The Reading List
I originally started this list in 2008. I was updating it until around 2011. While I think there are now very good books that should be included here, I still think these are all classics every man should start with.
At the risk of sounding immodest, I’d recommend any of the online resources, including ebooks, audio courses, video courses, or coaching programs available at Aura Transformation. Perhaps it is gauche to recommend one’s own work, so I’ll stop there.
For those who want an even broader, more general introduction to social intelligence, emotional intelligence, and the social arts in general, then look into the foundational books that formed the inspiration for almost all the advancements in the attraction arts community for the past ten years.
The Top Ten
First Category: Required Reading
1. The first book in this category is Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This was originally published in 1937. Almost every social skills book afterwards is a derivative of some sort. The guys in the seduction community who don’t see the value of this book are usually the really creepy ones with major psychological problems. No, I don’t mean you.
The insights contained in this book are so foundational that if you can’t apply these, you have no business looking into the headier stuff. For instance, Carnegie’s principle, You Can’t Win an Argument, was huge for me, an aspiring philosopher. I still to this day have lawyer and engineer clients who start intellectual debates with women and me, even in bars. They don’t realize how important it is to give up their egoistic need to be right or to have everyone know that they are right. It’s far more attractive to be unreactive, internally referenced, and completely confident in your own judgment, even if the majority disagrees with you.
Carnegie’s frequent admonition to Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise, is what drives Qualification as an attraction technique. His humorous, Give a Dog a Good Name, explains much of the effectiveness of Intention Mapping. Many of his other principles illustrate Alpha Nice strategies.
If you want to learn social circle game and entourage game, the teachings in this book are necessary to master. You will need to learn how to befriend not just random hot girls, but more importantly, alpha males, high status people, and well-connected men and women. And if you can’t even apply Carnegie’s principles, you have no business running more advanced game.
A good supplement to Carnegie, which avoids the archaic prose and endless examples, is Leil Lowndes’s How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships. While Lowndes’s tips are fantastic, they are a little parochial and will go out of date and lose their effectiveness if they haven’t already. That’s what separates classics that stand the test of time like Carnegie’s.
Another very good book that I recently discovered is David Lieberman’s Get Anyone To Do Anything. Only the first section of the book is specifically about romantic relationships, but just about all of Lieberman’s strategies can be applied to male-female interactions.
2. This is probably a big surprise to newbies, but it’s no secret to the insider circle that Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is a favorite among the top social artists and inspired a lot of its breakthroughs in inner game. Like Carnegie’s, this is another 1937 classic that has stood the test of time. His chapters on sex transmutation and auto-suggestion are must-reads for any man aspiring to mastery in a specialized field. My own program of affirmations and visualizations were first inspired by Hill’s recommendations. I still get a lot of inquiries about what I do for affirmations and visualizations. Do yourself a favor. Get this little book. Read it several times, a chapter a day until the lessons really sink in. Oh yeah, and you might get rich too!
3. For all the attention that Strauss’s The Game has brought to the community, his first book on the secret society is best taken as an entertaining read, NOT as a manual or blueprint for getting better with girls.
His more recent Rules of the Game, however, is a good how-to guide and presents a well-balanced perspective on attraction, with a proper amount of attention paid to lifestyle and identity. Out of all the attraction manuals you would find in your local bookstore, this is by probably your best bet.
And it’s a good introduction to the most popular style of social arts and perhaps the method best suited to absolute beginners: Indirect game using scripted routines.
4. The most thorough step-by-step guide to the seductive arts is still Robert Greene’s The Art of Seduction. Perhaps it’s biggest fault is that it is too thorough. Most lair guys don’t have the patience, motivation, or critical reading facility to get through the whole thing.
Greene draws on a lot of historical case studies, which I consider a real strength. If there is anything to the insights of the attraction community, then they should be found among the writings of exemplars in times past.
His character portraits are the most valuable part of the book. The true masters have thought long and hard about the different styles of social artistry, and many of them track the character types Greene lays out. It’s helped guide my own decisions about which attraction community teachings to adopt and which to lay aside.
His detailed description of the seductive process is skewed to indirect methods, but he also takes into account the strengths of the direct approach. The process he lays out is a meticulous breakdown of the steps in a typical seduction.
As with all the books in this must-read section, this book should be slowly absorbed and frequently re-read. A chapter or two a day is ideal.
5. This fifth book is my new Bible. I’ve been reading at least a chapter a day for over a year. Well, okay, I’ve lapsed recently, but I’m getting back to it. I credit this book for the most profound changes in my mindset toward my career, relationships, and my life as a whole. It’s given me the courage to make the hardest decisions I’ve ever faced.
David Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man is one of those books that will probably go over the heads of most guys starting out. But once you get to an intermediate level, this must-read will become the single most important book you could own. It holds the keys to real mastery. Incidentally, understanding of the teachings in this book can also be used to gauge a man’s current level of development.
Second Category: Highly Recommended
1. As a scientific account of what’s behind social dynamics and why some people are more attuned to social dynamics, this is likely the most accessible book available. Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships shows how advances in neuroscience, psychology, and various other fields have already unearthed a lot of the reasons for why community material actually works. Unlike the community ebooks, Goleman does not depend on facile appeals to evolutionary accounts. He doesn’t have to. Goleman’s classic Emotional Intelligence is also quite good, though not as directly applicable to social dynamics as his more recent work.
2. Cited repeatedly in Mystery’s Venusian Arts Handbook back in 2004, Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion has spawned a whole industry. This has become a classic in the attraction community. Cialdini is currently a Distinguished Graduate Research Professor at Arizona State University.
The six principles he elucidates in his book are all major concepts in the social arts: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. His book not only helped advance thinking in social dynamics, it also changed the way I saw myself, my relationships, my career, and my research in such fields as philosophy and religious studies.
In the realm of social psychology, neuroscience, and especially behavioral economics, there has been a veritable explosion of paradigm-changing research published over the last several years. Very accessible introductions to this work can be found in the work of Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, cross-appointed to the Business School, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Economics, and School of Medicine. See his fascinating Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality.
3. Like Cialdini, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced like chick sent me high) is another renowned professor who has turned his research into an entire industry. His Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience explains what is behind the whole being in state teaching. I read about his work in a philosophy class before encountering it in some of David DeAngelo’s DVD products.
This will help you understand why being in state is so powerful and the prime driver behind natural game, which has recently become such a contested term in the community, with Real Social Dynamics, PUA Training, Charisma Arts, and just about everyone else trying to lay claim to it, bereaving it of any significant meaning. Most have lost sight of the fact that Vin DiCarlo and Sebastian Drake were the first to come out with natural game. Csikszentmihalyi does a better job of explaining being in state than does neuro-linguistic programming.
But more importantly, Flow will explain how the experts achieve flow on a consistent basis, as well as the personality types of those most prone to flow experiences. He also draws on literature and data from a wide variety of cultures, periods, and societies, including Daoist and Buddhist teachings.
Interestingly, his son is a well-established scholar of early Chinese philosophy.
If you can maximize your flow experiences, you will be a happier, more successful, and more fulfilled human being. What better reason do you need to pick this up? On the subject of happiness and what it takes to get it, the relatively new field of positive psychology pioneered by professors at Penn, Harvard, and elsewhere, has a lot of great things to say, and the best introduction to this field is Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis
4. This list would be incomplete without some mention of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The best general introduction I’ve found is Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour. The writing can be dry and pedantic in places, but the knowledge is invaluable. If you’re interested in NLP, save up a couple thousand dollars and take a course in it.
I prefer the more accessible NLP of Anthony Robbins. His Ultimate Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement helped take my inner game to the next level. You might also want to check out his Awaken the Giant Within, which covers the same material but in a different format.
5. And finally, I would be remiss if I left out some literature on evolutionary accounts of sex and relationships. Most attraction community ebooks appeal to this exclusively for their academic understanding of social dynamics. I find this one-sidedness disappointing. As bemoaned by many academics, evolutionary accounts are too ad hoc. You can pretty much come up with an evolutionary explanation for almost any perspective on social phenomena. Despite this, it is good to know the research.
NEW EDIT: After reading the standard works on evolutionary psychology and mating intelligence listed below, you must read this good (though sometimes biased and overstated) summary of the latest research debunking the parental investment theory of evolutionary psychology. See Daniel Bergner’s What Do Women Want.
EDIT: An excellent book that collects the latest academic research on the topic is Mating Intelligence, edited by Glenn Geher and Geoffrey Miller. It discusses why mating intelligence is a key trait selected for by evolutionary processes. As the philosophers Hichem Naar and Alberto Masala observe, “Committing yourself to a better understanding of mating psychology, theoretically and practically, therefore gives you an advantage over many individuals who lack enough mating intelligence to produce reliable intuitions about the other sex’s expectations and desires” (from their chapter in Dating–Philosophy for Everyone: Flirting with Big Ideas, edited by Kristie Miller and Marlene Clark, in which I also authored a chapter).
For the authoritative book on this subject, see David Buss’s The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, as well as the classic The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Both are rigorous academically but also quite readable. For those serious academics out there, David Buss’s Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, is so far the most comprehensive source available.
A recent work that sums up a lot of the research in the field, and is incredibly well-written to boot, is Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love. Highly recommended.
So there you have it. The Top Ten books that will change your life. I recommend you go through them in the order I’ve laid out. The first five deserve slow and steady study, as well as repeated readings.
Play on, The Asian Rake.
Evolving Beyond Pick Up: My 21 Convention Interview with Steve Mayeda
Life Coaching, Anthony Robbins, and How to Get Girls (My Interview with Dating Skills Review)
How to Create Attraction–The Right Way (Podcast Interview)
“The Secret Scientific Findings About Sex, Love, and Female Desire That Society Doesn’t Want You To Know” — My Capstone Lecture at SMU
Mark Manson Interview with David Tian at Aura Dating Academy – “Inside the Players’ Lounge”
Honesty as the Cornerstone of Attraction and How to Demolish Your Deepest Insecurities in Dating: 21 Convention Full Talk with Outline