I keep this list as a reference of the most notable, lingering ideas of a book.
On Writing by Stephen King — This is the only of King’s work that I’ve read so far. He is quite entertaining here—honest and human. King calls out most other writing books aside from Strunk & White as being bullshit (which, in retrospect, is fairly accurate). The fundamentals, he reminds us, are nothing more than to write a lot, read a lot, and love a lot. This book holds a good lesson for me to learn to enjoy the process of writing.
4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris — One of the original “productivity” books of the internet era. I avoided this for a decade because of the “hacks” within. If you can close your eyes through the buzzy stuff there are some good things to learn. It’s no longer as easy as it was in 2009 to sell stuff online but was helpful in some tips for owning a business. I left with some ideas of businesses I could start.
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates — Inspiring-turned-heartbreaking look at suburban life. Set in the 1950s, it’s a worthwhile lesson still about communication, the promises we make to ourselves and our loved ones, and the way we trade in our dreams. This books is a reminder of how much I appreciate my wife for not pandering to me.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene — A journalist in Saigon during the Vietnam War struggles with the dangers of a young idealist as well as his own cynical ways of seeing world now that he’s not so young anymore. Reading this right after Revolutionary Road had a fascinating way of telling the story of someone who has escaped the drudgery of routine life but has to find contentment in this new place. I have to try making a Vermouth Cassis.
Working by Robert A. Caro — An interesting read with some back story on how Caro wrote his books on Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson. Caro tells of the importance of making the reader feel what he could have just told through facts.
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King — After reading On Writing and realizing I had never read a King novel, I borrowed an audio book copy for no other reason than that this was the only one of his immediately available without a wait list. Long, at over 13 hours, I found it a bit meandering yet still enjoyable. There seemed to be some supporting story lines that went into more depth than I would have thought to be needed but maybe that’s an allure to King that I haven’t come to understand. I think it would have been more difficult to read in book format but, as an audio book (which I have rarely listened to), it was easy to get through and an enjoyable mystery.
A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollen — Pollen explores our human relationships to the natural and man-made spaces that surround us. By building a writing house on his property, he forces himself out of the cerebral world of writing into the physical of building. Through the process of working with an architect, Pollen exposes the failures in architecture and how modernism and post-modernism have shown a disregard for the human physical existence within buildings. Pollen manages to seamlessly connect literary, architectural, and construction concepts, treating all with a level of craft.
In roughly reverse chronological order, stretching back even to some elementary school reads that I remember:
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines
- Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
- Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
- How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton
- The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
- True Names by Vernor Vinge
- Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Huck Finn by Mark Twain
- Neuromancer by William Gibson
- St. Marks is Dead by Ada Calhoun
- Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal
- Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit by Stephen Pressfield
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
- Quiet by Susan Cain
- Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- The Flinch by Julien Smith
- Design is a Job by Mike Montero
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- On The Road by Jack Kerouac
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- Wool by Hugh Howey
- The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield
- Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
- Smiley's People by John Le Carré
- Survive by Les Stroud
- Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
- enough by Patrick Rhone
- Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
- Rework by Jason Fried
- Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
- Linchpin by Seth Godin
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
- Blink by Malcom Gladwell
- The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
- Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- Holes by Louis Sachar