5 Must-Read Books For 5 Important Areas Of Your Life.

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I’m writing this to you while I’m on a flight from LAX to Seattle.

See, while coming back from a series of Spartan races in Southern California (for which I’m working on a very interesting “before-after” blood testing experiment), I found out my tiny hometown airport in Spokane, Washington was immersed in freezing fog, which resulted in over 24 hours of flight delays for me, and some very spotty internet connections or writing opportunities.

But rather than skipping a post altogether, I still wanted to get you some helpful content in my usual Monday ramblings, and what better than to give you some fantastic book recommendations? Between audiobooks, my Kindle Fire and physical books, I typically read 2-5 books each week and without further ado, here are five that I consider to be “must-reads” for 5 important areas of your life: fitness, diet, money, happiness and business.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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1. Fitness: 8 Weeks to SEALFIT: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Unconventional Training for Physical and Mental Toughness

I’ve been through some pretty harrowing crucibles with Mark Divine’s SEALFIT organization (just read about my hellish “Kokoro” experience to see what I mean). SEALFIT is a style of training developed by retired Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine for the unique and specialized needs of professionals seeking to reach their fullest potential. But this book’s physical and mental training isn’t just for the armed forces. Instead, I recommend that anyone who wants to get to extreme levels of brain and body toughness try the 8 week program in the book.

The workouts are massive and intimidating and they take 2-3 hours a pop. When I did this program, I split them into morning and evening routines to break up the time load, but they are still going to take up a great deal of your hours and your focus as you go through the program. You’re going to find yourself eating dinner at night while looking ahead and shuddering about the next day’s workout, which might involve 90 minutes of hardcore weightlifting, followed by a 1 mile running time trial and then a hike in the hills with a 50 pound weighted pack.

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But if you want to carve yourself into a true warrior, and you’re willing to take 8 weeks of your life to do it, this book is a must-read, as long as you’re not just reading it for the pretty pictures, but also doing it.

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2. Diet: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know that there are some nutritional nazis out there screaming that this book by Tim Ferriss leaves out all the important considerations of gut integrity, digestibility, nutrient density and true blah-blah geekery of diet science.

But I don’t care.

See, some people just need to learn to freaking cook before they start to examine whether the legume they’re eating have been properly soaked, fermented or sprouted. And that’s why I like 4 Hour Chef: it not only teaches you how to cook a handful of meals that you could pretty much rely on for the rest of your life to feed yourself or to impress friends at a dinner party, but it also leaves you feeling not afraid to learn pretty much anything else – from memorizing a deck of cards to hunting, skinning and butchering a deer.

Plus, this book is just fun to read, with colorful pictures, plenty of mind-bending activities, and things you never would have thought to do: like pulverizing steamed broccoli in a food processor, tossing in some cubed avocado, laying the entire mix over a bed of white rice, and then topping the tantalizing green layers with a broiled eel. That’s a 15 minute meal that fooled my kids into thinking I was some kind a culinary god.

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3. Money: Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity

The first time I read this book in 2009, it absolutely rocked my world. For most of my life, I had been under the impression that a well-balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds, a solid 401K, and shopping for the best prices on insurance were smart and savvy financial decisions. I was a total eTrade guy who was slowly building a portfolio and retirement fund online, and got most of my financial advice from the Wall Street Journal and Money magazine.

But sadly, our culture is riddled with destructive myths about money and prosperity, and in Killing Sacred Cows, Garrett Gunderson exposes the fallacies and misguided traditions in the world of personal finance, and gives a pretty revolutionary perspective on how to set up your finances in a way that minimizes your taxes and maximizes your ability to protect what you’ve worked so hard to earn.

Since reading the book, I’ve done things like set-up a family trust, insured myself to the absolute maximum, started investing in my own business and other passion projects rather than the stock market, and completely gotten rid of my retirement plan.

It’s nice knowing that if I die tomorrow, my family is completely taken care of, and it’s also nice to know that I’m building my own legacy, and not leaving it in the hands of a fickle stock market. I recommend you give this one a read and kill a few of your own sacred cows.

