I read my first book for fun at 15.
My next at 19.
And my next at 23.
I was never a bookworm, and I never had a library card growing up. My four years at Indiana University was filled with everything but reading.
I am not saying this as a preface to a master post that will teach you how to go from reading zero books to 1,000 in 12 months. No, my purpose is simply to illuminate my ignorance of books before my catechism from an ignorant, cynical life into a more thoughtful one, thanks to chronic anxiety.
Last month was the first time I thought pursuing writing as a profession was a viable option for me. How does one go from giving zero shits about books to someone obsessed with them?
Well, in my case, it took a sense of desperation to overcome anxiety and a little bit of magic from the Insomniac City.
1. Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return.” — Oliver Sacks
2. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl
3. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
“Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.” — Tara Brach
4. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. To know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life — that’s persistence.” — Ryan Holiday
5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” — Paulo Coelho
6. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant
“So I return to the question, “if I loved myself, truly and deeply, what would I do?” The answer comes easy: I’d fly. Fly as high as I possibly can. Then, I’d fly higher.” — Kamal Ravikant
7. Waking Up by Sam Harris
“if, like many people, you tend to be vaguely unhappy much of the time, it can be very helpful to manufacture a feeling of gratitude by simply contemplating all the terrible things that have not happened to you, or to think of how many people would consider their prayers answered if they could only live as you are now. The mere fact that you have the leisure to read this book puts you in very rarefied company. Many people on earth at this moment can’t even imagine the freedom that you currently take for granted.” — Sam Harris
8. Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“It is not that mindfulness is the “answer” to all life’s problems. Rather, it is that all life’s problems can be seen more clearly through the lens of a clear mind.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
9. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
“The manifesto of the dealmaker is simple: Reality is negotiable.” — Tim Ferriss
10. How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain De Botton
“There are few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness. Had we been placed on earth by a malign creator for the exclusive purpose of suffering, we would have good reason to congratulate ourselves.” — Alain De Botton