The best books to help you live a simpler life

The Books I Picked & Why

Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living

By Bruce Lee

Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living

Why this book?

Bruce’s work and words have had a lasting impact on me. He squeezed a lot of living and achievement into a relatively short life. I come back to this book again and again. My copy has been read and re-read.  Many pages and passages are highlighted. It's also one of those rarest of books that seems to teach you something new each time you pick it up.  

The book is broken down into various themes that deal with the human condition but there is a heavy focus on simplicity and seeking the straightest path. Bruce's genius was exploring and learning from many sources, formulating his own ideas, keeping what worked, and leaving the rest. Or to quote the man himself: "Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is uniquely your own"

Bruce seemed to live by this philosophy. What would happen if we tried to do the same? What could our lives look like? This book is gold. 


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Tao Te Ching

By Lao Tzu, Stephen Addiss, Stanley Lombardo

Tao Te Ching

Why this book?

Along with Bruce Lee's Striking Thoughts - Wisdom for the Way, the Tao Te Ching is one of the most re-read books on my shelves. It teaches me something new or gives me a fresh perspective on life every time I make time to read it. How many books can claim the same? Not many in my experience.

It's a concise book that punches above its relative weight. A gift that keeps giving. At first glance, it is a simple read with simple lessons to share. However, when you read the words there is a deepness to them, which often means you will read a page or passage and sit with it before moving on. Trying to absorb what you have read. There is wisdom in these pages.  

Whether you believe Lao Tzu was one man or many, isn't the point for me. There is a treasure in these pages. Treasure that is timeless. This book will make you think and it will make you see the signal amongst the noise. It will help you cut through the complexities in life. My own version of the Tao Te Ching is the Stephen Addiss translation. There is a nice introduction section that gives some context to the origins of the book, Lao Tzu, and talks to the approach for the translation itself. Highly recommended. 


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Living The 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More

By Richard Koch

Living The 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More

Why this book?

We come more up-to-date with my third book recommendation. However, this book was no less transformative for me. Richard Koch’s books around the 80/20 principle were a paradigm-shifting fork in the road for me personally. They came at a time in my life when I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed and really needed them. I credit them with being one of the main reasons I became invested in my own simplicity journey.  

This book (and others by the same author on 80/20) had such a profound effect on me that they influenced the name of my own company when I set it up 10 years ago. 80/20 is a concept I return to often in my own writing and I believe it is a close relative to simplicity. A powerful tool we can all learn to leverage. 


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Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Why this book?

Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, words, and work have had a profound impact on me. This book in particular is one of his I really enjoy reading and re-reading. It made meditation more accessible to me as I had always struggled with the concept of sitting in zazen and staring into space (I still do). Amongst other topics, this book talks about the benefits of walking mindfully and leveraging the breath in simple but powerful ways (a practice I do follow).  

Thich has a way of making the busy world we live in look immediately simpler with his calming, nurturing words and example. An amazing man and a fabulous read on the benefits of adopting simple self-care practices that can serve us all, and the world we live in. 


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Strength Rules, How to Get Stronger Than Almost Anyone--And the Proven Plan to Make It Real

By Danny Kavadlo

Strength Rules, How to Get Stronger Than Almost Anyone--And the Proven Plan to Make It Real

Why this book?

I believe deeply in the power of movement practice with strength training leading the way in foundational needs. Being a simplicity seeker, I am particularly drawn to the stripped-back nature of training with your own body weight (calisthenics) as a weight. I find this practice endlessly challenging and rewarding. I have long been a fan of the work of Danny Kavadlo (and his brother Al) who are two of the world’s leading authorities on calisthenics and were writing about its benefits years before it became as trendy as it is now. I’ve been fortunate enough to be coached by Danny several times whilst we holiday in New York and have written on my blog about some of our time and talks together.  

Danny is also a proponent of keeping things simple and likes to focus on what matters most. This book is something of a simplicity manifesto (to all things strength but also nutrition and life itself). This is broader than just a book on strength training, it delves into the importance of inner resolve so we can live our best lives and be our best selves. It’s a powerful book delivered straight from the heart of a man I have learned walks his talk and I am very proud to call ‘Coach’.   


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