My Book Notes, Summaries, and Reviews

I've read hundreds of books in my life. I believe that we are the sum of the books we read and the people we interact with. So, inspired by Derek Sivers' notes, I decided to upload my summaries and notes of the books, articles, essays, and other media I consume.

These notes are meant to be skimmed in less than 5 minutes. I'm not trying to summarize every point, but to focus on the most inspiring or thought-provoking bits. Feel free to use them for that, but you can also use them to decide if you might be interested in reading the book yourself.

I will be adding more books as I read more, so bookmark this page if you want to check back in a few months.

If you've got any questions, you can reach me on Twitter or email me at anthony@anthonyjcampbell.com

Click here to see my latest notes.

My Notes

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10

/10) 

Zero to One - By Peter Thiel

The best book on entrepreneurship, innovation, and what makes great companies great. Fascinating thoughts of how to build the future, as well as definite/indefinite optimism/pessimism. A must-read for any founder.

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10

/10) 

Do The Work - By Steven Pressfield

The more important something is, the more Resistance we will feel towards it. Overcoming Resistance requires us to believe in the unbelievable, play dumb, act, and to start before we're ready. There's only one solution. Do the work!

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10

/10) 

Atomic Habits - By James Clear

The BEST book on building new habits and breaking back ones. Period. Super actionable and detailed. I've given away about a dozen copies of this book as gifts to my closest friends. Go read it NOW!

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10

/10) 

Amazon Annual Shareholder Letters - By Jeff Bezos

A must-read for any entrepreneur. Highlights the reasons for Amazon's success: relentless innovation, customer obsession, and turning variable costs into fixed ones. A masterclass in building one of the world's most dominant businesses. Should be on everyone's reading list.

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10

/10) 

The War of Art - By Steven Pressfield

One of the best books on work and craftsmanship out there. Resistance is the enemy. Whenever we procrastinate, Resistance wins. Resistance is what keeps us from achieving our dreams. The only way to beat Resistance is to simply get to work. No bullshit, just work.

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10

/10) 

Mastery - By Robert Greene

Amazing deconstruction of what it takes to become the very best in a field. From Ben Franklin to Paul Graham, figure out how they overcame obstacles, combined their skills, and changed the world. A must read for anyone who wants to accomplish great things..

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9

/10) 

The Little Book of Talent - By Daniel Coyle

Amazing distillation of the success principles found in his other books. It's super short, really actionable, and incredibly inspiring. Read 'The Talent Code' for more in-depth info.

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9

/10) 

I Will Teach You To Be Rich - By Ramit Sethi

Completely changed the way I look at personal finance. Bit American-centric, but it offers great to-the-point rules for structuring your spending. The number one takeaway is to spend extravagantly on the things we really love and to avoid spending in areas we don't.

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9

/10) 

Life 3.0 - By Max Tegmark

The best introduction to AI and its future uses and risks. Whether you're brand new to the field or have some knowledge already, it's an amazing books. Way more in-depth than I originally expected. The first chapter about the Omegas should be required reading for any founder/programmer.

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9

/10) 

Vagabonding - By Rolf Potts

One of the most important books in my life. Always inspires me to go travel and explore. Took this book with me on travels through Central America, East Asia, and India. If this book doesn't make you want to travel, I don't know what will.

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9

/10) 

Deep Work - By Cal Newport

To do valuable work, you need to focus. Yet we're more distracted than ever. Great thoughts on the importance of deep, uninterrupted focus and how to make it a part of your life.

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9

/10) 

4-Hour Work Week - By Tim Ferriss

This book changed my life. Offers a near-timeless blueprint for learning how to say "no", question your assumptions and making better use of your time, money, and life.

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9

/10) 

Elon Musk - By Ashlee Vance

Unbelievably inspiring biography on one of the most interesting and effective entrepreneurs ever. A treat to read, if a tad outdated given that the book came out in 2015.

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9

/10) 

How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia - By Mohsin Hamid

A cautionary yet emotional rags to riches story. Relatable and moving regardless of age or background, I've given away more than a dozen copies so far. The last two pages are a real tearjerker.

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8

/10) 

So Good They Can't Ignore You - By Cal Newport

Following your passion is terrible career advice. Focus on getting really good at something and becoming a craftsperson, passion will follow. Fantastic take on career advice and what it actually takes to be successful in any pursuit.

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8

/10) 

China Airborne - By James Fallows

Does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of change and innovation in China through the lens of aviation. Holds some fascinating stats on the Chinese economy, aerospace industry, and internal politics. A great way to understand China's strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and culture.

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8

/10) 

Awaken The Giant Within - By Anthony Robbins

The granddaddy of self-help books. Filled to the brim with great advice, hard-hitting questions, and compelling methods to change your behavior and get clear on your goals. I solely credit this book for getting me to quit smoking. Can be long-winded at times and a tad dated.

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8

/10) 

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck - By Mark Manson

One of the most popular books of the past decade. Approachable and some well-phrased points. Pain is our compass and growth equates happiness. Really enjoyed reading it but some of his conclusions will come out of left-field. Definitely worth reading.

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8

/10) 

Sapiens - by Yuval Noah Harari

Most accessible history of humankind I've ever read. Economics, government, sociology, and much more, all condensed into one book. Does jump to conclusions here and there but delivers great thoughts on what it means to be human and why we are the way we are. One of the best pop-science books of 2010's.

