The 8 Best Books of 2015 and How to Distill Books into Easy to Read Summaries

2015 is soon coming to an end and it is time to review my 8 favorite books of the year.


I read almost 24 books this year, most of them published in 2015 but there are 8 that definitely stood out and are worth mentioning.


As you can imagine most of them fall into the non-fiction category because of their educational narrative.


I will, however, mention one fiction book that got me hooked immediately and I managed to finish within a matter of hours. I strongly believe that although non-fiction books play the most important role in one’s personal development journey, fiction books can also prove quite didactic. And that is mainly because fiction books can:


  • Teach you storytelling.
  • Immerse you into character building processes.
  • Soothe your soul in times of emotional pain.

Therefore, I strongly suggest reading some from time to time.


Apart from the books suggested below, you will also find a very effective process I use to find summaries of books you read in order to refresh their content anytime you want.


I am already addicted to this process and I am pretty sure you will too, so keep reading.


#1 Sapiens by Yuval Harari


This was probably my favorite book of 2015. I can’t really find words to describe how much I enjoyed reading it. And the reason can be summarized perfectly in a tweet I posted earlier this month.



From the very first pages, I was really absorbed by the narrative and I started to make connections between our past and present as humans. What I realized is that although when we listen to the word Homo sapiens, we tend to think of some creature that existed almost 70,000 years ago, we are actually still the same creature. We have the same needs, the same desires and the same mating and survival strategies. The only thing that has changed is our habits and everyday processes in order to satisfy all these.


That might sound a bit sad and demotivating, but it is actually extremely fascinating and can teach us a lot about our behaviors.


As I mentioned in my last article, awareness is key in order to deal with an issue, and there is probably no purest form of awareness than finding out about our history and evolution.


Sapiens” is a captivating read and definitely my favorite book this year. Yuval Harari did a great job explaining difficult concepts with simple words and eventually left me with the hope that our next evolutionary stage is near. Whether this will be achieved with singularity, that I don’t know but I certainly know that there is an exciting future ahead of us.


Buy this book: Ebook | Print | Audiobook




#2 Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich


I already endorsed this book in an article earlier this year, but I couldn’t really leave it outside the best books list.


The reason for that is eminently simple:


If you want to live a healthy, fulfilling and abundant lifestyle in your own terms, there is only one thing you need to change – your mindset.


Mike describes that in every detail in Gorilla Mindset.


In his book, he manages to dissect really complex ideas and by identifying their core components help you take action and live a healthier, wealthier and more purposeful lifestyle. “Gorilla Mindset” is like his personal Manifesto where he highlights his most radical ideas and suggests ways to unleash the animal inside you and experience a life of absolute freedom.


He dives into topics like self-talk, posture, state control, attention and investing and makes this book the perfect companion for every person who feels lost and wants to take back control of his life.


Buy this book: Ebook | Print | Audiobook




#3 Mate by Tucker Max


I have mentioned in the past that my favorite law from the 48 laws of power is Law 28: Enter action with boldness. And that implies that I adore people who have an audacious mindset.


Although I never endorsed Tucker Max’s notorious lifestyle that was described in detail in “I hope they serve beer in hell” and “Assholes finish first,” what I always liked about him is his incredible audacity.


And that urged me to read all his books including his latest one that is kind of more down to earth. He co-authors this one with Geoffrey Miller who is an evolutionary psychology professor at the University of New Mexico and he gives a more scientific twist to the book.


After reading numerous of books on dating and game, I believe that after “Models” which will always be my all-time favorite, “Mate” comes second in this list.


In “Mate,” Tucker Max manages to effectively distill the 5 most important principles that help a man become more attractive and successful in the mating market.


Those principles are:


  1. Make decisions with science not bias
  2. Account for the woman’s perspective
  3. Own your attractiveness
  4. Be honest with yourself and others
  5. Play to win-win

Not sure if he reads our blog, but they are all principles that we espouse here in “The Quintessential Man.” Therefore, I strongly believe that this book is a great starting point for beginners in the dating scene but also for people who want to refresh their attitude and approach toward dating. Definetely a great read.


Buy this book: Ebook | Print | Audiobook




#4 The Truth by Neil Strauss


It’s been almost 10 years since Neil Strauss shocked the world and inspired thousands of men around the world to improve their game with his New York Times bestseller “The Game.” This year he makes a great comeback with an unconventional book about relationships, which he calls “The Truth.”


Upon reading the book, however, what I realized is that he mainly talks about his truth, since he describes his journey from promiscuity and alternatives to monogamy to a committed relationship and the realization that love is all there is.


I could relate, to some extent, to what Neil Strauss is describing, such as this very dazzling and truthful sentence:


“They say that when you meet someone and feel like it’s love at first sight, run in the other direction. All that’s happened is that your dysfunction has meshed with their dysfunction. Your wounded inner child has recognized their wounded inner child, both hoping to be healed by the same fire that burned them.”


The thing is that the book is quite dense and Neil describes his adventures in so much detail that sometimes you feel that he is not really familiar with the “less is more” axiom.


Nonetheless, his narration is flawless and his story has an incredible flow, which makes the book easy to read and enjoy.


Although, I didn’t resonate with all his stories, I did get some interesting insights with regards to the secrets that lie within different types of relationships. Eventually, I liked this book a lot because it reminded to myself what it truly means to be in a relationship with someone and how achingly beautiful it can be.


Buy this book: Ebook | Print | Audiobook



#5 Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


I couldn’t really leave this instant #1 New York Times bestseller out of this list. Although I don’t really consider Elizabeth Gilbert’s most famous book, “Eat pray love” something special, I truly believe that “Big Magic” is something every creative spirit should read.


The author starts the book by sharing a quote by the great American Poet Jack Gilbert:


“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”


And this is probably the only thing one has to have in mind when dealing with creativity issues.


Probably the only enemy when it comes to unleashing our creative potential is ourself and our inability to face him in order to reveal our most talented characteristics.


And what excited me the most about Gilbert’s writing is that it is very direct (short and meaningful sentences), to the point and with a great sense of responsibility towards the reader. One of her sentences summarizes my point precisely:


“When I talk about ‘creative living’ here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts. I’m not saying that you must become a poet who lives on a mountaintop in Greece, or that you must perform at Carnegie Hall, or that you must win the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival. No, when I refer to ‘creative living,’ I am speaking more broadly. I am speaking about living a life that is driven strongly by curiosity than fear.”


Buy this book: Ebook | Print | Audiobook




#6 Crippled America by Donald Trump and #7 The Essential Bernie Sanders by Bernie Sanders


I have never expressed my political views in this blog and I am not sure if I ever will. That said, however, I strongly believe that whether you want to get involved in politics or not, you should definitely be in the know and deeply understand the political views of the candidates who stand out for one reason or another.


Next year there we are going to have elections in the US and already the whole country is in pre-election mode, preparing to appoint the main candidates for the two dominant political parties. Although we are still unsure of what the results will bring, there are definitely two contenders who managed to stand out for their notable views and influential personas – Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.


They both released a book earlier this year where they describe in detail their political views and plans for the future of America. I read both of them and I deem them really well written. I won’t comment on the politics or tactics suggested. I will, however, argue that I consider important for every thoughtful voter to read both in order to have a concrete understanding of what types of ideologies each candidate supports. Especially since the two candidates sometimes share extremely opposite political dogmas.


Moreover, after you read these books you will understand the candidates better and make a more mentally sound critical evaluation of them whenever you encounter them in TV or social media.


Buy Crippled America: Ebook | Print | Audiobook


Buy The Essential Bernie Sanders: Ebook | Print | Audiobook




#8 Finders Keepers by Stephen King


That was a tough one because I had to choose between “Finders Keepers” and “The girl on the train,” but since the latter is more popular in the female audience, I chose the former.


Finders Keepers is a horror story about a reader whose obsession with a reclusive writer goes far too far. It is a heart-pounding suspense filled with murder, mystery, and great characters.


If you have read Stephen King before, this one will not disappoint you and if you haven’t this will get you interested to read more of his fascinating work.


King has been a superstar author for a very specific reason. His books are so alive that the reader can’t help to feel that he is part of the story and sometimes lose sense of reality. And that’s a feeling definitely worth experiencing.


Buy this book: Ebook | Print | Audiobook




How to Distill Books into Easy to Read Summaries


Now that we covered my favorite book titles for 2015, I want to introduce you to my latest addiction, which is called Blinkist.


Blinkist is one of the best apps of 2015 and a service that provides you with summaries of the most important non-fiction books ever written.


More specifically, Blinkist takes great works of non-fiction and distills them into powerful, made-for-mobile units. Their blinks, which are 2-minute-reads built around memorable key messages, give you the main concepts of an entire book in 15 minutes.


This is a very powerful service that aims absolutely not to replace the book itself but to help the reader maintain a distilled and to the point version of the book whenever he needs to.


Let’s say you read a blog like ours and we mention a book we like. Let’s pick “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for instance.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 3.09.28 PM

If you have read it in the past and you would like to refresh your knowledge, you can search the title on Blinkist and you immediately have a 15-minute version of the book ready for you. Or even if you haven’t read it and you just want to touch upon its main points, that can work great too.


Some other cases where I use it include:


  • When I use a book title as a source for a blog post and I can’t remember some ideas mentioned in the book.
  • If I want to include some ideas of a book in a presentation and I don’t need to search the whole book.
  • If I am in the bus or the tube and I want to briefly read a book suggested by someone and then decide if I want to read the whole thing.
  • During my morning workout routine instead of listening to an audiobook or music.

Especially in the holidays where you will have an excess of free time and would like to read some books, Blinkist can definitely help you pick the ones that interest you the most.


Blinkist supports three versions. A free version that allows you to read one pre-selected book per day, Blinkist Plus that costs $49,99/Year and supports more than 1000+ books and Blinkist Premium for $79,99/Year that supports also audio. I am a subscriber in Blinkist Premium because I like the audio versions as well but you can choose whatever you prefer.


You can check out the details here.


Enjoy and talk soon.


Adrian Iliopoulos

I am the founder and main contributor at "The Quintessential Mind" - A unique personal blog that offers a holistic approach to self-development. I am striving to create high-quality content by investing in a reality-based form of self-help, informed by a deep understanding of psychology, philosophy and my own personal experiences and social adventures.
Adrian Iliopoulos