3 Books With Neil Pasricha

By Neil Pasricha: Bestselling Author

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Do you want to read more? Neil Pasricha is the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world. He has designed the ultimate reading recommendation algorithm. On each chapter of 3 Books he uncovers and discusses the three most formative books of an inspiring individual such as Judy Blume, Mitch Albom, David Sedaris, or the world’s greatest Uber driver. Each of the 333 chapters is published on the exact minute of every new moon and every full moon from March 31, 2018 to September 1, 2031… for 1000 formative books total. Look elsewhere for press tours and talking points. Subscribe to find the next book to change your life.

Episode Date
Chapter 10: Elan Mastai on astronomical advances, artistic ambitions, and advice for aspiring authors

Do you make your own luck?

Do you really control what happens?

Or do you simply dump everything you can in the system, press the big green button, and then hang on for the hairy-scary ride?

Elan Mastai is the award-winning screenwriter and novelist behind one of my favorite books of last year – the incredibly fast-paced, head-twisting, and emotionally moving sci-fi epic All Our Wrong Todays.

I was crying hot salty tears when I reached its final pages and was delighted when Elan accepted my invite to share his three most formative books on our show.

And! Just to tease the very first story he shares.

Elan received a $1,250,000 advance for his first book. You read that right.

A seven-figure book advance for All Our Wrong Todays.

His first book!

How did that happen?

Well, I ask him, and you’re going to love the story he shares.

And then we get deeper into ambition versus contentment, how hard you push versus what you get, and whether or not we control the inputs and the outputs… or whether we all have to really learn to just practice getting comfortable dumping whatever we can into the system.

Pressing the green button.

And holding on for the hairy-scary ride.


  • How did Elan get a $1,250,000 advance on his first book?
  • Why did Elan choose to make each chapter of his book 2-3 pages?
  • Which book helped Elan become more grateful and gave him perspective at a young age?
  • Why are our values less important than our actions when we’re trying to discover who we truly are?
  • Which body part does Elan compare a writer to, and how is it considered a “documented form of pain”? 
  • Which of Elan’s three most formative books was the only one he chose to read since he was forced to read the other two?
  • Why did Elan, Kurt Vonnegut, and I all choose not to put semicolons in our books?
  • How do you wrestle with book shame when you don’t love classic novels you assumed you’d enjoy?
  • What book reminds Elan of listening to a Pink Floyd’s song? 
  • What should aspiring authors keep in mind when looking for a literary agent?
  • How do royalties and advances work in publishing? 
  • How does an author entrench universal themes so deeply into their work that their stories stick with people and transcend time?
  • What’s the process of getting another author to write a blurb for your book?
  • How do you find your voice as an author?


Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/10

Aug 11, 2018
Chapter 9: Dave Barry on snappy satire, secret societies, and singing with Stephen King

Do you remember the comedy dry zone?

I’m talking about the barren, hardscrabble times when getting a free laugh from the comfort of your toilet wasn’t easy. Before Internet memes, before parody Twitter themes, before viral SNL skits, before ShowerThoughts subreddits, before LOLCats and even before giant email chats…

… there was one man.

The inimitable, indomitable, indefatigable Dave Barry.

Beginning in 1983 and running for over twenty years, Dave Barry sent his syndicated humor column out to over 500 newspapers from his home base at The Miami Herald.

Every single week his columns offered guaranteed laughs and a fresh, head-tilting way of seeing the world.

Dave Barry poured perspective on political conventions, kicked socialites off soapboxes, cajoled critics into colonoscopies, and even popularized International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Together with MAD Magazines and Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Dave Barry columns gave me and millions of others a drink … in the dry zone.

I was beyond nervous to fly down to Miami and meet up with Dave at Books&Books in Coral Gables, Florida where he shared a fresh dose of his head-tilting way of looking at the world as only he sees it.

Please enjoy my conversation with screenwriter, novelist, performing musician, Pulitzer Prize winner, and New York Times bestselling author of over thirty books…

Dave Barry.


