Mark Manson is a bestselling author, a blogger, a personal development consultant and an internet entrepreneur. He has worked with thousands of people from over 20 different countries, specialising in what he says is ‘personal development advice that doesn’t suck’. The numbers suggest that his advice doesn’t suck, as his website receives over 2 million readers a month. Mark Manson has been published and quoted on CNN, the Huffington Post, Business Insider, Yahoo! News and many more. On top of all of that, Mark is also the CEO and Founder of Infinity Squared Media. His advice has helped talk people down from suicides, inspired marriages and helped build businesses. I think you’ll all thoroughly enjoy this reading list. Please enjoy my interview with Mark Manson…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I tell them I’m a writer.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately, which is not typical for me.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
I was actually a huge comic book geek when I was a kid. I probably had a couple hundred of them. My favourite was one called ‘Spawn’. I still have the first edition laying around somewhere in my Dad’s attic.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A musician. I played guitar pretty seriously until I was about 20.
What do you think your school aged self would think of the present day you?
I think he would be pretty surprised and impressed. Writing was never my thing when I was younger.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be?
Can I say my own book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck? I guess that would be cheating, but a conscious inspiration for my own books is often, “What do I wish I understood 5-10 years ago?”.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
Usually at night before I go to sleep. If I’m reading something particularly good, I’ll steal breaks throughout the day to read a bit of it. And if I’m reading something really good I’ll blow off all my responsibilities and just binge.
Probably The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It showed me that starting an online business and living around the world was possible and gave me the courage to try and do it.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. As much as I loathe Rand’s political philosophy, that book was a big wake up call for me personally when I read it when I was 19. A couple years later, I showed it to my girlfriend at the time, who also happened to be about 19, and it ended up having a similar influence on her. As a result, I associate that book with both her but also that period in my life.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
Probably Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I get asked all the time for good books about psychology, happiness, life purpose, etc., and I think that one is the best I’ve read. Not just because the researching is fascinating (and there are some counterintuitive conclusions), but because it’s written so well and Gilbert’s personality really shines through. Most pop-psychology/self-help stuff is really dry and boring.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Non-fiction. Non-fiction is easier because I’m usually just looking to learn something. Whereas fiction has to be really, really good to grab and hold my attention.
Do you think reading is important?
Yes, and there’s actually research about that. It develops the human capability of empathy, helps people understand and take on different perspectives. It’s the bedrock of modern civilization.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
I did digital for a few years while living abroad. But now that I’m back in the US and have a stable home again, I’m really enjoying physical books a lot.
Name a book that you feel every human should have to read by law.
This is Water by David Foster Wallace. I re-read it about once a year.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
I’m going to cheat and say all of Ken Wilber’s work. Which is funny because I don’t really agree with most of Ken Wilber’s work anymore, haha. But he was a huge inspiration for me when I was in college. I read all of his books and his work really awakened a deep curiosity in me that I had never experienced before. I remember going through his bibliographies and ordering half of the books off Amazon and then going on these binges where I would read 3-4 books a week for weeks on end. It was a really formative time for me intellectually, I believe.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s my favorite book of all time. I know that sounds cheesy and like I’m trying to impress my high school teacher, but it’s true.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I’m enjoying reading a lot of fiction right now for some reason (probably because I read so much non-fiction while researching and writing my last book). So I’ll likely keep going with that. My next book will likely be about relationships, so I imagine there will be a 10-20 book deep-dive in the near future to research for that.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Not Done Yet. Because I’m not. Too young to have an autobiography if you ask me. Go to do something more important first.