Reading books is good for you. It’s a healthy way to unwind. There are good books to read when you want to get some extra knowledge. Or, when you want to improve on a particular skill: like analytical thinking.
It’s also advisable to choose books that cover diverse topics. Do you major in mathematics, for example? Then try reading books on language. That way, you’d expand your vocabulary, which would come in handy later in life.
To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of five books. They deal with everything from philosophy, biology, strategy, economics, to language. And the best thing is that they’re all available online. For free!
1. The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
Do you ever wonder why some countries continue to be wealthy, while others struggle with poverty? Or why some people are rich, while the majority wallows in the working classes?
Adam Smith tries to answers these questions. The Wealth of Nations confirms that wealth accumulation is about greed. It shows you that the baker, brewer, and butcher offer you products out of their own self-interest. They’re out to make a profit.
This is a good read if you want to start a business, for example. It’ll also remind you to compensate your labor somewhat. See, it doesn’t talk about economics only. It has some aspects of morality that will advise you to practice fair business. It campaigns for reward based on merit.
Though an old book (first published in 1776), it’s entirely accurate in descriptions of modern economics. It’s definitely, one of the books to read in your free time. You’ll even get to know of the Invisible Hand. That’s Smith’s analogy of the equilibrium between demand and supply.
Go ahead and read it online or download it from here.
2. The Art of War – Sun Tzu
This is an old book. It’s been around since circa 500 BCE. But don’t be mistaken, it’s still as relevant now as it was then.
The Art of War will show you how to win any war. Well, not like a fight exactly – but any conflict you’d encounter in life. Which, I’d presume would be quite often.
It’s a book on strategy. On how to defeat the enemy using the resources you have at hand. So, it applies to everything from business strategy to gaming theory (like chess).
The author – Sun Tzu – was a soldier and philosopher. So, you’d bet his tactics are tried and tested.
Some of the lessons you’ll find in The Art of War, include:
- You should know your abilities and those of the enemy.
- Lack of preparation will lead to failure.
- You’ll not win wars by the advantage of numbers alone.
- Don’t be predictable.
- Don’t waste opportunities.
It’s definitely one of the good books to read when you’re in need of inspiration to tackle a problem.
Find it here.
Also, check out our article about boosting memory through writing.
3. How to Speak and Write Correctly – Joseph Devlin
When it comes to language, we’re all guilty of using it incorrectly. And that’s regardless of how correct usage is essential to communication.
First published in 2004, How to Speak and Write Correctly will remind you the basics of English. Be warned, though, it will refresh your knowledge of parts of speech, but will advance into technical details as you read on.
It also tackles a topic that most people have forgotten about – letter writing. Yes, I know you probably don’t write snail mail anymore. But guess what? You could use the lessons that Joseph Devlin provides in letter writing in tasks like email.
On reading it, you’ll get to know the history of English language. That makes for an interesting read too. It’s sort of a language and history mashup.
The section on the literary giants will also interest you. It lists some of the greatest English authors and their bestselling books.
You can find it here.
4. On the Origin of Species – Charles Darwin
This is one of the bestselling books of all time. It’s the bible of scientific study, especially evolutionary biology. It was published in 1859, but it took Charles Darwin up to 20 years to prepare it.
The controversy it caused was unprecedented. Forget Fifty Shades of Gray, Darwin’s book caused an uproar because it challenged the then established notion of the origin of species.
Among the books to read, when you want to know how scientists carry out their research, On the Origin of Species should be your top pick. Surprisingly, Darwin wrote the book in a simple to understand language. It’s not too technical for a non-scientist, but still detailed enough for an aspiring biologist to enjoy.
If you’ve heard of the theory of natural selection, you’ll find it described in great detail here. It’s one of Darwin’s groundbreaking findings.
Download or read the book here.
5. Discourse on Method – René Descartes
René Descartes was a French philosopher. But he was also many things: a scientist, writer, and mathematician. You should’ve encountered the Discourse on Method in school. If not, this is one of the good books to read you shouldn’t pass up on.
The book is important because it teaches you how to conduct scientific research. In Descartes’ text, there are three major sections: the method, the morals, and the application of the method.
One of the major takeaways you’ll get from the book is about trusting existing theories. Descartes will show you that it’s nearly impossible to believe concepts from other scientists if you can’t verify them using your own tests. It basically teaches you to question more.
Some of the other lessons (maxims) you’d learn include:
- Respect for the laws of a country
- Persistence in the pursuit of knowledge
- Conquering yourself first, instead of being obsessed with accumulation of material wealth
The book could easily be used as a manual for systematic inquiry. So, once you get it, it’s not necessary to read it cover to cover. Just refer to it as need be.
You can find it here.
Right to download
All the download links I’ve included here are entirely legal. Some are available to the public because the authors released them at no charge. While others are so old that their copyright restrictions are not applicable anymore.
So, go ahead and enjoy!