10 Books That May Change How You See The World And Yourself [W/ Summary, Discussion, and Big Ideas]16 min read

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On the 7th of July 2023, we had a Twitter Space about books that will change how you see the world and yourself. The space was recorded and you can click on the link to listen to it. 

Note: I, the author of this post, have not read some of the books discussed here, and will indicate when we come across those. Also, the post only discussed the ideas that stood out to us, it is not all that these books have to offer you.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This was one of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read. The book starts out by making it explicitly clear that a few million years ago humans were animals of no significance. 

It highlights how in the large scheme of things, our entire existence has not been more than the duration of a twinkle of a firefly compared to an entire night. 

It explained how in comparison to other animals with claws, fangs, furs, wings, venoms, horns, and poisons to mention a few, we humans were mostly weak, defenceless, and naked spectators. It argued that we had no more impact on the environment than monkeys and crickets until our evolution of consciousness and intelligence.

From there the book went on to highlight how thanks to our intelligence, we were able to invent language and stories, and soon became much more organised than any other species on the planet.

It argues how these abilities to come up with stories helped us share ideas and become more organised – as clans, religious groups, companies, and so on. And with greater organisation and corporations came the ability to come up with more complex things – like science, money, and technology – which has exalted humans to become more or less gods amongst other creatures.

The book basically talks about how consciousness and intelligence have elevated humans from insignificant animals in the face of a hostile world to godlike creatures who have adapted the world to their taste. 

However, the book ends with the warning that we should never underestimate human stupidity. It talks about our invention of weapons of mass destruction – like nuclear warheads, biological weapons, Artificial Intelligence, and so on. 

In conclusion, it urges us all to meditate on our common mortality – understand that life is short, consciousness is precious, and we should tolerate each other. 

The Millionaire Fastlane by M.J. DeMarco

This is one of the best books about money I’ve read. Like other books about money, DeMarco narrates his story of going from poor to rich. However, DeMarco also took a much more practical and honest approach in his book.

The main idea in the book is that making money is like travelling. There is the sidewalk (poor), the slow lane (middle class), and then the fast lane (rich). He urged readers to take the fast lane because all others were a trap, or would lead to a less fulfilling life.

In the book, he points out that the main difference between the rich and the poor is how fast they make money. 

  • Those on the sidewalks live life with the motto YOLO (You Only Live Once). They have no skills, jobs, or plans for the future. They only make enough to eat and party, and sometimes the money is given to them by others. They are basically one mistake away from ruin.
  • Those on the slow lane have a career and plans for the future. However, they are making the mistake of earning money too slowly. They may have plans of saving till retirement, but inflation devalues their money, health issues and other problems take huge chunks from the savings, and in the best cases they only make it to millionaire status when they are old – prolly laden with health conditions, unable to hear and see clearly, and generally very low on energy or enthusiasm for life all thanks to senility/old age. 
  • While those on the fast lane choose to take matters into their own hands rather than depending on a job. They focus on either selling something cheap to a lot of people very fast or selling something very expensive to a few people that can afford it. For example, they can sell bottled water, and digital products, or build a franchise that offers their products/services (be it food, cosmetics, barbing, etc.). Or, they sell Real estate, cars, jets, or some other high ticket offers. 

In other words, the first two either make no money or have their total possible earnings capped. While the latter can reach the millionaire/rich status within a couple of years of hard work and consistency. 

“The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people! If millions seek you, you will be paid millions.”

It is also worth highlighting that being on the fast lane is all a matter of mindset and decision, and choosing to take part in building a business for yourself does not always translate to having a lot of money at first. In fact, you could be on the Fastlane for years and earn way less than those on the sidewalk or slow lane. However, thanks to the compounding effect, success will often seem overnight and much more rewarding.   

His final remarks were advice on how to protect your business if you choose to take the fast lane. He warns against having unethical or unscrupulous people on your team.  

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The Impossible is Possible by John Manson

I haven’t read this book. But based on our discussion and my research, The Impossible is Possible is a motivational book. It encourages readers to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve anything they set their minds to. It is filled with stories of people accomplishing extraordinary feats. 

One notable illustration Manson used in encouraging readers about the value of faith, consistency, and perseverance was that of the Chinese Bamboo tree. The tree which seemingly appears not to grow for its first four years despite being watered daily can grow up to 3 feet per day and can reach its full height of 90 feet in a matter of weeks in the fifth year.

Here’s a notable quote from the book:

“The Chinese bamboo tree is a reminder that we cannot judge the progress of our lives by what we see on the surface. Sometimes, the most important work is being done underground. So keep going, even when you don’t see results. Trust that you are growing and changing, even if you can’t see it.”

The book changes how you see the world by shifting your mindset from the frame of limitation to the frame of believing even the seemingly futile and impossible is possible.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

I’ve read this book multiple times. Unlike most self-help books, the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck took the approach of unteaching rather than teaching. The first chapter literally reads, “Don’t Try”.

The book emphasises the need to stop paying attention to most of the things society has labelled important – for example, the News, Celebrity gossip, posting nice pictures on social media, and so on. 

It emphasised the need for self-awareness and questioning your intentions. For example, the book asks you to question why you want to be rich, famous, or achieve X thing(s). It goes on to warn against the dangers of being self-absorbed and overly self-confident. 

However, it also highlighted the importance of self-acceptance and self-love. It reminded the readers that no one is perfect, and even those who seem perfect are only embellishing themselves, nothing more. 

The book also took a turn as it started to highlight the value of paying attention to and doing the important (yet, often mundane) things in life – like eating right, being polite, taking care of your family, developing your skills, working on important projects, being a law-abiding citizen, and so on.

Mark closes the book with the reminder that life is short – soon you and everyone you know will be dead and forgotten, as have other billions of people in the past. He encouraged readers to be grateful for every moment they have – to do what is meaningful, rather than “giving a fuck” about all the distractions in our world today.

Become A Better You by Joel Osteen

I’ve not read this book, but based on our discussion and my research, Become a Better You is mostly a motivational book, written in a positive and uplifting tone.

In the book, Osteen encourages readers to embrace positive thinking and adopt a mindset of gratitude and faith. He emphasises the importance of focusing on one’s strengths and passions, rather than dwelling on past mistakes or limitations.

The book is particularly helpful for those stuck in the past or afraid of the future. It gives readers an optimistic view of life and encourages them to be the hero in their own story.

The book covers topics such as finding your unique purpose, cultivating self-confidence, fostering healthy relationships, maintaining a positive attitude, and achieving financial abundance. 

Throughout the book, Osteenn shares personal anecdotes, biblical references, and motivational stories to inspire readers to develop themselves and have a positive outlook on life.

The collection of Robert Green‘s books including 48 Laws of Power, Laws of Human Nature, Mastry, and so on

I’ve read a couple of Roberts Green’s works. His books are direct, detailed, raw, practical, yet balanced. 

His works often revolve around human psychology, game theory, and politics, and he often draws lessons from history. He incorporates a lot of storytelling in his works which makes them both engaging and easy to understand on a deeper level. 

One of his most famous works is the 48 Laws of Power, which basically teaches how to play the power game – aka, how to interact with people, avoid getting manipulated, and also improve your chances of getting what you want out of life. The book has caused quite a stir to the point it is now banned in many prisons (for fear of the prisoners using the principles it highlights to manipulate fellow prisoners or guards).

His book, Mastery, is a guide to not just becoming very good at whatever you do as a professional, but also navigating the politics and games that come with working with people. While the Laws of Human Nature, as the name implies, took a deep dive into how humans think and act.

There are other notable books by Robert Green, including The 33 Strategies of War, Art of Seduction, and The 50th Law (co-authored with 50 Cent). However, those are not all of his books.

Note: There is no such book as “The Collection of Robert Green’s books”, yet. 

My Phone Is My Best Friend by Dick David

This is a bit self-promotional but worth it. My Phone is My Best Friend takes the reader on a tour through the digital universe, teaching them how to achieve what they want through social media.

Some big ideas from the book include 

  • You are essentially creating a digital copy of yourself (an avatar) whenever you create a profile and start posting online. All you do with this avatar is a representation of who you are whether you like it or not. Even the quotes and memes you share all speak to who you are and how you think, and you (in the real world) will be judged by others based on the avatar. 
  • Your avatar interacts with other avatars from all over the world at all times. This means, all your actions are distributed and amplified across the world. For better or worse, your actions can have far-reaching effects. And, oh, the internet never forgets.
  • The algorithm – which is basically the God of the internet – gives you what you are interested in and keeps away what you hate. If you go all day engaging – liking, commenting and sharing – memes, sexy photos, or toxic content, then your timeline will be flooded with more and more of those. In the same vein, if you pick educational, motivational, and inspiring content, that will be your feed. 

The book highlights the fact that you can easily find, follow, and interact with people and communities that align with your goals and aspirations, hence the subtitle of the book “Achieve your wildest dreams through social media”.

Why You Act The Way You Do by Tim LaHaye

I read this book partly. Tim LaHaye went the extra mile of categorising humans based on behaviour (or temperament) in an attempt to get readers to understand themselves and others better.

He argues that all humans have a mixture of two or more personality types which includes: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.

  • Sanguines are happy and friendly people who love life. But, they are often disorganised and proud and can be prone to anger.
  • Choleric are serious and focused individuals who see blessings in every disappointment. But they can be workaholics and emotionless, and can also be prone to anger.
  • Melancholics are analytical and artistic people with high IQs. But they can be critical of themselves and others and can worry more than any other personality type.
  • Phlegmatics are quiet and easygoing people who don’t like to offend others. But they can be complacent and slow, and can also worry a lot.

Thankfully the book also provides practical steps that can be taken to curb the weaknesses of each personality type. 

The book changes how you see the world by helping you understand why we act the way we do. Rather than thinking others are stupid, crazy, or irrational, you begin to understand, tolerate, and even assist.

The knowledge from the book is applicable to different aspects of life, such as work, family, marriage, and sex. 

It’s important to note that Tim uses a mixture of facts, biblical claims, and his experience as a counsellor and pastor throughout the book. 

Professional Writer by Dick David

Professional Writer is a book that mostly teaches how to write content people are willing to pay for. However, the book – in an attempt to show the reader why people are willing to pay writers so much money – vividly highlights the value of writing for the writer and the world in general. 

It emphasises how our societies were built with words – from science and technology to religion and culture – and how better-written words bring about a better world. Without well-articulated and clearly written words to direct us and preserve knowledge, we would be lost and stagnated as a species.

It also makes the point of how writing helps an individual understand themselves (as they pour out their thoughts on blank pages), and to further fix their thinking (as they go over their written thoughts and literally fix the errors in them). 

Realizing the number of tips and principles being applied to get a good piece out makes you respect written words. Applying the principles in your writing helps you better express yourself and connect with people. 

It is hard to go over the book without having some reverence for writing – be it in the textbook on your shelf, or the written signs on the road. 

Everything Is Fucked by Mark Manson 

I enjoyed reading this book, but not as much as his first book. The book, Everything Is Fucked, argues that everything has always been fucked, and this is the time things are least fucked in the history of humanity. 

For a start, we no longer have to worry about famine, being born a slave, or having warriors raid our towns. However, we still do have other forms of evil to worry about – such as loneliness, obesity, social media, and so on. 

The book delves into a lot of psychological and philosophical concepts all in an attempt to get the readers to get comfortable with the struggles and uncertainties in life, as well as the uncomfortable truth that 

“One day, you and everyone you love will die. And beyond a small group of people for an extremely brief period of time, little of what you say or do will ever matter. This is the Uncomfortable Truth of life. And everything you think or do is but an elaborate avoidance of it. We are inconsequential cosmic dust, bumping and milling about on a tiny blue speck. We imagine our own importance. We invent our purpose—we are nothing.”

Unlike other self-help books that encourage having hope, the book rather warns readers to be cautious of blind optimism and false hope as it often leads to disappointment and even destruction. He literally has a chapter titled, “Hope is Fucked” where he explains that like a surgeon’s scalpel, hope can save or take a life.

The central theme of the book is embracing uncertainty and finding healthy hope in the midst of chaos. The book argues that our ability to accept and adapt to the unpredictable nature of life is essential for our mental and emotional well-being. 

A section of the book was also dedicated to talking about what healthy values are, and how we should treat ourselves and others. 

In general, the book challenges conventional wisdom and inspires individuals to take responsibility for their lives and make meaningful changes, even in the face of uncertainty.

Conclusion: “The Proof You Read a Book Is That You Embody It”

There are a lot of life-changing books out there in the world, but the sad reality is that not many people read. And, worse, those who read seldom embody what they read.

The proof that you consumed a book is that you embody it. Remember the aim is not to finish the book, or to read all the books, but to learn and practice what you read.

Below are some resources that might be of help to you

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“Knowledge isn’t free. You have to pay attention.”

– Richard P. Feynman

I enjoy writing long-form SEO content for self-help and personal development blogs. I can also do simple graphics design and copywriting. I’m an author, coach, logician, introvert, and storyteller. I love simplicity.

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