Some of the most important lessons I have learned are from books I have read. The habit of reading books and writing down the key insights have been life-changing. I'm sharing my notes with you, in hopes that you will get as much from them as I have.
Feel free to add me on GoodReads to see which books I'm reading.
The latest book is How to Become a Straight A-Student by Cal Newport.
📕 Click on the book title or image to read my notes. I have included a short summary of my thoughts on each book, yet omitted ratings. I do not believe my 1-10 rating sufficiently communicates the value of a given book.
🔍 You can search for a book by title, author, or category. Clicking any of the categories below will filter the results.
Discourses and Selected Writings
The Handbook (Enchiridion) alone is worth 10 stars. Epictetus influenced Marcus Aurelius profoundly. I think that fact alone speaks volumes.
How To Think Like A Roman Emperor
Donald J. Robertson
Not only is the book very well told — telling the story of Marcus as he grew up — but it is an incredible introduction to putting the stoic principles to action in your own life. Robertson guides one in applying the methods that Marcus used to overcome adversity and live a stoic life. If the Meditations is the theory book, then this book is the practical field-guide.
Letters From a Stoic
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
These letters have had a profound impact on philosophy and can guide all of us lead a better life.
It was quite the experience to dive into the thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, and comparing them to the modern ways of thinking and then seeing how true they still stand truly astound me. This is perhaps the book that has influenced me the most, out of those I've read.
Great read. It is interesting to try to follow the arguments presented by the various characters, then seeing whether you agree, disagree, or otherwise have an opinion yourself. Participate in the dialogue.
Man's Search For Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl
Probably the only book that I've ever read where I almost shed a tear.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
William Braxton Irvine
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, some parts felt a bit drawn out — especially those, in which there were drawn parallels to modern life. I prefer when that is done by the reader. However, it is an amazing piece for those who want an introduction to stoicism.
A Mind for Numbers
This is the greatest book I've ever read on learning. It has helped me immensely in my Engineering studies.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I loved it. It impacted my ways of thinking very much. I highly recommend it.
I've read this book twice now. There is a lot to be learned from it — and not just about habits. I believe it was this book that taught me about systems thinking, which I have benefited from countless times by now. Although this is a book about habits — and perhaps one of the best on the topic — you'll learn much more than that.
Born to Run
This is the first book I've read on running. It was great. McDougall told a great story. I highly recommend this book if you're into running.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
The first time I (tried) to read it, I was instantly put off. The second time, I couldn't put it down. Perhaps I wasn't in the right mindset the first time around. But this book is very interesting. Highly recommended.
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals
A healthy read for productivity-geeks like myself. I whole-heartedly recommend this book. As with any book, it has its flaws, but I enjoyed it very much.
How to Take Smart Notes
Amazing book densely packed with wisdom. Highly recommended for those who want to learn and understand better.
I did not think this book would be as good as it was. My expectations rose as I saw authors I respect giving it positive reviews. There are some powerful techniques in this book — and every one of those are well-reasoned and explained. Many of them I knew, but didn't know the full power of, until I read this book. I'd recommend checking out my notes on Tiny Habits as well — they have some connecting elements. Highly recommended book.
It's important to learn how our mind works. This books helps you understand why we do the things we do. I highly recommend it - especially if you haven't read anything like it.
Lessons in Stoicism
Fantastic book. It is a very short and approachable introduction to Stoicism.
Make It Stick
Peter C. Brown
Perhaps one of the and most comprehensive yet succinct books on learning I have read. The first many chapters of this book presented learning studies and summarized the latest research on learning.
The very last chapter presents practical strategies for applying optimal learning strategies.
Poor Charlie's Almanack
A fantastic book with an immense amount of wisdom. If you wish to learn the mental models of one of the greatest thinkers of our time, this is the book for you.
Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger
It certainly lives up to the name.
