In past years, I’ve made it a point to read at least one book a week. This year, things are different. In fact, my current 2017 reading list only contains six books. Most of which teach a practical skill.
Because abstract advice is generally worthless.
Once you’ve read one self-help or motivation book, you’ve read them all. There’s no point in constantly re-reading the same common sense messages of “hardwork pays off” or “give 110%.”
As such, every book on this list has been chosen because it teaches something practical, or gives a useful insight into the way society functions.
When you want to learn about leadership, study the mafia.
A Man of Honor is the autobiography of Joseph Bonnano. Bonnano snuck into America on a fishing boat and slowly worked his way through the ranks of organized crime, eventually becoming kingpin of New York.
One thing that really drew me to this book was Bonnano’s depiction of “old world” business tactics. Italians take care of Italians, and entire communities are built from people with shared working together to help support each other.
For anyone looking to build their own syndicate or network of like-minded business accommodates, A Man of Honor serves as a good blueprint for doing this.
The science of graphology is hotly debated. However, I’ve yet to met a professional writer who won’t agree that the way a person writes says a lot about them.
Men write short sentences. Insecure people use large words. And a lot of folks who suffer from depression or low self-esteem “trail off” in their writing, with their words becoming weaker and more vague as they reach the conclusion of their piece. In short, how you write says a lot about what type of person you are.
(Who Is More Unreliable?)
In Handwriting Analysis, America’s top graphologist shows you how to spot “tells” in: personal letters, job applications, drawings, love notes, essays, and dozens of other forms of print media.
Professional poker takes guts, brains, and an iron will.
If you want to win at cards, you have to be smart and you need to be self-disciplined.
Doyle Brunson’s Super System is a 605-page tome on everything poker. In addition to learning strategies for different games, the book also teaches you about the mental aspects of playing with big money.
How do you keep your cool when you win (or lose) $10,000 in five minutes?
What are the secrets for “checking your emotions at the door,” and no letting personal drama affect your playing abilities?
Super System is a big book, with tons of insights into the world of high-stakes gaming. If you like playing cards (for fun or for money), this is a really cool book.
This is the only “abstract life advice” type book on my reading list. The Last Safe Investment teaches you how to develop “super-skills,” and make small personal investments that payoff better than any stock pick or index fund.
This may sound cheesy, but the idea works.
Case in point, two years ago I taught myself copywriting and decided to start a small Amazon Affiliate site. It took me a couple of hours to build, but the website has constantly generated $1,200+ in passive income each year.
That’s the same return you’d get from putting $25,000 into the stock market!
Since this one tiny skill-set yielded had a huge payoff, a whole book of “personal investment” ideas has to be even better. Right?
The Internet is a fascinating place because it gives homes to every kook and nutjob on the planet. “The earth is flat!” “Hillary Clinton is a devil worshiper!” “Air conditioning is sexist!”
The True Believer explains the psychology of mass movements.
This book explores how, and why, people sacrifice critical thinking and logic in order to fit in with a particular ideology.
In an era where fringe movements and dogmatic zealots have become a dime a dozen, this is a book worth checking out.
The Visual Guide To Lock Picking is easily the most practical book on this list.
As someone who recently bought a set of lock picks off Amazon, I thought it would be fun to master the art of opening all kinds of doors and containers.
With 200+ pages of content, and tons of detailed diagrams, this is the most comprehensive guide to lock picking that I’ve ever seen.