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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Three books I read since the beginning of the year stand out as books readers of The Wealthy Accountant should find interesting and useful. Two books I recommend for purchase, the other can be borrowed from the library; I’ll indicate my recommendation as I introduce each book. The dividing line between borrowing from the library and purchase is the desire to mark the book with a highlighter as you read. Highlighted books are easy to use as future reference. All books I recommend in this blog are books I highlight and own.

A strong theme on The Wealthy Accountant is frugality. So why do I recommend the purchase of so many book? First, I have a weakness when it comes to books. I buy a third to half of all books I read. The percentage changes with time. Many times I start reading a library book and instantly know I want to mark the important passages for future research and use. Your need for research material may not be as high as mine if you don’t own a business or publish a blog.

Second, if a book is important I will find a way to own it. Knowledge is power; knowledge is freedom. My mind is my most precious asset. I feed my mind every day and reference back to previously read books often. A well-read person is almost always wealthier in financial terms, but is always wealthier in quality of life. I have never met a successful person who is not well-read.

Cutting costs is easy. Unnecessary spending is tossed out the window. But books are as vital as food. Some books, especially novels, are a one-time read so the library is a perfect way to consume these books without any financial outlay. Some nonfiction books fall in the same category. Then there are books which touch us deeply. A few works of fiction rise to this level. Flowers for Algernon comes to mind. Many nonfiction books are significant enough to own. If you are like me, you will find yourself returning to these treasures often.

On to our list of must read books to finish off the winter.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson

I recommend this book for purchase. My library has several copies but there is a waiting list, a good sign a book should be purchased instead.

The catchy name of this book is the reason I used it as the title of this post. It grabs the attention. It is also the same reason I spent so much time avoiding it. I read enough about Mark Manson online to know roughly what the book would be about. Boy was I wrong.

The Subtle Art was recommended several times before I pulled the trigger, buying the book. My concern is this would be a fuckfest. I have no problem with foul language. It attracts attention and focuses the reader. But fucking this and fucking that gets old after a while.

The first half of The Subtle Art has plenty of f-bombs, but not overwhelming or gratuitous cussing. Manson starts with what he means by not giving a fuck. He points out: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different. The second part of his definition is: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity. He then gives examples of what he means by his definition of giving a fuck and when to give them.

As strange as it sounds on the surface, this is a book about living the good life. It has Stoic undertones throughout. Happiness is discussed, along with the crazy idea we are somehow special when we are not. A full chapter is devoted to why you are wrong about everything and so is he.

Manson drops hints of how the book will end early on and you have no idea how hard hitting it will be. He describes how much of a dick he was in adolescence and early adulthood. The second half of The Subtle Art tones down the language and takes a more serious approach. Manson explains how a single event changed his life. Though no fault of his own, a friend died. It was the wakeup call Manson needed to grow up.

I’ll leave the end for your personal pleasure. No spoilers today. What I will tell you is where I was when I finished The Subtle Art. I was in the Gainesville, Florida airport waiting for my flight home from Camp Mustache SE. As you probably noticed, I can be an emotional writer and reader. The Subtle Art finale had me fighting back tears. Life can provide subtle lessons or hit you in the face with a 2 x 4. Manson got the plank across the puss. How he came to terms with his best friend’s death is heartwarming as well as educational. The next time you see someone on the edge, remember, they may have come from a much different place than you have.

I recognized a piece of Manson in me as he had to make a choice. He was a party guy and I never was. But that does not mean we do not share common ground. The Subtle Art is a powerful message about living life regardless what is thrown your way. It reminds us how precious, and fragile, life is. We need to learn when to give a fuck and when not to. It matters.

Species: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

Unless you wish to use Species as a reference manual it is recommended you borrow this book from the library.

Species is 416 pages of human history from the beginning of the Cognitive Revolution to modern times. I love the kind of material Species presented so it was all interesting me. Early human history fascinates me the most. How humans went from one of the myriad animals to the world’s dominant species is an engaging story. It is the story of us and how we got to be us.

We think of global warming and climate change as man’s first real manipulation of the environment. It’s not. The historical record is clear. Whenever humans, or more accurately, Homo sapiens, arrived in a new part of the planet, things changes quickly. Neanderthals and other humans did not have the same effect as sapiens did. The Earth once hosted several species of humans. Sapiens are the sole survivors. Wherever sapiens went, other humans and large animals lost ground.

But readers of this blog will be most interested by the invention/creation of money and how it changed sapiens forever. Sapiens explores what money really is and what it allows us to do. Without money, including fiat money*, most of what we see and do today would not be possible.

Also of interest is the review of The Capitalist Creed. History is interesting because it can give us clues to the future, what we are really interested in. Where sapiens go from here is always a mystery, but we can get a good idea by studying the past up to our own time.

The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), by Seth Godin

I recommend this short book for purchase, but you may wish to check it out at the library before making the purchase.

In under 100 pages Godin outlines why it is so important to know when to quit. In fact, quitting is one of the most important things you can do to achieve success. Quitting before the dip or when you find yourself in a Cul-de-Sac is the only way to preserve the time you need to pursue worthy goals.

The Dip is not only about quitting, but about when to stick it out. All endeavors go through a dip. My tax practice has experienced several dips over the years. I rose to each challenge, transforming my business into something better than before. Even this blog is now going through a dip. All blogs do. Traffic doesn’t go straight up without end. Knowing when to stick with it counts. How you stick with it determines the outcome.

The best part of The Dip is about why it is so important to be number one in whatever you do. This does not mean you must be number one in the world. It means you must be number one in your micro environment/niche or you are irrelevant. The Dip shows you how to reach that goal.

On second thought, I recommend you buy The Dip. My copy has a lot of highlighted text I am sure to return to often.

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Before the weather gets too nice you want to digest these three books. Normally I read a book per week; I managed over double that pace in January. Time on the road gave me more time to read. Tax season will dig into my reading time so I had to get it in when I could.

No matter how busy I am I always find time to read. There is no way I can serve my clients, and you, my dear readers, if I don’t continually educate myself with awesome books. As always, the best of what I read, I will share.



* The only value fiat money has is perceived value. The government declares fiat money’s value without backing the money with any real asset, such as gold. China was the first to use fiat money around 1000 A.D. All nations use fiat money today. The Swiss Franc was the last non-fiat currency to sever its link to gold in 2000.

Jerry Gordon

Tuesday 14th of February 2017

If you own a Kindle (and maybe similar products) you can obviously download the book from the library but if you use the Kindle highlight feature, your highlights will be saved even after you "return" the book to the library. I usually print them out to keep handy

John McCarthy

Monday 13th of February 2017

Thanks, I added these to my Audible wish list.