Monday, February 17, 2014

The Books I Read

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Education is the foundation

Unanimously, one of the habits of successful people is reading. All of my clients are expected to read through a great deal of material on our reading list. Not only is reading good for the brain, it makes us self aware of ourselves in relation to the world and other people's perspective. Without self awareness, there is no change.

I've found great value in these books and hopefully you'll find the same value in them as well. Keep checking back as overtime I'll keep adding more books with summaries.

  • Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health - I'm one who wants to talk about breathing, why it's productive, why it's good for the mind, without getting too caught up in the woo-woo side of things. And Belisa Vranich was just that. A teacher who speaks plain English that teaches breathing in a way anyone from a yogi, fighter, to a police officer, can understand.
  • The Tao Of Jeet Kune Do - It's not only Bruce Lee's book about his ideas on fighting, it's also a collection of prose and essays. It is the essence of the man, martial artist, and philosopher. "To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person." - Bruce Lee
  • Living The Martial Way - A little known book I found quite accidentally. Written by a high ranking military officer/strategist whose other works are about military strategy, this is his only work written on martial arts. The book is about applying martial arts in your daily life. Your daily life being a practice of martial arts. It made me realize I don't always need to train to be training martial arts. In all my endeavors outside of martial arts, my years of training have proven indispensable.
  • Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else - There's hard work involved in being great, there's genetics and what situation you were born into, but there is also practice. Not just any practice but mindful, purposeful, and deliberate practice. Not practicing slop but practicing in a way to remove all imperfections. Featuring inspirational stories of people who had to practice to get where they are.
  • The Art Of Learning: An Inner Journey To Optimal Performance - A public figure since his father's book Searching for Bobby Fischer was made into a major motion picture, Josh has learned to learn. From learning chess to Tai Chi, and later Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Josh explains the psychology of learning through his own experiences and how to turn defeats into learning experiences. It applies a lot of the Eastern ideas about teaching, that it's incremental not innate. You are not born gifted, mastery is something you chip away at, day in and day out. piece by piece.
  • The New Evolution Diet - Believe it or not, our DNA is almost exactly the same as that of our ancestors. While scientific advances in agriculture, medicine, and technology have protected man, to some degree, from dangers such as starvation, illness, and exposure, the fact remains that our cave-dwelling cousins were considerably healthier than we are. Our paleolithic ancestors did not suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity. In fact, a good deal of what we view as normal aging is a modern condition that is more akin to disease than any natural state of growing older.
  • Anticancer: A New Way Of Life - How modern food high in inflammation creates sickness. Dr. David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD lived 20 years with brain cancer. It’s about how food and mood creates health. You get to journey with Dr Servan-Schreiber as he gets diagnosed and sees what solutions there are. Having lived through cancer in my family twice, this book gives you power. It's easy to look for absolute solutions and easy fixes, supplements, super foods and going vegan sounded so perfect. But I realized there are no easy answers and you do the best you can.
  • The Art Of Happiness - A series of interviews with the Dalai Lama and an American psychiatrist. This book was given to me as a gift and has helped me through tragedies, new jobs, financial worries, my father and sister passing away, supporting my mother, and more. The most valuable lesson I gained was that happiness isn't easy, and that's okay.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek - One of my favorite books of all time. It is THE efficiency and organization book to automate or hack things you don't need to spend more time than you need on, so you can focus on the stuff that really matters. Could you be more efficient at everything?
  • The 4-Hour Body - It's a similar story to mine. Tim Ferriss spent years and countless dollars trying to optimize himself. Some call it quantifying, others call it bio-hacking. He shares everything he learned in this resource book. If I had it early on, it would have saved me a lot of money and time and physical pain but we came upon a lot of the same conclusions (as did many others who researched things like increasing performance, memory, to pain management).
  • Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep - Explores the research that is investigating those dark hours that make up nearly a third of our lives. Taking readers from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn't as simple as it seems. Why did the results of one sleep study change the bookmakers’ odds for certain Monday Night Football games? Do women sleep differently than men? And if you happen to kill someone while you are sleepwalking, does that count as murder?
  • Zen In The Art Of Archery - Zen gets thrown around so much that it's become a pop cultural reference to someone who does yoga and occasionally uses medicinal marijuana than it actually does with the philosophy. It's not a certain way to eat or exercise or even a lifestyle, it's a very mentally strenuous practice. It's an intellectual pursuit, and using the practice of archery, it works as a perfect analogy for Zen. Zen isn't a state of being, it's a type of practice. I probably read this book once a year.
  • Mastery - Drawing on Zen philosophy and the martial art of Aikido, George Leonard explains to the reader the process of mastery. Speaking in a language that is easy to understand, he explains how we may sabotage our own path to mastery, and how our only enemy is ourselves. Mastery is not the mastery of any activity, but using the activity to master ourselves.
  • Way Of The Peaceful Warrior - Being a warrior isn't about physical strength, it's about mental strength. It's not the ability to create violence, but to create inner peace with oneself. Even after thirty years it's still a powerful read.
  • The Inner Game Of Tennis - Athletes need to overcome the self-doubt, nervousness, and lapses of concentration that can keep a player from winning. This isn't true for just athletes though, it's true for all of us. This book explains what makes a good tennis player; their mental game. It really has nothing to do with tennis and everything to do with performance and uses Zen teachings.
  • The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry - An interesting, sometimes humorous, sometimes scary look into the business of mental health. How characteristics in one person can make them a psychopath, but the same characteristics in Wallstreet make them a winner. Sometimes it's a matter of perspective and values.
  • Outliers - Possibly Malcolm Gladwell's best book. I consider it more anecdotal than scientific, but it keys in on things we normally wouldn't consider. The value of practice over natural talent, the value of community to our health, and other uncommon things many success stories have in common. He asks one question: what makes high achievers different?
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives - No book has made me feel dumber, in a good way, than this book has. Physicist Leonard Mlodinow who co-wrote A Brief History Of Time with Stephen Hawking debunks a lot of our set beliefs and how we look for patterns where there are none. From the classroom to the courtroom and from financial markets to supermarkets, Mlodinow's intriguing and illuminating look at how randomness, chance, and probability affect our daily lives will intrigue, awe, and inspire.
  • Manthropology - Anthropologist Peter McAllister humorously compares the modern man to his ancestral counterparts and how "manliness" isn't what it once was.
  • Start With Why - In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way - and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.
  • The Art Of War - I've probably read this book twenty times. Strategies and insight to overcome obstacles and conflicts, especially the crucial ones. Sun Tzu has a deep and accurate understanding of the nature of conflict. It was written thousands of years ago and it's still just as meaningful today.
  • Freakonomics - How tiny actions create bigger actions. How incentives create behaviors. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.
  • The Unfettered Mind - A book on swordsmanship and the cultivation of the mind. Takuan was a gardener, calligrapher, poet, author, adviser to samurai and shoguns, and a prominent figure in Zen history and painting. In these essays, Takuan reflects on the mind and the refinement of thoughts, in daily life and in conflict.
  • The Talent Code - Journalist Coyle travels the world to discover the truth about talent in this fascinating account that studies how individuals can unlock their full potential and bring their talents to light. The discoveries put forth by Coyle come down to three main elements: coaching, motivation and practice. While these hardly seem like breakthroughs, Coyle's discovery process proves fascinating. Providing detailed examples from a variety of different sources, Coyle's work becomes as motivational as the stories he presents.
  • You Are Not So Smart - Every article I write from now on could be about how one of these irrational beliefs applies to health and fitness. Bringing together popular science and psychology with humor and wit, You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of our irrational, thoroughly human behavior.
  • Iron John - Poet and translator Robert Bly offers nothing less than a new vision of what it is to be a man. He addresses the devastating effects of remote fathers and mourns the disappearance of male initiation rites in our culture. Finding rich meaning in ancient stories and legends, Bly uses the Grimm fairy tale "Iron John," in which the narrator, or "Wild Man," guides a young man through eight stages of male growth, to remind us of archetypes long forgotten-images of vigorous masculinity, both protective and emotionally centered.
  • Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu's (The Book of the Way) is the classic manual on the art of living. Through a collection of poems, Lao Tzu tackles the existential crisis of living and guides the reader through the basic principles of the universe: The Tao.
  • The Book Of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi, the best swordsman of Japan and possibly of the world retreated to a cave where he lived the remainder of his years. There he wrote his manifesto about everything he's ever learned and known.
  • The Universe In A Single Atom - The Dalai Lama converges science with spirituality. Having spent over forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds, The Dalai Lama presents a spiritual and scientific analysis of truth. It's an examination of reality through multiple lenses.
  • Body By Science - The strength of this book is all the research they've done about the body, how to create change, build muscle and flexibility. Their conclusions aren't for everyone, especially those with injuries or movement issues but the research is invaluable.

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