Seth Godin

Entrepreneur, Squidoo


This conversation is closed.

What's the overlooked gem, the book I haven't read that I must?

Every reader has at least one, that book that never caught on, or is out of print, but that resonates so much with people that they can't forget it. I still remember reading "The Republic of Tea" on the Sunday it came out years ago. And of course, Steve Pressfield's "The War of Art" which I've purchased and handed out a dozen times so far...

  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Please read the engaging and beautiful novels by Kim Stanley Robinson on the progress of civilisation towards stability and peace by the quest for worship of nature and knowledge. Wish he would be given a chance to speak at TED and promote hs world view of science as the most self-critical, progressive, revisionist and peaceful 'religion' one could have:

    Kim Stanley Robinson:

    The Years of Rice and Salt
    Mars Trilogy
    Galileo's Dream
    (much more)

    Please give his amazing work a chance, you will not be dissapointed.

    Also the following writers have taught me a great deal about the world and being human:

    Peter Singer (Animal Liberation, How to Eat, The Life You can Save)
    Jared Diamons (Collapse, Guns, Germs and Stee, Guns, Germs and Steel, The Third Chimpanzee letc)
    Richard Dawkins (Unweaving the Rainbow, River out of Eden, The Selfish Gene)
    Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape)
    Jeremy Rifkin (Entropy, Empathy)
    Richard Wiseman (59 Seconds, Quirkology)
    Noam Chomsky (Rogue States, Hegemony of Survival)
    Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers, etc.)
    Daniel Dennett (Consciousness Explained, Freedom Evolves, etc)
    Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, etc)
    Barry Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice)
    Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational)
    Stephen J. Gould (Life's Grandeur)
    A.C. Grayling (What is Good, etc.)
    Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist)

    As for fiction:

    Kim Stanley Robinson (Years of Rice and Salt, Galileo's Dream, Mars Trilogy)
    Peter Watts (Blindsight)
    Richard Morgan (Altered Carbon, Thirteen/Black Man)
    Paulo Bacigalupi (Windup Girl)
    Anthony Huso (The Last Page)
    Dan Simmons (Hyperion)

    I mostly enjoy science-fiction. But that is literature (if you read the right kind) that says the most about the world, our past and our future,if you ask me. It discovers humanity or how to attain it.
    • Feb 17 2011: Robinson's Mars trilogy stands as some of the best science fiction I've ever read. Delving into extremely complex scientific methods and questions surrounding the terraforming of Mars, mega projects such as a space elevator, and genetic engineering. All of these scientific themes are played out with the social consequences of each affecting the characters and the world at large. Questions of politics, romance , and philosophy abound. I found it very easy to imagine that this would be a plausible window to our future, and how actual settlement on Mars might unfold. All of this unfolds with a compelling story that rolls forward throughout the trilogy. A great read, which I return to again and again through the years.
      • thumb
        Feb 19 2011: Perfect summary, sir. Feel the same, it has such a 'It could darn well happen exactly like this'-feeling to it. Plausability level infinite.
    • Feb 17 2011: Mirik:

      Great calls on your fiction list.

      Given your taste, if you haven't read the following, you should definitely check them out:

      China Mieville: Perdido St. Station (and all of his other works!)

      Charles Stross: Again, everything, but definitely check out Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise to start, then Glasshouse.

      Peter F. Hamilton: the Night's Dawn Trilogy
      • thumb
        Feb 19 2011: Thanks sir, Mieville is on my to read list. So many good sci-fi writers, hard to know where to start and what is the best...
    • Feb 17 2011: Great call with KSR. The Memory of Whiteness may be his best, though out of print. Red Mars is a grand place to start.

      And as good as that is, yes, Dan Simmons' Hyperion is even better.
      • thumb
        Feb 17 2011: China Melville rocks. City in the City is magic with all its 'unseeing' but he's also the nicest man you'll ever meet. Which is important to me, but suspect will be of no importance to everyone else ;O)
      • thumb
        Feb 20 2011: Thank you sir, I have The Memory of Whiteness, but did not read that yet (so much to read, so little time!) Also look forward to his "Sience in the Capital" trilogy.

        And to Louise; you just fancy him, admit it! :-) Noone will blame you, he IS quite the erudite, intelligent and handsome manly man that does write brilliant books (from what I heard)!
        • Feb 22 2011: I would definitely recommend prioritizing Memory of Whiteness above the Science trilogy. I wish I could go back and read that anew.

    • Feb 19 2011: Certainly these are the seminal works and required reading for all who belong to the Church of Scientific Materialism. As a religion however, it is weak, angry and reactionary. If you have to belong to a club and don't like thinking for yourself, I can think of more positive religions. But of course if you want tenure or need to belong to the intellectual establishment then this is the stuff for you.
      • thumb
        Feb 20 2011: Please read your own reply while pondering the question of who here, is actually expressing any form of anger. :-)

        I regret to bring offence, but I fail to see how I have addressed the issues you deal with or caused you to feel to need to express your cynicism. As you see I use 'religion' rather broadly as a form of world view, not in the dogmatic sense we all know it as today.

        To me it has been tremendously positive, falling from one into the other amazing discovery via science and the enjoying the beauty and nifty workings of nature. It has not been a cause for anger to witness how a bumblebee flies, or to explore the almost artistic complexity of the mind boggling Large Hadron Collider.

        Please answer me how the worship of knowledge and nature represents an 'angry and reactionary' world view, I would be interested to see your point of view. Much thanks, next time with some more concise arguments and less angry randomness, I would beg of you, sir!

        It's possible other people would find more traction for discussion in your words when you actually pretend they can't read your mind and just put forth the arguments you wish to present and don't just put their contribution down without an apparent valid (or even relevant) basis.

        Also, please reccomend us a book (after all, what this is about).
    • Feb 24 2011: Mirik, a fantastic humanist reading selection. Guns, Germs & Steel one of the all-time best. I'd also suggest Bryson's Short History, Jacoby's Age of American Unreason, Taverne's March of Unreason and prety much anything by Hitchens or Stenger
  • Feb 17 2011: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

    No knowledge of physics is required. If you appreciate intellect and science you will reread this book many times.
    • Feb 17 2011: If you are curious about life, you will reread this book many times. It's a real gem - beautifully simple.
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: I agree, a thoroughly enbjoyable book. I bought a copy just to lend it to people.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Le Petit Prince. Yes - a children's book - but one full of philosophical grandeurs, simplified. Every time I read this book I get a new takeaway that resonates with the current events of my life.

    "Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: In 1971 I found a copy of The Universal Traveler ( that I marked up and is dog-earred from so much use. I recently brought it out in a discussion with a speaker we had at our TEDxAmericanRiviera event. Seems that my friend had taken a class in 1970 with Don at Cal Poly while the book was being written - he didn't know that anyone had ever read it. If you are a problem solver and are looking for new ways to think about how you do your work, this is an amazing book.
    • Feb 18 2011: Wow! And Thanks!
      Totally forgotten about this one until you jogged the memory.... I'll have to do a search to see if I can locate it in the stacks for a re-read; as I do recall its a completeley different approach to that taken in many of today's pablum consistency offerings.
  • Feb 16 2011: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig helped to place for me Quality and Caring (2 sides of the same coin) at the core of my life. Over the years since first reading that book when it was initially published I have occasionally noticed how what seems to be the default way I look at and interpret things turns out, on reflection, to have been rooted in my reading of, and responses to, that modern masterpiece.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: Mihail Bulgakov "The Master and Margarita", Dostoevski's "Idiot".
    • thumb
      Feb 16 2011: I just stated reading that Dostoevski's! thanks! now I'm psyched.
    • Feb 18 2011: Yeah - The Master and Margarita is excellent - What Happens when the Devil and his entourage comes to 1920s Moscow combined with a Passion Play - fantastical and amazing.

