Put down that copy of 50 Shades of Grey. No, really put it down. Watch the 2002 movie, The Secretary, in which James Spader plays a dominant character named Mr. E. Edward Grey who develops a BDSM-themed relationship with his secretary, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Now watch Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in Nine ½ Weeks made in 1986. Rourke plays John Gray, a very wealthy man who engages in a highly sexual BDSM relationship with his female counterpart. Now that you know E.L James is so unoriginal that she can’t even come up with a man’s name on her own, stop watching movies and pick up one of these books:

1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera


You could read this book ten times and discover something new each time. Telling the philosophical story of the lives of two women, two men and a dog, Kundera tackles the intangible aspects of life, pondering questions like: how do we give our lives meaning; does fate or chance drive our lives; and, how can you affirm your individuality in an oppressive society?

2. The Art of War, Sun Tzu


Although this is a military treatise, it is also one of the most useful guides for dealing with conflict in your life. You can apply its lessons of war strategy and tactics on the battlefield to the daily office grind or that menacing co-worker in the neighboring cubicle. You'll learn how to succeed in competitive business situations as well as sly negotiation tactics.

b>3. Profit Over People, Noam Chomsky


This is Chomsky’s critique of neo-liberalism. He succinctly speaks about the harmful effects of the unjust policies that poorer countries are subjected to by world organizations that are intended to aid impoverished nations, mainly the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It contains great insight on how world organizations are actually run.

4. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand


This was Rand’s last and longest book, but worth every hour you put into it. It takes place in a dystopian city in the United States with industries collapsing after years of prosperity. It depicts the role man’s mind and reason play in the business world as well as familial and romantic situations. It also emphasizes the inevitability of rational selfishness, meaning, it excuses characters flaws as a means for survival.

5. Am I A Monkey?, Francisco J. Ayala


This book, written by an evolutionary biologist, discusses six recurring questions people have about evolution. Am I a monkey? Why is evolution a theory? What is DNA? Do all scientists accept evolution? How did life begin? Can one believe in evolution and God? Ayala offers a straightforward and clear case for the basic science preceding evolutionary theory in a brief and informative manner.

6). The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo


Psychologist Philip Zimbardo attempts to explain how good people act evil. He believes that people are neither inherently good nor bad, but rather act at the hand of the situation. He cites several experiments, namely the Stanford prison experiment he conducted in 1971, in which 24 male students were assigned roles as prisoners and guards in a mock prison where they unexpectedly began adapting to their roles; the guards became more authoritarian to the point of abuse, and the prisoners developed a passive acceptance, resulting in the reinforcement of theories on the psychological power of authority.

7. Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins


This book is the best way to grasp international economics and politics. It speaks of the hidden and unethical world of global economics and trade. Perkins writes about his career with the consulting firm Chas T. Main in Boston and the main role he played in convincing poorer countries to accept massive loans from the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) by using fraudulent financial reports and going as far as rigging elections. It offers a great perspective on the politics of economics and how America has taken over the world by neutralizing weaker countries.

8. The Prophet, Khalil Gibran


Gibran offers words to live by in this book in 26 poetical essays, each of them tackling an aspect of life such as love, family, marriage, and eating and drinking. Read it through your twenties, and then again every year – it is a beautiful book.

9. The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan


Launching his attack on pseudo-sciences such as astrology and holistic medicine, Sagan emphasizes the importance of embracing science in order for societies to move forward and prosper. He outlines the dangers of embracing baseless science, stating that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

10. Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Although technically a novella and not a book, it offers more life advice than you can imagine by making observations about life and human nature, outlining the responsibilities one has in love and the importance of play.

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