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8

/10) 

Bold - By Peter Diamandis

Read the first 2/3rds, which are absolutely fantastic at helping you think bigger and setting more ambitious goals. The last third focuses on crowdsourcing, which felt really out of place. Required reading if you want to change the world.

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8

/10) 

The Longevity Diet - By Valter Longo

Can be summarized as ‘eat a lot of vegetables, fast regularly, stay active, and eat little meat.' Fascinating book that completely changed the way I approach diet and exercise. Most people should skip the second half. Just make sure you read chapter 12.

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8

/10) 

The Obstacle Is the Way - By Ryan Holiday

Good introduction to bringing stoic philosophy into your daily life and the 21st century. Filled with lots of thought-inspiring maxims and quotes. Lacking in depth on some aspects, but offers a lot of actionable advice.

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8

/10) 

The Wright Brothers - By David McCullough

The definitive book on the two tinkerers from Ohio, providing lovely details on their youth, their experiments, and eventual success. Great read up until their first flight, after which the book becomes a bit stale in comparison.

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8

/10) 

Age of Ambition - By Evan Osnos

A thorough look at the rise of China and how they're coping with their massive economic growth. Highlights a lot of interesting peculiarities surrounding religion, corruption, infrastructure, and the sheer scale of the growth of China.

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8

/10) 

Tools of Titans - By Tim Ferriss

Collection of hundreds of great insights, tools, advice, etc. but lacking in cohesion. The chapters and profiles feels disjointed, with no clear relationship between them. Great for rereading again and again.

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7

/10) 

Never Eat Alone - By Keith Ferrazzi

In-depth look at how to build a network, foster relationships, and make friends in any situation. Great advice but it's somewhat tainted by how played-out some of his advice is, usually by annoying recruiters and other try-harders. That said, it's a good introduction for almost anyone

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7

/10) 

The Magic Of Thinking Big - By David Schwartz

Prototypical self-help book. Published 50 years ago but still extremely relevant. Whether you're starting a business or simply need a kick in the ass, this book is for you.

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7

/10) 

How To Get Rich - By Felix Dennis

Honest thoughts on what it takes to become filthy rich. Fantastic writing and to-the-point advice. Reading this won't make you rich but it just might help set your mind straight if you want to be rich.

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7

/10) 

Digital Minimalism - By Cal Newport

Interesting look into the effects of excessive phone and social media use, though it does tend to get a bit preachy at times. Great strategies against compulsive technology use and alternatives. I've given away numerous copies of this book to friends & family.

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7

/10) 

Total Recall - By Arnold Schwarzenegger

Biography of the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Highlights his insane work ethic in the gym, in Hollywood, in business, and even in California politics. Entertaining and motivational read, especially if you're interested in fitness. Skip the politics-related chapters ones, though

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7

/10) 

Project Orion - By George Dyson

A chronicle of trying to launch a spacecraft using nuclear bombs. Yes, really. Distillation of the incredible optimism and "go get 'em"-attitude of the 1950s and 60s.

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7

/10) 

Homo Deus - By Yuval Noah Harari

A look at how humanity will change as we go into the future and face the rise of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and automation. Many thought-provoking ideas, but occasionally fails in its delivery.

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7

/10) 

Benjamin Franklin - By Walter Isaacson

An amazing biography on one America's most accomplished and revered founding fathers. Can be held up as an example to be curious, playful, and witty. The middle third didn't really interest me that much.

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7

/10) 

Pax Romana - By Adrian Goldsworthy

A great look into the day-to-day running of Rome and how the population as a whole thought, acted, and was governed. Accessible to a wide audience, but a definite treat to history nerds like me.

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7

/10) 

Outliers - By Malcolm Gladwell

Birthed the idea of 10,000 hours and accumulative advantage. Some great examples and analogies. Feels a bit drawn out at times. Could have been a blog post or two.

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7

/10) 

Art of Learning - By Josh Waitzkin

A masterclass in the art of (meta-)learning, presented as an autobiography. Offers dozens of lessons and principles Josh used to master chess and tai-chi, but wasn't always as applicable or concrete as I'd like.

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6

/10) 

Ego Is The Enemy - By Ryan Holiday

In success and failure, our own ego can be our biggest enemy and self-sabotage can ruin us. Not as actionable or comprehensive as ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ but a decent read on Stoic philosophy nonetheless.

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6

/10) 

21 Lessons for the 21st Century - By Yuval Noah Harari

Collection of thoughts on humanity's past, present, and future. Terror, automation, the decline of nation states; a lot gets covered. Seems more like a collection of blog posts.

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5

/10) 

Emergency - By Neil Strauss

An entertaining tale of becoming ready for the apocalypse. Quite a lot of fluff with some interesting bits sprinkled in. More of a story. I would've appreciated more how-tos and specific recommendations.

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5

/10) 

Sell or Be Sold - By Grant Cardone

Lots of rah-rah sales advice, with several good insights and tips sprinkled in. Falls into the camp of thinking that taking more action will inevitably lead to better outcomes. Whether you believe it or not, definitely provides a kick.

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4

/10) 

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus by Douglas Rushkoff

Radical take on how modern tech companies suppress innovation and economic growth. Rails against public for-profit companies for a bit, but eventually descends into utopian economic plans and proposals.

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4

/10) 

Spartan Up - By Joe De Sena

Some interesting parables and tales about insane endurance events. Can be summarized as: Add voluntary hardship into your life, since it'll make the rest of your life easier. Feels like an ad for Spartan Race.