Ryan Holiday Picks 20 Books to Help You Live Better in 2020
A reading list that’s all about what really matters
2020 is already looking rough. On top of all the ordinary stresses that come with 12 months of life on Earth, we’re in a divisive election year, one that’s bound to be filled with bitter fights and deepening fears. So how do we get through it?
Especially in difficult times, I think the goal should be to think more clearly, to be provoked less, to be kinder, to see the bigger picture, and to improve at the things that matter to us.
It’s a lot to take on. But we can start by turning to smart people who might know more than us in these areas — people, some alive today and some from thousands of years ago, who have done hard thinking on hard topics and distilled their wisdom into books. Here are 20 of those books — some new, some old — that will help you live better, be better, and meet the goals that matter for 2020.
Plutarch’s Lives by Plutarch
One of the best ways to learn is by studying the lives of successful people: their flaws, their virtues, their strategies, and their failures. One problem with studying people from the modern era, however, is that everyone and everything has been politicized. Winston Churchill, Elon Musk, Michelle Obama — we are too close to their lives to learn from them dispassionately and with the proper perspective. That’s why I recommend looking way back.
Take some time this year to read Plutarch’s timeless works of complicated, larger-than-life figures — Pericles, Demosthenes, Themistocles, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Caesar, and Fabius — and take in everything that is good and bad about the human condition. Greed, love, pain, hate, success, selflessness, leadership, stupidity — it’s all there. When you realize how similar we are to those who came before us, how history has been and always will be, you’ll learn to dim the noise and hopefully be inspired to make your own mark.
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
Like I said, this may be a difficult year for people. It may be hard to focus. Hard to be hopeful. Hard to know what to do. This book is so perfect for the moment we’re in: It’s full of…