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22 Books for Ambitious Young People
Avthar's Weekly Wisdom #62 (09/12/2021)
🔥 I’m Avthar, a South African technology entrepreneur and learning enthusiast based in New York City. This digital letter is where I share practical wisdom about self-mastery, entrepreneurship, health and happiness, all to help you live better.
My guarantee is that you’ll discover one thing that will help you change your life in every edition. As a reminder, you can find all previous editions of this newsletter in the archive. And you can find more of my writings at avthar.com.
Here’s what I want to share with you this week:
22 books for ambitious young people
The utility of idle time
Musashi: Warrior Code and Life
22 Books for Ambitious Young People
I recently gifted around $300 worth of books to my cousins (aged 15 and 17) who are nearing the end of their high school career and will start university in a few years. I thought back to the books that taught me invaluable skills during my student days and sent them the selection in the hopes that it would help them excel academically and at the very least aid them in spending less time stressed out and more time pursuing their curiosity and enjoying life during high school and college.
These books have helped me throughout the academic journey that’s taken me around the world: They helped me reach the heights of the International Physics Olympiad despite attending a public school in South Africa, helped me adjust to and excel in the notoriously difficult International Baccalaureate while at UWC Costa Rica, and helped me graduate with a degree in Computer Science from Princeton University. The ideas, frameworks and life lessons from these books continue to aid me as I navigate the tech startup world in the USA, while trying to live a peaceful life of contribution.
I’m excited to share this reading list with you today. Do pass it on to your family, friends and students in your life. I’m convinced that it will help any life-long learners achieve their wildest dreams.
1. On Learning and Study Skills
There’s one skill that helped me to succeed as a student and continues to serve me everyday as a technology professional: learning how to learn. Here are my most recommended (and approachable) books on learning, memory and study skills:
“Buzan’s Study Skills” by Tony Buzan
“A Mind for Numbers” by Barbra Oakley
“Make it Stick” by Brown, Roediger and McDaniel
“The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge
2. On Time Management
Do you remember the fallacious saying: “Sleep. Studying. Social life. Pick two”. It’s pithy, but definitely not true in my own and many of my high achieving friends' experiences. It is actually possible to balance achieving academically with staying healthy, clubs, and social life. The key lies in properly managing your time, energy and mental state to help you be effective and efficient in your work. Here are my favorite books on productivity, time management and energy management:
“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
(My Top 5 Time Management Tools might also be useful.)
3. On Handling Life’s Inevitable Challenges
Being a student means striving to reach your goals, giving your all and sometimes failing despite your best effort. It also means dealing with growing pains, changes and disappointments in addition to life’s unexpected tragedies. These practical and easy to read books helped me navigate trials and tribulations during my student days and continue to aid me today:
4. Books that shaped my worldview
The following books don’t really have unifying theme, but I read them all between the ages of 16 and 23 and they’ve profoundly shaped my worldview:
Have you read any of the 22 books mentioned in this list? Do you have any books you’d add to this list to help ambitious young people? In either case, I’d love to hear how the books helped you how the books helped you, either as a student or in your life in general!
(Just reply to this email)
Tweets of the week
First from me, on having high standards in training:
Second from Daniel Vassallo, on the utility of idle time:
Podcast of the week
Jocko Podcast 100 w/ Tim Ferriss - Musashi. Warrior Code and Life
This is one of my all time favorite podcasts, both for the book discussed, but also for the people doing the discussion.
🙏 Thank you again for reading and for your support! I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace!