Books I give a fuck about

So I have just read the book ‘Subtle art of not giving a fuck’ by Mark Manson, which is all about saving your ‘fucks’ for things that really matter.

A great read to set the mindset to doing really important stuff in your life and not getting wrapped up in caring about all the trivial things that really don’t matter.

It is a laugh out loud funny book, which is great because life is about fun and having a good laugh not being too serious and giving a fuck about every single thing, especially as most of them are outside of our control.

For me learning and consequently books really matter, so along with the above-mentioned book, I thought I’d list a few of the books that recently have hit the spot and why. Strangely a few of them have the word ‘fuck’ associated with them, sorry!

If any of you are familiar with ‘Coffee with Dan’ then you may well have read one of the best in class books on how to get really ace at being ‘you’ and getting things done titled ‘How to be fucking awesome’ by Dan Meredith.

Dan not only nails it in terms of how it’s written, simple, very funny, easy to follow and with very clear actionable steps, added to the fact, for me the content is very smart. He also, which is rare in some of these styles of books, recommends not being a ‘dick’ and treating people well.

Here’s Dan’s plan for getting the fu!% on with stuff and launching a new business idea, or ‘just fucking ship’ as Amy Hoy would say:

1. Find a group of people who have a pain or need.
2. Spend time interacting with them and research the shit out of it.
3. Go away and find a solution.
4. Then sell it to them.

There are so many great things to take from this book that I filled 14 pages of handwritten A4 notes from the ideas in the book, another idea that Dan suggested, have a tome for placing notes in from books that you give a fuck about, so when you need them, like for writing blogs such as this, you can refer back to the things you loved about the books you read.

Dan actually reads the Audible version of the book, which I strongly recommend getting, even if you’re like me and you like to have the physical copy to read. He presents it so well and it just adds massively to the whole experience.

I am a huge fan of ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport and I am have been helping people go deeper for some time, and Dan is a fan too and he talks about putting the important stuff, i.e. not work reference yesterday’s blog, into the time plan first.

Next up would be the book that was clearly written with me in mind. It is a male thing particularly, the gender brainwashing that we all suffer, that men have to know everything or they are weak. For most of my life, I have been the ‘answers’ man or less politely a fucking know it all, when in fact, I didn’t know it all. I felt the pressure to always provide the answer.

So since listening to Stephen Covey’s utterly brilliant ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’ book and taking note of the native American phrase ‘listen or your tongue will make you deaf’, I’ve finally been learning to shut up, listen empathetically and ask questions.

However, this next book takes it to a whole new level!! The book is ‘Change your questions, change your life’ and I thought Marilee Adams must have been stalking me all my life.

The book teaches you techniques to move from being stuck in ‘judger’ mode in the pit of despair to being a learner and ask questions.

One of my favourite human beings is Amanda ‘FUCKING’ Palmer and I love her book ‘The art of asking’. She is a huge fan of Brene Brown who ranks easily in my top 5 best humans on the planet for all her research on vulnerability, shaming, daring to be great, being you and all her amazing books. So this alone makes me feel connected to Amanda.

Amanda teaches you the difference between begging and asking, how to build a real community (I hate that ‘C’ word too as in community, but it’s the best word here), she is an incredibly genuine person and considering her fame, very down to earth and with values I share.

We are all bad at asking and the book helps you to realise it is ok, in fact, more than OK, it is essential and what we could all choose to do, ask others for help.

‘The Power Of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle has to go on this list for the simple thing that it has helped me to do. I now spend less time in my mind, which enables me to concentrate on living in the now and being more conscious, more focused and much happier. It is a spiritual book and maybe not for all, but if you have a growth mindset instead of a fixed one, you’ll get masses out of it. Not being a smart arse here either as it has taken me a lot of my 52 years to get to a growth mindset. I would have laughed 5 or 10 years ago if you’d suggested meditation to me and now I meditate most days.

Before I go here is a link to 11.5 books that changed my life. This a wrote a while back but there are for some real gems in that list.

I hope you enjoy some of these books or even all of them.

11.5 books that changed my life

This is in no particular order of magnitude of saving and who cares anyway as it’s all my own subjective opinion.

1. Brene Brown – Daring Greatly, this was the first book of Brene’s that I read and I finally understood what vulnerability meant and it was OK to be vulnerable, in fact, more than fucking OK, it was or is essential. Bravery isn’t being tough, it’s being able to remove the masks we put up to protect us from being truly who we are.

2. Darren Hardy – The Compound Effect, wow, this book is great for one HUGE thing, that is to understand just how essential and momentum building doing regular small daily things are, taking the baby steps to success, rather than trying to make giant leaps.

3. Seth Godin – The Purple Cow, I love Seth’s stuff and The Purple Cow is simple and at the same time brilliant, it is about how to stand out and more importantly how to be different. A field of brown or black and white cows is unremarkable, but if one of those cows is purple, then it is remarkable. We need to be remarkable.

4. Chip Conley – Emotional Equations, a great book that puts difficult emotional things into equations that makes it amazingly easy to understand emotions more.

5. Simon Sinek – Start With Why, this has to be one of my all time favourites, it is the bedrock of life, what matters is why we do what we do, not what we do.

6. Seth Godin – What To Do When It’s Your Turn, a book I return to time and time again as an inspiration to do, simple as that.

7. Prof Steve Peters – The Chimp Paradox, this is like opening Pandora’s box, once you understand all about the chimp brain and how to manage it, and the paradox of how essential it is to us, then this book changes your life completely.

8. Cal Newport – Deep Work, I have changed how I work completely from reading this book and it has enabled me to do focused work that I have struggled to achieve all my life. I am now building a whole project around this and other stuff that compliments this.

9. Yuval Noah Harari – Sapiens, this was at some stages a depressing read, but a magical book that tells the story of us – homo sapiens.

10. Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage, where Shawn rightly tackles the notion of success = happiness as it is most definitely the other way round, happiness leads to success and happiness is a choice we can all make. This is a brilliant book and changed my mindset forever.

11. Brene Brown – Braving The Wilderness, one of 3 books of Brene’s that makes my list, this is the last one I read and is her best yet for me, I’m amazed that I added it here before Rising Strong, which was also life changing on how to dig deep into emotions and write a different story. But this one pips it for me. It is about true belonging and the thing is true belonging requires us to be who we are, and that takes huge bravery.

11.5 Brene Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection, I say 1/2 as I am listening to it still on Audible. But another amazing book and dealing with the whole shit storm that is perfectionism and how we use it to avoid blame, judgement and attention, another mask to avoid being vulnerable and stepping into the ring.

There are a few more, but odd numbers make for more interesting lists and there is only so much to digest at one go. Happy reading.

Ok, one more Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search For Meaning, this is the story of how Viktor survived the horrors of Auschwitz by having a meaning and purpose to his life, those who didn’t, simply perished. A truly emotional, amazing and life-changing read. We can’t achieve our life goals and live a fulfilled life without meaning.

Oh, OK, and…Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits… – so much to say here, but the real stand out is habit 5 (I think), Seek First to Understand, this has taught me all about empathetic listening and it is one of my current goals to try to master this. We all want others to understand us, and that requires us being able to listen with empathy.

Ok, stop now!!

What would you add to the list or maybe none of these would be on yours?