30 Books to Turn 30 With

I just turned 30 years old. To commemorate, I thought I’d share 30 books that I’ve read this year.

I’d heard of Scribd but hemmed and hawed at another monthly fee. Bar none, it’s worth every cent. Jacob’s already been converted with Audible, at $16/month. But I just don’t jive with listening to books the same way. This has been an ideal solution. This year, I’ve read the following thanks to the following services:

Unlimited Kindle Books at $9.99/month

Scribd at $8.99/month.

I’ve just cancelled the Kindle charge. I prefer Scribd: there’s a better selection and a more user-friendly layout. I love that you can make collections-a newly discovered feature for me. However-I liked the ability to highlight better in Kindle and the fact that lesser known books, sometimes written by friends, are on there.

Without further ado, here are 30 books I’ve read since getting the opportunity to have unlimited access to books. And a few of my favorite bits. Just in case you’re looking for recommendations, I underlined the ten books I think everyone should read. If you can’t tell, I’m into memoirs right now.

Self Help/Religious

1 Simple Skin Beauty

Wear sunscreen. Even in airplanes. Even in cars. Even when you don’t go outside. Because there are windows.

Cleanser, moisturizer, and sun block are the only must haves for your face and neck.

2 Peace is Every Breath

Major takeaways:

Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go.

Mindful consumption means choosing to consume things that bring peace and happiness, rather than agitation and harm, to our body and mind.

Try contemplating the following before eating: May we transform greed and learn to eat with moderation, keep compassion by reducing summering of living beings, reversing process of global warming, and preserving our planet, food is a gift from much hard work, may we eat with gratitude so as to be worthy of it.

Will buying this bring me more happiness than giving that money to help relieve the suffering of another living being?

Meditation is the practice of living deeply each moment of daily life.

Anger and suffering are born from wrong perceptions.

How to reduce the suffering of another: We allow the other person to say everything that’s on her mind, we don’t interrupt for one hour. We listen without judging or reacting.

I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption.

3 Manifest Your Destiny

Couldn’t quite get into this. I think I was influenced by reading his biography online. His wife left him for a man 15 years younger than her. You have to wonder if his principles are really put into action in his personal life, plus it was really woo woo. Wayne Dyer is a very popular self help author though, and if you’re into the genre, you need a title of his under your belt.

4 The Four Agreements

If people lie to you, its ok. They are afraid that you will discover you are not perfect. If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you You do not need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make right choices.

All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.

It is always better to ask questions than make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering.

Just do our best at all times so you cannot judge yourself. Action is about living fully Inaction is the way that we deny life.

The best way to say Thank you, God is to let go of the past-self pity and tears- and live in the present moment

The freedom we seek is to use our own mind and body, to live our own life, instead of the life of the belief system.

Heaven is in the mind. It is a place of joy, a place where we are happy, where we are free to love and be who we really are.

The whole drama of your life is the result of what you believe, and what you believe is not real, so you can change it. Develop awareness of all the self-limiting, fear-based beliefs that make you unhappy.

Our agreements are like a strong addiction. We are addicted to anger, jealousy, and self-pity.

All humans are mentally sick with a disease called fear. When the fear is too great, the reasoning mind beings to fail, and we cal this mental illness

You will know you have forgiven someone when you see them and you no longer have an emotional reaction.

The difference between a warrior and a victim is that the victim represses emotion, and the warrior refrains-holds them and expresses them in the right moment.

Imagine that you have permission to be happy and to really enjoy your life Your life is free of conflict with yourself and with others. Imagine living without the fear of loving and not being loved. You can say I love you with no shame or justification. You can walk in the world with your heart completely open, and not e afraid to be hurt. You are not afraid to die. You know that you are perfect just as you are. Being in bliss is like being in love You perceive love wherever you go. It is entirely possible to live this way all the time.

There really is no reason to suffer. The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer. We have a choice: to suffer our destiny or to enjoy our destiny.

5 The Four Chinese Classics

Lao Tzu is a critique of capitalism, thriving as it does on fabricating desire.

There is unity in everything; an naming things creates division. Really all things are the same; but calling them different things creates anger for one and pleasure for the other.

Follow the middle way, the constant and essential. Then you can protect yourself and keep life whole; you can care for your family and live out your years.

6 Organic Housekeeping

I immediately liked this author because she said what I thought I was unique in feeling: housekeeping is not fun. It’s something that needs to be done quickly and efficiently, therefore, to move on to what you actually want to do.

Keep a scented geranium, lavender, thyme, rosemary, or mint to freshen indoors.

Green skinned potatoes must be peeled or it’s a sign of botulism. Always scrub potatoes without soap before cooking. Don’t use aluminum foil. Refrigerate leftovers.

Use a dual spray bottle system to clean your food and food surfaces: hydrogen peroxide after vinegar. No need to rinse afterwards.

Separate cutting boards by meat and produce. Prepare produce first.

Wooden cutting boards kill bacteria. Plastic ones preserve them.

Use dishcloths rather than sponges to wash dishes. Always hang to dry.

Keeping bathrooms mold free is a matter, mainly, of keeping them dry.

Get a shower squeegee and dry the walls after every shower.

Try Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps for cleaning body and bathroom.

Clean toilet bowl by filling it with vinegar overnight. Scrub with toilet brush.

Can use vinegar spray bottle to clean mirror.


7 Love and Respect

The crazy cycle is created by a man feeling a lack of respect and a woman feeling a lack of love, which then creates fighting further down the rabbit hole. Whereas the energizing cycle is her respect motivates his love motivates her respect. Her fear of being a doormat makes her question the need to unconditionally respect him. She has a fear of being hypocritical, like she’s faking it in the face of problems. But she’ll win the battle and lose the war. How to provide that respect? CHAIRS. Conquest-Hierarchy-Authority-Insight-Relationship-Sexuality. Give respect freely-rather than thinking it needs to be earned. How to spell love to a wife? COUPLE. Closeness-Openness-Understanding-Peacemaking-Loyalty-Esteem.

8 Deal Breakers

Determine your boundaries. What do you want/need out of a relationship, and what arrangements are you willing to make to fulfill those arrangements.

Five types of men: the scriptwriter (puts you in a box) the man in charge (must be in control) the man without fault, the invisible man, the little boy who poses as a man. Too reductionist for me. Too simplistic. Didn’t care for this book.

9 Passionate Marriage

This book is a standby in the marriage department. He created a lot of terminology. I enjoyed it.

You are an individual first. You must set boundaries that maintain your integrity. Intimacy always involves risk. If you only reveal parts of yourself you know your partner will accept, this destroys intimacy. Personal growth, rather than a promise of acceptance from your partner, facilitates lasting intimacy. Personal growth means you have the confidence to change if you want, and stand your ground if you need to. You are capable of profound sexual experiences because humans have the ability to bring meaning to sex. Hugging till relaxed is a way to self soothe. All relationships go through periods of comfort (low anxiety) and growth (high anxiety). Marriage means confronting your insecurities and growing up.

10 Mating in Captivity

Esther Perel acknowledges the difficulty in keeping romance alive in long term relationships: intimacy does not normally correlate with eroticism.

11 Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man

A humorous look into what men need: support, loyalty, and the cookie. He says men love differently than women, and have different priorities. A man’s way of loving is to profess, provide, and protect. But his ultimate priority is who he is, what he does, and how much he makes.


12 Global Mom

I skipped some parts of this memoir-didn’t completely hold my attention, but the ending was captivating-and tragic. The whole concept-I won’t give it away-really made me think about traveling with Ryder in a new light, as community and building relationships become increasingly vital.

13 God Sleeps in Rwanda

A gripping story of a man who flees Rwanda to the Congo, Uganda, and finally the United States and whose family is destroyed by the genocide and who returns, becomes Speaker, and gets close to Kagame who is still president of Rwanda today.

14 Growing Up Bin Laden

What better way to grow to understand one of the most famous men in the world, Osama bin Laden, than read a memoir dually penned by his first wife and his fourth son? So many intimate details about the family themselves, but also into life in Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and within a Muslim family. Highly recommended.

15 My Guantanamo Diary

I knew next to nothing about the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay beforehand-but I finished this book tearfully believing that most of the men there are innocent and held there illegally without trial, tortured, and abused simply because they were sold for a bounty by their neighbors thanks to this account.

16 And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and my Journey to Freedom

An amazing insight into the world of pimping, drugs, and prostitution: your heart will grow more compassionate to this sad subset of the population and you will learn how girls get caught up in this trade. Lack of self esteem, needing to be loved, and early molestation all play a role. Plus a man who literally claimed he sold his soul to the devil and managed to manipulate many young girls by using threats and compliments to get money from them.


17 Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

Originally a Kickstarter campaign, a girl who married a Japanese guy has drawn some insightful comics into life in Tokyo.

18 He’s Just Not That Into You

He’s just not that into you if…he’s not asking you out, not calling you, not dating you, not having sex with you, having sex with someone else, only wants to see you when he’s drunk, doesn’t want to marry you, breaks up with you, disappears, if he’s married, if he’s selfish/bully/freakish.

Well great. Lots of reasons he’s just not that into you. I guess I’d rather see the movie than this-but it’s really true, this was the frequent discussion topic between my roommates and I in college.

Psychology and Social Science

19 Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me

This book was mind-blowing. Things to think about:

Parent blaming is a popular and convenient form of self-justification because it allows people to live less uncomfortably with their regrets and imperfections.

False memories allow us to forgive ourselves and justify our mistakes, but sometimes at a high price: an inability to take responsibility for our lives.

We need a few trusted naysayers in our lives, critics who are willing to puncture our protective bubble of self-justifications and yank us back to reality if we veer too far off. This is especially important for people in positions of power.

Once people have a prejudice, just as once they have a political ideology, they do not easily drop it, even if the evidence indisputably contradicts a core justification for it. Rather, they come up with another justification to preserve their belief or course of action.

The more costly a decision, in terms of time, money , effort, or inconvenience, and the more irrevocable its consequences, the greater the dissonance and the greater the need to reduce it by overemphasizing the good things about the choice made.

When we justify behavior that we know is wrong precisely so  that we can continue to see ourselves as honest people and not criminals or thieves.

20 365 Ways to Change the World

I chose this book for my newly started book club. I loved thinking about different things that can be done or organized as a family service project. I do hope to make volunteer work a value in our family.


21 Perks of Being A Wallflower

A coming of age novel, a bit pathetic, but touching. There was a strange coldness in the voice of the main character which made me feel, in turn, not particularly warm towards him.

22 Sons and Lovers

A semi biographical account by DH Lawrence, so chock full of witty observations of human nature that felt like he knew me and my relationships quite well.


23 Lies My Teacher Told Me

A fascinating expose on the way history is taught in the US, by a Harvard professor of history. It’s impossible to go over all the mistruths taught in classrooms; what’s more important is developing a personal “crap detector.” Memorizing facts is less important than discussing the “whys.” Teachers can help students critique textbooks when they handle a subject poorly.

24 Guns, Germs and Steel

This deserves its own post. Suffice it to say, I believe this is one of the most important books every traveler should read. Without it, you are bound to walk away from a trip feeling like wealthy, white, westerners just have it more together than others for some strange reason-maybe they’re smarter or something.

25 Marriage, A History

Lots of interesting anecdotes of the development of how we view marriage has changed over time. While it was a time of romantic fulfillment in the past century, now, the author postulates, we have moved into the expectation of sexual fulfillment as well. Basing a relationship on love, when it formerly had been for financial or family unification reasons, has made the institution much more brittle and fragile.

26 Shocking Stories You Probably Didn’t Know About Notorious Dictators

Stalin: expelled from religious Russian Orthodox seminary and impacted by Darwin and Marx. Had a son captured by Germans, refused to pay ransom and rescue him. Age 35, had an abortion with an impregnated 13 year old girl, nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. He changed the date of his birth. He executed portrait painters who didn’t depict him as flawless. When he had a stroke, no one helped him for fear of being killed because no one was allowed to enter his chambers. He would clink two glasses together in meetings to hide the sound of his farting.

Hitler: spearheaded the first anti-smoking movement in Germany, nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. Only had one testicle.  He was a vegetarian and created laws against animal cruelty. He was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938. Henry Ford was his inspiration.

Saddam Hussein was awarded the key to the city of Detroit. He was also given the UNESCO Award for raising standards of living in Iraq. He owned a copy of the Koran written in his own blood. He declared his birthday as an annual Iraqi holiday.

Kim Jong Il has huge water slides into his personal pool. He claimed to have invented the hamburger and called it double bread with meat. When a doctor told him to quit smoking for his health, he banned cigarettes in the entire country. Had 17 houses. Afraid of flying, used heavily armored trains instead. He achieved the greatest score ever in the history of golf. He had short people deported or killed. He liked Hennessey cognac, $630/bottle, the annual salary of a North Korean. He forced waitresses in Pyongyang to have plastic surgery.

Gaddafi designed the Libyan flag and changed the name for the country. He didn’t swat mosquitoes like most people, believed they would bestow malaria on those who attempted to infiltrate the country. His security women –female bodyguards-were all virgins and celibates. Used Botox. Hated gays, but found gay porn in his residence, as well as a mermaid couch with the face of his daughter. He took with him bulletproof tents when he traveled abroad because he didn’t like hotels. He never flew to a country with two vowels in its name, nor did he travel on Tuesdays.


27 Persinette

A translation of a French version of Rapunzel-published on Amazon by a former coworker and friend of mine.


28 The 5 Love Languages of Children

You may love your child but unless she feels it, she will not feel loved. Unconditional love is a love that accepts and affirms a child for who he is, not for what he does. A child by nature continually tests our love by his or her behavior.

Controlling child behavior: make requests, issue commands, gentle physical manipulation, punishment, behavior modification: rewards and withdrawals.

Children are born with an innate hunger for learning that remains strong unless adults bore, spank, train, or discourage it out of them.

A child whose parents have divorced will usually show lessened academic interest for several months until some measure of security and assurance of love can be restored to his world. Sadly, some children never fully recover. Greater attention from fathers results in less delinquent behavior and higher levels of education for children.

The key to motivating a child is to get her to take responsibility for her own behavior. The more you take the less they take.

Anger is the most troublesome emotion in family life. Mishandled anger is at the root of most of society’s problems. The ultimate purpose of anger is to motivate us to set things right and to correct evil. However, anger more commonly creates problems than solves them. Unless we can handle our own anger in the right ways, we will not be able to tell our children what to do when they feel angry. Train your child to manage anger appropriately and then he will be able to develop good character and strong integrity. Anger is a normal human reaction; it is neither good nor bad. Of verbal or behavioral expressed, verbal is better. Help them move up the anger ladder: Bottom is passive aggressive behavior, emotional destructive, verbal and physical abuse, cursing, loud, breaking things. Move up to thinking logically, focusing anger on source, holding to primary complaint. And top is seeking resolution, staying pleasant.

The goal is to get them to emotional maturity by age 17.

The best gift you an give your child is your own emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual health. And to keep their love tank full paying to their love language: gifts/words of affirmation/physical touch/acts of service/quality time.

If your marriage is healthy-both partners treating each other with kindness, respect, and integrity-you and your spouse will feel and act as partners in parenting. And the children will sense if you are not in accord.

Quality time makes a child feel he is the most important person in the world to the parent.


29 Influence: The Influencer

This was a short and pithy advice-filled book on persuasion.

How to get attention from your listeners: promise love, health, and money.

Whenever you do a help or a good thing for others, that other will feel obliged and ungrateful until they do something in return.

Send positive energy: eye contact, active listening, and smiling. You will only be effective if you know the background of the person you are persuading.

Manipulation is to only profit yourself; persuasion profits both you and the person persuaded.

Free food and gifts, increasing social status and power, saving humanity, and justice all are motivators.

Humor can break a hostile audience, listing benefits can involve an indifferent audience, and enthusiasm can lift an uneducated audience.

Assume the sale; command; get liked and trusted. Show both the benefit of your offer and the loss if they do not take it. Identify the person’s most important need.


30 Five Ingredients, Ten Minutes

This cookbook helped to get my feet firmly on the ground when cooking abroad. Though I’ve since moved on to wanting more intensive recipes, this is a great standby to have around when you don’t always have access to a lot of ingredients-often the case when traveling.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 371 awesome articles for us.

Previous post:

Next post: