Books I’ve Loved — Neil Strauss | The Tim Ferriss Show | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Books I’ve Loved — Neil Strauss | The Tim Ferriss Show".


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Intro (00:00)

At this altitude I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I answer your personal question? No, I would have seen it a perfect time. What if I did the opposite? I'm a cybernetic organism living to show a metal enthoskeleton. The Tim Ferriss Show. Books I've Loved on The Tim Ferriss Show is exclusively brought to you by Audible. There couldn't be a better sponsor for this series, my dear listeners and readers. I have used Audible for so many years. As long as I can remember, I love it. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet. I listen when I'm taking walks. I listen while I'm cooking. I listen whenever I can. And if you're looking for a place to start, I can recommend three of my favorites. The first is The Tao of Seneca by Seneca. If you want to hear my favorite letters of all time, it touches on Stoic philosophy, calmness under duress, etc. The next is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. G-A-I-M-A-N. One of my favorites. Even if you're a non-fiction purist, this is the fiction book that you need to listen to. Neil also has perhaps the most calming voice of all time. And third, Greg McKeown's Essentialism. Subtitle, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This is one of my favorite books of the past few years. It combines very well with the 80/20 Principle. But more on Audible. Every month, Audible members get one credit for any audiobook on the site, plus a choice of multiple Audible originals from a rotating selection. They also get access to daily news digests from the likes of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as guided meditation programs. And here are some other amazing Audible features, and I use a bunch of these. You can download titles and listen offline, anytime, anywhere. I use this feature even when I could get access. I'll put my phone on, say, airplane mode, because I don't want to get bothered with notifications, and I'm taking a walk to clear my head, and you can listen to titles offline in a case like that. Or on a plane or whatever. Obviously, I'm not flying much these days. The app is free and can be installed on all smartphones and tablets. You can listen across devices without losing your spot. And Whispersync is another feature I use quite a lot. I love reading my Kindle in bed, for instance, then picking up at the same exact spot where I left off when I go walking and listening the next day. Kindle and audio versions can be synced up automatically. It's just amazing. And if you can't decide what to listen to, don't sweat it. You don't have to rush. You can keep your credits for up to a year and use them, for instance, to binge on a whole series, if you like. Audible offers just about everything. Podcasts, guided wellness programs, theatrical performances, A-list comedy, and Audible originals you won't find anywhere else. And right now, Audible is offering you guys, that's Tim Ferriss Show listeners, a free audiobook with a 30-day trial membership. And again, my list, if you want to check them out, the Tao of Seneca, the Graveyard Book, Essentialism, those are just three. There's so many good ones out there. Just go to and browse the unmatched selection of audio programs. Then download your free title and start listening. It's that easy. Just check it out. Go to or text "tim" to 500-500 to get started today. Check it out.

Guest Speakers And Referenced Books

Michael Bungay Stanier (03:30)

Hello boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is usually my job to sit down with world-class performers of all different types. Startup founders, investors, chess champions, Olympic athletes, you name it, to tease out the habits that you can apply in your own lives. This episode, however, is an experiment and part of a short form series that I'm doing, simply called Books I've Loved. I've invited some amazing past guests, close friends, and new faces to share their favorite books, describe their favorite books. The books that have influenced them, changed them, transformed them for the better. And I hope you pick up one or two new mentors in the form of books from this new series and apply the lessons in your own life. I had a lot of fun putting this together, inviting these people to participate, and have learned so, so much myself. I hope that is also the case for you. Please enjoy. Thanks, Tim, for having me back to talk about some of my favorite books. And I wanted to do something different today, which is I wanted to recommend some books that I've never recommended before on this podcast, and that I haven't heard other people recommending, things that people may not know about. I want to turn people on to some new stuff that's like so central to me. So, my criteria were, what are the books where I've underlined the most amount of things? Some of these books that I'm going to recommend, I literally have underlining or marks on every single page. And I have a kind of an involved system I use to mark up books depending on the resonance of the idea and different things going on in the book. The second thing is brought together, these books sort of encompass like the body of what I think right now, the kinds of things that I write about and post on Instagram and teach and coach and have had so much value in my life and changed them. And I'm going to walk you into them from, let's say, the simplest book to the most complex, from one that's just so easy to read to one that's almost like a textbook. So, if you're into these, start at the beginning and see how far along you get. I love all of these, and they're really great on the path to understanding yourself and who you are and the obstacles that get in your way and where you self-sabotage and your relationships. And ultimately, real freedom.

Sherry Huber (05:56)

The first author is Sherry Huber, and I wanted to tell you about her past, but I looked it up online and I can't find anything there, so I don't know if it's public. But as a child, Sherry probably faced one of the worst traumas a young person can ever go through. And she not only survived it, she became a Buddhist monk, and if all the people I've ever met in my life, I think she's one of the most centered, wise, powerful presences I've ever been around. There's just something about her that I would like to get to one day. I really would. She writes tons of books. I'd love to read every one. And her books are very simply written. They're just distilled to pure wisdom, almost like a wise mentor is giving you the advice. There aren't supporting arguments and footnotes and research studies. It's just like the wisdom from high on the mountain. I've also written a unique font where part of the story and the power and the impact of the words is done through the font and style of writing changing, as well as the illustrations by June Shiver, or it could be Shiver, the illustrator in the book. So, really, look through all our books and read anything, but I'll share with you the two that have had the biggest impact on me. Actually, the only two I've read, but I do want to read the rest. But I started with the Fear book, and Fear book is so powerful because so many of us have a certain area where fear and doubt and uncertainty get in our way. And the book walks you through the idea of how to embrace them and move beyond them, and often it's very counterintuitive, but so true. I highly recommend this for dealing with it. I want to go read you one quote from it. I'm going to read you a couple quotes from it. And her basic idea is that moving toward your fears and getting past them is the path to freedom. And I love this part. And her books, by the way, are very short, 150 pages at most. She writes, "If you no longer believe what fear tells you, you will live and it will not. That is a point on the spiritual journey that almost nobody gets past, when that terror arises, when it gets backed into a corner and it's a matter of its survival or yours. Almost nobody has the required combination of courage, desperation, willingness to stand up to it. When this force in you that has controlled and motivated you all your life is screaming, if you do that you're going to die. Very few people are going to say, 'Well, I just need to find out if that is true or if that is so.'" She writes. That's why it's so important to remember that projection is going on. What's being screamed, I'm going to paraphrase a little so it kind of sinks in. What's really being screamed here is, 'If you stay with this fear, I will die. The fear, the ego will die.' And that's true. It will die. Its life is your death. Its death is your life. It's so good. It's really about letting go of the stuff that holds you back, that you're so attached to and just isn't serving you and is keeping you from being free and keeping you from being yourself. And here's one last little bit from the book you can do right now. So good. Do something you fear. Not to conquer the fear. Not to accomplish a task, but to familiarize yourself with the process with which fear protects itself. To demystify it. And I love this. I always say, I've said this podcast before, "Become a scientist of your own lows." And this is saying, "Become a scientist of fear." It's almost like, I call it false survival mode. There's so many things that we think are survival threats. And we treat them like survival threats. And we go start fighting like our life is in danger when it isn't. So, it's a great, demystifying, empowering book. It's called The Fear Book. The other book of Sherry Huber's I recommend, and I'm pulling it out now as we speak, is Be the Person You Want to Find, Relationship and Self-Discovery. And the title kind of says it all. And I love this book because it's exactly my philosophy on relationships, which is if you want to meet a better person, then become a better person. And this is like this beautiful book that really elegantly sort of weans us away from these crazy relationship myths we have and these expectations of other partners. And it begins by really boldly saying that this book is about you taking 100% responsibility for yourself all the time. And I really think if everybody could read this book and really live by it, things would go so much better. And it's about things that we're going to get into later and with the next set of books about how much of our childhood sort of stories we end up playing out on our partner. And then again, I'm just going to read one part, then we'll move on. I mean, this book is so good that instead of underlining lines, I've literally like marked entire pages. So, these are two of the pages. And again, it flies by. It's such a short book. The Sad, Strange, Unfortunate, Dysfunctional Part of Life. By the way, so I'm going to read this part. I'm going to paraphrase a couple bits just so it makes sense out of context. The sad, strange, unfortunate, dysfunctional part of life is that as adults, most of us are still trying to survive childhood. So, I have become the person I believed as a child I needed to become in order to make it through adulthood. Now I'm an adult in an intimate relationship and I'm suffering. This is traumatic. I have picked consciously or not someone who's going to relive parts of my childhood with me, who's going to play the parts opposite me someone else did back then. I'm going to suffer in the same way I did as a child and I'm going to use the same survival mechanisms. And right there is literally, it doesn't matter what recurring problem you're having in a relationship, that is the reason why. And this book gets you past them. I love it. Highly recommend it. Next author, so we're going to move sort of one level up on, I don't want to say like difficult to read or advancement of concepts, but also very, very accessible books.

Pia Mellody'S Books (12:00)

Thereby Pia Mellody, I'm going to recommend two books. And we'll start with Facing Codependence. And codependence is a word that's used a lot, but really rarely understood.

