Another 23 Excellent Books You Should Read

another 23 excellent books you should read

One of the questions I get asked most via email is if I have any good book recommendations.

I do indeed.

23 of them actually.

Note: If you’re reading this because you’re looking for book recommendations, other than the ones in this article, be sure to check out these two:

Most (modern) books contain only 1-3 big ideas. These 23 excellent books contain more than that.

Let’s start with. . .

Business & Success Philosophy

Why should you read these type of books?

For the obvious reason: To get ahead in life.


Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

poor charlie's almanack bookThis is the best book I’ve read in 2014.

It contains the most important thoughts, mental models, scientific theories and business strategies of one of the smartest men alive: Charlie Munger.

Munger is the business partner of Warren Buffet. And, just like Buffet, Munger is a self-made billionaire. I will re-read this book many times over my life (there’s simply too much wisdom in it to take in at once).

If you’re into behavioral economics, it should interest you to know that Charlie basically came up with it, and has the smartest system I have seen for applying that knowledge to different fields of life. Business in particular.

The book’s name — Poor Charlie’s Almanack — was chosen to honor Charlie’s role model, Benjamin Franklin, who wrote a book called Poor Richard’s Almanack.

[Note: Reading this book will give you another 20+ excellent book recommendations.]


Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Mungerseeking wisdom: from darwin to munger book

This is the second best book I’ve read in 2014.

Some of its content or main ideas are the same as in Poor Charlie’s Almanack. But much of it is different or explained with new examples.

I suggest you read this book after PCA as it’s a bit tougher to read. This book has zero fluff in it. It is packed with useful information from start to finish. It contains a lot of thought-provoking thoughts and questions. I had to stop and take a break to digest what I had read many times.

[Note: As I said, these two books are the best I’ve read in 2014. Hence I spent a proportionate amount of time studying them. These two books took me over a month (combined) to read, because I transcribed very large portions of them into my commonplace
and my book summary book.]

How to Fail at Almost Everything And Still Win Big

how to fail at almost everything and still win big scott adams bookScott Adams is the creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert. He is also a serial entrepreneur who has tried and failed a lot of things — and led and interesting an inspiring life.

There is a lot of wisdom and life experience condensed in this short book. It’s an easy and fun read. Even a kid could learn from it.

If you’re young I would recommend you read this book before PCA and Seeking Wisdom. Those books are incredibly good, but they assume that you have a certain knowledge-base. This book will give you much of it.

Adams recommends you to learn how cognitive biases work so that you can remain rational and use your brain to its full potential.


The Essential Drucker

the essential drucker bookPeter Drucker was a business philosopher and “management guru” (he basically invented the term “management”). He wrote 30-something books over his 95-year old life. The Essential Drucker contains most of his big ideas. Everyone should read it.

How has the profitability of the main industries during 1960-2000 gone?

  • Manufactured goods:60 %
  • Farm and food products: 70 %
  • Information products (including education and healthcare): + 300 %

Did you know that?

Towards the end of his life Drucker was interested in the advent of information society. He believed we would soon stop living in cities and work from home — anywhere — via computers.

This brings us to the two next books. . .



the netocrats bookIt’s actually called The Netocrats. When I talked to its author, Alexander Bard, before writing The Bard Notes, he informed me of this.

The real value of this book is that it puts the paradigm shift of information society in a philosophical and historical context. It also contains a ton of useful and interesting trivia.

Check out The Bard Notes for a better summary.


Average is Over

average is over bookLike The Netocrats, Average is Over is also a book about the future. But it is more practical and focuses on the future of the job market of the US, based on statistics and research.

One noteworthy example is that the wages for nearly ALL jobs have decreased by at least 5-10 % over the last 50 years, with the exception of highly educated people and entrepreneurs. This trend is likely to get continue.

Key points:

There are three things that are scarce in today’s economy:

1) Quality land and natural resources.

2) Intellectual property or good ideas about what should be produced

3) Quality labor with unique skills.

Unique skills, as in: Cannot be replaced by a machine.

If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery.

You should read this book if you’re into futuristic philosophy and marketing.


The Millionaire Fastlane

the fastlane millionaire bookThis is a great business book in terms of entrepreneurial mindset and practical tips. MJ DeMarco makes a distinction between two kinds of people in the world of success: Fastlaners and slowlaners.

Fastlaners are entrepreneurs who take intelligent risks and operate by the wealth formula of leverage multiplied by impact. Slowlaners are (most) people who (falsely) believe they can get really RICH by improving their intrinsic value through formal education and selling their time for money. DeMarco spends much of the book convincing you why the slowlane-strategy won’t make you rich.

Key points:

  • Don’t be concerned with cutting miniature expenses. Create a great product or service instead.
  • Make your decisions with time as the #1 factor (instead of money, like most people do).
  • Maximize time. Time buys money — not the other way around. Money can be made. Time is non-refundable.

And one of the best quotes from the book:

Your choices have significant trajectory into the future, and the younger you are, the more horsepower they exude. Unfortunately, horsepower fades with age. When you are under 25 you have maximum horsepower and your choices discharge an incredible amount of firepower.

DeMarco likes to use car analogies and uses them extensively throughout the book.


How to Get Rich

how to get rich felix dennis bookWritten by Felix Dennis, the publishing empire billionaire, who owned Maxim Magazine among other enterprises. The book is autobiographical and chronicles Felix rags-to-riches story, while giving some good business advice along the way. The core advice can be summed up in two parts.


  • Never talk negatively about yourself.
  • You will never get rich as an employee. Not even as a manager

If you want to be rich, you are not looking for a “career,” except as a launch pad or as a chance to infiltrate and understand a particular industry. A job for the rich-in-training is merely something to keep you ticking over, to put food on your plate and wine in your glass.


  • Ownership is power — hold on to stock
  • Diversify your risk. Create new baskets of wealth (like Richard Branson)
  • Sell early. Get out while the going is good (this was Felix’s biggest personal challenge)



Why I read biographies:

  • To study the lives of the greats, learn vicariously from their successes as well as their mistakes and to implant them into my Dunbar’s number.
  • For the motivation and inspiration they provide.
  • Because they often contain useful historical trivia.

Colin Powell: My American Journey

my american journey colin powell bookColin Powell is the posterboy for self-development.

He grew up in Harlem, the son of two Jamaican immigrants, and made it to Secretary of State and army general. His journey is inspiring and oozes of hard work, discipline and intelligence. Powell has a number of life principles that he abides by. He tells stories for how he picked up each of these principles. The most important principle, in my opinion, is to always “check small things” to avoid unnecessary mistakes.

Growing up Powell was average at just about everything. Until he joined the military reserve as a college student and realized he was a natural leader:

It was only once I was in college, about six months into college when I found something that I liked, and that was ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps in the military. And I not only liked it, but I was pretty good at it. That’s what you really have to look for in life, something that you like, and something that you think you’re pretty good at. And if you can put those two things together, then you’re on the right track, and just drive on.

You’ll also learn many interesting trivia about the military and how things work in politics.


Einstein: His Life and Universeeinstein his life and universe book

This book is not an easy read — compared to the Steve Jobs book, also written by Walter Isaacson — but it is an educating read. About half the book is devoted to understanding Einstein while the other half — which is hard unless you know some science — is spent explaining:

  • The history of physics and the context in which it has evolved
  • How various theories in physics work

Einstein was a freakishly hard-working man. You have surely heard the story of how he took the job at the patent office in Bern so that he would have time to work on his theory of relativity (he did his patent work in just a 2-3 hours, kept a bunch of papers on his desk to appear busy, and spent the remaining hours working on physics).

What you may not have heard is that to further maximize time spent working he wrote a contract to his wife Mileva Maric stating:

 You will make sure:

– that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;

– that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;

– that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.

You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will forego:

– my sitting at home with you;

– my going out or travelling with you.

You will obey the following points in your relations with me:

– you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;

– you will stop talking to me if I request it;

– you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.

You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behaviour.


Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth

mike tyson undisputed truth bookThis is probably the best written biography I have read (most entertaining).

The first half (ca 300 pages) is amazing. You learn about Mike’s brutally traumatic upbringing and how Cus D’Amato took him from being a scared-shitless kid and trained him into a ruthless killing machine, by using hypnosis, affirmations and other interesting techniques.

There was one part of the book, just before 20-year old Mike is facing Trevor Berbick for the championship, that nearly brought me to tears (you have to read it to understand):

They were playing a Toto song for my entrance but all I could hear in my head was that Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight”: “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord / And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all of my life, oh Lord.”


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

narrative of the life of frederick douglass bookFrederick Douglass was born a plantation slave in America during the early 19th century and ended up as a rich civil rights leader. What a testament of willpower. Douglass realized early in life that the key to freedom is education, so he learned to read and write in secret by transcribing and copying a grammar book that belonged to his master’s child.

Interesting facts about slaves:

  • Slaves never knew how old they were and masters deliberately kept this information from them (because it would make them feel more like individuals and make them harder to control)
  • Slaves would brag about — and get into fights about — who had the better master
  • Slaves were fed like cattle, forced to eat from a big barrel, where the strongest got to eat and the weaker starved

To make the slaves believe that freedom was unattractive they were given Christmas off. The masters then arranged contests for the slaves, where they tricked them into spending what little money they had on whiskey. Then they goaded them into drinking a lot more whiskey than they could handle. The result?

Nearly all slaves wound up with huge hangovers and felt sick (they weren’t used to drinking). This made the slaves believe that this freedom-thing wasn’t so good after all, and that it was good they had masters telling them what to do.


Hitler: A Study in Tyranny

hitler a study in tyranny bookThis is the most renowned biography written about Hitler. Read it if you’re interested in the life of Hitler and the history of Germany before and during WW2. I have read several Hitler-biographies (5 I believe) and this is the best one.

Reading this book will give you a detailed analysis of Hitler’s life from start to finish. Alan Bullock uses a ton of different source to give a wide-lens perspective of how different events may have been perceived at the time.


Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

albert speer his battle with truth bookA biography on Albert Speer’s life. Written after he was released from Spandau Prison, where he served 20 years as a war criminal.

Albert Speer was the Minister of Armaments and War Production for Germany during WW2. He was supposedly the most intelligent (and probably the most able) out of all the top Nazis. He started out as an exceptionally talented architect and was contracted to design the office of Joseph Goebbels. His work was appreciated and he was asked to design other things.

Eventually he was “discovered” by Hitler, who had an eye for talent, and decided to promote Speer to be his personal architect. Speer worked diligently and rose through the ranks fast. He proved to be incredibly efficient and eventually did the work of several ministers alone.

You will want to read this book if you’re into WW2 history. Speer talks as much of his own life as he does about Hitler’s. He mentions the hypnotic effect of Hitler’s charisma repeatedly.


My Early Life

my early life winston churchill bookA well-written and entertaining autobiography of Churchill’s first 28 years, ending with him entering the House of Commons and establishing his political career.

Churchill rose to prominence by being born in a rich noble family, through exceptional networking and then add bravery and a lot of luck to that.

He was lucky in the sense that he could’ve died on several occasions, but didn’t. For example, he was captured and taken prisoner during the Boer War (in Africa) and managed to escape.

