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The sequel to an old favorite episode of How to Adult, this video covers some of the best books for motivation, creativity, stress, success, growing up, and (umm) fighting aliens?

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Our original "recommended reads" video:
ON WRITING by Stephen King:
THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield:
THE UPSIDE OF STRESS by Kelly McGonigal:
FIRST & THEN by Emma Mills:
MR. FAHRENHEIT by T. Michael Martin:

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Merchandise from Mike (including "Reading Changes Us" and "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost" posters!):

"How to Adult" is a "life skills" edutainment channel brought to you by Executive Producers Hank Green and John Green. Subscribe for new videos every week!


Created, Hosted, and Written by:
Emma Mills & T. Michael (Mike) Martin
Emma and Mike are also Young Adult novelists!
Check out Mike's debut novel, THE END GAMES, at all online booksellers, including
Amazon: (
Check out Emma's debut novel, FIRST & THEN, at all booksellers, including Amazon:

Directed by:
T. Michael Martin

Edited by:
Nathan Talbott

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green
[How to Adult theme music playing]

[Together] Hey!

[Emma] So we know a lot of you watching out there are fans of the written word, and we are certainly fans ourselves, so today we thought we would share with you some books that have helped us survive and thrive in adulthood.

Are you gonna keep doing that the whole time?

Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.  

[Mike] No less a writer than Roger Ebert who won the Pulitzer Prize said that that was the most helpful book on writing in the English language since The Elements of Style came out.

[Emma] Wow!

[Mike] Yeah.  Another really cool thing about this book is that it's probably the closest King has come to writing a full autobiography.  About half the book is just about his life and it informed his career as a writer.

And it's also really about how a creative art or creative act or just finding something you're passionate about can literally save your life a couple times over in this case.  So, it's really good.

[Emma] The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  

[Mike] This is one of the, I would say, one of the more important books that I read during my college career.  It's about how every time we have something of big ambition, whether it's to maybe run a marathon or to write a Broadway musical or like do anything that requires us getting out of our comfort zone, we instantly get a sense of resistance.

So this book is all about how do you overcome that resistance?  It also is the first in what kind of became an unofficial series of books from Pressfield including a book calling Doing the Work and Going Pro.  I think those are the titles - if not, we'll just put it up here what they really are called.

But it's really great and it was also the forward is uh by Robert McKee who is a famed screenwriting guru.  I went to a Robert McKee seminar - 

[Emma] Aw, that's nice!

[Mike] - in 2009, and he signed it.

[Emma] You were prepared.

[Mike] I sure was -   

[Emma] That's awesome.

[Mike] - to do the war of art.

[Emma] Jack Canfield - The Success Principles

[Mike] Now although this cover might be a little dated or corny, this is a really great resource.  I think it has like a hundred different miniature chapters um talking about different principles that are common in a lot of successful people's lives.

Jack Canfield is not just a man with an outrageous tan and brilliant smile, he also created the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which uh has sold over 100 million copies.  So, he does know something about success.

[Emma] He know what's what.

[Mike] Yeah!  I really enjoyed this book.

[Emma] Can we do our best Jack Canfield poses?

[Mike] Oh, like this?

[Emma] Yes [laughter]

[Mike] I saw him in a grocery store once I think.  I'm pretty sure.

[Emma] Was he buying chicken soup?

[Mike] [laughter] Oh no!  I should've asked him!

[Emma] Yessssssss!!!

Kelly McGonigal - The Upside of Stress

[Mike] So, I had read one of her books called The Willpower Instinct, I believe, and it was really excellent.  And I hadn't even seen her super famous Ted Talk, which was actually about the positive aspects of stress.

We usually tend to focus on the negatives, and we also tend to focus on things like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  But there are also recorded instances of stress improving people's lives.  And there's also something called Post Traumatic Growth, which is - I found really interesting.

[Emma] T. Michael Martin - Mr. Fahrenheit


[Emma] I know that guy!

[Mike] Yeah!

[Emma] He's a pretty cool guy!

[Mike] Thank you...

This might seem like shameless promotion, and about one percent of it is, but I really do think that you guys will like this book.

And how is this relevant to adulthood?  Well, it's really a story about how you keep a sense of childhood wonder when you can no longer be a child.

In fairness, it's also about like flying saucers and ray guns and stuff.  April 19th, 2016...

[Emma] I've read it!

[Mike] Yeah...

[Emma] So I know what secrets this book contains

[Mike] Would you say that it's a uh great book or the greatest book?

[Emma] I'll say B!


[Emma] It's the greatest book I've ever read written by T. Michael Martin.

[Mike] Thank you!

[Emma] And also a book that I really enjoyed reading.

Emma Mills - First & Then

[Mike] Now talk about the greatest book...

[Emma laughter]

[Mike] No it's really, this is a great book.  And how is relevant to adulthood?

[Emma] Mike picked this!  I don't know!

[Mike] Emma was like, "I don't know...I don't know if this really fits."  And I was like, "Trust me - I think it's perfect."

This is relevant to adulthood because it's about becoming an adult.  It's about a young woman who is graduating from high school and really has no idea what comes next.  

And it's also about having a flexible definition of family and how that can change your life for the better, which I think is a really important thing to learn as you're growing up.

[Emma] That, that sounds awesome!

[Mike] Yeah!

[Emma] That is pretty accurate if I do say so myself.  I hope!  That is what I would've hoped to have to have conveyed.  So that's very nice of you to say Mike.

[Mike] Yeah, absolutely.

[Emma] That's all we've got here for you today.  What are you reading right now?  What books are you enjoying in your adulthood?  Let us know in the comment section below.  We would love to hear from you!

In the meantime...

[Mike] mhmm

[Emma] Mike - 

[Mike] Yep

[Emma] Write us a catchphrase!  

[Mike] Write you a catchphrase...

[Emma] Yes.  Such as to be found in the wonderful pages of the books we've just described.

[Mike] Kay.  Well alright, The Catchphrase by Stephen King.

Successful catchphrase principle number one:

I want to stress that in a war of art, you're going to battle against firsts.  The first four minute mile.  The first time you kiss a person.  The first time you wrap it in a blanket and [laughter] smack it on the bottom.

[Emma] [Laughter] Oh, you're so stupid!

[Mike] And yet like Mr. Fahrenheit in this life, you just gotta light it up baby!  [Emma laughing] And you gotta look to the sky - watch the skies, watch the skies.

[Emma] [Laughter] This is why our catchphrase has taken so long [Mike laughing] because we need some extensive editing clearly.  But we're working on it, and we will have it for you very soon.

[Mike] Writing is re-writing.  [Emma laughing] This is first draft people!

[How to Adult theme music playing]