Book Recommendations from a Year of Travel

Book Recommendations from a Year of Travel

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I’ve always been an avid reader. I believe it’s one of the reasons I had to get glasses in 5th grade. As a kid, I loved mostly fiction and science fiction books. Some of my favorites were the Lord of the Rings books, Pillars of the Earth, World According to Garp, and the Fountainhead. Now that I’m older, I focus mainly on non-fiction and education books. One of the great things about taking a year off work and traveling, is that I’ve had much more time to read. Instead of bringing a bunch of books with me, I mostly stick to audiobooks. Audible lets you listen to books at two and three times normal speed which is great because it lets you really get through a lot of books fast. For a while, I was listening to and reading a lot of books but I realized that I wasn’t retaining a lot of the information. Trying to correct that, I started taking notes while I was listening to books and summarizing the books soon after finishing them. I’ve found that it really helps me remember the key points from the book and helps me create actionable items for some of the main takeaways.

As I write this post, we are heading to Peru to visit family before finally heading back home to the States. So far I’ve read over 120 books (humble brag) during our honeymoon. From all that reading, I feel like I’ve really learned a lot and am looking forward to actually implementing these new strategies in my everyday life in San Diego. Below is the list of my book recommendations from the number of books I’ve read during this trip and a brief summary of why I liked them so much. I’ve also categorized some of the different book but they are not listed any particular order.


Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan: This book has probably been the most influential in our day to day lives. After reading this book Diem and I immediately began implementing the Human Diet outlined within. It is a little harder to do while traveling, so we began buying our own groceries and cooking more so that we could better control our diet. Dr. Shanahan does a great job of showing of how the food we eat affect not only our epigenetics, but also the genes we pass on to our kids. Her main points focus around two main points, 1) eliminate the foods that harm your genome (vegetable oil and excess sugar) and 2) eat nutritious food that allows you and your kids to reach your genetic potential. Her Human Diet consists of 4 Pillars: 1) Meat on the bone; 2) Fresh Vegetables; 3) Fermented and Sprouted foods; and 4) Organ meats. We’ve already seen great results so far such as increased energy, loss of weight, and clearer skin. We look forward to continuing this approach when we return.

Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson: Before we left for our trip, I completed my first Ironman race, Ironman Arizona 2015. It was an amazing experience but I immediately said it would be my last ironman because the huge time commitment and extra work it meant for Diem. In this book, Mark gives an alternative approach to training the focuses on building a base of endurance fitness using the MAF method. After this base is strong enough, training consists of sprints and shorter workouts that allow longer recovery but still maintains endurance fitness. This allows athletes to significantly cut down the training hours while maintaining performance. While I probably still won’t do an Ironman anytime soon, I will get back into racing shorter distances and use this approach so that I’m not spending so much time away from home.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss: This book could fit into multiple categories. Tim organizes his book into three parts: Healthy, Wealth, and Wise. I took the most out of the Healthy portion so that’s why I included it here. Tim takes the best tidbits from his podcast interviews of some of the most successful people in their fields. One of the best parts about this book is the book recommendations from each of the interviewees. The advice that I plan on implementing are the gymnastic bodies workouts, daily gratitude exercises, facing fears, and becoming durable to failure. This is a huge book so as things progress, I’ll go back and refer to certain chapters and guest that I found particularly helpful.


Start with Why by Simon Sinek: The author’s main premise is that companies that succeed have a strong sense of Why they are in business. Sinek’s Golden Circle consists of 3 concentric circles with the Why in the center, How wrapped around that, then What as the outermost circle. The Why is the mission or main goal of the company. He highlights companies like Apple, Southwest, and Harley Davidson as companies that have a strong Why (e.g., Apple’s unique consumer focus and innovation, Southwest wanted air travel to be affordable to everyone, and Harley as a symbol and identity of freedom for its comustomers). This book pairs nicely with Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the Zappos CEO. Zappos had a clear Why of providing the best customer service and shopping experience for its customers. I plan on focusing on our Why as I continue my career and Diem concentrates on her real estate career.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss: Negotiation was a big part of my old job. I was constantly negotiating and persuading examiners at the patent office. Accordingly, I’m always looking for a way to better communicate my position and persuade others. Former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss gives some great practical advice and exercises to help anyone improve their negotiating skills. He focuses on using actively listening, mirroring, and "how" or "what" type questions to get the other side to start negotiating against themselves. Practice makes perfect, so I looked to take any chance I could get to negotiate during our travels. We’ll see how they work when I get back to work but I’m excited to try them out.