He used his remarkable survival story to become a national celebrity. Then he leveraged his newfound fame by traveling around Britain, and then North America too, giving a well-rehearsed speech of his war stories.

The three key lessons I took from this book was:

  1. To capitalize on victories as much as possible
  2. Not to underestimate the role of luck in success
  3. To work hard with what you’ve got

Churchill had a lisp and still became a good speaker. He also lacked spontaneity: all “off-the-cuff” arguments he made against political opponents in debates were carefully memorized.



I don’t read much fiction. But when I do I want to read quality fiction — the sort where the author is conveying some deeper meaning through storytelling.

What I don’t want to read is crap fiction, the sort that most people read. The sort you see displayed in the front of book stores and at airports. Detective stories and mind-numbing entertainment with lots of cliff-hangers (Dan Brown) and sex (50 Shades of Grey).

The best fiction authors are closet philosophers, scientists, and businesspeople. Mario Puzo is one such author.

When you read quality fiction you should do it with the intent of practicing your pattern recognition. Read with an end in mind.

Find the underlying mental model

Try to find mental models and underlying (psychological) themes in fiction books, to rehearse what you’ve learned from reading more serious books.

Fools Die

fools die mario puzo book

Mario Puzo famously wrote The Godfather. But this book was his personal favorite. It’s also my favorite of his books.

The main character is John Merlyn, who considers himself a wizard (hence the surname). Not a wizard in the sense of magic tricks, but in the sense of predicting the future by using his ability for long-term thinking. He uses his “wizardry” to avoid mistakes which other characters in the book — “fools” — make. This serves him well, as it slowly, but consistently, makes him successful.

This book is a masterpiece. There are many lessons to learn from it.


The Godfather

the godfather mario puzo bookDon Corleone is the definition of a go-to-guy, known for being able to help out with anything. This iconic book holds many insights:

  • Make friends. Lots of them. Especially with influential people.
  • Be loyal. Never betray your allies or your family.
  • Be patient. Wait and scheme for the right moment to strike, and then do it big.
  • Be careful. Always go over the details of your schemes twice:

Don Corleone: I hope you don’t mind the way I keep going over this Barzini business.

Michael: No, not at all.

Don Corleone: It’s an old habit. I spent my life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless, but not men.



watchmen alan more dave gibson bookThis is not a book. It’s a comic book. But it’s not your typical comic book.

It’s based on the premises for great fiction that I told you about above. Watchmen is a comic used to narrate advanced ideas about human nature, psychology, history, science and philosophy. I have yet to meet anyone who read it and did not like it.

This book is worth reading alone for the character of Adrien Veidt.



Why read history?

Because it speeds up your personal development by giving you lots of mental associations, which makes you interested in more things.

It also makes you educated, difficult to trick and teaches you to think and put things in a larger context.


The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s

the dark valley a panorama of the 1930s piers brandon bookThe best history book I have read on the 30s. It contains a really detailed analysis of events and gives you a broad picture perspective of what went on (a panorama). It also has character portraits on the major decision-makers of these times — such as: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Herbert Hoover, Charles de Gaulle, and more. . .

This was the favorite book of Ingmar Bergman, the iconic Swedish movie director. He would read a chapter each night before bed.


Alexander the Great

alexander the great paul cartledge bookAlexander is the most inspiring person who has ever lived. Truly an übermensch. But if you’re looking for motivation you should read a biography about him first.

This book is written from a historical and academic perspective. The author questions the validity of the various historical sources which we base the information we have about Alexander, his leading men and his empire.

The most interesting part of this book was reading the chapters about Alexander’s father, Filip of Macedon. Filip was a genuine comprehensivist mastermind ruler — someone who’s great at many things and does big picture thinking.

If you’re already familiar with Alexander I recommend the book. If you’re not, then I don’t.


The Lessons of History

the lessons of history will durant bookThis short book packs A LOT of wisdom.

Will and Ariel Durant dedicated most of their lives to the study of history. They wrote lots of books, famously so their ten volume work The Story of Civilization.

Lessons of History summarizes the big questions and takeaways that the Durants learned in their thorough studies of 3,142 years of recorded history.

Here is the most important lesson in the book:

Means and instrumentalities change; motives and ends remain the same: to act or rest, to acquire or give, to fight or retreat, to seek association or privacy, to mate or reject, to offer or resent parental care. Nor does human nature alter as between classes: by and large the poor have the same impulses as the rich, with only less opportunity or skill to implement them.

So does history repeat itself, as the philosopher Santayana said?


History does not repeat itself in detail, but it tends to repeat itself in generalities as man’s instinctual responses to events remain the same.

Another good lesson:

Since practical ability differs from person to person, the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in a minority of men. The concentration of wealth is a natural result of this concentration of ability, and regularly recurs in history.


Other Books

These books don’t fit into the categories above, but they are still excellent.

Made to Stick

Don’t let the umade to stick chip and dan heath bookgly cover fool you. This is a great book if you want to become better at speaking or writing. It teaches you to think in terms of the framework “SUCCES”, which stands for:

  • Simple = Strive for simplicity, less is more.
  • Unexpected = The funniest jokes have an unexpected or open-ended finish. They “break” your pattern recognition.
  • Credible = Back up your claims with proof, statistics, quotes, and so on.
  • Concrete = Use comparisons to make people understand advanced concepts. Tap into their existing mental schemas.
  • Emotional = Engage emotions. Preferably through stories.
  • Story = Stories are easy to remember because the human brain has evolved with spoken word as the primary tool for transmitting information.

