Some of the best books I have found are through recommendations. It’s either my bookworm friends or through podcasts of people I admire recommending a book that ends up on my shelf.

Although I refrain from pushing:

People to read books, I have loved, but there are certain books that I can’t shut up about. They have helped me tremendously, and as my way of giving back to the authors, I have recommended some of these books over a hundred times.

They are poignant, thought-provoking, and helped me immensely, and I reckon they can be a beacon of inspiration for people following the same journey. Here’s a list of 5 such books.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers is one of the few books I have read twice. It was the first book of Gladwell that I read, and it made me a lifelong fan of his work.

Whenever people ask me:

About reading a non-fiction book, this one is always the first on the list. It challenges the dogma of success and how talent, hard work is the only reason people become successful. It also presents some hardcore research to make their point.

We may feel like we control our life, but there are tons of other factors that make us who we are.
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For example, the place where we’re born, our parents, and our inner circle contribute to our success more than we know.
The book talks about the unfair advantages and other factors contributing to the success that nobody pays attention to.

The famous 10,000-hour rule that became a hustle culture reference also came from this book.
The cases that Gladwell talks about in the book make you look at success from a different lens. Even when you disagree with Gladwell’s point of view, the amount of research he’s done for his case studies is mindblowing.
This was an important book for people who try to control every step on their journey towards success and compete with people who have an accumulative advantage in their subject of interest.
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“It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

I have some issues with conventional wisdom. Some old people think that things should be done in a certain way and we’re all blindly following it.
That feeling is beautifully illustrated in Richard Bach’s philosophical tale Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

The reason this book has always been on top of my recommendation is the crisp and profound representation of seagulls oscillating between choices and dreams.
Every time a friend talks about how their parents, their friends are not okay with them following their dreams, I ask them to be Jonathan, the seagull.

Your courage and determination allow you to leave the status quo and live a life you design for yourself. You have to offend those who don’t care about living life to the fullest or flying in Jonathan’s case.
He continues to practice and fly like no seagull has flown before.
He becomes a devil for his flock and then becomes a god when they understand his impact on the younger generation of seagulls when he wanted to fly like a bird. His determination, hard work, and persistence made him break the barriers and achieve the unbelievable.

Jona’s story reminds me not to be afraid of who I am.

He believed in himself and his dreams when no one else did. This inspiring and encouraging story is a reminder that we all can live a life of freedom and desire.
In the beginning, you’ve got to be your supporter, and once you achieve great heights, people start treating you like God.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
Every few years, I keep coming back to this story to encourage myself to travel to roads less travel and learn perseverance and determination from Jonathan.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher
The Internet has removed the pressure and the need to find a middle man. This is the permission-less economy where you don’t need anyone’s permission to build your empire.
In his self-published book, James Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream, he talks about how he didn’t wait or approach any publisher to publish his book and create a dependency.

All you have to do is choose yourself.

More than the right platform, the right words, the right medium — you only need the will to share your voice with the world.
Even with so much influence and wealth, James decided to self-publish this book to prove his point and not letting anyone reject his work and waste his time. The entire premise of the book is about not needing anyone’s permission and choosing yourself in every walk of life.

Our older generation could only think of the opportunities we have today. The insane amount of options for artists, singers, filmmakers is enormous. The internet has already laid a road for us; all we’ve got to do is choose ourselves and have the courage to share our craft with the world.
Ever since I read the book, I have tried to choose myself in all walks of life. I learned that I don’t need validations.

Any middleman when

I can directly connect with my audience. This allowed me to self-publish two books, start a podcast, and build an audience.
It also reminded me of choosing myself when nobody is choosing me, to choose myself on bad days, and choose myself over and over again. And this is the book I have recommended most to people who’ve recently started their journey as creators.
“If you have a story to tell or a service to offer (it doesn’t matter what), love yourself enough to choose yourself. Take control of your work, your life, your art. The tools are out there. Now you just need to use the tools inside yourself.”

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Creative people often go through lows now and then. As a writer, designer, artist (aka polymath), I have these phases where I think I am not doing great work, and I start questioning my creativity.
Reading Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon changed my paradigm about being an artist and gave a new meaning to my creative energy.

Source: Goodreads
Not creating is not a solution to our creativity-related problems; a lot has to do with our mindset and grit.
When you’re questioning your creativity, someone is waiting for you to post your next article. When you’re doubting yourself, someone is getting inspired by your work.

Everything we think about creativity

Ourselves as creators are subjective. Emily Dickinson thought her poems were not publishable and didn’t publish anything while she was alive. But we are all reading and loving her words after centuries.
As writers, we should write because we want to write.
Sing because you enjoy singing. Paint because you love to paint.
People can see your passion through your art, and it drives them towards you.

The advice in the book is not limited to creators but people who want more from life. Google could be your north star if you know how to use it, and that’s it’s a perfect quirky piece of art I have recommended repeatedly.
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
You can check out a detailed summary here.

Anything You Want by Derek Siver

I have talked about how some books find you at the right time, which greatly influences your life.
That’s exactly what happened when I stumbled upon Derek Siver’s Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur.

The book is about Derek’s experiences as an entrepreneur. He’s known for building and running CD Baby to support independent music artists.

We never wanted to be an entrepreneur; Never wanted to make money or anticipated a $22 million exit. He was trying to solve his problem as a music artist and did the entire gig to sell his records without getting into the mess of signing a record label.
He solved his problem and ran a successful business as an artist with no experience in business, and no funding is inspiring.
It’s a book that I’ve recommended to all my creator. Artist friends who wants to monetize their craft and become entrepreneurs.