Book recommendations: 33 books to read before you’re 30

Things to do before 30: read these 33 books

Your 20s are a time for figuring out who you are and what you want from life.

While the only way to learn is to survive the inevitable cycle of successes and failures, it is always useful to have some guidance along the way.

To help you out, we’ve selected some of our favorite books that likely never made your high-school or college reading lists.

It’s an eclectic selection that focuses on topics like understanding your identity, shaping your worldview, and laying the foundation for a fulfilling career.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/33-books-everyone-should-read-before-turning-30-a6746496.html?cmpid=facebook-post

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Is it ethical to keep pets?

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I class myself as an animal lover.  I would love to have a pet dog one day, but not until I have enough free time to take care of it properly.  I’m not a fan of leaving dogs cooped up at home all day.

In the mean time, I have a pet hamster and two budgies.  I have had many hamsters in the past and I think they are adorable pets.  I never felt much guilt over them, I feel they have had pretty good lives and have been happy.  They are living an all-inclusive-holiday rather than prison.  I’ll admit that maybe this isn’t accurate.  I don’t know if my hamster would choose to stay with me if she had the option of exploring the wide world.

My budgies, on the other hand, are the first birds I have kept.  And I’m sad to say I do feel guilty about having them cooped up in a cage most of the time.  This is definitely a prison rather than an all-inclusive-holiday.  In the wild, they would roam so far and wide.  I’m sure they would choose the wide world over me.

Then I found myself in a pickle… I can’t release them as they probably wouldn’t survive for long in the wild.  They don’t know what they can eat or where to nest or how to avoid cats… and they would probably die of the cold.  It wouldn’t be fair to set them free.  That’s like setting humans free on a paradise island and saying ‘go, be free!’ but the reality is there’s a lot of hassle when it comes to finding food and shelter.  (I know this from watching ‘Lost’)

So I have decided that I will not get birds again in the future, but I will try to give my budgies and hamster a fulfilling life.

Cats and dogs are a different kettle of fish, but this is an interesting point to ponder, further explained in this article by the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/01/should-we-stop-keeping-pets-why-more-and-more-ethicists-say-yes?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=237572&subid=10292850&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

 

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I already have the book ‘Some we love, some we hate, some we eat: Why it’s so hard to think about animals’ by Hal Herzog who explores how humans treat different animals in such different ways.  I am yet to read it (it’s on the pile) but I think it is an interesting question.  Why do we love cats and dogs but hate rats and eat chickens and pigs?  Why do we not treat them all the same?

I think it’s so easy to forget that humans are animals too, but we barely see ourselves as all of the other animals around us.  And we forget that we control the lives of animals in ways that we would never treat our fellow human beings.

For now, I still think pets are awesome, as long as it’s a mutually beneficial relationship on some level and both parties are (relatively) happy.

 

Sociopath-Psychopath Awareness

Did you know that an estimated 4% of the population have no conscience?  That means 1 in 25 people have no feelings of guilt or remorse, that thing that often keeps your behaviour in check.  They also feel no love or empathy for others.

Apparently sociopaths (for me ‘sociopath’ and ‘psychopath’ are interchangeable terms) are masters of understanding and mimicking human emotions.  So if a sociopath plays their cards right, you’ll never know that something is amiss.

Many psychopaths have a superficial charm and are good with words, things that make them seem very attractive.  They also don’t feel fear, making them appear to be very calm even under very stressful situations.  Every once in a while, you might notice a little discrepancy in their expression of emotions.  Something just doesn’t quite feel right.  They also can be deceitful, impulsive, parasitic and pathological liars.

Many people associate ‘psychopaths’ with those people who kill their mothers or are mass murderers.  But killing isn’t every psychopath’s cup of tea (and even if it is, they wouldn’t feel guilty about doing it).  Just like everyone else, psychopaths are individuals who have different wants and needs in life.  Many will just want to live a normal life and work.  Quite likely you already know some psychopaths but have no idea of what they really are.  So what’s the problem if some people have fewer emotions than others if they’re not likely to try and kill you anytime soon?

There are many other potential issues bar imminent death, including financial issues, emotional issues and being taken advantage of.  The problem is that many sociopaths will have no problem with manipulating others for their own benefit.  Most people would feel guilty for using or manipulating someone, sociopaths will not.  Manipulation can be subtle, you probably won’t even realise when it’s happening.

