In my journey through over a hundred non-fiction titles, I've sought paths to self-improvement and enlightenment. I’ve now grouped these books into categories, to help guide those who embark on similar literary quests.
1. Banal Knowledge
Examples: The 5 am Club, 4 Hour Work Week, What You Do Is Who You Are, Strength Finders
These titles echo principles that, while sounding enlightened, often translate poorly into practice. The advice, akin to "be healthy" or "have a nice day," feels good to hear, yet lacks concrete steps. Though it may resonate in the moment, its utility in guiding tangible change in one's life is limited.
2. Hindsight Bullshit
Examples: Play Bigger, Made to Stick, Mindset, Outliers
This category relies heavily on hindsight. Take the assertion that Google’s success stemmed from its inception of the 'fast search' segment. Or consider conflicting interpretations: while Carol Dweck attributes Michael Jordan’s achievements to a growth mindset, Malcom Gladwell credits the month of his birth.
Success is a multifaceted phenomenon, akin to a chain composed of many links. Strength in each link is crucial, for the chain is only as strong as its weakest component. Books in this category, however, tend to prioritize their preferred 'link,' often conveying a skewed perspective of success.
3. Tactical Books
Examples: Never Split the Difference, Pitch Anything, The Great Courses, Atomic Habits
These works provide detailed guidance tailored to specific objectives. They're akin to comprehensive manuals, guiding readers step-by-step. For those seeking actionable advice on niche topics, these books hold undeniable value.
4. World View Books
Examples: Thinking Fast and Slow, Behave, Anti-fragile, Genghis Khan
These enlightening reads offer broad perspectives on the world's intricacies. Instead of espousing a singular approach or philosophy, they illuminate the holistic 'chain' that dictates various phenomena. Such books delve deep into understanding the world's machinations, empowering readers to draw their own inferences.
Recommendation: Dive into these titles.
Every reader's interpretation of a book is influenced by their prior knowledge and life experiences. What's revelatory for one might be rudimentary for another. World view books tend to be non-prescriptive, while banal and hindsight-focused titles sometimes blur the lines with their claims. For instance, while Behave delves into human behavior's intricacies, Mindset posits that success hinges solely on one's mindset.