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Somebody once asked me for my reading list. I’ve already shared some of my favorites on this blog by quoting them in my posts, but I thought I would share some of my recent favorite books that may not have made it to my blog. Here is a list of books that are lying around in my abode — which means I read them often enough that they are not yet shelved. They are not in any particular order:

  1. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. Science used to teach us that our brains don’t change much once we are past the formative years near our infancy and toddler years. That is no longer the case, and Dr. Doidge introduced the idea of neuroplasticity in this book with case studies of the astonishing changes in people’s brain structure caused by simply changing their thoughts. It’s an incredibly powerful book because it showcases the absolute power of positive thinking and introduces principles we can all use to change ourselves.
  2. Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. This book presents the six universal principles of persuasion and teaches one how to use them to become a skilled persuader as well as how to defend yourself against them. Whether we like it or not, our lives are full of opportunities to persuade and be persuaded, sometimes even without our knowledge that the act of persuasion is happening. This book explains some of the principles behind the negotiation tactics I’ve learned in the past, and it’s been definitely been a big help in my career so far.
  3. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Ever wonder why some ideas survive while others die? This book highlights the six key qualities of an idea that is made to stick. This is one book I not only read from cover to cover, I made sticky notes of the ideas presented all throughout the book for easy reference in the future. This book is hands-down one of the best marketing textbooks out there, yet it reads like a novel. It’s a must-read, in my opinion, for all marketers.
  4. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. We like to think we are all rational beings, but consider these questions: why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Or how did we ever start spending $5 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar? The ideas presented this book form the basis of behavioral economics, and I don’t think anybody does it better or more scientifically than Dr. Ariely. This book is full of engaging insights that I simply had to finish it on my flight to Asia recently!
  5. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This book isn’t for everybody; it’s for those who want power, or in my case, want to arm oneself against power. It distilled three thousand years of history of power into forty-eight well explained laws. It’s also not meant to be read from cover to cover in one sitting. I use it more as a reference book to remind myself of the power that exist in my life.
  6. Good to Great by Jim Collins. A Buddhist once said to me, this is a book full of Buddhist principles disguised as a business book. With what little knowledge I do have of Buddhism, I tend to agree. The book was written about great company management, but I find the principles equally applicable to our everyday lives. In fact, I reference the book regularly on how to live a happy and fulfilling life, something that seems very far removed from the original application of the book yet isn’t.
  7. Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. This book has only one concept, and that is the power of our mindset. It is a serious yet practical book and a book that reinforces what I’ve always known (that rigid thinking benefits no one and that a change of mind is always possible) but don’t always practice. If you don’t already practice the growth mindset, this book will change your life for the better. The books is broken down by application to parenting, business, school, and interpersonal relationships. Highly recommended!
  8. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. Unlike most of my readings, this book isn’t about human psychology. Instead, it’s about how to effectively present ideas to others through pictures and illustration. This is not a how-to methodology book; rather, it presents an approach, a direction, and a philosophy to presentation. What I love most about the book is how it changed my way of presentation preparation. I don’t yet practice everything the book teaches, but I have already noticed the impact the book has on my presentation at work.
  9. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I don’t think this book needs any introduction. What I love most about the book is the entertaining aspect of the writing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the riddles and stories presented in this book in my social conversations. THAT itself is worth the cost of the book (although I got it for free through work). This is also the book that introduced me to behavioral economics and redefined the way I view the world.
  10. Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This is not a book to be read from cover to cover. Rather, the book will help reveal your talents that, when applied appropriately, will change the way you look at yourself and the world around you. This is also the book that steered me away from fixing my shortcomings to developing my strengths instead. Overall, this book probably changed my life more than any other book I’ve read in the past few years.
August 2008