The best books to change how you understand the world

Derek Sivers Author Of How to Live: 27 Conflicting Answers and One Weird Conclusion
By Derek Sivers

Who am I?

The greatest thrill is seeing something a new way. Remember the end of the movie The Sixth Sense, when you learn he was dead the whole time? It blows your mind and makes you re-think everything you saw. That's how it feels to learn another philosophy or a new distinction in understanding the world. I'm always seeking more of those moments, and these five books (plus mine) do that more than any I've found so far.


I wrote...

How to Live: 27 Conflicting Answers and One Weird Conclusion

By Derek Sivers,

Book cover of How to Live: 27 Conflicting Answers and One Weird Conclusion

What is my book about?

27 different answers to the question of how to live your life. Each chapter disagrees with the rest. But in this case, they’re all true, so how can you reconcile it? You’ll see.

This book is only available from the author here.

The books I picked & why

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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

By David Eagleman,

Book cover of Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Why this book?

Awesomely creative think-piece. 40 very short fictional stories about what happens when you die. The framework is inspiring for anyone: coming up with 40 different answers to any one question. But they’re also just brilliant ideas and powerful little fables.


Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want

By Nicholas Epley,

Book cover of Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want

Why this book?

Many new brilliant insights, especially about over-estimating the differences between you and others, thereby separating into us-vs-them tribalism. If you know more books like this, please recommend them to me. I adore this subject.


The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

By Philip Zimbardo, John Boyd,

Book cover of The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

Why this book?

Profound idea that everyone has a primary time focus: either Future-focused, Present-focused, or Past-focused. Fascinating implications of each. Because I'm so future-focused, reading this book helped me understand people who are very present-focused. Also great advice on shifting your focus when needed. I read it 7 years ago, but still think about it almost every day.


The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

By Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga,

Book cover of The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

Why this book?

A profound little philosophy book from Japan, communicating the psychology of Alfred Adler - a rival of Freud. Told as a conversation between an angry student and a patient teacher. A little book so good that I rushed home from other activities to keep reading it, and finished in a day. A surprisingly fresh perspective on how to live. (The “disliked” part is not the point, so don’t let the title distract you.)


When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures

By Richard D. Lewis,

Book cover of When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures

Why this book?

Masterpiece of cultural observations. I wish there were more books like this. Insights into different countries' cultures. Some amazing, like the reason for American's lack of manners, or Japanese procedures. I practically underlined the entire book, I loved it so much.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in life satisfaction, empathy, and God?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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