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33 Really Useful Books That Will Make You A Superior Human Being

In celebration of World Book Day, we've brought together a fine selection of page-turners that'll make you smarter, sexier, richer, healthier, funnier and happier...

BOOKS TO HELP YOU GET SHIT DONE

DOUBLE YOUR SALARY BY WORKING LESS

4-hour-work-week

Not enough hours in the day? Bollocks, says Ferriss, who claims he doubled his salary after figuring out how it was possible to get an entire week's work done in just four measly hours. Sounds implausible, but over a million satisfied readers swear by it.

 

NEVER FORGET ANYTHING EVER AGAIN

moonwalking-with-einstein

Remembering stuff - whether it's the date of your girlfriend's mum's birthday, or simply where you pitched your sodding tent at Glastonbury - is hard. Scientist Joshua Foer says it doesn't have to be this way. During the course of the book, he goes from a bloke who can't even remember where he's left his keys to a USA Memory Champion. And, he is keen to point out, you could do the same.

 

MESS UP YOUR MIND (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY)

think-like-freak

The guys who wrote the mega-successful Freakonomics are back, analysing all sorts of data to help you maximise your potential and achieve more. What could you learn from a Japanese hot dog eating champion? How are the weird backstage requests of an '80s metal band relevant to your life? This book has all the answers.

 

WRESTLE YOUR BRAIN BACK FROM YOUR BASTARD SUBCONSCIOUS

thinking-fast-slow

Ever feel the need to totally change the way you make decisions? Kahneman, a Nobel-prize winner, identifies the two ways in which our brains form thoughts: fast and slow. He also explains why we end up making bad choicse (which, in our case, is often).

BOOKS TO MAKE YOU THE BEST FLATMATE

TALK THE TALK (AND GET WHAT YOU WANT)

you-talkin-to-me

Rhetoric is everywhere. It convicts criminals, brings down governments and causes men to march resolutely towards machine guns. Let writer Sam Leith show you how to use rhetoric to get what you want - from getting a window seat on a plane to having dibs on the biggest room in the house share.

 

LEARN HOW TO SPOT A PSYCHOPATH

psycho-in-your-life

The last thing you want in a flat share is the presence of a budding Ted Bundy. Psychopaths are everywhere and this book - written by a forensic psychologist - will help you spot them. No more opening the cupboard to discover all your gaffer tape and sulphuric acid has gone missing again.

 

SPRUCE UP THE HOMESTEAD WITH THE ART OF MUSIC

posters-volume-2

The problem: your house is barer than a crackhead's pantry. The solution: this A3-sized collection of mad, bad (in a good way) and beautiful concert posters. From Wu-Tang and Ice-T to Bring Me The Horizon and Cannibal Corpse, there's loads of bands in here. Tear one out, add a frame: instant kudos.

 

EXPERT PICK BY HAWKSMOOR BOSS AND MEAT ZEALOT RICHARD TURNER

cook-simple

"I'd strongly recommend anything by Diana Henry, a talented and gifted cook with a natural understanding," says Richard. "She's got perfect pitch when it comes to cooking and her recipes are, for the most part, simple to understand and replicate. If you worked your way through one of her books, then you'd be a great cook by the end of it."

BOOKS TO WIN EVERY PUB DEBATE

BECOME A FOOTBALL SUPER-GENIUS

the-numbers-game

When it comes to football, everyone thinks they're an expert - but read this and you will be. Anderson and Sally turn the whole game on its head, analysing weird facts and figures, working out which stats really do matter and identifying the things that actually make the difference between winning and losing on a football pitch.

 

REBUILD YOUR WORLD FROM SCRATCH

the-knowledge

We've all wondered how we'd react to the world ending. Hide in a cave and drink our own piss, probably. Dartnell, a UK Space Agency fellow at the University of Leicester, has really thought about it, from the challenges of growing food and creating medicine through to working out that an average-sized supermarket (if defended from bandits properly) could feed you for 55 years.

 

MONEY TALKS: LEARN THE LANGUAGE

speak-money

Here's the problem: the financial world has ballsed up our lives but unless you understand phrases like 'margin debt leveraged by market participants,' chances are the whole thing makes about as much sense as a Chinese to Swahili dictionary. Award-winnng author Lanchester will change that.

BOOKS TO BE SEEN READING

BECOME AN ACTUAL PEOPLE PERSON

sapiens-brief-history-mankind

We 'umans have done a thing of two since our species was born 100,000 years ago. Back then, there were six human species on Earth. Now it's just us. How did we beat the others? What made us believe in gods and nations? Why do we trust money and laws? Drawing on biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, Dr Harari reveals how that flint-wielding caveman became a pin-striped capitalist.

 

GET A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON HUMAN HISTORY

guns-germs-steel

A book written by a genius professor who's obsessed with humans. Why have we ended up the way we are? Why are people in one continent using smartphones and living in sky scrapers while other folks across the world are dwelling in huts? Diamond, an American professor of geography and physiology, explains his theory in this Pulitzer-prize winning book. And it's a pretty good one.

 

LEARN SOME BIG NUMBERS

facts-are-sacred

Data - pure, sexy data - has never been easier to gather. Electronic equipment monitors our every journey, supermarket checkout scan and visit to RedTube.com. This book is full of data analysis - both the human (who gets more sex: Android or iPhone users?), and the emotional (the truth human cost of the war in Afghanistan) - all brought to life with brilliant infographics.

BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER

THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS (IF YOU LIKE THAT SORT OF THING)

happiness-by-design

According to London School of Economics professor and bodybuilder, Paul Dolan, to be truly happy requires you to rewire your brain. Lucky for us, the beefy boffin wants to teach you how to redesign your whole life, from the way you use Facebook to how you behave at parties. The end result, apparently, is genuine contentment in your life. Sounds nice.

 

DO MORE BY THINKING LESS

unthink-unthink-unthink-unthink

You may think you think the way you think you think, but Chris Paley says you don't. Make sense? Well, after reading this book it will. Paley explains that you mind is in fact dominated by your unconscious. Learn why it's better to start in the beer and snacks section of the supermarket and why, if you want someone to fancy you, you should always wear red and make her somewhere frightening. Intrigued? We are

 

EXPERT PICK BY VIRGIN BOSS AND ENTREPRENEUR RICHARD BRANSON

mandela-way

"This is a truly life-changing book," says Richard. "It tells Madiba's remarkable story and the transformation of South Africa over his lifetime. Not only is it well written, it expertly shares important life lessons in a way that is practical and inspirational for people in many walks of life. It is one of the best books I have ever read."

 

ALL PLAY AND NO WORK WILL MAKE YOU A FUN GUY.

screw-work-lets-play

This is a 10-step guide to quitting the life you hate (or at least find pretty boring) and finding out how you can make a living doing what actually makes you happy (unless what makes you happy is frottaging strangers). It's also full to the brim with stories from entrepreneurs who turned their passion into their well-remunerated living.

 BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU AN INSUFFERABLE SMART-ARSE

WHEN IN ROME, READ THIS

judge-this-book-by-cover

Is the grass always greener on the other side? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? Baggini analyses loads of old truisms, first telling you where they come from, and then deciding whether they're ever true any more. Warning: reading this book will make you annoying.

 

EXPERT PICK BY RETIRED ASTRONAUT AND SPACE WALKER CHRIS HADFIELD

before-the-dawn

Chris says: "Imagine if somebody handed you a tool to see through history. Before the Dawn takes our understanding of prehistoric humans and uses the human genome to separate fact from guessing. Using CSI-like lab work it shows when we first walked out of Africa, and even proves when we started wearing clothes."

 

BECOME THE MOST INTERESTING MAN YOU KNOW

wonderful-world

This is one man attempting to explain "the big stuff." Why do we need money? Does time actually exist? This book will let you shut down half-baked kitchen debates about the nature of existence in seconds.

 

TRUST THE NUMBERS

hidden-maths-everyday-life

Did you find maths class a mind-numbing jumble of theorems and square roots and equations? Let acclaimed mathematician Ellenberg show you how school's most boring subject in fact touches everything you do. Analyse your life through a mathematician's lens and never be wrong again.

