What Are You Reading?

On wealth, happiness, philosophy, and relationships.

Hey, Nneka,

I’m working on expanding my mindful consumption in categories like wealth, happiness, philosophy, and relationships (mostly platonic). I always enjoy the little excerpts you share on social, and I figure I can only continue reading so much news and the occasional fantasy novel without feeling a little empty at the end of the week. I think we all know the craziness of the last year isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so any recommendations to help your girl through COVID 21-24? I’d greatly appreciate them, along with some of your favorite quotes from the books, if that’s not too much to ask, of course!

Thank you in advance,
Stacey B.
Chicago, Illinois

Hey Stacey,

I can 1000% relate. I think we’ve all grown increasingly fatigued by 24/7 news cycles and the infinite scroll on our social media feeds. You’ll find some of my favorite reads, or listens, if you prefer audiobooks, in the categories you mentioned below. And of course! Haha, you know I got you on the excerpts. 

1. Wealth

“The Simple Path to Wealth” by JL Collins
The financial guru of a grandfather I wish I had. Initially compiled as letters to his daughter, JL explains best practices in spending, saving, and investing with unparalleled care, simplicity, and wit. My Vanguard investment portfolio has a rate of return of 18.7%/year due to the sound advice in this book.

Favorite excerpt:

A few key guidelines to consider:

  1. Spend less than you earn—invest the surplus—avoid debt.

  2. Do simply this and you’ll wind up rich. Not just in money.

  3. Carrying debt is as appealing as being covered with leeches and has much the same effect. 

  4. Take out your sharpest knife and start scraping the little bloodsuckers off.

  5. If your lifestyle matches—or god forbid exceeds—your income, you are no more than a gilded slave.

  6. Avoid fiscally irresponsible people. Never marry one or otherwise give him or her access to your money.

  7. Avoid investment advisors. Too many have only their own interests at heart. By the time you know enough to handle your finances yourself. It’s your money, and no one will care for it better than you.

  8. You own the things you own, and they, in turn, own you.

  9. Money can buy many things, but nothing more valuable than your freedom.

  10. Life choices are not always about money, but you should always be clear about the financial impact of the choices you make.

  11. Sound investing is not complicated.

  12. Save a portion of every dollar you earn or that otherwise comes your way.

  13. The greater the percent of your income you save and invest, the sooner you’ll have F-You Money.

  14. Try saving and investing 50% of your income. With no debt, this is perfectly doable.

  15. The beauty of a high saving rate is twofold: You learn to live on less even as you have more to invest.

  16. The stock market is a powerful wealth-building tool, and you should be investing in it. But realize the market and the value of your shares will sometimes drop dramatically. This is absolutely normal and to be expected. When it happens, ignore the drops and buy more shares.

  17. This will be much, much harder than you think. People all around you will panic. The news media will be screaming, “Sell, Sell, Sell!”

  18. Nobody can predict when these drops will happen, even though the media is filled with those who claim they can. They are delusional, trying to sell you something or both. Ignore them.

  19. When you can live on 4% of your investments per year, you are financially independent. 

Best paired with: “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi. 

2. Philosophy

“The Essential Marcus Aurelius” by Marcus Aurelius
It’s astonishing that Marcus Aurelius wrote these letters to himself, for himself. I return to his private meditations every morning as a form of meditation. His words are continual confirmation that we all grapple with the same human issues.

Favorite excerpt:

But will you let mere fame distract you? Turn your gaze to the quick forgetfulness of all things, the abyss of the ages on either side of this present moment, and the empty echo of praise, the transitory quality and lack of judgment on the part of those who praise, and the tiny area in which all this is confined. For the entire Earth is only a mere point in the universe, and what a small corner of the Earth is our dwelling place. 

For the time that remains, remember the humble refuge which is yourself. And, above all do not be anxious or overextend yourself, but be truly independent and see circumstances from the perspective of a man, of a human being, of a citizen, a creative who will surely die. But among the thoughts that are closest at hand, which you will look to, let these two be there: first, that various difficulties need not penetrate to your soul but can remain external, unaffecting—such disturbances come from nothing other than your internal judgments; second, remember that all the things which you now see are changing and will not continue to exist as they are. Continually bear in mind how many changes you have already witnessed. The Cosmos is constant change, and our lives are but a series of choices.

3. Happiness

“The Happiness Hypothesis” by John Haidt
Age-old wisdom that illuminates our current issues around achieving happiness. I understood that joy wasn’t necessarily a destination, but through John’s research, I learned it’s more scientific than we seemingly think.

Favorite excerpt:

Happiness is not something that you can find, acquire, or achieve directly. You have to get the conditions right and then wait. Some of those conditions are within you, such as coherence among the parts and levels of your personality. Other conditions require relationships to things beyond you: Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and a connection to something larger. It is worth striving to get the right relationships between yourself and others, between yourself and your work, and between yourself and something larger than yourself. If you get these relationships right, a sense of purpose and meaning will emerge.

4. Relationships

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Archaic, sure, but tried and true. This book changed my life by changing the way I interacted with people.

Favorite excerpt:

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Talk to someone about themselves, and they'll listen for hours.

5. A few miscellaneous audiobooks I revisit often:

  1. “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightengale

  2. “Lead The Field” by Earl Nightengale

  3. “Prosperity Consciousness” by Fredric Lehrman

  4. “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday

  5. “The Power of Purpose” by Les Brown

If you’ve skimmed this list, and there’s anything you’ve enjoyed reading/listening to that falls into the “wealth, happiness, philosophy, and relationships,” feel free to comment and share!