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24 Books You've Never Heard Of - But Will Change Your Life

For the last five years, I’ve tried to do just that on my popular monthly reading list email. I’ve recommended hundreds of amazing, life-changing books to tens of thousands of people: http://www.ryanholiday.net/reading-newsletter/

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{ RYAN HOLIDAY }
24
BOOKSyou’ve never heard
of — but will
CHANGE
YOUR LIFE
{ RYAN HOLIDAY }
When you read
the same books as
everyone else, you don’t
learn anything new.
It’s skating to where
the puck was.
 by kraybon
Reading is
about insight into
the human experience,
about understanding.
Don’t follow in
well-trod footsteps.
Carve a new path.
by MarioMancuso
Subscribe to my Reading List
For the last five years,
I’ve tried to do just that
on my popular monthly
reading list email.
I’VE RECOMMENDED
HUNDREDS OF AMAZING,
LIFE-CHANGING BOOKS
TO TENS OF THOUSANDS
OF PEOPLE.
{ RYAN HOLIDAY }
Cyropaedia The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave Meditations The Man Without
a Country 12 Years A Slave Civil War Stories Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi Hunger
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son My Life and Battles Company K Babbitt
Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure Ask the Dust Why Don’t We Learn from History? Strategy
The Crack Up On the Rock: Twenty Five Years in Alcatraz Death Be Not Proud The Harder They
Fall Losing the War The Measure of My Days The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival Cyropaedia The Moral Sayings of Publius
Syrus: A Roman Slave Meditations The Man Without a Country 12 Years A Slave Civil War
Stories Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi Hunger Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to
His Son My Life and Battles Company K Babbitt Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure Ask
the Dust Why Don’t We Learn from History? Strategy The Crack Up On the Rock: Twenty Five
Years in Alcatraz Death Be Not Proud The Harder They Fall Losing the War The Measure of
My Days The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance
and Survival Cyropaedia The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave Meditations The
Man Without a Country 12 Years A Slave Civil War Stories Forty Years a Gambler on the
Mississippi Hunger Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son My Life and Battles
Company K Babbitt Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure Ask the Dust Why Don’t We Learn
Let’s explore some of
the unexpected, under-rated, and often
UNDISCOVERED FAVORITES
24 BOOKS
Cyropaedia* 
by XENOPHON1
enophon, like Plato, was a student of Socrates.
There are so many great lessons in here and
I wish more people would read it. Machiavelli
learned them, as this book inspired The Prince.
Buy the book on Amazon
X
{ RYAN HOLIDAY }
*(a more accessible translation can be
found in Xenophon’s Cyrus The Great:
The Arts of Leadership and War)

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24 Books You've Never Heard Of - But Will Change Your Life

  • 1. { RYAN HOLIDAY } 24 BOOKSyou’ve never heard of — but will CHANGE YOUR LIFE
  • 2. { RYAN HOLIDAY } When you read the same books as everyone else, you don’t learn anything new. It’s skating to where the puck was.  by kraybon
  • 3. Reading is about insight into the human experience, about understanding. Don’t follow in well-trod footsteps. Carve a new path. by MarioMancuso
  • 4. Subscribe to my Reading List For the last five years, I’ve tried to do just that on my popular monthly reading list email. I’VE RECOMMENDED HUNDREDS OF AMAZING, LIFE-CHANGING BOOKS TO TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. { RYAN HOLIDAY }
  • 5. Cyropaedia The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave Meditations The Man Without a Country 12 Years A Slave Civil War Stories Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi Hunger Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son My Life and Battles Company K Babbitt Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure Ask the Dust Why Don’t We Learn from History? Strategy The Crack Up On the Rock: Twenty Five Years in Alcatraz Death Be Not Proud The Harder They Fall Losing the War The Measure of My Days The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival Cyropaedia The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave Meditations The Man Without a Country 12 Years A Slave Civil War Stories Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi Hunger Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son My Life and Battles Company K Babbitt Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure Ask the Dust Why Don’t We Learn from History? Strategy The Crack Up On the Rock: Twenty Five Years in Alcatraz Death Be Not Proud The Harder They Fall Losing the War The Measure of My Days The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival Cyropaedia The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave Meditations The Man Without a Country 12 Years A Slave Civil War Stories Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi Hunger Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son My Life and Battles Company K Babbitt Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure Ask the Dust Why Don’t We Learn Let’s explore some of the unexpected, under-rated, and often UNDISCOVERED FAVORITES 24 BOOKS
  • 6. Cyropaedia*  by XENOPHON1 enophon, like Plato, was a student of Socrates. There are so many great lessons in here and I wish more people would read it. Machiavelli learned them, as this book inspired The Prince. Buy the book on Amazon X { RYAN HOLIDAY } *(a more accessible translation can be found in Xenophon’s Cyrus The Great: The Arts of Leadership and War)
