Nol's Book Club Vol. 1

Nolan Smith Blog Book Club

I've been promising these book recommendations for too long, and I think I finally figured out the best way to go about this... *drumroll please*... lol it's actually not serious at all... 

So I'm gonna send out this email to you quarterly (plz hold me accountable) and it's going to include the following:

- Books that I've read recently and recommend

- An *NBC Classic* = a book that has changed my life

- What I'm currently reading and what I'm gonna read next

For context, I'm pretty deliberate with how I choose what I read and where I get my recommendations. Over the years I have developed a shortlist of folks who I look at as "thought leaders", more often than not these people are extremely well-read and are probably much more discerning than me with what they choose to read. Not only have they read more GOOD books than me, but they've also worked through more bad ones (life is too short to struggle through a bad book, more on that later). Most recommendations from these people are solid gold.

How do I determine who these "thought leaders" are you may ask? For the most part, these people have gone places that I'd like to go in life, whether it be in business, art, finance, sport, spirituality, love & relationships, etc. Podcasts have really opened up a lane for some of these thought leaders to come forth and build communities. Whether it's Tim Ferriss or Ryan HolidayAubrey Marcus or Aaron Alexander, their podcasts give them the platform to talk to people they admire and dive into things that they are passionate about or interested in. More often than not, in these long-form conversations/interviews the books that have inspired them to come up and BINGO-you've got yourself a book recommendation!

Now, if you ever find yourself struggling through a book, reluctant to pick it back up, my best advice is to donate it and move on to the next one! Reading is leisure and it should be enjoyable. Whenever a book isn't enjoyable anymore and it starts feeling like work just to finish it, it's time to move on to another book, otherwise, you will get stuck and might avoid reading as a whole. Remember, you aren't a failure if you don't finish every book you start. There are so many good books out there waiting to inform and inspire you, as Swizz Beats said on that Jay-Z song, "on, on to the next one!"

Due to our friend or foe, the novel coronavirus, we are all facing a little more free time on our hands, reading is one of my personal favorite pastimes and I hope that this post informs your next piece of reading material. Regardless, send me a DM over on instagram and let me know what you're reading!

The Align Method: 5 Movement Principles for a Stronger Body, Sharper Mind and Stress-Proof Life by Aaron Alexander

I loved this book. It's a super simple but practical book that covers the mind/body connection and how essential movement is to not only our physical health but also our mental, physical and spiritual health. I've had the pleasure of working with Aaron in person and he's definitely one of the smartest people I've encountered in this field. One of my favorite sections of the book is when he covers how our environment forms our mind and body - super interesting stuff!

SHOWBOAT: The Life of Kobe Bryant by Roland Lazenby

With the passing of my favorite athlete of all-time, Kobe Bean Bryant, I immediately bought this book to help me cope with the loss. During his playing career, Kobe was a super private dude but you could tell that he was insanely driven, this book chronicles his entire life on and off the court from before he was born with how his parents met, his childhood overseas, until he walked off the Staples Center court in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final game. This book gives a super honest profile of the man known for his "Mamba Mentality" and the trials and tribulations that led to him adopting his "Black Mamba" alter-ego. This is def a must-read for any Laker/Kobe fan and anyone else curious about what it took a man to become the greatest athlete of a generation.

Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello

This book comes highly recommended by one of my GOAT's Tim Ferriss, who says that he re-reads this book almost annually. "Awareness" is author Anthony De Mello's spiritual message that mixes Christian spirituality, Buddhist parables, Hindu breathing exercises, and Psychological insight challenging us to wake up in every aspect of our lives. I really loved the short but super profound chapters, this book is great to read in short bits on the toilet or before bed. I highly, highly recommend this one - so good!

*NBC Classic*: (an "NBC Classic" is a book that I deem an absolute must read. These are books that have changed my life in one way or another and stood the test of time. I'll include at least one of these in every Nol's Book Club email)

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Not to be confused with "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu (another classic). The War of Art is all about overcoming your personal creative battles and as humans we all have them. I read this book for the first time in 2013 and go back to it pretty often. It's a short, snackable read but will hit you where it counts! This is also the book that I have gifted to my loved ones the most, almost all of them have read it and reported that they loved it as well. If you are only gonna buy one book from this entire email, get this one!

I've also read a few other books in 2020 worth mentioning... My longtime friend Ray Santiago recently published his first 2 books, Playing on High Ground and it's sequel Playing on HIGHER Ground. These books are directed towards athletes looking to grow in their relationship with God and improve their mental game in the process but they read like entertaining fiction so anybody can enjoy them. I personally got some super practical insight out of both books and it was inspiring to see Ray's growth from book 1 to book 2!

Finally, I'll leave you with a shortlist of what I'm currently reading in case any of these titles grab your attention and you want to jump in with me:

Tribe by Sebastian Junger

The Magic of Thinking BIG by David J. Schwartz

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I hope you find a piece of reading material that comforts you and inspires you during this difficult time in history and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!


- Nol

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  • Zachary DiBlasi on


    Appreciate the recommendations!

    2 books that I’m definitely going to check out from there are SHOWBOAT & Awareness.

    Really cool to see you’ve read Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. Dr. Joe’s books are literally the best. I’ve also read Becoming Supernatural by him, which was also spectacular.

    If you’re into the ‘neuroscience of success’, I’d HIGHLY recommend reading Psycho Cybernetics.



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