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Five reads to kickstart the new year

The dawn of a new year inadvertently brings with it a renewed desire for self-improvement, whatever form that may take. This is a lifelong endeavour, however, and what’s important isn’t so much the destination as the path and process. To quote Michelle Obama from her memoir, Becoming, “[It] isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

To help us along the way, we can certainly turn to books for wisdom — begin with some or all of the following titles for insight and inspiration.

Limitless by Tim Peake, RM86.90
If there’s anyone who understands the sheer amount of dedication, perseverance, and discipline it takes to attain a goal, it would be an astronaut. One such individual is Tim Peake, who recounts his unusual path to becoming an astronaut in vivid detail in his new autobiography, Limitless. Peake served 18 years as a British army pilot and was chosen out of 8,000 applicants to be one of six new astronauts of the European Astronaut Corps. He endured six years of grueling training before he was able to experience what few have – the exhilaration of heading out to space. Peake writes in a manner that’s engaging and humorous, and his inspiring story speaks of the power of following our dreams and of striving to reach our potential.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, RM49.95
There are two systems that drive the way we think and make choices: there’s fast, intuitive, and emotional thinking, and then there’s slow, rational, and more deliberative thinking. In this book, renowned psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman reveals how these two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions. He makes the case for not trusting our intuitions which can often lead us astray and explains the benefits of slow thinking. He also gives practical techniques of how to do so, as well as how to guard against our minds tripping us up. A phenomenal book on human rationality and irrationality, this book will likely change the way you make decisions.

Beyond the 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, RM79.90
Successful entrepreneur Richard Koch first published his book on the 80/20 principle in 1997, and it has since become one of the definitive business books of the 20th century. In it he showed how one can achieve much more with much less effort, time, and resources by identifying and focusing our efforts on the 20% that really counts. He provided a systematic and practical way to vastly increase our effectiveness, and improve our careers and our companies. This is a revised edition of the book, with 92 more universal scientific principles and laws that will help you achieve personal success in an increasingly challenging business environment.

Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars, RM46.50
There’s much that we can learn about how to live from the three great Roman Stoics – Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Philosophy professor John Sellar’s excellent book draws from the lives and works of these three Stoics to elucidate how their ancient ideas can help us live better lives, including how to understand one’s place in the world, how to cope when things don’t go well, how to manage one’s emotions, and how to behave towards others. Comforting and enlightening, this delightful book serves as a thoughtful guide to the philosophy of a good life.

Indistractable by Nir Eyal, RM58.90
If you’re struggling with being distracted all the time, you’re going to want to read this book to learn how to reclaim your attention and focus. Behavioral design expert Nir Eyal shows the hidden psychology that drive us to distraction, and why it’s not as simple as abstaining from our devices. He lays out a four-step, research-backed model that will help you design your time and not let technology overrun your life. This empowering and optimistic book will help you live a more fulfilling life.