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10 life-changing books to begin your new year

Reading is an incredibly valuable and enriching activity for people. Reading can be many things for you at once. Reading is an excellent leisure activity. It helps you exercise your brain, and improve your memory and cognitive function. 

You can also consider books as problem-solving tools. For example, whatever challenges you face in life, it is likely that there is a book on it. You just need to make time and sit down and read. 

To that end, here is a list of 10 books that can help transform both your personal and professional life. 

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill 

The book is based on Hill’s interviews with successful individuals, including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. His research revealed that these individuals all shared certain common traits, including a clear vision, a burning desire to succeed, and the ability to turn setbacks into opportunities. The book also teaches readers how to think positively and overcome mental barriers in order to achieve success and wealth. 

“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”

2. The School of life by Alain de Botton

We spend years in school learning facts and figures but one thing we're never taught is how to live a fulfilled life. That's why we need to read “The School of Life''. The book has one simple aim to help people with the tools to survive and thrive in the modern world. And the most important of these tools is emotional intelligence.

“A fundamental truth is that there is simply no such thing as an inherently boring person or thing. People are only in danger of coming across as such when they either fail to understand their deeper selves or don’t dare or know how to communicate them to others.”

3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

The book is a comprehensive and insightful look at the life and career of a highly influential and innovative tech leader. It offers a unique perspective on the development of some of the most iconic products in the tech industry and provides insight into one of the most influential figures in the history of technology. 

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse at the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.”

4. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

The key theme of the book is the idea that our attitudes toward money are shaped by our experiences, values, and emotions. The book explores how these factors can lead to different financial behaviors and outcomes and discusses how to make better financial decisions by understanding and managing these psychological factors. 

5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The book is divided into three parts- “The Struggle”, “The Practice”, and “The Path”. In the first section, Horowitz discusses the difficulties and challenges that entrepreneurs and business leaders inevitably face, and the importance of resilience and persistence in overcoming them. In the second section, he covers a range of practical topics related to business management, including hiring, firing, and leading teams. In the final section, he discusses the importance of finding one’s own path and making one’s own decisions in business, rather than blindly following the advice of others. 

6. Zero to One by Peter Thiel 

As a co-founder of Paypal and Palantir Technologies, Peter Thiel’s book is based on his experiences as an entrepreneur and investor and offers a unique perspective on the importance of creating new businesses and technologies rather than simply competing in existing markets. 

“In order to be successful, a startup company needs a strong foundation, founders who are well-suited for each other, and employees who work well together.”

7. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

The book offers a comprehensive and engaging look at the history of humanity, from the emergence of Homo sapiens in Africa to the present day. A captivating and informative book that offers a unique perspective on the history of humanity and the forces that have shaped our world. It is a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding the past and future of our species. 

“Happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health, or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations.”

8. How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Throughout the book, Pollan delves into the neuroscience behind psychedelics and how they can affect the brain and consciousness. He discusses research on the use of psychedelics in the treatment of addiction, anxiety, and depression, and explores the role that these substances may play in helping people to better understand their own minds and emotions. 

“Our task in life consists precisely in a form of letting go of fear and expectations, an attempt to purely give oneself to the impact of the present.”

9. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The book talks about a set of principles for personal and professional effectiveness, which Covey calls the “7 Habits”. These are: 

  • Be proactive: Take responsibility for your actions and decisions, and don’t let external circumstances dictate your behavior. 
  • Begin with the end in mind: Set clear goals and plan how to achieve them. 
  • Put first things first: Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones first. 
  • Think win-win: Seek mutually beneficial solutions in your interactions with others. 
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Listen actively and empathetically to others before trying to persuade them. 
  • Synergize: Work effectively with others to achieve more than you could alone. 
  • Sharpen the saw: Take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being to maintain your effectiveness over the long term. 

10. How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

The book is based on a series of lessons that are drawn from Proust’s life and writing, and which offer guidance on how to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. 

“We don't really learn anything properly until there is a problem until we are in pain until something fails to go as we had hoped. We suffer, therefore we think.”

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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