  • How is comedy changing these days?
  • What is the "cue card" approach to developing a story?
  • What are some key guidelines for giving introductions or appearing on a TV show? 
  • In Dave's view, who has the most unique voice in modern American comedy writing?
  • How should every stand-up comedian end their performances?
  • How do we balance ambition with contentment ... and feeling like you have “enough?”
  • What’s the one thing anyone can do to improve their writing?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/9 

Jul 27, 2018
Chapter 8: Sarah Andersen on composing cartoons, combating critics, and cultivating creativity


It’s getting tougher to grow up these days.

We’re surrounded by endlessly reflecting images of everyone else having fun without us. 

There are incredible pressures to achieve, to be ourselves and be different, to stand up and stand out, to follow big footsteps… and follow our hearts at the same time. 

A friend said to me the other day “When I was in high school and I’d stay at home on a Saturday night I assumed my friends did, too. Now my daughter sees all her friends out partying without her on social media. Right after they told her they were busy.”

It broke my heart. 

But it’s happening right alongside rising anxiety, loneliness, and depression rates around the world.

So what does coming-of-age look like these days? How do we keep our children safe, raise our families, tap back into our best selves, and stay focused on what matters most?  

These days I don’t think anybody is addressing those big questions better than Sarah Andersen, author of Sarah’s Scribbles.

Every one of her cartoons taps into the feelings of anxiety, awkwardness, and stresses of growing up in the digital age. It’s no wonder her work has gained millions of followers, scored numerous awards, and resulted in three bestselling comic books including her award-winning debut Adulthood is a Myth and her newest Herding Cats.

I am so excited to share my conversation with the incredible Sarah Andersen of Sarah’s Scribbles, recorded above the clouds at the very top of the western hemisphere’s tallest building. 


  • How do we balance our desire to stand out and fit in?
  • How can we tap into the purest versions of ourselves?
  • How can we break free from the rigid rules of artwork and unleash our artistic freedom?
  • Which systems enable online abuse and how can we curb this without provoking censorship?
  • Why is it so difficult for artists to monetize their work online?
  • Where should aspiring artists start if they'd like to start publishing their work?
  • How do we balance our desire to learn more and contentment with where we're at?
  • How do we connect with our most childlike parts of ourselves?
  • How do we disappear into other worlds while remembering who we are?
  • How do our family reading habits affect our own -- and what should we watch out for?
  • What new distribution channels can we harness to share our art? And what are the risks?
  • Which areas of online harassment can we be more aware of and how do we protect ourselves and our families?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT 

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/8

Jul 13, 2018
Chapter 7: The world's greatest Uber driver on setting your own standards and sharing secrets of stellar service

In this Chapter of 3 Books, I jump into the backseat of Vishwas Aggrawal's Uber and take a trip you won't soon forget. 

This is a story about setting your own standards in a world constantly hammering us into "human resources." 

This is a story about setting your own winning lines in a world that wants us to be widgets.

This is a story about raising the bar for yourself and deeply valuing the human connection and love that has the potential to exist between every single one of us. 

Uber has no formal leaderboard, reward mechanism, or pay-for-performance tied to driver rating.

So why would Vish care?

Why would he care about giving thousands of rides and pouring in day after day of high-end customer services to establish an incredible 4.99 rating? Why would he clean his mats between every trip, only eat raw vegetables in his car, and develop masterful scripts that help riders feel deeply valued in the middle of their busy days?

Why bother?

Join me in the backseat of Vish's Uber as we slowly circle closer and closer to what we're really playing for in our short time on the planet.

We discuss the books that shaped Vish from his upbringing in central India to his sales roles at Coca-Cola to his journey to give his daughter a better education on the other side of the world... even if it meant starting back at the beginning.

Vishwas Aggrawal is one of the most engaging and inspiring people I've ever met. 

After you listen to his story, I hope you feel the same way. 


