Books on practical philosophy

 

Seneca said in one sentence everything that has to be said about practical philosophy: “It is philosophy that has the duty of protecting us…without it, no one can lead a life free of fear or worry.” Philosophy has lost it way in modern times. That is why we found it more in classrooms than in the actual life where it really belongs. Not just debating and exchanging opinions. But living it through everything we are and do. If you are struggling or seeking your way in life let the words from the books below give you guidance.

 

I highly favor stoicism as a philosophy on how to live life and I was surprised how simply is Ryan able to explain it in this book. We know that individuals, ideas or businesses which can endure different kinds of hardships and obstacles are in the end successful. But the question is how to endure such things over long time periods. This book is the answer. I don’t look at this book from a religious but purely philosophical standpoint. I first read it when I was 15 years old and it was one of my core guiding philosophies since then. It’s such an astoundingly simple approach to life yet it’s not an easy one. This book can serve you as a guide or a source of inspiration to develop a beginner’s mind. Are you almost ethical? We often make ethical compromises for “good” reasons. But those subtle compromises can, in the long run, cost us more than we at first realize. We rationalize our decisions and fall victims to bigger and bigger temptations. This book will help you see that and guide you to write your own code of conduct.
Marcus Aurelius, despite being the emperor of Rome and facing many adversities, remained humble throughout his life. He left his thoughts behind in this book. In it, he is advising himself on how to live in the world, how to cope with adversity and how to interact with others. The book remains as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. We often rely on some external source to tell us what we should be like or how we should act. We are too lazy to figure things out for ourselves. We are satisfied with easy answers instead of asking ourself difficult questions. This book will help you understand how you can develop yourself into a true human being which you were meant to be. It’s hard to imagine more wisdom on as little number of pages that this book has and meanwhile addressing so many problems that usually trouble us in our lives. You will also appreciate it because of its beautiful poetic style in which it is written. Take it with you in a park during warm spring, summer or autumn months and absorb its depth.

Books on mental training

 

One’s own mind is one of the greatest mysteries for most people today. Everyone has one but few know how to effectively tame or transform it. The problem is when we start to identify our thought and our thinking process with ourselves. Then the mind becomes our master instead of our servant. The mind is a tricky thing. It wants to think not do therefore people who are living in their heads instead of in their lives become the slaves of their own minds. This are not the books on how to improve the qualities of the mind, but rather how to transform the mind altogether.

 

This book expands the meaning of mindfulness and meditation well beyond a formal practice. It’s about mindfulness in our everyday life. Concepts are explained very simply and clearly but I especially like how the author connects everything to nature. Practices like mountain or lake meditation will not just bring you closer to nature but also to yourself. This book represents a bridge between ancient eastern wisdom and modern western knowledge. In the past few decades, western science has confirmed many effective mental techniques that have been practiced for the last few thousand years in the east. With this book, you will gain a deeper understanding of your own mind. This book offers a tested eight-week long mental training plan. If you are one of those people who like a straightforward plan to stick to then this book is for you. Every week you will be doing something different and you will change routines in order to keep awareness high. Do not underestimate the simple yet powerful daily practices.
Read this book only if you consider yourself an open-minded person. Osho was a controversial figure during his lifetime and so was tantra throughout history. But you can benefit from this books greatly because it’s wisdom is enormously wide and deep. Osho’s synthesis of different philosophies and his understanding of mental techniques is extraordinary. It is said that one who has not suffered greatly cannot know true happiness or compassion. James had to go through more than a few difficult life challenges. But life never just challenge us. It also supports us with lessons if we are willing to learn. Discover the lessons James had to learn in order to expand his understanding and open his heart. Practicing mindfulness together with your child is one of the best investment you can make for him or her. It can enrich the relationship between both of you and is also a great way to spend a quality time together. This book explains how you can do that in a fun and loving way. The practices are very easy to do and have a wide range of benefits.

Books on physical training

 

There are tons of books out there on the topic of physical training and a lot have nothing special to offer. They are just copycats of one another so it was a real challenge to find six unique ones from different fields written for the general population. Physical training always was and still is my main field of work. More specifically strength training. Even though I could easily name six great strength training books I didn’t want to because there is more to physical training than just strength training although that is the most important part.

 

If you are thinking about starting to strength train/lift weights (as you should if you don’t do it already) this is a book, to begin with. It’s a book I have started with more than a decade ago and I am glad I did. Starting strength gives a detailed look at the basic things you need to learn and be aware of before and when you start with strength training. Do you sit a lot or do you just move like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz? Stretching is not always the answer but if it is this book will definitely help. It’s just as valuable as it was more than 30 years ago when it first came out. Inside you will find stretching routines specific to a variety of athletes as well as the general population. Falling forward and landing on the balls of your feet are common practices among runners today. But it wasn’t so decades ago when shoes with thick soles were regarded as “the best”. If you are thinking of starting an endurance base training or just learning how to run most efficiently without accumulating injuries then listen to what dr. Nicholas Romanov has to say.
This book is an exception in the category because it’s aimed at athletes, not the general population. But it’s both a great book and one of a kind out there on restoration methods. If your aim is to really push naturally towards the edges of superhuman performance without overtraining yourself than this book is a must read. I am a big proponent of cold exposure. It has been proven that it works wonders for the human body. Although it has been popularised by Wim Hof in modern times people have been practicing it since ancient times. This short book contains all the information you need to get you started. Incorporate cold training into your weekly schedule and reap the benefits. HOO-YAH! Finally an excellent book for children ten years of age and older which covers more than just the aspect of physical training. It’s written in a very funny and entertaining way and the illustrations are great. I have really connected with this book and I urge you to read it if you have children or give it to them as a gift.

Biography books

 

I once read somewhere that one of the best ways to understand history is through biography books. That’s why I am always reading one biography among other books. For me, the best biographies were about individuals who were way ahead of their times. About people who didn’t see the world as it was, but how it could have been. Of course it is also important that the book itself is well written and enjoyable to read. There are many excellent biography books out there but if I would have to choose only six they would be the ones I have outlined below.

 

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics is in this book breaking down the traditional stereotype of a shy and secluded scientist one story after the other. He is one of the most interesting person I ever had a chance to hear or read about. You won’t be able to put this book down and will laugh all the way through. Brilliant, visionary, pragmatic and working for the better of mankind in the present and for the future. It is extremely rare that we find all those qualities in one person. Elon Musk is such a person. His rate of success is stunning, his stamina legendary and his fields of impact are many. I have read this book almost in a single breath. Musashi, the greatest warrior known to man, has fought in more than a dozen fights to the death and never lost. He was an ingenious man who was always looking for ways to surprise his opponent. The best thing is that in this book you get both Musashi’s writings and his life. Tokitsu separates fact from fiction, and gives a clear picture of the man behind the myth.
Steve Jobs said: “I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.” and with a good reason. Socrates is hailed as the most important thinker of all time – a father of western philosophy. His (The Socratic) method forms a basis for critical reasoning. But the most important thing is that he was a living example of his philosophy. Tesla was the most important inventor of all time with around 300 patents to his name. Today’s world as we live it stands on the shoulders of Tesla’s inventions. He was a visionary giant who predicted robots, drones, cell phones and wi-fi almost a hundred years ahead. Even today’s scientists are still puzzled by some of his plans and designes. This is not an ordinary biography book. You’ll find many short biographies of contemporary and past masters in it. But the best part are the Greene’s commentaries on what can we learn from their lives and apply it to ours whether we are discovering our calling if we are in apprenticeship phase or are slowly transitioning into a master.

Leadership books

 

Many people when they hear the term leadership think only in relationship with business – business leadership. But the reality is that leadership always comes first. You cannot be a great businessman or woman if you are not first a great leader and leadership always starts with one person – you. You are not capable of leading others anywhere if you are not able to first lead yourself. That is why I have dedicated one whole category to leadership alone. Even if you are not business or military leader you will still benefit from this books greatly.

 

The first and most important lesson of leadership: Take 100% responsibility for your actions because no one else will. But great leaders don’t stop there. They sometimes even view other’s actions as their responsibility. You will learn how authors were able to take experiences they have learned in the battlefield and applied them in business environment. Some people never felt a sense of purpose in their lives and some of us lose it at least once somewhere along the way. It’s not that we don’t know why we start something. It’s that we get so caught up in the doing that we forgot why we are doing it. Simon writes about people who have had this problem throughout history and how they were able to overcome it. If there is no journey, there is no leadership. The book explans very clearly who you must become and what you must do in order to become the highest level leader. Let John show you what path must you undertake to climb from positional to the pinnacle leader who leaves behind a legacy worthy of him – the ultimate achievement of any true leader.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. This is just the beginning of the wisdom contained in the incredible graduation speech given by Admiral McRaven, Special Operations Commander. This book is the expanded version of that speech with original ten principles which he learned during Navy Seal training. If I would have to name a single leader in business world who in my view represents the highest form of leadership it would be Richard Branson. His track record of successful business launches is unmatched and if you never heard of him you have been probably living under a rock all this time. A must read for any current or soon to be business leader. This is a short story about a timeless question that every leader is facing all the time: “Should I do the right thing or the popular thing and how?” And not just that but also how to gain team’s trust, how to solve a lack of commitment and most importantly how to put each other’s egos aside and work cohesively for a collective goal of a team.

Books on psychology

 

Many people don’t understand a lot of things about themselves. Why are they the way they are, why do they act the way they do and why do they think and feel the way they do. Psychology books can reveal a lot about ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. Most importantly they can give us the knowledge to help with our problems. But the best psychological books in my opinions are the ones which can help us bring our functioning to the next level. Nevertheless, no type or amount of knowledge will work unless you do.

 

I believe life has a meaning whether we see it or sense it or we don’t. Sometimes when we are cut off from our inner self it is very hard for us to sense what that meaning is. Frankl’s book is legendary among psychological books. He is one of the rare people in his field that has truly walk the talk and that is just one more point why this book is a must-read. If you want to live a happier and more fulfilling life than this book is for you. In it, Csikszentmihalyi talks about the “optimal experience”. A state in which people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity and a total involvement with life. The book teaches us how we can make this expericences longer lasting and more frequent. Were you deemed as not smart in school? Who cares? School is not a predictor of success in life by any measure. School is a closed and controlled environment which is the exact opposite of real life. Want to know what it takes to be the “new” smart? Read this book. The best thing is that the emotional intelligence can be taught even later in life.
Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” And how true that is. Habits are such an enormously powerful way of doing things. Most of the success and failure in life start with habits. This book will tell you how to learn, unlearn and relearn habits. It’s not as hard as you would think if you really want change. Very interesting and useful book from the first to the last page on the psychology of persuasion. Has it ever happened that you bought something you didn’t want or need and were angry at yourself afterward? Why are those pushy salespeople, pesky commercials and everywhere adds so effective at influencing us? Read the book and find out. Most of us will never see the frontline, experience to kill or be killed scenario or deal with the experience of PTSD that comes as a result of a war. On Combat talks about all this and more in detail. It’s the best book on psychology and physiology of combat out there. It is a must-read for warriors and I highly recommend it for everybody else.

Books on reason

 

When we say “being rational” the first thing that comes to mind to many people is a stereotypical picture of a person or being who makes decisions like a computer or Spock from Star Trek. Without any intuition, emotion or impulse. But that could not be farther from the truth. Most simply put a rational person is someone who is in the process of making the best possible decision based on current circumstances or “doing the best you can with what you’ve got”. If you’re one of those people who are interested in making the best possible choices in life, then these books are for you.

 

I couldn’t put this book down. Sagan touches many topics in this book such as aliens, hallucinations, demons, healing, hoaxes, antiscience, sins and many more. His arguments are so simple and self-evident yet it is shocking how many people still believe in the most ridiculous things in the 21st century. As the subtitle states – Science as a Candle in the Dark. This book needs no introduction and it’s probably the best book in the category. Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman will tell you how we think, what are the benefits and drawbacks of fast vs. slow thinking and when to use which. The book is heavy on evidence but still very practical both in business and personal life. A definitive must-read! Has it ever happened to you that you tried to win an argument but no matter how good your arguments were the other side still wasn’t swayed or convinced by them? It happens all the time. Unfortunately it turns out that people care a great deal more about appearance and reputation than about reality. Read this book and you will understand human nature much better.
All throughout history organized religion was and still is the bane of any society and the enemy of all humanity. In the book, Sam Harris goes into great detail why that is so and wonderfully concludes: “The only angels we need to invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, hatred, greed and faith.” One of the most important sign of a mature person is responsibility for one’s own life. Therefore as a child grows out of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, a mature person grows out of believing in God if he ever believed in one and sees that the idea of God was from the beginning nothing else but a tool for power and control of the people. Let Dawkins explain you the details. Do you sometimes make a good decision but fail greatly the next time? Do you wish you would have some kind of tool to make better decisions? This book will help you standardize decision making by going through the four-step process called WRAP which brothers explain in the book with many examples from both business as well as personal life.

Books on food and nutrition

 

Food and nutrition today are looked at from very dispersed and analytical standpoint. We have individuals who propagate the latest dieting trend, we have groups who force their extreme nutritional views on the rest of us, we have companies who isolate food substances and sold them to us as something that they say is better than real food and lastly we have scientists who publish completely biased studies based on their point of view. These are all very perverted and distorted ways to act and look at food and nutrition. These books will give you a broader perspective and connect you with food on a deeper level.

 

If you are looking for a good book in the field of nutrition to start with I would recommend the one below. It is very well researched, unbiased and delivers a lot more than the title implies. It will uncover much of the nutritional history, teach you how to apply reason to the field of nutrition and give you a great perspective on the relationship of different food types. This book describes in great detail to what our bodies have adopted throughout history, what kind of food our bodies really need to function at their best and with what kind of food we harm our genes in a way felt by generations to come. The four nutritional strategies—fresh food, fermented and sprouted foods, meat cooked on the bone, and organ meats—form the basis of what Dr. Cate calls “The Human Diet.” The author learns how to grill, cook, bake, ferment and in the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook is standing squarely between nature and culture. Both realms are transformed by cooking, and so, in the process, is the cook. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.
For many decades all that we’ve been hearing about related to the food we eat was the heart and cardiovascular system. Few talked about the brain until now. Neurologist Dr. Perlmutter writes extensively in this book why eating too many carbs (and not just the unhealthy carbs) is destroying your brain. Read how you can lower the risk for dementia, anxiety, headaches, depression, and more. Can the size of your plate really influence your appetite? Why do you eat more when you dine with friends? What “hidden persuaders” are used by restaurants and supermarkets to get us to overeat? The author expands our awareness of how much, what, and why we’re eating—often without realizing it. With this book you will be able to make more enjoyable and healthy choices at the dinner table. Taste is learned not inherited. The author draws on the latest research to reveal that our food habits are shaped by a host of factors: family, culture, memory, hunger and love. She presents many individuals where their food repertoire changed because of smell and taste-related illnesses. The book also teaches us how we can change our palates to increase the range of food we can eat.