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Books Recommended by Cal Newport

Cal Newport‘s a computer science professor at Georgetown University who writes about the intersection of society and technology – particularly how new tech affects our ability to do deep thinking and quality work.

Cal’s first three books provided advice for students: How to Win at College (2005), How to Become a Straight-A Student (2006), and How to Be a High School Superstar (2010).

His next three books approached topics on the skill of studying and productivity.

In “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”, Cal talks about why the advice “Follow your passion” is a bad one if your goal is to end up loving what you do for a living. Passion is something you cultivate through hard work, and not the starting point.

In “Deep Work“, he shows us how the modern work environment destroyed our ability to focus and do deep, quality work. The ability to shut out all distractions became more and more rare and, at the same time, valuable.

In the first half of his book, Cal Newport talks all the modern workplace sources of distraction, from open space offices to instant messaging, always being interrupted, checking our emails, never fully disconnecting our brains from the noise, busyness, and so on, and debunk all the reasons why we feel we absolutely need them. While seemingly harmless on a day to day basis, just because almost everyone else around us is caught in the same hamster wheel, they add up and affect our ability to focus, be creative, and do quality work.

In the second half of the book, the author comes with multiple solutions and ways to tackle the problem, depending on your job’s nature and your personality. All these are sprinkled with stories about how other people work (or used to work) – successful folks across all industries, from Carl Jung to Charles Darwin, Einstein, Walter Isaacson, and more.

Cal Newport recently launched his new book, “Digital Minimalism” (out February 2019). The digital minimalism philosophy is about how to be more selective about what technologies we adopt in our personal lives, how to radically reduce the time we spend staring at screens, focus on the activities that support what we do and value, and happily ignore the rest (JOMO).

He’s currently working on a new book, “A World Without Email” (the title is work-in-progress).

All books recommended by Cal Newport (or written):