Hello friends, let’s talk about books.

So, in this 2nd week of a self-orchestrated series of recommendations (named Take 5), I am sharing my favourite books. Other posts in this series:

  1. Take 5: Listen to these. (last week - read here)
  2. Take 5: Read these. (this week)
  3. Take 5: Follow these guys. (next week - 22nd July)

If you haven’t already, check out two of my previous articles about why I believe regular reading is a habit everyone should build and how I remember most of what I read:

  • Why everyone should read regularly - read the article here.
  • How I remember what I read - read the article here.

Here are five books that I consider to have had a great impact on my life.

1. The Third Door

In this book, Alex Banayan makes the famous analogy about entering a club. You have the main entrance (for everyone), the VIP entrance (for the more connected), and then you have the third door. The door no one tells you about or as Alex Banayan describes:

It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen — there’s always a way.

The lesson being whatever you are trying to achieve, there is always a way in. It may not be the most established route, but there’s always a route. Using this mindset, Alex goes from being a mediocre college student to interviewing some of the greats to find out what it takes to be successful. He interviews the likes of Bill Gates, Jessica Alba, Quincy Jones, and Maya Angelou.

For quite some time at medical school, I’ve wanted to become more than just a doctor. I’ve always wanted to hack into the world of startups and entrepreneurship. But medicine is not structured to allow for this (mostly) and so I had to find numerous unconventional ways to make this interest possible. For me, The Third Door in many ways has inspired me to do a lot of what I do today.

2. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Here’s one quote to summarise the book:

The size of your bank account and the size of your house have nothing to do with living life with a sense of joy and wonder. This world is full of unhappy millionaires. Do you think the sages I met in Sivana were concerned with having a well-balanced financial portfolio and acquiring a summer home in the South of France?

Top-performing litigation-lawyer turned monk, in this book, Robin Sharma shares a fable. It tells the story of the enlightenment of ex-lawyer, Julian Mantle, and gives advice on how to live a happier, more rewarding, and enlightened existence.

Many of the lessons from this book relate to the constant idea of asking oneself — is this what I really want to do? Is this making me happy? Am I living to my fullest? For me, this book helped me appreciate that wealth can come in my other forms. You have mental wealth, health wealth, and time wealth. Is it really worth pursuing an 8 am-midnight city day job that pays a lucrative paycheque if ultimately you’re heavily sacrificing in other domains of life? Read this book, you won’t be disappointed, and hey you might become a monk. (warning!)

3. Anything You Want

Marketed as a business book for any wannabe successful entrepreneur, but what I think this book does excellently is highlight 40 bite-sized golden nuggets for life. Whether you are looking to build the next unicorn or whether you are looking to lead a happy, successful, and meaningful career — there are lessons for everyone to take away in this book. Better still, it can easily be polished in an hour’s reading.

Some lines I really enjoyed from the book:

Don't be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

For me, although I’m a relatively long-term thinker (yes, I have goals for my 30s through 50s), I tend not to think very long-term in my immediate actions. I find myself looking for the quick fix all too often, as I know this will bring me instant gratification. But what I really appreciated from this book is that long-term success isn’t derived from short-term success. If you want that happy and meaningful life you envision in your dreams, then you should start working on it now — slowly but surely, one step at a time.

4. The Courage To Be Disliked

Ever been in a situation where you were more concerned about how you were being perceived rather than focussing on your own task? Then you should read this. Again, here are some highlights:

What other people think when they see your face — that is the task of other people, and is not something you have any control over.
The pursuit of superiority is the mindset of taking a single step forward on one’s own feet, not the mindset of competition of the sort that necessitates aiming to be greater than other people.

This book draws upon many aspects of Adlerian psychology to explain why it is not one’s job to worry about what other people think about them, and rather how this simple realisation can free the individual to lead a life more in line with their true internal beliefs and aspirations. Aka follow your own path, etc, etc.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People

In short - be fricking nice.

I absolutely love this book and it’s no surprise that it has been a bestseller since it was first published in 1936. There are just some things in life that aren’t explicitly taught but almost always implicitly learned through experience — e.g. being a nice human being, being approachable, and having good people skills. This book does a fantastic job at highlighting a lot of these key areas people tend not to give much thought.

Again a few lines that I took away:

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

The main take away is that you can influence other people’s behaviour simply by changing your own. Carnegie teaches you the ways of being more likeable, understanding other people’s opinions, winning others over, and ultimately how to influence behaviour change through good leadership. Ok, that might sound a tad narcissistic but believe me, this is a must-read for anyone!

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