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  • Nathanael Littauer, CSCS

The 2020 Book List

I once heard someone say that you an accurate judgment of a man was the size of their bookshelf. Maybe this is true, and maybe it's not. However, reading and the pursuit of knowledge is something I hold to be of the highest regard in building a stronger future, as it builds a stronger mind.

When Spotify released their #2020Wrapped feature which conglomerated all of your listens for the year, it was revealed that I listed to 15,740 minutes of podcast episodes, which broke down to over 257 hours worth. In my curiosity, I calculated the number of hours of audiobooks I also listened to, which calculated out to be roughly 91 hours of listening (note that I do play all audiobooks on 1.25 speed).


I wrote in 2019 what my current favorites were for both podcasts and Audiobooks. This year, I have decided to narrow it down to the books I think you should read, and the specific episodes I think you should listen to.

Books

But first, I think it would be a travesty not to list the books I've read or listened to this year, and then recommend which ones I found to be the most insightful. The same will be done for podcasts, and which episodes specifically you should listen to (an * denotes Audiobook).

  1. Truthful Living - Napaleon Hill

  2. Raise Your Game - Alan Stein Jr.

  3. Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl

  4. Ordinary Men - Christopher R. Browning*

  5. Fortitude - Dan Crenshaw*

  6. The Coddling of The American Mind - Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff*

  7. iGen - Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D.*

  8. The Madness of Crowds - Douglas Murray*

  9. Talking To Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell*

  10. Don't Burn This Book - Dave Rubin*

  11. The Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn*

  12. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell*

  13. The Sports Gene - David Epstein

  14. Animal Farm - George Orwell

  15. Periodization Training For Sport - Tudor Bompa & Carlo Buzzichelli

Instead of ranking these books, I wanted to make some recommendations as to which ones I found to be the best or most impactful, and the reasons why I chose them in the first place.


Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl

I have read or listened to this book 4 times in the last year and half. As someone who struggles with depression and the occasional lapse into anxiety, this has been one of the most helpful books in bringing about a shift in mindset. Written by a survivor of the Nazi Concentration camps, this book denotes an interesting perspective on suffering and meaning in life. I would be remiss to say that it did not tremendously help me through what everyone will admit has been a tumultuous 2020.


The Coddling of The American Mind - Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff

I listened to Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw, which talks about our current state of "Cancel Culture" and "Outrage Culture", and in the process takes many talking points from The Coddling of The American Mind. So I listened to this one as well, which I found to be a brilliant breakdown on the need to hear out, read about, and have open conversations with others of opposing viewpoints. This book is a must read for an interesting perspective on where culture has been headed, and also falls greatly inline with the Strong Future model's emphasis on a Strong Mind being thoughtful and educated.


Ordinary Men - Christopher R. Browning and The Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

In our current society, the terms "Nazi" and "Socialist" seem to get thrown around a lot. In order to get a deeper understanding of what these both really mean, I found it necessary to include both of these in the same suggestion, as they are about each individually. I forewarn you that these are not joyous accounts, but rather ones of how atrocious extremism in any form of viewpoint can become when people commit to a dogma or ideology rather than their own humanity. These books are long, but allow us to see sides of what has been in the past (and may give us insight into why American Democrats are scared of Republican's Nationalism, and why Republicans are scared of Democrat's leanings towards Socialism).


Talking To Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell

I shot myself in the foot by not reading/listening to any of Gladwell's writings until this year. Especially with the year we've had of racial injustice and political tensions, Gladwell's take on how we often have no clue on how to communicate with other individual's is fascinating and backed up by a wide amount of interesting research.


The Sports Gene - David Esptein

I will never not recommend this book. I reread this one for the first time in four years recently, and it gives a brilliant look into the world of high performing athletes and tackles the conversation of nurture vs nature in a fascinating way. This book is dense, and looks at how genetics and genes can play an integral role in performing in our world, and how it still might not be everything in sports.

Podcasts

I listened to 257 hours of podcasts this year, which is a lot of episodes and a lot of conversations. Because of the sheer number of podcasts I subscribe and listen to, instead of listing the shows I'm just going to list the episodes that stuck out to me, whether they are in the fitness space or not. These episodes brought some interesting insights and I felt like I learned a lot from them.


The Joe Rogan Experience #1309 - Naval Ravikant

This was my first introduction to Naval, who is one of the lesser known individuals who still has lots of influence. This episode was one that was packed full of insights, and while it is a long interview, my favorite thing that came out of it was the following concept: "When we're memorizing it's an indicator that we don't understand." If you're going to take a long car trip, you should listen to this interview!


Power Athlete Radio #348 - Kabuki Strength's Chris Duffin

Chris was on a lot of podcasts this year discussing his new book "The Eagle and The Dragon" (which I haven't read), which is about his life story of growing up homeless and growing up to be a successful businessman. I listened to a lot of interviews with Chris, but this one covers his book, his thought processes on training the foot, and more. I definitely give this one a recommendation.


Power Athlete Radio #367 - Reason and Logic 101 with Derek Woodske

This one was released in the middle of the pandemic, and has some interesting insights into how every coin has two sides. Woodske has some interesting insights into what was going on at the time, how not everything needs to be treated the same way, and more. There's also some funny stories about UFO's!


Jocko Podcast #98 w/ Dr. Jordan Peterson

I have listened to this episode roughly once every six months since the beginning of 2019. I think a lot of people get stuck in this mindset of what bad is, but they fail to understand how bad some others have it. Admittedly, this one has a very dark intro, but is a fascinating insight into different aspects into the world we live in.


So there you have it. Now, you must understand that these are things that I have found useful. I would be remiss to say that out of 257 hours of podcasts, and what would have been roughly 8,000 pages of writing (if I read all of the books instead of listened to most of them), I cannot remember all that they have to offer. I write about the ones I did because it is likely I will return to them again in the coming year or will revisit them in the future. For those not mentioned, I may return to them, or will simply let them continue on their merry way of existence.

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