The list of resources below are my recommendations for personal growth, which I’ll be adding to every now and then.
I hope these resources will be as beneficial to you as they have been for me.
Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand (book)
One of the greatest arguments for the need to pay closer attention to the philosophy we live by. Ayn Rand makes it clear that living by a philosophy isn’t a choice, but how we formulate our life philosophy is where trouble can occur. We can choose to patch up a philosophy from the random ideas we come across in our daily lives, or consciously form a philosophy that will serve us in our lives.
This is a great book for understanding what philosophy is and its importance in our lives.
The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand (book)
While we’re usually told that selflessness is a virtue and selfishness is an unspeakable evil, Ayn Rand argues that our moral code is backwards, which is why we are facing so many problems in our lives. She argues for rational selfishness, where we value our own well-being and respect other people’s pursuit of their well-being. Rational individuals collaborate to achieve mutual benefit and do not place demands for selfless sacrifices.
I honestly believe that our chances of finding happiness are directly related to our understanding and acceptance of the virtue of selfishness. Otherwise, we’ll feel guilty pursuing our own happiness, which will only compromise any progress we make in our journey towards it. You can also check out my article on Why Selfishness is a Good Thing.
For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand (book)
By now you should’ve guessed that I’m a huge fan of Ayn Rand’s ideas! This book is a great collection of passages from some of her stories to explain her philosophy and her views on a wide range of subjects. But if you’re going to read this book, you should first read her novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead as the book reveals some important plot details (I’ve only read half of each novel, and read things in this book I shouldn’t have known before finishing the novels!).
The Art of Living Consciously by Dr Nathaniel Branden (book)
Dr Nathaniel Branden was a close associate of Ayn Rand and shares the same underlying philosophy. This book deals with conscious living and the importance of developing awareness about ourselves and the situations we face. What I love about this book is that it forms a solid foundation for all other aspects of personal growth. Without a coherent and consistent underlying philosophy in our lives it’s very difficult to put the pieces of personal growth together. This is one of the core values of my blog.
Taking Responsibility by Dr Nathaniel Branden (book)
We read a lot about taking responsibility in personal growth literature. This book explains what it means in very clear terms and gives examples from different contexts in our lives. It builds on the need for conscious living and the willingness to do what is necessary to pursue our values.
How to Raise Your Self-Esteem by Dr Nathaniel Branden (short book)
I absolutely love Dr Branden’s view of self-esteem and how he relates it to personal competence. Many writers on self-esteem appeal to positive affirmations like: “I am beautiful!” “I am strong!” and a string of other affirmations intended to raise your self-esteem. Dr Branden’s approach begins with solidifying our understanding of self-esteem and the role it plays in our lives, then consciously growing our self-esteem through a series of exercises (usually sentence-completion exercises). If you don’t do the exercises but only leave with a new understanding of self-esteem, then the book will have a wonderful effect on your life and well-being.
The Psychology of Romantic Love by Dr Nathaniel Branden (book)
Yes, you should’ve also figured out by now that I’m a huge fan of Dr Branden’s writings as well! This book covers the foundations of happy, romantic relationships and goes through the history of how romantic relationships were understood in different ages, and what they can mean for us today. If your view of relationships is fairly conservative, then this book could be a stretch, but it’s well worth it!
The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta (e-book)
If your life is getting too complicated, then you need to get acquainted with the minimalist mindset! While I don’t agree with Leo’s take on minimalism in its entirety, this e-book is enormously helpful in ridding us of excess baggage that’s only weighing us down and compromising the happiness we could be experiencing!
Todoodlist by Nick Cernis (e-book)
Contrary to popular belief, technology doesn’t always make us more productive. In this entertaining e-book, Nick presents the case for returning to using pen(cil) and paper! This is what I’ve done actually, since I find paper much more flexible to use, and I can make up “features” with a quick stroke of my pen, without having to wait for software updates!
The Todoodlist is a productivity system that’s based on pencil doodles. While I don’t stick to Nick’s system, I found it extremely liberating in pointing out the opportunities that can be found in using a pen and paper, rather than the latest gadget or gizmo.
The Now Habit by Dr Neil Fiore (book)
This could very well be my favorite book on productivity and beating procrastination. It is especially important in promoting life balance, by showing an appreciation for leisure activities as supporting our productivity, rather than compromising it. This book gives some excellent advice on how to enjoy “guilt-free play” and a thorough explanation of what procrastination means and why we resort to procrastinating.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (book)
David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity system is indispensable for anyone seeking to manage their workload and achieving “stress-free productivity.” If you’re interested in productivity then you must have heard of GTD, and it’s reputation is well-earned. There are some ideas that will change your entire understanding of work and your approach to productivity.
My only contention with this book is that it’s not very well structured and can be presented in a much simpler way. However, I still recommend this book as the basis for the understanding of GTD and the philosophy behind it. The web is riddled with articles and resources to better understand GTD and making use of it.
The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers by Ayn Rand (book)
If you’re a writer – or involved in any way in creative work, or happen to use your brain – then you should read this book. It is immensely useful in understanding the psychology behind writing, why we experience writer’s block and how we should structure our thinking through writing. Ayn Rand explains how language is a cognitive tool and our writing is a reflection of our level (and quality) of thinking. I can’t recommend this book enough!
The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers by Ayn Rand (book)
Although this book is more specific to fiction, if you enjoy reading novels, you will benefit greatly from this book, even if you’re not a fiction writer! Ayn Rand explains the elements of good stories and gives many examples of good and bad writings. Very entertaining and very useful.