      Two other early 20th century Russian novels I'd add:

      St. Petersburg by Andrei Biely - super modern prose about a Father and Son in revolutionary times.

      Hadji Murad by Tolstoy - I believe the last piece of prose he wrote - beautifully written and is basically 'War and Peace' in 122 pages.
  • thumb
    Feb 21 2011: I have a question for Seth Godin. This thread has been enriched with more than 300 posts. Which of the books mentioned are you tempted to actually read in the near future?
  • Feb 17 2011: Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: I totally second this. While most of the facts this book covers are heard here and there, Bill Bryson has managed very effectively to herd them together and in very clear structure. Not to mention the smart, humoristic text style, the brand of Bryson. Absolutely a must for every modern individual who wants to be updated about what science is today, and what it is not.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: For me, it is Henry David Thourea's Walden. I stumbled upon it seven years ago in a bookstore, bought it, read it and it has since changed my life.
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: My favourite book all time..what better read is there in this time of too much work, too much connectivity and too much stress. Everyone should read this.
  • thumb
    Feb 13 2011: A diverse set of titles, but these have affected me and the paradigms I use for different part of life

    Man’s search for meaning
    Viktor Frankl

    In the name of Identity
    Amin Maalouf

    Seven Day Weekend
    Ricardo Semler

    Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood
    A.S. Neill
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: wow! I am so glad to see a book by A. S. Neill on this list! His books have been inspiring me since I was 15 and they are still useful as I think of my children's education. He was an incredible education visionary.
  • thumb
    Feb 12 2011: "I am a Strange Loop" Douglas Hofstadter.
    • Feb 18 2011: This is the book I was going to mention. It changed my outlook on what "I" am, and what all these others are as well - and giving the best scientific basis for compassion and consciousness I've ever encountered.
  • Comment deleted

  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: Fritjof Capra - The Tao of Physics and The turning Point
    Stanislav Grof - Beyond the Brain, The cosmic Game and The ultimate Journey
    and of course, Aldous Huxley, all of them, specially brave new world, the island and perennial philosophy
    • Feb 21 2011: I recommended Grof's Beyond the Brain to someone just today, in the context of explaining Grof's proposition that there exist "basic perinatal matrices" -- womb experiences of distinct character -- which influence later, post-natal experience.

      I got quite a bit out of the compendia edited by Peter Titelman on Bowen Family Systems Theory, especially the volume entitled Emotional Cutoff.

      I also quite enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, which was not only a great read, but also a book which freed me up to trust my own, rapidly apprehended, intuition about many things.

      I found a valuable read Kathryn Schultz's recent book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.

      Also recommended: The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. A series of interconnected, essays, pre-web hypertext, if you like, on various subjects including a very insightful power analysis of cults.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Definitely the Black Swan! If you have not read it you are missing out! But books are personal taste. After I read this book I completely changed my life!
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: As a teenager, "Ecce Homo" by Friedrich Nietzsche - it opened my eyes to living a life as the liver sees fit to and accepting the consequences good and bad.

    As a 20-something, "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - which opened my eyes to living a human life in inhuman circumstances, the power of the spirit.

    As a 50-something, "The Invisible Dragon, Essays on Beauty" by Dave Hickey - for reminding me that art is revolutionary, and this is why the instituion of art has become so boring during my lifetime.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: maybe not that overlooked, but certainly less than optimal people read: fahrenheit 451

    for those who like philosophy: ludwig von mises - theory and history
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: ashamed to say that only recently i started No Logo (2000) by Naomi Klein. Before that i read hers The Shock Doctrine (2007). i guess u must've read them, but right now i can't think of any other books that are more important to our world & future.
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2011: huh..
      I am totally agains Naomi Klein... She is using those data that are in favour of her view and neglecting all the others... (eg. from FT)
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: Robert Pirsig: "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values"
    Michel Houellebecq: "Atomised" and "Platform"
  • Feb 18 2011: Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofsteader. One of the best books (iMHO) ever written.
  • Feb 18 2011: The Man Who Had N Idea - Thomas M Disch. Have yet to see such skill in prose elsewhere. Science-fiction in the loosest of definitions.
  • Feb 18 2011: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This one will live a very long life.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: If you haven't read anything by Borges yet, that'd be an overlooked Author.
    His poems are great, his conferences and talks could easily be TEDs, his essays and short stories more often than not are mind blowing.
    • Feb 21 2011: Borges' short stories are exquisite. So magical, so dense with meaning, one dare not skip a word. The collection titled Labyrinths is extraordinary. Some have argued that his fantastical concepts, such as the encyclopedia that continually changed itself, was actualized in the form of wikipedia, and the internet generally. See "Borges and the Foreseeable Future,"
    • Feb 22 2011: "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is the first I'd recommend. The title actually says it all.
      • Feb 22 2011: "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is part of the Labyrinths collection.
    • thumb
      Feb 23 2011: I totally agree with you guys. I like all his works but I'd recommend "Death and the Compass" and since he uses lot of underlying connections to this other short story I'd also recommend "The Garden of Forking Paths".
  • Feb 17 2011: Interaction Ritual Chains by Randall Collins
    -- Everything runs on Emotional Energy. How is it created? Through Interaction Rituals. Fascinating stuff. Eminently readable.

    Focusing by Eugene T. Gendlin
    -- Focusing is seeing what is truly at the root of what swims through our mind, especially issues that nag, wear us down, and affect us without our ever substantively knowing what they are.

    The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos by Gaston Bachelard
    -- Reverie is the dream awake, oneirism that lingers, and something to not only cherish but build upon.

    Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren
    -- A vision of the world as a sprout emerging from a stone. First the stone had to be split. As L Cohen said: 'there's a crack, a crack in everything -- that's how the light gets in'.

    The Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg
    -- A masterful historical linking of the two truly timeless eastern genres of thought. Delicate and thoughtful.

    Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields
    -- 500 little pieces that argue for a new vision of artistic construction.

    Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse
    -- Games aren't just out on the playing field. The truly infinite games are forever ongoing around us.

    Metaphysics of Natural Complexes by Justus Buchler
    -- Builds on the idea that there are no 'simples', only 'complexes', with elements spread across many orders in the universe (imaginary, real, past, present, future, accessible, queryable).

    Gitanjali: Offerings of Song and Art by Rabindranath Tagore
    -- Tagore's masterwork of poetic companionship with the ever-elusive, ever-arriving, ever-departing You.

    The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change by Randall Collins
    -- The grand tour of philosophies throughout time -- why they appeared, thrived, inspired later schools (or didn't), disappeared, and remain eternal.

    • Feb 19 2011: Focusing by Gendlin and another book on focusing by Ann Weiser Cornell are excellent. If you don't know about focusing already, find out!

