11 books you should read because I say so

I have read each one of these books and you should too!

Books seem to be making a comeback these days. Everywhere you look on the Internet, people are touting books as the greatest things ever. It’s like the week after Gutenberg invented the printing press all over again. And people aren’t just reading books and then keeping their identities secret, oh no. They are out there recommending them to other people for free!  

“Hey, did you see what book Mark Zuckerberg left on the seat next to him on his balloon-powered private jet last week?”

“Bill Gates once recommended this book to his financial advisor and now that guy makes more money than Gates!”

“Yeah, I’m reading a biography of Ariocles. He was one of Aristotle’s worst students. There’s so much we can learn from his repeated failures.”

And these were just the conversations I overheard in a few minutes between subway stops.

I too consider myself a book lover, or book connoisseur, for those who speak French. I’ve been reading books since I was at least 12 years old. It’s been so long I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t reading books. And don’t get me started about libraries.

Anyway, I know I’m a little late to this book-recommendation party, but I wanted to make sure all of you can benefit from these books as much as I have.

1. The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger

I usually read this book at least once a month. I do so to remind myself that I once read this book in one day after getting yelled at for not reading it on time in 10th grade English and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Which was maybe the point? My teenage angst clearly prevented me from learning the immense lessons this book has to teach us. Like if you mention that it is one of your favorite books, lots of people will nod along and says it’s so brilliant, but when pressed, they will be unable to tell you why.

2. The Articles of Confederation, by the Second Continental Congress

The Articles of Confederation is so many things in one package. It’s wisdom straight from the original Founders with a capital F, it demonstrates the value of pivoting, and it’s the ultimate example of the mantra “fail fast, fail often.” How many startups can say that they tried forming a country, failed, and then pivoted to a successful country? Zero and Peter Thiel’s island platform doesn’t count.

3. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

This book is very inspiring. It’s about a woman who hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. And calling it a “trail” is a misnomer. That thing is over 2500 miles long! I actually never read this book, but I saw the movie, which was also inspiring. Reese Witherspoon should have won the Oscar. I was so inspired that I hiked up a hill in Central Park the next day. Not the same thing as the PCT, but it was very cold outside, so I felt pretty good about it.

4. The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence: The Manly Art of Bartitsu as used against Professor Moriarty, by E.W. Barton-Wright

With every Joe Schmo reading books on how to apply bushido, budo, kendo, kenpo, karate, or one of the countless other popular fighting forms to the non-fighting aspects of their lives, you are only going to end up in a draw at the end of the day as the same knowledge is used against you.

That is why E.W. Barton-Wright’s book is such a revelation.

“Learn how to defend yourself with an overcoat, cane, or umbrella, or even to wield your bicycle against an attacker.”

That jerk neighbor who keeps his shoes out in the hallway for weeks is not going to see a overcoat attack coming! And don’t forget that this is a martial arts form used by the greatest literary character against his greatest villain, and which inspired the blockbuster movie Sherlock Holmes starring Tony Stark.

This could be you if you read this book
5–8. Malborough: His Life and Times, by Winston S. Churchill

Wannabe book recommenders are always recommending Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War, and don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty interesting. But as I like to say, the best places to learn things are where you would least expect it, and this million-word, four-volume set about the Duke of Malborough, John Churchill, is definitely Sir Winston’s finest work. The Duke, who was also a prince of the Holy Roman Emperor for some reason, and from whom Churchill descends, was one of the most brilliant commanders in British history, so you’ll definitely enjoy reading about famous battles from the Revolutionary War and Napoleon’s conquest of Europe if only the Duke hadn’t been born 100 years too soon. But the Battle of Blenheim is pretty interesting in a mundane sort of way!

9. The Phantom Menace novelization, by Terry Brooks

This was my favorite book of 1999

This book is my Rudy: a plucky kid from a middle of nowhere planet tries his darnedest to make it on the podracing circuit, fends off scheming aliens, and against all odds, he not only wins the big race, wins his freedom from slavery (but not his mom’s), gets off his miserable planet, becomes part of a valiant warrior tribe, gets married, has kids, and then is tricked into wantonly slaughtering every other member of that tribe and countless others, including his wife. It’s so inspiring. One of those rare instances where the book is definitely better than the movie.

10. What the Plus!: Google+ for the Rest of Us, by Guy Kawasaki

Contrary to popular belief, Google+ still exists. I’m serious. Go there now and come back, I’ll wait.

OK good, you’re back. I was afraid you’d get sucked down that rabbit hole as there is a lot of interesting content being posted there.

You know how they say it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, than a small fish in a big pond? Well that’s definitely true for Google+.

11. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones

The title speaks for itself.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *