You can probably get through life without ever learning more than one way to tie your tie or how to mix a decent Tom Collins. But the more of those seemingly optional pieces of your personal development you shrug off, the more dismal the picture gets — can you get through life if you don’t understand the specifics of finance? If you can’t cook a decent meal? If your girlfriend entertains her friends with the hilarity of your awkward sexual fumbling? Probably not.
It’s a common theme at DailyDappr that wasting your life and not doing much of anything is a terrible mistake, especially when improving yourself is such an incredibly easy thing to do. You just need to start working on the skills you lack. These 10 books to read before age 30 all address some aspect of a guy’s personal development, and each one of them either makes a philosophical point or acts as a handy reference for something you should almost certainly know how to do by now.
#10 Bartending: The FIne Art of Mixing Drinks
By David Embury
Buy Now: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks
A classic in every sense of the word, Embury’s half-reference, half-theory cocktail book was written in 1948, and through several reprints, the book has retained its friendly cockiness. Embury concedes, for example, that overbearingly sweet cocktails are sometimes excusable, but only as a substitute for half a pound of cookies.
Why you need to read this book: You don’t need to know how to mix every drink, and indeed you probably couldn’t even if you wanted to. That’s what standard cocktail books are for. But knowing how to fix someone his drink, correctly, is a particularly masculine exercise in classiness that few guys have any real practice with, and this book to read by age 30 will set you up with that knowledge.
#9 Sports: The Game
By Ken Dryden
Buy Now: The Game: 30th Anniversary Edition
Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden won six Stanley Cup championships with Montreal in the 1970s, but he’s more than just a star goalie — he spent his free time during a contract dispute getting his law degree, and he’s now a Canadian politician. The Game is an articulate and thoughtful examination of the sport at large, as well as a meditation on the nature of celebrity.
Why you need to read this book: Dryden’s memoir is valuable regardless of your interest in hockey or sports. The larger point is that it’s up to you to take your cues from guys whose lives impress you, and whom you deeply respect.
#8 Disclosure: How to Tell a Story
By Mark Twain
Buy Now: How to Tell a Story And Other Essays
This short story collection is written with Twain’s characteristic wit, and it’s a rare instance of the father of American literature actually explaining his process.
Why you need to read this book: The craft of storytelling comes with its own rules — such as artfully getting people’s attention instead of demanding it like a jackass — by which every guy should abide. Besides, as Twain says, a clumsily told story “is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life.”
#7 Cooking: The Joy of Cooking
By Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
The Joy of Cooking started out as a widow’s effort to support her family; the book went on to become one of the best-selling cookbooks in history. Irma Rombauer put up her life savings so that she and her daughter could self-publish out of her apartment, and the result is a definitive classic with preparation advice on everything from cocktails to raccoon.
Why you need to read this book: This is a book to read by age 30 because you can’t go through life ordering pizza and microwaving ramen noodles. If there’s one reference book that will enable you to make just about anything, it’s this one.
#6 Style: Build The Ultimate Watch Collection
By Jason Heaton for AskMen
Buy Now: Build The Ultimate Watch Collection
If you’ve been bitten by the watch-collecting bug, then AskMen’s book by Jason Heaton is here to help you identify what you’re looking for. In seven chapters, Heaton introduces the key watch categories and reveals the most perfect example of each type. Your watch collection begins here.
Why you need to read this book: You can only get so far in life if “formal wear” means “clip-on tie and a bath in Drakkar Noir.” Style is the cornerstone of every first impression you make, and it’s entirely within your control.
#5 Sex: She Comes First
With what is apparently a real enthusiasm for cunnilingus, Ian Kerner (Ph.D) approached this project with the goal of providing a more extensive guide to the subject than had ever been written before. His dedication shows; Kerner even has quirky, descriptive names for his maneuvers.
Why you need to read this book: Make a mental list of the aspects of your sex life that are either a forgettable afterthought or a total mystery. If going downtown is anywhere near the top, you’ve got a problem — this is one of many women’s most consistent complaints about men, and yes, this almost certainly includes you.
#4 Financial Success: Rich Dad, Poor Dad
By Robert Kiyosaki
Buy Now: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Rich Dad Poor Dad stresses the importance of financial education, the value of risk and the necessity of looking at finance from the right perspective. Considering how you can afford something is far superior to simply deciding that you can’t.
Why you need to read this book: Any misconceptions you have about money make everything you do less profitable before you even get out of bed in the morning. Taking the field before you fully comprehend the sport is a waste of time, and financial success requires approaching every financial decision with the right mind-set in the first place.
#3 Self Help: How to Win Friends And Influence People
By Dale Carnegie
Buy Now: How to Win Friends & Influence People
You can go after the job you want…and get it! You can take the job you have…and improve it! You can take any situation you’re in…and make it work for you!
Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie’s principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age.
Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
#2 Career: The 48 Laws Of Power
By Robert Greene
Buy Now: The 48 Laws of Power
Drawing on a rogue’s gallery of philosophers, diplomats and rulers, Greene (a history buff) demonstrates that all the schemes and power struggles of the modern workplace involve the same principles that once only concerned monarchs and nobility. Greene establishes these rules with all the moral nonchalance of Machiavelli (“Do Not Commit to Anyone,” ” Crush Your Enemy Totally”). Greene also partnered with 50 Cent to release a follow-up in 2009.
Why you need to read this book: Your career is what you’re doing right this second. If you ever want that to improve, you need to get off your ass and work at it, and a 48 Laws of Power mentality gives you all the tools to do so.
#1 Life Philosophy: Man’s Search For Meaning
By Victor Frankl
Buy Now: Man’s Search for Meaning, Gift Edition
Psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl writes about the importance of self-realization and the meaning of suffering; at the same time, he explains his school of psychology by relating his experiences in various concentration camps. Frankl summarizes his philosophy with a Friedrich Nietzsche quote: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Why you need to read this book: Every other step you take as part of your self-improvement won’t be worth a damn if you have an utterly unhelpful perspective about life in general. Man’s Search For Meaning is short and engaging, and makes the case for a simple, inarguable meaning of life: You need goals that genuinely matter, and it’s entirely up to you to reach them.