5 mind-expanding books you HAVE to read this summer

Books Think NataliaA few individuals recently asked me if I have any book recommendations for them. During their summer break they will “finally have time to read”; and they look for books that will challenge their way of thinking.


Hmmm… “What were the most exciting books I have read over the last months?” Below you will find a list of my top five books I have listened to when traveling all over Europe. The list includes a short summary and two key take-aways. Enjoy…


…these game-changing books!


1.The War of Art. Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield


Steven‘s way of describing things sometimes reminded me of George Carlin’s work: It is bold, edutaining and to the point. The book focuses on the question “What keeps us away from doing what we truly want to do?” It describes the challenges any creative person goes and has to go through – if (s)he wants to master her art and follow his/her dreams.


Key Take-aways:


  • Resistance is the biggest enemy (within). It is what keeps us away from the life we truly want to live. Resistance distracts us from the person we truly want to be. It seduces, bullies, reasons, lies and attacks us to make sure we do not follow our (heart’s) calling.


  • Resistance disfigures and cripples our lives (through drugs, tumors, cancer and any kind of abuse or addiction) until we finally commit to take action. Do we have to stare death into the face to beat resistance?


2.Re-Work. Change the way you work forever by David Heinemeier Hansson & Jason Fried


A short, pragmatic and “different” book about running your own company. The authors eliminate outdated business rules, myths and beliefs and come up with more effective and fun ways of getting things done as an entrepreneur. Great examples and a pleasant language make it an even more enjoyable read.


Key Take-aways:

  • Press releases are spam. If you want someone’s attention, you need to do something to stand out. Call, be unforgettable, write a personal note. That is how you get great coverage.


  • Be happy and grateful for your non-existing popularity. Use it to find out what works and what doesn’t. Make mistakes and fine-tune things, it is so much easier to do that when no one is watching yet.


3.The Four Agreements. A practical guide to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz


This best-selling book is often referred to as a “life-changing classic”. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning, but totally wowed in the end by its simplicity – yet effectiveness – and beautiful, profound thoughts on clear communication, social programming, self-mastery, freedom and true happiness.


Key Take-aways:

  • Be impeccable with your word – towards yourself and others. Your words have creative power, use them wisely to spread white magic.


  • The real freedom we look for is far away from what we were made to believe we want to be freed from. We look for the end of our fears, the end of suffering through self-inflicted pain and the drama of our minds.


4.The obstacle is the way. The timeless art of turning trials into triumph by Ryan Holiday


Ryan‘s book kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand, you will learn a lot about stoicism, an ancient Greek life philosophy. On the other hand, you will get to know (historical) leaders you might have never heard of. The author shows how modern and ancient “heroes” overcame their toughest challenges based on the stoic way of thinking and how you can use these principles and old wisdom today to be (more) successful.


Key Take-aways:

  • In every challenge lies an opportunity to practice courage, greatness, creativity and patience. Push through it to become better, tougher, epic.


  • The way you see or perceive your challenge has a big impact on it. Don’t see it as something horrible, unfair or annoying. Take it for what it is and start working on a solution.


5.The subtle Art of not giving a f*ck. A counterintuitive approach to living a good life by Mark Manson


If you do not like ruthless humor and get easily offended by swear words, stay away from Mark Manson. If you don’t, read this book. Some pictures Mark created in my head, literally made me laugh tears. Mark’s refreshing and raw self-help guide questions some mayor beliefs and behavioral patterns of Millennials and modern society in general. Through that the author guides his readers to a happier, more authentic self.


Key Take-aways:

  • You are not special, entitled, flawless. You are you. Once you accept your own fears, limitations and uncertainties and face this painful truth, you can start working on the courage, honesty etc. you are looking for.


  • Your time on this planet is limited. You cannot care about everything and everybody. So take the time to find out what is important to you and what you care about; and what you don’t care about. Then act accordingly.


Which of these books was your favorite one; and why?