      Grigg's Tao book is also excellent
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling. Niche, yes. Out of print, yes. Despite focusing on events in the late 80's/early 90's provides an allegory and nine lessons for modern times, yes. Everyone with a passing interest in digital should read it. If you can get a copy of it, I think it's in e-book format...somewhere.
  • Feb 17 2011: I've recently finished Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and it is one of the most iconoclastic books I've read, while remaining very clear and understandable - I had to get the following book, The Story of B, immediately, and I'm reading it now.
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: I read Ismael, followed by My Ishmael and The Story of B as young adult many years ago. Until this day I'm sure that this trilogy changed my life profoundly. Back then it was the first really different way of seeing and thinking about the world I have encountered. Now, many years later, these books still hold a place of honour in my living room as they remind me that there are always differnt ways to look at the world. This is a recommended read for adults and kids as well.
  • Feb 17 2011: A slight twist: a terribly overlooked book that I've read a hundred times, but that everyone should--must read, at least once a year is Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. Regardless of who you are, no matter how good a writer I think I am, I reread this book. Again and again. To remind myself that I am not nearly as good a writer as I think I am.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly and Presence, Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers - these books give me inspiration when I need one.
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: Christina, I like and LOVE all these authors and books as well, esp. Flow & the whole Presencing Theory & books. We DO have quite in common s I can see. Happy to meet you virtually, may be some day in person!
      • thumb
        Feb 17 2011: Thanks, Darina! you are right that there is a whole constellation of books related to these. I have read a lot of the books referenced in Presence. Happy to meet you and yes, I hope we will have the chance to meet in person.
  • Feb 16 2011: THE VARIETIES OF SCIENTIFIC EXPERIENCE by Carl Sagan (edited by his wife Ann Druyan) has provided me with a phenomenal level of insight from the mind of unbounded genius. Carl's clarity and generosity of spirit shines through his writing, speaking, and especially his interaction with those participating in the audience at The Gifford Lectures. I have passed this book on to a dozen friends. Please enjoy the EXPERIENCE.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I'm always amazed when someone hasn't hear of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. It's a most profound and simple tale and it's the book that changed my life. Whenever I'm struggling in my life, it's the book that reminds me that we're all just vulnerable souls on a journey to discover ourselves.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: NON-FICTION:
    - The Social Contract by Rousseau
    - Out of Control by Kevin Kelly
    - The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain by Terrence W. Deacon
    - At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity by Stuart Kauffman
    - The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin

    - Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings by Mark Twain
    - Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
    - Cryptonomicon / The Diamond Age / Anathem by Neal Stephenson
    - Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin
    - Without Feathers / Side Effects / Getting Even by Woody Allen
    - A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • thumb
    Feb 14 2011: Two books.
    1. "Dibs in Search of Self" by Virginia Axline - the first book that I read that made me aware of children with special needs.
    2. "Gandhi is Gone. Who will guide us now?" - Minutes of a meeting held in March 1948. The meeting was planned by Mahatma Gandhi who unfortunately did not live to attend it. Nearly every major national leader attended the meeting. Many of the issues remain relevant today but more importantly, the quality of informed discussion and debate is outstanding and rarely seen anywhere today. For Indophiles or anyone interested in parliamentary democracy and social change.
  • Feb 26 2011: 'Time Enough for Love' by Robert Heinlein is another book I would add to my previous suggestion (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

    Born in the early 20th century the protagonist, Lazarus Long, has just managed to live long enough to benefit from the invention of the rejuvenation machine which extends his life (or, as his various stories reveal, lives) to the point where we find him 2000 years later full of the tales, experiences and wisdom of a man who has seen it all. Through its telling Heinlein explores human nature, 'future history', culture, adventure, and other things. Included among his various novellas of experiences are two 'intermissions' filled with the 'Sayings from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long'. Some of my favorites:

    Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it!

    Delusions are often functional. A mother’s opinions about her children’s beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.

    Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.

    When a place gets crowded enough to require ID’s, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere

    A zygote is a gamete’s way of producing more gamete’s. This may be the purpose of the universe.

    People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy half a slug who must tighten his belt.

    ...and my personal favourite:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects!
  • Feb 25 2011: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay--an unforgettable and frequently overlooked work.. So good, in fact, that he bowed to countless requests and put out a Young Adult edition. Charles Portis' do-not-die-before-reading books, including True Grit, Gringos, Norwood, etc.--totally and unexpectedly delightful w/a remarkable sense of place, time, and dialect. Superb! Little Heathens--an autobiographical jewel written by a retired English teacher about growing up in Depression-era Iowa--laugh-out-loud and marvel at the challenges, the adventures, the sheer wonderment of being a Little Kid and being responsible for the cleaning of the pig's head prior to the making of good, old-fashioned head cheese. Recipes included.
  • Feb 24 2011: I realise this may be way out the box, but hey, this is TED and it's my first comment...

    I would challenge anyone who enjoys reading to get hold of 'The Incredible Book Eating Boy' by Oliver Jeffers - brilliantly illustrated, a simple children's book with an extraordinary underlying message.

    I'm heading off now to consider what tribe I want to lead.


  • thumb
    Feb 24 2011: The Dune series by Frank Herbert. I read it many times over. One of the themes is overcoming fear and building personal capacity to take on challenges. The main theme is about power and control and the tools used to get them. It made me see the world with new eyes and to see the really big over riding reasons for the way things are. And I'm still an optimist!

    The Earth's Children series by Jean M Auel - Clan of the Cavebear, Valley of the Horses, Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage and Shelters of Stone. Everything I 'know' about 30,000 years ago I learned here. This series taught me to identify with other people. We all have the same feelings, motivations, desires and fears. I read this every time I need a big dose of woman power.
    • thumb
      Feb 24 2011: Just stumbled in here by accident to find someone taking about Dune! Sweet! I just started Chapterhouse this very day!
      A while back I started started a thread on the "website that dare not speak it's name" called: SCIENCE FICTION MADE ME A BETTER MAN.You would not believe how many people responded with comments like yours.

      Two more I more I would like to add

      Childhoods End by Aurthur C Clarke
      Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
  • Feb 23 2011: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2011: For me it was "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence" -- you probably read it. Who didn't? As a side note, I especially love the fact it's manuscript holds a Guiness Book World Record for the most publisher rejections before getting published!
  • Feb 21 2011: I'll mention a few that may have been overlooked by some:

    • Maricel E. Presilla: The New Taste of Chocolate – A cultural & natural history of cacao with Recipes (beautiful and informative)
    • Jonathan Weiner: Time, Love, memory - A Great Biologist and his Quest for the Origins of Behavior (one of the best books I have ever read)
    • Peter J. Taylor: The Way the Modern World Works - World Hegemony to World Impasse (a masterful work)
    • Patricia S. Churchland & Terrence J. Sejnowski: The Computational Brain (magnificent overview - a work of love, but quite technical and not for the uninitiated)
    • Christopher B. Leinberger: The Option of Urbanism - Investing in a New American Dream
    • Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics - The Invisible Art
    • Amin Maalouf: Le dérèglement du monde : Quand nos civilisations s'épuisent (wise and wonderful)
    • Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Mind on Music (The science of musical perception )

    Fiction (a few of my favorites):
    • Fred Chappell: Brighten the Corner Where You Are (The Washington Post said it best:”… a whimsical love song to living, and to language.”
    • Mark Helprin: Ellis Island and Other Stories” (prose like music)
    • Harry Dolan: Bad Things Happen (a superb mystery)
    • Pam Durban The Laughing Place (lyrical and powerful novel of personal discovery)
    • C.J. Cherryh: Cyteen (great political science fiction)
    • M. V. Llosa: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (excellent comic novel)
    • Louis Sachar: Holes (ostensibly a story for children, but in reality brilliant and stimulating social commentary for all ages)
    • Clyde Edgerton: Redeye – A Western (about the wild west – great fun)
    • Jonathan Lethem: Motherless Brooklyn (a Tourettic mystery that is a real tour de force)
  • thumb
    Feb 20 2011: Seth, if you're looking for some really great literature to dive into, some of the best books that I've read are listed below:


    Free eBook -

    Brilliant alluring, eminently readable. From the creator of the DILBERT comic series, God's Debris is a thought experiment that combines knowledge (and pseudo-knowledge) from many different disciplines (science, religion, philosophy, skepticism, relationships, the Omega Point), but with built-in errors. The challenge? Find out why certain arguments are, or ought to be, wrong - it's much harder than it looks. A great book to share with a friend and discuss over a coffee or a beverage. Great discussion and debate material abound within.


    A timeless tale on the nature of relationships, wisdom and of the rewards of breaking free from group control. Narrated by the novel's titular seagull protagonist, Jonathan Livingston Seagull touched my heart. I hope you get as much out of it as I did.


