Good Morning Planet,
In our last blog, we discussed in detail the benefits of reading. Daily reading not only adds to your knowledge but also helps you write and articulate your thoughts in a better manner. And if you can read, write and speak – You are unstoppable!
A lot of you asked about some book recommendations. Today we present to you a refined reading list consisting of 52 books you must read in 2020. This list contains a mix of all sorts of books – fiction, non-fiction, poetry & business – to provide you an ultimate balanced reading experience. Ideally, you can read it in 2021 or 2022, or on your death bed, or maybe never. However, if you complete these in 2020, you will be way ahead of others who are in the same phase of life as you are.
Here we go,
- Peterson, Jordan B: 12 Rules for Life – Dr. Peterson is one of the most articulate people in today’s times. In his book, he has laid down 12 Rules, which are incredibly plain, yet profound and by sticking to these basics and guidelines, you can end your existing misery and carve a better future for yourself. Pssst, hey kid, are you looking for some meaning?
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor: Crime and Punishment – Terming Dostoevsky, a writer/author, would be belittling his genius. He didn’t write; he didn’t create characters, conflicts, and events; he bled on paper, and he bled hard, and he bled long, and all that blood and sweat and stench created a scary yet entertaining carnival. Come, a dark, joyous ride awaits!
- Kesey, Ken: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – There’s a thin line that separates the sane from the insane. However, most of the time, the line is blurred, and the sane appear crazy and insane becomes the new normal. In his masterpiece, Ken Kesey deals with insanity in a brand new manner. As they say, no one’s crazier than the average asshole out walkin’ around on the streets, and that’s it!
- Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird – If you are an aspiring writer, let this be your lesson – never listen to your editors! Her editors warned Lee that the book is too simplistic in approach and might not sell. Glad she ignored them. To kill a mockingbird has a compelling narrative that will freeze time for you, literally. However, the book will only make sense – if you read it from lee’s point of view.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich: Beyond Good and Evil – If you are wondering why should you read such a difficult book, I will not counter your objection. Nietzsche is not for everyone! However, if you like to dwell on human inadequacy and wish to understand humankind better, you got to read Nietzche. Beyond that, I hope you know, Nietzche died, and God is still alive. Score – God 1 – Nietzche 0
- Orwell, George: 1984 – Like every other legendary writer Orwell too, was way ahead of his time. In 1984, he talks about a dystopian authoritarian regime that parallels present-day India, the USA, Russia & China. Right now, the big brother is watching, and Orwell, with a huge grin, is saying, “Told Ya!”
- Orwell, George: Animal Farm – Animal Farm is a fairy story. A group of farm animals overthrow their human farmer to create a utopian society based on freedom and equality, only to find themselves worse than the past, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon. Sounds familiar? Well, it’s a fairy tale; it has to be familiar!
- Guevera, Ernesto Che: The Motorcycle Diaries – Guvera and his friend Alberto Granado along with their ride La Poderosa, went on an exciting journey through parts of South America, which eventually radicalized him because of the poverty, hunger, and diseases he witnessed. Once upon a time, there was a compassionate man named Ernesto Guevera. The world fucked him up like the world always does, and CHE happened!
- Bach, Richard: Jonathan Livingston Seagull – The past few years have witnessed a surge in self-help books. Digital distractions are leading to poor quality of life, which in turn negatively impacts your mental and physical health, and then you try and find a book to better your life. Don’t try anymore. This is that book! A real self-help book!
- Steinbeck, John: Of Men and Mice – Apart from being a masterpiece, the reason you should definitely read Of Men and Mice is that it has been a frequent target of censors for vulgarity. THEY claim the book contains offensive and racist language. If there is something THEY don’t want you to read, you know what you must do. READ IT TWICE & SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS TOO! BTW it also appears on the American Library Association’s list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century.
- Thompson, Hunter S: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – I don’t even need to make a case for this book. You must have already seen the movie. In case you are still pious and not been corrupted by the movie, then please don’t watch the movie. Read the damn book! It has every pop culture reference you ever need to know – The American Dream, 1960s countercultural movement, Psychedelics, blended with hard-hitting reality.
