Knowledge is power and time is scarce.
If you’re into The Tail End you really don’t have that many books to read or that many podcasts to listen to, so it is imperative you choose them well.
The list below are my recommendations and why I recommend them.
I will continue to add to it as I find resources that inspire me.
I will try to keep it relatively short, only recommending works that have really impacted my life.
For the extra-short version (just the list with no explanations), see Resources That Have Moulded My Life – The Short Version.
It may be true that some of the resources included only made the list because of timing. Art, in all its forms, can resonate with you more during specific times.
Nevertheless, here is a list of my favourite resources categorised by type, in no particular order:
Approximately 95% of the podcasts I listen to, and recommend here, have been consumed whilst commuting, riding my bike or taking a long walk.
I often go on long rides or walks whilst losing myself in a podcast (and often literally).
I like the idea of exercising my mind and body at the same time. I’m sure there is some science behind steady exercise increasing your ability to think but regardless of that, it’s my idea of fun.
1. The Tim Ferriss Show
I use The Tim Ferriss show to collate practical tips, tricks and techniques from the world’s greatest performers.
I like to listen to The Tim Ferriss Show continually over a space of a month or two, moving through different guests that interest me.
Tim often focusses on similar topics which allows me to join the dots between a range of diverse guests.
Since doing this, I have developed a list of several key principles that top performers adhere to. If you want that list, you’re going to have to ask.
Another good thing about The Tim Ferriss Show is that the show notes are excellent. You can find them on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast page.
If you just can’t remember that key piece of advice, you didn’t quite catch the name of that book, or you just want a quick scan of what’s included in a podcast, you can whizz through the show notes to find what you’re looking for.
Link to podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show
2. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
I have only recently started listening to Hardcore Histories after hearing Joe Rogan recommend it on his show with Guy Richie (mentioned below).
There are a few reasons that the podcast is on my list of most influential resources:
Dan makes it quite clear that he is not a historian, and although his podcasts include heaps of historical information, stats, and facts, I love the way he intertwines it with personal human stories.
Some of the stories in the Armageddon series, especially episodes II to IV, really put current life into perspective.
You think Coronavirus lockdown is bad, imagine as a 16 year-old child being sent to a World War I trench with hundreds of dead bodies decaying around you, millions of flies; disease, injury and death everywhere, and then you’re forced to run straight into enemy fire, certain death. If you turned and ran back apprehensively, you were executed as an example to the other soldiers, again, certain death.
What do we have to complain about?
This is just one example of how Dan Carlin makes the human element of history “real” and useful for those who appreciate life lessons.
Dan Carlin is one of the greatest storytellers in the world (my opinion).
There is lots of drama, twists, turns, extremes, and vivid examples that make it entertaining, again emphasising life lessons, deep questions and the highs and lows of humanity.
True historic stories (especially of war) expand your knowledge in a vast range of topics.
Politics, culture, economics, law, logistics, philosophy, military tactics, geography and religion are just a few obvious topics all confined into single stories. Not to mention the continuing relevance of the past in modern society.
Caution: You must be committed! These podcasts are long (3-5 hours each), and it’s often difficult to find a break in the story that you can return to later (that may be because I’m too engrossed in the story).
I often listen to them in chunks of a few hours, over several days, whilst riding my bike or on walks.
Link to podcast: Free Hardcore History Podcasts
3. The Joe Rogan Experience #1159 – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson just makes you want to learn things.
He is an astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator by trade, but his general knowledge, and the way he presents that knowledge, is exquisite.
He is one of the most interesting people you will hear speak (again, my opinion).
This podcast specifically impacted my life as it made me want to be more inquisitive and exploratory.
Since listening, I’ve made a habit of digging beneath the surface of topics that interest me to find out how and why things work.
If you want to pique your passion for exploring, this is a good podcast for you.
Link to podcast: Joe Rogan Experience #1159 – Neil deGrasse Tyson
4. The Joe Rogan Experience #956 – Guy Ritchie
He admittedly didn’t sell it very well, but he got the point across that Guy Richie is a very intriguing character, and I like intriguing characters.
Like Neil deGrasse Tyson (above), he is a smart “Guy” who beautifully wraps his knowledge in moreishly-addictive stories.
He’s the friend, uncle or grandad (no offence Guy) who you want to sit with a little longer to squeeze out more juicy tales from his ripe playbook.
You may not agree with everything he says but you will appreciate his charisma.
He inspired me to understand the inner workings of good stories and to practice my own storytelling skills, as well as encouraging me to become more thoughtful, inquisitive, and knowledgeable.
This was the podcast that introduced me to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (above) which, on its own, justifies its place on my list.
Link to podcast: Joe Rogan Experience #956 – Guy Ritchie
5. Aubrey Marcus Podcast #197 – As It Is Supposed To Be with Mike Posner
If you like free-spirited simplicity you will enjoy this podcast.
Aubrey and Mike dig deep into spirituality, leading a good life, growing as an individual and the essence of happiness and pain.
The examples of pain and happiness discussed on the show are very relatable and certain lessons like: enjoying the process, painting life, maintaining emotional sovereignty, trusting fate and embracing the moment have all been encapsulated, to some extent, in my character.
The podcast made me feel a little softer at heart, which is why it made the list. For some reason it just resonated with me.
I like acoustic guitar too.
6. The Tim Ferriss Show #412: Josh Waitzkin on Beginner’s Mind, Self-Actualization, and Advice from Your Future Self
I went through a period of a few days consuming every Tim Ferriss podcast and video that included Josh Waitzkin.
He’s just an extraordinary individual who has impacted my way of thinking, learning and living.
One of the major lessons that I took from this group of podcasts was that you can govern pretty much anything by instilling key principles into your psyche.
I now have principles for almost everything – writing, reading, learning, making decisions – which means I can focus less on menial processes and more on the things I enjoy, like creating.
There is also plenty to be learned from Josh’s approach to life. He appears to have a good grasp of freedom and spiritual wellbeing which I admire.
He is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which you may know I’m a fan of.
I don’t get through that many books per year, which is why I’ve become very picky about which ones I read.
To put this into a visual context, read The Tail End by Tim Urban.
I usually have several books on the go at once and if I get bored of one, I put it down.
As such, there are several ways I read books:
- Read a section each night before bed.
- Dip in and out whenever I feel like it.
- Use resources mentioned in the “blogs and websites” section below to get a summary of key points (I don’t actually read the whole book – don’t tell the reading police).
My overall advice for reading would be: don’t put pressure on yourself to read and especially don’t put pressure on yourself to read whole books.
Read when you like, read as much as you like and read what you like, just do what feels comfortable to you. That way, you will find yourself reading, and actually consuming more. It’s an enjoyable process.
1. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
In my opinion, this book is a game changer for several reasons – not only does it provide literal tools and examples of how to liberate your life, it’s also densely filled with useful ideas, perspectives, resources and technical information.
Asking good questions, analysing your current (and future) life, improving your productivity, opening your awareness to societal working norms and challenging you to move outside your comfort zone are just a few examples of how you can use this book in the less literal sense; besides, why would you want to reduce your work to four hours per week if you love what you do?
2. Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson
I presume this is an unlikely choice amongst many, but it had a profound impact on me as a young man.
The premise of the book is about attracting women but it’s much more than that.
Rather than tricks, tactics, games or techniques, it focuses on building an enjoyable lifestyle and developing character.
It’s not a pickup book, it’s a self-development book including key topics like courage, bravery, emotional intelligence, vulnerability, self-respect, truthfulness, happiness and much more.
In my opinion, anyone can benefit from this book, not just horny male bachelors.
Link to book: Models: Attract Women Through Honesty
3. The Tiger That Isn’t: Seeing Through a World of Numbers by Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland
Probably another unlikely choice amongst many.
It really improved my critical thinking skills.
It’s true that people, businesses and other powerful organisations manipulate statistics to strengthen arguments in their favour.
Before reading this book, I didn’t appreciate the myriad of ways that statistics can be tainted.
Yes, I knew bits about correlation not implying causation, and how sampling can impact upon stats, but this book really shines the light on blind spots that you may not have considered when thinking critically in the past.
Link to book: The Tiger That Isn’t: Seeing Through a World of Numbers
4. Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust by Viktor Fankl
This book has made the list for similar reasons to the Hardcore History podcast (above) – it provides perspective.
On top of perspective, it offers solutions for dealing with dark times, most notably finding meaning within life.
Viktor discusses how he was able to uniquely observe the way that both he, and others, coped (or didn’t cope) in the horrific conditions of Auschwitz during World War II.
The two main impacts this book has had on my life are:
a. Perspective – I really have nothing to complain about when compared to what the prisoners of Auschwitz went through. Coronavirus lockdown, bad weather or busy traffic are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and they’re not going to stop me from embracing simple pleasures that camp members would have longed for.
b. Finding meaning – Running My Home Vitality has given me meaning in life. Not only am I developing my skills and growing as a person, I am helping others to improve their lives. There’s a certain inexplicable allure that pulls you into meaningful pursuits, regardless of external influences imposed by Auschwitz or modern society.
5. Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great. 2nd edition. Everything You Need to Know to Transform Your Body by Stuart McRobert
This is the only book you need for strength training and to become your own personal trainer.
Everything else is superfluous.
I don’t think Stuart did himself justice on the title or the front cover because it could easily put people off. It looks like it’s only for bodybuilders and fitness fanatics, but that is not the case, the book is just as good for beginners as it is for experienced bodybuilders.
Stuart is honest, doesn’t try to sell you fads or gimmicks and has extensive experience in strength training and coaching.
The book claims that, at the time of publishing, Stuart had 40 years training experience, 30 years coaching experience and had published over 500 articles on exercise – that’s someone who has taken his tonic.
Two resources I would possibly add to this (for the same reasons) are:
- Tim Ferriss Show #55: Pavel Tsatsouline on the Science of Strength and the Art of Physical Performance.
- Drew Baye’s interview with Steve Maxwell.
6. Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
This is the equivalent of Stuart McRobert’s book (above), only for sleep.
The book outlines the critical importance sleep has on our health and provides you with a solid understanding of how sleep works (as far as we know).
Again, like Stuart McRobert, Matthew Walker has taken his tonic. He has published over 100 scientific research studies during his 20-year career which has taken him from Nottingham to Harvard and on to the University of California, Berkeley. I trust his credibility.
There is an appendix at the back of the book that provides 12 tips for healthy sleep – that list alone is worth purchasing the book for.
Link to book: Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams
A couple of free recommended resources to supplement the book:
- How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep – How to get to sleep, avoid sleepless nights and improve your sleep quality.
- Joe Rogan Experience #1109 – Matthew Walker.
- How To Improve Your Sleep – Matthew Walker.
7. The Oxygen Advantage: The simple, scientifically proven breathing technique that will revolutionise your health and fitness by Patrick McKeown
This is the equivalent of Stuart McRobert’s and Matthew Walker’s books (above), but for breathing.
Breathing is one of the most overlooked areas of health but also one of the most important because it impacts on so much of our internal physiology.
Blood flow, blood PH, oxygen saturation of the blood and muscles, tension, stress, mental performance, and many more physiological and psychological components are impacted by the way we breathe.
Like Why We Sleep (above), claims in the book are backed heavily by science and Patrick McKeown is another individual who has taken his tonic, benefitting from the Oxygen Advantage Method himself (treating his chronic asthma and multiple respiratory disorders) and studying breathing since the early 2000’s (first completing the training program at Buteyko Breathing Clinic in Moscow in 2002).
If you are interested in the power and importance of breathing, you need to read this book.
An additional resource that I also benefited from on breathing:
- Let Every Breath: Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters by Vladimir Vasiliev with Scott Meredith – A short book that overlaps somewhat with The Oxygen Advantage but also includes guidance on tension release and combining breathing techniques with movement.
8. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The story behind this book, as well as its content, makes it one of my most treasured resources on philosophy and life.
It is a collection of meditations, observations and journal entries, that were never meant for publication, written by, at that time, one of the most powerful people on Earth.
That alone is a good enough reason to read it, but what impacted me so profoundly was the fact that Marcus Aurelius could have had, or done, whatever he wanted, with little resistance, yet he still remained mindful of worldly, spiritual and personal challenges.
It’s a truly humbling book that shows, no matter what your position is in life, you can learn something from everyone, and that the struggles associated with emotions, morality and human nature know no boundaries.
Plus, why would you not want to learn from this man?
Link to book: Meditations
9. Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu
This book is the seed of almost all modern wisdom.
If I could only recommend one book for you to understand the vast majority of modern life advice (spiritual and non-spiritual), this would be it.
Although it dates back to around the 4th Century BC, its teachings are just as applicable today as they were then.
It is not a religious text. There are no commandments or “rules,” just a series of guiding principles that have stood the test of time.
Although it’s short, it took me a while to read because of the richness of each paragraph. They are written in an analogous fashion and can be almost riddle-like at times.
I found that lessons from the book can be applied to a wide variety of areas from spirituality to leadership, lifestyle and personal conduct.
Taoism is the closest philosophy I have found to my beliefs on spirituality.
When you read the Tao Te Ching, you start to accept the world and trust that everything is as it should be. Maybe this is why I related to Aubrey Marcus’ podcast with Mike Posner (mentioned above) so much.
The Tao Te Ching has allowed me to feel more harmonised with nature, softened my heart and moulded my character.
Link to book: Tao Te Ching
10. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
This is a book that makes the teachings of Taoism easily relatable and it’s an easier read than the Tao Te Ching (above).
The Tao of Pooh outlines the core lessons of Taoism, whilst embodying its concepts of fun, humour and joy.
Several times during this book I smiled for no apparent reason.
When compiling this list, this book immediately sprung to mind because of the joyous emotions it brought out in me and the impact it had on my perspective.
It’s an exceptional piece of writing.
Link to book: The Tao of Pooh
Blogs & Websites:
Here is a list of blogs and websites that I frequently visit to benefit from the following:
- Free insights from amazing thought leaders.
- Book recommendations and reviews from people I admire.
- Short lessons that I can consume quickly.
I often dip in-and-out of these resources when I’m looking for other, longer forms of content, like recommended books, or when I’m having a break.
1. Josh Waitzkin’s recommended resources on the following topics:
Three pages of resources recommended by Josh Waitzkin (mentioned in the podcast section above).
I trust him to recommend good resources:
2. Derek Sivers’ book review page
Derek Sivers reviews every book he has read and provides a small summary of detailed notes for each.
I love Derek’s brief approach to note taking. You can pretty much extract the main concepts of any book on the list, just by reviewing his notes.
As well as notes, he gives a rating out of 10 and a short summary.
An exceptional resource for finding recommended books.
Link to page: Derek Sivers – Books I’ve read
3. Derek Sivers’ blog
Extremely short lessons on life from an exceptional thinker.
Includes all sorts of topics from writing, creating and learning, to business, productivity and travel.
Link to blog: Derek Sivers – Articles
4. Seth Godin’s blog
Another writer who produces really short blogs that are often less than a screen long.
He writes a blog every day and the main focus is business, thinking, creativity, marketing and productivity.
Link to blog: Seth’s Blog
5. Tim Ferriss’ blog
On the right-hand side of Tim Ferriss’ website there are a range of topics covered by Tim.
Have a shuffle through the topics that interest you most, there will usually be some exceptional insight that you have overlooked.
At the bottom of the list is a category called “Writing and Blogging.” This is where Tim posts his own blogs, so if you like the way he analyses and thinks, this may be of interest to you.
He’s also a particularly good writer (my opinion).
Link to blog: tim.blog
6. Mark Manson’s blog
A different approach to self-help.
Some people love him, some people think he’s a crude, arrogant idiot but there’s no doubt he’s an exceptional thinker and writer.
He provides a lot of good advice and his articles are both entertaining and thought provoking.
If you don’t like swearing, you won’t like Mark Manson.
Link to blog: Mark Manson’s top 20 articles
7. Tim Urban’s blog – Wait But Why
Just a website full of interesting things to read.
Tim’s articles are often longer than some of my other favourites but the breadth and depth of content on this site means you’ll never go wanting again.
From Elon Musk’s crazy future businesses to how to pick a life partner, there really is something for everyone.
I also like reading posts from the “dinner table” section which poses thought-provoking questions for you to ponder (or discuss over dinner) like: “how should we do Government on Mars?” or “if you could design your child, how would you dole out IQ, EQ and grit?”
Link to blog: Wait But Why
8. James Clear’s blog
James Clear’s blog is another well written, clever self-development blog, that reminds me of Mark Manson’s (above) style, just a little less crude.
James is now considered an expert in habit setting since his book Atomic Habits was published, but he also covers other topics on his blog like thinking, performance, health and learning.
Link to blog: James Clear’s best articles
Videos are fantastic short-form resources.
I use them similarly to blogs and websites for:
- Free insights from amazing thought leaders.
- Short lessons that I can consume quickly.
I will often dip in-and-out of these resources when I’m having a break or just relaxing.
Recommendations could go on forever here, so I’ve tried to compile a list of my favourite videos within the My Home Vitality’s Favourite Videos playlist.
My favourites from this playlist include:
- The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU
- The Simple Message That Brought This Middle School Class to Tears
- Immigration World Poverty and Gumballs 2010 – Immigration Doesn’t Work
- My philosophy for a happy life | Sam Berns | TEDxMidAtlantic
- Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
- Navy Seal commander gives some of the best advice to Grads at commencement
Link to playlist: My Home Vitality’s Favourite Videos
TV, Movies and Series:
I don’t watch a lot of TV, not because I don’t like it, it’s just that I like doing other things more.
Within the space of a two-hour film I could have written, worked out, practiced my guitar, read and caught up with a friend, and still probably have some time left.
For me, watching a film is not worthy of missing out on all those things, but that’s just me.
From the little I have watched; these would be my recommendations:
1. Icarus by Bryan Fogel
Icarus is a Netflix documentary that opened my eyes to the possible level of corruption at the top of society.
Fogel somewhat stumbled across an almighty scandal when he set out to prove just how easy it was to pass cycling’s anti-doping tests whilst taking performance enhancing drugs.
He gets entangled in an experience that suggests blood doping has been going on across Russian sports for decades, and everyone up to and including Vladimir Putin was involved in the state-sponsored program.
Watch online: Icarus by Bryan Fogel
2. FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened by Chris Smith
This Netflix documentary gave me an insight into how powerful, and dangerous, online marketing and social media can be.
Greed, lust and gluttony are just three cardinal sins enticed by clever marketing in this story. Although tragic, there’s lots to be learned about human nature and spurious marketing ploys.
The ego-driven Instagram scene has become a culture within itself and it’s as interesting to me as the ancient cultures of Asia, Europe and South America.
It’s fascinating to see how others live in a world that revolves around money, fame and social status.
As well as providing lessons in humanity, it’s also interesting to see how complicated it is to host a festival.
As the documentary is educational, entertaining and I refer to it quite often in conversations, it’s worthy of a place on this list.
I’ve included this movie because it’s one of my all-time favourites; plus, it’s my list so I can do what I want.
Joking aside, there’s still plenty to learn from Gladiator.
Leadership, inspiration, virtue, friendship and perspective are just a few themes that run through the story.
You won’t go far wrong if you live like Maximus Decimus Meridius.
Remember, “what you do echoes in eternity.”
“Strength and honour” my friends.
Watch online: Gladiator
4. The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is another of my favourite films that is both entertaining and educational if you’re willing to look for the hidden meanings (that aren’t awfully hidden).
The age-old lessons are included: persistence, patience, perspective, respect, friendship and honour.
Such lessons are easy to receive when they’re wrapped up in enthralling stories.
I like to replicate the best traits or beliefs of certain characters. Andy Dufresne left me with this: “get busy living or get busy dying.”
Watch online: The Shawshank Redemption
Tell me yours
So there are my favourite all-time resources.
Please share any resources that have changed your life in the comments box below and I’ll make sure to report back on my favourites.
If you want to know what our podcast guests’ favourite resources are, check out our podcast series. At the end of each show they give us their most recommended, gifted and returned-to resources.
If you don’t want to listen to the whole show, jump to the recommended resources section by using the timestamped show notes.
Until then, enjoy the journey.