Top 5 Books to get for Christmas

Napoleon Hill said that more gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has ever been taken from the earth. Like an investment, reading is an activity that yields compound interest. Each year you retain the wisdom from a book is another opportunity to use that knowledge to enrich your life.

Christmas is coming up, and I think that the most intelligent audience in the world (the CHP audience) may like to expand their literary palette even further these holidays. The five books I am suggesting and reviewing in this article are each fantastic and would make a great present for yourself or a loved one. Each review will be followed by a quote from the book and a link to purchase.


Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

‘Think and Grow Rich’ is a book I had intended to read for a long time, but only when my sister bought it for me as a 21st birthday present (very good choice Fiona), did I read it. You’re likely to have heard of it, and there would scarcely be a bookstore that doesn’t stock the title. Originally published in 1937, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ has woven itself into the cultural fabric as a strong starting point for those who wish to improve their lot in life. Eighty years after it’s publication, it may still be the best ‘success’ book ever written, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide by 2015. The principles in this book are the foundation for many of the self-development books published today.

The author, Napoleon Hill was born into a poor family in 1883 and was orphaned at the age of 12. He began work as a journalist, and was able to interview the steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie. ‘Think and Grow Rich’, was the ambitious project delegated to Hill by Carnegie, who wished to find the formula for monetary success that could be used by the average person. Indeed, this project would dominate the next 25 years of Hill’s life. He interviewed over 500 of the most successful men and women of his time to find the success formula.

‘Think and Grow Rich’ details in thirteen steps the path to monetary success for an ordinary person. I found the book tremendously interesting to read, and highly useful overall. There are definitely aspects of the book I was surprised about, particularly the emphasis on the power of abstract ideas such as faith, autosuggestion and the subject of Chapter 11, ‘The Mystery of Sex Transmutation’. However, overall the book is very easy to read, making intuitive sense and is highly motivating.

I would submit that money is not the goal in life and money won’t make you happy. However, money is a fantastic lubricant that helps the more important parts of your life slide into place. You want to be able to choose where you live, who you spend your time with, and what you spend your time on. To reach such a place in life where those decisions are within your discretion, you need to have mastered money. ‘Think and Grow Rich’ is a perfect starting point to orient yourself on that journey.

 “One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average person’s familiarity with the word ‘impossible’. He knows all the rules that will not work. He knows all the things that cannot be done. This book was written for those who seek the rules that have made others successful, and are willing to stake everything on those rules” – Napoleon Hill.

Available here:


The Story of Mankind by Hendrik van Loon

‘The Story of Mankind’ by Hendrik van Loon, is allegedly a children’s book on the history of the world. If indeed it is a children’s book, then I am a bigger fan of the genre than I realized. Written and illustrated by van Loon, the book details the human adventure from the beginning of the universe to the end of the Great War. The power of ‘The Story of Mankind’ is to give you an easy-to-understand mind map of the most important scenes and characters that have played a role in our history. It is a book that I would recommend in a heartbeat.

Hendrik Willem van Loon was a Dutch-American historian, journalist and award-winning author. His writing vividly animates history with an informal and personal style that includes anecdotes. I often found myself genuinely smiling as he relayed historical events with insight and wit. Written for van Loon’s grandchildren in 1921, ‘The Story of Mankind’ was the first winner of the John Newberry Medal, awarded for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

“We modern men and women are not ‘modern’ at all. On the contrary we still belong to the last generations of the cave-dwellers. The foundation for a new era was laid but yesterday. The human race was given its first chance to become truly civilized when it took courage to question all things and made ‘knowledge and understanding’ the foundation upon which to create a more reasonable and sensible society of human beings.”

Available here:


China Matters by Bates Gill & Linda Jakobson

‘China Matters’ by Bates Gill and Linda Jakobson is an overview of China today, with a specific focus on the Australia/China relationship. The book is a collection of six essays, with analysis ranging from China’s social fabric, economic position, political structure and foreign influence as well as Australia’s recommended policy towards China. While the book is supported by in-depth knowledge and research, it is still a relatively easy read.

The Australia/China relationship is in an interesting position. Many Australian citizens, as well as the government, are concerned about our relationship with China. On the other hand, many Australians are relatively unfamiliar with the particular opportunities and risks that the relationship involves. For example, the Australian media went berserk about the so-called ‘China Spy’ story, which turned out to be overwhelmingly misleading. However, the reason the story was so popular is because it played into the natural sense of unease that Australians feel towards our neighbor’s rising power. Indeed, we know China is powerful, but we don’t know much else. It is firmly in Australia’s interests to understand exactly who the Chinese people are, and what role their government is seeking to play at home and abroad. ‘China Matters’ is the perfect introduction.

Both authors have strong academic pedigree. Bates Gill is a professor of Asia-Pacific Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre at the Australian National University. Linda Jakobson, a mandarin speaker, has served as a policy-advisor on China-related issues to the president, prime minister or foreign minister in seven countries, as well as authoring six books on China. She is the founding director of the not-for-profit ‘China Matters’ and was the East Asia Program Director at the Lowy Institute.

“Ultimately, it is up to leaders and citizens across society to transform Australia’s engagement with China. That begins with understanding that China matters more and more for the things that Australians value most: principles, prosperity and security. Getting China right is more important than ever before.”

Available here:


Greatness Awaits You by Riccardo Bosi

I have had the pleasure of interviewing the author of ‘Greatness Awaits You: The Five Pillars of Real Leadership’, Riccardo Bosi. His book on leadership will endear our audience from the first page with the dedication: “to President Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America, who in time will be known as one of the United States’ most heroic presidents.”

Mr Bosi is a former Australian Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, as well as a long-term advisor to the United Arab Emirates Special Operations Command. His understanding of leadership has its foundations in his military career, which further developed through consulting for Australian and international companies. He has also recently founded a new political party, Australia One.

‘Greatness Awaits You’ is useful for those seeking to understand the mechanics of leadership. The book details five ‘pillars’ of real leadership that are grounded in a foundation of trust between the leader and the led. For this reason, ‘Trust’ is the subject of Chapter 0 and is not counted in the five pillars. Each chapter includes examples of great leaders of the past and Riccardo’s breakdown of the subject matter.

“Why should you commit the time and effort to studying, learning and developing your Real Leadership skills? The answer is the most important and most personal of reasons. Your family’s very life, liberty and happiness depends upon it. Who’s going to lead your family if you don’t? The government? I don’t think so. Your family needs your leadership to stay strong, independent and free from the countless threats, dangers and negative influences out there in the world in order to create a life of abundance, joy and achievement”

Available here:


The Autobiography and Other Writings of Benjamin Franklin

The ‘Autobiography and Other Writings of Benjamin Franklin’ may be the most interesting book on the list. Franklin is one of the most famous founding fathers of America. Although I didn’t understand all the words he used, his personal style makes you feel like you know him despite being separated by a few hundred years of history. This account of his adventurous rise from poor obscurity into public life as a statesman, diplomat, scientist, inventor and printer has been well-received for many generations. The book was initially conceived as a collection of anecdotes for his son, however exploded to become the most widely read American autobiography ever.

Benjamin Franklin was the only man to sign all four major documents of the founding of the United States- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty Alliance with France and the Treaty of Peace with England. Many Americans assign an almost religious value to the founding fathers and these documents as central pillars of the American identity. Many more political pundits would suggest that the foundation of the United States of America was the best political theory humans have ever developed. In fact, Indeed, it is worth your time to understand the mind of a man who helped create these documents, particularly when it is such an enjoyable read. In my opinion, it is far superior to hear the American story in Franklin’s own words, than to have it dictated to you by teachers or politicians.

Having been often criticized for my own vanity, I decided I liked this book even from the second page, where Franklin writes:

“Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share of it they have themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life”

Available here:

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