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4. Happiness: The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day

Until I stumbled across The Five Minute Journal, I was never a journal guy, and threw away most of the diaries and journals people gave me. But now I journal almost every day, and it’s simple because this book just walks me through the process of journaling by asking me a few easy questions, like “What are 3 things you’re grateful for this morning?” or “How could you have made today better?”.

Science has proven that being grateful and shifting your focus to the positive can dramatically improve your happiness. But the key is consistency, and with a positive quote every day and a daily structure that helps you focus on what’s good, The Five Minute Journal gives you just that.

This journal basically combines all the practical elements that can make the difference in your life, and spares you the hours and weeks of moving through dense academic jargon. It’s all here. And it’s been made easy. As a matter of fact, I hack my morning productivity by doing my journaling for 5 minutes every morning while I’m testing my heart rate variability and nervous system strength.

If you’re the kind of person who always wanted to write a journal, but life, excuses and checking your email, Twitter and Facebook every morning took precedence, then this one is for you. Kind of like the 8 Weeks To SEALFIT book, don’t just read this book – do it.

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5. Business: The BookStrapper Guide to Marketing Your Book

I’ll admit that this is kind of a weird one to throw into the mix, but I just finished reading this Bookstrapper Guide on my Kindle and it’s unique approach is fresh on my mind, so I couldn’t leave it out.

Here’s the deal: I’ve always loved to write, and if I’m sitting next to a stranger on an airplane and they ask what I do, I usually just tell them “I’m a health author” (vs. telling them I’m a consultant who uses a combination of biohacking, science and ancestral living to empower people to achieve peak levels of physical and mental performance and live life at as fast a pace as possible without destroying their bodies).

Writing gets me incredibly excited, and books about the writing process, the publishing industry and how to be a better author get me excited too. If that describes you, then by all means, keep reading. If not, stop now and go read one of the other books I recommended.

Anyways, the Bookstrapper Guide is to the writing world what Killing Sacred Cows is to the money world. It shatters book marketing paradigms and both clarifies and shows you how to take the confusing process of publishing into your own hands. It’s the book I wish I had read when I first started down the road to becoming an author, because it would have saved me a lot of time, a lot of heartache, and a lot of living on thin shreds of minuscule royalties from books I published through the traditional marketplace.

If you’ve always wanted to write a book, but you also need to pay the bills, this book is for you. You’ll learn how to take charge of your own marketing and sell thousands and thousands of books without having to navigate the traditional, slow-as-molasses publishing industry. Plus, it’s written by Tucker Max and Ryan Holiday, two intriguing guys to follow.

Incidentally, if you clicked on the book link above, you may have noticed that it’s a free download of this book. That’s because it’s not for sale anymore. Tucker had another side project take off (namely, a done-for-you book publishing service), and he shut everything else down to work on that. So free book for you, I guess.

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The overhead announcement just came. My flight is landing. So I gotta wrap up with this quick review:

Want to become a beast? Get 8 Weeks to SEALFIT.

Learn to cook anything? The 4-Hour Chef.

Crack the code on wealth? Killing Sacred Cows.

Get happier, instantly? The Five Minute Journal.

Write your own book and make money doing it? The BookStrapper Guide to Marketing Your Book.

One last thing before ending: I’m curious to know which three to five books you’ve read recently that you would recommend. Leave your comments below, along with any other questions on things like how I select books, speed-reading, where I get my books or anything else!

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13 thoughts on “5 Must-Read Books For 5 Important Areas Of Your Life.

  1. Monica says:

    Do you recommend using a kindle or similar device? I mostly read books that I get from the library but some are only available on kindle. Do I need to worry about eye strain?

  2. Valerie says:

    Reading Killing Sacred Cows right now because of Your recommendation. It is aligning with many of the things I am learning. Thank you!

  3. Brian_Beaven says:

    Thanks for the quick book list Ben!

    Here's 5 of mine:

    Unbeatable Mind by Mark Devine

    Deep by James Neston

    Abundance by Peter H. Diamadis and Steven Kotler

    Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

    Incognito by David Eagleman

  4. mattshortis says:

    Fitness: The Naked Warrior – Pavel Tsatsouline

    Nutrition/Food: The Omnivore's Dilema – Michael Polan

    History/Bio/Business/Philosophy – The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

    Ben, I'm curious what your reading methodology is. Could you do a post on how you read as much as you do? Is it cover to cover or more Tai Lopez style book/day method?

    1. Great books!

      I personally have read with voracity since I was 6 years old – as many books as I could get my hands on. That early "pressure" to move through books quickly naturally taught me to speed read. I never use my fingers or anything like that, and don't have any special methods other than:

      -Read with the intention to comprehend THE FIRST TIME. With awareness. Never flip pages back. Read like the previous page burns as soon as you turn it.
      -Realize that books take as long to read as the time you set aside for them (within reason – The Bible, etc. would take much longer). So if you open a book on a 2 hour plane flight it will take 2 hours. If a 10 hour plane flight, 10 hours. Tasks expand to the time allotted for them. Again, pressure yourself to read fast.
      -Keep a book everywhere. One on your .mp3 player. At least one on an e-reader. One in a bathroom. One at bedside. One on coffee table. One in car. Etc. At any given point I am reading 2-5 books AT A TIME. That speeds things up too. If a book is there you will read it.

      Oh yeah, one more thing: I rarely if ever watch TV or play video games.

  5. jimburkepdx says:

    Great post, Ben. Thanks very much. I've put all these suggested books on my Amazon wish list.

    In no particular order, I'd recommend:

    "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor. Achor makes a compelling case that happiness fuels success in the workplace and life in general.

    "The Way of the SEAL" by Mark Divine.

    "Beyond Band of Brothers" by Major Dick Winters. Not only for his wartime experiences, but his philosophy of work and leadership.

    "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan.

    "Play It Away" by your boy, Charlie Hoehn. This book helped me immensely in learning how to put things into perspective and not take myself so seriously.

    Thanks again.

    Jim

  6. hayls8 says:

    my most recent reads:

    1. Born to Run – Chris McDougall.
    A classic that I needed to re-read. A fascinating book that explores why humans run and all things running.

    2. If it's not impossible, the life of Sir Nicholas Winton – Barbara Winton.
    I'm still getting through this one, but a really inspirational read proving that anyone can make a difference and inspire positive action (also see the doco Nicky's family for more on this).

    thanks for the suggested reads Ben. Any ideas on where to get the 5 minute journal? Amazon is out of stock..

    1. I'll look into 5MinuteJournal ASAP and be in touch!

    2. Best way to get it is at <a href="http://www.fiveminutejournal.com” target=”_blank”>www.fiveminutejournal.com

      1. hayls8 says:

        thanks so much for following up for me! I've just ordered it :D

  7. Alexfergusnz says:

    Adding those book titles to my 'books to read list'

    My 3 recent reads (all of which I highly recommend) are:

    Bounce. by Matthew Syed (Talent vs Hardwork – among other topics)

    Nutrient Power. By Dr Walsh (Looking at nutrient imbalances and their links to mental disorders)

    Our babies, Ourselves. M. Small (look at how various cultures raise babies, with an evolutionary component thrown in)

    Ben, quick Q – I've watched Tai's 'How to read a book a day' video, but I still find I like to read cover to cover, I don't want to miss any nuggets, and enjoy the 'journey' of the book. How do you get through so many books? I'd hit 1-2 books a week at best with my current method.

    Thanks
    Alex

    1. See my reply to Matt Shortis re: reading speed!

  8. SwBarkley says:

    Fitness: Beyond Training – Ben Greenfield

    Enjoyment: Gardens of the moon – Steven Erikson

    Perspective: Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis

    Relationship: Blue Truth – David Deida

    Well-Being: The Mastery Of Love – Don Miguel Ruiz

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