Last updated: Oct 2020
Sure, I could be other blogs where they throw 1,000+ titles to show breadth. Instead, I’d rather lightly pitch why each piece is time well spent, and share my core culture. These are all worth a physical paperback/hardcover copy.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
When I think of a notable entrepreneur’s memoir of trench stories , this comes top of mind. It captures the chaos, grit, and team heroics during the early halcyon days of Nike. “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.”
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
He’s the contrarian meme, but he turned me towards mimetic culture, monopolies, and how to break down big ideas. “The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.”
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
There are countless classics one can list, but there is something beautiful in reading a Roman emperor’s personal letters sharing his outlook on life when he was on the warpath.
Death’s End by Liu Cixin
Many have picked up The-Three-Body Problem which was peak Liu/Chinese modern sci-fi, but you might not have finished the entire trilogy where it concludes humanity’s fate with the Trisolarian race. Liu’s work here is light on memorable characters, but the scientific world-building that he word paints over an epic canvas through space lets you just soak in the holy shit energy. An Interstellar movie was playing every other chapter but Liu trusts the reader in keeping up with the final layers of fabled riddles, dark forest zero games, and galactic annihilation.
Left Hand of Darkness/Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Guin
It took her passing away in 2018 for me to open a book of Guin. Her anthropological background allowed her to write about deep alien cultures that happened to be in space. Left Hand is her magnum opus, with Lathe more of a blistering novella. Oh, you loved The Dispossessed? I wouldn’t blame you, it was a well-realized world of how an alien anarchist/collectivist government could explore deep science, but Left Hand is my personal favorite of the Hainish Cycle series.
To Build a Fire by Jack London
Reading this at ten years old, it felt like I truly read what dying was.
The Last Question by Issac Asimov
The first piece I’ve ever read by Asimov, and remains one of my favorites, and his as well: “Why is it my favorite? For one thing I got the idea all at once and didn’t have to fiddle with it; and I wrote it in white-heat and scarcely had to change a word. This sort of thing endears any story to any writer.”
I’ll share more as time goes on.