There is a never-ending wealth of knowledge the pages of books. Generations of wisdom transcribed and saved for us to unlock at will.
Sometimes the immensity of information and books available to us can be overwhelming making it difficult to pick what to spend our valuable time and energy in.
Here's a list of reads I highly recommend, each book having influenced me greatly during different parts of my life.
1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (translation by Gregory Hays)
Many of us have heard the name of this famous Roman emperor, but few of us have probably heard of this culmination of his insights, wisdom, and practical guidance. It remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written.
"Nothing that goes on in anyone else's mind can harm you.
2. The Element by Ken Robinson
As a newly acclaimed entrepenur, this book was recommended to me by a mentor, and wow is it a game changer. It retells the stories of ordinary humans who have done extraordinary things and empowers the reader to unleash their own potential for growth and development by finding their element, i.e. what you were meant to do with your life.
"When we connect with our own energy, we're more open to the energy of other people. The more alive we feel, the more we can contribute to the lives of others."
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
If you haven't heard of the other two books, you may have heard of this one. Topping the charts as a #1 National Bestseller, it's sold 25 million copies since it's publication in 1988. Covey passed away in 2012, but his works continue to give a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems.
"Our problems and pain are universal and increasing, and the solutions to the problems are and always will be based upon universal, timeless, self-evident principles common to every enduring, prospering society throughout history."
4. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, author, and Holocaust survivor. This book recounts his experiences from his time in a concentration camp in quite possibly the most logical first person narrative ever written on unimaginable suffering. It is humbling, perspective-changing, inspiring, and all together a must read, particularly if you are going through a difficult time in your life.
"In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
5. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
This biography written about former Olympic track athlete Louis Zamperini, is one of the most incredible stories on human resilience and toughness. A troubled child, Louis' brother helps him get his life on track by channeling his extra energy into running.
He qualifies to compete in the Olympics, and then World War II breaks out and he is enlisted in the military as part of a B27 bomber flight crew. His plane goes down, and he survives not only floating on a raft in the Pacific for well over a month, but the cruelty of a Japanese war camp as well.
If you don't feel like flipping the pages, you could watch the major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie, with the sequel coming out in 2018.
“I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self destructive. If you hate somebody, you're not hurting the person you hate, you're hurting yourself. It's a healing, actually, it's a real healing...forgiveness.”
6. Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone
As the title so fervently describes, this book will help you break out of mediocrity and achieve your dreams by channeling the obsession for what you are passionate about and turn it into the fuel that propels you to success.
"...obsession is the critical component of success - senior to strategy, pricing, timing, competition, or people; it offers the method for living in true freedom and total control of your life-personally financially, and emotionally."
7. Strength's Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
The beauty of this book is that it's interactive. After reading the first few chapters you are prompted to take a 30 minute online test developed to identify your top 5 strengths.
This book was also recommended to me by a very successful entrepreneur, so it was an automatic order and read when it arrived. Not only does it break down your strengths, but it identifies what strengths you should look for in other people to compliment yours.
“What's more, we had discovered that people have several times more potential for growth, when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.”
8. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This is a change up from the other books listed, as it is historical fiction. It is a tale of two young French sisters during the time of World War II whose personalities are drastically different from one another, as are the struggles they endure during the war. This book will keep you turning pages, and helps you remember that while our problems may seem big, they probably aren't.
"'I love you,' she said, but the words that always seemed so big felt small now. What was love when put up against war?"
9. Adversity Advantage: Turning everyday struggles into everyday greatness by Paul Stoltz & Erik Weihenmayer
Erik Weihenmayer became blind at age 13, but refused to let this control his life. Instead, he ultimately became the first blind person to climb the 7 Summits (the tallest peaks on all 7 continents).
His book, co-authored by Paul Stoltz, is an inspirational read about overcoming life's many adversities and using them to your advantage. If a legally blind man can climb Everest, do our excuses that hold us back carry that much weight anymore?
"Even minor setbacks provide powerful opportunities for elevating behavior. If you eliminate adversity, you miss out on life's deepest riches, highest gifts, and most potent lessons."
10. Mind Gym: An athlete's guide to inner excellence by Gary Mack
This book was my bible as a collegiate and professional basketball player. Written by sports psychologist, Gary Mack, who interviews multiple athletes and eloquently uses their stories and his extensive knowledge to help the reader develop strategies to overcome mental barriers that hold them back in their sport. This is not only a read for the athlete, but coaches and parents as would benefit as well!
"The desire to succeed needs to be stronger than the fear of failure."