Summer reading is one of life’s great pleasures. I remember the stack of books my parents had for me the year between 5th and 6th grade. Most of them classics. (Some not) I am sure I complained about it very loudly at the time. But looking back I don’t remember much of that summer, other than the stack of books in my room and the time stretching out forever as I read them.
My son Wyatt is now 11 and has just completed 6th grade. He reads all the time. Some classics. (Some not) But a few months ago his martial arts instructor Mr. Chat suggested that we read The Talent Code. So we both read it. It was one of those books that changed the way I viewed the world (again) and I loved being able to talk to Wyatt about it.
He doesn’t read a lot of non-fiction and since I have been on a hard core non-fiction kick lately, I decided that there were a few books that might just alter his worldview a little bit. And if not now, then maybe when he looks back from some summer far in the future, he will have a sense of what I thought was important for him to learn and remember the days when time stretched out forever and words never stopped.
I have included links to Amazon to purchase if you wish (FYI – These are affiliate links so I get a few cents if you buy from here) and I have included links to the book trailers for those who are visually inclined. All 3 authors have also spoken at Google so I have included links to their talks as well.
By Robert Greene
This is a book I read last year and it felt like I was reading something that was written just for me. I find that when an author is at the peak of their craft that each word seems be just the right word and the pacing and the content seem to be just the thing that I am supposed to be reading/learning right at that very moment. Sometimes it is because there is a lesson I need to learn and other times it is simply inherent in the text and the voice of the author. This one may be both.
The idea put forth here is that there is a common path to mastery of any subject and you can practice it. It may not be easy and it may not be what you think it is/will be, but the path is laid out here in very clear language. Robert has studied the lives of masters, ranging from boxing coach Freddie Roach to Benjamin Franklin.
There are so many reasons that I think this one is good for my son but the idea of dedicating yourself to excellence in a craft is/has/will be an important ideal to strive for. Here it is on Amazon.
THE RISE OF SUPERMAN
DECODING THE SCIENCE OF ULTIMATE HUMAN PERFORMANCE
By: Steven Kolter
I read this book earlier this year and loved, loved, loved it. For those of you who do not know, I grew up on a bike. I was an early adopter of flatland tricks and halfpipe building (even though I never got that good on a ramp). So when I learned about this book, I knew I would love it. He tackles the idea of the flow state through he lens of extreme sports.
The idea is that in the last 20 years there has been a huge shift in what is possible for humans to accomplish and we are getting better all the time at learning how to understand why.
The book is also able to break down the parts of the flow state, including the ones that no one really talks about that much – the crash afterwards and how it is as important to the process as the rest (and just as dangerous).
One of my favorites from this one is the story of Danny Way. Also worth a watch is the documentary of his jump over the Great Wall Of China. You can learn more about the film here or watch it on Netflix.
The biggest reason I think this is a solid read for my son it that it gives some insight in the science of what goes on in the body when it is pushed to its limits. And it will give him a glimpse of what is possible. (As if youtube hasn’t already… I’m looking at you Jessie La Flair). Here it is on Amazon.
THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY
By: Ryan Holiday
This is the book I am reading right now. I love Ryan’s blog and his previous work but this seems like the kind of book he is meant to write. You can tell how much he has studied the ideas and principles from history but he has a way of making them available to the moment we are living in.
This is the book I think he will carry with him longer than the others because this a book that I know I personally will be returning to often. The title nearly says it all but so often in life we do not look at obstacles as part of the path, we try everything in our power to ignore them – many times at our own peril.
This book is a great reminder that the way forward is not to ignore the problem, but to embrace it for what it is and use it to our advantage. And this is a lesson that a book can not teach but can give you comfort to know that you are not alone on the journey. Here is is on Amazon.
I hope that one of these books makes you curious. If you have a book that you think I would like (or that my son should read), leave a note in the comments and let me know.