The Top Game Books

Neil StraussNeil, The Game

Still out on the road doing research for the next book, but I took some time off to prepare an important list for those of you on your own Game-related self-improvement journey.

Many people who’ve read The Game want to know what books influenced me as I was learning.

And I’ve often recommended some of the following books. For those who have kept up with my mailing list for a while or been to book signings, you know some of these and have probably read them. So, for you, I’ve noted a few equally essential follow-up books as well.

Here are the top books to read to start understanding and internalizing the fundamental principles:

1. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden: Confidence can easily be faked. What people look for is self-esteem. And, in fact, the journey many people are on is not just about finding mates, but finding unshakeable self-esteem that derives from within (not from the opinions or responses of others)—and this is the book that basically defined the modern idea of self-esteem. I recommend starting with the abridged audio version, then following it by reading the actual book to best internalize the ideas.

2. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene: This classic tome collects and analyzes some of history’s greatest seducers and seductions, and provides a great framework for understanding the types of seducers, seducees, and techniques used. The Art of Seduction stretches the timeframe out and explores long-term, often labor-intensive relationships. Also recommended: Robert Greene’s other heavily researched and distilled handbook, The 48 Laws of Power.

3. Mastering Your Hidden Self: A Guide to the Huna Way by Serge Kahili King: Too many of us have no idea what goes on inside our own heads. We don’t understand the childhood behavior patterns that solidified into our emotions, our passions, our frustrations, our needs, our thought patterns, and why we sometimes act the way we do. And even when we do understand these things, we often find it difficult to change them. One of the best books on this subject is Mastering Your Hidden Self, by King, an ex-marine. In fact, at signings, when people ask me to write some advice in their books, I often use a quote from this book: “The World Is What You Think It Is.” Also recommended: The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida.

4. The Red Queen by Matt Ridley: The importance of reading books on evolution, like this diverse, engaging, and wide-ranging one, is that suddenly some of the attraction principles that seem counter-intuitive become logical and the techniques that are criticized become timeless truths of human nature. Most importantly, if the Game is played by understanding social rules, then it helps to know how, when, and why they were programmed. Also recommended: Sperm Wars by Robin Baker.

5. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini: First of all, a warning: Make sure you get the book with the white cover (subtitled The Psychology of Persuasion), not the red cover (subtitled Science and Practice). In the book, psychology professor Cialdini examines the shortcuts that people use to make decisions, then distills the tactics of persuasion to six key psychological principles. And five of them (if not six sometimes) come into play in textbook game. Although it’s a book about marketing, understanding these make all the difference in making the leap from interest to attraction. Also recommended: What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins.

6. Introducing NLP by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour: Though some of NLP’s advocates (including certain magicians) make great claims as to its power to control others, the truth is that it’s much more effective for your own self-improvement. The books by Richard Bandler and John Grinder may be the bedrock of NLP, but Introducing NLP is the place to go for not just a primer on the concepts, but also enough in-depth knowledge to put the key ones into practice. Also recommended: NLP: The New Technology of Achievement edited by Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner.

And I may be opening Pandora’s Box with this closing statement, but let me know which books have had the biggest impact on your game and self-improvement. If I haven’t read any of them and you make a good case, I’ll check them out.