By Pieter De Wit

I will start with a confession. Besides teaching English, my father worked for many years in a library, but I wasn’t really interested in books. It was only at a later age that I gave it another try and discovered that I had never thought about what kind of books I wanted to read.

Nowadays, I look forward to quiet moments in my spare time, preferably outdoors under a big tree, to open up a treasure of inspiration. 

When you find the right book, it almost feels like falling in love. You connect and wonder why it took you so long to find your other half — you feel complete. It’s a happy addiction, and you never want it to end. These five books are some of the loves of my life. 

Sapiens By Yuval Noah Harari 

In Sapiens, Harari brings you the best story of all time, the story of mankind. Before you groan thinking of school history class, this is nothing like it. The first chapters had me hooked as I was amazed by new insights into how and why humans evolved the way they did.

I discovered why we stopped being hunters and gatherers, started to cultivate the land, how we slowly explored new territories and conquered the earth. He brought to life how the great empires rose and fell. This story is not finished yet, thankfully, and Harari has put down his thoughts on the future in the sequel Homo Deus. 

Buddha By Deepak Chopra

Initially, I started reading Buddha to learn more about the teachings of Buddhism, but I didn’t find the answers I was looking for in this gripping novel. Starting in the full bloom of spring, in a place called Lumbini with the birth of Prince Siddartha Gautama. One day he discovers that life is not all rainbows and butterflies. In search of his true calling, he leaves his palace and starts his long journey to enlightenment. 

Chopra impressively creates the atmosphere of the old days, and reading this incredible story brings peace, serenity and joy. So maybe it did teach me something after all. 

Can’t Hurt Me By David Goggins

There is no other description for David Goggins other than a badass mofo. In his no-nonsense autobiography, Can’t Hurt Me, he takes you on his life journey where he constantly defied the odds. Given that, from the age of six, he had to hide the bruises and red welts from his father’s belt, it is no surprise he suffered from a speech impediment and toxic stress. 

Somehow he managed to overcome the obstacles of racism, obesity and congenital heart disease to thrive as a navy seal, graduating as “Top Honour Man” from Army Ranger School. With his unstoppable mindset, he competed in endurance challenges, including the Badwater Ultramarathon three times. 

Whatever your interests in life, Goggins shows that with mental strength, anything is possible. This book swept me away from beginning to end and made me hungry to discover my own potential. Lacking the motivation to pick up a hobby like running again? This book gives you the inspiration to crush every excuse and run a marathon by tomorrow!

Atomic Habits By James Clear

When I invite people into my house, they often wonder why I have a little rope around my toothbrush, a notebook hanging on the fridge and an alarm that suddenly goes off in the middle of our conversation. It’s thanks to Clear’s Atomic Habits

The author gives you practical insight into why we do what we do and how habits form. With his four laws, he makes behavioural change simple, and you start wondering why you never came up with these ideas yourself. This book is a gamechanger and builds the bridge between wanting to do things and getting things done. 

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson

I really felt bad the other day because I felt bad. I so much wanted to be happy that it made me…unhappy. These days, we aren’t allowed to feel a bit down anymore. And if we do, we are bombarded with hundreds of images of perfectly happy people on social media and television. 

A friend recommended I read this, but I was sceptical, thinking it would be full of bad advice to quash your ambition and turn your back on society. But I realise now it is the other way round. In The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**k, Manson explains the trap we are caught in as he gives insights into the mechanism of our minds in our search for happiness and satisfaction. Finally, he leads you towards the things you should really care about. 

Whenever I encounter a compelling book title, I write it on my reading list. I hope I have inspired you to add one of these five books to yours, as while one book might give you new knowledge, spiritual insight, badass motivation or practical advice on reaching your goals, the other will tell you to just relax and enjoy the ride. 

I am delighted when I find a new book that builds on my life’s vision and makes me a richer man. Books can change your life and guide you in unpredictable directions. So, when starting a new book, remember the old saying: If anything is worth doing, do it with all your heart. The saying comes from a former prince by the way, Siddartha was his name.