Books compress a lifetime’s worth of someone’s most impactful knowledge into a format that demands just few hours of our time. They provide the ultimate ROI – Michael Simmons

Ernest Hemingway once said “there is no friend as loyal as a book.” Friends come and go, even family can abandon you, but books, they’re always there for us. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins helped me survive my teenage years, Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers inspired me to alter my life to finance, The Hacking of the American Mind by Dr. Robert Lustig prompted me to modify my lifestyle towards a healthier one, while The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche was there for me when I sat next to my father’s death bed.

Some books can completely change the way we see the world, like The New Rulers of the World by John Pilger and The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. Others show us the root cause of some complex problems, like Fields of Blood by Karen Armstrong and Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. Some are intellectually stimulating, like Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Others are hilarious and give fresh perspectives on the world, like the Freakonomics series and any book by Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis.

And while every book has its own merits, and one life-changing paragraph is all it takes to make an awful book useful, every once in a while we’ll discover some books that are just simply mind-blowing, like 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, Debt: the first 5000 years by David Graeber, or Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

Of course we don’t have to agree with everything that we read, and sometimes reading books or authors that have opposing views with us is exactly what we need to do to understand the big picture. We can read the Bible, the Quran, Bhagavad Gita, and every other religious scriptures to understand why different religious people act the way they act, or read Communist Manifesto to understand how socialists organise their thoughts, and read science books to understand the development and logic of human discoveries, which would prevent us from getting fooled by amateur hoaxes.

Indeed, books teach us multi-perspectives that would keep us from having rigid views and keep us from being a judgemental extremists. After all, just like Thomas Aquinas once said, beware with a man who only reads one book.

Books also teach us empathy, to see the world from other people’s perspectives, and to learn a lot from them. George R R Martin said it best: “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one.”

With that in mind, I’ve lived the crazy adventure life of Richard Branson, the thug life of young Stalin, the interesting life of the man who broke the Bank of England, and the little boy named Temujin who would build a massive empire from scratch. I’ve lived in the Golden Age of Islam, in the medieval Europe, in the Incan jungle fighting the Spanish invaders. I witnessed the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the fall of the Soviet Union, the disappearance of Kurdistan, and the 11th hour of the Indonesian independence from Japan.

I’ve also lived in the complicated network of drug cartels, the modern hackers, the Asian Godfathers. I’ve learned the secrets of the wealth of the Medici family, and how they lost them. The secrets of the power of the Bilderberg group, and how they got them. I saw the rotten practices of the Aid industry, the dodgy microfinance violations, and the inner workings of our current ruling empire.

I was there when Hitler was given 80 drugs per day, when Amazon crushed Wall-Mart, when Isaac Newton lost his money in South Sea Bubble, when Elon Musk was nearly bankrupt during Christmas. I was also there when Deng Xiaoping’s son got crippled, when Che Guevarra was surrounded in Bolivia, and when Alexander Hamilton lost in that duel.

Indonesian 1st vice president Mohammad Hatta once declared “I’d volunteer to go to prison, as long as there are books. Because with books I am free.” That’s exactly what happened with Nelson Mandela, where he kept his sanity for 27 years in prison by reading books, particularly Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Indeed, it doesn’t matter where we are, when we bring a book with us there’s a new world awaits at the palm of our hands. Even in prison. This is why I always bring something to read wherever I go.

Pablo Neruda once said “The books that help you most are those which make you think that most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.” They call these types of books as quake books. And the following are the reviews of some of the quake books I’ve read over the years:


The Theory of Everything Else by Dan Schreiber

The Book of General Ignorance by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd

The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth

The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

Let’s Play Doctor by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg

Stuff You Should Know by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant

The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel Ben Izzy

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain by Giles Milton

Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

Passing Time in the Loo: v. 2 by Steven W. Anderson


The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson

The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni

Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

The ABCc of Success by Bob Proctor

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. By Ron Chernow

Originals by Adam Grant

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Made in America by Sam Walton

The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker

Perennial seller by Ryan Holiday

Alibaba by Duncan Clark

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Asian Godfathers: Money and power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia by Joe Studwell

Losing My Virginity – the Autobiography by Richard Branson


Philanthrocapitalism and the Erosion of Democracy edited by Vandana Shiva

North Korea Confidential by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson

The Truth About Wuhan: How I Uncovered the Biggest Lie in History by Andrew G. Huff

The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor

Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World by Tom Burgis

A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontline of Humanity by Jan Egeland

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano

Why Nations Fail: The origins of power, prosperity and poverty by Daren Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

The Crisis Caravan: What’s wrong with humanitarian aid? by Linda Polman

Al Jazeera: How Arab TV news challenged the world by Hugh Miles

The New Rulers of the World by John Pilger


Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The Literature Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK

Candide by Voltaire

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Warrior of the Light by Paulo Coelho

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran


The Price of Time by Edward Chancellor

Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Unshakable by Tony Robbins

Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger and Peter D. Kaufman

Power and Money by William D. Cohan

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

The Soros Lectures by George Soros

Hedge Fund Market Wizards by Jack D. Schwager

The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis

University of Berkshire Hathaway: 30 years of lessons learned from Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger at the annual shareholders meeting by Daniel Pecaut and Corey Wrenn

The Reckoning: Financial accountability and the rise and fall of nations by Jacob Soll

The Tao of Warren Buffett by Mary Buffett and David Clark

Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: How microlending lost its way and betrayed the poor by Hugh Sinclair

The History of Money by Jack Weatherford

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Inside the House of Money: Top Hedge Fund Traders on Profiting in the Global Markets by Steven Drobny

Devil Take the Hindmost: A history of financial speculation by Edward Chancellor

The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett & George Soros: Harness the Investment Genius of the World’s Richest Investors by Mark Tier

Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives by Satyajit Das

Money Masters of our Time by John Train

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis

Adventure Capitalist: The ultimate road trip by Jim Rogers


Angels With Dirty Faces: The Footballing History of Argentina by Jonathan Wilson

Zonal Marking by Michael Cox

Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe by Jonathan Wilson

The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally

Pep Guardiola by Guillem Balague

Klopp: bring the noise by Raphael Honigstein

The Mixer by Michael Cox

Inverting the Pyramid: The history of football tactics by Jonathan Wilson


The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre

Happy Gut by Vincent Pedre

Game Changer by Dave Asprey

The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof

What doesn’t kill us by Scott Carney

The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Ariana Huffington


Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans by Terry Deary and Martin Brown

Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School by Stuart Jeffries

The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock

The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

A Brief History of the Freemasons by Jasper Ridley

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

Mastery by Robert Greene

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Figuring by Maria Popova

Freedom from fear by Aung San Suu Kyi

33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

The Crime Book by DK

Hitler’s Charisma by Laurence Rees

Sapiens: A brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Mirrors: Stories of almost everyone by Eduardo Galeano

Musashi’s Book of Five Rings: The Definitive Interpertation of Miyomoto Musashi’s Classic Book of Strategy by Steven F. Kaufman

Bushido: The soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe

On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century by Timothy Snyder

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine by Scott Korb


Bandit Saints of Java by George Quinn

To Remain Myself: The History of Onghokham by David Reeve

Rimbaud in Java by Jamie James

In the Time of Madness: Indonesia on the edge of chaos by Richard Lloyd Parry

Biografi Tursandi Alwi by S. Sinansari Ecip, Edi Sudarjat, Yadi Sastro

Man of Contradictions by Ben Bland

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester

A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices and Tsunamis: the incredible story of South East Asia’s largest nation by Tim Hannigan

Indonesia Etc: Exploring the improbable nation by Elizabeth Pisani

The Thugs, the Curtain Thief, and the Sugar Lord by Onghokham

Indonesia: Archipelago of fear by Andre Vltchek


The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam’s Mystical Tradition by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

The Islam Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires by Juan Cole

Amazing Muslims Who Changed the World by Burhana Islam

The Wahhabi Code by Terence Ward

Islam yang saya anut: Dasar-dasar ajaran Islam by M. Quraish Shihab

Interfaith Dialogues and Debates: What Would a Muslim Say (Volume 3) by Ahmed Lotfy Rashed

The Qur’an Discussions: What Would a Muslim Say (Volume 2) by Ahmed Lotfy Rashed

What Would a Muslim Say?: Conversations, questions, and answers about Islam by Ahmed Lotfy Rashed

A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller

Misquoting Muhammad: The challenge and choices of interpreting the Prophet’s legacy by Jonathan A.C. Brown

Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim civilization from the past by Firas Alkhateeb

Understanding Islam in Indonesia: politics and diversity by Robert Pringle

If the Oceans Were Ink: An unlikely friendship and a journey to the heart of the Quran by Carla Power

Averroes: On the harmony of religion and philosophy by George F. Hourani

The Secret History of Al Qa’ida by Abdel Bari Atwan


So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley by Roger Steffens

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl


How To Raise A Boy by Michael Reichert

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (And Your Children Will Be Glad You Did) by Philippa Perry

The opposite of spoiled Ron Lieber

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley

The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting by Paul Raeburn and Kevin Zollman


Kahlil Gibran Little Book of Wisdom by Neil Douglas-Klotz

Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

Lagom by Niki Brantmark

The Philosophy Book by Will Buckingham et al

A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (translated by James Legge)

The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain by Alex Ayres

Philosophy 100 essential thinkers by Philip Stokes


Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple

The Heart of the Shaman by Alberto Villoldo

The Sikhs by Khushwant Singh

The Essential Kabbalah by Daniel C. Matt

The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism by Karen Armstrong

The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Beyond Fundamentalism by Reza Aslan

Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy by John Julius Norwich

Inner Engineering by Sadhguru

Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Erhman

The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong

The End of Faith by Sam Harris

The Dhammapada translated by Eknath Easwaran

Insight Meditation by Joseph Goldstein

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton

God by Reza Aslan

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

Buddhist Warfare by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer

Fields of Blood: Religion and the history of violence by Karen Armstrong

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan


1:59 by Philip Maffetone

The One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala and Christopher Shulgan

Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn

80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald

Endure by Alex Hutchingson

Run Fast by Hal Higdon


The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! By Richard P. Feynman

The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles C. Mann

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Influenza: The hundred-year hunt to cure the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic by Dr. Jeremy Brown

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

Introducing Chaos: A graphic guide by Ziauddin Sardar, Angela Adams, and Iwona Abrams

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

Spillover by David Quammen

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the birth of the modern world by Edward Dolnick

Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Chimp Paradox: The acclaimed mind management programme to help you achieve success, confidence and happiness by Steve Peters


Plays Well with Others by Eric Barker

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest

Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be by Steven Pressfield

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Effortless by Greg McKeown

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, Jeff Warren, and Carlye Adler

Develop Self Confidence, Improve Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie

The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Quiet by Susan Cain

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

How to enjoy your life and your job by Dale Carnegie

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Limitless by Jim Kwik

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Power Habits: 101 life lessons & success habits of great leaders, business icons and inspirational achievers by Chris Luke

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! By Anthony Robbins


The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford

A Champion’s Mind by Pete Sampras

The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant


A Handbook for New Stoics by Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez

Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson

Lives of the Stoic by Ryan Holiday

Stoicism and the art of happiness by Donald Robertson

Enchiridion by Epictetus

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber

The Daily Stoic: 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living by Ryan Holiday


Bank 3.0 by Brett King

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom


Vangabonding by Rolf Potts

Just a Little Run Around the World by Rosie Swale Pope

The Adventure Capitalist: Camel, Carpets and Coffee: How face-to-face trade is the new economics by Conor Woodman

Holy Cow: An Indian adventure by Sarah Macdonald


The Art of Writing and the Gifts of Writers by C. S. Lewis

Hemingway’s France: Images of the Lost Generation by Winston Conrad

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee

A Warrior’s Life: A Biography of Paulo Coelho by Fernando Morais

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott