Over the course of a 30-year military career I had the distinct privilege to lead troops both in garrison and deployed.  I am a firm believer that leaders are readers and should take the time to study.  Books are meant to make you better, challenge how you see the world, and build a framework for critical thinking.  Before heading out on my 2,500-mile mountain bike adventure I built an audiobook list I labeled as a ‘Trail MBA.’  I have personally read or have listened to many of these titles and the rest are “on the list.”  I challenge each of you to open your minds and challenge yourselves.  Leadership is an art that can be learned through study and experience.

Book List

  1. Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance. 7 hours and 55 minutes.

The Art of Learning takes listeners through Waitzkin’s unique journey to excellence. He explains in clear detail how a well-thought-out, principled approach to learning is what separates success from failure. Waitzkin believes that achievement, even at the championship level, is a function of a lifestyle that fuels a creative, resilient growth process. Rather than focusing on climactic wins, Waitzkin reveals the inner workings of his everyday method, from systematically triggering intuitive breakthroughs, to honing techniques into states of remarkable potency, to mastering the art of performance psychology.

  1. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulneragle Tranforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown. 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena – whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. 7 hours and 15 minutes.

For over 60 years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this audiobook has carried thousands of now-famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

With this truly phenomenal audiobook, learn:

  The six ways to make people like you

  The twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking

  The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

And much, much more!

  1. It Starts with Why by Simon Sinek. 7 hours and 18 minutes.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

  1. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pulls Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek. 8 hours and 5 minutes.

Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort – even their own survival – for the good of those in their care.

Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.

  1. Lead Yourself First by Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin. 7 hours and 11 minutes

To find solitude today, a leader must make a conscious effort. This book explains why the effort is worthwhile and how to make it. Through gripping historical accounts and firsthand interviews with a wide range of contemporary leaders, Raymond Kethledge (a federal court of appeals judge) and Michael Erwin (a West Pointer and three-tour combat veteran) show how solitude can enhance clarity, spur creativity, sustain emotional balance, and generate the moral courage necessary to overcome adversity and criticism. Anyone who leads anyone – including oneself – can benefit from solitude.

  1. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. 6 hours and 7 minutes

To find solitude today, a leader must make a conscious effort. This book explains why the effort is worthwhile and how to make it. Through gripping historical accounts and firsthand interviews with a wide range of contemporary leaders, Raymond Kethledge (a federal court of appeals judge) and Michael Erwin (a West Pointer and three-tour combat veteran) show how solitude can enhance clarity, spur creativity, sustain emotional balance, and generate the moral courage necessary to overcome adversity and criticism. Anyone who leads anyone – including oneself – can benefit from solitude.

  1. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. 16 hours and 5 minutes

In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency”, include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. He also describes the innovative tools the firm uses to bring an idea meritocracy to life, such as creating “baseball cards” for all employees that distill their strengths and weaknesses and employing computerized decision-making systems to make believability-weighted decisions. While the book brims with novel ideas for organizations and institutions, Principles also offers a clear, straightforward approach to decision making that Dalio believes anyone can apply, no matter what they’re seeking to achieve.

  1. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield 2 hours and 41 minutes

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor – be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love… for yourself. Whether an artist, writer or businessperson, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

  1. F-K Your Feelings: Master Your Mind, Accomplish Anything and Become a More Significant Human by Ryan Munsey. 9 hours and 19 minutes

Business owners, entrepreneurs, regular people looking to get in shape, anyone with a goal that isn’t terrified of tough love – you need to listen to F–k Your Feelings – as soon as possible! In this audiobook you’ll learn how to use personal mind control techniques to control the way your brain is wired, constantly accomplish your goals, and feel MORE pleasure during the day.

  1. Mastery by Robert Greene 16 hours and 9 minutes

The eagerly anticipated new book from the author of the best-selling The 48 Laws of Power 

What did Charles Darwin, middling schoolboy and underachieving second son, do to become one of the earliest and greatest naturalists the world has known? What were the similar choices made by Mozart and by Caesar Rodriguez, the U.S. Air Force’s last ace fighter pilot? In Mastery, Robert Greene’s fifth book, he mines the biographies of great historical figures for clues about gaining control over our own lives and destinies. Picking up where The 48 Laws of Power left off, Greene culls years of research and original interviews to blend historical anecdote and psychological insight, distilling the universal ingredients of the world’s masters.

Temple Grandin, Martha Graham, Henry Ford, Buckminster Fuller – all have lessons to offer about how the love for doing one thing exceptionally well can lead to mastery. Yet the secret, Greene maintains, is already in our heads. Debunking long-held cultural myths, he demonstrates just how we, as humans, are hardwired for achievement and supremacy. Fans of Greene’s earlier work and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers will eagerly devour this canny and erudite explanation of just what it takes to be great.

  1. Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley , the Navy Seals and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal. 8 hours and 24 minutes

Building a bridge between the extreme and the mainstream, this groundbreaking and provocative book examines how the world’s top performers – the Navy SEALS, Googlers, Fortune 100 CEOs – are using altered states to radically accelerate performance and massively improve their lives, and how we can, too.

  1. Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success. By Napoleon Hill. 5 hours and 51 minutes

In 1938, just after publication of his all-time best-seller Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill revealed that he had broken the Devil’s Code, forcing him to confess his secrets. The resulting manuscript – Outwitting the Devil – proved so controversial, it was hidden for more than 70 years. Now, Sharon Lechter brings us this important book, annotating and editing it for a contemporary audience. Using his legendary ability to get to the root of human potential, Hill digs deep to identify the greatest obstacles we face in reaching our personal goals – including fear, procrastination, anger, and jealousy – as tools orchestrated by the Devil himself. These hidden methods of control can lead us to ruin, and Hill reveals the seven principles of good that will allow us to finally triumph over them and succeed.

Fascinating, provocative, and empowering, Outwitting the Devil shows how to create your own path to success, harmony, and fulfillment in an age of uncertainty and fear.

  1. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins. 13 hours and 37 minutes

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare – poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a US Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name him The Fittest (Real) Man in America.

In Can’t Hurt Me, he shares his astonishing life story and reveals that most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities. Goggins calls this The 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential.

An annotated edition of Can’t Hurt Me, offering over two hours of bonus content featuring deeper insights and never-before-told stories shared by David. Not available in other formats.

  1. Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky and Michael Goldstrom. 26 hours and 27 minutes

More than a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolsky’s genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolsky’s storytelling concept is delightful, but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: He starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person’s reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs and then hops back in time from there in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.

And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs – whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a person’s brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.

  1. Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian et al. 12 hours and 23 minutes

A captivating history of the universe – from before the dawn of time through the far reaches of the distant future.

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. 20 hours and 2 minutes

The guru to the gurus at last shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s seminal studies in behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, and happiness studies have influenced numerous other authors, including Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman at last offers his own, first book for the general public. It is a lucid and enlightening summary of his life’s work. It will change the way you think about thinking.

Two systems drive the way we think and make choices, Kahneman explains: System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System Two is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Examining how both systems function within the mind, Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities as well as the biases of fast thinking and the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and our choices. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, he shows where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, contrasting the two-system view of the mind with the standard model of the rational economic agent.

Kahneman’s singularly influential work has transformed cognitive psychology and launched the new fields of behavioral economics and happiness studies. In this path-breaking book, Kahneman shows how the mind works, and offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and personal lives – and how we can guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

  1. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. 2 hours and 59 minutes

We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding – “tribes”. This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians – but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today.

Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that – for many veterans as well as civilians – war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Tribeexplains why we are stronger when we come together and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins. 10 hours and 1 minute.

Built to Last, the defining management study of the ’90s, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

But what about companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

  1. Anti Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. 16 hours and 14 minutes.

In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the “antifragile” is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish.

Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is immune to prediction errors. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is everything that is both modern and complicated bound to fail? The audiobook spans innovation by trial and error, health, biology, medicine, life decisions, politics, foreign policy, urban planning, war, personal finance, and economic systems. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are heard loud and clear.

Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary, Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave – and thrive – in a world we don’t understand, and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand and predict. Erudite and witty, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: What is not antifragile will surely perish.

  1. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win. By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. 9 hours and 33 minutes.

Since its release in October 2015, Extreme Ownership has revolutionized leadership development and set a new standard for literature on the subject. Required reading for many of the most successful organizations, it has become an integral part of the official leadership training programs for scores of business teams, military units, and first responders. Detailing the mindset and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult combat missions, Extreme Ownership demonstrates how to apply them to any team or organization, in any leadership environment. A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.

  1. The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything by Daniel Coyle. 6 hours and 6 minutes.

New York Times best-selling author explores cutting-edge brain science to learn where talent comes from, how it grows, and how we can make ourselves smarter.

How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top 20 women players than the entire United States? How did a small town in rural Italy produce the dozens of painters and sculptors who ignited the Italian Renaissance? Why are so many great soccer players from Brazil?

  1. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simply Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. 5 hours and 28 minutes.

If you want less on your plate and more for your life and career, tune in to the #1 Wall Street Journal best seller, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. The ONE Thing will bring your life and your work into focus. Authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan teach you the tricks to cut through the clutter, achieve better results in less time, dial down stress, and master what matters to you. Unabridged version includes:

  1. The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind by Timothy R. Jennings MD. 7 hours and 50 minutes.

While growing older is inevitable, many of the troubles we associate with aging – including dementia, disability, and an increased dependence on others – are not. The choices we make now can help us to maintain our vitality, a sharp mind, and our independence as we age.

Filled with simple, everyday actions we can take to avoid disease, promote vitality, and prevent dementia and late onset Alzheimer’s, The Aging Brain is an easy-to-use guide to maintaining brain and body health throughout our lives. Based on solid, up-to-date scientific research, the interventions explained in this book not only prevent progression toward dementia even in those who have already shown mild cognitive impairment, they also reduce disability and depression and keep people living independently longer than those who do not practice these methods.

For anyone hoping to slow the aging process, as well as anyone who acts as a caregiver to someone at risk of or already beginning to suffer from dementia and other age-related diseases, this book offers a hopeful, healthy way forward.

  1. Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World’s Fittest Athletes by Ben Bergeron. 3 hours and 58 minutes.

CrossFit trainer Ben Bergeron has helped build the world’s fittest athletes, but he’s not like other coaches. He believes that greatness is not for the elite few; that winning is a result, not a goal; and that character, not talent, is what makes a true champion. His powerful philosophy can help anyone excel at all aspects of life.

Using the dramatic competition between the top contenders at the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games as a background, Ben explores the step-by-step process of achieving excellence and the unique set of positive character traits necessary for leveling up to world-class. The mindset and methodology that have produced some of the greatest athletes in the world’s most grueling sport can work equally well for golfers, lawyers, artists, entrepreneurs – anyone who’s willing to commit totally to becoming better than the best.

By Chasing Excellence, you’ll discover how extraordinary it’s possible for you to be.

  1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. 6 hours and 50 minutes

Why do some products get more word of mouth than others? Why does some online content go viral? Word of mouth makes products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. It’s more influential than advertising and far more effective.

Can you create word of mouth for your product or idea? According to Berger, you can. Whether you operate a neighborhood restaurant, a corporation with hundreds of employees, or are running for a local office for the first time, the steps that can help your product or idea become viral are the same.

Contagious is filled with fascinating information drawn from Berger’s research. You will be surprised to learn, for example, just how little word of mouth is generated online versus elsewhere. Already praised by Dan Ariely and Dan Gilbert, and sold in nine countries, this book is a must-listen for people who want their projects and ideas to succeed.

  1. The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What you Love and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau. 8 hours and 14 minutes.

Here, finally, distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such – and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

  1. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Den Horowitz. 7 hours and 57 minutes.

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup – practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Thingsis invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.

  1. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. 2 hours and 33 minutes.

What you are today is not important, for in this runaway best seller you will learn how to change your life by applying the secrets you are about to discover in the ancient scrolls.

  1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini PH.D. 10 hours and 6 minutes.

Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say yes – and how to apply these understandings.

Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His 35 years of rigorous, evidence-based research, along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior, has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader – and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.

  1. The Brain Always Wins by John Sullivan Chris Parker. 7 hours and 31 minutes.

The Brain Always Wins is the practical guide to improving your life through better brain management. It is based on one simple fact: our brain controls and determines everything we do! How we perceive, understand and respond to the world, how we survive, adapt and communicate, how we learn and remember, the decisions we make and the emotions we feel are all determined by our amazing brain. We have to take care of our brain because it takes cares of us! And the great news is that we can!

In The Brain Always Wins John Sullivan and Chris Parker combine science and storytelling, teaching us all how to create our own personalised brain-management process. So if you want to improve any – or all – aspects of your life, from personal to professional and anything in between, The Brain Always Wins will show you how.

  1. You are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Dr. Joe Dispenza. 12 hours and 6 minutes.

Is it possible to heal by thought alone – without drugs or surgery? The truth is that it happens more often than you might expect. In You Are the Placebo, Dr. Joe Dispenza shares numerous documented cases of those who reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even the tremors of Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo. Similarly, Dr. Joe tells of how others have gotten sick and even died the victims of a hex or voodoo curse – or after being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness. Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies to try to exclude the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs.

Dr. Joe does more than simply explore the history and the physiology of the placebo effect. He asks the question: “Is it possible to teach the principles of the placebo, and without relying on any external substance, produce the same internal changes in a person’s health and ultimately in his or her life?” Then he shares scientific evidence of amazing healings from his workshops, in which participants learn his model of personal transformation, based on practical applications of the so-called placebo effect. The book ends with a “how-to” meditation for changing beliefs and perceptions that hold us back – the first step in healing.

You Are the Placebo combines the latest research in neuroscience, biology, psychology, hypnosis, behavioral conditioning, and quantum physics to demystify the workings of the placebo effect and show how the seemingly impossible can become possible.

  1. The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley. 13 hours and 37 minutes.

Life is getting better at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before.

The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for 200 years.

Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization, which started more than 100,000 years ago, has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.

This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the 21st century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

  1. 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson. 15 hours and 40 minutes.

Humorous, surprising, and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.

What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant, and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure, and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith, and human nature while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its listeners.

  1. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. 41 hours and 32 minutes

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded was the result of a character that had been forged by life experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

This capacity enabled President Lincoln to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to preserve the Union and win the war.


Crusoe is retired from the Air Force after 30-years of service as a flight crew member.  He spends most of his time thinking about the apocalypse and how to mitigate its effects.  When not immersed in academic pursuits, he is often on a trail hiking in the mountains of North Georgia or reading with a glass of Irish whiskey and a German Shepherd by his side.   Global travel enthusiast, history nerd, Appalachian Trail thru hiker, and recovering ultra-endurance athlete.  He can be reached at [email protected]