    Powerful, enthralling and soul-searing. If you've not read any of Dostoevsky's works before, this novella would be a great place to start. His ability to capture raw human emotion so viscerally is to be envied.


    A haunting glimpse into the life of the 20th century's most reluctant leader. Gandhi's pursuit of Truth and dedication to non-violence (Ahimsa) taught the world a way escaping cycles of violence. A spiritual tutor to Dr. King and Nelson Mandela, his legacy can be viewed even today in the political upheaval shaping the Middle East.
  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: The Golden Gate, a novel written by Vikram Seth in the mid '80s. It is set in San Francisco and is unique in that the entire book is written in awesome tetrameter sonnets.
  • Feb 19 2011: Art and the Intellect by Howard Taylor. The first page is wonderful. Wind, Sand and Stars by St. Antoine de Exupery (he wrote The Little Prince!)
  • Feb 19 2011: Drawing on The Right Side of The Brain by Betty Edwards.
  • Feb 19 2011: "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts.

    Weighing in at 933 pages, this masterpiece, this delicious mind meal was devoured in a week.

    Synopsis: an Australian criminal/doctor breaks out of jail and heads to the slums of Bombay for refuge. The characters and adventures that follow are a wonder. Based loosely on the authors life story, Shantaram has been optioned for a film with Johnny Depp playing the lead character.

    beautiful writing and a great escape to India!
  • Dave D

    • +1
    Feb 18 2011: On Wings of Song is a 1979 science fiction novel by Thomas M. Disch. It is a bitter satire that depicts a near-future America falling into worsening economic and social crisis. Alongside a Bildungsroman storyline, the novel presents a detailed portrait of a future United States torn by economic hardship and culture war. The Midwestern Farm Belt states are ruled by a coalition of the Christian right, known as "undergoders" (a reference to the successful conservative campaign to add the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance); the nominally secular government is socially repressive and business-friendly to an extreme. The coastal states more closely resemble present-day urban America, with generally permissive social attitudes and artistic ferment, but great economic inequality. On Wings of Song won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1980. It was nominated for the 1979 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1980 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
  • Feb 18 2011: The True Dynamics of Life, by Mike Robinson, is an amazing, life-changing book! It is a book that inspires, motivates, and it really helped me see how I can make a difference in my own life and this world!
  • Feb 18 2011: Please consider almost anything by Sinclair Lewis but especially now, for this time, "It Can't Happen Here". He was so good at capturing the average American and the forces that can corrupt him. But he could also show the essential goodness and hope. As a bonus his writing is fun, crisp and his observations on human nature are as sharp and witty today as they were when he wrote them.
  • Feb 18 2011: A Simple Plan by Scott Smith- there is a movie- but read the book first. Grea6 tale of devolving ethics anddysfunctional family relationship after the discovery of a downed plane with a lot of cash and a dead pilot. Might be Smith's only book- I read it 15 years ago- and still love it.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: Xenophobe's guide to the Americans, by Stephanie Faul. And the whole rest of the series.
  • Feb 18 2011: "The Myth of Simplicity" by Mario Bunge

    "Assenters may make good soldiers, slaves, and monks, but only rational dissenters and critical constructors may plan, build, and preserve a free and progressive society".
  • Feb 17 2011: Here are the little known (or little known outside their niche) works that have profoundly affected my own life:

    Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa
    Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott
    1000 Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel de Landa
    Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes by Jacques Ellul
    The Subversion of Christianity by Jacques Ellul
    Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World by Bruce Schneier
    Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore
    The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
    The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark
  • Feb 17 2011: Not to be a hater, but loads of people are mentioning books commonly found in airport bookstores, which are very, very widely known and available. I would've thought Seth would want books a little well-known, but that's just me. I guess it's a good thing if this comments area has become a clearing-house for books people like :)

    Anyway my overlooked gem is DEFINITELY 'Fisher's Hornpipe' by Todd McKuen - a hilariously funny, slightly cracked take on one man's experience of the world.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: "The Politics of Experience" by R.D. Laing had a profound impact on me while I was an undergrad. It helped me understand my uneasiness with "normal" and the dominant culture. He ends the book with: "If I could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, if I could tell you I would let you know." I spent many nights being driven out of my wretched mind by this book.
  • Feb 17 2011: God's Debris by Scott Adams
  • Feb 17 2011: The Spirituality of the Body by Alexander Lowen
    The Murder of Christ by Wilhelm Reich
    The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka
    Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz and Sally Fallon

    Rooted in Spirit by Claude Larre, S. J. Rochat de la Vallee, and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee
    ...between heaven and earth... :)
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: Lowen is an intuitive master whose work gives emotional depth and meaning to the parched world of head shrinking psychology.
  • Feb 17 2011: The Cosmic Rape -- Theodore Sturgeon.

    Multiple first-person account of what awareness may be, in light of being human. Lurid title indicates that Sturgeon of course was published in the land of Pulp, and yet... in him there is so much that occurs. His writing is truly an occasion of experience. As an influence on many writers, Sturgeon's work should still be attended to. In Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut jr. employs palimpsest to the extent that he has his leitmotif character Kilgore Trout at the center of a point of meta-narration directly transposed from the Cosmic Rape. A subtle joy.
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: Sturgeon is definitely in a class by himself "Almost Human" and the "Dreaming Jewels" are two more of his that are wonderful
  • Feb 17 2011: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely is a great book. It makes you evaluate why it is that you do the thing you do.
  • Feb 16 2011: An inspiring read I believe is " I know Why The Caged Bird Sings " by Maya Angelou.

    Pleas excuse my ignorance in that I have never heard of Sidhdartha by Hermann Hesse - Siddhartha is I believe the name of a hindu devotee
    • Feb 16 2011: Siddhartha is the name of the Bouddha. ;o))
  • Feb 16 2011: Total Freedom by J. Krishnamurti
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The Dune series, the ones written by Frank Herbert.
    I think he wove together myth, religion, politics, evolution, ideas of power, and growth into an amazing story.
    • thumb
      Feb 16 2011: Seems like it's more relevant than ever, especially if you equate spice with oil. Really great books.
      • thumb
        Feb 22 2011: I'm particularly fascinated with God Emperor of Dune and Leto's struggles with his creations. Herbert had a real good grip on power and fallibility. Leto's transformation into a sandworm feels like profound psychological dissociation from the culture and people that he created and led. I wonder sometimes about very powerful people and how they perceive themselves. What mechanisms do they develop to encapsulate and protect their psyches from the effects of their own actions?
        • Feb 22 2011: God Emperor was definitely the most fascinating of the series. Destination Void was the only other Herbert book where I felt he brought all of his tools to the story.
  • Feb 16 2011: For me, it has to be the Bible: a book about some people who fell in love with love itself and wanted to help people: and actually did something about it. Jesus (one of the movement leaders) was a homeless radical who ate with prostitutes, thieves, and terrorists, went round spreading love, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and then got executed for challenging the status quo and loving others. Even if you don't believe in God, you can't really put Jesus down for that. Heck, even if you believe it's pure fiction, it's at least an inspiring story.

    And yes, I know I'll probably get berated for not being an atheist.
  • Feb 16 2011: "The Art Of Thinking" by Ernest Dimnet. It's a short but powerful book.

    Harpo Marx's autobiography is also a great book. Wonderfully written by a genuinely good-natured person.
    • Feb 18 2011: Just checked out "The Art of Thinking" from the library; looking forward to reading it. It's mentioned in a little book by William H Danforth called "I Dare You" which is old-school self-help in the style of Dale Carnegie's books.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Seth, I'm not sure if you are interested in comparative psychology, but when I was in college majoring in computer science, I happened to read a book titled 'Anatomy of human destructiveness' by Erich Fromm. It is one of his lesser known works (as compared to say 'Art of loving' ) but seminal in making me interested in psychology (analyses Hitler too) and making me muse about the potential and limitations of our species. Similarly the book 'Original intelligence' by David Premack has been very intellectually stimulating, delineating how and where we differ from our ape cousins.
  • Feb 16 2011: Anything by Dr. W Edwards Deming. His philosophies of management have been all but forgotten in the race for CEOs to pay themselves ever more outrageous salaries, but the world would be a better -- and more profitable -- place if more business people adopted his theories, even if partially. He died almost 20 years ago but his books are still available on, his philosophies are neatly summarized on Wikipedia, and his work lives on in the Deming Institute. I was running a business which was doing OK but not spectacularly when I attended a Deming 4-day seminar back in 1990. (He was 90! His first words, as he looked out over a sea of executives, were: "There is only one thing wrong with American business... pause... and I am looking at it.") His philosophies changed my life and my company. Within two years we had become the quality leader in our area of expertise, our profits doubled, staff turnover stabilized, and I subsequently sold the business for comfortably over $10M. Seth: I'm sure you must know Deming. If you don't, get to know him -- you'll love his ideas -- full of purple cows!
  • Feb 16 2011: The Tao of Physics
  • Feb 16 2011: The Art of Strategy by Avinash Dixit. All about business strategy through the eye of a game theorist. Interesting, if nothing else.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: Just finished reading "The hidden brain" from Shankar Vedantam. And I would recommend reading it. Some chapters appealed more to me than others, or said in another way I am not sure I would have included all the chapters in the book, nevertheless that stuff is fascinating.

    You can read more about it on
  • thumb
    Feb 14 2011: "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin and "Days of War Nights of Love" by the CrimethInc Collective. I guess they kind of go hand in hand, but I like them for different reasons. I didn't read the latter literally. I also think that the latter should read the former, but I like it anyway. "Days..." can be read online for free at
  • thumb
    Feb 14 2011: OK Seth, here are four beloved volumes from my shelves...

    "Leadership is an Art" by Max DePree.
    By far the best book on leadership I've ever read. Written by the former CEO of Herman Miller (the iconic furniture company that launched Charles Eames), it's an eloquent, soulful, unpretentious book about service leadership; about the creativity and morality and grace that a true leader can bring to their company and its employees. It explains in the most useful and truthful way the things we all need to thrive in a work environment. You can read the whole thing in an hour, but I find myself coming back to it over and over through the years.

    "Principles of Uncertainty" By Maira Kalman
    Is it poetry or prose? Humor or philosophy? Graphic novel, travel journal or memoir? This book is impossible to categorize, and that's it's great appeal. Like Maira herself, this book is whimsical, but also deeply wise. In her TED Talk, Maira said "I'm trying to understand two things: How to live and how to die." And her reflections her on life, death and everything in between are, in my opinion, nothing short of profound.

    "The Atlas of Experience" By Louise Van Swaiij
    Maps have such a hold on the human imagination, and this beautiful book explores the outer reaches of both, mapping in physical terms our common human experiences, from the Sea of Possibility to the Stormy Coast of Hypochondria to the tiny towns on the Isle of Forgetfulness called "Erm..." and "Hmm..." Charming.

    "City of Thieves" By David Benioff
    Pacy, edgy, heart-breaking, and as funny as the siege of Leningrad could possibly be. It's everything you might want in a book... Historical fiction. Buddy story. Coming of age novel. Screenplay in the making. But mostly, it's just a really, really good story
    • thumb
      Feb 15 2011: I really like your suggestions!

      If you like visualisation and management you will love "The Business World Atlas: Navigation for Innovative Organisations" by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove.

      This book is ot like any other business books. After all how could you make a jurney through such a complex landscape without a map? Here is business portrayed not just in text, but in maps. It is very nice to see on a map the connection between the Boston Matrix Tidal Zone, the Porter Generic Strategy Counter-Intelligence Unit and eg. the Art of War City.
  • thumb
    Feb 13 2011: Here are 10 overlooked gems, mostly global in focus, some in obscure niches, all of which changed me:

    1. The Hidden Face of Eve--women in the Arab world by Nawal el Saadawi
    -this now 80year old ob/gyn and women's rights activist was formerly imprisoned by Mubarak and seen marching daily on Tahrir Square
    -a global feminist awakening for me; first time I read about female genital mutilation

    2. All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer
    -An American Mid East Expert tells story of CIA coup which overthrew Iran's one and only democratically elected leader; prototype of how destructive US foreign policy has been in the region
    -also worth reading is his book Overthrow, America's Century of Regime Change in 14 countries

    3. Nonviolence: the history of a dangerous idea by Mark Kurlansky

    4&5.Finest books of poetry I've read about grief:
    -A Steady Longing for Flight by Joannie Kervran (Floating Bridge Press)
    -Without by Donald Hall--after death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon

    6.The Continuum Concept--in search of happiness lost by Jean Liedloff
    A game changer for parenting and raising children, based on living for years with the Amazonian Indians

    7. Real Food--what to eat and why by Nina Planck
    -The book that made this doctor give up vegetarianism after 16 years

    8. Cuba and Its Music--from the first drums to the mambo by Ned Sublette
    -a bible for anyone who cares about Latin music, the roots of jazz and rock the history of Cuba

    9. Paris--out of hand, a wayward guide by Karen Gordon, Barbara Hodgson, and Nick Bantock
    -surrealist, magical faux travelogue, hilarious and playful book that teaches more about Paris and art de vivre than any real guidebook; genre changer

    10. Letter to a Child Never Born by Oriana Fallaci.
    -A controversial Italian journalist writes about whether to bring a child into this world or not.

    btw, Seth, I appreciate your innovative attempts to reinvent the publishing paradigm.
  • Feb 12 2011: I don't know if it's an overlooked gem, exactly, but A General Theory of Authority by Yves Simon shaped my whole view of how organizations - business, governments, whatever - function. It has also helped me think about my role as an employee, entrepreneur, and a person with a responsibility to the world. It's a dry book, and not to everyone's taste or interest, but it was very valuable to me.
  • Feb 25 2011: The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten is a nice short read. I got the chance to speak with him for a while beforehand and I think he's more similar to me than anyone I've ever met, so it's probably a little better for me than others. Our books paralleled and I'd recommend speaking or reading about that perspective on life to everyone. :)
  • Feb 25 2011: BTW, where is the consolidated list of books? Does it have a permanent home in the ether?
  • Feb 25 2011: Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac - the original thinking on environmental philosophy and what it means to be human and live, interact, and change the environment.
  • thumb
    Feb 25 2011: The Power of Unreasonable People, by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan. I
  • thumb
    Feb 25 2011: I have read Happy Something, its a very interesting book, I also recommend it.
  • Feb 25 2011: Parting with Illusions, by Vladimir Posner. An inside look at Soviet Russia from the unique perspective of a half-Jewish Russian, half-French journalist who was raised in America. It's out of print but you can easily get it second hand.
  • thumb
    Feb 25 2011: "PISSING IN THE SNOW AND OTHER OZARK FOLKTALES" is "As ripe,raunchy,and unprintable as honest country humor could possibly be...", said Publishers Weekly. Folklorist Vance Randolph compiled this book of short stories that were handed down generation to generation, most are traced from the 1920's through the 1950's. Not for the faint of heart or politically correct. Ribald stories are hilarious. There are 101 stories. A few titles are: What Madeline Done, That Boy Needs Pants, Tom Burdick's Pecker, The Duck Hunter's Woman. It's laugh out loud stuff when read abound a campfire. Illini Books, University of Illinois Press. 1976.
  • Feb 25 2011: Carl Sagan's Broca's Brain. Discusses the organization and evolution of the human brain with emphases on the complexity and storage capacity of this marvelous organ.
  • thumb
    Feb 25 2011: I don't mean to sound boastful here, but maybe you should try my book "Happy Something". It is about the meaning of life in a contemporary, philosophical and non religious manner. And truly a "novel" i.e. unlike anything, in terms of not only content but also structure. (Which can of course be good and bad, but to me originality was most important.) And I am not saying all this because it is my book, but it is my book because I was striving to write something most worthwhile, to me, a book about "everything".

