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10 Books Everyone Should Read

The works below have impressed upon my life new understandings and insights that benefit my idea of being a complete human. In their own nuanced ways, they've gifted me a clearer lens to see the world through. I wanted to share this list to those who hunger for such clarity. In no particular order, the books are:

Ishmael

by Daniel Quinn

Perhaps by bias, perhaps by the first book that came to mind, Ishmael tops the list. I first read this book at the suggestion of a former coworker who has quite an intellect. I'm thankful for his recommendation as Ishmael almost marks a crux between past and present Andys. In the book, you follow a main character who stumbles across what seems to be a mundane ad that reads: "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person." With his interest piqued, he ventures to the address provided only to be completely alarmed that the author of the ad is a hulking, English-speaking gorilla named Ishmael. I've recommended this book to just about everybody who asks for a suggestion, and most get hung up on this facet of the book. Don't focus on this. Focus on what Ishmael imparts to his new pupil. The main character enters into deep conversation with Ishmael regarding humanity, its faults, its direction, and how it all started. Ishmael must provide such deep context so that the main character can understand how to save humanity. For me to attempt to summarize what that message is would be almost disrespectful to Quinn. It's not a long read at all. If you're interested in philosophy, human culture, and ethics, I highly recommend.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

Island

by Aldous Huxley

If you're familiar with my band, Pala, and where it got its name, then you know Island was the inspiration. Island was Huxley's last published novel before he died in 1963. The story follows a widower Englishman hired by a rich elite to infiltrate the island of Pala and its culture to be exploited for its natural resources. The man is injured in a crash landing on the island and is nursed back to health by a white doctor and a native woman. During his recovery, he lives among the islanders and learns how they live at balance with themselves and the ecology. From learning how children are reared to how death is dealt with, Huxley conveys an idyllic culture that is at balance. I took from this book mechanisms in which our society should operate and how it is not operating presently. Huxley cunningly juxtaposes Pala to a neighboring, developed state that is gluttonous and materialistic. The Englishman occasionally travels to this neighboring state and each time his repulsion of it grows with the reader's. Huxley also makes use of psychedelic experience and the importance it can play in creating more loving, empathetic humans. Nothing Huxley suggests as societal improvement is unreasonable. In fact, we have more than enough technology and resource to do it. We simply lack the will. We succumb to our faulted human nature. Perhaps if our world was more like the one Huxley portrayed, there would be so much less pain and anguish.

Side note: when Huxley was on his deathbed, he was too weak to talk. He scribed on a note to his wife: "LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular." His cancer-ridden body was brought to peace in its final moments as he slipped from this world into the next. Kinda beautiful.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

As A Man Thinketh

by James Allen

If you have a short attention span and the thickness of books gives you anxiety, As A Man Thinketh is for you. This pamphlet written in 1903 compares the mind to garden. In this garden, thoughts are seeds and actions are the growths. Though not a unique concept, Allen's delivery of it tweaks the dials enough to make it feel anew and easy to digest. For weeks afterwards, I was constantly examining thoughts (the seeds I plant in my mind garden) and how they escape my psyche into the world. The text provides a great kick in the ass for checking in with one's thoughts to ensure they are occurring to the benefit of the individual and those around him or her.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

A People's History of the United States

by Howard Zinn

Oh, boy. This book will make you a little less proud to be American. Brace for that. Zinn takes the reader through a linear collection of atrocities and injustices the American government and its founders perpetrated against its people across centuries. The scale is truly alarming. Starting with early explorers and the horrors committed against peaceful natives to using fatal force in labor riots during America's industrial age, each instance of abhorrent behavior from the State paints a picture of the class disparity we've been experiencing even before the founding of the country. Zinn brings attention to what over-leveraged power can do to those that want to right it. I took away from this book that there is a human-history-long class war that's simply evolved into new renditions as time progresses. Everything in this book (which is validated by historical citing) flies in the face of what we are told in school at a young age. We are told America is on the right side of history everywhere she turns. America is the beacon of justice on Earth. It's simply sad, manufactured propaganda that has been forced down our throats. This is a must read. Especially in 2020. If you don't want to read the whole thing; no problem. Zinn laid out each historical event in digestible chunks. There are no prerequisites.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

