You are a well read bunch so I was looking forward to compiling the second annual look at your favourite reads featured on Farnam Street in 2013.
While I never had any doubt that Farnam Streeters are the smartest people on the internet, the data once again tells that story too.
Peter Bevelin begins his fascinating book with Confucius’ great wisdom: “A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.” From Amazon:
This book is for those who love the constant search for knowledge. It is in the spirit of Charles Munger, who says, “All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.” There are roads that lead to unhappiness. An understanding of how and why we can “die” should help us avoid them. We can’t eliminate mistakes, but we can prevent those that can really hurt us. Using exemplars of clear thinking and attained wisdom, Bevelin focuses on how our thoughts are influenced, why we make misjudgments and tools to improve our thinking. Bevelin tackles such eternal questions as: Why do we behave like we do? What do we want out of life? What interferes with our goals? Read and study this wonderful multidisciplinary exploration of wisdom. It may change the way you think and act in business and in life.
I’m not quite sure how I came across Robin Dreeke’s It’s Not All About Me but I’m glad I did.
Dreeke is the lead instructor at the FBI’s Counterintelligence Training Center in all behavioural and interpersonal skills training. And he wrote an awesome book on how to master the skills of communication.
This is a modern version of the timeless How to Win Friends and Influence People.
How to Read a Book, originally published in 1940, has become a rare phenomenon, a living classic. It is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader. And now it has been completely rewritten and updated.
You are told about the various levels of reading and how to achieve them — from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading, you learn how to pigeonhole a book, X-ray it, extract the author’s message, criticise. You are taught the different reading techniques for reading practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science.
Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests whereby you can measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension and speed.
Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?
The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.
A Syrian slave, Syrus is full of timeless wisdom. Want an example? “From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.” Here is another “It is not every question that deserves an answer.” Ok, one more? “To do two things at once is to do neither.” And he didn’t even know of Facebook and Twitter. You can read this book in under an hour but spend the rest of your life trying to learn and apply his wisdom.
I came to Seneca a few years ago. It’s clear from reading Seneca that he’s full of wisdom. His letters deal with everything we deal with today: success, failure, wealth, poverty, grief. His philosophy is practical. Not only will reading this book help equip you for what comes in life but it’ll help you communicate with others.
A philosophy that saw self-possession as the key to an existence lived ‘in accordance with nature’, Stoicism called for the restraint of animal instincts and the severing of emotional ties. These beliefs were formulated by the Athenian followers of Zeno in the fourth century BC, but it was in Seneca (c. 4 BC — AD 65) that the Stoics found their most eloquent advocate. Stoicism, as expressed in the Letters, helped ease pagan Rome’s transition to Christianity, for it upholds upright ethical ideals and extols virtuous living, as well as expressing disgust for the harsh treatment of slaves and the inhumane slaughters witnessed in the Roman arenas. Seneca’s major contribution to a seemingly unsympathetic creed was to transform it into a powerfully moving and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (a.d. 121 — 180) succeeded his adoptive father as emperor of Rome in a.d. 161 — and Meditations remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. With a profound understanding of human behaviour, Marcus provides insights, wisdom, and practical guidance on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity to interacting with others. Consequently, the Meditations have become required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. In Gregory Hays’s new translation — the first in a generation — Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy: never before have they been so directly and powerfully presented.
The Art of Worldly Wisdom: A Pocket Oracle is a book of three hundred aphorisms for making one’s way in the world and achieving distinction.
It provides advice not only for modern “image makers” and “spin doctors,” but also for the candid: for those who insist that substance, not image, is what really matters. “Do, but also seem,” is Gracián’s pithy advice
The book was imitated by La Rochefoucauld, cherished by Friedrich Nietzsche, and translated into German by Arthur Schopenhauer. Nietzsche observed that “Europe has never produced anything finer or more complicated in matters of moral subtlety.”
This short but powerful book has helped thousands of writers, artists, scientists, and engineers to solve problems and generate ideas. Now let James Webb Young’s unique insights help you be more creative in every area of life. Advertising mogul William Bernbach wrote, “James Webb Young is in the tradition of some of our greatest thinkers when he describes the workings of the creative process. The results of many years in advertising have proved to him that the key element in communications success is the production of relevant and dramatic ideas. He not only makes this point vividly for us but shows us the road to that goal.”
Pound for pound one of the most important books I’ve ever read. To those of you who claim this book is too expensive I say ignorance is even costlier.
More from Farnam Street:
- The Best Books of 2013: Your 10 Overall Favourites
- The History of Christmas
- The Scientific Study of Positive Emotion
- Pocket Readers Pick Their Top Hits from 2013
- Philosophy — A Guide to Happiness: Montaigne on Self-Esteem
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