I read a lot. Like a fucking lot. Like a fucking huge amount of books. And words. And I swear a lot too, true.

But hey. I even fucking quit my fucking job last year so that I can fucking read more.

This morning after my fff…irst breakfast I read. Then I got another breakfast and went for coffee in a bookshop and read some more. Now I’m in a University library where before writing this paragraph I was reading. Again.

And let me tell you a secret, just between you and me (because nobody else reads this blog): I have been reading continuously for the past 6 years and I can say without any shame that I owe my life to that habit. No kidding.

But maybe it’s just me. Maybe I had to relearn life because I had been screwed from day one. So now I do the job for you. I read tons of shits, I compress it, and I vomit summaries through my articles. You may thank me by pressing the donate button. (How come I didn’t make one yet?)

My first conscious reading was The Magic of Thinking Big. Or The Law of Attraction. I don’t remember. Who cares. What I do remember though is that those books were introduced to me by Michael Trimarchi, one of my MBA teacher. Michael surely changed my life for the better. So let me carry on with all the gayness: Michael if you read this, Thank You. Big kisses to you. You’re such an annoying person that I want to punch your big Italian nose (which, by the way, is not big; I’m just writing this for the prose) each time we have lunch, but I will never stop being grateful for what you did to me. So, Thanks again.

Now, without further ado, here are 6 books that gave me a big slap in the face.

Thinking, Fast and Slow — Daniel Kahneman

The Plot: We have 2 kind of brains. One is fast, automatic, works 24/7 and is uncontrollable. The other one is slow, energy-greedy, but controllable. The former handles emotions (amongst other things) and is always the first one responding to any event in life. Follow it blindly and you’re fucked.

Why You Should Read This Book: To truly understand that if behaving only logically and without emotions makes you a robot, trusting your first emotional answer without a bit of questioning makes you an animal, and you will suffer from it.

This book is an anthem to recognizing emotions and thoughts for what they are: emotions and thoughts. End of story.

Once you accept that fact, it is much easier to not let yourself drown under them. It is much easier to accept them, and then to consciously choose a way to think and be more rational. It is much easier to become aware of some screwed up beliefs you have and then change them (which will affect the quality of your emotions, the only control—indirect—we have over them). You can then become the master of your own mind, rather than the opposite.

As Aristotle used to say:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

And let me add also my friend Raymon Tusk from House of Cards because he’s so cool and so damn right:

Raymond Tusk's philosophy

Reason on top of emotions. Slick.

Quiet — Susan Cain

The Plot: The only difference between introvert and extrovert people is how they spend and how they regain energy. Introversion and shyness are very different things. Introversion is like height or skin color, it doesn’t have to be changed; shyness is more like punching every person you meet in the balls, it’s great if you can get rid of that behavior.

Why You Should Read This Book: To learn the difference between an innate trait that needs to be fully accepted and that is actually useful (even if the world is trying to make us feel differently by glorifying extroversion) and a behavior that is unhelpful and that can—and might—preferably be worked on and improved upon.

This book was a big eye-opener for me because I lean heavily on the introversion side of the balance. I learned that it was OK to want and need a lot of time alone. It doesn’t make you asocial, it doesn’t make you a loner or a loser. What makes you asocial is, well, being asocial. Not the amount of time you spend with other people.

I used to think that my introversion was a liability, I don’t anymore.

Shyness though is another story. Shyness can (and probably should) be improved and even reversed. Shyness is the result of non-helpful beliefs, which lead to non-helpful behaviors. All of which can be replaced. You can still be extremely introvert, and extremely confident.

Bonus, her TED Talk:

Antifragile — Nassim Taleb

The Plot: Life is unpredictable. Shits will happen and will have huge impacts on your life. Rather than trying to escape and live hidden in fear, build yourself up to the point that you can handle the shits, and even more, that you can grow out of them.

Why You Should Read This Book: Because it’s one of the best book I’ve read in the past 6 years. But for sure NOT because of the pompous writing style. Still, the ideas from this book are too good to be ignored.

The main one is actually dead simple: there is uncertainty in life, and it is possible to gain something out of it.

Uncertainty by definition cannot be predicted, but this is still what most people do. They try to predict and avoid what they believe will happen. But what we should rather do is build ourselves in a way that we are not just robust but even get stronger out of the events tormenting us. This is being antifragile.

A few cases of antifragility:

  • If you have several sources of income you are more antifragile than if you had only one, because losing one of them affects you less
  • A self-employed person is more antifragile than a salaried one because they need constant learning and adapting, which make them more fit to the world
  • A smaller company is more antifragile than a bigger one because they can respond to events faster

This book is full of different examples ranging from simple Nature to complex Economic Systems to walking barefoot on stones. Lots of great arguments against conventional wisdom, lots of ideas what will stick in your head and flip your views.

No More Mr. Nice Guy — Robert Glover

The Plot: As an adult, your life is your responsibility and no one else’s. So time to roll up your sleeves and take care of yourself.

Why You Should Read This Book: You should read it you’re finding yourself in the following situations:

  • You suck at communicating clearly and openly
  • You’re not aware of your own needs and emotions
  • You’re always trying to fix other people’s problems
  • You take everything personally
  • You’re always expecting that someone will save you
  • You don’t assert yourself
  • You always feel like a victim
  • You have a hard time asking for help

Don’t let yourself be fooled by the title or the shitty cover, this book is a gold mine for anyone who is having a hard time with the above issues.

If you’ve been like me spending years trying to please everyone (except yourself), then this book is for you. And yes, even if you’re a woman.

Time to learn how to be aware and connected to your needs, your emotions, how to express them in healthy ways, how to accept the vicissitudes of life, and how to be fully responsible for them.

One of the book that influenced me the most.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem — Nathaniel Branden

The Plot: Contrary to popular belief, high self-esteem is not innate but rather the result of 6 basic human behaviors.

Why You Should Read This Book: Because life without high self-esteem is not fun. Self-esteem colors everything you’re dealing with, every little interaction. Having high self-esteem is a crucial part of a person’s wellbeing and it is necessary to get it right.

Branden is referred in the psychology world as the King of Self-Esteem, and for good reasons. He has been studying self-esteem for more than 40 years, and the Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is the final summary of all his years of work.

If you’re looking for the behaviors, mindsets and attitudes that will raise your self-esteem, then this book is for you.

One of my favorite author, with a particular skill: the ability to hug you and to make you feel loved through his words. You should try it.

Daring Greatly — Brené Brown

The Plot: We are social animals, our brain is hardwired for connection. Connection is only possible when you let your true self be seen, and this requires courage.

Why You Should Read This Book: Because studies show that the more a country becomes developed, the more its citizens suffer from depression.

Without heavy conscious questioning, we all handle pain the same way: by building walls around us in order to protect ourselves. But the issue is that we get trapped within our own walls, and we end up feeling lonely, unable to create deep and real connection with others.

Brené Brown destroys those walls with vulnerability, openness, honesty, resilience, courage and acceptance.

There’s some words in the book about perfectionism with which I could relate strongly. The only reason we try to make things perfect is… to avoid criticisms. I found this fascinating, because I never questioned it before. To me, perfectionism was a good quality. But the truth is once you learn to be OK with being criticized, the meaning and direction of your work changes drastically.

Bonus, her TED Talk is one of the most viewed of all time:

Happy Reading.