Books You Need to Read
Reading is a massive piece of my life. Whether you find me lounging in a hammock or armpit deep in a crowded New York subway there is always be a book in my hand. I consume books like a dystopian future of book burning is imminent. Why the hell you say? I could not say exactly because I haven’t found what I am looking for. But that might be the point as well. It could be an all encompassing meaning or it could be just because I really enjoy. it A well crafted sentence can induce and elicit so many emotions each unique to those reading it. That is beautiful. When you discover a piece as Hemingway so fittingly puts it “…a good writer is creating something, he has time and scope to make an absolute truth”, you can’t put it down.
No matter what period of my life I am in I am always looking to understand more. How to be healthy. How to be a better person, husband, lover, brother, son and friend. Because those are me. I am all those things and all those people on the other side deserve the best me.
I always ask what you are reading. If you dont read then what are you watching. One type of content is not exclusive of the other. This is how I have been exposed to so many trains of thoughts, religions, philosophies and ways of life.
At one point in my life I was interacting and exposed to over 50 different nationalities and cultures. This quickly puts, the theme of all my writing, into perspective. I worked, lived, drank, loved, and lost with almost a third of the worlds countries represented in the people around me. Everyone had a story. Everyone had there own book even if it was pressed onto paper. Every book had pain it in. But each book was told differently depending on how that pain was experienced. Through those stories of intolerable pain I realized something that Victor Frankl surmised, “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice.”
One recommendation, quote, or name and it quickly lead to a path of all the things that caused that book, person or saying to be.
These are just a short list of books that should be required at birth:
Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson – This book is epic. Besides its recent historical implications and proximity to some of my own fishing ventures it takes you through multiple marvelous feats of the human capabilities and insights. Just a taste because I like you so much.
“A lot of medics carry a rifle or a machine gun,” Mouse said. “The only reason I carry a weapon at all is to protect a guy who’s down. I’m not willing to let the enemy finish a guy I’m treating just because I’m unarmed. But I won’t carry an offensive weapon. I’m no warrior. I leave the heavy stuff behind. It’s symbolic in a way. It reminds me why I’m here.” For the next two hours he lost himself, his philosophy. He had ideas about courage and dedication and conviction that he had know were true but could never enunciate. For those two hours, he forgot that his life would be on that line that day.
Talk about perspective.
Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of her Survivors by James D. Hornfischer – The story is dense and heavy from in the start but rightfully so. It walks us through in immense detail the public fame brought to the USS Houston by being labeled FDR’s “favorite warship”. All the way into its WWII efforts and clouded history for years after this final radio signal, “enemy is engaging”.
Swerve – How the world became modern by Stephen Greenblatt Ph.D. – this may be my most favorite style of writing, narrative non-fiction. When I am constantly reminding myself that this truly happened I find myself most enthralled. In way in this book comprehensive. There are large pieces of information missing. But it covers such a large topic and time period it would be impossible to serve it all up. But it certainly check marks in having the ability to provide perspective and intellectual history. If his view angers you then perspective was found.
No Stone Unturned : A Father’s Memoir of His Son’s Encounter with Traumatic Brain Injury by Joel Goldstein – following in the narrative non-fiction genre we find a book with more recency and immediate implications. Following the story of a boys horrific injuries after being projected from his car we are carried along in his arduous recovery that constantly questions the tenets of modern treatments of traumatic brain injuries. Mr. Goldstein, a lay person, provides great medical insight into the results of alternative therapies with results that almost feel fictional. His story is still evolving as he makes strides within the medical community. To learn more about his non profit and non-partisan efforts visit tbibook.com
Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday – a modern manifesto grounded in 2000 year old philosophy, the Obstacle Is the Way, is a digestible must read based in stoic philosophy. I am a strong advocate of stoicism and discovered Ryan Holiday through his writings about topics of the same. This book could be subtitled, Perspectives for difficult times. It provides quick actionably insights into how we can and should perceive events. Read more up on him at ryanholiday.net
Meditations: A New Translation (Marcus Aurelius) translated by Gregory Hays – maybe the most influential piece of stoic writing, meditations is personal access to the mind of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. It covers topics of leadership, adversity, will, and humanity all wrapped into a work of philosophy easily related to even though it was written hundreds of years ago.
Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – Maybe the most recognizable of the books recommended but nonetheless still powerful. If you have read this it may be time to revisit it. A newly released edition includes unpublished letters, essays and speeches of Viktor Frankl’s. Maybe the most profound writing on finding perspective, especially in a time where only suffering existed. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl gives us access to his time in nazi death camps.
Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin – a child prodigy and chessmaster before reaching the age of high school Jost Waitzkin is a top tier performer and educator. As the real life basis for the film Search for Bobby Fischer josh is no stranger to the stresses high level performance. After unprecedented success with chess he translated those fundamentals to tai chi push hands only to become world champion again. We are given grounded access to the winners mentality and a practical breakdown of achieving levels beyond our often self limiting capacity. Find out more about his school of performance education at The Art of Learning School.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – I may be a little biased with this because because of my love of running but even without that love or even with a hatred of it it is still worth the time. We are quickly taken into the underground world of ultra athletes running unfathomable distances. It culminates in a race through uncharted Mexican valleys where we are given access to a culture and way of life foreign to us.
Fiction – often leads to more arguments then books of religion and history. It is staggering how entrenched people can become about fictional characters and plots. But that power must be understand so I often try and find books that resonate a human truth in them. Also fiction is a nighttime must for me that always my brain to slow down and ease into sleep. A great tip for those struggling to turn their brain off at night.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – a read for any age but a requirement for anyone under 30 and still finding their way. Almost impossible to believe this was his debut novel. Fight club delves into so many foundations of modern culture such as materialism, physical health, corporate america and inner reflection. The movie is a fantastic complement that stands separate from the book.
Free Books – I devote a category to this because money and access limit people to books. But is our modern culture if you have access to the internet you have access to books. Free ones. There are endless amount of public domain pieces that are yours for the taking.If you have a kindle then you can read, often for free. I use this kindle, it is no frills, has no internet connection but gets the job done. If you don’t you can read them with and app on your smartphone or tablet. Many sites even have PDF versions that you can download or print out. The databases are massive so I will include recommendations from these sites that I have read and as I come across more.
Feedbooks – they are a marketplace for paid and free books. This link takes you to their public domain section of free ebooks.
Project Gutenberg – a free source of over 50,000 books all offered through the help of volunteers digitizing previously published titles. There is a self publishing platforms with access to newer titles for free. Also partnership sites with all in all over 100,000 free books. You better get reading.
Openculture – a curated feed of cultural and educational media on the web. This link takes you to their ebook section with over 800 books for free.
A short list of free books I have already come across
That is more than enough books from me. The best to do it sign up for the monthly newsletter which will include more recommendations and sometimes free books. Which could be public domain or books I get approval from the author to give out to the list for free. Either way I hope you join me.