how to find the best 100 books

for outperforming 20-somethings building a foundation for the digital age

Image result for black reading

These quotes are also from Naval’s interview with Joe Rogan

the biggest mistake was memorization. because when you're actually trying to live your life in congruence with reality you you want to have a deep understanding of what you do and why you do it and it's much more important to know the basics really well there is to know the advanced. this is true of I think all reasoning.

you should be able to derive anything on the spot and if you can't you don't know it

I used to think, the more books you read, the smarter you get. What I didn’t know is how we actually learn, and that the cover to cover reading strategy isn’t conducive to real understanding.

In the age of infinite leverage, the impact of decisions made is much greater now than it was before. If we consume higher quality information, we is conducive to higher quality thought and therefore making better decisions. Wether you want to make more money, know the truth about yourself and the world, or want to help our civilization reach higher consciousness.

We have finite time. we can only read ~3000 books in our lifetime if we read 50 books a year on average. So how do we narrow that down? Less, but better.

I would rather read the best 100 books over and over again until I absorb them rather than read all the books. - Naval

To find the best 100 books, we have to first know what information we need to know. We should all do this exercise. If all you know was based on 100 books, which would they be?

I think it’s fair to say if you want to positively impact the world, you must understand it. And you must understand how you relate to it, which will also help us understand others, whom we need to create real change. Your 100 books might look slightly different than mine, but our theme will be around understanding the world, ourselves, and what’s important in the digital age of infinite leverage.

Universities first became the arbiters of data and intellectualism and what's right and wrong. Universities got this credibility from the hard sciences so they got this from you know physics and math and computer science and chemistry because these deliver real things.

We want our knowledge to be foundational. The less abstraction the better. So we’ll prune subjects based on other subjects. And can study pioneers in fields and those who have changed the way we live. For example, we want to learn psychology, so we study Sigmund Freud. You’d want Richard Feynman in there since we was a wizard at understanding and explaining physics and math to say the least. Nikola Tesla discovered Alternating Current, what powers our electric grids. People like Elon Musk are literally killing themselves to get our species to Mars and make fossil fuels obsolete and his companies might be our best shot yet. Technology is innovation, and the driving force of our digital age, so that’ll be key. And pretty much anything by Walter Isaacson.

Somehow this quote on universities relates.

This is the basis of the rough topic list I presented here, which informs the following reading list.

Here are some lists I took inspiration from, plus this tweet.

here’s a starter list in no particular order:

  • The Interpretation of Dreams - Sigmund Freud

  • Einstein: His Life and Universe - Walter Isaacson

  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life - Walter Isaacson

  • Tao of Charlie Munger - David Clark

  • Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

  • Six Easy Pieces - Richard Feynman

  • The Black Swan - Nassim Taleb

  • Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future - Ashlee Vance

  • Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson

  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion - Robert B. Cialdini 

  • Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari

  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century - Yuval Noah Harari

  • The Art of War - Sun Tzu

  • The Sovereign Individual - James Dale Davidson

  • My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla

  • Atomic Habits - James Clear

  • 1984 - Goerge Orwell

  • Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - By Richard Feynman

  • Leonardo da Vinci - Walter Isaacson

  • Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • The Republic - Plato

  • The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith

  • Debt: The First 5000 Years - David Graebert

  • Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill

  • Total Freedom - Jiddu Krishnamurti

This list is a rough draft so please let me know if you have any suggestions for it!


Everything you consume, and every idea you interact with can help you fortify the latticework of your mind.

A good book I'll read one page in a night and then I'm spend the rest of the night thinking about it or I'm chasing down references on Wikipedia or weird blog post trying to understand it. - Naval