My Top 10 Books
My intention with this article is to share the top books I’ve read. At the time of this writing I’ve read somewhere between 100 – 200 books. Some things to note before I give this list.
- These books helped shape ME. They are important books in MY story. It’s really hard for me to agree or disagree when someone lays out a book list and says “These are the best books on X” because it is shaped by their unique experience.
- Much of what was really impactful to me and stood out as being the best for me weren’t books. Maybe a “My top 10 resources that aren’t books” article next?
- I listed these in the order I read them, so it’s kinda like a story.
- Most of these books I’ve either read as a physical book or an audiobook. I don’t think I’ve ever read a whole book on the Kindle app or tablet.
I look at books like a tool set. There are so many ideas, invitations, suggestions and mentoring out there to fix the problems that will inevitably come up in life – especially with the rise of the internet and online resources like YouTube and Google to go along with books. Let’s get into it.
I know. It’s cheating because there’s more than one book here (a whole ass library yo) but….that’s ok. Sometimes I be cheating.
These were the first books I remember being into studying piano. I spent SO much time slogging through these books (slogging because I didn’t understand the payoffs of consistent practice AND felt that I couldn’t just practice when I wanted to). Both of my great teachers used these books to teach me, and I still use so much of what was in these books today playing piano.
I remember we focused on the books on theory, ear training, song/hymn books and finger exercises.
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
This is the best book I’ve ever read…still. It talks a lot about surrendering to the moment, and I think I had to surrender for this book to even show up in my world.
I remember it helping me specifically with emotions. I’ve probably saved SOOO much stress just by reading this book pretty early. When I started reading this book I was feeling so frustrated. The go-to-school get-a-degree and have-a-safe-stable-job-for-life path just seemed so ‘not me’, but I was headed right down that road, and it made me afraid for my future. Meanwhile, I was registered for college classes I wasn’t paying for AND I was skipping them. So mix in some guilt in there too with the frustration.
One of the resolutions was just to have some space from thinking period, which made me feel lighter and more peaceful. It was like erasing a chalk board full of stuff on it. Then, I could deliberately choose what I wanted to add on to it.
This book alone helped me be a match for more upbeat, positive people. This book was my introduction to meditation. It just showed me how much my own mind was beating me down. I hadn’t ever considered that I could actually just turn my thinking off. It was soooo freeing to be able to have some space from my negative thoughts that had gone on for decades.
Meditation and spiritual teachers have been a well for me to go back to when I feel like I’m getting bogged down by life. I can take care of things a lot better when I’m taking care of my own peace of mind.
The Pick-Up Artist – Erik von Markovik
I really wasn’t motivated by pick-up until I moved in with a friend who was naturally great with women. When I lived with him, there were just so many women in our world largely due to him, so it made me curious as to what he was doing to bring them into our world. He invited nudged me to share my love of music more with everyone, which pushed things to a whole nother level. We went out to clubs and bars and events all the time.
I still remember the 5 things from this book. Leader of men, protector of loved ones, preselection, willingness to emote and successful risk taker. If you watch enough nature documentaries you’ll even see these in the animals. It’s like a biological, evolutionary thing.
People were really turned off by the formulaic, forced aspect of pick-up overall and the inauthentic, canned routines – as they should be. But to me, the underlying principle to the formulas and routines that I can align with is this – be a better man (embody masculinity) and the feminine will be drawn like a moth to a flame. And so, the next books you’ll see stem from my desire to learn what it meant to be a better man.
No More Mr. Nice Guy – Robert Glover
I remember this book being about honesty and maintaining integrity – and sometimes that isn’t nice.
Reading these types of books and moving in with three other masculine men helped me see, and more importantly feel what I missed out on growing up. Up until that point, I really didn’t understand why not having a father around mattered. I could write a book on this. It would be titled The Absence of the Masculine.
Growing up around all women led to me HAVING to please women and be nice all the time, and this did a lot to offset my polarity while watering down an already muffled voice.
Luckily there was music to offset this. I felt the total opposite as it relates to music. I was learning music and performing and in the choir so my voice was heard a lot. I could be free and was encouraged to make mistakes.
Outside of music though, my voice was drowned out by a chaotic household. There was no masculine to balance that chaos out and calm it and ground it effectively. I think that’s why The Power of Now was so powerful for me. I read this in college, and that was the first time I felt like I got some peace.
This book (along with living with very blunt and honest roommates) gave me permission to be honest – and there is nothing more freeing than being honest. It also showed me that people respond well to genuine truth whereas my family seemed to drown it out.
Remember the chaotic household? Yeah one of the most chaotic things was our eating habits. We pretty much ate fast food every day, little to no cooking and were all fat!
Foodaddicts.org was a program that FINALLY introduced some structure by way of food that made complete sense, and this book was an overview of that program. There was also other books we used a lot though too.
It was so simple and not profit-motivated. There was no buy-this-food-from-my-company in it – just normal foods you buy on the outside perimeter of the grocery store. It was FINALLY an answer to the question I had for decades on how to TRULY lose weight – specifically fat with JUST nutrition and what I was eating. I lost about 110 lbs through this program. It was like my body was saying “thank you for finally putting some stuff we can really use in here”. I gained the weight back plus more when I left the program, but I can’t erase what they taught me over there. It checked so many boxes, and I will be forever grateful.
The Illusion of Money – Kyle Cease
This is for the money chasers or if you feel like you’re chasing anything period. Chasing can get exhausting if you feel like the chase never ends.
There was soooo much talk of money in my family ALL the time. All that talk heavily influenced me to get into accounting in college (seeing as I have a whole family of accountants). The rap music I was listening to was always talking about money. It made me exhausted of thinking about money. Like damn…we’re not gonna focus on anything else here?
HOW I was making money became a lot more important around this time. Life started to be REALLY good, and for the first time it was starting to feel unbearable to keep doing the flat, boring, repetitive, meaningless slave work that had served me in the past to just stay afloat financially.
I read book this after attending Kyle Cease’s conference Love Rising. And I started working on Social Expansion (now Welcome Home) right there. It felt good to finally work on something NOT for the money.
The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks
So…things were going amazing. It made me feel like, “damn…this was more along the lines of the experience of life I was supposed to have”. Then everything crashed, and it seemed like I made it crash. I remember sitting and tryin’ to figure out WTF happened.
The Big Leap is one of the only books I know that addressed this as what is phrased as an “Upper Limit” problem. Things get too good, and you aren’t used to things being this good for this long, so you get scared and sabotage yourself and bring yourself back down to the comfortable problems you’re used to experiencing. At the time of this writing, it’s the book I want to revisit the most.
Atomic Habits – James Clear
This is one of those books where I just read it off recommendations. It gets recommended everywhere in the personal development space, so I read it and understood why it was recommended. Just reinforced the idea that big things come from the small. There are a lot of ways that idea can be applied, and I hadn’t thought of the ways presented in this book.
Will – Willard Carroll Smith II aka The Fresh Prince aka Will Smith
Let’s go Willard! I loved this book because of the dynamics of the audiobook. There was actually music in this book along with all the twists and turns his life took. It really kept my attention for over 16 hours! That’s damn hard to do. It wove in all the different parts of his story – including the bad and ugly. I appreciated his transparency, and as a creator I learned a lot about creating an engaging EXPERIENCE for the person on the other side of the creation (the reader/listener/viewer).
Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins
This is up there with me as far as the best books ever – top two next to The Power of Now.
It really inspired me to examine and be curious about the limits of what my mind is telling me is possible on a day-to -day basis, and it’s written by a VERY credible source. David Goggins has really pushed himself and CONTINUES to push himself incredibly hard to find his true potential, and it’s so inspiring to me.
This dude is SO badass that there is ANOTHER BOOK made of someone living with him called Living with a Seal (I haven’t read that one, but I could just imagine what’s in it). If you ever feel defeated, pick this up. Like…now yo.
Give me some time to internalize his work and the messages, and I won’t be so fanboyishly in awe of it.
50th Law – Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) and Robert Greene
I loved only the parts where 50 cent was speaking (at the beginning of the chapters). He would say something short in the beginning of the chapter and then Robert Greene would expound on it. I thought they could have cut Robert Greene’s part off though. It seemed like it was fluff to me.
The Magic – Rhonda Byrne
This book is all about appreciation and really explores creative ways to appreciate. I’ve loved Rhonda Byrne’s style since her documentary The Secret. She’s so resolute about positivity. Of the author’s on this list that have authored more than one book, she’s the only author on this list where I can say I’ve read ALL of her books (except her latest Masterclasses…I just found out about them yesterday).
The Courage to Be Disliked
This might go along with No More Mr. Nice Guy. I just happened to read this one later. I think I was also diving into exploring freedom and what that meant, and this showed up. There’s a lot written about systemic freedoms, but this and other books I’ve read deal with freedom internally. It’s about facing a hidden fear of being disliked (if you have that fear).
Well…that’s all folks for now. These were the books that stood out to me as the best.