These 20 Books are Worth Re-Reading

They’ll also make you healthier, wealthier, and wiser

“Each time you re-read you see or learn something new.”― Ernest Hemingway

If books are the ultimate nootropic, then re-reading is the best way to take them.

In that spirit, here are some of my favorite books worth re-reading:

1.

INCERTO by Nassim Taleb

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The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. –Nassim Taleb

No matter how you designate it (as a large book or series) this group of books includes: Antifragile, The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and The Bed of Procrustes. Even though Fat Tony is now horizontal, you can relive his conversations with Nero in this must re-read series. The newest addition to the series, Skin in the Game, comes out this February.

2.

Thou Shalt Not Be Aware by Alice Miller

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Most men are too squeamish to discuss these issues in private, let alone talk about them in public. The more I study her work, the more I respect Alice Miller.

Wherever I look, I see signs of the commandment to honor one’s parents and nowhere of a commandment that calls for the respect of a child. –Alice Miller

She had her finger on the pulse of society, the family, and individuals. Future anthropologists will look back at her work and say, “these are the answers to almost all of humanity’s problems.”

3.

Travels by Michael Crichton

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When he was 46, Michael Crichton published (in my opinion) his most underrated book. Travels is an autobiographical journey through some of Crichton’s many adventures. Travels provides a first hand account of the real-life experiences that directly translated into plots for Crichton’s fiction. Travels illuminates the unnerving reality that as a species, we’re only on the shores of the seas that make up human consciousness. Travels is a call to action to begin our own trip into that vast sea.

4.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

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“When a risk taker writes a book, read it. In the case of Peter Thiel, read it twice. Or, to be safe, three times. This is a classic.” –Nassim Taleb

In the last few years, Zero to One has been everywhere. Without a doubt, it’s worth re-reading. But what fascinates me most about books worth re-reading is how they were prepared. In the case of Zero to One, it’s based on the class notes that Blake Masters took from Peter Thiel’s CS 183 class at Stanford. The notes are a deeper, uncensored dive into the hidden realities of technology creation and our world. Which brings us to one of the books that inspired both Thiel’s CS 183 class and Zero to One.

5.

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World by Rene Girard

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Be forewarned, Girard’s theories are a bit like the red pill in the Matrix… Once you consider them, you’ll be forced to view the world in a new light. Girard’s theories are an incredibly valuable reminder to help avoid competition, argument, and small time scapegoating. It’s worth re-reading every book written by Girard.

6.

The Godmakers by Frank Herbert

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The masterpiece of Dune tends to overshadow this short novel by Herbert. It’s a fascinating sci-fi philosophical exploration that investigates how to achieve a more peaceful world.

7.

Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell

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Sowell is a heavy hitter. This book inspires serious questions about Higher Education. Plus, it studies the ways in which “anointed” intellectuals harm the public.

8.

Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill

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Throughout our history, the most exciting ideas are usually closely guarded by artists, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and the family foundations of many great writers. In the case of Outwitting the Devil, the manuscript was kept unpublished by the Hill Foundation for 73 years! In 2011 they finally published it. When a writers foundation or family is scared to publish something, it’s usually a signal of value.

9.

Reflections on the Art of Living by Joseph Campbell and Diane K. Osbon

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I’m writing an article now about three of the most underrated minds of the 20th century. To me, Campbell stands out as one of them. Campbell re-discovered the invisible operating system that guides all human achievement. He dubbed this the hero’s (or heroine’s) journey. Campbell studied mythologies of the world, and in all cultures found similar patterns and steps in their progressions. These steps on the heroine’s journey call her from slumber to adventure, test her, force her to shed her ego, slay her demons, and eventually lead her to the ultimate boon: wisdom, secrets, or gnosis. But instead of retiring in this bliss, the heroine returns to the world and translates that wisdom into value for all of mankind.

In our modern world, as scientific and technological power grow, it’s more important than ever for heroes to earn self-knowledge, tame their egos, and slay their dragons. If we’re going to wield the tools of creation, we must gain the self-mastery necessary to do good works with them. Like Girard, it’s worth re-reading/re-listening to every book and interview by Joseph Campbell.

