Reading is a time consuming activity. The struggle is finding good books REALLY worth the time it takes to read them. Recently, I’ve been on a recommended-reading streak– both by podcasts and authors. I listen to a podcast or read a book, and in it, they recommend another book and so on. Through this method, I’ve discovered some REALLY good reads. This season, I’ve been mainly focusing on books that enhance my journey as a creative, both in business, design (a little project I’ve been working on) and writing. Fiction too, of course.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there who is interested in books pertaining to these topics, or is just looking for a good, worthy read. So I’m gonna try something new here, and see how it will go. For this post of my usual in-depth discussion of a single book, I’m gonna list out the most valuable reads from my reading list, and write briefly on each one.
Here are some GOOD books that I’m reading now or have recently finished– what they’re briefly about, how I discovered it, as well as why I recommend them.
- Tools of Titans- Tim Ferriss
- The Dip- Seth Godin
- Inside Steve’s Mind- Leander Kahney
- Show Your Work- Austin Kleon
- Creativity, Inc.- Ed Catmull
- Anything Haruki Murakami
- Ready Player One- Ernest Cline
Tools of Titans– Tim Ferriss
Dare I say that this book is one of my most valuable reads of all time?
Brief summary: In this book, Ferriss interviews hundreds of top performers across a wide range of industries- sports, health, business, Youtube, journalism, etc. Allocating a few pages to each one, he interviews them and talks about them or their work, giving readers insight into what makes them tick. The questions range from their exercise routine or diet, mantras and philosophies they live by, their most recommended book, what they wish they’d done differently and so on. These individuals include Casey Neistat, Naval Ravikant, Paulo Coelho, Ed Catmull, Tony Robbins and Brene Brown. Interspersed between these interviews are informational chapters or articles including an introduction to venture capitalism, a manifesto on laziness, 1,000 true fans revisited and five morning rituals.
How I discovered it: I’ve recently started listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast and it has been challenging the ways I think, as well as giving me some REALLY good advice for many aspects of life.
Why I’d recommend it: When we think ‘success’, most people look at the finished product– be it a company or project– and measure it according to some sort of impersonal standard– money, audience etc. But I think what’s more important is the people behind these products. And little tools, philosophies, habits and perspectives make up these people. This is a great book that picks the brains and lives of these individuals– mavericks, business extraordinaries, athletes, and allows the reader to study them not just as brand names, but as human beings who have crafted lives that build up success overtime. It is also always interesting to see how these top-of-the-game creators and leaders think and live, and to maybe learn a thing or two from them.
Who should read it: Any one seeking to improve their lives in any aspect, but especially entrepreneurs.
The Dip– Seth Godin
I’ve written an in-depth post about this great little book here.
Brief summary: This book helps you figure out when to stick with a project– business, personal or otherwise– and when to quit it.
How I discovered it: It was recommended in a podcast that I highly recommend, Listen Money Matters.
Why I recommend it: Time is a valuable resource, and it sucks when you’ve been spending large chunks of it on things that turn out to not really matter instead of things that produce the maximum output. This book doesn’t provide a perfect formula for figuring which things matter more, but help you ask the right questions that lead you to the answers in your own life.
Who should read it: To proudly self-proclaimed starters– you know, those who like to start something, but have trouble objectively assessing the potential of the thing.
Inside Steve’s Mind– Leander Kahney
Brief Summary: Kahney tells the story of Steve Jobs– his story, methods and quirks that made up his success. For each section, he highlights the key strategies employed by Jobs that we can learn from.
How I discovered it: Saw it on a shelf in the library.
Why I’d recommend it: It is fascinating to discover exactly what makes up Job’s career, and for a person that successful, there is certainly a lot any entrepreneur can learn from him.
Who should read it: Entrepreneurs who want to learn from the best on how to take their businesses to the next level– be it marketing, customer service, human resource or branding. Also, anybody who happens to be an Apple fanboy/girl.
Show Your Work– Austin Kleon
Brief Summary: This is a short, snappy book on ways to showcase your creative work. For example, it recommends building content on a website and gives steps on nurturing the creative process.
How I discovered this: Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans
Why I’d recommend it: It offers practical, unique ways to boost your creative process, and proposes sound, positive ways to think of creating as a whole.
Who should read it: Budding creatives, who like me, have few practical ideas on how to sustain creativity as well as getting their work out there, wherever there is.
Creativity, Inc– Ed Catmull
Brief Summary: Ed Catmull is the current president of Walt Disney and Pixar as well as a cofounder of Pixar. In this book, he shares about creative inspiration and things that hinder it. He talks about his own journey to where he is now, and the learning points of each step of that journey. For example, the importance of removing hierarchy in a creative team, and how to spot a good team.
How I discovered it: Catmull’s section in Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans.
Why I’d recommend it: The way I read it, this book is about protecting and nurturing the integrity of the creative process amidst commercial growth. As someone who is seeking to grow a blog, portfolio and business all at once, this is a crucial topic to me.
Who should read it: Creators and entrepreneurs, especially if your venture is creativity-based.
Anything Haruki Murakami
Brief Summary: Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author of a wide range of books, both novels and short stories and is still pretty regularly releasing new reads. He has a written a few non-fiction pieces but he mostly focuses on fiction. What’s so unique about this particular author is that his stories always have a strange unearthly twist to them.
How I discovered them: Murakami is a pretty popular name around here
Why I’d recommend it: His books are particularly fascinating to me as they always seek to push the rules and boundaries of fiction writing, and the different elements and devices that it consists of. Murakami’s writing may be a bit of a challenge to follow at first, but I find that it is always rewarding to read books from such pioneers of fictional possibilities. To follow the experiments of those unafraid to challenge the status quo.
Who should read it: Anyone who wants to read something different and refreshing for a change, and still read a damn good story.
Ready Player One– Ernest Cline
Brief Summary: I’ve written an in-depth post on this book here. It is a novel set in the year 2044 about a virtual reality world, OASIS, in which thousands of users race to find three keys and clear a number of challenges in order to inherit the fortune of the dead founder of OASIS.
How I discovered it: Casey Neistat, who mentioned in one of his videos that this is his favourite fictional book.
Why I’d recommend it: It is an extraordinarily fun read, filled to the brim with 80’s references. It is also a slightly serious commentary on the neglect of reality with the growing presence of virtual reality as well as other pertinent issues like climate change and social inequality.
Who should read it: Anyone who loves a good read. Particularly those familiar with the 80’s or are into 80’s related stuff now, such as fellow fans of Stranger Things.