Written by

Chris Gonzales


Tamarcus Brown

As we kick off 2018 here at T&T HQ, we feel that now is the perfect time to light a fire under you, dear reader.

Sure, you may feel that New Years resolutions and the like are purely arbitrary concepts — and to a certain extent we’d agree with you — but hey, why not go ahead and use this time to break your leftover holiday lethargy and get motivated about seeing your goals through this year?

To continue our Books to Make You a Better Human series, we’ve collected five books to inspire whatever it is you’d like to accomplish in the next twelve months.

* * *

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.

Shoe Dog »

Who It Inspires: Entrepreneurs

Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s popular memoir, Shoe Dog, covers the early years of Nike in superb detail, from its humble-but-scrappy beginnings through the dramatic turns and unlikely victories that led to it becoming a global brand that’s practically become emblematic of athleticism itself.

This quote by Knight toward the end of the book sums up what can be gained from it:

God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing. Short of that, I’d like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on.

Get the book in these formats:

The Elon Musk Blog Series Kindle ebook by Tim Urban.

The Elon Musk Blog Series Kindle ebook by Tim Urban.

Wait But Why: The Elon Musk Blog Series »

Who It Inspires: Futurists, Technologists, Engineers

Longtime readers of our Friday Quality Linkage columns have seen me gush about a four-part series of articles by Tim Urban of Wait But Why about Elon Musk and what he’s trying to do for humanity.

Those four massive articles were collected into a single Kindle ebook. If you’re the type who wants to change the world someday — and I don’t mean in some sappy, hippy-dippy sense; I mean truly affecting humanity to its core — then you’ve gotta sink your teeth into this book:

To me, there are two worthy areas of exploration in this post series:

1) To understand why Musk is doing what he’s doing. He deeply believes that he’s taken on the most pressing possible causes to give humanity the best chance of a good future. I want to explore those causes in depth and the reasons he’s so concerned about them.

2) To understand why Musk is able to do what he’s doing. There are a few people in each generation who dramatically change the world, and those people are worth studying. They do things differently from everyone else—and I think there’s a lot to learn from them.

So on my visit to California, I had two goals in mind: to understand as best I could what Musk and his teams were working on so feverishly and why it mattered so much, and to try to gain insight into what it is that makes him so capable of changing the world.

Get the book in these formats:

Pretty Much Everything by Aaron Draplin.

Pretty Much Everything by Aaron Draplin.

Pretty Much Everything »

Who It Inspires: Designers, Artists, Freelancers

Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. is a passionate designer who makes awesome products, has an envy-inducing workspace, and is always a treasure trove of hilarious quips and useful knowledge. He even got to guest on Marc Maron’s WTF? podcast once.

His book, Pretty Much Everything, not only tells the story of how he got here, it’ll inspire you to go make something great:

Esquire. Ford Motors. Burton Snowboards. The Obama Administration. While all of these brands are vastly different, they share at least one thing in com­mon: a teeny, little bit of Aaron James Draplin. Draplin is one of the new school of influential graphic designers who combine the power of design, social media, entrepreneurship, and DIY aesthetic to create a successful business and way of life.

Pretty Much Everything is a mid-career survey of work, case studies, inspiration, road stories, lists, maps, how-tos, and advice. It includes examples of his work—posters, record covers, logos—and presents the process behind his design with projects like Field Notes and the “Things We Love” State Posters. Draplin also offers valuable advice and hilarious commentary that illustrates how much more goes into design than just what appears on the page. With Draplin’s humor and pointed observations on the contemporary design scene, Draplin Design Co. is the complete package for the new generation of designers.

Get the book in these formats:

Zen Pencils, Vol. 2 by Gavin Aung Than.

Zen Pencils, Vol. 2 by Gavin Aung Than.

Zen Pencils, Volume Two: Dream the Impossible Dream »

Who It Inspires: Dreamers, Creators, Artists, Writers, & More

Gavin Aung Than’s excellent Zen Pencils blog takes famous inspirational quotes and turns them into heartwarming cartoon stories. They’re often depicted with fantastical and high-flying elements, giving their source quotes all the more depth and meaning.

Over time, he’s collected these comics into three books:

  1. Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks
  2. Dream the Impossible Dream
  3. …and the forthcoming Creative Struggle: Illustrated Advice from Masters of Creativity (releases January 16th, 2018)

Whatever it is you dream of doing with your life, these comics are sure to ignite the spark that gets you moving toward that goal.

Get Volume 2 in these formats:

Overlap by Sean McCabe.

Overlap by Sean McCabe.

Overlap »

Who It Inspires: Entrepreneurs, Freelancers, Creators, & More

Sean “seanwes” McCabe’s book, Overlap: Start a Business While Working a Full-Time Job, is all about turning your passion into a profession, but with a twist.

Rather than recommending that you throw away your current day job to fully pursue your dreams, McCabe suggests exploring your ideal job on the side while you continue bringing in the funds necessary to pay your bills, then gradually making the transition as your side gig slowly becomes more able to support you:

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

There’s a notion that if you’re “really serious” you’ll quit your day job and give your passion a chance.

That works for some people, but so does the lottery. I don’t think it’s a winning strategy.

You want something more sensible—something that doesn’t involve crazy amounts of risk (and the high likelihood you’ll kill your passion for good if things don’t pan out).

Overlap basically distills everything Sean’s been teaching on his blog and podcast over the past several years into one book with a single purpose: helping you make a living doing what you love.

He made a short video explaining what the book’s about:

The book can be bought from Sean’s site in three formats:

  • Audiobook ($19) — 8-hour runtime across 27 .mp3 files. Also includes an RSS feed for listening in your favorite podcast app, if you prefer.
  • eBook ($29) — Includes EPUB, Mobi, and PDF files.
  • Hardcover ($39) — Cloth-bound and foil-stamped; 312 pages.

You can also buy the Kindle or Audible audiobook edition directly from Amazon.