BOOKS THAT WILL BOOST YOUR CREATIVITY

SYNC UP YOUR LIFE AND BECOME SUPER SUCCESSFUL

daily-rituals

Is your evening routine the same as Stephen King's? Do you take your coffee like Beethoven (exactly 60 beans to a cup)? Currey maps out the everyday routines of brilliant people from history and asks how it helped them become great thinkers. So for all you know, the fact you brush your teeth after having a shower could be holding you back.

 

GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIEND

powers-of-two

If - as Harry Nilsson sang - one is the loneliest number, then two might very well be the awesomest. This book proves that if you're interested in doing anything creative - whether that's writing a book, making a film or even starting your own business - you're better off doing it in a pair. So if you and your mate are a fledgling Lennon and McCartney, Shenk says two is better than one.

 

EXPERT PICK BY COMEDIAN AND TELEVISION WRITER JASON COOK

frank-skinner

"For me, the one book that has shaped what I do more than anything is Frank Skinner's first autobiography," says Jason. "It charts his rise through the ranks of stand-up but is also a bit of a bible for anyone wanting to try comedy."

BOOKS TO GET YOU UP OFF YOUR ARSE

DROP OUT, TUNE IN, HAVE FUN

autobiography-super-tramp

The memoir of a nineteenth-century writer who, at the age of 22, said "sod it" and sailed off to America. Davis bums about, gets thrown in jail and meets a lot of hard bastards. A great book about doing what you want because life is short.

 

YOUR MANLY DOSE OF ADVENTURE, GRIT AND GUTS

ranulph-fiennes

FHM Hero and living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes writes about the people who have inspired him. Stirring stuff from one of the toughest guys we've met.

 

EXPAND YOUR MIND WITH TRAVEL (WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE)

railway-bazaar

The coolest travel writer of all time. Theroux (dad of Louis) upped sticks as a young man and decided to travel all over Asia. Unlike a lot of guys who have done the same thing since, Theroux is as funny as he is smart (and what's more, when something's shit he doesn't mince his words). You'll laugh, you'll learn, you'll want to book the mother of all holidays.

 

GET INSPIRED BY THE BEST

success

A natty collection of helpful bits of wisdom from loads of people who managed to make a success of themselves off their own backs. How did JK Rowling get started? What keeps Tiger Woods motivated (apart from blonde women)? Just the thing if you require a bit of encouragement to go out there and make something happen.

BOOKS THAT WILL LAND YOU A JOB

MAKE PEOPLE SPEND MONEY THEY DON'T HAVE ON THINGS THEY DON'T WANT

sales-for-non-sales-people

For better or for worse, selling stuff is something most of us have to do at some point. Whether it's convincing your girlfriend to go on a particular holiday or shilling garden furniture on Gumtree, convincing someone they want something is part of life. This book clues you up on how to sell stuff - in life and work - like DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street, but with less Quaaludes and screaming.

 

BECOME UN-FIREABLE

are-you-indispensable

Seth Godin has made a living writing books and blogs about self-improvement, professionally and personally. In Linchpin, he explains how to turn up at your first day at work and immediately make yourself indispensable, drive your career and create a better future for yourself. Their key to doing this - according to Godin - is to essentially fuck shit up, throw away the rule book and do things your own way. Isn't it always!

 

OVERCOME ANYTHING

david-goliath

Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist and a regular on Time magazine's annual 100 Most Influential People list, has made a career out of blowing people's minds with his books. This time, he's writing about the little guy (no, not your penis), and how underdogs - such as the severely dyslexic David Boies who became one of the world's most powerful lawyers - are actually at an advantage in life.

 

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS

confessions-of-entrepenuer

Ever wondered what it's really like to be an entrepreneur? This book won't tell you how to become one - those self-help manuals already exist. Instead, it lays bare what starting a business actually involves. From the sacrifices you'll have to make in your personal life, to the dizzying and addictive highs of success, it will teach you what following your dreams and chasing ambition and fortune is really about.

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