I have been a book-lover and -collector for as long as I can remember. I used to sit in the basement at my Grandmother’s for hours, reading through every one of the science fiction novels from the 50’s and 60’s that my uncles had collected when they were young (and there were a lot!). I remember many of these books fondly, and even spent years searching through every used bookstore in the Southeast in order to complete my own collection of the ‘Lensman‘ series by E.E. “Doc” Smith when I was older. To this day I feel a great sense of accomplishment for that.
My current library consists of over 1,000 books – on topics as varied as: science fiction, history, philosophy, religion, business, politics, and technology. I am on my second copy of Steve Leveen’s “Little Guide To Your Well-Read Life“, as I gave my first one to a friend who had just fallen into a love affair with books.
Here is my list of the books that have made me think and grow, and why they had an impact (with Amazon aff. links):
- Atlas Shrugged and Anthem by Ayn Rand – The ideas of personal identity and responsibility leading to success are so very powerful. I did think that Atlas Shrugged was a little longer than it needed to be, but the concepts are timeless and staggering. It seems that the current government sees Atlas Shrugged as an instruction manual rther than a warning.
- Driven to Distraction by Dr. Edward Hallowell -This book helped me confirm my self-diagnosis of ADD, and gave me some extraordinary advice on diet, lifestyle therapy, and other techniques for coping with and maximizing the benefits of adult ADD.
- Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein -I first read this book as a youngster, and it hooked me on the genre of science fiction forever. The concepts of personal responsibility and sacrifice for the good of your fellow man resonated with me later when I read Atlas Shrugged.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson – It is not often that an author conceives of an entirely new genre of fiction, but this book spawned an entire industry of distopian speculative fiction. I was entranced by the vision of the dark new future, and what might come to pass if the US and the Soviet Union could avoid nuking each other into oblivion. Much of what Gibson predicted in this book has come to pass, in fact, he is quoted as saying, “The future is here, it just isn’t uniformly distributed yet.”
- Distraction by Bruce Sterling – An even more chilling vision of the future than those posed by Gibson and Heinlein. Everything has broken down, the concept of community has completely changed, and while media is king, it is also a tool. The idea of Reputation Servers has altered my perception of the future of work, cultural norms, and politics, forever.
- These Charming People by Michael Arlen – A truly wonderful satire. Poking fun at the snobbish aristocracy in 19th century London. Funny how not too much has changed, on either side of the ocean.
- First Things First by Stephen Covey – How to live your life to the fullest, not by climbing the ladder faster, but by making sure that the ladder you are climbing is leaning against the right wall. How to do the right things in order to leave a legacy of of meaningful connections, rather than a monument to time spent at the office. Get it. Read it. Live it.
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen – The ideas on workflow management and setting goals and priorities expressed in Allen’s work has completed the mental construct started by Stephen Covey, and has led me personally to the creation of this blog, participation in this community, and expressing this passion of mine to help other people get their own things done in the best way they can.
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell – The “little things” that often begin beneath our notice can have massive impacts on the world around us. Often called the “Butterfly Effect”, Gladwell describes what types of ideas become so influential, and how.
- Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy by Musashi – Ancient wisdom teachings on how to succeed in all areas of interaction that may include conflict. I was given a copy of this book over ten years ago, when I was in a tough place. A friend of mine told me that it would help me with my perspective and inspire me to have some more discipline in my life (which I desperately needed). He was right.
The list of books that I have read is much, much longer, but these have meant the most to me (at least as I sit here now, thinking about it). Authors I love: Hemingway, Tolkien, Jordan, S. M. Stirling, Poe, Brodsky, Asimov, Sinclair Lewis, oh the list goes on and on. I have listed some of these and other books in my Recommended Reading link. The reading list will continue to grow.