Recommended Books

Below are books that have helped us improve and fine-tune our studies. If you are serious about achieving your academic goals, we recommend giving some – if not all – a read.


Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Author(s): Jocko Willink, Leif Babin

Recommended by: Co-Founder, Jake Glazer

“Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership―at every level―is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields.”

Purchase: Extreme Ownership


Grateful Nation: Student Veterans and the Rise of the Military-Friendly Campus

Author: Ellen Moore

Recommended by: NSI Associate, Kaedy Puckett

In today’s volunteer military many recruits enlist for the educational benefits, yet a significant number of veterans struggle in the classroom, and many drop out. The difficulties faced by student veterans have been attributed to various factors: poor academic preparation, PTSD and other postwar ailments, and allegedly antimilitary sentiments on college campuses. In Grateful Nation Ellen Moore challenges these narratives by tracing the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans at two California college campuses. Drawing on interviews with dozens of veterans, classroom observations, and assessments of the work of veteran support organizations, Moore finds that veterans’ academic struggles result from their military training and combat experience, which complicate their ability to function in civilian schools. While there is little evidence of antimilitary bias on college campuses, Moore demonstrates the ways in which college programs that conflate support for veterans with support for the institutional military lead to suppression of campus debate about the wars, discourage antiwar activism, and encourage a growing militarization.

Purchase: Grateful Nation


How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less

Author: Cal Newport

Recommended by: Co-Founders, Marcus Bartolome and Brandon Lambert

“Most college students believe that straight A’s can be achieved only through cramming and painful all-nighters at the library. But Cal Newport knows that real straight-A students don’t study harder—they study smarter. A breakthrough approach to acing academic assignments, from quizzes and exams to essays and papers, How to Become a Straight-A Student reveals for the first time the proven study secrets of real straight-A students across the country and weaves them into a simple, practical system that anyone can master.”

Purchase: How to Become a Straight-A Student


How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students

Author: Cal Newport

Recommended by: Co-Founders, Brandon Lambert and Marcus Bartolome

“How can you graduate with honors, choose exciting activities, build a head-turning resume, gain access to the best post-college opportunities, and still have a life? Based on interviews with star students at universities nationwide, from Harvard to the University of Arizona, How to Win at College presents seventy-five simple rules that will rocket you to the top of your class.”

Purchase: How to Win at College


Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Author: Simon Sinek

Recommended by: NSI Associate, Seth Bae

Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort–even their own survival–for the good of those in their care.

Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.

Purchase: Leaders Eat Last


Tribe: On Homecoming And Belonging

Author: Sebastian Junger

Recommended by: NSI Associate, Kaedy Puckett

We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–“tribes.” This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians-but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today.

Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Tribe explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.

Purchase: Tribe


What’s Next For Student Veterans?: Moving From Transition To Academic Success

Author: David Diramio, Editor

Recommended by: NSI Associate, Kaedy Puckett

With the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, more than 1.4 million service members and their families became eligible for higher education benefits, and veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enrolled in colleges and universities in record numbers. The first wave of research about these new student veterans focused primarily on describing their characteristics and the transition from military service to civilian life and the college campus. This new edited collection presents findings from the second wave of research about student veterans, with a focus on data-driven evidence of academic success factors, including persistence, retention, degree completion, and employment after college. An invaluable resource for educators poised to enter the next phase of supporting military-connected college students.

Purchase: What’s Next For Student Veterans


You Are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For

Author: Kyle Carpenter

Recommended by: Co-Founder, Jake Glazer

On November 21, 2010, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter was posted atop a building in violent Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when an enemy grenade skittered toward Kyle and fellow Marine Nick Eufrazio. Without hesitation, Kyle chose a path of selfless heroism that few can imagine. He jumped on the grenade, saving Nick but sacrificing himself.  

One of the year’s most anticipated books, Kyle’s remarkable memoir reveals a central truth that will inspire every reader: Life is worth everything we’ve got. It is the story of how one man became a so-called hero who willingly laid down his life for his brother-in-arms—and equally, it is a story of rebirth, of how Kyle battled back from the gravest challenge to forge a life of joyful purpose.

Kyle Carpenter’s heart flatlined three times while being evacuated off the battlefield in Afghanistan. Yet his spirit was unbroken. Severely wounded from head to toe, Kyle lost his right eye as well as most of his jaw. It would take dozens of surgeries and almost three years in and out of the hospital  to reconstruct his body. From there, he began the process of rebuilding his life. What he has accomplished in the last nine years is extraordinary: he’s come back a stronger, better, wiser person.

Purchase: You Are Worth It


Meditations

Author: Marcus Aurelius

Recommended by: NSI Associate, Sam Fendler

One of the world’s most famous and influential books, Meditations, by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121–180), incorporates the stoic precepts he used to cope with his life as a warrior and administrator of an empire. Ascending to the imperial throne in A.D. 161, Aurelius found his reign beset by natural disasters and war. In the wake of these challenges, he set down a series of private reflections, outlining a philosophy of commitment to virtue above pleasure and tranquility above happiness.

Reflecting the emperor’s own noble and self-sacrificing code of conduct, this eloquent and moving work draws and enriches the tradition of Stoicism, which stressed the search for inner peace and ethical certainty in an apparently chaotic world. Serenity was to be achieved by emulating in one’s personal conduct the underlying orderliness and lawfulness of nature. And in the face of inevitable pain, loss, and death — the suffering at the core of life — Aurelius counsels stoic detachment from the things that are beyond one’s control and a focus on one’s own will and perception.

Presented here in a specially modernized version of the classic George Long translation, this updated and revised edition is easily accessible to contemporary readers. It not only provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind and personality of a highly principled Roman of the second century but also offers today’s readers a practical and inspirational guide to the challenges of everyday life.

Purchase: Meditations