Books aren’t only for intellectuals. They are for people who want to learn more, be more and achieve more.

I wish I could say I always loved reading books. But it isn’t true. When I was younger, I hated books. When we had books assigned, I only read summaries.

Until I read this quote:

““Books are the training weights of the mind.” ”

— Epictetus

I always loved keeping my physique in shape, but I never did anything for my mind. The moment I realized that I wasn’t training my mind was the moment I decided to read more.

I started reading recommended books from people around me. I read bestsellers, New-York Time Bestsellers, and many other books everyone kept on reading again and again.

If everyone is reading these books, it must be good, right?

Yes, to a certain extent…

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

— Haruki Murakami

If you want to stay within your lane, follow a safe planned life, then, act like everyone else. But if you want to separate yourself from the crowd that is surrounding you… You have to act differently.

And reading different books is the perfect way to start. Reading books people aren’t used to read, is what is going to give you the edge over others (and yourself).

This is why I’m focusing on books that most people don’t read. Biographies, books written 2,000 years ago, books about war, history, philosophy, psychology and strategy are my favourites.

From time to time, I read Bestsellers, and very popular books. Some are excellent and will also help you shape your path to wisdom.

I’m listing here the books I read that, in my opinion, are worth a read. Whether you are trying to have better relationships, a better mindset, a better understanding of the past, a better understanding of success, a better understanding of happiness or even a better understanding of yourself.

This list will grow and change over the years as I read more every single day. But if you want to give it a shot, start with the one that appeals to you the most. And let yourself dive into the lines written by its author.

(The list isn’t built specific order, because I can’t really say which one is better than the other. Since they all bring a lot of value to its reader. )

Books on Leadership:

1. “Xenophon’s Cyrus The Great: The Arts Of Leadership and War” by Larry Hedrick

Cyrus is considered by many, as the father of leadership. He was born 2,500 years ago, and went on to build the largest Persian Empire that ever existed. Yet, he wasn’t a tyrant. He built his empire with strategic intelligence and benevolence.

What Moses was to the Israelites, Cyrus was to the Persians.

If you want to learn more about leadership from one who built the biggest empire in the world, until its conquest two centuries later by Alexander the Great, this book is for you.

Here is a excerpt taken from page 19 of the book:

“You must never arouse hopes that you can’t fulfill. When a leader arouses false expectations too often, he loses his power to inspire–even when success is really within reach. A leader shouldn’t promise great results when he can’t know what the outcome will be.”

This book is filled with indications like this that will make you a better leader.

2. “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.” by Candice Millard

James A. Garfield rose from poverty to the presidentship of the United States of America. Garfield is the typical example of a hard-working, humble man. Throughout this book, we find many stoic lessons.

Not only that, but this book is filled with gold nuggets about hard work, humility, resilience and vision.

Candice Millard did an awesome job by writing this book, I literally could not put this 500 pages bad boy down. She keeps you hooked to the words like no one else. Her ability to describe the vivid context in which Garfield lived is impressive.

After reading this book, your perspective on the world will change completely.

To a young man who has in himself the magnificent possibilities of life, it is not fitting that he should be permanently commanded. He should be a commander.”  

Books on Strategy:

1. “The Prince” By Nicolo Machiavelli

While many people think this book is a biography of Nicolo Machiavelli, it is absolutely not. It is a book about power, politics and strategy. Machiavelli dedicated this book to Lorenzo Di Piero De Medici in 1513. The latter would become the ruler of Florence in 1516. “The Prince” aims at explaining the strategies statesmen need to use to stay in power. His work provides incredibly actionable strategies that we can use in our own life. It also provides an analysis of how human behave, what they need, what they want and what you need to do to control your surroundings.

Here are a couple excerpts from this remarkable work:

[…] he who thinks new favours will cause great personages to forget old injuries deceives himself.”

” If one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they are heard of only when they are great, and then one can no longer remedy them.”

 The prince who holds a country […] ought to make himself the head and defender of his less powerful neighbours, and to weaken the more powerful amongst them, taking care that no foreigner as powerful as himself, shall, by any accident, get a footing there; for it will always happen that such a one will be introduced by those who are discontented.”

This book is full of gold nuggets that will make yourself a better strategist.

2. “The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man” by David Maurer

Why would I recommend a book about con men?

This isn’t to get you started as a con artist but rather to get you to understand the art of manipulation, preparation, teamwork and greed. While it is more tactical than strategic, this book is still well worth it. Confidence Men (aka con artists) learned to use the weaknesses of the human mind at their own advantage. They also learned that you cannot be successful without having the right team. Most of the time, a con game consists of 3 different types of people. The mark (the victim), the roper (the con who seduces the mark), and the inside man (the con who offers an opportunity to make more money).

Confidence Men aren’t people who use force to get what they want. They use strategies and well-developed tactics to get the money. They are so good at manipulation that even when they took money away from the mark, this one doesn’t even think he has been robbed. He believes that he met good guys in an unfortunate moment and wish he will see them someday.

While a robber will steal money from you once, a confidence man will get your money and send you home to get some more.

Reading more about con games can help you understand sociology, seduction and the art of manipulation. Use it to become a better person and learn about the realities of the world that surrounds us.

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