  • 7. The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave  by PUBLIUS SYRUS 2 { RYAN HOLIDAY } he best philosophy comes from people who were not “philosophers.” Syrus was a slave and his moral maxims are far better than perhaps the most famous book in this category, those of Duc de la Rochefoucauld. Buy the book on Amazon T
  • 8. Meditations  by MARCUS AURELIUS (Gregory Hays translation, do not read the others, they suck) 3 { RYAN HOLIDAY } t some point around 170 AD, the single most powerful man in the world sat down and wrote a private book of lessons and admonishments to himself for becoming a better, kinder and humbler person. And this text survives and you have access to it today. Buy the book on Amazon A
  • 9. The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by GIORGIO VASARI 4 { RYAN HOLIDAY } asically a friend and peer of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael Titian and all the other great minds of the Renaissance sat down in 1550 and wrote biographical sketches of the people he knew or had influenced him. There are so many great lessons about craft and psychology within this book. The best part? It was written by someone who actually knew what he was talking about, not some art snob or critic, but an actual artist and architect of equal stature to the people he was documenting. Buy the book on Amazon B
  • 10. The Man Without A Country by EDWARD E. HALE5 { RYAN HOLIDAY } atriotism is not a concept that gets a lot of love today. But this essay/book makes you think a little. Released in 1863 during the height of the Civil War, the plot’s simple: an innocent man caught up in Aaron Burr’s treasonous conspiracy stands trial for his actions. For those with some understanding of historical, you’ll enjoy the meta-fiction of it, for those that haven’t it is still a very good look into early America. Buy the book on Amazon P
  • 11. Twelve Years a Slave by SOLOMON NORTHUP6 { RYAN HOLIDAY } f there is one book you read about slavery in America, read this one. It’s the real story of a born freedman in the North who, as a traveling musician, was brought out of his home state on false pretenses in order to be captured, kidnapped, and transported South to be sold as a slave. This book is just as good as Frederick Douglass’ memoir and I think illustrates the horrors of slavery in a much more undeniable way. Buy the book on Amazon I
  • 12. Civil War Stories by AMBROSE BIERCE7 { RYAN HOLIDAY } ark Twain, for all his bitterness and sarcasm, was just more fun for average people to read than Ambrose Bierce. But Bierce is the one who truly captured the Civil War–a terrible and awful conflict in which death and destruction and stupidity were far more prevalent than strategy or heroism. Too many books about the Civil War are inaccessible, with their flanking movements and war vocabulary. This book is all people. Must read. Buy the book on Amazon M
  • 13. Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi by GEORGE DEVOL 8 { RYAN HOLIDAY } he memoir of a professional gambler, fighter and criminal who rode the riverboats of the Mississippi and Red Rivers. It’s a true and vibrant snapshot of a period of American life that you can’t get anywhere else. Gun fights, brawls, cons–it’s all here. Fascinating, peculiar and very easy to read. Buy the book on Amazon T
  • 14. Hunger  by KNUT HAMSUN9 { RYAN HOLIDAY } dark and moving first-person narrative, about the conflicting drives for self-preservation and self-immolation inside all of us. Hunger is about a writer who is starving himself. He cannot write because he is starving and cannot eat because writing is how he makes his living. It’s a vicious cycle and the book is a first-person descent into it. Buy the book on Amazon A
  • 15. Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by GEORGE HORACE LORIMER { RYAN HOLIDAY } his book is the preserved correspondence between Old Gorgon Graham, a self-made millionaire in Chicago, and his son who is coming of age and entering the family business. The letters date back to the 1890s but feel like they could have been written in any era. Honest. Genuine. Packed with good advice. Buy the book on Amazon T 10
  • 16. My Life and Battles  by JACK JOHNSON { RYAN HOLIDAY } his is the lost and translated book that came out of a series of pieces Johnson–perhaps the greatest boxer who ever lived–wrote for a French newspaper in 1911. It’s not very long but it is full of really interesting strategies and anecdotes. As Jack London put it after Johnson’s most famous fight: “No one understands him, this man who smiles. Well, the story of the fight is the story of a smile. If ever a man won by nothing more fatiguing than a smile, Johnson won today.” Buy the book on Amazon T 11
  • 17. Company K  by WILLIAM MARCH { RYAN HOLIDAY } ar and away the best book ever written about WWI. But that’s the problem–WWI was awful, perhaps the most awful thing of the 20th century. And this book is forgotten precisely because it portrays the war and its pointlessness too realistically. We want to know, but we don’t really want to know. Buy the book on Amazon F 12
  • 18. Babbitt  by SINCLAIR LEWIS { RYAN HOLIDAY } don’t think there was anyone in the 1920s who would have believed that this book would be completely forgotten. Yet, here we are 80–90 years later: you’ve probably never heard of the term or the book. Perhaps it’s because the biting satire of American suburban middle class life cuts deeper now than it did then. It doesn’t matter if the book is old, it’s still very funny and at its core, a critique of conformity and what Thoreau called the “life of quiet desperation.” Buy the book on Amazon I 13
  • 19. Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure  by WILLIAM SEABROOK { RYAN HOLIDAY } n 1934, William Seabrook was one of the most famous journalists in the world. He was also an alcoholic. But there was no treatment for his disease. So he checked himself into an insane asylum. There, from the perspective of a travel writer, he described his own journey through this strange and foreign place. Today, you can’t read a page in the book without seeing him bump, unknowingly, into the basic principles of 12-step groups and then thwarted by well meaning doctors (like the one who decides he’s cured and can start drinking again). It breaks your heart to know that just a few years or decades later, his options (and outcome) would have been so very different (he eventually died of an opium overdose). Buy the book on Amazon I 14
  • 20. Ask the Dust by JOHN FANTE15 { RYAN HOLIDAY } his is the west coast’s Great Gatsby. Fante has benefited from some recognition—mostly thanks to Bukowski championing him in his later years—but because the book is about Los Angeles and not New York City, it is mostly forgotten. Bandini, the subject of the series, is a wonderful example of someone whose actual life is ruined by the fantasies in his head–every second he spends stuck up there is one he wastes and spoils in real life. He’s too caught up and delusional to see that his problems are his fault, that he’s vicious because he can’t live up to the impossible expec- tations they create, and that he could have everything he wants if he calmed down and lived in reality for a second. Buy the book on Amazon T
  • 21. Strategy and Why Don’t We Learn from History?  by B.H. LIDDELL HART { RYAN HOLIDAY } hese are two very short books but will help you understand the topics more than thousands of pages on the same topic by countless other writers. In my view, Hart is unquestionably the best writer on military strategy and history. His theories on the indirect approach is life changing, whether you’re struggling with a business or just office politics. I can’t say much more than read these books. It’s a must. Buy Strategy and Why Don’t We Learn from History? on Amazon T 16
  • 22. The Crack Up  by F. SCOTT FITZGERALD { RYAN HOLIDAY } f you like Asylum, read The Crack Up, a book put together by Fitzgerald’s friend Edmund Wilson after his death. It is such an honest and self-aware compilation of someone hell-bent on their own destruction. At the same time, Fitzgerald’s notes and story ideas within the book make it undeniably clear what a genius he truly was. It’s a sad and moving but necessary read. Buy the book on Amazon I 17
  • 23. On the Rock: Twenty Five Years in Alcatraz  by ALVIN KARPIS { RYAN HOLIDAY } ohn Dillinger was played by Johnny Depp. Most people know who he was—mostly because he died in a hail of bullets. But they forget that the other Public Enemy #1 at the time was Alvin Karpis and he didn’t die. In fact, he lived up until the 1980s. Just enough time to do a couple decades at Alcatraz with guys like Al Capone. During a temporary transfer to an alternate prison, Karpis met a young weirdo named Charlie Manson and taught him how to play guitar. Buy the book on Amazon J 18
  • 24. Death Be Not Proud  by JOHN GUNTHER { RYAN HOLIDAY } ritten in 1949 by the famous journalist John Gunther about his death of his son— a genius—at 17 from a brain tumor, this book is deeply moving and profound. Every young person will be awed by this young boy who knows he will die too soon and struggles to do it with dignity and purpose. Buy the book on Amazon W 19
  • 25. The Harder They Fall  by BUDD SCHULBERG { RYAN HOLIDAY } udd Schulberg’s (who wrote On the Waterfront) whole trilogy is amazing and each captures a different historical era. All you need to know about Schulberg’s writing is captured in this quote from his obituary: “It’s the writer’s responsibility to stand up against that power. The writers are really almost the only ones, except for very honest politicians, who can make any dent on that system. I tried to do that. And that’s affected me my whole life.” Buy the book on Amazon B 20
  • 26. Losing the War   by LEE SANDLIN { RYAN HOLIDAY } his is an essay, not a book, but if you have to read one thing about WWII, this is it. Sandlin is a master and the essay is free, read it. Read the essay here T 21
  • 27. The Measure of My Days  by FLORIDA SCOTT MAXWELL { RYAN HOLIDAY } he daily notes of a strong but dying woman (born 1883, written in 1968) watching her life slowly leave her and wind to a close. The wisdom in this thing is amazing and the fact that most people have no idea exists–and basically wait until the end of their life to start thinking about all this is very sad to me. Buy the book on Amazon T 22
  • 28. The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays   by JAY HALEY { RYAN HOLIDAY } he title essay in this book is peerless and amazing. The rest of the essays, which talk about Haley’s unusual approach to psychotherapy are also quite good. If you’ve gone to therapy, are thinking about going to therapy, or know someone going to therapy, this book is a must-read. Buy the book on Amazon T 23
  • 29. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival   by JOHN VAILLANT { RYAN HOLIDAY } ’ll end with this book because it’s the most recent. The (true) story is simple: man in Siberia wounds tiger while hunting to feed his family. Tiger goes on killing spree while hunting the man down, and is stopped only when the Russian government dispatches a special SWAT team to track and kill it. This is probably the single best piece of nonfiction journalism I’ve ever read. Buy the book on Amazon I 24
  • 30. o one is saying you should skip your high school reading list. The problem is thinking that that’s enough. In order to work for “everyone,” those books had to be safe. Don’t read safe. READ DANGEROUSLY. N { RYAN HOLIDAY }
  • 31. For more book recommendations like this: SUBSCRIBE TO MY MONTHLY READING NEWSLETTER 15,000+ Subscribers SUBSCRIBE TO GET FREE Reading List RecommendationsO P