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Here are some of my favorite books that I’ve read over the years and would recommend to all you nice people. Listed alphabetically by author.
As I read more books I’ll update the list here.
Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This might be the greatest book ever written. It’s easy to read, funny as hell, and full of insight and, more importantly, hope. Don’t panic.
Syd Field – Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
This is a good introduction to screenwriting, but for non-movie people this is also a great resource for understanding story structure and writing clearly.
James Joyce – Ulysses
The most pretentious book that’s actually worth reading. Here’s another reason why you should read it.
Stephen King – On Writing
Possibly the best book on how to write well, if not the most accessible. You don’t have to be a King fan to enjoy good advice. Also check out Elements of Style and Several Short Sentences About Writing.
Austin Kleon – Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
A self-described manifesto for creativity in the digital age. It’s so easy to read, you can show this to your parents and they’ll want to start writing a novel. Also check out Show Your Work.
Leil Lowndes – How To Talk To Anyone
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People for the 21st century.
Henry Miller – Tropic of Cancer
It’s not for everyone, but this is the book that inspired me to become a writer. There would be no Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, or Beat movement without this book.
Ramit Sethi – I Will Teach You To Be Rich
This isn’t the only personal finance book that you should read, but it’s a great introduction for anyone who isn’t sure where to start learning about managing their own money, investing, or saving for retirement (which you should start doing right now).
The Reduced Shakespeare Company is a good place to start.
Patti Smith – Just Kids
Read this before you jump on that train to New York City to pursuit your dreams, because once upon a time she was just like you.
John Steinbeck – East of Eden
Forget Grapes of Wrath, this is his best book.
Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace
Because what else is there?
Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse Five
This is the classic novel from my favorite writer. My personal favorite Vonnegut is God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, but this is where you should start. So it goes.
Andy Warhol – The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)
Part autobiography, part meditation on the pop culture that he helped popularized, Warhol is as ironic and detached as you’d expect in this 1975 book. However, what makes this book worth reading is that he’s surprisingly open about his hopes and fears and what role he believes art plays in life (hint: art is useless).
Malcolm X – The Autobiography of Malcolm X
A powerful and often painful look at race in America. This is Malcolm’s life, but Alex Haley’s brilliant ghostwriting elevates his story to required reading.
The Dhammapada, The Bhagavad Gita, The Quran, The Bible, and other religious text
Whether you believe it or not, it’s important to understand what each religion stands for, and you might actually learn a thing or two.
The Communist Manifesto, The Wealth Of Nations, and other political & economic text
Same as the religious texts. Become an informed citizen. Read as much as you can.