Here are the lessons I've learned reading 50+ books in a year


Reading Challenge

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

- Oscar Wilde

I started reading books to challenge my thinking while fighting mediocrity. I didn’t actually have a purpose so I was picking them randomly.

Only when I realized that more than one book is needed in answering a particular question I became a synoptical reader. I then started tracking everything I read, my progress and what I want to read by creating annual refined reading lists.

In this page, I decided to refine my book lists and share with you the best book recommendations. These books have built the foundation which helped me change my perspective of the world

People may turn their back on you but books are always loyal, they will never let you down.If you turn your back and walk away from a bookshelf just remember that books will always wait patiently for you to come back. A book does not turn back on you no matter what, your forever friend follows.

Life changing

Meditations by Marcus AureliusA complete guide to self-mastery patience and tolerance. Passions should be governed through self-control mastered by daily meditation. Turn obstacles into opportunities and refuse to make yourself miserable by the difficulties of life. A must read book, even if you don’t like philosophy.

Letters from a Stoic by SenecaA philosophy on how to live a proper happy life, with all requisite necessary to become an educated person.

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor FranklWe don’t control what happens to us, only how we respond. The universe owes you nothing, life is a process not a purpose and a process doesn’t have a meaning unless you don’t have a purpose. Stop asking for the meaning of life.

M.T. Cicero’s Cato major Discourse on old age. According to Cicero, the best a young person can hope for is to get old before he dies, and it is not fitting to complain about getting the best outcome you could have ever reasonably wanted.

On the Shortness of Life by SenecaIn this writing, Seneca focuses on how much time we’re given to live our lives and how well we make use of this time. Think of yourself as dead. Now take what’s left and live it properly.

A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy. Better to know a few things which are good and necessary than many things which are useless and mediocre. Memorizing things is not knowledge, knowledge is real knowledge only when it is acquired by the efforts of your intellect. The most critical piece of knowledge, then, is the knowledge of what is essential to learn and what isn’t. Only organized knowledge becomes power through daily action and persistence

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne LamottA lifelong love of books and writing. Here is a lesson:

Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.Perfectionism will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, it will only drive you mad.

The Theory Of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith
and How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts . Smith’s prescription for happiness is a simple formula. To be content, you need to be loved and to be lovely. You need to be respected and respectable. You need to be praised and praiseworthy. You need to matter to other people, and you need for their image of you to be the real you — you need to earn their respect and honor and admiration honestly.
There are two ways to be loved. You can be rich and famous. Or you can be wise and virtuous. It’s up to you but Adam Smith advises you that money and fame just don’t seem to fit into that formula.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieThere is a little you can control around you. Adapting to the true nature of the world around you without expecting it to adapt to you is the best choice you can do. Why? Because this is the only way to get results. See the world as there is, remember that emotions obscure reality and everyone sees what you appear to be. The danger is just the result of a manpower mixed with self-discipline. Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Charisma, focus, and social intelligence are the keys to the kingdom.

Both books have the same meaning but the message is sent in different ways. Carnegie is using a gentle approach while in Greene you’ll find evil tactics. If you read both parts you will come to understand that each law can be used for great evil or for great good.

To my younger self

I grew up without either of my parents around. It wasn’t easy without parental advice or guidance but instead of blaming the circumstances I’ve bought some good books .

Letters to Philip by Charlie W. SheddA wise book for every young man with life lessons every father should teach his children. Each letter will definitely make a difference in your life. A lot of lessons on how to build and maintain a great relationship with your spouse.

The Way of the Superior Man by David DeidaA book with good lessons to the younger self. Be real with yourself. Find which are your insecurities and face them. Your need is far deeper than just a wild passion.

Accept your suffering

Unadorned suffering is the bedmate of masculine growth. Only by staying intimate with your personal suffering can you feel through it to its source.

You cannot live in the fear of dying

Almost everything you do, you do because you are afraid to die. And yet dying is exactly what you are doing, from the moment you are born. Two hours of absorption in a good Super Bowl telecast may distract you temporarily, but the fact remains. You were born as a sacrifice. And you can either participate in the sacrifice, dissolving in the giving of your gift, or you can resist it, which is your suffering.

Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert KiyosakiBoth books impart advice on how to be a man in the working world. These are the best classics on financial literacy, a core life skill to survive in our modern society. Do not simply aim for more income, aim for more assets while keeping your expenses low and reducing your liabilities. Know a little about a lot and work to learn.

You’ll find that education’s about the only thing lying around loose in this world and that it’s about the only thing a fellow can have as much of as he’s willing to haul away. Everything else is screwed down tight and the screw-driver lost.

Candide by Voltaire. This is a short book published in 1759 , a French satire. Voltaire reminds us at the end of Candide “We must cultivate our own garden.”
Take responsibility of your actions, be content with what you have, cultivate yourself and opt for the solvable. Grow and live to understand. Let go the troubles of the whole world, take care of your own, and the world will take care of itself.

Biographies

Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley, My Bondage And My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

From slavery to racism. Humility and persistence in knocking doors that never get opened. Resistance and radicalism. Some lessons you’ll learn by reading these three books:

  • Avoid enslaving yourself to circumstances and stop being defined by others.
  • Read. Read. Read. Be intellectually curious about everything.
  • If you want something, get out and get something because no one will come and teach you something.
  • Persistence is the key to getting what you want. This is the formula of achievement.

Here is a life lesson from Frederick Douglass

He is whipped often, who is whipped easiest; and that slave who has the courage to stand up for himself against the overseer, although he may have many hard stripes at the first, becomes, in the end, a freeman.

Some other lists of books

2016 My reading challenge 
7 Best books on critical thinking

Can you recommend a good book to read? I’ll be glad to hear from you. Please drop me an email at constantin@minovc.com

As I read more, I will update this page constantly so bookmark it if you want to check back!

Think smarter: Here are 7 books to enhance your critical thinking


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