- Tolstoy, Leo: Resurrection – We, the all-knowing beings, have formulated our own set of laws and regulations. We continuously preach morality. Whether it be religion or bureaucracy: the base is always the superior morality of extraordinary men. One of these days, life mocks us by revealing us, how truly immoral all of us are!
- Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina – When Dostoevsky said, “The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.” He accidentally ended up writing a one-line bio for Tolstoy. Tolstoy paid his debt to the world by experiencing a moral crisis, followed by a profound spiritual awakening and writing timeless classics. Anna Karenina is not a story or a book; it is documentation of the beginning of a liberal era. Please read it to know why you should keep IT inside your pants!
- Frankl, Viktor: Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor is a neurologist, psychiatrist, and a holocaust survivor. He witnessed misery. He decoded misery, and he transformed misery into meaning. Why should you read Man’s Search for Meaning? – To thank me for recommending it!
- Freud, Sigmund: The Interpretation of Dreams – Coked up Freud single-handedly managed to lay the foundation of – I Think We Should Talk. He’s the father of Psychoanalysis, Talking Cure, and You Wanna Fuck Your Mother. Read The Interpretation of Dreams so that you can say that, “Yes, I have read Freud!” In case you read one book each year, well, then this is that book!
- Zusak, Markus: The Book Thief – The Nazis didn’t want you to read. The communists didn’t want you to read. The capitalists didn’t want you to read. There’s a little man inside you who only wants to eat, fuck, sleep, and destroy something beautiful, not necessarily in that order. The little man doesn’t want you to read. Television doesn’t want you to read. The Internet doesn’t want you to read. If somehow you overcome all these obstacles and manage to read, your life would change for better. Read the Book Thief! The narration is by a caring entity called Death. You, too, will meet him soon enough.
- Manson, Mark: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – I remember Manson from his early days of blogging. He always had a knack for writing. People whom we see growing and getting better while we follow their journey, hold a special place in our hearts. I loved Mark’s writing style and still do. In his book, he makes us understand that there is a limited amount of fucks in our lives, and we need to choose what we should give a f*ck about carefully.
- Duhigg, Charles: The Power of Habit – Duhigg is an investigative journalist. Now, you can imagine why the book doesn’t have a single dull moment. Reading “The Power of Habit” is an exciting unparalleled experience when it comes to similar books in the non-fiction genre. James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Nir Eyal’s Hooked don’t even come close to the exciting ride Duhigg takes us on. If you are looking to rearrange your days in a winning fashion, read this and see your life change for better.
- Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness – Heart of Darkness is considered as one of the best English novels of the twentieth century. Conrad’s central theme in the book is the similarities between so-called civilized people and savages. There isn’t a student of English literature throughout the globe who hasn’t studied Heart of Darkness. The book also received a lot of backlash in postcolonial studies. Experts claimed that the book dehumanized Africans. I agree to the same, but only partially. You will need to read the book and decide for yourself.
- Palahniuk, Chuck: Fight Club – Well, you know the first rule, don’t you? Sorry, I can’t talk about Fight Club!
- Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald never came to know what a masterpiece he had created. The Great Gatsby, in the first year, only sold 20,00 copies. It was only after Fitzgerald’s death when the novel caught momentum and is still considered “The Great American Novel”. A classic tale of love & loss, class struggle, idealism, and the truth behind the American dream. Get ready to be wonderstruck!
- Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver’s Travels – Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels in an attempt to vex the world rather than divert it. Gulliver’s Travels is a satirical prose, satirizing both human nature and the traveler’s tale. The book has so many layers to it that it can be read and enjoyed by both kids and weary adults. I hope you enjoy the book like many others because, as you know, the difference in opinions has cost many millions of lives already.
- Harari, Yuval Noah: Sapiens – Sapiens is one of a kind book. Harari presents a detailed account of the evolution of humankind in the Stone Age, accounting everything we maggots have been up to till today. Harari believes that the only reason we have conquered the planet is that we all tell familiar stories and believe in them, leading to our ability to cooperate in huge numbers that no other species does. Interestingly, in the end, everything is just a story. (Religion, Banking, Concept of a Nation, Space, Deep Sea…..everything we believe in is just another good story)
- Sharma, Robin: The 5 AM Club – Robin Sharma is a celebrated author and a leadership expert. In his book, The 5 AM Club, Robin has scientifically proven how embracing a defined morning routine can magically transform your life and put you on a path of success. Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life!
- Ferriss, Tim: Tools of Titans – Tim Ferris is an entrepreneur, author, and podcaster. In his book Tools of Titans, Tim has shared a great deal about successful personalities and how do they achieve their goals daily. Tim’s podcasts and other books share similar hacks that can help you reach your personal best. Tim is hardcore in his approach and sees things to the end. A lot many critics have accused him of selling false mumbo-jumbo tips, which cannot help low-income people. Read to know who’s telling the truth!
- Bukowski, Charles: Love Is a Dog from Hell – First published in 1977, Love Is a Dog from Hell is a collection of Bukowski’s poetry from the mid-seventies. A classic in the Bukowski canon, this poetry collection is a raw, lyrical, exploration of the exigencies, heartbreaks, and limits of love. Bukowski once said – “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can”. Relish yourself with words that taste like dates.
- Bukowski, Charles: Women – Bukowski spent more than half of his life slaving in the post office. Each night he would get drunk and write ten pages before passing out—a writer of unmatched caliber. You don’t f*ck with the Buk, bitches!
- Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly: Flow – In his groundbreaking work, Mihaly talks about a rare state of FLOW in which the subject is so absorbed in doing what they love, that distractions such as time, food, ego-self, etc., do not even exist in the subject’s mind. If you are creative and you haven’t read Flow, then either you are stupid or not at all creative. Go read, Flow!
- Eyal, Nir: Hooked – Ever wondered, why do some products capture our attention while others flop? Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) with the Hook Model – a four-step process that, when embedded into products, subtly encourages customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products bring people back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging. If you are an entrepreneur, you can outsmart your competition just by reading Hooked.
- Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens’ best-known work of historical fiction, A Tale of Two Cities is regularly cited as the best-selling novel of all time. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’ This was the opening sentence. I don’t have anything else to add.
- Orczy, Emma: The Scarlet Pimpernel – We love superheroes. Marvel made a shitload of money making them. Most of these superheroes have a meek alter-ego, which they use to disguise their genius. Well, before Zorro, Phantom, Superman, Spiderman & Batman, there was The Scarlet Pimpernel. Set in the backdrop of the French Revolution, a must-read thriller for the weekends.
- Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre – Charlotte created one of the most enigmatic female protagonists in English Literature. Jane Eyre is an intimate first-party narration which discusses class, sexuality, religion, and feminism (the real kind of feminism, not a morphed toxic radical version, you experience nowadays).
- Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice – Pride and Prejudice is one of the most loved books among readers. It is painful with the right amount of humor to dull down the pinch. I didn’t enjoy it. But I will recommend you to read it as it is one of a kind. There are a few timeless books. Pride and Prejudice is one of them.
- Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein – Percy B. Shelley, Mary, and Lord Byron sat one night attempting to write the best horror story. Mary came up with this. Mary was 20 years old when Frankenstein was published. Also, just a reminder, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster. Why should you read Frankenstein? It is more horrifying than Bram Stoker’s Dracula and contains an unparalleled depth. Also, Frankenstein was the first sci-fi fiction ever written.
- Darwin, Charles: On the Origin of Species – Darwin’s scientific literature “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” laid the foundation of evolutionary biology. The book broke all ancient beliefs and challenged religious doctrines. Imagine a guy standing up to the Head of Church and telling him – no, we are not unique, our great grandparents were chimpanzees. Well, Darwin was that guy, and you should read this book (despite being a tough read) to know how nature transformed us into who we are today.
- Wallace, David Foster: Infinite Jest – Wallace killed himself at the age of 46 after struggling with depression for many years. Before his death, he penned down masterpieces like Infinite Jest and The Pale King. Infinite Jest is regarded as a literary bestseller. The novel battles issues like addiction, withdrawal, recovery, death, family relationships, mental health, suicide, sadness, entertainment, film theory, media theory, to name a few. It is a profoundly sad book laced with enough wisdom for a lifetime.
- Wallace, David Foster: The Pale King – Wallace killed himself before completing The Pale King. It was published posthumously and was one of the finalists for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Pale King is a frustrating read filled with false narratives and dead ends. Yet, it is considered a monumental work of profound ingenuity.
- Hemingway, Ernest: The Old Man and the Sea – The Old Man and the Sea received Pulitzer and Nobel Prize in Literature. Like many other geniuses, Hemingway too shot himself. A friend once asked me, “Why should I read books?” My reply was – “A lot many writers died crafting exemplary literature, least you can do in your cozy life is read!” I am not going to make a case for you to read Hemingway. Maybe, you don’t deserve to read such groundbreaking text. Read it, don’t read it….. who cares. Writers killed themselves, a lot of them killed themselves….. who cares!
- Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray – The Picture of Dorian Gray was too indecent for its time. It did offend plenty. It created an outcry in the morally bankrupt society and baffled victorian book critics. The homoerotic theme challenged their latent homosexuality, which in turn made them hate themselves and the book. Between then and now, not much has changed. Read it just for the fact that it might have been the most hated book of its time.
- Camus, Albert: The Outsider – The Outsider is for both kinds of men, the genius and the stupids like you. Camus summarized his book in one sentence, “In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.” This world wants you to play games, if you don’t, they will throw you away, as they did to Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and many. The Outsider has many layers to its narrative. If you even understand one, consider you lived a fulfilling life.
- Camus, Albert: The Plague – If you only wish to read one Camus book, then go for The Plague. If you love Kafka, you will enjoy The Plague more. It mirrors the kind of narrative Kafka is celebrated for. Also, if you are huddled inside your home in this CoronaVirus pandemic, The Plague will appear relatable.
- Kafka, Franz: Metamorphosis – Kafka is considered as one of the most profound contributors to 20th-century literature. I am sure you have enjoyed TV shows like The Wire, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Californication, and Bojack Horseman; none of these would have been conceptualized had Kafka not explored themes like alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity in depth. Read everything Kafka ever wrote.
- Márquez, Gabriel García: One Hundred Years of Solitude – Marquez makes you step in a dream-like reality and traps you there. You cannot escape. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a multi-generation tale of humankind. Once you start reading it, you are trapped inside the book. You will not be able to differentiate between the book and the reality around you. You may never wake up. It’s worth being trapped. Go, get busy!
- Heller, Joseph: Catch-22 – For all you war hooters, Catch-22 will give a perfect glimpse of how wars are really fought. Why should you read this satirical war novel? Here are few lines from the book itself, “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to, but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p. 56, ch. 5)” Once again, I rest my case.
- Salinger, J. D: The Catcher in the Rye – The Catcher in the Rye is considered as one of the best English language novels of the 20th century. We live in a superficial society where no one wants to listen. Salinger articulated this fact in 234 painful pages. If you never experienced alienation, please read it. If you ever experienced alienation, please read it.
- Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Hey buddy, I am not going to tell you why you should read Shakespeare. I guess you shouldn’t be reading this blog if you want reasons to read Sir William Shakespeare.
- Chekhov, Anton: The Duel – The Duel is more of a short story than a novella. Chekhov is among the most celebrated writers of short fiction in history. He’s the second most famous writer on this planet, second to Shakespeare. You can read anything he ever wrote. I loved The Duel.
- Dumas, Alexandre: The Count of Monte Cristo – There are a few stories that are larger than life. The Count of Monte Cristo is one of them. It is regarded as one of the greatest literary classics—a perfect formula story to ignite every emotion within you.
- Gandhi, Mahatma: The Story of My Experiments with Truth – There are few great men, and it is our duty to read about them. Gandhi, without even letting a single shot fired, freed India from the clutches of Imperialist Britain and finally was shot down by a coward who is being regarded as a revolutionary by the current existing Indian government. What an Irony! Please read this book, or you can read about Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther king.
- Allah: Quran – Read the Quran so that you understand that no book asks people to kill in the name of religion. “The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr.”
- Bhagwan: Geeta – Read Geeta to unleash your real genius. “You are what you believe in. You become that which you believe you can become.”
- God: Bible – Read Bible, it tells you the perfect way of life. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Hope you enjoyed this reading list. Please leave your feedback so that I can improve.
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