5 Brilliant Books to Read in the Next 6 Months

 3 years ago
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5 Brilliant Books to Read in the Next 6 Months

Personal development, history, science, literature and business

It’s (finally) the end of the year. You’ve spent a lot of time inside, and you feel like you’ve watched all ofYouTube. You’ve listened to every podcast there is. You’re waiting for an award from Netflix for ‘Most Time Spent Browsing’ yet you still haven’t made a dent in that bookshelf you spent a full day building at the start of lockdown.

Or maybe you have done nothing but read for the past six months and are looking for some new books to get stuck into over the next six. No matter which of these people you are, or if you are someone in between, I have a book for any taste below.

Some of these books I read myself over lockdown, and others I have fond memories of reading while lying by the pool on a Greek island when travelling wasn’t borderline illegal.

Hopefully you’ll find one of them to be suited to your own taste, or maybe one that makes you want to find a new taste altogether.

Let’s get stuck in.

1. Atomic Habits — James Clear

This book is no hidden gem, as it’s very well-known with over a million copies sold. In Atomic Habits, James Clear takes it upon himself to coach you through the methods used to form new habits and break bad ones.

This is a powerful book, designed to walk you through the steps to make the changes that you want to make. I listened to the audiobook, which I strongly recommend if you get the chance, as James is a fantastic narrator as well as an excellent writer.

He truly lives up to his surname as he walks you through the methodology of forming and breaking habits with such clarity and vigour that you will feel compelled to make a change after every chapter.

Who should read this book?

Anyone looking to make changes in their lives, no matter how big or small.

2. SPQR — Mary Beard

This next book takes us away from the personal development niche and into the vast world of the Romans. Mary Beard takes an intelligent approach to Roman commentary, focusing on the rulers through the years from the founding of the city of Rome to the year in which all free people of the empire were given citizenship.

In so doing, she takes you on a trip through the centuries of famous Roman rule, going from Caesar and Augustus through to names such as Marcus Aurelius and eventually Caracalla. You’ll meet plenty of big names along the way, such as Pompey, Mark Antony and Cicero, along with lesser-known people with big stories to tell.

Whether you have an interest in Ancient Rome, or just want to find out what it was all about, this is an excellent book to start with. It gives solid background along with plenty of anecdotes and some brilliant pictures too.

Much longer than Atomic Habits, SPQR is still very readable, as Mary Beard does a great job of keeping even seemingly boring topics such as tax and law incredibly interesting.

Who should read this book?

Anyone interested in early civilisations, or anyone looking to learn more about all those emperors that keep coming up in quiz shows.

3. A Brief History of Time — Stephen Hawking

This next book falls firmly into the science category, and it is another very famous title. First published in 1988, this book tells the story of our universe in a very accessible way, with Professor Stephen Hawking truly finding the balance between complexity and comprehensibility.

He takes you through what it means to be human by discussing both basic and complex physical phenomena and how they all worked together to create the place we call home both in a geological sense, as earth, and in a broader sense within our solar system, galaxy and beyond.

Take a journey through black holes and ponder about what it could look like to go backwards in time, while picking up some good trivia for the dinner table too. This book takes what is really still cutting-edge science and presents it in a way that will leave you smarter, albeit possibly a little (happily) confused.

The man knew exactly what he was talking about in all respects, and the finished product of A Brief History of Time, while indeed brief, does a great job of explaining just how we got here and where we are likely to go.

Who should read this book?

Absolutely anyone. You don’t need to understand any complex science beforehand, nor feel pressured to understand the most complicated topics discussed in the book.

4. Brave New World — Aldous Huxley

This is a book that many might have read in English class in school, as it is one of the great pieces of 20th century literature. Published in the early 1930s but mirroring many aspects of modern life, Brave New World follows the story of a set of characters in typical Huxley fashion, asking rather probing questions while perfectly painting a picture of the story itself with every paragraph.

This book is a good read as a simple story, but also as a learning tool to try and think about complex issues and what these kinds of stories might mean for our own world. While abstract in some areas — and slightly morbid in others — Huxley gets you thinking hard with every page.

Whether you just want to tick this one off your reading list or really want to get into the Huxley style of writing, Brave New World will serve as a good companion for as long as you need it to.

Enjoy exploring the world that he so vividly describes and ponder the questions he asks to really get the gist of the issues he clearly felt were of importance both at the time and in the future.

Who should read this book?

Anyone that didn’t read it in English in high school. Or anyone that already loves Huxley’s writing or wants to see what it’s all about.

5. Elon Musk — Ashlee Vance

Finally, we have a biography. This is one that falls into the category of business and entrepreneurship as well, and it really needs little description as to what the book’s goals are.

Whether you own a Tesla, are rooting for SpaceX in their ambitious missions to Mars or don’t have a clue who the hell this Elon guy is anyway, you will enjoy reading this book. While it is expertly written, it really is the story of the man himself that makes this such a joy to read.

You will learn about his involvement in early start-ups like PayPal and Tesla and find out just how he is changing the world with newer, cheaper and better technology at SpaceX. Learn about the traits that make him one of the world’s most revered entrepreneurs and contemplate his plans for the future of humanity.

But aside from the business side of Elon Musk, you will also learn little known titbits of information about his private life. For some, these anecdotes will be the most entertaining portions of the book. For others, they will provide a backing track through the journey of the man’s career that has taken him to heights that us mere mortals can only dream of.

Who should read this book?

Elon fans and Elon haters. It’s a great one for those looking for motivation in their own endeavours, and for those interested in finding out why his companies are deemed to be so radical.

These books will satisfy any bookworm with any taste. You don’t need to be a scientist to love Hawking, nor do you need to support Elon in order to appreciate his accomplishments.

Even if Romans are not your cup of tea, you can enjoy Mary Beard’s enthralling storytelling. And if you aren’t one for the Penguin Classics section of the bookstore, let Brave New World change your mind.

But if you really are stuck and don’t know which one to choose, or don’t think any of them will take your fancy, give Atomic Habits a read first. Then follow the steps James Clear does a great job of laying out to make reading your next addiction.

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