A continually updated list of my favorite books. You can see a full list of my book ratings on my Goodreads account here.
- Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
A book that very much defined my current philosophy, though perhaps not in the way that the book originally intended. A novel that I would recommend you read and take your own way, as it will be more likely to be rewarding in that manner.
- Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Not a book in the traditional sense, but still a must-read. A bit too edgy for its own good in parts, however it still stands as a testament to how good storytelling should be done.
- The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
Don’t let the cheesy title fool you. I prefer referring to the book by its original title, The Lives of the Dead, since I think it is much more revealing of the book’s true theme. This is an insane look at love and loss, honor and treason, heaven and hell, and much more. The only good book I read in high school.
- Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance
A necessary look into a mostly ignored demographic. Vance’s personal story is immensely interesting in itself and provides a sophisticated backdrop for a discussion on economic class.
- Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter
Man, I did not know what was going on for a solid 70% of this book. And yet, I managed to learn so much about mathematics, nature, logic, music… a lot of that stuff I still utilize today. The best thing about this book is, in my opinion, the fact that everything only makes sense in the very last chapter (or, at least it did to me. Your mileage may vary?).
- Einstein, by Walter Isaacson
This used to be Steve Jobs, but after reading Einstein I think it’s the superior Isaacson book. It’s not really a decision I make based on quality of writing — Isaacson’s research and prose is excellent in both — rather, I just think that Albert Einstein is a better overall role-model than Steve Jobs. So I’d rather people read his book.
- Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight
What making a company is really like. What leaving a legacy really takes. What an incredible autobiography;
I’m not sure if Knight had this ghostwritten (Update: He did! Shoutouts to J. R. Moehringer.) The final chapter still gives me chills.
- Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
This book probably has the most revelations per minute of any book I’ve ever read. Understanding where we’ve been as a species allows so much of everything else to make sense; from economics, sociology, politics, philosophy, and more. Harari does an incredible job of pulling together macro-trends and allowing us to see the full narrative of humankind.
- Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
This is the first book by Gawande I’ve read, and I was not disappointed. It also happened to come at a good time in my life (for better or for worse) and help myself understand what’s really important in life, in particular with the end of life.
- Influence, by Robert Cialdini
A lot of content in this book is outdated by this point. However, it does serve as a great overall manual of influence tactics that you can refer back to at your leisure.
- The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene
I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of what Greene puts in here is full of cheese or otherwise very much smells of renaissance court roleplay, but there are enough valuable tidbits in it that I feel comfortable recommending it. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy the historical examples.
- The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Began having next to zero expectations of this book, ended with it being one of my favorite fiction pieces. A beautiful look into the dangers of obsession.
- Alexander, by Theodore Ayrault Dodge
Almost Isaacson-like, which is quite astounding speaking that the book was written in 1890! It’s not a biography for everyone — there’s a lot more focus on military strategy — but it’s still a fantastic look at one of the greatest men who ever lived.
- Mythology, by Edith Hamilton
The essential book on Greek mythology. Poetically written in such a way that really gives these old stories their due.
- Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
A really great, sobering look at not just the eviction process, but of American poverty in general.
- Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
I remember not liking this book when I first read it, and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps I was expecting an answer for what meaning ought to be. But this isn’t a book about answers — it’s a book of observations.