A lot of writing for me is about reflecting on the things that I have done, books that I have read, experiences that I have well, experienced and to understand what I have taken away from it or what I have learned.

When I went to visit my ex-girlfriend’s parents in China, they asked me all the time what I took away from a particular museum visit or from visiting with friends in China. I mentioned this to another friend of mine who said “that must have been exhausting” and it was. But I realized that only by reflecting on the things you have experienced can you really understand what you took away from it and their way of helping me reflect on those things was by describing what I have learned immediately after.

In this case, I’ve read quite a few books and have listened to many of them as well – I prefer reading as opposed to listening though because even though I’ll hear something interesting, unless it’s in a story form, I won’t be able to recall it after – whereas with writing, I can at least mark it down for later. Usually when I’m listening to audiobooks, I’m also doing something else – whether it’s working out or commuting and it’s a little difficult to mark down specific passages that I enjoy.

If you’re looking for specific audiobooks to listen to that are a great combination of story telling, good takeaways and an exciting subject, consider the following:

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is the lead investigator for the science of people. She does just that – looks at all things about people – interactions, networking, communication, body language and then distills it down into specific things that others can use to improve their own people skills. For example, one takeaway that I got was if I go to a party or networking event, I should hang around or near the host – not by the bathrooms, which is creepy and not by the food tables, which blocks people from enjoying the food or makes them try to balance between eating and socializing. Vanessa narrates the book and has a lot of interesting stories about how to be a people person.

The undoing project by Michael Lewis

A very interesting account of the lives of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, how they became friends and how they eventually broke apart. As friends, they looked at the way humans made decisions and how they made very interesting errors. For example, one such error is that if you heard a random number, it shouldn’t in any way influence a question. But Tversky and Kahneman found that for participants, if they spun a wheel that landed on a random number and then were asked a question, say, what the population of Africa was, the random number would bias their guess (even though logically, you would think that spinning the wheel has nothing to do with the population of Africa). In general, if you want to improve your decision making, this is a great book to read / listen to understand what errors humans are prone to.

The checklist manifesto by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is a surgeon and is a best selling author and writer for the New Yorker. The checklist manifesto made me re-think the power of checklists and how a simple device can help to reduce the cognitive load on your brain (about thinking exactly what to do whether it’s a normal or panic situation) and it surprised me that something as complicated as flying a plane or surgery could be reduced into a checklist.

The day that turns your life around by Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn is the father of all motivational speakers. He has incredible stories, incredible quotes and lots of actionable takeaways – in fact, I make it a practice to listen to his audiobooks at least once a quarter because they inspire me to take action.

My favourite quote from Jim: “If you work hard on your job you make a living, if you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune.”

The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish

This book was one that I was very excited about – it’s a work by Shane Parrish who runs the Farnham Street Blog and it gives you an overview of the most used mental models that can help your thinking and decision making – some are specific to knowledge areas such as biology or mathematics but all of these ones are widely applicable to all fields. It’s a short book (I felt) but one that is certainly worth listening to over and over.

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

Neil is a writer who writes about intentional living. The way Neil writes is instantly relatable – I feel like he writes as if he is talking to a good friend and trying to teach them what it means to be happy. One great idea from his book is that we all think that the happiness equation is: do work + get success = be happy but what happens if you reverse that equation? If you are happy first, Neil argues, work and success will eventually come. You don’t need to work hard and be successful in order to be happy – just be happy!

And one more fun one:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

When the movie came out, there was so much hype about it that I had to go see it myself – and I have to say, it lived up to its expectations. It was funny but it portrayed a very different world than what people would think. So after seeing the movie and knowing that it was based on a trilogy, I needed to read / listen to the books myself. The first book is surprisingly not that different from the first movie – there were a few minor changes but otherwise the movie followed the book. What I’m more excited about is how the movies will depict the second and third books in the series – the next books have even crazier and even richer Asians believe it or not.

What audiobooks have you enjoyed listening to? Which ones would you recommend? Let me know!