I made this for one reason, I want you to read with me
I think you would find it very difficult to find any adult human who would say reading doesn’t have an immense value.
and yet you’ll find it even more difficult to find many humans who take the time to actually read.
Obviously I can’t fix this for everyone, but I am going to try my hardest to to do so. That’s why I write so much content about books in the first place, I’m trying to lead by example. On top of that though, I try to ask people to read along with me.
Maybe you’re more likely to read if you have a partner? Usually I just post the books I’m reading when I start them, this year I’m going to post a very loose wish list of books I plan to read through the year in hopes that someone will see one they are interested in and we can read it together.
How do I pick books
First, I get a lot of referrals. Managing referrals is a talent of itself because LOTS OF PEOPLE WILL REFER TERRIBLE BOOKS TO YOU. Many of the books I list below come from Bill Gates, Jordan Peterson, and other people I think are smart.
Lots of these books are just entries from authors I’ve already read books from and know I want to learn more from them. That’s been an interesting progression in my personal reading journey. It’s one thing to read a great book, it’s another to find an author you generally love and then consume their portfolio. I think this helps to give a very broad understanding of an author’s works, although it takes time. This year some of my repeat authors just for the sake of reading more from them include: Jordan Peterson, Friedrich Neitszche, George Orwell, Malcom Gladwell, Jonathan Haidt, Fyodor Dostoyefksy.
I like old books. The problem with new books is most will be out of print in less than 5 years, which makes you wonder how good they are. A book that has stood the test of time is LINDY. A book that is old also has no political ideas to sell you, and they aren’t simply doing it to make money. This is a good way to avoid reading lots of lousy new age self help, something I scorn often, if a were really valuable it would stay in print, instead 99% of them are just charlatanism to get paid. Old books have genuine human knowledge that has stood the test of time
I’m reading more ‘classics’ these days as well. I use that term loosely but basically I feel a deep responsibility to sort of pay my intellectual dues with regards to reading. So much of our culture is based on famous books that I’ve never read and therefore I must be taking for granted. This can be said of not understanding history as well, if you don’t know what’s come before you, how do you know where we are going? Past is prologue.
Long books. In a world full of soundbites and headlines, your fellow man is saying more and learning less, those who understand the nuance and deep context of the world have an increasing advantage, but it takes more work. I intend to do the work, I LOVE nuance.
This is a rough list of what I’m going to tackle for the year. Its about 37 books and last year I cleared off 50, so I left room for additional titles I find along the way which happens often. These are not in any order, and I reserve the right to change any of this, the point here is to get YOU to see something you want to read and then we can plan to read it together.
|Infinite Jest||David Foster Wallace|
3 years ago I read a blog by Bill Gates (who I love) and he said he wanted to read this book but never tackled it because it’s long (it is really long). I found that fascinating, a book too scary for Bill Gates, so I had it in my wish list but I also never tackled it because it’s long. So at the end of 2019 I had a few people randomly mention this book to me in a like a week, bizarre, then I read a new blog entry by Bill Gates saying he still hasn’t tackled it. So I consider this the universe to be telling me it’s time. I started January 1st.
|Debt: the first 5000 years||David Graeber|
I asked my Facebook book club to read Infinite Jest with me, and my buddy Miguel says “Sure, but you gotta read this one with me”. This title is right up my alley, so my goal is to read both of them before he finishes either of them. bahaha #competewithmebro
|A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court||Mark Twain|
Mark Twain is one of the most well known writers in America and yet I’ve only read one of his books and it was when I was a kid. the audio version of this is narrated by Nick Offerman so I’m particularly excited.
|The Paranoid Style of American Politics||Richard Hoffstader|
last year I read another book by this author, the incredible: “anti-intellectualism in American Life” and since then I’ve been hot to read another book by him. I find this book particularly interesting but I hate propaganda. I’m hoping that since this book was written in 1965 it’ll be safe from any current day bias while still being applicable to today’s landscape.
|the brothers Karamazov||Dostoyefsky||It’s Dostoevsky|
|On liberty||John Stewart Mills|
This has been in my wish list a while, it’s a short book that I believe audible recommended when I started reading American constitutional texts last year.
|Maps of Meaning||Jordan Peterson|
It’s Jordan Peterson. His newest book “12 rules for life” is was an epic read and I will happily read anything else he writes.
This has been in my wish list for 2 years.
