7 Must Read Books for Digital Nomads

7 Must Read Books for Digital Nomads: Hero Image

The knowledge contained within books is vast – they are capable of boosting your intelligence and even preparing you for a long-term trip around the world. Whether you’re a seasoned digital nomad or you’re just starting to broaden your remote work horizons, you should be deeply familiar with the books on this list.

Written by brilliant minds, we’ve curated 7 books with universal themes that are highly relevant for digital nomads today. Trust us, all are well worth reading at least once in your life!

Table of Contents

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1) Must Read Book

The Book of Five Rings

Miyamoto Musashi was born in Japan in 1584 and is remembered for being an undefeated samurai. From age 13 to 62, he never lost a fight and was highly regarded as the country’s greatest swordsman.

Near the end of his life, Musashi wrote down his martial arts manifesto and detailed different strategies on how to use your mind during a life-or-death battle. 

In a nutshell, The Book of Five Rings is a master-class on high-level strategy that’s based on taking initiative and finding balance. While the book may be catered to elite swordsmanship of a bygone era, Musashi’s lessons are applicable to modern life through a lens of introspection.

Relevance for digital nomads: high-pressure strategic thinking.

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

Best Books for Digital Nomads; Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

2) Must Read Book

Zen in the Art of Archery

Written by German professer Eugen Herrigel in 1948, Zen in the Art of Archery is a masterpiece that’s the result of the author’s six year quest to learn archery from Japanese Zen masters.

Don’t be fooled by the book’s title, the writing is not about archery per se. It’s about the “frame of mind” one needs to become a true master of any art and how to purposefully detach from an outcome in order to achieve equanimity

The whole point of the book is to understand the Zen philosophy of detachment and to get to a point where you have zero ego attached to an outcome, so you’re able to fully invest in the process.

Relevance to digital nomads: learn to focus your mind and body on the matter at hand. 

Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

Best Books for Digital Nomads: Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

3) Must Read Book

The Tao Te Ching

As the single most impactful book I’ve ever read, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu is a time-honored work of art that’ll positively influence the way you interact with the world.

In the 5th century BCE, Lao Tzu developed Taoism which is a Chinese philosophy that clearly emphasizes simplicity, patience, and compassion as ways of integrity. While Taoism and the Tao Te Ching were meant for ancient audiences, the universal lessons in the text transcend time.

The core tenet of the Tao Te Ching is awareness – not of the world, but of ourselves and how we can live life at peace with ourself, others, and the changing world. 

Relevance to digital nomads: gain clarity around self-awareness.

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Best Books for Digital Nomads: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

4) Must Read Book

Principles: Life and Work

As a former hedge funder, Ray Dalio’s accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary to me- he founded Bridgewater Associates which has over $140 billion of assets under management.  

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio is one of my favorite books of all time. Nearly every page is filled with insights that serve as an operating system to decipher the patterns occurring within your life. The idea is to understand the cause-effect relationships that drive these patterns and to have a philosophical rationale to discern what is “true.”

If you only choose to read one book on this list, then this one should be it. It’s truly invaluable.

Relevance to digital nomads: identify the truths that determine how you behave.

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Best Books for Digital Nomads: Principles of Life and Work by Ray Dalio

5) Must Read Book

10 Principles of Good Design

For anyone interested in the aesthetic philosophy behind minimalism, the 10 Principles of Good Design chronicles the work of legendary designer Dieter Rams – one of industrial design’s most celebrated visionaries. Below are his 10 principles:

  1. Good design is innovative.
  2. Good design makes a product useful.
  3. Good design is aesthetic.
  4. Good design makes a product understandable.
  5. Good design is unobtrusive.
  6. Good design is honest.
  7. Good design is long-lasting.
  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
  9. Good design is environmentally-friendly.
  10. Good design is as little design as possible.

These 10 principles have become iconic and have even influenced many of Apple’s products. Regardless of your interest (or lack thereof) in industrial design, there’s a lot to learn from Dieter Ram’s avant-garde influence on aesthetic minimalism.

Relevance to digital nomads: lessons on a functionalist approach to minimalism.

Dieter Rams: 10 Principles of Good Design

Best Books for Digital Nomads: Dieter Rams, 10 Principles of Good Design

6) Must Read Book

Extreme Ownership

Filled with lessons that have been learnt the hard way, Extreme Ownership tells the stories of two battle-tested Navy SEALs and their experiences while supporting troops in their military roles. 

The primary lesson of the book is centered around having ownership over yourself, your work, your process and your results, while never shifting any blame or responsibilities onto others. It’s all about accepting actions, harnessing your own grit, and taking real pride in a job well done.

The secondary lesson of the book is all about developing disciplinary habits that supplement peak performance over the long haul. Like with many other aspects in life, discipline is key to success and a paramount component of long-term travel.

Relevance to digital nomads: lessons on discipline and owning every aspect of your work.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

Best Books for Digital Nomads: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

7) Must Read Book

Breath: The New Science

There’s nothing more essential to life than breathing. Unfortunately, modern humans have lost the ability to perform this task correctly, with grave consequences on health.

James Nestor’s Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art investigates the most critical act of life and provides actionable advice on how you can “breathe consciously” for better overall health.

In practical terms, all it takes are slight adjustments in the way you breathe to see a positive impact on your sleep quality, immune system, anxiety levels, and ability to focus.

Relevance for digital nomads: learn to relieve stress through breathwork while traveling.

Breath: The New Science by James Nestor

Best Books for Digital Nomads: Breath by James Nestor
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Alan & May

Welcome to North of Known! We’re Alan and May, a married couple who have embraced digital nomadism while calling Bangkok, Thailand, our current home base. Over the past 7 years, our shared passion for exploration and adventure has fueled our journey across the globe. Join us as we continue to embark on our nomadic adventures, sharing our insights, discoveries, and travel tales along the way.

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