It is a (known?) fact of the universe that different books speak to different people and people tend to prefer books where the author puts in phrases what the readers are already thinking. “Well written”, says the review, “In particular I enjoyed how this book reaffirmed my belief in what I was already thinking”. If the reader also happen to be going through a phase that is pertinent to the content of the book, a review may also include comments like “Timely! That’s just the information I needed. How magical” ;-)

I have also had books confirm my beliefs and to a very large extent most of my beliefs have been formed by books, since I read a lot. Interestingly enough, Jacques Ellul remarked, that the people most susceptible to propaganda are those who read a lot, since they filter a lot of information through their brains. Considering how his book (which I suggest you read as it may significantly change your perspective on your role in society) was written in an era before mass TV, it may be that those most easily influenced today are those who watch a lot of TV and secondarily those, who read newspapers, magazines, bestsellers, and yes … popular blogs.
I leave it up to the reader to decide whether this blog is popular or not. If yes, consider yourself warned ;-)

Consequently, it follows that if you want to think differently than everybody else, not necessarily as an end but more as a means to and end of living differently, you should also read different books.

What follows is a somewhat eclectic selection of books on personal finance and development that has formed me in a dare I say positive (a few say negative) manner.

  • Living Poor with Style
    I only discovered this book recently, but this has got to be my favorite of this list. Written for another time (the 1970s) and containing a recurrent fascination with weed (which you can just ignore) it is exactly what the title says: Living with style without spending a lot of money. The author and I seem to share similar interests (except I would replace weed with single malt scotch, preferably from Islay and aged at least 10 years) except perhaps me being an evil and exploitative capitalist as well. There is a revised and less extreme version version called Living Cheaply With Style. I much prefer the former, naturally.
  • Siddhartha
    A short story of a young man who can wait, think, and fast. These three qualities, which are the exact opposite qualities that our instant gratification and listen to the experts culture promotes, are very useful to reach any kind of success.
  • Man, Economy, and State
    This book will teach you more about economy than any undergraduate degree in economics. Read the entire 1200+ pages. Strongly recommended.
  • How to Survive Without a Salary
    Once again, how to live well while spending very little money. The strategy here is to work sporadically and living off the savings the rest of the time.
  • Walden
    The original freedom manifest. As far as I’m concerned everything started here. If think any given pf-book has original ideas; the life-energy of Your Money or Your Life (another good book!), for instance, you can find the concept in Walden already. I quote: “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run”.
  • How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
    The libertarian angle. While the whole of society is decidedly anti-libertarian or anti-freedom (at least when it comes to other people), this books delineates how to stay sane and arrange one’s affairs to avoid this. Conformists beware!
  • Meditations
    This is the closest thing I have to a bible. This book by Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor for 19 years as well as a stoic philosopher) covers the more important issues, like life, death, adversity, and how to be an overall good guy.
  • Possum living
    This is a fun read although also slightly dated. Again, the important part are the basic philosophies (take what you can use and leave the rest) as well as moving the boundaries of what you think is possible.

Some of these books will be really hard to buy, since the owners are very reluctant to get rid of them. However, most and possibly all of them can be ordered from the library. Also, if you read the comments below, many of them are available online.

Please let me know in the comments if this list was useful to you and if you would like to see other similarly esoteric lists, even off-topic, like science fiction, cooking, psychology, investing, fitness, or whatever I can dream up.