5 Love Language by Gary Chapman: While this yearlong honeymoon is a great opportunity to see the world and have fun, it is also a great opportunity to work on our new marriage. Gary Chapman identifies 5 Love Languages expressed in couples from years of his counseling experiences. The 5 languages are 1) Words of Affirmation; 2) Quality Time; 3) Receiving Gifts; 4) Acts of Service; 5) Physical Touch. Diem and I each took the online quiz to learn each other’s love languages and talked about how to better make sure we’re speaking the correct language going forward. Gary Chapman also gives examples of responses and exercises for each love language for the partner to use to meet the needs of their spouse or significant other.

Grit by Angela Duckworth: Many people believe that natural ability is the key measure of whether a person will be successful. Angela Duckworth explores a much better indication of success, Grit. Duckworth explains that Grit is not just about perseverance. Grit encapsulates two other dimensions: passion and purpose. Those who have passion (internal motivation) for the activity can persist longer than those who just have willpower. Those who have purpose (external motivation) can persist even longer than those who have passion. It’s not just about practice, it must be deliberate practice with the specific aim of improving that defines those with Grit. Duckworth provides research and ways you can train yourself and your kids to be more gritty. For us, we are trying one of the exercises that she mentions, we must always have 1 hard thing that we’re trying to learn and stick with it. Right now, I’m trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon by 2019 and making partner at my firm when I get back to work. Diem is focusing on her new real estate career.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod: I have always been a morning person, Diem not so much. I had been working on a morning routine when I first heard about Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. Hal has had an interesting history. He was once a very successful salesman who was in car accident at age 20 where he was clinically dead for 6 minutes. He recovered and after another series of business failures, came up with the Miracle Morning. His Miracle Morning consists of six activities performed every morning which he’s dubbed as the S.A.V.E.R.S. 1) Silence (prayer or meditation); 2) Affirmations; 3) Visualizations; 4) Exercise; 5) Reading; 6) Scribing (Writing). Affirmations have been the toughest for me to implement but I’ve found that performing these activities starts my day off right and makes me more productive throughout the day. Diem has agreed to start doing the Miracle Morning with me when we get back so hopefully she becomes more of a morning person too.

Guided Mindfulness Meditation by John Kabat-Zinn: I wrote a lot about meditation in my Meditation blog post. For those looking to get started with meditation, this is a great book to learn about the philosophy and practical benefits of mindfulness meditation. The audiobook also has great guided meditations for those looking for some help with their first meditations.




The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday: Most people have something that stopping them from doing one thing that they would really enjoy. Want to travel more, learn a new language, try a new career, move to a new city? There are always excuse on why you can’t do those things. Sometimes it’s no money, no time, can’t leave family, or just too scared to take the plunge. What if those obstacles not only weren’t as bad as you thought, but by overcoming them, they actually made you stronger? This book really spoke to me as I have dealt with many doubts and fears as I had to make tough decisions in the past. Ryan Holiday pulls great quotes and lessons from classic stoics to help put difficulties in perspective and give you a game plan to conquer them. I still have some fears as I move forward coming back from this year abroad: will I get a job, will I be a good dad (when we start a family, this is not an announcement J), will we have enough money, will we be able to travel like this again, etc. This book helped me to see these fears as opportunities to use my creativity, contacts, and skills to not only overcome them but be better for facing them.

