Stop reading this right now and go unplug your mind. Can’t do it? Easier said than done, I know. We’re all plugged in to the matrix of everyday life and our own habitual ways of thinking. We have our opinions and assumptions and we’re sucking at their teat everyday to give us direction and meaning. We’ve probably been going in the same direction in our lives for a long time, not realizing that we’ve surrendered to fate and circumstance. Most of what we did yesterday, we’ll do today also, just because.
So here are 10 books that will help you snap out of that patterned existence and facilitate the exciting task of unplugging your mind.
Teaching as a Subversive Activity // Neil Postman
Let’s start at the beginning. As we went through kindergarten and elementary school and high school, we were taught certain things in a certain way. These were based upon certain assumptions. That memorizing facts is knowledge. That meaning is in words and in books, not in you. That what’s worth knowing is determined by someone else. This book flips everything on its head and makes you question your assumptions about school and how you learned what you know today. Deconstruct your past in order to better construct your future.
Brave New World Revisited // Aldous Huxley
The world we live in is not neutral. There are thousands of different interest groups competing for our attention, energy and money. They have studied how to do this and they can do it well. Aldous Huxley, soothsayer that he was, foresaw some of these methods. Among these are brainwashing, chemical persuasion, subconscious persuasion and hypnopaedia. These methods will seem at once far-fetched and oh-so familiar. You do realize we’re all partially asleep, right?
Coercion // Douglas Rushkoff
When you walk into an IKEA, you get lost and want to buy a bunch of shit. Do you know why this is? Here is an updated and example-laden version of Huxley’s ideas. This book describes the methods of persuasion used by the government and corporations to get us to do things that we otherwise wouldn’t. Atmospherics, spectacle, pyramids — the tricks of the trade that make the bucks and keep us hypnotized. These are all explained in detail. You won’t be able to put this down.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man // John Perkins
This is the ultimate insider’s story of a dude who flew to different countries to persuade and manipulate public policy makers to kowtow to U.S. interests. A lot of holy-shit claims are made in this book — and backed up with eyewitness testimony and detailed anecdotes. This one man, because of the places he’s been, the things he’s seen, the things he’s done, is able to pull the curtain off the way shit really goes down. But after reading this, you won’t be able to just click your heels together and go back home.
Fast Food Nation // Eric Schlosser
It’s hard for your mind to be free when you’re putting shit into your body, I’ll tell you that right now. And if you don’t know what’s in your food and where it comes from, you’re at a serious disadvantage. If the body cannot live without the mind, the reverse is also true. You will be taken behind the scenes of slaughterhouses and get a close-up look at the arteries of a sick populace, beholden to the limited choices of mass marketing. Sometimes the first step in knowing what to do is knowing what not to do.
Your Money or Your Life // Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
The next time you’re digging for change underneath the couch or scouring the internet for ways to make money online, think of this book. This will make you reconsider your whole life and relationship to your money, energy and time. Learn how to maximize your income and get the most pleasure out of life. Do you really need another 5 dollar latte from Starbucks?
Who Moved my Cheese? // Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Are you caught in a rat like a maze? Don’t answer that. Suffice it to say, that we are all operating on a certain set of assumptions when it comes to work and career and just life in general. In this book, characters are accustomed to the way things have always been. But when something unexpected happens, they’re forced to deal with change. Got fired? Bad breakup with your girlfriend? World not catering to your senses of how things should be? Spencer Johnson will show you how to escape the maze of your mind and move on. Stop seeing yourself as a victim and realize that there’s always some more cheddar just around the corner if you get off your ass and go find it.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X // Alex Haley
Our journey to unplug our minds will be one of successes and failures. We’ll have setbacks and we’ll have awesome victories. Ultimately, like Malcolm X, we have to reinvent ourselves and re-understand the world. We’re going to need to adapt and change. This book is the journey of one man through his self-transformation. Take the advice of the ultimate self-empowered man.
48 Laws of Power // Robert Greene
This is the shit that a lot of the key players and shot callers are doing, so you might as well learn how to play the game. This isn’t exactly “turn the other cheek” material here. Reading it won’t make you harmless as a dove, it’ll make you wise as a serpent. You have to lose your innocence if you want to grown and learn, so prepare to get schooled. Learn why you should conceal your intentions, say less than necessary, and win through your actions, never through argument. This book will challenge your very notions of right and wrong. Take it for what it is — a call to look at life differently.
The Four Agreements // Don Miguel Ruiz
When you were born you were dependent on the outer world to teach you everything. It gave you your rules, your sense of right and wrong, and the standards by which to judge these things. If you could unlearn everything and only keep four things, these would be the ideas you would want to hang onto. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and always do your best. According to Ruiz, these four ideas can set you free.
Loving What Is // Byron Katie
Many of us are trying to get free by focusing on the outer world. The boss is an asshole, my friend is stubborn, the economy sucks, there’s not enough time. All of these thoughts, we perceive to be reality, when in fact they are actually our own subjective reality. We are creating misery and problems that do not exist because we are unable to escape our own perspective. Byron Katie has devised a method of four questions to ask yourself to free up your thinking. Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought? You might be skeptical that this is some new age mumbo jumbo. But this dialectic method will show you how your own bullshit thinking is creating most of your problems. You are your own worst enemy, but you can also be your own best friend. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions — of yourself.