    But if you don't maybe wait for the film version of it. :)
  • Feb 25 2011: So many great-sounding suggestions here - thank you!
    A couple of my own, off the top of my head: 'A Month in the Country' by J L Carr and 'A Door into Ocean' by Joan Slonczewski
  • Feb 24 2011: Limiting to works that may be out of print (but shouldn't be)...

    1) The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
    2) Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel and Daisetz T. Suzuki
    3) Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo by Joe Adamson
    4) anything by Robert Benchley
    5) most anything by Spike Milligan, but especially old Goon Show scripts
    6) The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart
    7) The Eudaemonic Pie by Thomas Bass
    8) Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
    9) The Starship and the Canoe by Kenneth Brower
    10) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
    11) Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo
    12) Stone Junction by Jim Dodge


    13) War Music by Christopher Logue (as well as the other works in the series)
    • Feb 25 2011: Thank you for reminding me of The Starship and the Canoe -- I always thought that Brower did a wonderful job of revealing the deeper similarities between Freeman Dyson and his son, George, who set out on a very different path from his father.
      • Feb 25 2011: I read it during a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest and it was perfect for the location. However, George came off like he had Asperger's syndrome and Freeman came off like just didn't get it, any of it, yet I don't think either of those assessments is what truly is/was going on. There are some ways the narrator's role in the story resembles Bass' _The Eudaemonic Pie_, which is the story of how some of the original thinkers in Chaos Theory tried to break the bank playing roulette in Vegas. Very cool and a useful supplement to Gleick's _Chaos_.
  • thumb
    Feb 24 2011: Published a year after I was born, This Book Needs No Title: A Budget of Living Paradoxes is as timeless as the come:

    And as a huge linguo-obsessive, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention these 5 essential books for language lovers and word geeks:
  • Feb 24 2011: Let me echo the previous recommendation of Ernest Becker's 'The Denial of Death'. And, let me add 'Escape from Evil', the book Becker completed at the close of his short life.

    Since you've explored Marcel Mauss you may find some familiar material in Chapter 2 of 'Escape from Evil'. But, being the polymath that he was, Becker generates further insights into the social constructs of gifts and giving. I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on some of the conclusions Becker draws:

    *Giving was first directed to eternity (God, karma, nature) to achieve cosmic heroism (and deny finitude).
    *Original human moeity resulted from a need to compete with and give 'other'.
    *Giving in primitive societies (more clearly than modern societies) demonstrated to self (and others) one's right to life.

    Best regards,

  • Feb 24 2011: Wow! Someone else who has read--and loved--One-Straw Revolution. It's been thirty years, but I remember being changed by it. Am currently re-reading Zen & Art of MM. The decades-long gap between readings has done nothing to diminish some of Pirsig's mind-blowing "maintainance". Fiction, however, is my true love. There's nothing like a good story beautifully told. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my faves.
  • Feb 24 2011: "A History of Knowledge" by Charles Van Doren (1992)

    Rather than seeing history through the prism of generals, wars and epic events, this wonderful book traces humankind's advance through our ideas, discoveries and leaps of imagination.

    A wonderful primer for young minds.
  • Feb 24 2011: The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, Masanobu Fukuoka. Hope you read it, it will open your heart and re-connect you to the universe.
  • Feb 24 2011: Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change by David Holmgren. “Scenario planning,” Holmgren explains, “allows us to use stories about the future as a reference point for imagining how particular strategies and structures might thrive, fail, or be transformed.” David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator with Bill Mollison of the permaculture concept following the publication of Permaculture One in 1978.
  • Feb 23 2011: Another gem is "Go with Me" by Castle Freeman Jr. It is a damsel in distress story,current Vt style with wonderful greeek chorus style commentary chapters by local yokels. Not a word wasted and perfectly constructed..
  • thumb
    Feb 23 2011: I cannot too strongly recommend nearly anything by Par Lagerkvist (Swedish, 1951 Nobel Prize) - but especially "the Dwarf" - ISBN 0-374-52135-2; a once-removed take on Cesare Borgia as told through his court homunculus - maybe.

    This brief book is so spectacularly good you will find yourself reading and re-reading favorite moments with a barely-suppressible joy constantly in the 19-straight hours I assure you you will spend non-stop powering through it. It is a very dark book, and it will go straight to the top eschelons of your list of favorites.
  • thumb
    Feb 23 2011: I'm digging Gever Tulley's new TEDBook -- Beware Dangerism! Smart analyses, easy to understand, quick read ... kinda reminds me of your books in those ways, Seth!
  • thumb
    Feb 23 2011: -For Bread Alone: Mohamed Choukri:

    -The Yacoubian Building:
    is a timely book to read that gives you a glimpse of the modern Egyptian society.

    -Men in the Sun is a must read:
  • Feb 23 2011: My favorite books:

    - George R.R. Martin - A song of Ice and Fire - It dwells a lot around human nature and what people can do for and with power. Not to mention that Martin has a unique way of "controlling" his characters, you mostly end up loving and hating all of them, no matter how they started out.

    - SF Need to Reads in my opinion:
    Dune - Herbert
    Mars trilogy - K. S. Robinson
    Asimov, Philip K. Dick and others....there are really a lot :)
  • Feb 23 2011: King Leopolds Ghost
  • Feb 23 2011: I'm currently reading 'Mindset!' by John Naisbitt and find it to be a great read
  • Feb 22 2011: A book that I find few people value as much as it should be is "The Old Man and Mr. Smith" by Peter Ustinov. "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn is always good to read.
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2011: There's a good book that i've recommended and lended to many people called "Fantastisch - over het universum in ons hoofd" (transl. Fantastic - On the universe in our head) , just one tiny problem : It's in dutch so probably not of much help to you ...

    So my next suggestion is any work of Terry Pratchett, best books ever and many of them :)
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2011: As non fiction go have to recommend Life Inc. by Douglas Rushkoff. He has a way of explaining our economic system that remind we of how Michael Pollen Describes our ways of eating. Both in the fact he spans much information without being hypnotized by technical minutia, and the sense of empowerment you have when you are done reading.

    As for Fiction, Penguin Island by Anatole France. It been a while but the fact anyone could be cynical without the help of either world war ( it was published in 1908) was aspiring in an odd way. I would be surprised if Vonnegut was reading France as he was finding his voice.
  • Feb 22 2011: "THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE" being interested in physics, super strings, meditation, etc. I found this book years ago and found it a quick but very interesting read. It has the scientific evidence that has opened even the most closed minds I have gifted it to.
  • thumb
    Feb 21 2011: The only book I have read more than twice is "The Four-Gated City" by Doris Lessing, who well deserved her Nobel prize.
    It is the last volume of a series but can be read by itself, although when I first bought it, I got one page into it and decided I had to begin at the beginning so I went and got the other four. Still, I've read the series twice and the last volume about 6 times. It is the story of a woman who arrives in London from southern Africa after WW II, and is a brilliant study of life, politics, madness and civilization.
  • Feb 21 2011: Toward a Meaningful Life, Simon Jacobson
    Coming Down to Earth, Gil Locks
    The Napoleonic Wars, Phillipe Comt d'Segur
  • Feb 21 2011: Anything by Federico Garcia Lorca
  • thumb
    Feb 21 2011: The God of Small things - Arundhati Roy
  • thumb
    Feb 21 2011: A few years ago i would never dare to suggest "the ultimate book" because every work of art is unique. But....
    I read a book that changed the way I think about myself and the world and I believe that everybody should read it.