The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo: I read this book in high school and was really inspired by its message of following your dreams and fighting through barriers to accomplish them. It was one of the reasons I decided to study abroad in Spain and helped spark my love of travel. I got a chance to re-read it on the truck during our safari and once again, could not put it down. It’s a very short book but it’s packed with great life lessons. If you read this book and are not inspired to do something with your life, then I’ll eat my shoe. I plan on adding this book to my list of books to re-read every year.


Real Estate

Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller: Along with his more recent book Hold, Gary Keller gives new real estate investors everything they need to get started with their first deal. Millionaire Real Estate Investor takes from over a hundred successful real estate investors and distills their advice into a practical how-to guide. The book also covers 4 broad steps to becoming a Millionaire Real Estate Investor: 1) Think a million; 2) Buy a million; 3) Own a million; and 4) Receive a million. We are working our way through these steps and can’t wait to continue our journey.


ABC’s of Real Estate Investing by Ken McElroy: This is a great beginner book for those interested in real estate. After reading Rich Dad (below) and you want to learn more about real estate, I would recommend first reading this book and then move on to the Gary Keller books above.





Getting Things Done by David Allen:  David Allen is the godfather of productivity. Getting Things Done (GTD) has inspired lots of other books and imitation systems so he updated his 2001 book back in 2015 to deal with more current technologies. The book is a beast and can be a little dense at times but it provides a detailed system of categorizing items that come into your to do list and a system of how to handle the new and existing items. The systems five main components are: 1) Collect information; 2) Process the information; 3) Organize the information; 4) Review tasks related to information; and 5) Do the tasks. It can be hard to keep up and we haven’t quite successfully implemented it yet. However, I was constantly working with a growing docket and plan on using this system for my work projects going forward.

Podcast – Beyond the To Do List by Erik Fisher: This podcast is filled with great information and different guests that give their own approach to being more productive at work and at home. I like to take one or two tidbits per episode and try to implement them in my current plan.

Personal Finance

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki: I have re-read this book every year since I first read it in 2013. This book opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about money and finances. As I mentioned in the post about how we afforded this trip, this book put me on the path to acquiring cash flowing assets. I have given this book out more than any other when it comes to recommendations and gifts and I can’t recommend highly enough.



Tax Free Wealth by Tom Wheelwright: You can’t talk about Personal Finance without talking about what is usually people’s biggest expense, taxes. This book goes over the incentives the IRS puts in place to encourage certain activities (e.g., business and real estate ownership). By partaking in one or both of these activities you can greatly reduce your tax burden legally. It is a great supplemental book to the Rich Dad series.




Jefferson and Hamilton by John Ferling: I read this book along with Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Both books are fantastic and go into great detail about the fascinating lives of both Jefferson and Hamilton. I chose this book over, Chernow’s because it does a good job of taking viewpoints from both sides while Cherow’s main focus is Hamilton. The books detail the battle for America’s future between these two exceptional men who could not have been more different. Hamilton was an immigrant born out of wedlock to a poor family. He was truly a self-made man who rose to become American’s second most powerful man. Jefferson was born into nobility, well educated, and highly intelligent and was influential in forging the new nation of the United States. It was amazing to see just how far ahead of his time Hamilton was and how much power he wielded under Washington’s regime. I also found Jefferson’s involvement in Washington’s cabinet fascinating as well as his constant battles with Hamilton. Reading these books also made me realize that not much has really changed in politics regarding how strongly divided the country was and the mudslinging that went on.


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: While this is only one of two fiction books I read while we were away, Dark Matter is still worthy of a recommendation. It’s a sci-fi thriller that reminds me of a mix between Interstellar and Oblivion. The book hits on some of my favorite topics of physics and behavioral science. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a fairly quick read and I’m glad I took a break from non-fiction to read it.

If you want more book recommendations in any one of the above categories, please let me know. I had a hard time narrowing down to just these books. Also, please me know if you have any book recommendations of your own or have any thoughts on the above books.

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Paul is a lawyer taking a mid-career break focused on capturing all his adventures during his yearlong honeymoon around the world.

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