If you follow the ideas in this book your ideas, in text or speech, will have a higher chance of “sticking” in the minds of other people.


Critical Path

critical path buckminster fuller bookThe first half of this book deals with Fuller’s view on the evolution of mankind and its political rule up to present day [1980s]. This is followed by a large chapter on his personal philosophy. The second part of the book is about the critical path (the fastest way to finish a project) of how to”make man a success in the universe” by working together to get off “spaceship Earth” (Fuller regarded our planet as a spaceship).

Buckminster Fuller was the first singularity spokesperson, only he didn’t call it that. He called it ephemeralization (doing more with less). Moore’s Law, The Law of Accelerating Returns and other such ideas stem from ephemeralization.

Those in supreme power politically and economically as of 1980 are as yet convinced that our planet Earth has nowhere nearly enough life support for all humanity. All books on economics have only one basic tenet—the fundamental scarcity of life support. The supreme political and economic powers as yet assume that it has to be either you or me. Not enough for both

Fuller spent his life proving this was false. His ideological nemesis was Thomas Malthus, who wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798 and produced the idea of scarcity-thinking, which still lives on today.

Fuller was one of the smartest men of the 20th century — and you’d be a fool if you didn’t learn from him. But he is a bit tricky to understand. He likes to write extremely long sentences and use words he himself made up. Reason being that he “preferred to not be understood rather than misunderstood”.

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  1. I think reading books is one of the most important activities we can do. When you read a book you learn everything that person learned without having to spend the time they actually spend learning.

    You learn all the life lessons someone learned when you read their autobiography and you learn anything they know about a subject when they write a book about it. Reading books is meant to save you time.

    You don’t have to go through what they went to learn the things they learned. Reading books can get you ahead in life so much, but most people do not read books.

    That’s a pity. We can’t do much about it other than set an example by bettering ourselves, reading for ourselves.

    Some of us might not have the time to read, though. And I’m not talking about the lazy liars. There are people out there that actually don’t have the time to read.

    I want to point out that even if you only read 10-20 pages a day you are still going to be ahead of most if you choose your books right. Most people don’t read at all, and most of the ones that do read fictions.

    I think everybody should start reading right now. Yes, even 10 pages a day. Something is better than nothing. Even if you are so busy that you can’t read a full book, you can still benefit from summaries. I actually sell summaries of the books I read and like on my blog.

    That being said, do not buy my summaries if you do not have to finish a book in 15 minutes. You can still take your time, or you could read free summaries.

  2. Great website and great posts Ludvig!

    Maybe I haven’t noticed it..but I think I haven’t seen any book from Alan Watts..Is there any reason why you haven’t posted it..(yet)? I think is a great thinker and philosopher of the modern era.

    Greetings from Spain! I will be giving feedback to this awesome website

  3. Critical Path was an incredible book. At first I thought his strange use of language was ridiculous, but I find myself thinking about the world differently using his new expanded vocabulary, and often forget that others aren’t familiar with words like ephemeralization.

  4. This is great list, What surprised me is I haven’t heard about these books before. Going to get few of them for sure for reading !

  5. Thanks for this list Ludvig. I read TMF this summer, and I loved the book. Even if the figures he claims seem spooky; the philosophy towards approaching market with a product is great.

    The book is well written and concise. The matrix he created to make a choice is also really useful. I use it sometimes, when I’m not sure about the best choice I should be making.

  6. From “Critical Path” (p202):

    “World Gaming discloses that humanity will perish on this planet if the sovereignty of nations is not abandoned and if the World Game’s world-around computerized time-energy accounting is not forthwith inaugurated. The /first/ step in bringing about the desovereignization will be the closing of the gaps in the world electric power grid. The world-unifying electric power accounting will be the beginning of the omnienergy accounting for world economic management.”

    This paragraph is pretty typical of the book; there is plenty in it that is even more bizarre. And it doesn’t make any more sense in context. To make matters worse, the book has more factual errors than a trash can full of the Congressional Record. Don’t waste your money or time.

    • You would have to be a fan of Fuller to like it, I think.

      But like I wrote in the article, I thought the history chapter was awesome.

      • Would this be the chapter in which he takes an unsourced printing (with English names) of an ancient Greek map, inserts a marginal note labelling the Caspian Sea as “Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean”, and thereby “proves” that the Phoenicians circumnavigated the Earth?

      • No. Fuller is clearly wrong about his ideas about evolution etc., as you seem to be pointing out.

        I meant the large chapter on US history and capitalism. I also like his theories on “the great pirates”, though simplified.

      • Why do you think he (Fuller) distrusted/misunderstood evolution?

        I have always wondered what makes someone of freakish intellect, experience and book learning who generally has good ideas have bad/incorrect/wacky ideas… Terence McKenna is probably the best example of what I mean. But from what you & Abgrund say it seems like Fuller may also belong to this category of people.

      • I would not include Fuller in the category of smart people who have bad ideas; “freakish” might describe his intellect but not in the sense Gz intended. Of “booklearning” it is plain that he had none. Most of the things he presents as fact in “Critical Path” appear to have spilled directly from his imagination into writing, without any filters whatever.

  7. Surprised to see the Watchmen comic book in here. I always hear good things about it but am yet to get around to taking a look. I found the film disappointing and I guess it’s kinda put me off a little. You may have answered this before but I’m curious, how many books do you think you get through in a year on average?

  8. I’ve read most of these. Great list! Felix Dennis passed away, recently. These people inspire me!

  9. Hi Ludvig,

    I just got “How to get rich” and “Made to stick” as I’m currently in Aussie and Amazon will deliver there via Kindle. When I clicked your links to make the purchases Amazon redirected me to a UK account, as that’s where I’m from and originally made the account. Please do let me know if you still get your affiliates commission on this.