    "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker.

    All the truth about the self and the society in my opinion. Happy reading!
  • thumb
    Feb 21 2011: The Essential Dewey
  • thumb
    Feb 21 2011: I have not read all the 356 comments posted here so this might be a duplicate. My picks of books you might have missed would be:

    a. Fiction

    Shantaram. Amazing book written by an Australian who escapes to India and then lives a pretty amazing life. More than the story, the insights into life he shares is pretty inspriing

    Unbearable lightness of being - Cannot fully explain why but I read it as a teenager and the book affected me profoundly

    b. Non fiction - Influence - probably the single biggest "influence" of my business behavior is this book

    Hope this helps.

  • Feb 21 2011: Check out Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide. This book details the impact of America's literacy crisis and offers in response an amazing systematic approach to English. It was written with the goal of making literacy available to everyone and remove the shame that burdens struggling learners. My favorite quote: "The difference between the literate and the illiterate is that the literate blame the problems on English, but the illiterate blame themselves. Both demonstrate misplaced blame. The problem is neither English nor individuals. The problem is that we cannot know what we were never taught."

    Here is the link:
  • Feb 21 2011: When you are bummed, "Trustee from the Toolroom" by Nevil Shute.
    • Feb 25 2011: ooh, I love Trustee - have you read 'On the Beach'?
  • Feb 21 2011: The Element, by Ken Robinson
  • Feb 21 2011: Jane Roberts' Seth Speaks: heavy but life-altering if you can wrap your brain around it. Check out the Eternal Validity of the Soul and prepare to be mind-boggled.
  • thumb

    E G

    • 0
    Feb 20 2011: if someone say the Bible.........what would you think? I'm joking..............but.......
    A very good book in my opinion is "The praise of folly" by Desiderius Erasmus.
  • Feb 20 2011: Covenant with Death - Steven Becker - especially good in examining interplay and responsibilities between individual and society - plus darn good read
  • thumb
    Feb 20 2011: If the sub-text of this question is that you are somehow dissatisfied with what you have read so far, then spend the next 12 months reading fiction and see how you feel after that. There are plenty of reading lists to guide you to key works in different cultures. Personally, I have learned more from fiction that I ever have from non-fiction.
  • Feb 20 2011: you should check out The Shock Doctrine.
  • thumb
    Feb 20 2011: Franz Werfel: "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" ("Die vierzig Tage des Musa Dagh") - This great novel about leadership and human behaviour is a true masterpiece.
  • Feb 19 2011: The structure of scientific Revolution by Thomas Kuhn excellent book Best explanation of process of discovery excellent
  • Feb 19 2011: The Supreme Doctrine by Hubert Benoit. IMHO, the best book in the world ever written about Zen, in 1955 by a French psychiatrist. Be warned, it's not an easy read, but there is at least 10 years' worth of profitable study in this. You can start anywhere and take it a paragraph at a time. You will not be disappointed and you'll learn a lot about yourself.
  • Feb 19 2011: Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work by John C. Maxwell >>> Definitely a good read! :)
  • Feb 19 2011: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari :)
  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: A few from my reading list:

    How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein

    Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

    The Kabir Book: Forty-Four of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir by Robert Bly

    Fixing the System: A History of Populism, Ancient and Modern by Adrian Kuzminski
  • Feb 19 2011: 'A Reasonable Life' by Ferenc Mate, a Hungarian who has lived in Canada, California & now on a farm in Italy--caustic (or lively) argument for a sustainable, thinking person's life.
  • Feb 19 2011: A gem most people haven't seen but should definitely read is John Crompton's detailed study called Life of the Spider. A book filled with incredible drama and intrigue on a very small scale.
  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: "The New Normal" by Peter Hinssen. A fantastic book about the new digital reality we live in. I gave it as a farewell present to the Senior General Manager of my former employer (an insurance company). He promptly bought a copy for all his direct reports and saw to it that they read it.
  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: The best book I have ever read, without doubt, was Richard Dawkins - "The Selfish Gene" - which I read in 1978. I keep buying copies and giving them away.
    Doug Hofstadter's Goedel, Escher, Bach - Eternal Golden Braid is another great one - for Kurt Goedel's incompleteness theorem.
  • Feb 19 2011: The Meeting of East and West by F.S.C. Northrop; published by oxbow press; might be out of print. Excellent reading!
  • Feb 19 2011: The following list of writings have impacted my life in many different, but intensely significant ways:

    1) "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankyl
    2) "Kitchen Table Wisdom" and "My Grandfather's Blessings" by Dr.Rachel Naomi Remen
    3) Any of the "Emotional Intelligence" books written by Daniel Goleman
    4) "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning
    5) "God's Debris" (A thought experiment) by Scott Adams

    Poetry "Ambrosian Absolution" "The Reperception of Circadian Rhythm" and "The Weight of a Suggestion" by Steven G. Deaton
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: Abraham Maslow's The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: Two of the first books that hooked me were by Richard Bach 'Johnathon Livingston Seagull' and 'Illusions' Those were the first books that got me to look inside as well as outside myself.
  • Feb 18 2011: Mark Ptashne, A Genetic Switch: Phage Lambda and Higher Organisms. You will be astonished at how much it is possible for 150 pages to teach you about genetics and cell biology. Be prepared to think hard.

    George W.S. Trow, Within The Context Of No Context. Arch, angry, daring, prophetic, and very, very funny, this book's indictment of demography and television is like nothing else I've ever read.

    E.P. Thompson, The Making Of The English Working Class. The best investigation of what happens when technology uproots social order that I've ever read, and an extraordinarily powerful counterargument to the complacency of the bourgeois world-view.

    Vladimir Nabokov, Pale FIre. Ingenious, brilliant, hilarious reimagining of what it is possible for a novel to be, with the craziest and funniest of Nabokov's long line of insane protagonists. Protip: There's an index.

    Gene Wolfe, The Book Of The Long Sun. Wolfe's peers are Melville, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Nabokov. This novel reminds me of Hugh Kenner's description of The Brothers Karamazov: It's a religious and philosophical argument. It's a family drama. It's a crime novel. It's a portrait of psychopathy. It's a Zola-esque social-realist novel. It's a story in which there is a ghost who's still alive, angry killer robots, a prostitute who's possessed by a demon, terrible men running the world from a submarine, a criminal with a head injury, little men who can fly, and the best character who speaks entirely in sentences of two one-syllable words in all fiction. It's a story of political intrigue, war, and revolution. It's a huge allegorical puzzle. It's a prison novel, and a tale of inconceivably awful corruption and evil. It's a story about a parish priest who's touched by God and saves the world, which is not actually a world.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: "Johnathan Livingston Seagul" how the ordinary strive to become more than they are agaist the will of the flock...

    Will Self, "Great Apes", the more you understand your humanity the more those around you class you as insane and try to rehabilitate you to what they consider the norm...

    "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintainance", funny enough, it's title is miss leading :))

    hope you find what you are looking for....
  • Feb 18 2011: 'English August' by Upamanyu Chatterjee. A very funny and insightful look at growing up in India...torn between the private sector MNCs and working for the government in rural India. I was really taken up with it when I read it over 12 years back. A classic coming of age/ slacker novel.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: Lord Radcliffe of Werneth 1954 Reith lectures "The Problem of Power" explores how power reflects the nature of the leader who has it. An old print picked up in Oxford UK. Also Ben Franklin's Autobiography is a fun intellectual read. He is quite clever.

