Written by: Greg Ellifritz
Compared to the average American, I read a massive number of books. I try to read between around 10-15 books a month. I accomplish this because I don’t have TV in my house and I carry a book wherever I go. Whenever I have a few spare moments, I spend them reading. In 2019, I managed to read more than 150 books.
I won’t bore you with the details from all of them. The books listed below are the cream of the crop. They are the most informative and influential books I read last year. The books are ordered solely based on the date I read them. I think some of you will enjoy this reading list.
The Laws of Human Nature
“Think of the book in the following way: you are about to become an apprentice in human nature. You will be developing some skills- how to observe and measure the character of your fellow humans and see into your own depths. You will work on bringing out your higher self. And through practice you will emerge as a master of the art, able to thwart the worst that other people can throw at you and to mold yourself into a more rational, self aware, and productive individual.”
Who wouldn’t want to read a book that can teach you those skills?
Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War
I think some of you will really find this one interesting. It is an introduction to the concepts of 4th generation warfare in the form of a novel written about future America. America undergoes a political, cultural, and economic collapse. The novel is one man’s account of the efforts to rebuild the country using “retroculture.”
One caution. The characters in the book are attempting to re-create the culture of the Victorian period through 1950’s America. The characters use language, racial/ethnic slurs, and very harsh generalizations that were common during this era. The language wouldn’t be considered acceptable speech in modern culture.
The use of these slurs is so common that it cannot be happenstance. I think the author is trying to give us a not so subtle warning that while some aspects of our past history are more desirable than our current situation, wholesale adoption of the ways of the past also means accepting the less desirable aspects of our history as well.
I’m going to give this one a good rating, not because of exceptional writing style or great character development (those are both slightly lacking) but because the book made me think of some possibilities I had never considered. I am apolitical and am far from the extreme right-wing who might truly embrace all of the author’s concepts of “the ideal,” but I found that characters in the book (on all sides of the political and cultural spectrum) presented ideas that caused me to think deeply about some important issues.
Violence of Mind: Training and Preparation for Extreme Violence
The author has a very unique perspective on self defense after having served prison time on a manslaughter charge after stabbing a man who attacked him. His vivid descriptions of the mindset and personality of hardened criminals is one that you won’t find in most other texts.
Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul
After hearing the author speak on a podcast interview, I had to read his books. This guy operates at an intellectual level that I find hard to even comprehend. He’s definitely one of the smartest people in the room and he has some ideas about death that mesh seamlessly with some of the Amazonian shamanic practices I’ve experienced.
If you are a part of the industry the author refers to as “the death trade” (anyone who deals with or cares for dying people) you need to read this book. It changed my views on the subjects of death and dying.
The Border: A Novel (Power of the Dog Book 3)
No one can describe the world of the Mexican drug cartels quite like Don Winslow. This is the third and final book in his “cartel” series. Each installment a big book. Over 700 pages. The three books took him 20 years to research and write. I appreciate his dedication to the craft.
Daniel Suarez has one of the most imaginative and devious minds in fiction. His book Kill Decision is a must-read look at the future of technology. This one is about a top-secret asteroid mining project. The book contains the best of Suarez’s signature story telling style. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I’ll read every book Daniel Suarez publishes. If you like good technology literature with a little bi to sci-fi thrown in, you’ll enjoy this selection.
Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction
A former alcoholic and drug addict cleans up her life and gets a PhD. in neuroscience to study addiction. This is one of the best drug books I’ve read. She explains how each addictive chemical specifically affects the brain and discusses why it is so difficult to get off of some of these drugs. Very useful if you recreationally use drugs, have family or friends who are addicts, or deal with the consequences of addiction in your vocation.
When Plants Dream: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Shamanism and the Global Psychedelic Renaissance
If you are interested in learning about some of the traditional Amazonian plant medicines work, this is currently the best book available on the topic.
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
Author Malcolm Gladwell needs no introduction. His books have been best sellers for years. I found this one incredibly interesting. The basic premise is:
“Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world. “
Gladwell presents some unique ideas in this book. Those ideas will be especially useful for anyone who is involved in law enforcement.
Stillness Is the Key
A combination of stoic and Buddhist philosophies designed to still a restless mind and promote a healthier mental ecosystem. I think I killed a highlighter on this book alone.
The River: A novel
A fast paced and entertaining tale of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip in Canada. The boys rescue an injured woman who can’t speak while fleeing a huge wildfire and the person who attempted to kill their injured passenger.
Concealed Carry Class: The ABCs of Self-Defense Tools and Tactics
Tom Givens hit it out of the park with this one. If you are interested in firearms and self protection this is the “must read” book of the year.
These books are absolutely worth your time to read. I hope you take the opportunity to check some of them out.
For more great books, check out my Recommended Reading page.
Some of the above links (from Amazon.com) are affiliate links. If you purchase these items, I get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.