Pia Mellody, Facing Codependence (12:09)

And this book isn't just about relationships for me. What it is, is it presents a model of trauma that to me has been key to understanding my life and to helping others. And is really life changing. And here's what's fascinating about Pia Mellody. She doesn't do TED Talks, at least as far as I know. She doesn't have a big social media presence, if one at all. She doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry. She was, I believe, a nurse at an inpatient sort of rehab facility called the Meadows and started to develop her own system based on a number of different therapies and tools. And it's really powerful if I was to say, hey, if you really want to change what a modality, even though I hate that word, what modality should you follow, I'd say check into Pia Mellody's work, what's called PIT, post induction therapy. I think that's what it's called, what it stands for. But her whole idea is your childhood is a hypnotic induction. You're being sort of indoctrinated, it's like a cult. And you're then to be unbrainwashed, unhypnotized, is start living your true and free life. What an elegant idea. The great part about facing codependence, besides its exploration of what codependence is, why it happens, how it happens, the signs, the patterns, there's also a breakdown in the end of how she defines trauma. And it's a way to sort of self-diagnose trauma, and I'm just going to check out the contents right here. To me as a new parent, it's also a parenting book. She talks about the nature of a child, how a child has these rights, and I've thought about it with my child as I've raised him, to be spontaneous, to be protected, to be, and I love this line, perfectly imperfect. In other words, some parents expect their child to be perfect, and that's sort of a form of trauma when they're not allowed to make mistakes or learn from their mistakes or do things that are sort of age appropriate. And then she talks about abuse, generational abuse, and then breaks down trauma to these different categories of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intellectual abuse, spiritual abuse. And the main thing about these is it sounds obvious when you read it, she defines abuse as any time a child has a dependency need that's not met, that creates abuse. So, a quick example of spiritual abuse, I see many with it, is when a parent has to always be right. The parent's always right, they can never be wrong, they can never be corrected, and she sees that as a form of spiritual abuse because the parent's playing God. The parent becomes the child's higher power and it creates such a deep insecurity on the part of the child in terms of their reality. In fact, I find these people often resistant to work with because they feel like to say anything negative about their parent is like blaspheming God. It's fascinating, so I highly recommend it.

Pia Mellody, Facing Love Addiction (14:47)

The second book to read next, and this one is more about relationships, but I love it. Definitely something that's quite a lot of value in my life in terms of breaking some patterns, is called Facing Love Addiction. And it's really about the love addict and the love avoidant. And this is probably like, probably 75% of relationships to some degree, I'm just throwing that out ballpark. But, what happens is one person in a relationship is more needy and one person is more resentful. And it doesn't begin that way, it begins in this flowering of love and projection, and then eventually this pattern plays out where one person needs more, the other person wants to give less, and less the other person gives, the more the other person needs, and there's this neediness resentment pattern that eventually plays out and blows up in negative ways. Often, sometimes when I know people who have been, their partner's been having an affair for a long time and they never saw it, they're often in the haze of love addiction where they're holding onto this fantasy. It's a powerful book, I love these both. Really read these multiple times and you'll have an understanding of the matrix of how relationships work. That's Pia Mellody, Facing Codependence, and Facing Love Addiction.

Kenneth M. Adams, Silently Seduced (16:04)

So, the next book is not for everyone, but it's for a certain percentage of people here. I'm among its target audience, and I didn't think I was amongst its target audience when I first heard about it. It's called Silently Seduced, it's by Kenneth Adams, and it's related to the Pia Mellody books I mentioned earlier, and specifically for those who've experienced enmeshment. Enmeshment is not a word that's often used, so I'm going to explain it super quickly. It's the opposite of abandonment. So, abandonment, as we all know, is a parent is somehow not meeting a child's needs, whether emotional, physical, protection, being absent, whatever it may be. Enmeshment is when a child is meeting a parent's needs. And we don't talk about it because abandonment is disempowering, you feel disempowered, helpless, vulnerable, no one there. Enmeshment is falsely empowering, you feel as a child like you have power because you're there for your parent. A parent who lives for a child, who needs the child's accomplishments to make up for their own accomplishments, who has a parent with tons of anxiety, needs to over control the child, a parent who's lonely or has a bad marriage or is going through a divorce and is using the child for their own narcissistic reasons or to get back at the parent or just because they have nobody to talk to. There's so many ways that enmeshment works. And here's a little rule of thumb, that in abandonment you feel bad about yourself. With enmeshment, it's generally when you feel sorry for the parent. So, if you ever there's a moment where you felt sad or sorry for your parent, that probably was enmeshment going on. I remember interviewing Jay Leno and talking about comedy and he became a comedian because his mom was depressed and he was always trying to cheer her up. That's enmeshment. And Silently Seduced deals with a form of enmeshment that they call, shockingly, emotional incest. I remember when my book The Truth came out, I actually wrote an editorial for the New York Times on emotional incest and it wasn't printed. It's such a shocking term. It shocked me when it was used to diagnose me. But when it is his, it's when a child is used not sexually by the parent, but when a child's used emotionally by the parent, becomes an emotional partner to them. And often it's a parent who's in a troubled relationship who makes the child their emotional partner, as my mom 100% did with me. She'd sit there in my room and talk to my father and I remember she actually said, "Neil, never grow up to make anyone as miserable as your father makes me." Which really, really messed up my relationships for a while. If I felt like somebody was sad or wasn't happy, I would just sort of end the relationship. So, what happens with people who are enmeshed is they want love, they want relationships, then they get in a relationship and they feel suffocated. They feel trapped and they sabotage it or want to get out of it somehow. It's this crazy intimacy attraction that avoidance pattern usually. And it's a great book about it. It walks you through it, explains the cases, and then gives you steps to break the pattern. So, highly recommended, "Silently Seduced" by Kenneth Adams. If this is appropriate to you or someone you've dated in the past or someone you care about, it's a good gift. I've definitely given at least 100 of these away.

