"After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. The true university of these days is a collection of books."
- Albert Camus
The Elements of Style - William Strunk
Grammar and punctuation: can’t live with it, can’t live without it. A mystical entity that only English tutors, wizards and witches understand. This book (consisting of only 45 pages), can be completed within a couple of hours. The intended purpose (paraphrased from the introduction) is for use in English courses in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature. It aims to concentrate attention on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated - although, it is to be noted that the book was written in 1918 and it is possible that changes and alterations have been made over the last century.
I acquired some useful knowledge from this book and my attention was brought to common writing mistakes that I make myself. The book will be a useful addition to my bookshelf, as I continue to decipher the mysteries of grammar and punctuation.
Beginning Filmmaking - Elliot Grove
I found this to be a great little book. It encapsulates the basic knowledge and understanding needed to take a script from paper to screen. The content is simple, readable, neatly formatted and provides informative examples in the form of colour photographs. The sections include:
Coming up with ideas, story structure, character development. storyboarding, budgeting, choosing a camera, lighting, sound, locations, props, post production, marketing and more. Highly recommend.
Cinematic storytelling - Jenifer Van Sijll
A compilation of 100 non-dialogue techniques of cinematic storytelling, which include: camera placement, lighting, composition, motion and editing - with examples and analysis of how these techniques were applied in iconic movies in film history. Not a bad book, but there is a lot of superfluous information which isn’t needed.
Story - Robert Mckee
Although this book seems to be one of the most recommended books in screenwriting circles, I didn’t like it. I found it contrived and over complex: too many “rules and regulations” that you must adhere by, if you’re to write a great story. Maybe I interpreted wrong, but even still, the book didn’t fill me with excitement or inspiration; I found it tedious at best. This is just my personal opinion and I would still recommend that you give it a read if you are looking to write your own script because it’s always a good idea to judge things for yourself.
Relentless: 12 Rounds to Success - Eddie Hearn
In all honesty, I was half expecting this book to be average at best - a handful of boxing stories; with a bit of cheekiness and humour thrown in, but oh boy was I wrong: it’s probably up-there with some of the best books that I have read.
Silverspoon, as his dad (Barry Hearn) likes to calls to him, takes us on an intriguing journey through his childhood; his upbringing; his highs; his lows; his relentless work ethic; his unwavering determination and his relationship with his father: which played an integral role in his life - forging him into the man that he is today. Hearn may have been born into a wealthy family, but unbeknown to most and contradictory to his nickname, he wasn’t handed his success on a plater - he had to stand on his own two feet and "bust his balls" to earn the type of success that we see today.
Hearn then proceeds to tell the story of his first job roles - from selling boxing programs to generating UPVC window sales by the process of cold calling. He then delves deep into how he took the poker industry by storm - which spontaneously led to a chance encounter with former professional boxer and Olympic gold champion, Audley Harrison: an encounter that would alter his destiny forever.
The stories told in this book are fascinating and highly entertaining but Hearn also offers the reader a wealth of experience, knowledge and key-skills, which can be directly applied to anybody pursuing their own goals and ambitions - regardless of industry. To conclude, this book is a must read for any person (boxing fan or not) who seeks to achieve and succeed. It will motivate and inspire you to get out there, to work hard, to create a positive mindset and most importantly, to be relentless.
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Every Christmas Eve, without fail, I pull out the USB stick, crack open a bottle of Asti, maybe Advocaat, or maybe both, as me and my wife sit down to watch the film adaptation of A Christmas Carol - 1999 (the Sir Patrick Stuart version - the best version), while wrapping-up Christmas presents and blowing-up copious amounts of balloons. We’ve done this religiously for the past decade, but surprisingly, I’ve never actually read the book until now.
In my opinion, “A Christmas Carol” is one of the greatest stories ever told - so I’ve decided to begin reading the works of Charles Dickens - to learn and understand more about the art of writing and storytelling from one of the all time greats. In this book, Dickens uses simple, clear and understandable language when narrating the story (although there are a few words that I had to look-up). I found it to be an easy read and pleasantly shorter than expected. I think the real genius though, lies in the dialogue - which has a natural flow, is extremely intelligent and the sparkle of real conversation/; It is easy to see why there have been so many movie and theatre adaptations. Overall, this was an enjoyable and educational read, and I’m looking forward to reading more work by the author, Charles Dickens.
