“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
And not just travel.
Stephen King described reading as a simple form of telepathy. Pick up a book, read a few paragraphs and a writer puts an image in your brain. They, scribbling away at a little desk many years ago, create a world transferred from their thoughts to yours.
No matter the subject, there is a book that can change a view, educate or completely change your life.
I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime, and continue reading many every year (2018 list). Here are the BEST ones I’ve picked up, and I hope you get some enjoyment from them too.
I’ve split this down in to a number of categories to make it easy to navigate:
The Effective Executive (Peter Drucker) – There is one thing you can take complete control of, and that is your time and what you do with it. This book taught me more being productive and prioritisation than any other.
Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way To Deal With Change in Work and Life (Spencer Johnson) – There is only one constant in life, and that’s change! This is a very simple, but very powerful book that changed my attitude to change forever.
Discipline Equals Freedom (Jocko Willink) – I feel you learn more from people who are very different to you than those that are similar. Jocko is an ex Navy SEAL commander, and a tough bastard. This book is an extreme view on mindset, health, leadership and much more. It does not pull any punches, but the way it is formatted and the tough messages make it an incredibly engaging read. I re-read it once a year to keep me focused.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King) – Part autobiography, part instruction manual on the craft of writing, if you want some writing inspirations, read this.
Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life (Anne Lamott) – Hugely helpful book on the mental process of writing and how to capture your thoughts on a page.
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia (Paul Theroux) – I would have happily put anything by Paul Theroux on this list. The way he captures human interaction whilst travelling brings his stories to life in a way no-one else I’ve read can manage.
Down Under: Notes from a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson) – Another hard choice, as I have not read a bad book by Bill Bryson, but this is my favourite. He has a unique talent for cramming a book with facts, and combing that with hilarious stories of his travels. If I can ever write half as well as him I’ll be pretty pleased.
The Sharpe Series (Bernard Cornwell) – I’m not a big reader of fiction, but these books are addictive. Blending a great story with historical accuracy meant I learned a lot along the way too!
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere (Tim Ferriss) – The first book that made me seriously think about my work/life balance and how little of the world I’d seen. The phrase ‘mini-retirements’ was the basis for this website.
Vagabonding (Rolf Potts) – The pragmatic guide to long-term travel. This book covers all bases, and will start to turn your dreams of travel into a practical plan.
Open: An Autobiography (Andre Agassi) – I wouldn’t consider myself a tennis fan, but this is a whirlwind of a book that’s brilliantly written.