The War of Art

by Steven Pressfield

This book greatly, greatly impacted my thought process. I could hardly believe that over two decades of my life were spent ignorant to the spectre Pressfield labels as Resistance. In the book, Pressfield provides examples from his life and others' about how they beat this Resistance. Simply put, Resistance is the "I am too lazy to do this right now" or the "I'll just do it later" impulse we feel when facing tasks that are undoubtedly beneficial to us, but require work. The very fact that Pressfield identified this feeling allowed me to personify it as an antagonist I could catch trying to manifest. After reading, I literally think: "This is resistance I'm feeling. It's telling me not to do this or that. I now know I must do this or that or I will be succumbing to Resistance and thus not doing the best thing for me." The War of Art has equipped me with the cognizance to be aware of when Resistance strikes and to fight it like hell. To be honest, however, I sometimes let it win. I'm human. But even in that admittance there is strength. For I recognize Resistance when it rears its ugly head. It's up to me (and you) on how to deal with it.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

Seveneves

by Neal Stephenson

As the only sci-fi novel in this list, Seveneves is a fantastic and fun story that marries an inconceivable storyline with factual modern technology. A cataclysmic event is triggered when the moon is shattered into pieces after a violent collision with a foreign object. At first, nothing seems too wrong outside of the moon looking like a broken ball of chalk suspended in the sky. However, it comes to the attention of some scientists that the ejecta caused by the impact will swarm around the planet and rain down a Hell-like inferno of Moon-matter that will eradicate all life on Earth. With only two years before this extinction event occurs, scientists and governments from around the world begin scheming a way to send a select few into orbit to try to outlast the impending destruction. Though daunting, humanity rallies around the International Space Station as its new harbor of life for the foreseeable future. Outside of the gripping storyline and character development, the story goes on to show that even in the most dire circumstances where humanity is on the brink of extinction, we are still unable to escape our human condition and the faults that come with it.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy. The book is definitely worth $36 new, but just buy it used.

Anatomy of the State

by Murray Rothbard

It may come as no surprise after seeing A People's History of the United States , that I may be just a little bit anti-government. Famed Libertarian, economist, and thinker–Murray Rothbard–paints the existence of the State in its reality versus the perception of itself it upholds. It's a quick read and illuminates to the reader how the State actually works and how it needs to satiate itself by diminishing liberties and coercing the people it is said to empower (via a monopoly on violence).

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

The Razor's Edge

by Somerset Maugham

For any soul that has wanderlust, this book is a great read. It's a semi-biography that Maugham frames in the beginning of the book. He knew of Larry Darrell (the main character) and his journey and takes some liberty in filling in the details for us. Darrell is a loafing intellect who appears hopeless to his friends and family. Instead of being a suit-wearing businessman, he prefers spending hours lost in books at the library or in deep conversation. His friends try to compel him to marry a woman madly in love with him but whom he has little interest. For Larry, the world is his interest. His thirst for knowledge and inability to conform to others' expectations takes him on a journey across the world to India to learn about enlightenment. What Larry finds in India is something many of us seek for ourselves–a greater understanding. The above description may not be as tantalizing as Seveneves, but is truly a great read. It's a quick one, too.

Snag a copy here. My copy is currently unavailable. It's yours to borrow once it's returned, Logan...

The Mastery of Love

by Don Miguel Ruiz

For anyone that has heard the terms "self love" or "relationship advice" and balked at the empty suggestions from some blog, I have for you a book that actually provides substance and actionable concepts you can use. Ruiz uses very simple language to convey his points. It's almost like he's speaking to a child. It's not at all condescending. It's actually exactly what the reader needs because our understanding has to start from the beginning. His concept of the "pain body" provides the reader a reflective visual on how we are covered with emotional wounds that hardly ever heal and what healing actually looks like. He starts with the individual and begins to weave in relationships before finally explaining to us how we can master love. It's a wonderful read and I truly think I love myself and others better because of it. In fact, I should probably revisit it. The Four Agreements (another Ruiz book) is ahead in the queue, however.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

The Four Hour Work Week

by Tim Ferriss

If you read my last blog post detailing what I want out of my working time, then there's probably little surprise that this book makes the list. Though a bit out of date (even with the updated edition), the concepts in The Four Hour Work Week resonate with me greatly. Ferriss begins the book by recalling a time in his life when he was a company owner making great money. Though it would seem he was very successful, he was sacrificing his sanity and his time. It became apparent that his lifestyle of working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, was just unsustainable. Ferriss does a great job in providing actionable direction in how he moved his life away from the 100+ hour work week down to a much more healthy amount. If nothing less, the book hammers into the reader the inspiration to take more charge of their time and inversely correlate earnings to time spent working. Yes, it's a larger book, but one doesn't have to read it front to back. Start with the basics and jump around as seen fit. For anyone daydreaming about leaving work at 2pm or taking a conference call from a sun-soaked beach, this book is for you.

Snag a copy here or holler and you can borrow my copy.

I hope you enjoyed the list and find a book you like. I'm not sharing them for clicks or for vapidly creating content. They truly did change my life in their own ways.

Best, and let's strive to be the better versions of ourselves.

-A

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