As many of you know, I am an avid reader of books. (Actually I’m a “listener” since I use audiobooks.) In 2018, I was quite busy. I became a Canadian citizen, I got married, and I had a beautiful little baby. Because of this, I really didn’t read that many books (a mere 42 – some completely, some barely). But staying true to my tradition, below is a list of the ones I found most insightful or helpful. I hope these synopses can help you. Enjoy.
The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships by Niel Strauss
Neil Strauss was made famous by a book called “The Game” which introduced the world to pick-up artists. I’d never read the book, but I’d been fascinated with and studied pickup theory and male-female dynamics for more than a decade. In this book, Strauss – who was now an unstoppable ladies’ man – tries to overcome his self-proclaimed sex-addiction to focus on one woman and start a family. He tries out every single kind of relationship, searching for the ultimate road to happiness. What he discovers is that our relationship to our partners is a direct reflection of our internal well-being. Many people seek unhealthy relationships in order to fulfill an internal desire, often due to childhood drama. His conclusion is that healing ourselves (developing healthy relationships with ourselves) is the best way to develop healthy relationships with others.
Having plenty of experience with pickup, polyamory, and open relationships, I could totally relate to his stories and the conclusions he drew. It was wonderful to have someone else have to take it to the extreme end of the spectrum in order to prove what I already sensed to be true. The book really is “the truth”. It turns out that relationships do not comform with the idyllic version of reality that most people want to believe. It’s messy, unfair, unstable, and most often, almost entire about ourselves. I was leaving my playboy ways behind and embarking on the new adventure of marriage. It was scary. I was very thankful that this book was written so I wouldn’t have to spend as much time searching for the answers.
Kosher Lust: Love Is Not the Answer by Shmuley Boteach
Shmuley Boteach is a Jewish Rabbi. His conclusions are similar to Strauss’. He says the main cause of infidelity is a lack of communication and self-esteem. Men (and women) cheat because they don’t feel validated by their partner, who is, in turn, a reflection of their own failure. His argument is that lust the answer. He claims that lust is a more powerful force than love – a point which seems obvious when people cheat on their partner even though they genuinely love them. Lust is passionate, love is comfortable. Throughout the book, Boteach uses examples (often from Judaism) to explain his theories. He also provides a roadmap to develop and maintain lust is any long-term relationship. It is all part of a journey of self-development, self-discovery, and intimacy with another person.
Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex by Aubrey Marcus
Marcus, and his company Onnit, is part of a new wave of thought leaders searching for “total human optimization”. In the book, Marcus goes through the smallest logical increment of measurement in a life – one day – and optimizes it using a wholistic approach which blends ancient practices with state-of-the-art technology. This book helped me incorporate many (not all) practices into my daily life, all of which I know will pay big dividends in the future. Examples include plants in the bedroom (for quality air), breathing and stretching techniques, bio-tracking, diet, digital hiatus and media fasting, morning hydration, and many more. The book is definitely written for weird health nerds like me. It’s like the sequel to The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (which is also an amazing read for life-hacking). This book is a very complete guide to structuring your life on a daily basis.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
In this new world of social media destroying the attention span of a generation, the art of doing “deep work” is becoming more and more valuable. The author, Cal Newport, shows how different producers have used various methods of deep work to create meaningful work. Deep work is basically just the ability to work in a focused way on 1 project for a long period of time. It sounds simple, but it can be very difficult to achieve. The book offers a roadmap to cultivate the skill overtime.
Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Hansson