Reading is a fundamental task that you would be ignorant to ignore.

Reading a book allows you digest the life-long wisdom of another man… in a few mere hours.

Yet so many men fail to read. They’d rather surf the internet, play video games, watch internet porn, or dive into their smartphones than take the time to read an actual book.

But why?

For one – reading takes focus. If you’re not in the habit of reading, then it’s sure to challenge your attention span. I won’t argue this point.

But I will say that if you let this minimal barrier to entry prevent you from reading quality books and learning from the wisdom of great men, then you’re doomed to fail in life… Accomplishing anything worthwhile takes persistence and focus to complete.

Below are my three favorite books. They’ve all had a deep, profound impact on my life. For each book I’ll review the take-home message I gleaned from reading it… And then explain how it affected me personally, for the better.

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1. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

In ancient Greece and Rome, the idea of having a coherent life philosophy was held in high esteem. Different schools of philosophy offered different perspectives on what it meant to live a “good” life.

The school of Cynicism advocated living a simple and “natural” life, free from distractions like wealth, fame, power, or sex. On the other hand, the school of Epicureanism advocated living a life that maximized pleasure – experiencing pleasure was the primary goal of those who followed this school of thought.

Among the other competing schools was Stoicism. The Stoics believed that tranquility, and freedom from negative emotions, was the key to living a “good”, virtuous life.

While my brief descriptions probably oversimplify these different schools, William B. Irvine (professor of philosophy and author of A Guide to the Good Life) studied them in detail while searching for a personal life philosophy. And, after a great deal of thought and analysis, he decided to adopt Stoicism and become a practicing Stoic.

And, after realizing an immense happiness by doing so, he decided to write a “guidebook” for the general population. You see – the existing books and literature on Stoicism are almost all from the days of Ancient Rome, and Irvine wanted to create something that the modern man could pick up and implement into his own life without having to decipher ancient rhetoric.

The Take Home Message: Be Grateful

The basic, yet powerful Stoic principle that I try and implement into my own life is gratitude.

By being actively grateful for the things you already have, you train yourself to be happy and content. You avoid getting caught up wanting more and more, and taking the things you have for granted.

On the path of self-improvement it’s quite easy to get caught up in the cycle of setting – and accomplishing – bigger and bigger goals. And this is great, but there’s a HUGE risk of becoming depressed when you’re not “leveling up” and making large strides forward.

The Stoic philosophy keeps me grounded as I plow on. And this books offers several key techniques I continue to use in to remind myself to be grateful.

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2. The 50th Law

Author Robert Greene built a cult-like following after writing his “masterpiece” The 48 Laws of Power.

This book covers 48 basic principles for achieving success and power as illustrated through the use of a wide range of historical examples. And while that book is amazing in it’s own right, I think The 50th Law is even better.

For this book, Greene teamed up with rap icon 50 Cent to write a contemporary version of his previous book, but this time everything is centered around a unifying theme: fear nothing.

The Take Home Message: Take Action

The reason I prefer this book to its predecessor – and the reason I think it’s one that every man should read – is because everything inside is about taking action.

Man’s biggest opponent is inaction – it keeps him from accomplishing his goals, makes him nervous and insecure, and is an all-around enemy of success and happiness. In fact, I believe making fast decisions and avoiding overthinking things is the most important thing you can do to start being happier and more confident right now.

The other reason I prefer this book to The 48 Laws of Power is that it uses 50 Cent’s life as a running example throughout the book. As much as I like to hear about ancient kings, queens, and politicians, the life of 50 Cent is far more modern and relatable… And this book still contains a bunch of those historical examples, anyway.

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3. The Way of the Superior Man

The first time I read The Way of the Superior Man was when I was in my first long term relationship. I hadn’t experienced much conflict in this relationship, and so the book didn’t quite hit home.

The second time I read it was after coming out of a different relationship – one marked by a lot of passionate ups and downs – and that time I desperately wished I’d read it a few months earlier.

You see – author David Deida explores the deepest essence of masculinity in this book. He primarily covers how to be authentically masculine in your relationships and your life’s work… And it’s shockingly eye-opening.

The Take Home Message: Follow Your Purpose

My biggest takeaway from this book was undoubtedly the importance of maintaining a mission – or a guiding purpose – in my life.

Without a purpose it’s all too easy to get distracted by the details and the bullshit of daily life. When this happens, the details and distractions become your focus… And this drains your energy and destroys your mood.

The second thing I really took home from this book is how to deal with the inevitable conflicts in a romantic relationship. Deida challenges us to “feel through” our woman and her emotions by showing her deep love and affection, even in the most turbulent of times.

It’s so easy to get caught up and make conflicts worse by trying to “reason” through them and “solve” the problem. However, the problem between a man and woman tends to be a lack of love or connection, and the best way to conquer this is through intimacy, not a logical workflow…

Unless, of course, you want your relationship to turn into a “legal partnership” that strictly serves to fulfill tax purposes and raise children, rather than being a source of comfort, passion, and excitement in your life.

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