“In the end, it’s your actions, how you respond to circumstance, that reveals your character.”Cate Blanchett

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning (1946)

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Based on his own experience and the stories of his patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. At the heart of his theory is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful.

This book sheds light on the horrible experiences of concentration camps and what they taught Frankl about life, love, and one’s search for meaning. There are few such explicit, overwhelming, and honest accounts of life in the concentration camps. This book seeks to answer: When all seems hopeless, why do some people push forward while others subside?

Frankl’s description of the emotional, spiritual, and social dynamics of his experience, as well as that of other prisoners, is tremendously humbling and beautiful. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

  1. Outliers (2008)

It is undeniable that success is the direct outcome of one’s talent, relentless hard work, persistence, and perhaps a little bit of luck. In this book, Malcolm Gladwell argued that it is not the brightest who succeed, nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

In each chapter, Gladwell hooks the reader by first providing an anecdote, explaining the common misconceptions that people have about that situation and then completely turns our understanding of how these subject individuals got to be successful on its head. Outliers is a highly engaging and thought-provoking book that will change your perception of success entirely. You will be amazed at how culture, timing, circumstance, and even luck are major factors that may decide a person’s success.

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