You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. Did you know that there are people who don't read? Gasp! In today's day and age, with audio books and all sorts of handy ways of getting around laying eyes on paper, there's really no excuse not to read. I do prefer paper books though, but that's a conversation for another day. So today I thought I'd share with you a few of my all time favourite books across different genres. The list doesn't include any business books, I think that should be a category on its own. I'll do a post on that soon. I'm partial to books on social psychology, but you'll find a wide variety to choose from here. I've included the Amazon links if you'd like to buy some of these. Another option is to order from www.loot.co.za, their prices can't be beaten.
Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University. I've read every one of his books, but I would suggest this one as a good place to start. I'm fascinated by social psychology and the decisions that shape our behaviour, specifically in groups. In Predictably Irrational, Professor Ariely refutes the common assumption that humans behave in fundamentally rational ways. He conducts experiments with groups of people that show that we often can't trust ourselves to make rational decisions, and explains how to change that. It's worth noting that he has a fantastic sense of humour, and he tackles a topic that can easily be dry, with great wit. If you're at all fascinated by human nature, I would highly recommend this book.
The 5 Love Languages is the answer to many people's frustrations in love and relationships. The basic premise is that there are 5 love languages, and each person has a primary and a secondary love language, or the way they feel loved and appreciated. The 5 love languages are:
Acts of Service (like someone washing your car).
Words of Affirmation (like someone paying you a compliment).
Receiving Gifts (It's not about the size of the gift, but rather that they thought of you).
Physical Touch (it could be as simple as holding hands while you're walking).
Quality Time (spending time with someone who gives you their undivided attention).
This book changed the way I think about relationships and is a must-read for those who want to improve their relationships on all fronts, not just romantically, but also friendship, business, etc.
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love; a book I still haven't read. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading Big Magic. Many authors write about creativity, but I haven't read anything new or different in a while. This book blows all of that out of the water. Gilbert is a gifted author, she doesn't write sentences, she crafts them. The book is beautifully written. She shares stories of her own creative path and her creative processes. Inspiration is an enduring theme throughout the book, and it is worth noting that she scoffs at the idea of the 'tortured artist', and delves deep into the reasons why the act of creating should be joyful, not angst-ridden. Although I don't agree with some of the spiritual constructs in the book, there is so much that can be learned by reading it, even if it's just for the pure pleasure of reading a beautifully crafted work of art.
Malcolm Gladwell has written 5 books, and I've read all of them. I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Another New York Times bestseller, Blink investigates the idea that we often make decisions in the blink of an eye. These decisions aren't based on solid evidence, but rather a gut instinct that is difficult to explain, but that we follow nonetheless. He looks at the pros and cons of making calculated decisions, vs. making quick, instinctive decisions. It's an insightful look into human behaviour. Read it!
Boundaries is one of those books you don't just read once, but over and over again. The book starts with a look at a day in the life of someone without boundaries. Her day is filled with chaos, stress and exhaustion. It then moves on to explaining boundaries in different areas of life. Henry Cloud and John Townsend show us what boundaries are and why it is important to implement them in your decision making. They answer difficult questions that naturally arise when you're grappling with the why and how of setting boundaries. Those questions range from the guilt that comes with setting boundaries, how to deal with someone's reaction to your boundaries, and so much more. The book circles back to the woman that was featured in the first chapter. She now has solid boundaries, and they show us how simple changes have resulted in a noticeable improvement in her well being. Everybody should read this book, there is freedom to be found in implementing its principles.
I thought I'd end off with a novel. This one is autobiographical in nature. Gregory David Roberts was a heroin addict and convict who escaped from an Australian prison and fled to India. I've heard people say you either love this book, or you hate it. I fall firmly into the first category. It's lengthy, over 900 pages, in fact, but well worth reading. I'm horrified at what this man has been through, but he'll be the first to admit that a lot of his misfortune was of his own making. He takes you on a journey, sharing intimate details of his life and the decisions that led him down a path of destruction again and again. Roberts is a wordsmith, and this book is deeply introspective. I'm actually still reading it (did I mention it's nearly 1000 pages?!?!), but I know this is a book I will re-read periodically.
I'd love to hear your comments and your own book recommendations. Comment below if you would like to share.
Until next time,