And it will especially become a problem in your life if you inadvertently end up in a relationship with someone who suffers no remorse or guilt.  Like that poor frog being boiled in a pan, you won’t know what’s happened to you until it’s far too late.  This kind of relationship is a form of emotional abuse and it will follow a pattern: love bombing, idealisation, devaluation and discarding.  They’ll make you fall in love with all that charm and all the right words, love will be blind so nothing else in the world will matter, and then you’ll end up in a really weird alternate universe where the person you love obviously really loves you, except for all the lying and cheating… and you’ll find yourself wondering why you don’t just leave… but you can’t, because you’re convinced this is real love.  In the mean time, your partner is probably eyeing up his next victim to take advantage of.

Anyway, my point was, that everyone should educate themselves on psychopaths.  Unfortunately, I have been that frog in the boiling pan, and I wish so much that I had known about psychopaths before I fell in love with one.  It didn’t even occur to me that there are people who fake their emotions and don’t feel guilt or remorse.  As a normal human, you just assume that everyone has the same range of emotions as you do.  That just isn’t the case.

Whether this behaviour is ringing bells for you or not, whether you think you might know a psychopath or not, my advice is the same.  Find out more, and be prepared for the day a psychopath crosses your path.  Ideally, you should just avoid these people and keep them out of your life.  But if it’s a family member, your colleague or even your boss, avoidance might not be an option.  So the next best thing is to know the score and try to keep an upper hand through awareness.

There’s absolutely loads of information on the internet.  I also found the following books very helpful (with links):

‘The Sociopath Next Door’ by Martha Stout (very good overview)

‘202 Ways to Spot a Psychopath in Personal Relationships’ by Adelyn Birch (specific to relationships)

‘Psychopath Free’ by Jackson MacKenzie (aimed for those recovering from toxic relationships, but also very informative)

It’s also important to be aware of your personal boundaries, so you realise when someone is actually pushing your boundaries and potentially being manipulative.  I found this book particularly helpful for that:

‘Boundaries After a Pathological Relationship’ by Adelyn Birch (also beneficial to avoid such relationships)

Wishing you a psychopath-free day!

‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss – book review

Having recently written about Tim Ferriss’ TED talk about Fear Setting, I thought it might be a good time to write about his awesome book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’.  This book is about setting up systems of passive income and ways to save time by outsourcing, and how ultimately you could be working a mere 4 hours per week with all the income you need.

4-hour-workweek-tim-ferriss-book.pngI love the idea of passive income and becoming financially free (where your passive income exceeds your expenses so you don’t have to work at all).  Although the norm is to be employed and work 9-5, it’s refreshing to know there is an alternative way to living life.  If you can achieve it.

Ferriss put in a lot of hard work in setting up his business, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  Having spent many hours on maintaining his business, he found ways of ‘stepping out’ and outsourcing so that things could run well without him.  This includes spending money to save your own time and effort, for example by using Virtual Assistants or outsourcing your business’ customer services needs to a call centre.

The book discusses potential business ideas, products, finances and provides many recommendations on how to get started and companies that can assist.

As well as offering lots of time-management solutions, this book is really inspiring for those who would contemplate making the leap to have a life with more free time to travel or do whatever they love.  Or maybe even keep their full-time job and start a side-hustle for some extra income.

I have a friend who started a side-hustle in selling electronic equipment (that he loves) worldwide, mainly for fun and to pursue his own hobby.  It turned out to be so successful that he left his job in the city, moved to Turkey with his wife and kids and now lives in a beautiful home in the sun and runs his business from home.  I don’t know if he actually read this book, but this is the kind of book that would propel this kind of business to be streamlined and make as much money as quickly and with as little effort as possible.

Ferriss’ strengths are in making complicated processes simple, finding the easiest and most efficient ways to achieve the desired results.  The prospect of starting your own business can certainly be daunting, but a bit of guidance and some successful examples can be all the inspiration you need.

Fortunately, this book probably won’t leave you quitting your job the next day, but it will leave you full of ideas of all the things you could do and achieve if you were willing to step out of the box.

You can find out more about the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss by clicking here.

 

Define your fears instead of your goals – Tim Ferriss TED Talk

I didn’t realise that Tim Ferriss, writer of the ‘4-Hour Workweek’, had contemplated suicide when he was 19 years old, or that he suffered from bouts of depression.  I have a lot of respect for Tim and his book that, in a way, focuses on making life more simple and encouraging people to consider a different type of working lifestyle.  One that doesn’t involve spending most of your week at the office.

tim-ferriss-ted-talkIn this Ted Talk, Tim speaks about a written exercise called ‘Fear Setting’ and analysing the worst case scenarios for things you are worried about doing.  By looking at the potential things that could go wrong, you can consider what can be done to prevent or repair these problems.

By writing this out, you can get a more realistic overview of how obvious pitfalls can be avoided or that the worst case scenario may not be as bad as you think.  The exercise also includes looking at the benefits of partial success and the cost of taking no action at all further down the line.  This process helped him to take a life-changing trip and later write the 4 Hour Work Week book.

There are three parts to the exercise, which should be written out and are described in detail in the video:

1. What if I…?

  • Define what you fear and what could go wrong
    e.g. go on holiday and miss a tax letter
  • Prevent – how can you prevent or decrease the likelihood of this?
    e.g. change the address at the tax office, so letters go directly to your accountant
  • Repair – if the worst case scenario happened, how could you undo the damage?
    e.g. speak to a friend who is a lawyer about how to resolve the situation

2. What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?

3. The cost of inaction – emotionally, physically, financially, etc.

  • After 6 months
  • After 12 months
  • After 3 years

In this way, you are having to think about not only the negative outcomes and how to avoid them, but also the potential short-term and long-term benefits.  Tim also mentions stoic philosophy, and how sometimes difficult decisions and conversations need to take place to progress in life.

The Ted Talk video can be seen here:
https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_ferriss_why_you_should_define_your_fears_instead_of_your_goals#t-844802

If you want to find out more about the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ book, you can click on this link.

‘Be Your Own Life Coach’ by Fiona Harrold

I read this book when I was around 20 years old and it had a major positive impact.  It made me think about my own ‘self talk’ for the first time, and I realised how negative and harsh I was with myself.  I still have the book now, over ten years later.

Life-coach-book.pngIt’s easy to read, down-to-earth and full of positivity.  The biggest thing I took away from this book was to treat myself as a good friend.  Instead of beating yourself up over something or always focussing on the negative, be kind to yourself.  Like yourself as a person.

You know when a good friend goes through something ‘bad’ like a break up?  You take the time to make them feel better and reassure them that they are wonderful and everything will be ok.  You don’t beat them up about it or tell them that they deserved it and they were an awful partner.  You’re nice and supportive to your good friends, so be nice and supportive to yourself too.

This is the first ‘self improvement’ book that I remember reading and having an impact on me.  It discusses self-confidence, self-reliance, work and what you want from life.  I also recommended it to a friend who loved it just as much as I did and says that she refers back to it every once in a while.

Sadly, there is no manual to life, but it’s good to know that there are resources available to us for improving our lives and the way we see ourselves.

You can find out more about ‘Be Your Own Life Coach’ by Fiona Harrold by clicking here.

 

‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle – book review

This book was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago, and it had a really big impact on me.  It pretty much changed my life.  I had been working hard at a big international company in London, and following a number of changes in the office, I had become quite unhappy at work.

Eckhart-Tolle-A-New-EarthThis book helped me to remember the importance of life and to enjoy it NOW.  Not just waiting to retire and have lots of time to be happy ‘one day’, but to actually enjoy life right now.

It was my first introduction to ‘spirituality’.  It took me a while to read this book and digest all of its information.  It reminds us that as humans, we all have things in common and that we are naturally drawn towards developing our own status.  It taught me a different way of looking at life.

A few months after reading this book, I decided to leave my job and teach English in Costa Rica for a number of months.  It was a big step and one that I probably wouldn’t have made without reading ‘A New Earth’.

I rarely read the same book twice, but I decided to read this again recently.  It was much easier to read the second time and I still learned a lot from it.  I am now passing on the recommendation.

You can find out more about ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle by clicking here.