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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson
I like this book some much and found it so useful; I’ve read it twice and constantly dip in and out. Whilst, it may fall into the self-help section it’s not self-help. It’s also not about not giving a sh*t about everything. It’s about focusing on what shouldn’t give a damn about and what you do want to give a damn about and getting your priorities right.
Other points are embracing failure and negative experiences. Stop blaming others for your problems and take responsibility for them. Accepting your problems, as they will always be there, but to work on getting better ones.
Mark does have a distinctive writing style that grates with some, but I love. Don’t let the swearing on the front or within the book detract from what is an excellent book.
Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
The book that helped me on my way with my minimalist journey. It’s an account of Josh and Ryan’s journey from the “corporate world” of the clamber for better jobs and bigger houses but increasing debts and deteriorating personal lives to minimalism. A nicely written book that clearly shows the issues with modern life, and how a simpler life can help with them and your health. Similar to the book above, it’s about taking account of what’s important to you and what brings value to your life. A good read right now if you thinking of simplifying your life.
Legacy – What The All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life – James Kerr
A fascinating book that I’m currently revisiting. I love rugby, sport psychology and want to become a better leader, so this book is spot on. Following a dip in results, the All Blacks, the world’s most successful sporting outfit completely overhauled what it was to be a member of the team. The book provides 15 powerful and practical lessons for leadership and business that were part of that growth.
Some of the lessons from the book have become synonymous (with good reason) with team building, such as “Sweep the sheds” (no job is too small for anyone to do) and “No dickheads” (people who damage the team belief and values system on and off the pitch).
This is partly a business book, but there are many takeaways for people looking to improve in a personal, sporting or professional nature, however big or whatever position.
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force Behind the World’s Greatest Teams – Sam Walker
A good double-header with the All Blacks book above, but focusing on the role of the captain in successful sporting teams. If this sounds exactly the same as above, and you think you know what makes a great sporting captain, you’re be wrong. Whilst discussing world-renowned teams such as Barcelona, Brazil, the All Blacks, the New York Yankees, the Soviet ice hockey and French handball team, Sam Walker explains the qualities that make an exceptional leader.
It’s not always what or whom you think . They’re not superstars; they avoid the limelight, can be divisive, do the unseen stuff and have great conviction. Whilst, the early chapter about “What is a great team?” is a bit in-depth and I enjoyed the stories about my preferred sports rather than French handball, the book shows how good captains are not obvious and that you can lead from where you are now, and not just from the top.
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging – Sebastian Junger
Focusing on the impacts of war and the issues of returning veterans, Junger highlights the large cracks in prosperous society and the problems with a lack of community. Why is it that soldiers miss the war? Why did people captured by the Native Indians, then rescued, then return to the Indian tribe? Why are anxiety, depression and loneliness increasing?
In cities especially, neighbours are strangers (until recently possibly) as there’s no need to cooperate with one another or rely on anyone else to do something for us. This has led us to the other epidemic we have, of loneliness. A highly impactful book that I’ll be revisiting in these changing modern times.
Talking to Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell
I wrote a longer post about this book last year that can be found here. This book has a significant impact on me.
The book asks, “Why can’t we tell when the stranger in front of us is lying?
Some people are confident liars and some nervously are telling the truth. The thing is – everyone, including judges and police officers, is no better than 50/50 at picking a liar.
Gladwell masterfully begins and ends his latest book with the case of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her Texas jail cell in 2015. He links all the previous chapters back to a fateful day when Bland was pulled over by a Texas state trooper.
This book is best listened to via the “enhanced” audiobook, meaning that it includes audio from some of the actual protagonists in the book and really brings it to life.
Atomic Habits – James Clear
Still struggling to do things or get things done with being lockedown at home? I know. It’s tough. We’ve never had fewer distractions, but it’s still as hard as ever to get things done. The book is hands-on (with additional supporting material) and explains why habits are better than goals. A goal to run a marathon doesn’t get you out of the door in the morning, habits do. James explains how to make a habit – obvious (the cue), attractive (the craving), easy (the response) and satisfying (the reward).
One of my takeaways, which links nicely back to the Tribe book – if you belong to a group, your habits are aligned and that’s very attractive. Join a group where the desired behaviour is the normal behaviour. This makes it hard to behave otherwise. If you want to change your habits – change your tribe. The tribe creates affirmation, approval and provides encouragement. This is not so easy to implement at the moment, but you may already be seeing it with family and partners at home. I wrote a post about the book you can find here.
Two books below, I’ve written about before and are excellent.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster – Jon Krakauer
Quite possibly my favourite non-fiction book. It details the author’s account of how he joined a fee-paying expedition team to write a story about the commercialism of Everest and ended up in the middle of the 1996 Everest disaster that killed 8 people on the same night.
This is an expertly told story about the microcosm of the mountain and the politics and (lack of) humanity where life and death are so finely balanced. There’s plenty of controversy in the mountaineering world about Krakauer’s account and many books have been written by others who were on the mountain that day (off the back of Into Thin Air) but none in my eyes come close. The expedition’s leader’s phone call to his wife in New Zealand still sends shivers down my spine whenever I think about it. A fantastic book.
Open – An Autobiography – Andre Agassi with JR Moehringer
Everyone favourite tennis player, right?
Andre’s autobiography chronicles his life as a child prodigy to Wimbledon champion in 1992 and onwards. The world number 1 ranking, the fall, the crystal meth use, the failed celebrity marriage and the subsequent rise to the top again. Agassi talks about how he had always hated tennis during his career because of the constant pressure and there is a hilarious story about his disintegrating wig before the 1990 French Open final. If you know who his current wife is. How his path crosses with a certain German blonde superstar is fascinating. One of the best sports autobiographies.