    If so, I’ll be looking at a few other books listed on here in the near future.


    • Hey G,

      That’s very strange. The links seem fine to me, but when I logged into Amazon now I did not see any completed orders on those books (and it should be updated at least once per day). Would you please take a screenshot on the UK site redirect and email to me?

  10. I’m a third year university student and for the last 6 months I’ve been doing what you did with increasing efficiency related to school and speaking up in class so I get good grades while spending less time. Then using that extra time to read books and widen my knowledge. I think it’s going really good so far and I look forward to reading these 3 books here:
    *Millionaire Fastlane
    *The Great Gatsby
    *The Netocrats
    Thanks for the advice I always like reading your ideas :=)

  11. Hi Ludvig,

    Thanks for the reccomendations, I’ll check some of those out, already read the Tyson book and passed it on to another Tyson fan and I’m halfway through Netocracy.

    A reccommendation for you as I think reading these books will compliment your philosophy and writing style, they are;

    The Tell Tale Brain


    Phantoms In The Brain

    Both by V.S. Ramachandran a man who has been described as the Marco Polo of neurology.

    I’m actually waiting to read Phantoms In The Brain, after Netocracy, but I read The Tell Tale Brain some time ago and I know Phantoms will be great.

    OK bye and thanks for all your great content.

  12. Hey where to get pencils like that in the picture?

  13. Great list here! I’ve read and really enjoyed How to Fail at Almost Everything And Still Win Big. I have several books to put on my reading list, I love these types of books because I always seem to find a new book to read. I’d add Mastery by Robert Greene and Leaders Eat last by Simon Sinek

  14. A more complete response to Jen’s question about reading “for fun” – i.e., my opinion of the value of reading fiction – may be found at:

  15. Only read 23 books this year? I read 30+ haha no problem

  16. Hi Ludvig,

    “What I don’t want to read is crap fiction, the sort that most people read”… I see you’re still a lovely, polite, gentlemen as always!

    I’ve listed a few books that I intend order the 3 that stick out to me is The Average is Over, Einstein and Fredrick Douglass but after reading Adgrund comment I’m reconsidering?

    One question – Have you read any books on religious leaders. It’s not that I’m big on religion and I don’t get the sense that you are either. But I thought some of the methods used in religion to gain followers and promote certain messages (especially throughout history) may have attached you to such a subject.

    So, have you?


    • Naomi, I’m not recommending against reading Douglass, he was certainly a great man and an interesting person. I’m just suggesting that his accounts of slavery in general not be taken literally.

      Many of the people who started religions didn’t set out to do so. Of all the major religions, only Islam was intentionally founded by a single individual. Of the intentionally founded minor religions that are not merely sects, Sikhism (founded by Guru Nanak) has probably had the most lasting success. Other successful religious founders you might find interesting are Emanual Swedenborg, Joseph Smith, and L. Ron Hubbard. I’ve never read anything by Hubbard, but supposedly he published his plan to get rich by starting a religion well before he carried it out.

    • On a side note I feel like I must mention, it seems to us in England, there is a custom that anything and everything which disagrees with someone is considered offensive unless it is sugar coated with the use of appropriate/politically correct manner. When I traveled across the world I found a lot of other cultures where people speak openly and no offense is taken. In these cultures it seems it is the intention that is judged as offensive or otherwise rather than the wording.

      In England:

      “These books are crap” is impolite and offensive somewhow
      but “you could do better than these books” is considered polite even though the intention and the meaning of the sentence is the same.

      I’ve come to agree that people should speak candidly and say things exactly how they feel rather than sugar coated. If the intention is offensive, then by all means take offense, otherwise agree/disagree. Whats the point of taking offense to something that isn’t intended to be offensive?

      • If the import is the same, why choose the antagonistic expression? Unless you are trying to catch /fewer/ flies, of course.

      • Hi Shaun,

        I didn’t take offence – If I was easily offended I wouldn’t be a regularly reader here.

        I think Ludvig’s short and sharp description about fiction being ‘crap’ was funny and gave me quick laugh. I rarely meet individuals who lay out their opinions bluntly (except for the elderly, of course) and as you pointed out in the UK this is rare – Which is properly why I found it slightly entertaining.

        Even if I did take offence I don’t think Ludvig would give a dam!


      • Oh, come on. She’s just joking around! :D Haha!

      • I know no one was offended here. I was just having a little rant about England. Apologies for the insinuation

      • Thanks Jeremy. What’s up? Come on…blog, blog, blog!

        And Shaun I’m glad you didn’t think that I was offended. Because I completely agree with you. We have to be so politicly correct in England the word it’s self is losing all meaning.

        No one is allowed is have an opinion, think differently or express difference options (even in private).

        Just chip me now and call me Microsoft!

      • Naomi: Lol, I promise I will man! I’ve still got a ton of ideas for content at the blog, but I’ve been so fired up with music and making piano videos on YouTube. Anyway, hope you’ve been well!

    • Haha.

      Very perceptive of you to pick up on that, Naomi. It’s definitely an interesting topic and I have — indirectly — read about it a bit. But I haven’t read any entire books on religious leaders or proselytizing.

      I have read the same about Ron L. Hubbard somewhere. Can’t remember where though.

  17. Ludvig, I am still powering through the last list of books you posted, but I look forward to adding more to the list. I have been using Atlas Shrugged as a tool for practicing BOOH. I have always loved to read, but never read more than 10-15 pages in a sitting. Last night I powered through 2 chapters and have challenged myself to read all of the third section over the weekend.

    Glad you enjoyed the MJ DeMarco book. I feel like I absorbed an unusal amount from that book; it’s definitiely the one that flipped the switch in my mind and prompted me into action.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your reading list!

    • Hey Rick,
      Yes, Atlas is a meaty book. I liked Fountainhead better actually, but both are good. Two chapters in that book, that’s gotta be like 100 pages? Nice!

      Yes I agree — Millionaire Fastlane is packed with good info. You can’t NOT get some good takeaways from it. DeMarco spent a long time writing it to make it high quality.

  18. Read David Nasaws book about Andrew Carnegie, one Hell of a guy! You would like it i am sure

  19. I purchased Millionaire Fastlane (from your link of course) 4 days back. My kindle reader says i have completed 70% though i don’t want it to end and i can’t put it down!

    Great book. Had you not posted this article i would not have got a chance to read such a book.


  20. Heathenwinds says:

    Hey Ludvig, I’m reading From Darwin to Munger right now. It really puts things in concrete terms that I’ve been vaguely aware of for a while ago.

    Have you checked out Brain yet, and if so what have you thought of it?

  21. Ludvig,

    This is a meaty list, well done! I can’t recommend Millionaire Fastlane enough for developing an entrepreneur mindset. I’ll have to checkout the Einstein biography, I really enjoyed what Isaacson did with the Steve Jobs biography.

    Thanks for taking the time to summarize these – much appreciated.


  22. Very nice. many of these seem good. I like the summaries, I missed that in the other book article. Btw that article was how I found your site some months ago.

    I think i have read around 10 book this year and the best one was Andrei Agassis autobiography.

    Check it out for sure, I think you might dig it.

  23. Shit! I need to

  24. That elitist quote about wealth from “Lessons in History” must be wrong. Is the author oblivious to the history of banking and the various banking families that have ruled for 1000+ years?

    • Anyone who has met more than one person cannot help but know that different people have different levels of ability. Inevitably, other things being equal, higher ability can be translated into more money.

      Of course, other things are /not/ equal, and ability is far from being the only reason why one person has more money than another. But the point, I think, is that equality is not possible, even if the playing field is level. On all the playing fields of history, there have been winners and losers.

      • I see your point: Yes it is hard to deny or argue that. Equality is pipe dream.

        But also it is hard to deny that certain lineages have conserved this “concentration of wealth”?? Maybe not in a systematic way that has gone on for thousands of years, but certainly for 100s of years and in different countries and regions?

    • No he is not. In fact, Durant mentions banking a bit in the chapter about economics and history. In the quote you’re referring to, he is talking about wealth as a general phenomenon. Not about rich bankers.

      There is, however, a quote from the book which you might find more to your tastes:

      “The men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all.”

  25. Oh and you’ve got to read Gene Simmons autobiography. He is the Arnold of the music world. His mother was a holocaust survivor, and he migrated to the USA from Israel as a young boy, fell in love with America’s ideas of freedom and opportunity and thus set out to be one of the world’s richest man.

    Today his net worth (in his own words) is 300 million USD. You’ll learn of how much of a marketing genius he was and how he turned his band KISS from just another to be into a worldwide brand

  26. Ludvig, you crueal man!!!
    Now I’ll be tormented by these books…. I’ll start from “Narrative…” as it’s a public domain work.

    I recommend “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. It made me to take action and transform my life.

    From fiction I recommend first 3 books of Carrera Series by Tom Kratman. Quite narrow minded, but gives a great insight into military mind and demonstrates how politics and military are mingled nowadays.

    • Thanks for the suggestions Michal.

      Seems like some good books. I will want to read more about military things eventually and have some books lined up for when I delve into that. Including yours now.

  27. You should have linked this video instead haha!

  28. Joseph Campbell missing – entirely – from your list? How can this be?

    • I’m familiar with his ideas but I have yet to read his books. I can’t recommend a book I haven’t read.

      I do have them lying around though — and look forward to reading them in the next few months.

  29. Thank you for the list, Ludvig. Some random comments on them:

    Frederick Douglass: I wouldn’t take everything he had to say about slavery at face value. Most of his information was not firsthand, and some was just echoed propaganda. The Abolitionists told some pretty spectacular lies, and the story about feeding slaves from a barrel was probably false. Such a thing was very rare if it ever occurred at all. Slaves were expensive and only a stupid owner would starve his own property. It was also against the law.

    I’ve never read Douglass himself, but a better resource for the history of slavery is “The Peculiar Institution” by Kenneth Stampp.

    Albert Speer: I’ve read “Inside the Third Reich” which was supposedly written in Spandau Prison; this is a different work? Anyway: not everyone who was close to Hitler was impressed by his supposed magnetism. Guderian, for instance, scoffed at it. I think that a lot of Hitler’s charismatic reputation came from the fact that he preferred to surround himself with weak, suggestible men.

    Winston Churchill: I recently read Nixon’s account of Churchill. Nixon thought very highly of him and was impressed by the fact that Churchill used his years out of power to write a lot of books.

    Watchmen: Don’t let the movie deter you from reading the graphic novel. The movie is not bad, but still just a Hollywood consumer flick – violence, special effects, and sex. In spite of an annoyingly slavish adherence to the novel’s visuals and dialogue, Snyder managed to completely lose the essence of the novel, which is pretty deep.

    Critical Path: I’ve never read Fuller; he sounds interesting from all I’ve read about him. Maybe I’ll get to this one someday.

    • Hey Abgrund!

      Good point on Douglass. You may be right.

      On Speer:
      He was hardly a “weak suggestible man”. He was held in very high regard by those who worked with — and for — him. Most people liked him a lot as he treated everyone the same and led by example (by working his ass off and nearly collapsed from over-exhaustion).

      I didn’t know that about Guderian. Do you know more specifically what he said?

      Definitely read Fuller. I know you will find the first half of Critical Path extremely interesting. The history section is VERY good.

      • “Weak and suggestible” are entirely compatible with likeable, hardworking, and competent. I base my judgment of Speer mainly on his own account (from “Inside the Third Reich”), and of Guderian mainly on his memoirs (an abridged edition published in the U.S. under the name “Panzer Leader”. Guderian defied Hitler repeatedly, at least once in writing, and was fired twice.

      • I see.

        I suppose Speer was suggestible in the sense that Hitler DID have huge effect on him (he admits it himself). But my point was that he wasn’t the typical sucker. During the last few years he “saw through” Hitler, disagreed with him on a number of things — especially the scorched earth strategy — and even thought about assassinating him.

      • “Thought about” being the operative phrase here. Anyway, the point is that, like a cult leader, Hitler’s “charisma” does not seem to have affected men who had strongly held values and goals of their own.

  30. I’ll throw them on the pile “to read! – thanks for the recommendations Ludvig

    The contract by Einstein hahaha :D – I believe I have the capacity to act in similar ways hehe.

    The quote in the millionaire fastlane about the erosion of horsepower stood out to me too! – great book

    Also interesting quote on the concentration of wealth being the result of a concentration of ability. Do you believe that people have the right to complain about wealth distribution?

    > I see you take linear notes, what’s your opinion on mind-mapping? I’m currently going trough the book by Tony Buzan on it. Looks quite promising and confusing at the same time. But I might experiment further with it in the future.
    > Do you work/read whilst standing since it increases attention?

    5 recommendations;
    > How to win friends and influence people – dale carnegie
    > 7 habits – stephen covey
    > The way of the superior man- deida
    > Psycho-cybernetics – Maltz
    > One thing- gary keller

    • I have heard a lot about psycho cybernetics. I know it’s one of the big old books of self-development kind of like napoleon hills books. Could you explain what it is about?

      I have also heard about One thing from Gary Keller. But I haven’t heard what it’s about. I guess it’s to do just 1 thing per day and focus on 80/20?? If not please tell more Simon.

      • Psycho-cybernetics is pretty much a manual for your brain IMO. It explores topics like visualization, self-image, belief systems, corrective feedback and aging. The main thing I got from this book was increased self-esteem. Some quotes;

        ” “You act and feel not according to what things are really like but of the image your mind holds of what things are like””

      • The one thing is all about focus, productivity and efficiency. It’s packed with cool stuff.
        > How you should set goals (big & specific)
        > How to structure your days for optimal productivity
        > Time blocking
        > Focus
        > Insights on discipline, multitasking and balance

        ““Extraordinary results are determined by how narrow your focus is””

    • Great tips Simon.

      I’ve read them all but “The One Thing”, so it’s nice you explained that one.

  31. If you are into Watchmen I recommend the book in the link. It is interesting to see how much work they put into it.

  32. Great way to spend this Sunday. A glass of wine and getting some epic book recommendations!

    I just got the Alexander book, Lessons in History, the Hitler book, and Average is Over.

    That Phil Collins song is damn nostalgic. I remember when I was a kid and it was pretty popular.

    I would recommend the book Hero with 1000 Faces by Joseph Campbell, it’s about culture and history and how different tribes and religions do similar things totally independent of the environment. It was a long time since I read it but I remember it totally blew my mind.

  33. I read your Bard Notes about a month or two ago, and it really got me fascinated. I went to listen to some of his other talks on YouTube as well. Cool stuff. I’m quite tempted to order The Netocrats, but man, gotta finish up what’s on my shelf first. Ugh! I’m quite interested in Fools Die too.

    By the way, I realised I don’t have BOOH for some reason. I’m wondering if you’ve taken it down for good?? Even though I’m probably not going to read it any time soon, It’s definitely one that I’ll eventually get around to.

    • What’s up Jeremy?

      Yeah, Bard has a lot of interesting ideas.

      Get the books and read them later (and I’m not just saying that to make money, as I only get a ~ 4 % commission if you purchase via these links). That’s how I do go about it anyway. I am cheap when it comes to everything but my self-education.

      I have taken down the old version of BOOH forever. But I am rewriting it for Amazon. It will be a lot better and very different.

  34. THIS is a book recommendation list. The best mix I’ve seen.

    It’s just making me want to reread Watchmen

  35. Great recommendations Ludvig, I had Netocrats and MIllionaire Fastlane lined up once I finish 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. I highly recommend that and Mastery, if you haven’t read his stuff yet.

    Do you allot a specific amount of time during the day to reading, or do you do it on your spare time?

  36. Great list Ludvig! I already read “The Millionaire Fastlane” and “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, both are awesome books.
    I’ve 2 books, “Made to stick” and “How to fail at everything and still win” , on my to-read list, and you also suggested what seemed to be great books too. Can’t wait to read Charlie’s poor almanack.
    Cheers! Nicolas

  37. Hey Ludvig,
    I read “How to get rich”, the millionaire’s fastlane and average is over. Tyler Cowen paints somewhat scary, but definitely an interesting picture of the future. Felix Dennis is a great author, though he tells you flatly that the reader most likely cant become rich. He passed away June this year. M J Demarco gives a nice mathematics based model.
    A book that I would recommend is “Antifragile”, by Nassim Taleb. Though quite bulky, the book does a good job at putting forth his ideas, and talks about systems, their fragility and other aspects.

  38. I read Richard Branson’s autobiography and there is cool story about when he is taking a taxi to get somewhere . The taxi driver is this young obnoxious , yet very down to earth guy who practically forces Branson to come and get a cup of tea at the cab drivers home and meet his grandmother. Branson reluctantly agrees even though is in hurry to get somewhere. Then Branson describes how this guy puts in his own music cassette ,to play his demo to Branson and the song starts with drums playing and – “I can feel it, coming in the air tonight” . So whenever I hear that song im reminded of that.

    Ludvig, how much time do you spend on daily/weekly basis to read? Do you have allocated blocks of time or some other system?

    • Haha I know what you’re referring to. I listened to that book as an audio book 2-3 years ago. It’s the same one where he talks about “going undercover” with a tape recorder, right?

      I don’t have any system. But I have a strong habit. I usually read in the morning and night. I always read something each day, one chapter of a book is my minimum quota. Sometimes I read a lot more. Last week I read two books and a ton of articles.

  39. Thx for the book tips, much appreciated. Btw heres an idea..

    Why don’t you start some kind of book club? Or YouTube channel where you talk about or summarize books? Or something like that

  40. Great list of books Ludvig! I can already see that once I get a Kindle reader, I’m going to read all of these.

  41. I’m ordering several of these books Ludvig. Are you an Amazon affiliate? If so I’ll be sure to order through your links to return the value.

    I agree with your analysis of both the Millionaire Fastlane and Tysons book. Both are great reads.

    If I could make some recommendations to you:

    Bill Bryson – A short history of nearly everything. This book is mind blowing and he paints a broad stroke picture of the history of the universe and earth in a down to earth, easy to understand way. One of the more enjoyable books I’ve read this year.

    Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina. I’m a fan of about 50% of what this guy writes on his website and the other 50% is whacked. However, his book is excellent and very challenging. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he takes you on a deep journey and asks some uncomfortable questions. I think this is what real Personal Development is all about. Making you face up to the shadows within yourself and challenge your current mental models of reality.

    The Lexus and the Olive Tree. This book is a little dated and was written pre 9/11, but he does an excellent job of describing Globalization and how it’s a double edged sword brining both new and exciting opportunities as well as causing great conflict and alienation. I highly recommend this book to anyone I meet.

    Lastly, The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond. Evolutionary psychology and tracing the history of the human race across the globe. Very interesting read but it’s mostly his own interpretation of things and lacks solid proof in several areas. Nonetheless when I read it it made perfect sense.

    Thanks for this article.

    • Hey G!

      Yes I am an Amazon affiliate – so please do buy them.

      I’ve read the Pavlina book, years ago. I have all of Jared Diamond’s books. But I haven’t got around to reading that one yet. It seems right up my alley.

      I just read the wikipedia article on The Lexus and the Olive Tree. The “Golden Arches Theory” is hilarious.

      I just got the Bill Bryson book and the Lexus & Olive Tree. Thank you for the recommendations.

      • I will indeed.

        For some reason Amazon won’t deliver to Indonesia (probably because it’s the fraud capital of the world after Nigeria), but I’ll order them to Australia when I’m there in a couple weeks :)

  42. Konstantin says:

    You’ve compiled an awesome list, Ludvig. The description of ”The Lessons of History” intrigued me by far the most; it looks like a book that provides deep analysis of the relationship between history and human nature.

    Another thing:
    Have you read and would you recommend any books about Emotional Intelligence (EQ/EI)?

  43. Ludvig what is your opinion and take on the dilemma between on goal-oriented reading versus reading for fun?

    I mean you say in your book-reading-article that you should read with an end in mind and read to reach already established goals. Could you explain your reasoning and how you “navigate” when reading and decide what you read?

    I haven’t read any of these books but many seem good, Einstein in particular. I read the Steve Jobs biography by Isaacson and liked it.

    • Good question.

      I don’t think interest should dismissed, absolutely not. I think you should let your interest lead the way for most things in life, reading included. But I also think you should EXAMINE your interest.

      Let’s say you’re only interested in reading crap fiction — and have a habit of reading romance novels and detective stories — but know that you should be reading more advanced book instead, books related to your profession for example. . .

      . . . Then you should probably NOT let your interest guide your reading. You like the crap fiction because it’s mentally non-challenging (instant gratification) and you’re “addicted” (have a habit) to it.

      • Uh-huh. That makes sense – similar reasoning to your recent article on IQ/horsepower. Thank you for the fast answer Ludvig :)

    • Ideally, reading should be goal-oriented AND fun, though maybe more of one and less of the other. If you don’t enjoy reading books that are oriented toward your goals, then it may be better to reconsider your goals instead of your reading material. People generally enjoy reading about things they find interesting; if your goals aren’t genuinely interesting to you, ditch them.

      A lot of Ludvig’s reading is enterprise-oriented – basically, how to get rich. A lot of people fool themselves into thinking they should be entrepreneurs because they want to be rich, but they don’t have an authentic interest in *making* money (only in spending it). If you don’t find those kind of books interesting, forget about being The Richest Man in Babylon and find something interesting to do with your life.

      • A lot of people fool themselves into thinking they should be entrepreneurs because they want to be rich, but they don’t have an authentic interest in *making* money (only in spending it)

        ***THIS is the truth of the day!!!

  44. Thanks, great list.

  45. Cheers!

    Yeah I’ve read Fastlane Millionaire and the Einstein book. My conclusions/summarized thoughts of those books are similar to yours. FM = great business book and I’ll re-read it some time when I start my own business. Until then I have good notes. Einstein book = educational but a slow read. I had to take a break every 5-10 pages because there were so many new concepts and ideas.

    Looking forward to getting your (free?) eBook on computer programs & useful extensions.



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