5 Essential Books

Pile of books

Image courtesy of Peter Mazurek

Best Pick Up Books

I’ve read hundreds of books that have shaped my ideas on attraction and seduction, from novels to NLP textbooks, from the best “Pick Up” books to scholarly works on anthropology and psychology.

Throughout this blog you’ll find articles on what I learned from various books. These articles pick out the most important teaching points and show you how you can apply them to improve your success with women. There are also standard book reviews, where you can find out if a book is worth your time and money.

There’s an unbelievable amount of material out there for guys who are interested in this stuff, and it can be hard to know where to start with it all. So I thought it would be helpful to recommend five essential books.

These are the five books that I’d suggest a beginner read before anything else. And, for more experienced guys out there, these should all be on your bookshelf. As you’ll see, they’re not all Pick Up books- but they’ll all be a great help in your quest for success with women.

1 – Radical Honesty

Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth, Dr Brad Blanton

Brad Blanton is a psychotherapist and “stress-management expert”, who argues that the number one source of all anxiety is lying: lying to our friends, lying to our family, lying to our loved ones, lying to ourselves.

This is a brutal book, written in colloquial fashion and utterly dismissive of the cuddly self-help industry. He counsels us to tell the truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes us, or other people, feel.

It’s something every guy looking to improve in this area should work on. The main problem guys have, when they start trying to improve their success with women, is that they struggle to express themselves fully. They struggle to express that they like the girl in front of them; they struggle to express their feelings (whether that be expressing confidence or anxiety); they struggle to express themselves sexually.

This was the book that really helped me become more authentic in my interactions and led me to this epiphany: we lie to avoid discomfort, but it is lying that CAUSES our discomfort. Ideally you should read this book before you read anything about attracting women: first, learn how to tell the truth, then worry about the rest.

2 – How to Talk to Anyone

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, Leil Lowndes

The problem with most books (and websites) that purport to teach conversation skills is that they give you little concrete advice that you can actually go out and use right away. They’re usually full of pleasant-sounding useless nonsense like: “Be genuinely interested… make the other person feel comfortable… listen carefully… give the other person time to think.1.

The beauty of Lowndes’ book is that she gives extremely practical advice that you will be able to use in your next conversation. She doesn’t bother digging into the psychological reasons why her advice works; she simply explains the technique, gives an example and moves on.

Quite a lot of the 92 chapters are of limited relevance for the guy chatting up a girl: feel free to skip the bits on networking, dealing with secretaries on the phone and how to deliver bad news. But the bits that are relevant are gold: the three or four techniques on avoiding small talk would be worth the price of this book on their own.

It looks a bit rubbish with a yellow cover and cutesy chapter names2, but don’t let that put you off. This is a brilliant book.

3 – The Game

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, Neil Strauss

The book that dragged dating advice into the 21st century, The Game made a household name out of Neil Strauss and Mystery (the Frank to Strauss’s Rita). It also, as the subtitle claims, lifted the lid on the strange and (at the time) underground community of pickup artists.

Not quite a how-to book (there’s only a smattering of useful advice), nor a straight narrative (some of the stories almost certainly didn’t happen and the chronology is very suspect) The Game is nevertheless a book that every man should read.

The bulk of modern “pickup” coaching is hugely derivative of its basic principles. And, without a NY Times bestseller behind them, the characters in the PUA scene would never have made it out of their Hollywood clubs onto TV and into mainstream consciousness.

So gloss over most of the advice; it’s very dated now and was only ever really suited to high-end club environments. It is also a very “American” book3 and plenty of the techniques will sound very strange in an English pub as opposed to a Melrose bar. Just enjoy the stories, get the background on the colourful characters and see what all the fuss is about.

4 – The Way of the Superior Man

The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire, David Deida

I’ve never been a fan of “pure” self-help books; the likes of Eckhart Tolle4 and Anthony Robbins did nothing for me. But this book is the exception.

The problem with this book is that, in summary, it sounds like the very worst kind of wishy-washy spiritualist nonsense. It tells you about masculine energy and feminine energy. It tells you the meaning of masculinity. There are breathing exercises and “manifesting differences” and polarities. That sort of thing usually makes me want to chuck my yoga mat and incense and flip flops out the window and go down the pub.

But, in its own way, it’s a very macho, very “blokey” book. It will help you reconnect with your masculinity5, with that brave animal side that you perhaps only see on the football pitch or in the gym or after a few beers. Ah it’s too hard to review it well- just read it, trust me.

5 – The Dip

The Dip: The Extraordinary Benefits of Knowing When to Quit (and When to Stick), Seth Godin

The Dip has nothing to do with attraction, communication skills, psychology or pickup artists. It won’t, in itself, help you get any better with women. It has no techniques, no strategies, no action plans. It won’t tell you what to say, what to wear, where to go or what to do. Yet it is probably the most important book on this list. In fact, I was tempted to put it first, but I wanted to get the idea of radical honesty out there before anything else.

What The Dip will help you with is how to GET BETTER at anything. To get better at anything, you need to work hard, practise and not give up. In fact, modern sports psychology6 has swung in favour of practice as by far the most important factor in the success (or otherwise) of sportsmen – more than talent, support, luck or any number of variables.

It’s the same with success with women. You need to practise to get any good at it. But practice can be hard. Really hard. This is where The Dip comes in. “The Dip” is that moment soon after you’ve started a new project: you have already made the quick gains that every beginner enjoys, but have yet to see the real payoff that comes with expertise.

Your extra effort is not producing anything tangible. You are frustrated. You want to give up. You are in the dip. Winners push through the dip while losers give up.

I think of the dip every time I get frustrated with something or want to give up. I think of it when I’ve done ten squats and my body is screaming at me to put the bar back on the rack. I know it’s reps eleven to thirteen that do the good, that the first ten reps are just to get myself into the position where I can start working. I picture the dip and picture other guys giving up.

In an era of motivational books that tell you to “Just Do It!” or “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, The Dip stands out. It wasn’t written as a motivational book, nor marketed as one. In many ways, its central message is the opposite: that there are times when it really is worth giving up. But, for our purposes, I really know of no better way to get you up and doing whatever it is you want to achieve.


  1. http://www.whatithinkabout.com/conversation-skills-tips-how-to-have-a-good-conversation/ []
  2. For example: How to Win Their Heart by Responding to Their “Inner Infant” and How to Introduce People Like the Hostess with the Mostess. []
  3. One of the amusing consequences of the success of The Game was that wannabe English PUAs all talking like Californian surfers, calling each other “dude” and “man” and saying that girls were “hot” or that clubs “sucked”. []
  4. Though people I respect have found him very helpful so by all means check him out. []
  5. You see, I can’t help but make it sound pretentious. []
  6. See for example Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers or, more recently, Matt Syed’s Bounce. []

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