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21 Books That Will Teach You Something Important

A mini syllabus for, like, life.

1. Learn how to read intelligently.

Simon & Schuster

How To Read A Book: The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

Once you read it: You’ll never again completely forget the plot of a book you read.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

2. Learn how to get things done.

Penguin Books

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Once you’ll read it: You will be way more productive – because your tasks will be prioritized, your work day will have much-needed structure, and you’ll be able to ignore unnecessary disruptions.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

3. Learn how to cook.

John Wiley & Sons

How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Once you read it: You’ll be able to cook everything – and creatively, not just by reading recipes.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

4. Learn how to make your house a home.

Scribner

Home Comforts: The Art & Science Of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

Once you read it: You’ll know how to fold a fitted sheet!!

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

5. Learn how to write clearly and concisely.

Longman Publishing Group

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White

Once you read it: You’ll finally know how to use a semicolon.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

6. Learn how to draw.

Tarcher

Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain by Betty Edwards

Once you read it: You’ll remember why you loved to draw as a child and forget why you stopped as an adult.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

7. Learn how to make people say yes and how to say no.

HarperBusiness

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Once you read it: You’ll understand exactly how advertisers and salespeople convince you to buy things, and then teach you how to use those techniques yourself – hopefully for good.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

8. Learn what public school didn’t teach you about American history.

Touchstone Books

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Once you read it: You’ll start seeing U.S. history in a nuanced light that will also illuminate the way you see our present.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

9. Learn how to have the hard talk.

Penguin Books

Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton & Sheila Heen

Once you read it: You’ll have the confidence to have all of those big talks that you need, but don’t want. Equally applicable to work and to home.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

10. Learn how to express yourself with words.

Shambhala

Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Once you read it: you’ll be inspired to express yourself with words.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

11. Learn how to manage your money.

Penguin Books

Your Money Or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

Once you read it: money will stop dictating your ups and downs, and you’ll be inspired to allow your passions to rule your life while achieving financial independence.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

12. Learn why you’re never satisfied.

Vintage

Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Once you read it: You’ll stop trying so hard to be happy and just let yourself… be.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

13. Learn about what that whole “string theory” thing is.

Vintage

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

Once you read it: You’ll get how science can sometimes be “the better story” after all.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

14. Learn how to interpret studies and statistics.

W. W. Norton & Company

How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff

Once you read it: You’ll read the “news” with appropriate cynicism.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

15. Learn why the things you use every day look and work the way they do.

Basic Books

The Design Of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Once you read it: You’ll never look at a door the same way again.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

16. Learn how to read comics.

William Morrow Paperbacks

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Once you read it: You’ll never doubt that comics are art.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

17. Learn the basics of design and production.

Princeton Architectural Press

Design It Yourself: A Design Handbook by Ellen Lupton

Once you read it: You’ll start making beautiful things… yourself!

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

18. Learn why people do and buy the things they do.

HarperCollins

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Once you read it: The mysteries of your bad monetary decisions will be unveiled and you can start fighting your own dumb psychology to make better choices.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

19. Learn what Marcel Proust can teach you about living well.

Vintage

How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

Once you read it: Your life will change, duh.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

20. Learn how to contemplate the universe.

Broadway Books

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Once you read it: Your mind will no longer stutter to a stop when you are trying to grasp the concepts of science – from quantum physics to evolution.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

21. Learn the meaning of life.

Beacon Press

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Once you’ve read it: Everything will be in perspective.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

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