Today I want to tell you about the five books that have most positively impacted my life.
And if you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time, then there’s a good chance that you and I have some overlap in how we think and operate in the world. And if that’s the case… well, then you might love some of these books too.
I’m going to go through these books chronologically. That is to say, the order that I discovered these books (which, coincidentally is also the order in which I needed to read them).
Let’s get into it.
The Game by Neil Strauss
That’s right. The Game. The 2005 bible on the underground world of pickup artistry was my gateway drug into self-development.
I haven’t re-read The Game since I first read it back in the mid-2000’s… and honestly, I’m not sure that I would want to as I can imagine that it hasn’t aged super well, in a post #MeToo world. But reading this book cracked my mind open to the idea that there were people in the world who were obsessive about taking a specific area of their lives, pulling it apart, and putting it back together in a better way.
In the largely entrepreneurial/growth-oriented circles that I run in, it is extremely rare that a man that I meet wouldn’t say that The Game wasn’t also his gateway self-help book. Either The Game was, or, if it wasn’t, then Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week was.
As a result of reading this book, I not only spent countless days out on the streets of downtown Vancouver walking up to attractive women and getting in my ‘approaches’ for the day… but it also indirectly lead me to becoming a full-time dating coach (what I called myself back then) at the age of 22.
After a few years of helping men and women develop their social skills, I found that I wanted to go deeper in my inner work. Superficial relationships weren’t cutting it for me anymore. At the age of 24, I started to study sex and spirituality more deeply, and generally wanted to expand my mind into other related realms that went beyond ‘but how do I get a girlfriend though?’
This is when I first discovered…
Wild Nights by David Deida
When I first read this book, I felt like God was beaming energy directly into my spine.
I remember reading it and feeling completely blown away by it… like I was discovering some ancient text comprised of pure, generational wisdom.
On the surface, this book is about a young, spiritual seeker who meets a controversial and abrasive mentor who shows him the joys of connecting his relationship with God, with his relationship with sexuality. They drink, they smoke, they create impromptu orgies, and the mentor swears a lot.
If you grew up with a lot of religious shame around sexuality, I’d strongly recommend checking it out. And if you didn’t receive messages like that (like I didn’t), then it’s probably still a worthwhile read if you have any shame to integrate around your relationship to your body and/or sexuality.
Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn
From the ages of 22-27 I was a fairly intense workaholic. It was not at all abnormal for me to clock 10-12 hour days seven days a week as I was first building my business.
After a particularly bad bout of burnout that knocked me so flat on my ass that I literally couldn’t walk to the store to get my own groceries without drowning in anxiety-induced vertigo, I thought that it might be time for a change.
Enter: Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn.
I discovered this book at a perfect time in my life. Reading the story of a similar aged workaholic, Charlie (who was Tim Ferriss’s first ever employee) outlines how the healing power of play changed his life forever.
In recovering from burnout, it wasn’t acupuncture, or massage, or endless information overload, or the right naturopath who cured me… it was re-integrating play into my life.
Here’s one of the best tips that this book put in my back pocket: take a play inventory.
A play inventory is when you look back to what you did for fun when you were younger. Think 5-15 years old. What did you regularly, happily, voluntarily do for fun before you first had a job? Then, with that list of things staring you in the face, ask yourself, “When was the last time that I did these things?”
If you’re anything like me, there had been a massive lapse in me prioritizing play in my life.
From the ages of 10-16, I basically spent all of my free time skateboarding, filming sketch comedy videos, acting in skits, and playing music. All things that I completely abandoned in my early/mid-20’s because I thought that’s what you had to do to be a real adult. Turns out, all work and no play makes you a burned out mess. Or, as Dr. Stuart Brown puts it, “The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression.”
As a result of this book I reintegrated all of my favourite early-life hobbies (skateboarding, music, film making, etc.) and my life has been richer and more enjoyable ever since.
Deeper Dating by Ken Page
I’ve read several hundred, if not over a thousand, books on cultivating healthy, thriving intimate relationships in my lifetime. This elegant, deceptively simple book is still my all-time favourite.
Don’t get me wrong… classic books like Getting The Love You Want and The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work are absolutely phenomenal… but this lesser-known beauty is an essential read for anyone who is currently single and wanting to find an intimate partner who meets them on all levels.
In Deeper Dating, Ken Page dives into what he calls gift theory, stating that our greatest insecurities surround our deepest gifts. It was this book that clicked a few of my final major pieces together that brought me to finally realize what I was still in a state of rejection around, when it came to myself. Once acknowledging, and owning, that I had yet to accept those pieces of myself, I was finally able to send love to those things, and then, from that point onwards, began to attract romantic partners who also saw those things in me as gifts as well.
If you’re already happily married and you’ve been kicking relationship butt for twenty years, there isn’t much of a need for you to read this. But if you’re someone who struggles to find people who love and accept all that you have to offer in a relationship, then I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield
This is the shortest and most polarizing book on this list.
When I first read it in 2015, it fucked me uuuuuuup.
The synopsis of The War Of Art is this: you don’t do your life’s most important stuff because you let resistance win. Don’t let it win. Get to work. Lean into the important stuff. Never stop.
But it puts this concept in so many different contexts, and talks about it so eloquently… it just… yeah, you have to read it. Especially if you consider yourself in any way, shape, or form a creative person.
To date, I have gifted over 75 copies of this book to friends, family members, and clients. Which is something that I can’t say about any other book in my life. It’s that good.
What really makes this book that much more special to me is just how angry some people are about it in it’s 1-star reviews on Amazon. It’s really quite something. I also just have a big soft spot in my heart for any piece of art that people both love and hate with such passion, so this book really takes the cake for me. Of all of the books on this list, The War Of Art is the one that I am confident I will read the most times throughout my remaining years.
Well, that’s it!
I’ve mentioned four of these five books in other book lists that I’ve posted in my previous articles, so if you’ve already heard me talk about most of them then 1) hopefully this wasn’t too boring for you, and 2) holy shit that is very impressive that you’ve read that much of my writing.
If you want to check out many more books that I recommend, I’d encourage you to click one of the three links below to find out more.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you’re looking for more resources to dig into, here are a few other compilations books that I have enjoyed over the past few years: