“I write for kids, and kids tend to be optimists. Even when the book has a dark theme, it’s always through the eyes of a fictional hero, a young person with integrity, someone a reader can identify with and in turn find a kind of integrity and power in themselves. The role of fiction is to rehearse one’s life. When reading books where they encounter things that they haven’t yet faced, they subconsciously rehearse what their reaction will be, how they’ll grapple with such things.”

– Louis Lowry, Author of The Giver.



Message From Rachana: 


Hi everyone, I’m listing a few books, movies and documentaries that I think are worth looking at atleast once in our lifetime. At the same time, I’ve to say that I don’t completely agree with some of the books, and might also have changed my opinion about some of the authors that I’m recommending here. You can find my GOODREADS bookshelf HERE.



The Man Vs. Machine Age: Digital Literacy: 


  • Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte
  • Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
  • Our Final Invention by James Barrat
  • Humans Need Not Apply By Jerry Kaplan
  • Dopamine Nation By Anna Lembke
  • A Human’s Guide To Machine Intelligence By Kartik Hosanagar
  • Human Compatible By Stuart Russell
  • The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids by Shimi K Kang Md
  • The Tech Solution: Creating Healthy Habits for Kids Growing Up in a Digital World by Dr. Shimi Kang
  • Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
  • Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

More recommendations HERE.



The World Around Us: 


  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  • The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas
  • American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • Character and Opinion in the United States by George Santayana
  • Teenage Gender Dysphoria: Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier



Hack Your Productivity: 


  • Primal Branding By Patrick Hanlon
  • Storyworthy By Matthew Dicks
  • The 4-Hour Work Week By Tim Ferris
  • Anything You Want By Derek Sivers
  • Getting Things Done By David Allen
  • Atomic Habits By James Clear
  • Show Your Work By Austin Kleon



Mind Bending And Life Altering: 


  • The Science Of Breathing By Yogi Ramacharaka (William Walker Atkinson)
  • The Art of Happiness by the 14th Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler
  • The Methods of Nonviolent Action By Gene Sharp
  • The Psychology Of Money By Morgan Housel
  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  • Happiness Hypothesis By Jonathan Hardt
  • The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson
  • Willpower by Roy Baumeister & John Tierney
  • Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff
  • Range by David Epstein
  • The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort to Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self by Michael Easter
  • Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky
  • This Moment Is the Perfect Teacher: Ten Buddhist Teachings on Cultivating Inner Strength and Compassion by Pema Chödrön
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know By Adam Grant
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Free Will by Zen Harris and Moran Cerf
  • The True Believer By Eric Hoffer
  • Anatomy of an Illness By Norman Cousins
  • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
  • White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
  • Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by neurologist António Damásio
  • They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
  • Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  • The Discovery Of The Unconscious by Henri F. Ellenberger
  • The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley
  • Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman
  • Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon



BEST Investigative Reporting: 


  • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
  • Blueprint for Revolution by Srdja Popovic
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Hariri
  • Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • In Defense of Food By Michael Pollan



Chess Books:  


  • Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion’s Life by Viswanathan Anand
  • Timman’s Titans: My World Chess Champions by Jan Timman
  • The Moves That Matter By Jonathan Rawson





  • Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • The Yearling is a novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  • Pandemic by Albert Camus
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • The Invention of Wings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Best Telugu Books: Find some amazing recommendations HERE.








  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
  • Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
  • A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
  • The Opposite Of Loneliness By Marina Keegan
  • American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures
  • The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
  • Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
  • Family Life: A Novel by Akhil Sharma
  • Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran by Shirin Ebadi
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Half of a Yellow Sun: A Novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and One Man’s Story of Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
  • Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
  • Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Infinite Ache – My First Mother’s Day Without Her by Saeed Jones



Peak Performance And Personal Development: 


  • Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
  • The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan
  • How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  • Homo Prospectus by Martin Seligman et al
  • 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman
  • Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
  • The Right Choice​ by Shiv Shivakumar
  • Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
  • Work Rules by Laszlo Bock
  • The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali & Hassan Kubba
  • Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
  • Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat (Also a memoir)
  • The Practice By Seth Godin
  • Tiny Beautiful Things from Dear Sugar
  • You Think You Have Existential Angst, Read: Hunger by Knut Hamsun
  • Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships by Sue Johnson
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
  • To Sell is Human, by Dan Pink
  • Influence By Robert B. Cialdini
  • The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
  • Mastery by Robert Greene
  • Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss



Business And Professional Development: 


  • Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim
  • What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
  • Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
  • Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Ashley Goodall and Marcus Buckingham
  • Mastering the Cube: Overcoming Stumbling Blocks and Building an Organization that Works by Reed Deshler
  • Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future By Peter Thiel
  • Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters



Best Movies: 


  • Silenced – South Korean crime drama film directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk
  • The Stoning of Soraya M, by Cyrus Nowrastey: A desperate woman asks for a meeting with a journalist to disclose the cruel and inhumane punishment of her niece.
  • Pushpaka Vimanam (1987 Silent Indian Movie)
  • Jojo Rabbit – A Comedy Drama
  • Where Is The Friend’s Home By Abbas Kiarostami
  • Kantara (Indian Kannada Language Action Thriller)
  • Squid Game (Korean Thriller Series)



Best Documentaries: 


  • Love, Death + Robots
  • Blackfish
  • Earthlings
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Keep This Between Us (Documentary about groomers)
  • What The Health
  • Screened Out (2020)
  • Generation Zapped
  • The Social Dilemma:
    We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.
  • Searching for Sugar Man
  • Undercover High: How Adults Passed As High Schoolers
  • Sum Of Life: 14 Minutes Of Pure Joy {5 Minute Documentary}
  • March of the Penguins
  • Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
  • The Game Changers
  • Eating You Alive
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Martyrs of Marriage:  Misuse of IPC 498A By Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj
  • https://www.indiassons.com/
  • Ukraine’s Forgotten Children (A BBC Documentary): 
    Ukraine got its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Under the Soviet system, a mother can abandon her new born in the maternity ward by simply signing it over to the state. Today state care has become the norm for any kind of disability. And most children in state care are called social orphans, a term used to describe children whose parents can’t or are unwilling to take care of them.



Picture Books On Life: 






Short Stories: 


  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
  • Kafan by Munshi Prem Chand
  • Mr Know-All by Williams Somerset Maugham
  • Belles Lettres from Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
  • Apollo by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Where are you going, Where have you been by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Goodbye and Good Luck By Grace Paley
  • Tell Me a Riddle By Tillie Olsen
  • Sticks By George Saunders





  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
  • Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele



On Death: 


  • Too Soon to Say Goodbye By Art Buchwald
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End By Atul Gawande
  • When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi
  • The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying By Nina Riggs



On Writing: 


  • Make a Scene By Jordan E. Rosenfeld
  • Story Structure Architect By Victoria Lynn Schmidt


Alain de Botton Quote





  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • Luck by Mark Twain: So funny about how luck only preserved instead of hardwork and brilliance, BONUS: Jealous protagonist.
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein





  • Brahma by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The Speed Of Darkness By Muriel Rukeyser
  • Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Her Kind by Anne Sexton
  • Hedgehog by Chu Chen Po
  • Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins



Wish To Read:


  • We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
  • The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
  • The AI Economy: Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Age of the Robot Book by Roger Bootle
  • The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
  • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
  • She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity By Carl Zimmer
  • The Big Picture By Sean M. Carroll
  • Shackleton’s Leadership of the Endurance Expedition By Charles Chappell.
  • Superintelligence By Nick Bostrom
  • Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century By Jean Rhodes
  • The Wealth of Nations By Adam Smith
  • Cryptonomicon, A Novel By Neal Stephenson
  • Descartes’ Error By Antonio Damasio
  • Hola Papi : How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons By John Paul Brammer
  • Pain Free By Pete Egoscue
  • The Magna Carta of Exponentiality By Vusi Thembekwayo
  • The Way of The Superior Man By David Deida
  • State Change By Robin Berzin MD
  • The Philosophy Of Symbiosis By Kisho Kurokawa
  • Seeking Wisdom By Peter Bevelin
  • The Wealthy Barber By David Chilton
  • On Creativity: The Art of Possibility By Roz & Ben Zander
  • The Game By Neil Strauss
  • A Man In Love By Karl Ove Knasgard
  • Land of Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal
  • The Undocumented Americans By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
  • The Spy and the Traitor By Ben Macintyre
  • Invisible Women By Caroline Criado Perez
  • The Three-Body Problem By Liu Cixin
  • The Story of Philosophy By Will Durant
  • God’s Debris By Scott Adams
  • Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman By James Gleick



Global Educators: 


  • Pep Marí, was the head psychologist in the High Performance Center (CAR) of Sant Cugat (Barcelona)
  • David A. Sousa (Author: The Power of Student Teams) (Said Teachers are Brain Changers, underlying neuroscience of how learning works) (Educational Neuroscience)
  • Carol Ann Tomlinson (Differential Education)
  • Nancie Atwell has run a small, independent K-8 school in Maine
  • Linda Liukas: Lady in STEM – TED Talk
  • Adriana Gascoigne Girls In Tech
  • Chris Urmson: Co-founder and CEO at @Aurora_inno developing self-driving cars.
  • Jinnah Dylan Hosein: Actor, Engineer, Scientist





  • Jon Levy. Behavioral scientist studying Influence, Connection & Trust
  • Amishi Jha
  • Robert Sapolsky, Author Of “Behave”
  • Michael Thomas: Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Dr. Andrew Huberman – Neurologist
  • V. S. Ramachandran: American-Indian neuroscientist: Phantom Limbs
  • Moran Cerf, Author Of Free Will



Thought Leaders: 


  • Simone de Beauvoir, French existentialist philosopher
  • Michael Rich, Founder, The Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders (CIMAID)
  • Jonathan Haidt on The Open Mind: Politics and Religion: Testing American Righteousness
  • Martin Lindstrom – Organizational Guidance System
  • Sheena Iyengar, Author Of The Art of Choosing
  • Maria Angelita Ressa
  • Daisaku Ikeda – Japanese Buddhist Philosopher
  • Vusi Thembekwayo – Entrepreneur and Global Business Speaker
  • Slavoj Žižek (Slovenian Philosopher)
  • J. B. S. Haldane – Socialist Biologist
  • Ari Wallach – Futurist






  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Orhan Pamuk
  • Carmen Agra Deedy
  • Meenakshi Jain, Political Scientist And Historian
  • James Baldwin
  • Mallory Ortberg
  • Johann Eduard Hari – British-Swiss Writer





  • Friedrich Nietzsche: Creative Self Expression
  • Marcus Aurelius





  • William James – Founder Of Modern Psychology
  • Roy Baumeister – Social Psychologist
  • Dr Shelja Sen
  • Jean Piaget: Swiss psychologist: Child Development: Science and Spirituality
  • Abraham Maslow: Creator of Self-actualization concept.
    Psychiatrist, Author, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute
    Clinical Psychologist, Author, Founder of Ahaparenting.com
    Counselor, Author of Being At Your Best When Your Kids Are At Their Worst
    Psychotherapist, Author of The Power of Showing Up
    Sociologist, Greater Good Science Center
    Science Director of the Self-Regulation Institute, Author of Self-Reg
    Author of The Superkids Activity Guide, National Board Certified Teacher
    Clinical Psychologist, Author of Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety
    Licensed Psychologist, Author of the children’s book My Forgotten Self
    Holistic Psychiatrist, Author of A Mind of Your Own
    Author of Parenting Forward, Podcaster, Speaker
    Physical Therapist, Founder of Generation Mindful
    Psychology Professor, Author of Free to Learn
    Author of iRules, Speaker, Consultant
    Psychologist, Author of Resilient and Neurodharma
    Psychiatrist, Creator of Mental Healthiness classes
    Author of Confident Parents, Confident Kids, Consultant
    Psychologist, Author of Self-Compassion for Parents
    Parent Coach, Co-author of Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges
    Recovering Tiger Mother, Unschooling Mom, Parent Coach
    Certified ADHD Coach, Certified CPS Provider
    Counsellor, Author of Rest, Play, Grow
    Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Founder of Relationship Cubed




The Terrible Paradox of Self-Awareness | Fernando Pessoa:




* * *


About The Article Author:

Our mission with FutureSTRONG Academy – to grow children who respect themselves, their time and their capabilities in a world where distractions are just a click or a swipe away.

I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a Writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté

Write to me or call me. Tell me what support from me looks like. 

Rachana Nadella-Somayajula,
Program Director & Essential Life Skills Coach for Kids and Busy Parents

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