Many of you ask me what books I recommend when it comes to game, social skills, psychology, persuasion and all that. I've got enough such questions that I compiled what you see below - the tddaygame's essential reading list.
You might notice that it covers a variety of topics with pop-psychology, mindsets and social skills being my favorite. I won't lie - those are the things that helped me develop myself. Maybe you need a totally different book or set of books. Maybe you need more daygame books.
But maybe you're just looking for a book for an upcoming travel or to kill some time.
Whatever the reason, here are my recommendations. Enjoy.
The links below should lead you to your local Amazon store. If you're from Poland then you might want to click on the other link as it will take you to Amazon.de where you get free shipping to Poland (and Polish interface).
How To Win Friends And Influence People is a timeless classic focused on basic social skills. When I say "basic" I mean making people like you, persuading them to your way of thinking and changing them without creating any resentment. It won't make you a persuasion master but it's a great starting point for everyone.
Beware! This book is written in a very American way. You'll find plenty of stories in lines of "Joe couldn't get a raise but when he bought this book and did that one thing he got a raise, a promotion and also won a lottery". It's a little bit annoying but this book is essential if you're a nerd, a geek or you work in IT.
It will tell you everything about basic social interactions and it will help you become more likable and more persuasive.
Ps. It's in constant circulation since 1936 and that has to mean something.
No More Mr. Nice Guy is a "relationships 101" book and a required reading to guys who are "too nice". If you ever acted against your own interest to please the girl, if you ever suppressed your feelings to make the relationship work or if you ever was angry that your girl didn't appreciate your efforts - that's the book for you.
Even if you're not a nice guy who wants validation and affection, even if you really think that you deserve better I think you should read it. Just like How To Win Friends And Influence People is about basic social skills, No More Mr. Nice Guy is about basics of all relationships. Very action-oriented, very to the point. Some would say "pure actionable advice".
The author, Dr. Robert Glover is apparently a certified marriage and family therapist. That doesn't change anything but it looks nice on the cover. The book is also a classic and a must-have for everyone struggling with their "nice guy" tendencies.
That one is waiting on my shelf for its turn. I can only say why I bought it, not what's inside.
First of all, it's another classic. It was written in 1964 by psychiatrist Eric Berne. It's about social interactions, which I love, and it describes the games people play.
Those games are transactions and situations where emotions and commodities are exchanged but where motivations are usually concealed. The example would be throwing a semi-justified tantrum to feel better and make the other party feel worse instead of searching for common understanding.
Eric Berne gives those games names like "See What You Made Me Do", "Why Don't You — Yes But" or "Now I've Got You, You Son of a Bitch". I can sometimes see those patterns of behavior in my actions and I'd like to get rid of them. I think that book can help me do that.
Nothing surprising on my reading list so far and here we go for another classic. Influence is the number one book when it comes to learning the basics of influencing people.
The premise is that we tend to fall back to automatic responses that from the evolutionary perspective have been both correct and advantageous. However, people who want to influence our decisions can also abuse them.
This book focus on six ways of influencing people: reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity. There are plenty of vivid examples and Mr. Cialdini doesn't shy from mentioning other research. But don't let it fool you, the book is very practical.
It's a must-read for everyone who interacts with humans and from time to time wants to affect their decisions.
Mr. Cialdini wrote another book called Pre-suasion which, sadly, isn't as good as Influence. The main theme of Pre-suasion are all the things that happen before the actual decision is made, hence the name. While it is full of great examples, studies and - my favorite - cognitive biases, it feels rushed. And the "pre-suasion" of many of the effects is far-stretched, just as if the title was first.
Stick to the Influence.
When it comes to influencing others via visual aids there is no better book than Impossible to Ignore by Dr. Carmen Simon.
If you ever had to create a presentation, a website, a video or an ad, you absolutely have to have it.
I absolutely loved the description of decision making progress based on cues. What's even better, this book will help you create cues that attract attention, make sure that they'll stay remembered and that they'll be ready to serve relevant memories when it's the time to act.
They say audiences forget up to 90% of what you communicate. With this book, you'll not only be able to increase that percentage but also to control what people remember. Because even if you're left with the 10%, you don't want it to be a random 10%.
Hands down the best book that I read in 2017.
Made me madly in love with the idea of cognitive biases. I'm learning about them ever since, even though it's not the main point of the book.
It all started with our instinctive System 1 and our analytical System 2. Because System 2 uses too much energy and we're constantly showered with new information, we largely rely on System 1. It works just fine for simple cases but it makes many errors in complex environments. It is also easily deceived.
Thinking, Fast and Slow is also about cognitive psychology, judgment, decision-making, behavioral economics and something called hedonic psychology. You'll also find the best explanation of utility theory. You'll learn why we overpay for insurance and are risk-averse when it comes to losses but risk-seeking when it comes to gains.
If you're selling something, if you value your own time and money, if you're interested in persuasion, thinking, cognitive biases or the way our brain works this is the book to read. If you want to pick only one book from this entire list and you're not struggling with relationships or social skills then this is the one.
The Power of Habit is a book I can easily recommend to everyone. It's incredibly practical and useful if you want to put some order in your life.
I always suspected that you can train your "habit muscle" (i.e. brain) and it turns out you can. The more you do certain things, the easier it is to do them. If you're dedicated, you will help grow your neural pathways that support that one habit.
You can learn that and much more from The Power of Habit.
In this book, you'll learn how our habits work, how they can be replaced (because they can't be destroyed) and how to use cues to make habit-forming almost too easy. You'll also learn about the habit loop which is cue-routine-reward and how to use it to your advantage.
If you struggle with bad habits or have a hard time developing good ones, get The Power of Habit.
This is still waiting on my shelf.
I bought it because it's very often mentioned alongside Thinking, Fast and Slow when it comes to our irrational economic decisions.
The premise seems to be that what we do is very often counterintuitive but predictable enough if you know where to look. "Dumb choices" are not dumb but merely misguided or misinformed. As such, we never really want to act against our own interests but we very often end up doing so.
I can't wait to read this one.
The one and only book on body language you'll ever need. I got incredibly lucky as that was also the first one that I bought.
Mr. Joe Navarro wrote a body language textbook. You'll learn the "what", the "why" and the "how" for all the cues that might suggest your interlocutor is nervous. No wonder, Mr. Navarro is a former FBI agent.
This book will definitely help you understand nonverbals and it will teach you how to read and use body language. What's even better, it will teach you a lot about yourself as you'll be able to e.g. recognize that you're getting nervous before you even feel that way.
It's also just a really good book. I wrote a whole post about What Every Body is Saying.
The best book of 2016 is undoubtedly How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by the creator of Dilbert, Mr. Scott Adams.
It's a fascinating story of his life. Mr. Adams describes how he created a "talent stack" - a set of skills that let him "win big", despite not really being great at anything. That is the introduction to "systems thinking" where you create systems in your life that produce useful results while at the same times not caring about reaching any goals. If you have many successful systems, achieving goals is just a byproduct.
Goals are for losers; systems are for winners. Forget 'passion'; what you need is personal energy. You can find those and many other brilliant ideas in that incredibly awesome book.
I'm sure it will change your life for the better.
It's a bit controversial, very obvious, not really groundbreaking and seem like a collection of blog posts. It's also cheap.
Regardless of all that, it's a very good mindset book if you struggle with finding a set of beliefs that will help you reach your goals. I found it too obvious but I bought it for many friends and they loved it.
So if you're looking for a way to organize your thoughts and beliefs - get Gorilla Mindset. If not, you'll be fine without it.
The manual of cunning in corporate environment. The most useful book if you work in a big company. Absolute must-have if your boss and your co-workers are dicks.
The 48 Laws of Power is the detailed description of 48 tactics that you can employ (or that can be used against you) in order to gain power. It's true that many of them are Dark Triad - narcissistic, Machiavellian and psychopathic. But a) you don't have to use them and b) if power is what you're after, you can't really afford to be compassionate.
Robert Greene uses stories, anecdotes and examples to prove his points. Most of those are hundreds years old but you will also find quite a few modern ones. It doesn't matter. Those rules do not change over time and it was as useful to know them in the medieval times as it is today.
The biggest gain for you is in the ability to see those rules when others employ them. You'll start to notice people cunning and scheming for their own gains. That means you'll be able to defend yourself and also to stay in the shadow if you don't want open war. However, if you're after gaining power, you might want to use those laws for you own benefit. Your choice.
Some say that many of the laws contradict each other. That's true and even the author admits that as for most of the so-called "laws" he provided reversals, which are circumstances under which they shouldn't be used.
It's not a manual for getting to the top. You'll still have to think a lot but The 48 Laws of Power give you all the tools you need.
Forget about other books by Robert Greene. The 48 Laws of Power is the one you want.
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Just as I was lucky with What Every Body Is Saying when it comes to body language, I was even more so when it comes to texting.
The first and only book I ever read on that topic was The Ultimate Guide To Phone And Text Game.
It's a complete and detailed description of the nuances of communicating via text and phone. It will open your eyes to the mistakes you might be doing right now and it will provide you with a tested model for taking out girls on dates, regardless of their level of interest.
You'll find here a lot of examples and most importantly not only "what" but "why". The mental model behind all the actions is very coherent and easy to understand. It also has a catchy name - "The Dynamite Theory".
In all seriousness, it's the only complete guide to texting that I've seen.
Do you need more convincing? Read my full pitch about The Ultimate Guide To Phone And Text Game.