Ask Celes: What Books Would You Recommend?

Question mark

“Hi Celes, I would like to know what is in your library. What kind of books do you read and how have they affected you so far? Thank you.” – Bongani

I’ve to be honest that I actually don’t read books. I prefer to learn through self-reflection and taking action. I also prefer to learn by directly interacting with people who have achieved the results I want for myself and then asking them for advice on how I should do the same.

That said, I do have some good books to recommend, half of which I read years ago. These are all-time classics (both within and outside the self-help niche) which you have probably heard of. Many self-help books today are mere reiterations of what have already been covered in them.


In no order of priority:

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey — A verbose book but has great lessons all the same. It’s one of the best-selling personal development books ever. Even though it was published in 1989, the habits still apply today.
  2. Living the 80/20 Way by Richard Koch — I love how simple yet insightful this book is. It shows you how pervasive the 80/20 principle is in our lives and how to create dramatic change by simple applications of the principle. This is probably the one book that can create the biggest and fastest change in your life if you were to read it.
  3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill  — This book was the result of over 20 years of research on successful individuals and what led to their success. It’s widely referenced today and is a must-read for anyone who is into self-help.
  4. The Dip by Seth Godin — The “dip” refers to the ambiguous phase in goal achievement when nothing you do seems to make a difference. This book teaches you when to stick and when to quit in your goals. While it’s a simple book with a simple idea, it’s very impactful. Quite inspiring, especially if you are in a funk.
  5. Tribes by Seth Godin — I read this two years ago and felt it was helpful in giving me ideas on how I should manage my “tribe”  at PE. It’s a book about creating the conducive space for tribes to form and thrive. A book of leadership of self and of others. I love Seth’s books because they are often short and impactful.
  6. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin — I never finished this book but what I’ve read of it captivated me. Many think that the reason behind others’ success is talent. This book demystifies talent and shows that it isn’t as instrumental as you might think. I elaborate more on this message in my article 10,000 Hours To Develop Talent.)
  7. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne — I didn’t read the book but I had watched the movie of the same title. I assume the book is of the same content as the movie; if so, you should definitely check this book out. It’s about the Law of Attraction and how our thoughts have a bigger role to play in creating our reality than we imagine.
  8. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles — This book will always have a special place in my heart as it was one of the first self-help books I’ve read (when I was a teenager). While the title sounds like it’s about making money, it’s a lot more than that. It provides the spiritual backbone on what it takes to be rich and is something you should read if you want to be rich (who doesn’t???). It’s pretty much a book about the Law of Attraction, except in the context of financial goals.

Of these few books I have read, I make a point to remember what I have read and apply those lessons rigorously. I always think it’s pointless to read something unless I have the intention to apply what I’m going to learn.

That is probably the most important thing to do every time you read—extract the key lesson(s) from the book/article and apply it into your life right away. Never fall into the trap of reading and not doing. Read with an end objective in mind, then get working towards that end objective after you are done reading. You want to be the proactive amazon creating blazing trails in both your life and others’ lives, not the sleepwalker who drifts around and lives vicariously via stories/books/movies he/she reads.

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