On Writing - Stephen King
Initially, I was disappointed when I started listening to this book as I thought that I had purchased an autobiography. No disrespect to Stephen King, but I purchased On Writing to acquire knowledge, pointers, advice and guidance from a legendary writer - not to read about his childhood experience and personal life. Fortunately, the book comes in “two parts” - the first being a memoir, the second, a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade which every serious writer must have.
King offers up his expertise and experience on topics such as, dialogue, description, character development, routine and story - as well as some of the pitfalls that new writers fall into such as passive tense and adverbs (which highlighted common mistakes in my own writing). The second part of this book is literally a blue print that will guide any new writer in the right direction; it’s so good that I immediately listened to the second part for a second time after initial completion. Highly recommend.
Tribe of Mentors - Timothy Ferriss
In meatspace, mentors are extremely difficult to come by - especially if you come from a working class background with a moderately educated social circle. Seeking out successful people can be monumental task, and If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon a person of knowledge and success, more often than not, they don't want to know. Luckily there are many alternatives. Timothy Ferriss who authored this book once said:
"To learn from the best, you don't need to meet them, you just need to absorb them. This can be through books, audio, or a single powerful quote."
And he is 100% correct. Hundreds of successful people have written their stories in books and have documented how they did it, and yet people don't read them. I've also found that social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube can be a useful tool for finding Mentors. There is a treasure trove of knowledge out there, you just have to find it.
So why is Tribe of Mentors such a good book? well its a a compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 130+ of the world's top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors. Their short profiles give a small insight to what makes them tick,
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
I rarely read fiction but after a recommendation, I gave The Alchemist a go and I can honestly say that for me personally, it was surprisingly inspirational. The Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, the young Andalusian shepherd who dreams of buried treasure in Egypt and embarks upon a challenging journey to find it. With all the simplicity and symbolic richness of a fable, Coelho's novel is both a hunt for buried treasure and a spiritual quest of a hero who overcomes trials along the way; with the help from teachers who guide him.
When pursuing my goals and aspirations, I've had the fair share of naysayers who have laughed, sniggered and labelled me weird - but you know what? I couldn't care less. Do not let the opinions of others influence your future aspirations. Let negativity roll of you like water off of a ducks back (excuse the cliché). Life is too short not to follow your passion - do whatever makes you happy. This book motivates me to continue down the long, meandering path of my own adventure; to pursue and persist in the face of adversary and to overcome obstacles that I encounter along the way.
The Bitcoin Standard - Saifedean Ammous
This is one of my favourite books - not only because I am a sound money advocate but also because Ammous takes us on an engaging journey through the history of technologies performing the functions of money - from primitive systems of trading limestones and seashells, to metals, coins, the gold standard, and modern government debt. The mass majority of people in todays society do not understand how the current financial system works - they take it as a given. It reminds me of this quote from the movie "The Truman Show"
"We accept the reality of the world with which we're presented."
People often say that history repeats itself, and in this book, Ammous explores the first century CE, when Roman emperor Julius Caesar issued the “aureus” - a coin containing roughly eight grams of gold. It became a standard method of payment across the Roman Empire. But as growth in the Empire began to slow, rulers started “coin clipping” – a sneaky practice whereby a portion of the precious metal contained in coins was removed to bolster the government’s spending power. This eventually drove up inflation and triggered a series of economic crises that would ultimately lead to the downfall of the once-mighty Roman Empire.
The book moves on to explain the operation of Bitcoin in a functional and intuitive way. Bitcoin is a decentralized, distributed piece of software that converts electricity and processing power into indisputably accurate records - allowing its users to utilize the Internet to perform the traditional functions of money without having to rely on or trust any authorities or infrastructure in the physical world.
The Bitcoin Standard is the essential read for a clear understanding of the rise of the Internet’s decentralized, apolitical, free-market alternative to the current global monetary system.
The Sovereign Individual - James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg
The Sovereign Individual packs a wealth of immense brain power and knowledge. I'm not going to lie, a lot went over my head as Davidson and Rees-Mogg explore the greatest economic and political transition in centuries as our current society enters the 4th industrial revolution, which they refer to as the information age. It delves deep into how this colossal societal shift will change the very fabric of the entire world. The book claims that the transition will liberate individuals as never before, irrevocably altering the power of governments across the globe.
Written in 1997, the book makes some bold predictions - a lot of which have actually come to fruition - while others are literally playing out before our very eyes. A great book for any libertarian. Alastair Campbell (former communications chief to Tony Blair) who doesn't seem to be a fan of this book, but labelled it "the most important book that you have never heard of" - in a blog post in 2018 which you can read here.
The Sovereign Individual is a fundamental read for the 21st century as we enter the 4th industrial revolution - which goes part-way to giving some understanding and clarity to all the bewilderment and weirdness that is occurring in 2020,
How to be Champion - Sarah Millican
Sarah Millican's book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life's blips. The intended target audience is women but don't let that put you off. I found this book very entertaining and it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.
The Daily Stoic - Ryan Holiday
Stoicism is a philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions - to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy, The Daily Stoic offers 366 days of Stoic insights and exercises, featuring all-new translations from the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the playwright Seneca, or slave-turned-philosopher Epictetus, as well as lesser-known luminaries like Zeno, Cleanthes, and Musonius Rufus. Every day of the year you'll find one of their powerful quotations, as well as historical anecdotes, provocative commentary, and a helpful glossary of Greek terms.
For Dummies Franchise
The "For Dummies" books are an extensive series of instructional/reference books which are intended to present non-intimidating guides for readers new to the various topics covered. I really like these books because they dissect complex subjects into simple, understandable guides that are easy to read . From the series, I recommend the following:
Filmmaking for Dummies - Bryan Michael Stoller
Screenwriting for dummies - Laura Schellhardt
Investing for Dummies - Eric Tyson and Tony Levene
Accounting for dummies - John A Tracy
The DV Rebel's Guide - Stu Maschwitz
The DV Rebel's Guide is an all-digital approach to making killer action movies on the cheap and an essential guide to any aspiring filmmaker. The book also received the backing of legendary director Robert Rodriguez who said:
“I'd been wanting to write a book for the new breed of digital filmmakers, but now I don't have to. My pal and fellow movie maker Stu Maschwitz has compressed years of experience into this thorough guide. Don't make a movie without reading this book!”
I will note that although it's a brilliant book, certain parts feel outdated due to the progression of technology since initial publication in 2006.
The Four Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferriss
The 4 Hour Work Week is a self-help book by Timothy Ferriss, an American writer, educational activist, and entrepreneur. The book deals with what Ferriss refers to as "lifestyle design" and repudiates the traditional "deferred" life plan in which people work gruelling hours and take few vacations for decades and save money in order to relax after retirement.
Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich was written by Napoleon Hill in 1937 and promoted as a personal development and self-improvement book. He claimed to be inspired by a suggestion from business magnate and later-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness - Jim Rohn
Wealth and happiness spring from the same fountain of abundance. To unlock the prosperity inside you, James Rohn teaches you about: - Power Goals - Knowledge - Learning How to Change - Controlling your Finances - Mastering Time - Learning the Art of Living Well
Mans Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl
Man's Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Reading this book was a humbling experience that made me feel thankful and grateful for the world that we currently live in. It really puts in to perspective that most of our life's problems are insignificant and trivial compared to some of the horrors that people have endured or still currently endure in less fortunate parts of the world.
You Are a Badass - Jen Sincero
Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to
Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviours that stop you from getting what you want.
The Second Curve - Charles Handy
In The Second Curve, Handy builds on a life's work to glimpse into the future and see what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. He looks at current trends in capitalism and asks whether it is a sustainable system. He explores the dangers of a society built on credit. He challenges the myth that remorseless growth is essential. He even asks whether we should rethink our roles in life – as students, parents, workers and voters – and what the aims of an ideal society of the future should be.
The Magic of Thinking Big - David J. Schwartz
The Magic of Thinking Big gives you useful methods, not empty promises. Dr. Schwartz presents a carefully designed program for getting the most out of your job, your marriage, your family life, and your community. He proves that you don't need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction, but you do need to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there.
Taking Chances - John Haigh
Taking Chances presents an entertaining and fascinating exploration of probability, revealing traps and fallacies in the field. It describes and analyses a remarkable variety of situations where chance plays a role, including football pools, the Lottery, T.V. games, sport, cards, roulette, coins, and dice. The book guides the reader round common pitfalls, demonstrates how to make better informed decisions, and shows where the odds can be unexpectedly in your favour.