Stillness is the Key
I generally like Ryan's works. This one was no exception. It was a positive surprise to see stillness examined through other schools of philosophy than Stoicisim, too.
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
A much needed collection of Naval's wisdom. I learned - and relearned - a lot. Highly recommended. It's not just something you read and forget about. It's something you think about for a very long time. This is a free book. I hope that you read it for yourself.
The Obstacle Is The Way
This is one of the first books I read on Stoicism (and philosophy in general). It has massively influenced me throughout the years. Highly recommended.
The Psychology of Money
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a very sobering read. Highly recommended if you want to learn about how we think about money — and better ways to do so.
This Is Water
Amazing speech. Highly recommended. You can also find it on YouTube.
Great book about habits. Somewhat on par, for me, with Atomic Habits. But very different in style.
I loved this book. Especially the first part - about his bodybuilding days. One of the greatest immigrant stories ever told; and it's real.
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
This is the book to read if you want to learn how to become extraordinary at any skill.
I believe that there is a lot to learn from the book. While the book discusses methods that I don’t particularly agree with; deception, for example, there is still a lot of great and important points within the pages.
This book attempts to help you solve two important problems for entrepreneurs: It wants to help you get more clients and more cash.
The book is short, but very dense in knowledge. I learned a tremendous amount from it. Most of it is probably basics, but I didn't know them, so it was of huge value to me.
12 Rules for Life
Jordan B. Peterson
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship
Robert C. Martin
Teaches the reader great principles for clean coding. A bit too much focus on Java.
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Joy to read. Teaches the reader the fundamentals of programming. Great for beginners.
Courage is Calling
Fantastic book. I'm excited to read the entire series.
I think that Jocko Willink and Leif Babin nailed this book. The layout of the chapters makes the principles easy to understand and learn from, and also makes the book an enjoyment to read from cover to cover.
Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done
Jon wrote a great book. He mixed great advice with humor, which made it both interesting and easy to read. The book provides a new (and better) way of thinking about your goals.
An amazing story told by an expert storyteller. I just had to grab the Audiobook version. Listening to Matthew tell the story was 110% worth it. I read the book while listening.
It's not talent that leads us to achievement. It's persistence (grit).
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Practical wisdom in an easy-to-read book. You'll breeze right through and learn a lot in the process.
How to Get Rich
Dennis has practiced what he's preaching. There's no extras to buy. Just practical advice to implement if you want to become rich. Easier said than done. Getting rich isn't easy. But if you want it, you'll have to work for it.
Want to learn how to attain mastery? This is the book for you.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Carol S. Dweck
Discusses the importance of having a growth mindset. You can be better. Your abilities aren't fixed.
I loved the first part (personal principles). I feel as if the second part is just the first part, but for business. Great book nonetheless. Impacted my ways of thinking.
Show Your Work!
This book, along with Steal Like an Artist, really dispelled a lot of my misbeliefs about being a content creator online. Incredibly helpful. I think that it's a great read.
An amazing biography by Isaacson. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of Steve Jobs. What a fascinating man.
The Everything Store
The Everything Store gives a great insight into Amazon, as well as a peek at Jeff Bezos' mind. Although there are some areas which I wished the book went deeper on (and some I wished it didn't), I highly recommend this book.
The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts
Great book on mental models. I like the style of it.
The Phoenix Project
Great book. I was unsure if I'd like the format, but it turned out great. There were many lessons packed in the book; some implicit, some explicit. These were paced well throughout the book, making the book enjoyable and instructive.
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
I really liked this book. I think it tells a great story.
Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It
Great read. Absolutely delivers on the promise of explaining why we get fat, and what to do about it. Eye-opening in some ways; though I already have heard of similar accounts.
This is a great biography. I especially loved the audiobooks. It's a well-told story.
You don't have to specialize to be the best. Great read.
Solve for Happy
Not life changing. Nor did it impact me very much. But it was interesting to read nonetheless.
Start With Why
You've probably heard about Simon Sinek. This book discusses the importance of why, and tells us why we should start with asking ourselves 'why'.
Steal Like an Artist
I loved this book. But not in the way that someone might enjoy a book based on how good it is. Mostly because what Austin Kleon addresses in it is something I've struggled with myself. It helped me overcome some of those struggles.
The Art of War
An interesting read.
A bit long. Could have been a great article or post-series. But it gives some great points on learning. It feels like an amazing starting point for learning, but it could be built upon with other great strategies that one might discover for themselves.
A Brief History of Time
I quite liked it.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
It was a great story. It's easy to get lost in. There were many great lessons in there, too. Miller was about to have a movie done about his life. In the process of (re)writing the story of his life, he realized the importance of stories.
Anything You Want
A lot of great lessons on starting a business. Short, fun, easy, and interesting are the four words I'd use to describe this book.
Building a Second Brain
This book is fantastic for those getting into the world of personal knowledge management (PKM). Recommended for any knowledge worker looking to up their game.
Developer Hegemony: The Future of Labor
The book makes some great points. Highly enlightening. If you are any kind of knowledge-worker — especially a software engineer — you should read it. If not for any other reason than to form your own opinions about the ones presented.
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The ways of thinking about the world (and media) presented in this book is great. Being critical of what we see and hear is an important skill to have. Discerning truth from the barrage of misinformation that we're presented with. This book helps gives a few tips on how to do that better.
How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question
It's a fun introduction to various theories, but with limited depth, focusing on breadth instead. The first half or so is great, but it gets slow towards the end.
Leaders Eat Last
Completely agree with the message of the book. It did, however, feel a bit dragged out. Other than that; great book.
A bit too political for my tastes, but a lot of it was incredibly interesting.
Lying is a rather short, but good book. Sam Harris makes some good arguments against lying. We all know that it is morally bad to lie, but exactly how much? Are small, white lies fine? According to Sam Harris, the answer is no. Lies are never acceptable.
On The Shortness Of Life
Timeless wisdom from Seneca.
Reality Is Not What It Seems
Beautiful explanation of various theories and concepts. Loved the book. The first few chapters brings you up to speed; from the beginning, and all the way to quantum.
Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity
Great description of Scrum. Provides reasoning and background for the elements of Scrum, which I'm a huge fan of.
The Art and Business of Online Writing
Great insights into writing online.
The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth
Altucher's perspective is interesting. I think that this books has some gems. But also some coal. I haven't read any of his other books (yet), but it felt as if the core message of those books also was the core message of this book.
The Complete Guide to Fasting
Dr. Jason Fung
I have been experimenting with fasting for a long time. I read this book to understand it better. Very simple and approachable. It explains fasting well.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich
The Death of Ivan Ilyich is short and hard to put down. It is a classic. A reminder that we will all die some day. It is like having Ivan's life flashing before your eyes, slowing down upon the moments of his death.
The E-Myth Revisited
Michael E. Gerber
The main ideas of this book are very insightful. I am going to adopt (most of) the principles myself. There are a few things in this book that I do not agree with — as with any book, really — but besides those, I rather enjoyed the book. If you are building a business (or want to learn something about it), I recommend this book.
The Great Mental Models, Volume 2: Physics, Chemistry and Biology
Great book on mental models. I didn't find this book as interesting as its predecessor, but I think it's a good read.
The Inner Game of Tennis
W. Timothy Gallwey
These principles can be applied to anything. I don't even play Tennis. I still loved the book.
The Little Book That Beats the Market
Simple and concise.
The Personal MBA
This book is a large collection of briefly described models. As it is with such books, every reader will love some parts, like others, and not care about the rest. While that describes my experience with the book, I think it had a good love/uninterested ratio.
The Third Door
I quite liked the book. Learned a lot from those Alex talked to - and it was entertaining to read at the same time.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know
I did not like Grant's previous book, Originals, very much. So I didn't have very high expectations for this one. Nevertheless, the subject matters to me, and this book has received some good ratings, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It was good. I learned a lot of things that I didn't know. Some things I thought I knew I learned were wrong. This is what I love in good books - they challenge your beliefs. They make you think. Rethink. My critique of this book is that the examples feel too drawn out. This made the book cumbersome to read because I was bored sometimes. It was like a rollercoaster of thinking. Either way, I got through it, and I'm happy I did.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
I found it tedious and long to get through. But I can still appreciate it for what it is. It just wasn't for me. Yet I still think that the core content, had it been in shorter book, would have interested me very much. It's a great psychology book. Probably one of the best. But I wasn't interested in all the technical details that this book had to offer, hence the low rating. Still, the core concepts are very interesting and gives great insight into how our mind works.
Tribe of Mentors
Great advice given by various people.
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
Eye-opening. Great read. I was a bit surprised about the last chapters. But interesting book nonetheless.
As Man Thinketh
The book was good. I got a 'Law of Attraction' feeling from the book, which I didn't particularly enjoy. There were some great quotes, though.
Great book on copy writing. The cover made me skeptical, but the contents convinced me. It does exactly what it promises.
Fooled by Randomness
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Discusses how we often attribute occurrences and the likes to determinism, when it should have been attributed to luck. Also lots of discussion on heuristics and biases - how our mental shortcuts fool us, in relation to randomness. While enjoyable and a book that can teach you a lot, I prefer Taleb's other books.
How to Become a Straight A-Student
I enjoyed this book because it wasn't someone with no skin in the game telling me how to study. It's deeply practical. This book is the result of interviews of A-students—it shares what they do in an actionable study approach.
Invent and Wander
Great book. The introduction is fantastic. I'm fascinated by how Amazon had stayed true to their values; and how well it turned out (so far). In all honesty, you can read 80% of the book for free on Amazon's own site, because the shareholder letters are free to the public.
Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment
The book is easily digested. I had just read Peak, so I didn't think that it brought anything new to the table when I read it. Good for those who knows little about mastery.
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention
I like the principles and what they describe the Netflix culture to be. I kind of enjoyed the book, but I found it slightly boring at times due to some of the stories.
So Good They Can't Ignore You
The book, in my opinion, was a bit long. It is very easily summarized in the first rule alone. Still, the argument that it makes is solid. You don't 'find' your passion. You create it.
Tao Te Ching
I read the John Minford translation. It was an enjoyable read. I skipped the commentary most of the time, though. I would rather read it myself, and seek commentary if I wanted to expand upon some parts.
The 1% Rule
This book essentially synthesizes and collects wisdom from other books, and presents the authors take. If you haven't read any of the most popular Personal Development books, this one would be a great start, as it connects many of the dots between them. However, if you have read some of them, there's a lot of repetition.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. Benjamin Franklin is an interesting man—there is a lot to learn from him.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The book starts out as a story, kind of like an autobiography, but then takes experiences from his life and gives advice based on those.
The Richest Man in Babylon
George S. Clason
The Richest Man in Babylon is a good book with a solid message. However, I found it to be slightly repetitive and dragged out at times, hence the rating. It is short, accessible, and simple. Recommended for those who wants to learn more about personal finances.
The Road to Character
I didn't like the book as much as I thought I would. It felt boring at times. But it does contain some great wisdom on shaping yourself — and what one should aspire to. Below are some of my highlights.
The Slight Edge
Basically; small (positive) actions that add up over time. Your habits compound. While I did enjoy the book at the time, after revisiting it later it seems repetitive and full of platitudes. There definitely is good knowledge in there - the main idea, in my opinion, is solid.
The Unicorn Project
I found the story, as compared to it's predecessor, quite boring. However, I still learned a lot from reading it, so it was worth my while. Good book, but nowhere near as good as The Phoenix Project.
The War of Art
Good book about what being an artist entails and how to overcome the resistance that you inevitably will meet. The first 2/3 was fine. The last 1/3 was confusing and boring. Don't read that part. It's already a short book, but I feel like it could be much shorter.
Henry David Thoreau
All right read due to a few interesting points made throughout. One can appreciate Thoreau's enjoyment of nature, however the many details of it can sometimes become a bore.
Without Their Permission
Here's the guy behind Reddit and Hipmunk who has been in Y Combinator telling you how to do startups. Interesting read.
Work Clean: The Life-changing Power of Mise-en-place to Organize Your Life, Work, and Mind
Good enough book. It got pretty good towards the end. I didn't particularly like the stories, as they seemed to be very filler-like, but were probably important for the analogies. You can easily skip the stories, though.
97 Things Every Programmer Should Know
It was fine. There are lots of good nuggets.
Make Your Bed
William H. Mcraven
The book expands on what is said in the speech. You can find the speech on YouTube. I'd recommend simply listening to that rather than reading the book, although it is short. The speech is much clearer and conciser.
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In some ways, I really enjoyed this book. In others, not so much. I've never been much for storytelling. But that's why I read this book. I think it's an important ability to have. It helps present your point of view and your stories to other people. It helps you become more engaging. That's not a bad quality to have.
The 10X Rule
I was actually hoping for something different, but I can see why it became what it did. Slightly interesting read.
The Bed of Procrustes
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
It's fine. A bit too opinionated. Does contain a few great snippets.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Raises some great points. Felt slightly repetetive and dull at times.
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz
The Power of Agency
Great tips on acquiring more agency in your life.
The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
An all-right book. It had good parts.
Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts
Good book, but felt too drawn out for me.
Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy
It's a decent book. I used it for self-reflection and found some value.
A Calendar of Wisdom
There is much to be learned from the book. Both religion and veganism was pushed too heavily for me. As (most) books, it's written in accordance with the author's view of the world. That is very clear here.
Economy of Truth
Has some gems.
Just Fucking Ship
The book presents some good ideas on getting your products finished and out there. The book is 125 pages long but can be easily summarized (as seen below). It feels like a collection of ideas for blog posts. I'd probably not recommend you read it — instead, just read my summary or notes on it. I do, however, like the ideas presented. Most of them I already knew very well and use daily. They work.
Living With A SEAL
Fun and easy read. The SEAL, David Goggins, wrote his own book; "Can't Hurt Me". Both books have their merits, but I'd recommend David's book every time - by a landslide.
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
The book reads like a cookbook of tactics you can employ to get more energy, focus better, and find a daily focus.
The First 20 Hours
This is an example of a book that should have been a blog post. You could probably read my notes and have learned what this book has to offer.
Understanding How We Learn
Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, Oliver Caviglioli
OK book, but wasn't interesting for the first few chapters. I maybe got something out of 20/160 pages. But if you haven't read about learning before, it's fantastic.
Sebastian Marshall & Kai Zau
While I'm generally a fan of synthesizing ideas into a simple and concise format, that is not what's happening. It feels as if they're taking the great ideas others have had and just... showcasing them, pointing, and saying "look at this". This is a book, not Twitter. The book is too absolute in the advice given. “You need x, you need to do y” and so on. This does not make for a great reading experience. I would not recommend this book.
You are a Badass
I liked the core message. To love oneself and to aspire to be better. If you have read any book or article about that, you already know what this book says. I think that my notes summarize the book; even if I didn't try to. There is a lot about 'the source energy' in the book, something which usually would make me put down a book instantly. But this was a gift, so I kept going. It's OK. There's much better books to read. Just read my notes and move on.
I didn't like this book. It felt like a very generic (and formularic) self-help book.
The Compound Effect
It had some great ideas. Unfortunately, these were all borrowed. This should not have been a book. Not even a blog post. A tweet or two, at best. Not recommended.