Must Read by ASK

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”  ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

If you want to figure out someone’s personality, thought process and ideologies, find what books he has read, who are his best friends, what significant events happened in his life, and who are his mentors.

By writing this blog, I am opening a little window into myself by revealing the books I have read and which have had a significant impact on my way of thinking, living and impacting. 

Following is the list and summary of some of the books I got to read during last few years. 

The 7 habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey

I read this book for the first time in 2001 and since then I have read it thrice. I refer a lot to this book for clarifying myself on various concepts. I have great admiration and respect for Covey (late) who presented this amazing paradigm shift experience to humanity. Unlike any other self-help books produced in the west, ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’, doesn’t provide quick solutions rather emphasizes on the core. I always recommend this book to anyone who is keen towards personal development. The best way of utilizing this book is to take it as a guide. Don’t rush to read through. Read, reflect and try to apply in your life and you will feel the difference.

Mud, Sweat and Tears

Bear Grylls

To me, Bear Grylls is the living example of how human determination and will power can surmount any challenge. He is not an ideal for outdoor enthusiasts only, but also inspires the housewives, except the parts where he eats worms. In this best-selling, Grylls shares about his early lifespan, insights to the personal life where I realized that he is also like any other ordinary human being, the ups and downs, the SAS part, his resource-lessness at his wedding day and the struggle to become what he is today. A must to read if you want some inspiration in your life.

Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela

While reading this book, I realized that extra-ordinary human are not born great. They go through the hardships of life like any common person, but it is their vision, their faith in it and their restless effort which makes the difference.  The struggle for freedom and building a nation penned in one book in a dramatic manner, where you feel part of it while reading. The book enhances your faith in achieving apparently impossible goals within one life span. Must read for those who are leading any social initiative.

It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life

Lance Armstrong

I loved each and every moment of this book coz I was seeing my own self in it. Lance fought against and defeated the cancer and not ended just there, but went to be a multiple time champion of Tour de France. How cancer transforms a life and makes it more purposeful is what the book is all about. A life changing experience not only for Armstrong but can also be for the readers.

“It’s Not about the Bike is the story of one man’s inspirational battle against the odds, charting his progress through triumph, tragedy and transformation. This is an awe-inspiring tale of immense courage and will.” Thanks Ian Boyle for sharing this book, don’t loose your vigor mate. 

The Power of One

Bryce Courtenay

A great reading that engages your heart and mind simultaneously. It is about the soul searching journey of a little boy who sees racism and hatred in South Africa and chooses to be part of the solution. A good dramatic read.    

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

A book recommended to me by a colleague, read it twice and then recommended to many of my friends and colleagues. “Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book”.  One of the best-seller books, with around a million and a half copies sold around the world. 

Leadership and Self-deception

The Arbinger Institute

I received this book as a gift from a friend in UK, couldn’t read it for almost two years. But it remained in my wish list. And when I started reading, I found that it wouldn’t have been any better time to read this book. Leadership and Self-Deception shows how most personal and organizational problems are the result of a little-known problem called self-deception. Very creative illustration of deep, sensitive and complex human behavior in the form of an interesting story makes it highly engaging. A good source of self-reflection.

The Sealed Nectar

Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri

I started reading this as a Seerah book to learn more about the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but it became a leadership guide book for me. An interesting study ignited within my heart and mind, which made me re-read this book to find how a leader a great can be developed and what are the ingredients of a sustainable social movement. The book now serves as the basis of my thinking and trainings on leadership. I recommend reading it not just as a Seerah book but to gain insights on leadership.

Our iceberg is melting

Holger Rathgenber, John Kotter

What a fascinating book it is? How the change comes and how different people respond it differently is what the book illustrates in the form of a light visual story. A great book to understand how change management works.

Who Moved My Cheese?

Spencer Johnson

Another great book on Change, very well-written in story format with some funny characters. Learning with amusement is how I could describe this book. “Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want, perhaps the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in. The problem is that the cheese keeps moving.    In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change in their search for the cheese. One of them eventually deals with change successfully and writes what he has learned on the maze walls for you to discover. You’ll learn how to anticipate, adapt to and enjoy change and be ready to change quickly whenever you need to.”

The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

A book recommended to me by a co-dreamer at Youth Impact. I took almost one year in completing the whole book. I kept reflecting and observing within and around to relate the lessons from this book with the work I am trying to do these days in Pakistan. “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire”.

Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson

Another great read that made my those days pleasantly memorable when I was reading it. Greg Mortenson, a climber who came to Pakistan for K2, though couldn’t summit it but returned with a dream to build a schools for the children. “This is the remarkable story of how, against all the odds, Greg built not only one but more than sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how he dedicated his life to establishing literacy and peace, and understanding”.

Moving Mountains

Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner, a living legend relates his extra ordinary mountaineering experiences with life and leadership. An amazing read for wisdom seekers. A book that helped me to understand and derive various concepts on leadership, peak performance, human will power and risk management.

Enjoy reading 🙂

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