According to the book, only the present moment is important, and both an individual's past and future is created by their thoughts. The author maintains that people's insistence that they have control of their life is an illusion that only brings pain. The book also describes methods of relaxation and meditation to aid readers in anchoring themselves in the present. These suggestions include slowing down life by avoiding multi-tasking, spending time in nature, and letting go of worries about the future.
Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question and answer format to guide you.
6. I was blind but now I see - by James Altucher
James Altucher is one of my favorite bloggers. In this book he attempts two things. First, he tries to create some awareness about a wide variety of issues that we tend to take for granted/as normal without actually considering why, using clear cut arguments and mentioning alternatives to make his points.
Secondly, the author describes how to deal with the awareness and to get the confidence/strength to do things in your own way. Funny, brutally honest and thought-provoking.
7. Shut up, stop whining and get a life - by Larry Winget
This is not your typical self-help book. This book won't make you feel good about yourself and that's a good thing. If you are hoping to improve yourself with a bunch of feel-good mantras, then this book is NOT for you. But if you are ready to get up and really change your life, then Larry Winget is your man. Larry (A.K.A. the Pitbull of Personal Development) is direct, caustic, and controversial. His tough-love approach boils success down to a simple formula: your life failures are your own freaking fault, and if you shut up, stop whining, and take action, your life will get better.
8. The 50th Law - by 50 Cent and Robert Greene
Pop culture and hip hop icon 50 Cent joins forces with Robert Greene, bestselling author, to write collaboratively a bible for success in life and work based on a single principle: fear nothing.
They came up with The 50th Law, a New York Times bestselling book on strategy and fearlessness.
The book is a semi-autobiographical account detailing 50 Cent's rise as both a young urban hustler and as an up-and-coming musician with lessons and anecdotes from historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Sun Tzu, Socrates, Napoleon, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin.
9. The Millionnaire Mind - by Thomas Stanley
The Millionaire Mind draws from the author's research of America's affluent to examine the ideas, beliefs and practices of the segment of the financial elite that use little or no consumer credit.
The book analyzes the common environmental and lifestyle factors that preceded and resulted in this researched segment's ability to accumulate wealth, by exploring the attitudes and skills that enabled these millionaires to build and maintain their fortunes.
10. How to live on 24 hours a day - by Arnold Bennett
Time is a very funny thing; everyone gets the same amount per day. No one receives either more or less than you receive. It's not possible to go to the store and buy time. But time is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing is possible.
The author states that time is the most precious of commodities. He said that many books have been written on how to live on a certain amount of money each day, but he adds that the old adage "time is money" understates the matter, as time can often produce money, but money cannot produce more time. Time is extremely limited, and Bennett urged others to make the best of the time remaining in their lives.
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day offers practical advice on how one might live (as opposed to just existing) within the confines of 24 hours a day. A classic piece on self improvement teaching you to live to the fullest.
11. The Power of Habit (Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business) - by Charles Duhigg
Habits can save us or ruin us in a thousand ways; in fact, these "automatic responses" affect every arena of our lives.
In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg explores the science behind habit creation and reformation. He takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.
At its core, The Power of Habit contains a sensible argument: The key is understanding how habits work.
12. On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft - by Stephen King
On Writing is part biography and part how-to. Stephen King (world best-selling author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy) writes about his childhood and young adulthood, relating stories that made him the writer he has become. Stephen King then moves into the mechanics of writing, offering advice and insight into a successful career that has worked so well for him but remains distant for thousands of others.
13. Principles - by Ray Dalio
Principles is like a modern day meditation guide aimed at personal, professional and career development.
Ray Dalio, self-made multi-billionaire, details the purpose and importance of having principles in general, his most fundamental life principles that apply to everything he does, and his management principles.
14. Introduction to Metaphysics - by Henri Bergson
A thought provoking essay about the concept of reality by Henri Bergson. For Bergson, reality occurs not in a series of discrete states but as a process similar to that described by process philosophy or the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Reality is fluid and cannot be completely understood through reductionistic analysis, which he said "implies that we go around an object", gaining knowledge from various perspectives which are relative. Instead, reality can be grasped absolutely only through intuition, which Bergson expressed as "entering into" the object.
This is a difficult book but his ideas about time and the value of immediate experience are definitely worthwhile.