Books that Changed My Life

Recently a reader asked me if I could name some of the books that have ‘literally changed the way I see the world.’

While there are more, here is a short list to start.

1. Man’s Search For Meaning
A gift from a friend. As hard as you think your life is, it pales in comparison to Auschwitz. I took two big things away from this book: (1) the ultimate freedom is the ability to choose your attitude in the face of any circumstance and (2) the more you target success, the more you will miss it.

2. Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist
By pure luck I came across this book and it introduced me to the thinking of Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger. These two have influenced my thinking more than any.

3. Meditations and Montaigne’s Essay’s
Reading these guys, along with Seneca, has really helped foster my interest in philosophy. So much of what they say speaks to me that I’m often left with entire pages underlined and margins filled with thoughts.

4. Letters to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders and Poor Charlie’s Almanack
Because I have an MBA a lot of people inevitably ask me if they should pursue one. If it’s knowledge and not credentials you’re after, save your money and read these two. The letters are freely available on Berkshire’s website but I find the paperback collection works best for me. If you’re scared to start with the full letters, check out the distilled version: The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America. As smart as Buffett is (and he’s scary smart) he’s not as smart as his partner Charlie Munger. Poor Charlie’s Almanack could be the greatest word for word collection of wisdom I’ve ever come across.

5. Sam Walton: Made In America
The big lesson I took away from Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, is that you don’t need to come up with all the ideas yourself. Instead, you can look around and copy the best of what other people are doing. That attitude aligns with the tagline of this website: Mastering the best of what other people have already figured out.

6. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
This book changed how I see the world. As if that wasn’t enough, it also introduced me to iatrogenics, fragilistas, and connected inversion and via negativa (something I should have connected much sooner).

7. Rework
This book showed me that I wasn’t alone or crazy. Other people think about the work place like I do too.

8. Seeking Wisdom
Peter Bevelin is one smart dude. Inspired by Munger, he’s put together a book of the big ideas that carry a lot of weight in life. Finding this book new is difficult, just buy a used copy.

9. 50 Shades of Grey
Just kidding.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the first book I ever read cover to cover for pleasure: The Stopwatch Gang. The book, about some of the greatest Canadian bank robbers, opened my eyes to reading.