Under Saturn's Shadow The Healing and Wounding of Men by James Hollis (19:08)

I love this next author and I'm just going to start with this quote. "He," meaning the type of men he's talking about, "will believe that his masculinity is proved by betting women, driving a high-powered car, or making lots of money. Underneath, he knows the truth, of course, and he is desperately afraid of being found out. He believes himself an imposter in the company of men." And in this era in our society when we're trying to sort of look at the roles men play and the masks they wear to have a sort of better, healthier society, I highly recommend this book. It's another one that I've given, at this point, probably more than 100 copies away. It's called "Under Saturn's Shadow, the Wounding and Healing of Men" by James Hollis. And James Hollis is a Jungian psychoanalyst, an amazing author. I actually love this book so much I had him be my therapist for a while and was literally like taking a college class. It's so good. It's not the easiest book to make it through. But it's so dense with meaning, with historical example, with amazing quotes. And it really looks at a deep, mythical, psychological level at the struggles that the modern sort of man faces and attempts to put a framework around it that's so wonderfully full of wisdom. And I really don't see this sort of addressed a lot in a helpful, useful, non-shaming, self-understanding way. I was looking for another quote, but I stumbled across this. I literally have something underlined on every page. "What father cannot access in himself cannot be passed on to his son." Such a good thing to think about it for the parents out there like myself. So good. I'm just going to read a little part. I'm literally just turning to a random page. There's so much in here. It's just worth reading all the time. He writes, "As Joseph Campbell expressed it, one can spend one's whole life climbing the ladder only to realize that it's been placed against the wrong wall. For men to begin the process of healing, they must first risk being honest with themselves, allowing the feelings they think they can't afford. They must admit they're not happy in spite of what they've achieved. They must admit they do not know who they are or what they must do to save themselves. They must overcome the fear that blocks such thinking, the fear that they will have to change their lives if the emotional cat is let out of the bag." And ultimately, it's a book about self-examination and making sure you're not just running on these preset tracks that the culture has given you and really living out what's important to you. Or as Hollis says it, and I'll end the description of the book with this, "The crux of the middle passage is the requirement that a man, whatever his age or station, pull out of his reflexive behaviors and attitudes, radically re-examine his life, and risk living out the thunderous imperatives of his soul." So good. Highly recommended.

The Eden Project In Search of the Magical Other by James Hollis (21:54)

So, one of James Hollis' central ideas is that we have these two fantastic quests we go on in our lives. One is the fantasy of immortality, and the other one is the fantasy of the magical other. And the latter is the heart of his other book that I love, which is The Eden Project. And let me get the subtitle here. The Eden Project, In Search of the Magical Other. Kind of like the Sherry Huber book, he just cuts to the core of it. I'm going to look right now at one of my favorite quotes from it. It's so good. It's so good. "Being in an intimate relationship is a bit like asking someone to join hands with us, but only after walking across a field in which we have planted minds." And another great quote, and I think this just captures the book. He writes, "The best thing we can do for our relationships with others is to render our relationship to ourselves more conscious. This is not a narcissistic activity. In fact, it will prove to be the most loving thing we can do for the other. The greatest gift to others is our own best selves. Thus, paradoxically, if we are to serve relationship well, we are obliged to affirm our individual journey." It's so good, and yes, it's just like the wisdom of the Sherry Huber book. I want to love about all these books, whether it's sort of Pia Mellody coming from inpatient addiction rehab, or it's James Hollis coming from Jung, or Sherry Huber coming from Buddhism. It's the exact same wisdom. So if you read all these books, and you put them all together, they're all telling the same thing. So, go do it. Hey guys, this is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off.

Additional Remarks

Just a little sidebar... (23:34)

Number one, this is Five Bullet Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little morsel of fun before the weekend? And Five Bullet Friday is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found, or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered, it could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to That's all spelled out. And just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for watching!

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