Recommended Reading List for This Year

By on January 8, 2014

As a Marine I got the nick name/call sign “Brain” because I always had my nose in a book.  Most of the time it was a manual on how to use a weapon system or how to do something that had to do with Marine Corps Infantry.  The Sgt. made fun of me all the time as well as everyone in my section.  I always complained that they where books on how to kill people so it was okay.  They still laugh and poke fun at me for reading all those books to this day.  But in the end, when it came time to actually going to combat, they looked to me for the knowledge I’d gained by reading.  I suggest that you read books about self defense to make yourself safer and your life better.  Here are 10 books I suggest you read:

  1. Trail Safe by Michael Bane – This book was written years ago for people that go into the wilderness to stay safe from 2-legged predators.  It’s a great read and most/if not all the techniques apply to life everywhere.


Principles of Personal Defense by Jeff Cooper – The father of the modern shooting technique and a great thinker.  This book is a must read for anyone that wants to protect themselves with a gun. It also gives you insight into who Jeff Cooper was and how he thought.  Even after his passing, it’s hard to find a serious shooter/self defense instructor who doesn’t talk about him.

Kill or Get Killed by Rex Applegate – He came from the same period as Jeff Cooper but has a completely different look on how to shoot to win and gives a lot of mind set and down and dirty self defense techniques he learned and taught during WWII.  It’s a long book, but worth the read for any serious shooter and self defense student.

No Second Place Winners by Bill Jordan – Bill was an old time gun fighter that had a different take then anyone else about fighting.  The chapter on the fast draw is worth its weight in gold.  He gives you ways to practice drawing and how to draw that is different then most people.  While modern shooters talk about under 1 second draw and shoot being fast, he talks about half a second being slow and he was always working on .25 of a second or faster.

Real World Survival by Walt Rauch – Walt was a great thinker when it came to bad guys doing bad things.  He has a lot of great insight into staying safe and away from bad people, but the second chapter “Other Human” is worth getting the book to read.  It’s the best description of how bad guys act and think I’ve ever found. If you get the book and just read that 1 chapter it is worth twice what you would pay for the book.

Shoot to Live by W.E. Fairbairn – He was probably the first person to really study and work on handgun fighting.  In the early 1900s he was stationed with the Shanghai Police and studied hundreds of gunfights and spent a lot of time teaching police how to fight with a handgun.  He was able to study gunfights, teach new techniques to officers and then see what worked and what didn’t. His lessons in the book came at the costs of many lives and is worth the read so the knowledge doesn’t get lost in the past.

God the Gunman and Me by Jeanne Assam – This is an account of a mass shooter by the person that put him down.  Jeanne was a volunteer security guard at a large church in Colorado when a Gunman came in with the intention of killing everyone.  She won and then gives the account of the gun battle and of the two roads that lead both of them into the hallway that ended in the gunman being killed.  It’s worth the read because she goes into detail about the gunman, his life, and even does interviews with his parents.

In the Gravest Extreme by Massad Ayoob – His first book of dozens. While the equipment discussions are a little dated the mindset and legal discussions still work today. It’s worth getting this book to read his discussion about shooting someone in the back.


Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson – Not a self defense book, but a life lesson book.  It’s about accepting reality as it changes and not how we think it should be or how it was.  If you read the book and think about it in a self defense context, it is a great self defense book as well as a way to live life.


Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss – This book changed the way I look at life.  This book is written as a business book, but if you read through it and implement just one thing in the book it will make your life better.  And if you use his approach towards your self defense it will make you safer too.


I’ll continue to read books until the end of time.  What am I reading right now?  On Killing by Dave Grossman.  Just for fun, here is what is upcoming on my reading list:

Stay Safe,









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Posted in: Book Review


  1. viagra and alcohol interaction
    May 6, 2014

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    What’s up, this weekend is pleasant in support of me, because this occasion i am reading this wonderful informative post here at my

  2. Steve
    January 11, 2014

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    Happy New Years Ben, I love book lists and have most of these listed, one other book that is a really great read is Sharpening the Warriors Edge by Bruce K. Siddle. My instructor in Alabama recommended it, its somewhat dry and though I am not a trainer it gives a lot of insight on how people learn to adapt and integrate their training especially under stress.


    • Ben Branam
      January 12, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Thanks Steve! I’ve put that one in my list. I actually like the dry learning stuff and I love the title.

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