Church History in Plain Language
I’m not sure I want to read this one but I’m gonna attempt it. I’m hoping for an unbiased history of the church, I will not read proselytizing.
|The Trial||Franz Kafka|
A famous book I’m always hearing about and want to know what the excitement is about. I read Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” and it was a bit weird but fascinating. I really want to better understand the term “Kafkaesque” and I believe it stems from this book, “The Trial”
|Stress Test||Timothy Geithner|
Written by the former Treasury Secretary and the efforts they employed to save the economy during the global financial collapse. I’m always looking to learn more about the last recession so I can better prepare for the next one.
|The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature||Steven Pinker|
I read Steven Pinkers’ “Enlightenment Now” last year. It was a great book, I’m not sure he’s one of my favorite authors but he is undeniably smart and I enjoy learning from him
|The Plague||Albert Camus|
Fiction, been on my wish list for a while. Many of Camus’ books are so this is likely to be the first of many
Steven Fry tells the stories of the Greek myths and I believe he narrates the audio version.
|Beyond Good and Evil||Friedrich Nietzsche|
Over the next year or two I’m going to read everything that Neitzche has written. His understanding and ability to explain human morality, and individualism is unmatched. His book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” was my favorite book of 2019.
|The Road to Wigan Pier||George Orwell|
It’s George Orwell, one of the best writers of all time. I’ve read 1984 a few time and animal farm, but I want to explore more of his portfolio
|The Happiness Hypothesis||Jonathan Haidt|
Jonathan Haidt wrote “The coddling of the American Mind” which is a MUST READ especially if you have children. It’s a thorough analysis of the cultural shifts due to how we raise our kids, the way we design our education systems, the effects of social media and more. Trust me that it’s a must read, but I already read it, so now I’m going to read more of his work starting with this one.
|Genghis Kahn and the making of the modern world||Jack Weatherford|
Recommend to me by Audible, seems awesome, I love history.
|Sex at Dawn||Christopher Ryan|
Found this on a list of books recommended by Tim Ferris
|The Handmaids Tale||Margaret atwood|
I know this book is a classic but lately I’ve been hearing how appropriate it is so I’m interested
|Talking to Strangers||Malcom Gladwell|
This will be my 3rd book by Gladwell. I get a little frustrated with his tendency to talk about anecdote as if they are universal truths. He’s not perfectly guilty of this, but it happens often. That said, his books are always insightful and thorough and I’ll happily read more of them.
|The Righteous Mind||Steven Pinker|
Same as above for Steven Pinker
|A Confession||Leo Tolstoy|
Jordan Peterson recommended this on a Youtube lecture he was giving.
|Biography of Ben Franklin||Walter Isaacson|
This has been on my wish list for YEARS, too many people have read it and loved it. I have FOMO about it bad (fear of missing out)
Audible recommendation. I’m not sure it’s super up my alley, it talks more about the war than the politics of the war, which I would be more interested in. Still, I’m going to read it. I read everything.
|Anna Karennina||Leo Tolstoy|
Tolstoy is incredible, I want to read war and peace in 2021. I read his other work “the kingdom of god is within you” and it was breathtaking. War and Peace is extremely long and after infinite jest I’m not sure I can do another book so big in one year. Both are ~60 hours on audible. that’s quite a commitment.
|The Tale of Two Cities||Dickens|
A classic and one that my brother is ALWAYS talking about. I hate talking to someone who always brings up books I haven’t read. It’s like being around an inside joke that I can be part of if I just put the reading time in. Well, I will always put the reading time in.
|Ten Drugs||Thomas Hager|
Found on audible recommended. Seems interesting
|The Divide||Matt Taibii|
I don’t know any of Matt’s work but I’ve seen some interviews with him and he seems a reasonable fella. He’s also a recovering addict and since I identify with that behavior, I’m curious about his writings
|Civilization and it’s discontents||Sigmund Freud|
I’m on the fence about psychology. In many respects I think it’s utter nonsense, but there are a TWO I respect in the world and both sing praises of this “father of modern psychology” so I’m hoping to enjoy it.
|Trust my I’m Lying||Ryan Holiday|
Matt Greer recommended this book in relation to a book by Noam Chomsky that I love called “Manufacturing Consent”
|On the Genealogy of Morals||Friedrich Nietzsche||It’s Neitzche|
|Basic Economics||Thomas Sewell|
I’m not sure what to expect from this book, but over the last few years I’ve found myself telling people they should read economics but I don’t have many great titles to recommend. I went to college for finance so I had a really good base of knowledge and some of the books I recommend aren’t for beginners. So I’m reading this obviously to learn something new, but also to hopefully find a book I can confidently give to people to get them started on learning econ
|The Madness of Crowds||Douglas Murray|
Audible recommendation, and Sam Harris says it’s brilliant which is enough for me.
|The Story of Philosophy||Will Durant|
Audible recommended. A history of individual philosophers and their ideas. Excited for this one
|Understanding Power||Noam Chomsky|
Noam Chomsky wrote “Manufacturing Consent” and it changed me, sort of into a cynic, but I prefer that to blissful ignorance. Chomsky is a professor at MIT and has been a consistent critic of the US government foreign policy for decades.
|River out of Eden||Richard Dawkins|
I’ll read anything and everything written by Richard Dawkins