Note: Already a have an overwhelming list of books to read? Here are my favorite ways to read faster, plus some strategies on how to get more reading done

I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and one of the primary ways I feed it is through reading. My favorite types of books are typically related to behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, personal growth, philosophy, and education, although I’m an equal opportunity reader and have learned amazing life lessons from unlikely sources.

While choosing a book is a highly personal process, I wanted to put together a list of general recommendations that anyone could benefit from. Many of these books are widely recommended, and collectively they are the books that have had the greatest impact on me and whose lessons I use on a daily basis. Outside of friends and family I get book recommendations from a variety of sources including Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, Brian Johnson, Noah Kagan, and Quora. Those familiar with their work will recognize a few of the titles below.

I also highly recommend keeping track of your reading, and if you want to follow my method for organizing and planning what books to read you can make a copy of an updated Book Shelf template pre-populated with all of the books recommended below. (select “File” then “Make a copy”)

The Reading List:

Alphabetical by category. Brief introductions, additional details, and links to the books on Amazon can be found below.

Behavioral Economics & Psychology
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (288 pgs)
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (384 pgs)
The Game by Neil Strauss (452 pgs)
Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner (293 pgs)
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (512 pgs)

Favorite Fiction
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (144 pgs)
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (95 pgs)
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (528 pgs)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (192 pgs)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery (168 pgs)

Health & Fitness
Chi Running by Danny Dreyer (320 pgs)
Conscious Breathing by Gay Hendricks (208 pgs)

Learning & Productivity
The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss (672 pgs)
The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman (288 pgs)
The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman (464 pgs)

Philosophy
A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber (354 pgs)
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (286 pgs)
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (256 pgs)
The Heart of Zen by JunPo Dennis Kelly Roshi (250 pgs)
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday (201 pgs)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (262 pgs)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (442 pgs)
Zen Mind Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (TK pgs)

Positive Psychology & Personal Growth
A Philosophers Notes by Brian Johnson (211 pgs)
Mastery by George Leonard (176 pgs)
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama (348 pgs)
The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky (384 pgs)
The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben Shahar (273 pgs)
Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields (240 pgs)

Details:

Behavioral Economics & Psychology

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (288 pgs). I’m a fan of all of Gladwell’s books, and the way he famously takes current psychological research and explains it through captivating stories. Blink takes a closer look at intuitive decision making and helps us to better understand and use our gut feelings. (also worth reading: The Tipping Point, Outliers, David & Goliath)

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (384 pgs). A great overview on why humans make strange decisions and how small changes in the environment can have big consequences in what we say or do.

The Game by Neil Strauss (452 pgs). An amazing exploration of social dynamics and interpersonal behavior. Technically about pick up artists, this book is recommended by many as the #1 book to read to understand people and the game of life.

Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner (293 pgs). The third book in the Freakonomics series provides a blueprint for solving problems in a more rational, creative, and productive way. No topic is off-limits. This book will help you to put aside common assumptions and learn how incentives govern our behavior. (also worth reading: Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics)

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (512 pgs). Nobel Prize winning Kahneman is one of the founders of behavioral economics/psychology. This lengthy read takes the reader on a tour of the mind and the two systems that drive the way we think: one fast, intuitive, and emotional and the other slow, deliberate and logical.

Favorite Fiction

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (144 pgs). This short and fast read follows a unique seagull who learns to soar. An amazing story on seeking a higher purpose and achieving your potential.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (95 pgs). Short but packed with insights, Siddhartha tells the story of a young Indian man’s spiritual journey as he searches for the ultimate reality and the meaning of life.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (528 pgs). A futuristic story about a lone man raised on Mars who returns to earth with childlike wonder and awe. This book offers incredible insights on the human condition, the earth, governance, religion, knowledge, and love.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (192 pgs). An amazing story about following your heart, achieving your dreams, and connecting with the “soul of the world.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery (168 pgs). As amazon puts it “There are few stories that in some way, in some degree, change the world forever for their readers. This is one.”

Health & Fitness

Chi Running by Danny Dreyer (320 pgs). This book will teach you how to run biomechanically efficient. You’ll be able to go farther and faster with less effort and less impact on your body. It’s like magic. A must read for anyone who considers themselves a runner or is interested in becoming one.

Conscious Breathing by Gay Hendricks (208 pgs). To breathe is to live. Learn to breathe optimally and it can literally change your life. As the subtitle explains, this book helps introduce breathwork for health, stress release, and personal mastery.

Learning & Productivity

The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss (672 pgs). I’m a huge fan of Tim’s work, and in the 4-Hour Chef he explains his process for “learning anything and living the good life.” Don’t be intimidated by the length; the book contains a ton of full pages images and illustrations, and a significant number of recipes that can be treated more as reference then reading. (also worth reading: The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body)

The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman (288 pgs). A systematic approach for “how to learn anything… fast.” Josh breaks down how to learn any new skill as quickly as possible and gives personal examples on everything from programming, touch typing, and complex board games to windsurfing, yoga, and playing the ukulele.

The Personal MBA by Joshn Kaufman (464 pgs). A modern guide to business. This book contains all of the knowledge needed to start or run a successful business, mixed with a little philosophy and at a tiny fraction of the cost of a traditional MBA.

Philosophy

A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber (354 pgs). When he says everything, he means everything. Incredibly dense and not for the faint of heart, but those up to the challenge will be rewarded with a thorough exploration of the cosmos from matter to life to mind. This book explains how we got to the current stage in our evolution, and what the future might look like.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (286 pgs). Classical introduction to the Stoic school of thought focusing on self possession, emotional control, and humility. Highly recommended by a large group of today’s successful leaders.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (256 pgs). The recorded thoughts of 2nd century Roman Emperor and proverbial “philosopher-king” Marcus Aurelius. Incredible personal observations on almost every facet of life, this is a book to read and re-read.

The Heart of Zen by JunPo Dennis Kelly Roshi (250 pgs). An encompassing explanation of Zen Buddhism in the modern world. This book is a guide to “enlightenment, emotional maturity, and what it really takes for spiritual liberation.”

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday (201 pgs). A truly powerful book. Ryan unpacks the wisdom in ancient philosophy, presents a formula for turning challenges into opportunities, and shows how many great people achieved their success by applying that formula.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau (262 pgs). Thoreau’s masterpiece extols the virtues of simplicity and self-sufficiency. Eye opening read which has inspired many to take a hard look at what they truly want.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (442 pgs). This cult classic follows a motorcycle ride across the country. While on the bike, we are privy to the narrators personal and philosophical journey into the fundamental questions of life. When it’s time for rest and motorcycle upkeep, we learn a beautiful process for full engagement and quality work.

Zen Mind Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (181 pgs). A modern Zen classic which starts dispensing wisdom as early as the opening line: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Positive Psychology & Personal Growth

A Philosophers Notes by Brian Johnson (211 pgs). Few people have the ability to condense and summarize wisdom the way Brian can. In a familial style, he shares lessons on optimal living gathered from a comprehensive study of everyone from old school philosophers to modern day sages and scientists.

Mastery by George Leonard (176 pgs). Filled with practical wisdom that can be applied to any domain, this book explains the path to mastery and the keys to following that path.

The Art of Happiness by Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (348 pgs). It’s rare to see the Dalai Lama when he isn’t smiling or laughing, and this book shares why. A remarkable exploration of humanity and a guide to overcoming life’s obstacles with a deep sense of inner peace.

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky (384 pgs). A comprehensive guide to positive psychology and how to use science live a happier life.

Being Happy by Tal Ben Shahar (273 pgs). One of my favorite Harvard professors shares why you don’t have to be perfect to be happy and how accepting flaws and living as an optimalist can lead to true fulfillment. (also worth reading: Happier, The Pursuit of Perfect)

Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields (240 pgs). Drawing on modern science and technology mixed with ancient wisdom, this book is how to on turning “fear and doubt into fuel for brilliance.” If you’ve ever been afraid of the unknown (and who hasn’t?), this book can show you a better way forward.

For those interested, I also recommend the classic wisdom texts: The Dhammapada, The Bhagavad Gita, The Bible, I Ching, Tao te Ching, Thus Spoke Zaharusta, The Way of the Sammurai, Gilgamesh

What are some of your favorites? I’m always looking for good recommendations! Let me know in the comments below.