A list of books that I can remember having an effect on me. Not in any particular order and non-comprehensive. Any book on this list I would suggest and many of these I’ve read a few times over. Welcome to my official book recommendation list.

Idea-Filled Fiction

  • Siddhartha Hermann Hesse
    The story of the buddha from birth to nirvana. An inspirational one to dive into.
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert M. Pirsig
    Philosophy 101 with an engaging story line.
  • The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
    Capitalism through the career of an architect. This book might make you angry if you’re a socialist.
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Slowness Milan Kundera
    Life, Love and Sex.
  • Einstein’s Dreams Alan Lightman
    Meditations on time to reflect on. Easy and approachable.
  • The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    This had a profound effect on me. A story about life from and existentialist played through three brothers: One representing the carnal, the intellectual and the spiritual. Drink lots of coffee through the first hundred pages as dozens of characters are being introduced. Then put your seatbelt on as the epic plays through.
  • East Of Eden John Steinbeck
    Where I first learned about sociopaths although there are many interwoven stories and lessons about life here.


  • We Yevgeny Zamyatin
    I don’t know why this isn’t as popular as 1984 or Brave New World. This is their predecessor and they both stem from here.
  • 1984 George Orwell
    Big Brother is watching you.
  • Brave New World Aldous Huxley
    What happens when you can take your daily drug ration to be “happy”
  • Labyrinths Jorge Luis Borges.
    Short stories that make you think, the most notable being “The Library of Babel” which imagines the universe as an infinite library.

Transporting Fiction

  • Leaving the Atocha Station Ben Lerner
    Egotistical poet goes on study abroad.
  • The Key Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
    A japanese couple read each others journals.
  • Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins
    Robbins is a master sentence crafter. This is my favorite novel of his.
  • Bluebeard – Cat’s Cradle – A Man Without a Country Kurt Vonnegut
    Vonnegut’s tails are approachable, entertaining and work in his life philosophies.
  • The World According to Garp John Irving
    Super weird but engaging saga filled with affairs.
  • On the Road Jack Kerouac
    Drug fueled adventure.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
    Hilarious and sad.
  • The Snow Leopard Peter Matthiessen
    A journey trekking through the mountains of Nepal.

Smart and Memorable Humor

  • In Persuasion Nation George Saunders
    Imaginative and hilarious works that had my brain buzzing in college. Also check out tenth of december for more current work.
  • Letters to Emma Bowlcut Bill Callahan
    A quirky epistolary with poetic sentences and ideas.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs Chuck Klosterman
    Opinionated and modern social commentary.

Influential Non-fiction

  • Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl
    Life needs meaning. Humans can survive through almost anything if they have a reason.
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin
    How this disciplined man become so prolific.
  • The Tao of Pooh Benjamin Hoff
    Taoism 101. Let yourself be yourself.
  • Power of Myth Joseph Campbell
    The structure behind the stories that we model our lives after.
  • Vagabonding Rolf Potts
    The art of long-term travel.
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years Donald Miller
    This book can be corny at times but I remember it being a solid framework for thinking of your life as a story.

Self-help and Interpersonal Skills

  • Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    This is one of my favorite books of all time. A smart, historical telling of “optimal human experience”. For me, the only essential book on the subject of “happiness”.
  • As a Man Thinketh James Allen
    Published in 1903 and stands the test of time. Another key book for understanding mind and life.
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie
    The standard for interpersonal skills.
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey
    Building a foundation of your life around values rather than on sand.
  • Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill
    Based on 20 years of research. Your mind is a beast.

Pop Psychology

  • Paradox of Choice Barry Schwartz
    More choices aren’t always better. I completely changed how I make everyday decisions after reading this.
  • The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg
    The systems that run silently through us everyday.
  • The Geography of Bliss Eric Weiner
    A journey through the happiest and saddest countries of the world.

Digging Deeper With Psychology

  • Walden Two B. F. Skinner
    Behaviorism seen through a utopian society.
  • Man and His symbols Carl Jung
    An escavation into the hidden world of the unconscious.
  • Games People Play Eric Berne
    The systems behind how we communicate with each other.
  • I’m OK – You’re OK Thomas Anthony Harris
    How we view our well being and relate it to the well being of others.
  • Soulcraft Bill Plotkin
    A little bit new-agey, but still smart. A guideline to finding your unique gift.

Light Reading on Creativity

  • Steal Like An Artist Austin Kleon
    Finding your voice comes from curation.
  • 101 things I learned in Art School Kit White
    A coffee table book to skim you through art school.


  • The Greatest Salesman in the World Og Mandino
    The philosophy of success in salesmanship articulated in 10 principles/ “scrolls”.
  • The Founder’s Dilemmas Noam Wasserman
    An academic look at the pitfalls and psychology behind startups.
  • Smartcuts Shane Snow
    Shortcuts to success and how they work.
  • Little Bets Peter Sims
    Innovation through side projects.
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding Al and Laura Ries
    Branding 101 through the experiences of large multinationals.
  • Built To Sell John Warrillow
    Written as a parable comparing an agency model to a product model. I only wish I had read this earlier when I was a consultant.
  • The Boron Letters Gary C. Halbert
    Copywriting 101 written by Halbert while in prison as letters to his son.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss
    Are you overworking as a way to hide from something? How to match the life you want with the income you need for it, then cut the fat.
  • Work the system Sam Carpenter
    Running your business through repeatable systems.
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki
    Real estate 101 for me.
  • The Icarus Deception Seth Godin
    Inspiring pick me up that encourages you to make art and reach higher.

Starting Your Career

  • So Good they Can’t Ignore you Cal Newport
    Stop trying to find your passion. Build a skill set and let it get you there.
  • Linchpin Seth Godin
    Becoming priceless in your organization.

For Teenagers/Easy Reading

  • The Giver Lois Lowry
    The first book that blew my mind as a teenager. Also recommended for foreign language learning. I’m reading it in spanish.
  • The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
    Popular and simply written journey made to inspire.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
    Teenage angst.
  • Redwall series Brian Jacques
    Middle school fantasy land.