Reading List

Thought I would create a separate easy access page to list all my favorite books I’ve read over time, including some recent books that helped me get on top of my financial shit.

Debt Free Living by Anna Newell Jones
This was the book that inspired me to do a spending fast and document my journey. Anna Newell jones did a year long spending fast to crush her 24K in debt in 15 months on a 33K annual clerk salary. She gives step by step guidance that anyone can follow, you can be as aggressive as you choose to be, everyone’s journey is different. The first month after reading this book and implementing her easy to follow tips and advice, I was able to put $1K toward my debt. And this is just the beginning! She gives your the tools and encouragement to keep pushing forward when you want to give up, when the temptation to spend is strong. She also helps you navigate through potentially awkward social situations that arise when you’re in a spending fast. Easy to read and my original inspiration to adopt this new way of living.

Broke Millenial by Erin Lowry
Another great “get your financial shit together” book written in layman’s terms for the average reader to understand. Much more broad than the previous book, it dives into the importance of what bank account you use, which credit cards, how to create a budget (which isn’t as obvious as you would think), methods of paying off debt (consumer and student loans etc.), the importance of having an emergency fund, 401K and investments. Some chapters I skipped over because I’m just not there yet (investing when I have debts to pay first) – but overall the content is important for everyone who’s trying to make it in 2020 as a young adult.

the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is an organizing consultant and author, but I would like to credit her for much more than that. Her KonMari method reflects plenty of aspects of psychology, philosophy, and spiritual well-being. In addition to being all of these things, she is also a strong advocate for minimalism – encouraging her clients to only keep material possessions which “spark joy.” She believes that discarding and sorting should be done in one go, opposed to room by room or a little at a time, Her method begins with discarding and sorting items in the following order: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and memorabilia. After clients decide which items to keep and which items to part with, she guides them with storage methods which are simple, efficient, and inexpensive. After taking notes and finishing the book, I was eager to apply her method. I completed my project in one weekend! I parted with 60% of my clothing and threw away or donated 30+ bags of items. The energy in my home is renewed and I feel so much lighter. I have more closet space and each item has a home, making daily cleaning and tidier much easier. I no longer feel owned by my possessions and feel like I can tackle bigger and better goals: reading, writing, dancing, and traveling. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a life changing experience.

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite writers (next to Alan Watts), I have most of his books (Ego is the Enemy, The Obstacle is the Way and Daily Stoic). I was especially excited when I saw he was releasing this one near the end of 2019. Of course I immediately bought it (before my spending fast) and dove in. His books are very short and easy to read, but rich in content – no words are wasted and he doesn’t speak in circles. Stillness is the Key reminds us the importance of achieving stillness in our day to day life in a noisy world that’s constantly fighting for our attention. We need to learn to value our time, because time is our only currency. We need to learn to say no to others and ourselves when we should. We need to learn to be okay with not knowing everything, and how to wisely choose what information we digest. Learning to achieve stillness in our mind, body and spirit is the ultimate tool we can use in the world we live in today.

Sapiens a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
This book was heavy on the mind, soul and heightened my own pre-existing existential anxiety. There were several times where I needed to take a brain break to step away – maybe shed a couple tears and take several deep breaths. That being said, I believe this is a book that everyone should read. We SHOULD feel uncomfortable when we are presented with the facts of our own history and the dread of where we may be heading if we don’t take action to make a difference. Yuval walks us through the history of Sapiens, how we annihilated the Neanderthals, enslaved animals for our own profit and gain, a growth and greed from money and capitalism, the rise and fall of imperial governments, the laws of religion and scientific revolution. I went through the entire book, chapter by chapter until I was two chapters away from the ending and realized there wouldn’t be a happy ending to this book. Although the book was raw, real and devastating – I finished the book with a feeling of purpose. I look forward to reading his second book – Homo Deus a Brief History of Tomorrow.

Homo Deus a Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
This was by far one of my favorite reads in 2019. Working in the tech industry so closely with artificial intelligence, you can’t help but wonder. Yuval’s Harari’s sequel to Sapiens tells a story of where civilization and humanity are headed with how quickly technology has evolved in such a short amount of time. We live in an age where we’re accelerating beyond our means, medicine has advanced to cure many diseases, wars and famine are few and far between, humans are living much longer than previously expected – we live in an age where we want MORE, we want to achieve ultimate bliss, we want to upgrade ourselves, become exceptional and essentially become gods. This book makes you think, if all organisms are simply algorithms (animals and humans alike) – collected data from our experiences, what separates a carbon based organism vs. silicon (or non biological materials) based organism other than the materials from which they are created? Both are algorithms, artificial intelligence can learn and HAS BEEN learning everything that we’ve taught it. Take Alexa and Siri for example, Facebook, IG and social media ads, and self driving cars (which are much safer than humans by the way). The possibility that artificial intelligence will take over jobs were never thought they could is highly possible: doctors, psychologists, lawyers and detectives. Humans are faulty, we can have a bad day, not eat enough food or get enough sleep. Our own biases can interfere with our actions. Once all information and data is shared, AI will have access to solutions in a matter of minutes. I could go on, but for now I’ll leave you with: This book is a season of Black Mirror on paper that still haunts me.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Victor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Auschwitz concentration camps of World War II. In his book he recounts stories of the Holocaust – how prisoners were treated by guards and capos (prisoner’s promoted to be guards), the perils of starvation, illness, mental and physical abuse, the death of loved ones and comrades, and the daily brink of one’s own death. As the founder of logotherapy (the pursuit of meaning in one’s life) he shows that man is able to find purpose and meaning even through his suffering. Despite the inhumane and harsh conditions of concentration camp, prisoners developed strong bonds with one another, had the freedom to choose their attitudes, appreciated the smallest kind gestures, and valued beauty and art where they chose to find it. “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” Friedrich Nietzsche. The more philosophy I read and absorb, the more I notice the patterns of thought between some of the greatest minds – such as Alan Watts, Ryan Holiday, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. It let’s me know that I’m headed in the right direction, and even though I might not have all the answers, I’m blessed to have wise teachers to learn from.

The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
I will be honest, I didn’t physically read this book but enjoyed listening as an audiobook while getting ready for work in the mornings, taking Boyfriend for walks, or winding down at night. I should do this more often – but, I strangely take pride in physically reading a book. Both are great and I would like to listen to more audiobooks in place of music. I started this 3 years ago right before and during my divorce, and whether or not I realized it then – I believe it helped me through much of the turmoil and challenges ahead. I restarted it from the beginning sometime during the Summer. Thich Nhat Hanh gives a very Buddhist approach to how we control our actions, reactions and find peace within during tumultuous events, or how to appreciate the smallest things when life is abundant. He teaches us how to understand and what it means to love even our enemies. He has a deep sense of communion with his surroundings and ultimately the universe and shares his holistic teachings with us. 

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
Esther Perel is a re-known psychotherapist and author who examines the tensions which inevitably occur in long term committed relationships. She explores how culture, society, environment and childhood experiences have developed relationship struggles and insecurities. She also begins to challenge the status quo surrounding human sexuality and eroticism. She touches on the somewhat contradictory dualities of relationships, how we long an yearn for “oneness” which can often times kill eroticism in a long term committed relationship, but we also desire freedom and individuality. It’s important to realize that our partner is their own person, and in order to sustain a long term relationship there needs to be a carefully cultivated space for separateness. My favorite quote from this book, “The grand illusion of committed love is that we think our partners are ours. In truth, their separateness is unassailable, and their mystery is forever ungraspable. As soon as we can begin to acknowledge this, sustained desire becomes a real possibility. It’s remarkable to me how a sudden threat to the status quo (an affair, an infatuation, a prolonged absence, or even a really good fight) can suddenly ignite desire. There’s nothing like the fear of loss to make those old shoes look new again.

The River of Consciousness
The River of Consciousness is Oliver Sacks’ last piece of work. As a neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author, he goes into great detail explaining some of nature’s greatest phenomenon. He also dives deep into the interconnectedness of all things, honing a deep appreciation for what it means to be human and providing a fresh perspective on the stream of consciousness. 10/10 recommend

When Nietzsche Wept by  Irvin D. Yalom
This was one of my favorite books this year. I rarely dive into fiction, but this novel was captivatingly written about the cure of the soul for philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Renown Doctor Josef Breuer is pursued by a lovely young woman Lou Salome who desperately seeks his help to cure the ailing body and soul of Nietzsche without Nietzsche knowing. Lou and Nietzsche had been intimately involved, but after they had parted ways, Nietzsche became withdrawn and suicidal. Helping Nietzsche without his know was an extremely difficult task as he was stubborn, smart and quick witted. Breuer enacts a method by asking Nietzsche to help cure his own soul, and in turn the both become very close friends. Breuer has his own unhappiness with his comfortable life and does not feel he is truly living the life he chose. By using psychoanalysis and altered states, Breuer himself is able to lose his mind and find himself, choosing the life he lives.

What are some of your favorite books I should read next?

~Jess