10.

Story by Robert McKee

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To dive deeper into the invisible operating system that Campbell championed, Story by Robert McKee is a must.

11.

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

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I was introduced to this book after connecting with Ellen Petry Leanse. Ellen was an early team member at Apple and Google and wrote an article about many of the books that Steve Jobs read. Autobiography of a Yogi is a book that Steve re-read every year, and he had a copy gifted to everyone who attended his funeral.

12.

This is Earl Nightingale by Earl Nightingale

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This is a collection of Earl’s ideas, and it’s out of print. Earl was the Godfather of the western self help movement, and his parables still ring true today.

13.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach

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“Everything in this book may be wrong.” — Richard Bach

14.

The One By Whom Scandal Comes by Rene Girard

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“Everywhere and always, when human beings either cannot or dare not take their anger out on the thing that has caused it, they unconsciously search for substitutes, and more often than not they find them.” –Rene Girard

A book for deep thought, by one of the most underrated minds of the 20th century.

15.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

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“I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.” — Ayn Rand

Before the 1200 page, barbiturate fueled magnum opus of Atlas Shrugged, there was Anthem. It’s a brief 80 page novella about finding freedom.

Rand’s name tends to elicit angry responses from people who are angry, or those who haven’t read her work, or know about her biography.

I enjoy trying to empathize with authors, and doing so with Rand presents her work in a whole new light.

Try this thought experiment: imagine a young female military veteran who returns to the US, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, and then begins writing fiction and myths in order to try and prevent future wars. Would people hate her? Now consider Rand’s work. She was a young girl who had to watch everything her family built be destroyed, witnessed countless horrors, saw friends, her boyfriend, and family give up or starve to death. To top it off, she almost died before she could escape the communist “experiment” in the Soviet Union that killed tens (and possibly hundreds) of millions of people.

16.

It’s Not How Good You Are It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

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“Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.” –Paul Arden

Simple. To the point. A powerful reminder to think bigger, test yourself, and remember that ambition and action will open doors.

17.

Blood Rites by Barbara Ehrenreich

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This is the perfect precursor and stepping stone into Rene Girard’s work. It should be required reading for every K-12 student in the U.S. Powerful, terrifying, and transformative. Human history is terrible, but it’s only when we get the courage to examine it, that we can gain the knowledge necessary to transcend it.

18.

Jurassic Park & The Lost World by Michael Crichton

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“They have what I call ‘thintelligence.’ They see the immediate situation. They think narrowly and they call it ‘being focused.’ They don’t see the surround. They don’t see the consequences.” — Michael Crichton

What I love so much about Crichton is that he originally wanted to write non-fiction. He quickly realized that not many people wanted help or insights, but many wanted to be entertained. So Crichton took a page from Leo Strauss, crafted his novels as entertaining thrillers, and then skillfully wove in esoteric messages. In all my books by Crichton, I’ve taken notes highlighting those didactic passages. Many of them contain staggering implications and incitements of our society.

These two books aren’t about dinosaurs. They’re about the possibility that the dinosaurs failed to develop adaptive evolutionary behavior, and thus died out. In The Lost World, Crichton explores how humanity may have fallen prey to adopting anti-evolutionary behavior.

19.

Sphere by Michael Crichton

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“Their conscious brains were overdeveloped, but they had never bothered to explore their unconscious.” –Michael Crichton

The entertaining fictional narrative in this book is about an elite crew of scientists that go on a US Navy undersea expedition to examine a crashed spaceship. But the nonfiction narrative running underneath is about how to safely explore consciousness, and the dangers of thintelligence, a term that Crichton coined.

20.

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

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“To him who has had the experience no explanation is necessary, to him who has not, none is possible.” –Ram Dass

One of the original, clearest, books about mindfulness. Plus, it’s packed with illustrations that are one of a kind.

The best way I’ve found to harness the power of books (the perfect technology) is through re-reading. Hope you enjoyed some of my favorite re-reads!


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