  • What business is Vish really in?
  • What master service lessons can we learn from Vish to apply to our lives?
  • What is the "yes man" / "no man" paradigm?
  • What is the "Every Single Day" lesson and what does it do for customers?
  • How does Vish earn customer trust in the first few minutes?
  • What universal need does Vish tap into?
  • Why does Vish only eat raw vegetables in his Uber?
  • How can you be amazing at your craft even if you’re ashamed to tell your family what you do?
  • What does it mean to truly “think big” and how can we adopt this mindset?
  • How do you achieve a perfect customer rating from the thousands of people you serve?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT 

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/7

Jun 28, 2018
Chapter 6: Judy Blume on bouncing balls, biting breasts, and building bookstores

Did you grow up with Judy Blume?

My mom says I “found my voice” reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my sister in the bathtub when I was a little kid. Well, I grabbed that tattered copy and carried it with me down to Key West, Florida where I had the extreme privilege of sitting down with the one and only Judy Blume (@JudyBlume).

Join us as Judy shares her three most formative books, how they inspired her, and we pull out some themes relevant to today.

Judy and I met on a hot and sweaty day in her Books & Books bookstore … where she works! I’m not joking. Step off your cruise ship and Judy Blume will ring up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey if you like. We grabbed a little circle table, set it up in front of the bestseller wall you see behind us, and then talked about her most formative books.

(As a special bonus, near the end of the chat we get up out of our seats and Judy gives us a walking tour of her store!)

In this chapter, Judy and I discuss censorship, why sexy scenes should be kept in books, how to get kids to love reading, the role of bookstores in a community, and a surprise reveal on which book Judy says is the only one she has left to write... 


  • What is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children?
  • How can a writer create a world that readers can easily fall into with relatable characters?
  • How does Judy free her mind in order to come up with incredibly imaginative stories?
  • What book could Judy not put down in her 20s?
  • Why does Judy prefer not to reread books?
  • How do you recommend the right books to encourage children to love reading?
  • Why aren't there sex scenes in books anymore?
  • What do Judy and Neil disagree on?
  • What's the first thing Judy does once her books are published?
  • What's the only book Judy has left to write?
  • What book did Judy steal... and why?
  • What was Judy's household policy on reading censorship?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT 

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/6

Jun 13, 2018
Chapter 5: Gretchen Rubin on pinpointing personal patterns to perfecting our paths

Welcome to the fifth chapter of 3 Books where I chat with Gretchen Rubin (@Gretchen Rubin) in the Penguin Random House studio in downtown Toronto. 

I met Gretchen ten years ago before her New York Times bestsellers The Happiness ProjectBetter Than Before, and The Four Tendencies took the world by storm with over three million copies sold. And before her fantastic podcast “Happier by Gretchen Rubin” was launched scoring over 40 million downloads.

Back in the day we were just blogger friends who swapped stories and shared meals whenever we were in each other’s hometown. I’ve since watched her become one of the world’s most thought-provoking observers of human nature. Chatting with Oprah, hanging with The Dalai Lama, being the question to Jeopardy answers. You know. That’s just how she rolls now. The point I’m trying to make is I’m lucky she still takes my calls.

In this chapter, Gretchen talks about why she rereads certain books so often, why readers are shifting away from self-help books and towards biographies and memoirs, and why memoirs can effectively inspire us to change. We discuss themes like human nature, life-changing diets, and, of course, formative books...

What you'll learn:

  • What is the lightning-bolt strategy to making change?
  • What bookstore category is growing while self-help shrinks and why?
  • Which book completely changed Gretchen’s diet? (And changed mine, too.)
  • Why should you read certain books over and over and over again?
  • Which book made Gretchen want to play catch with a pig’s bladder?
  • How is the "radical authenticity" trend changing writing styles?
  • Which children's book series provides great value for kids ... and even more for adults?
  • According to Gretchen, what is the most important thing when it comes to writing?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT 

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/5

May 29, 2018
Chapter 4: Sarah Ramsey on beating book blame with brilliant bookselling

Welcome to the first chapter of 3 Books recorded live in an open bookstore!

Book City is in the heart of Toronto's beautiful Bloor West Village neighborhood and that's where I settled into the children's section to talk blame, beauty, and growth with my favorite bookseller in the world -- the one and only Sarah Ramsey.

I love Sarah because she takes the art of bookselling seriously and seemingly reads people’s minds to find the exact book they need to help them grow. As we always say: Humans are the best algorithm.

Listen in to hear us touch on themes of beauty, loss, and honoring ones we love...

What you'll learn:

  • What makes a great bookseller?
  • Who owns grief after loss? 
  • How do you honor a life through storytelling?
  • What Judy Blume book is the first to appear on 3 Books?
  • What is one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard involving marital guilt, shame, and Kindles?
  • Why are humans the best algorithms?
  • How can books transcend generations?
  • What memoir helped invent the category -- and have we "over-memoired" ourselves?
  • Why can you judge a book by its cover?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT 

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/4

May 15, 2018
Chapter 3: Bestselling author Seth Godin on the stories you tell yourself

I flew down to New York to uncover and discuss the most formative books of the one and only Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) from his Hastings-On-Hudson studio.

Seth is the bestselling author of Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes and many more books and is known as one of the world's biggest thinkers in communities such as TED and the Direct Marketing Association. This year he is being inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame. And did I mention he writes one of the most popular blogs in the world? 

In this interview we discuss where Seth sees publishing going and his thoughts on the changes we're seeing in how people read and spend time. Seth shares his opinions on blurbs, acknowledgments, and his unique perspective on work-life balance. He also gives insights into how we can change our own world by changing the narrative inside our heads.

And that's just a taste. I sat in Seth's studio transfixed, mesmerized, and hypnotized by one of the world's best brains. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Big thank you to the kind, generous, and indispensable ... Seth Godin.

What you'll learn:

  • What strange lesson did Seth learn when he gave away 3000 of his own books?
  • How and why does Seth think the publishing industry is a mess?
  • How does Amazon and the “long tail” change the game? 
  • What counterintuitive benefit does Seth see in book blurbs?
  • How do we change our world by changing the story we're telling ourselves? 
  • How do you build trust?
  • What is "post-religious positive business-oriented evangelism?" (And who started it?)
  • What framework does Seth use to decide which "lines of business" he monetizes?
  • Which of Seth's books did The Tipping Point inspire?
  • What happened to Seth on a grounded United Airlines flight which prompted one his most remarkable insights into human nature? (And what is that insight?)
  • How did Seth discover his ultimate mission ... and what is it?
  • Why does Seth think work/life balance is a lie?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/3

Apr 30, 2018
Chapter 2: Frank Warren of PostSecret on understanding your past to control your future

From a sunny balcony in San Diego overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Frank Warren of PostSecret and I uncover and discuss his three most formative books and pull out the resonant themes affecting us all. How do we give people a voice? In a flattening world, how do we build trust with new people? And what are the lessons we can take and apply to our own lives from these three life-changing books?

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/2

Apr 16, 2018
Chapter 1: Beginning the Hunt for Life-changing Books ... in the Basement with my Wife Leslie

Welcome! This is an unusual first chapter. In every other chapter I'll have a guest, their three most formative books, and a discussion touching on life's biggest themes. But this one? You'll join me and my wife Leslie in an intimate chat in our basement just after we put our kids to bed. I share my idea of starting 3 Books and talk about the rough vision, goals, and values of the show. She asks some surprising questions and you'll hear me struggling with my desires and the shape of the show.  

Leave us a voicemail! Your message may be included in a future episode: 1-833-READ-A-LOT

You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/1

Mar 31, 2018
3 Books With Neil Pasricha: A Podcast Trailer

Listen in for a hint of what's to come with five-time NYT Bestselling Author Neil Pasricha's brand new podcast: 3 Books With Neil Pasricha.

Click here to visit the http://3books.co/ website.

Click here to Subscribe to the new podcast in iTunes.

Click here to Subscribe to the new podcast in Stitcher.

Mar 27, 2018