3 Books That Helped Me Think Out of the Box

Reading these can inspire you to look for creative solutions to everyday problems.

3 Books That Helped Me Think Out of the Box
Image by the author.

Reading these can inspire you to look for creative solutions to everyday problems.

I grew up believing my life’s ultimate goal is to find a job that pays well, get married to someone compatible, have kids, and live happily ever after.

Well, who am I kidding? Probably every kid born in the 1990s in India would think in the same way!

But now, I’m going to be 30 in a couple of years, am still unmarried, will probably never have my own kids, and I recently quit my “stable, well-paying” job to seek a life of entrepreneurship.

What changed?

My mindset did. Sure, it didn’t happen overnight. But all through my life, I’ve read 800+ books, and some of them really rewired my brain, forcing me to adopt a different perspective, imparting valuable life lessons in return.

This post contains three such books that inspired me to look for creative solutions to everyday problems. If you’re tired of being “average” and caught in the rat race like everyone around you, these books will help you break out of that cycle and blaze your own trail.

Read on. Who knows, you might find your next favorite book among these.

(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

1. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

As the blurb claims, this book is “a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future.”

The author raises some big questions on topics like work, war, religion, immigration, nationalism, education, and 15 other weighty subjects.

If you’ve read Sapiens and Homo Deus, you’re already aware of Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we’ve come from and where we’re going. In this book, his words will force you to consider your values, purpose, and focus in today’s world full of noise and uncertainty.

“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”

How the book will change the way you think

There are several concrete lessons scattered throughout the book. But more than the lessons, Harari forces you to think by presenting the terms of the discussion with context to historical and philosophical perspectives.

“We are now living in an age of information explosion … the last thing people need is more information. What they really need is somebody to arrange all of the bits of information into a meaningful picture — and this is what I try to do.” — Yuval Noah Harari

This isn’t an easy book to read, as it will force you to rewire a huge part of your current mindset. Once you’re done reading, you’ll see the world in a different way.

If I met someone from the future and they asked me why our world is the way it is, I’d recommend this book to them.

Purchase the book here.

2. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, will take you on a harrowing journey through the concentration camps of Vienna and Poland, giving a heart-wrenching yet very practical look at the happenings in such extreme situations.

Through the practiced eyes of a psychologist, you don’t just see the pain and horror of a concentration camp but the cold logic behind why things are what they seem. It’s a rather unsettling worldview but a critical perspective every person should experience.

In the second half of the book, Frankl gives a detailed introduction to logotherapy — the branch of psychology designed to let a patient find the meaning/purpose of their life, and hence eliminate all thoughts of suicide.

I felt this was a very practical, no-nonsense approach, and I would definitely love to meet and interact with a practicing logotherapist someday.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

How the book will change the way you think

This book will make you self-critical of any future endeavors and consider if they are indeed worth your time. It will influence you to live a meaningful life consciously and to place value on the journey and not just the destination.

It will also help you understand that “meaningful” doesn’t always mean “enjoyable.” Instead, it can equate to “fulfilling.”

Purchase this book here.

3. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman

If you don’t come from a science background, why would you be interested in reading the memoir of the 1965 Nobel Prize winner for physics?

Richard Feynman, aside from being a brilliant physicist, was also an excellent teacher. Even Bill Gates has named Feynman, “the greatest teacher I never had.”

This book is an insight into how Feynman’s mind functioned — fueled by curiosity and a never-ending desire to get to the root of all problems. The chapters are a series of adventures, each shining bright with valuable life lessons.

In essence, it’s a collection of anecdotes by a brilliant mind who had an interesting way of looking at the mundane and rendering it magical. His passion for learning new things and unfailing sense of humor never fails to inspire.

“All the time you’re saying to yourself, ‘I could do that, but I won’t,’ — which is just another way of saying that you can’t.”

How it will change the way you think

This book will inspire you to make curiosity a part of your life. It will help you understand that asking questions lets you grasp the core concepts better and gain more in-depth knowledge of the subject at hand.

Even after you uncover the answers, the book will help you understand that nature is constantly evolving. It’s inevitable that your knowledge will be obsolete soon. This book will help you become more open to conflicting opinions and not shut down someone who speaks something contrary to your beliefs.

Purchase the book here.

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