My intention for 2018 is to read every day, meditate every day, cut back on social media time and be more like Cal Newport who inspires me with his writings on ‘deep work’. January is a digital detox month and my brain already feels so much clearer. I cheated a little bit though and have sent the odd tweet. For the most part, though, I have been ‘good’ and spent more time offline with friends and on the phone. I digress. Back to my favourite books listed below. Oh, I only read non-fiction so there’s nothing in fiction if that is your thing.
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez, Vicki Robin, Monique Tilford and Mark Zaifman
A very sneaky book…in the sense, that it is non-prescriptive and yet, it gets you to follow some basic steps such as methodologically tracking all your income & expenses, which ultimately leads you to reflect, introspect, get clear and make different decisions with both earning, spending and using money. You start seeing money as an exchange of life energy and have a logical way of seeing this- see my post – Frugal is Freedom for more on it. Also, if you are interested in FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), this is a good book to read.
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics by Richard Thaler
If you had any illusions about how rational we humans are with money, this book sets you straight. Interesting research, great anecdotes and useful to learn the psychology behind money decisions.
Finance for Normal People: How Investors and Markets Behave by Meir Statman
Having heard Meir Statman speak on podcasts, I grabbed this book as I found his insights worthwhile. He talks about the emotional, expressive and utilitarian uses for money. We compartmentalize money into buckets, have incredibly foolish behaviour with it, take mental shortcuts, are overconfident investors and so much more. Meir helps investors reflect on what they really want from their investments focussing on what is the money for – retirement, children’s education, socially responsible investing and so on. He also advocates automating investments. Overall, a worthwhile read and useful especially if you invest and want to understand yourself as an investor better.
What is a nonviolent life and how can we be nonviolent to ourselves, others and join a global movement to impact the world? John Dear, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee attempts to answer this question and does so beautifully. Bear in mind, he is a Christian and so teachings of Jesus (whose message of nonviolence was radical for his time- love your enemy, what?) are sprinkled liberally through the book which I actually enjoyed. I bought the book for myself and gifted it to a few friends.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
First of all, Yuval Harri practices Vipassana, also known as Insight Meditation and does 60-day silent retreats; he plans his working year around that and schedules it first. For this, I already hugely admire him. Secondly, I find history very dull and could never get into it in college or school. However, this book – I could not put down. I also like that he weaves relevant connection to our present day issues whether it be talking about colonialism, racism or money stories; worth buying and savouring every page. There is no thirdly.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
I heard about this book via Miki Kashtan, an international Nonviolent Communication teacher whom I deeply admire and trust. The book made me quite angry & disgusted. No, the book didn’t do that, I chose to. I felt quite angry on reading the book and yet, I was glad to have read it – we need to be better educated about crime and ‘justice’. The book shines a light on racial segregation, colour blindness, how the prison system in America almost substitutes slavery. It is very thought-provoking and well worth the emotional aggravation you may feel on reading it.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine
A great manual for life, if you are interested in Stoicism, then even better. It talks about reducing worry and focusing only on things we can actually control (not very much). I love the challenge of letting go of the ‘illusion’ of control we have and learning a philosophy that helps you have a truly joyful life. I became interested in Stoicism through the work of Tim Ferris and so glad I bought this book, highly recommend.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer prize for non-fiction, it is an incredible read. Matthew Desmond is an ethnographer, he lives in communities in the United States that struggle with housing and tells an honest, heart-breaking account of incredible characters who struggle to keep a roof over their head. The struggle with homelessness is so real, the landlords have a lot of power with eviction and it seems the system almost obstructs survival for tenants who fall behind. Residential stability is important for psychological stability and community stability. Families lose so much with eviction. I read recently that this book also made it to Barack Obama’s recommended book list for 2017.