    What's your favorite TEDtalk(s)?
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" (Mark Haddon). Besides compassion for others, I experienced a new sense of compassion for myself, realizing I too am Christopher John Francis Boone. I'll bring a copy with me...!
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.
    • Feb 18 2011: Absolutely! There are a number of good books on the realities of food, cooking and eating, but this one makes so many important points while being such a good read! This is one of the books I buy to give away. His "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" is another -- it captures in the simplest form key points from his other works, but you need something like "Omnivore's Dilemma" to really appreciate the situation behind the guidelines.
    • Feb 19 2011: I didn't know how important his presentation would be to me! I got this book on CD and it is wonderful!
  • Feb 18 2011: The best book I've read in the past few years is "The Demon and The Angel" by Edward Hirsch, a rich and hypnotic exploration into artistic inspiration and the creative impulse, particularly the "duende," the deep dark earthy source. Besides being a fantastic book, it will provide you with a long reading list. Fiction-wise, I've recently read and loved some oldies that still hold up narratively and even politically, including "Fame is the Spur," by Howard Spring (about the rise of Labour in early 20th C. Britain); "The Odd Women," by George Gissing (a proto-feminist novel that's an incredibly good read), and Nostromo by Joseph Conrad.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: Simple. Anything by Shel Silverstein. It keeps me grounded, it reminds me of my childhood where my curiosity and creativity blossomed, and it relates to anyone/everyone in such a simple yet eloquent manner.
  • Feb 18 2011: "The True and Only Heaven" by Christopher Lasch

    "How does it happen that serious people continue to believe in progress, in the face of massive evidence that might have been expected to refute the idea of progress once and for all"?
  • Feb 18 2011: Bertrand Russell 'History of western philosophy'. Why? Because it is an incredible history of 'ideas worth spreading'.
  • Feb 18 2011: Ella Minnow Pea: a novel in letters by Mark Dunn
  • Feb 18 2011: "From Dictatorship to Democracy" by Gene Sharp is a handbook for conducting non-violent revolution. It may be the 21st Century's version of "Common Sense".

    From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp was originally published in Bangkok in 1993 by the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma in association with Khit Pyaing (The New Era Journal). It has since been translated into at least thirty-one other languages and has been published in Serbia, Indonesia, and Thailand, among other countries.

    The Albert Einstein Institution
    P.O. Box 455
    East Boston, MA 02128, USA
    Tel: USA +1 617-247-4882
    Fax: USA +1 617-247-4035
    ISBN 1-880813-09-2
    • Feb 18 2011: I just read about this in the NYT today and was fascinated how influential this $6 phamphlet has been around the world. For those of you interested in reading more about Gene Sharp, check out the 2/16/11 edition of the NYT.
  • Feb 17 2011: "Javatrekker" by Dean Cycon - In each cup of coffee we drink the major issues of the twenty-first century—globalization, immigration, women’s rights, pollution, indigenous rights, and self-determination—are played out in villages and remote areas around the world. In Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee, a unique hybrid of Fair Trade business, adventure travel, and cultural anthropology, author Dean Cycon brings readers face-to-face with the real people who make our morning coffee ritual possible.

    This book will change your understanding of indigenous farmers in the tropical regions around the world in surprising ways. It is full of hope.
  • Feb 17 2011: 'The Seventh Seal' by Anna Seghers (if you can get it). A more accurate picture of the horrors of Nazi Germany. These days we are saturated with the disastrous effects of the holocaust on Jewish people but somehow the slaughter of Gypsies, trade unionists, gays, Christians, Social Democrats and others - is overlooked - we need to recall our history accurately, if we are not to be doomed to repeat it.
  • Feb 17 2011: I really enjoyed Charles Barnitz's "The Deepest Sea". The only book I've ever found by him, it is well written overall and a fun read. I always wanted something more to come out and never saw anything. It now sits on my shelf, constantly recommended to people who love to read fantasy novels.
  • Feb 17 2011: The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
    A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
    Spontaneous Evolution by Bruce Lipton
    Original Wisdom: Ancient Ways of Knowing by Robert Wolff
    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
  • Feb 17 2011: B. H. Friedman’s "Yarborough" (1964).

    I first read, re-read, and re-re-read this book when I was in college, over 40 years ago. The story of a World War II era bridge prodigy spoke to me in a way that no other book ever has. The descriptions of drug experiences (marijuana and LSD) are vivid and accurate. A few years later I tracked down a copy through a book locator (remember them?), and have re-etc.-read it every couple of years ever since. For me, at least, it has never ceased to be fresh.

    Friedman is a wonderful writer who never found popular acclaim. I guess his best-know novel was The Polygamist, which was a NYT Notable Book in its publication year. He was also an art writer in the abstract expressionist era — wrote the first full-length biography of Jackson Pollock, and a terrific novel about the museum world.

    He was still writing up to his death last month at 84 -- I noticed a letter from him in the NYT Book Review last year, and he published a new novel, "My Case Rests", just a year or two ago.

    Additional background from the editor of the Neglected Books website , when I posted about "Yarborough" last year:

    Yarborough takes its title from the game of bridge. A “yarborough” is a “nothing hand” without face cards or value. Yarborough follows the life of Arthur Skelton, a bridge prodigy, who searches in vain for a system to give his life meaning. He experiments with many of the temptations available in the first half of the 20th century, finding none and dying suddenly in a car crash while still in his twenties. It was well-received by some of the more prominent papers, such as the New York Times, but most critics and readers outside Manhattan found it too esoteric. It continues to win and keep a small number of fervent supporters such as Mr. Nix.
  • Feb 17 2011: Little Fuzzy by H.Beam Piper
    This title made me really consider what sentience means.
  • Feb 17 2011: Seems to me that these "gems" are most often opportunities for free association on topics we are processing somewhere in the back—opportunities trapped in the body of a book. Their value to others may or may not be similar. Nonetheless, my nominal gift to this august throng is a variation on the Steve Pressfield theme of defeating resistance: Jupiter's Travels, by Ted Simon. Story of a man ill-equipped in most ways to spend 4 years travelling around the world alone, on a '70s Triumph motorcycle—who does just that [in the '70s]. Unincluded coda: Simon did it again a few years ago, in his own mid-'70's! Best wishes to all.
  • Feb 17 2011: Replay by Ken Grimwood. A reminder to look forward in life, not back.

    On Relationship by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Not sure how widely read he is but certainly not as widespread as he should be.
  • Feb 17 2011: Time & The Art of Living by Robert Grudin, a look at various aspects of life, love, politics, morality, etc. through the context of our relationship to time. Resonating.
  • Feb 17 2011: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.
  • Feb 17 2011: Back in the 70's and 80's I was, among other things, a home builder and I discovered a book called "Japanese Home and Their Surroundings" by Edward S. Morris. It was written in 1885 or thereabout, and the last time I bought it a few years ago it was still in print. Morris was a biologist who went to Japan to study mollusks and was so taken with the contrast between Japanese and Victorian English homes that he wrote this book (instead?). The book is full of beautiful line drawings that wonderfully capture the simple and understated elegance of traditional Japanese design and construction.
    At one time Lee Valley Tools had it on their book list. I have gifted this book many times to friends who are interested in home design, Japan, construction or just love wonderful books.
  • Feb 17 2011: The Book of Disquiet: Fernando Pessoa. and The Trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable): Samuel Beckett.
    Not really hidden gems, but both books taught me how important silence and listening can be.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs

    This books was fascinating.... the clash of two previously unknown cultures, language gap, spiritual differences, political structures, perception of justice, etc.. Surprisingly, the Spanish did not want to destroy the Aztec civilization. This books gave me a new perspective on the conquest of Latin America.
  • Feb 17 2011: "Earth Abides" by George Stewart

    I read this in my college years, and scenes stayed with me all my life. Recently, as an aging adult, I reread it (in an edition with a wonderful introduction by Connie Willis). It moved me as strongly as few books ever have -- only "Grapes of Wrath" comes to mind -- except that this time, the connection was intensely personal. Some say it is a very sad book (I cried much of the day I finished it), but that is actually to miss the point. It captures a poignancy undeniably filled with hope that forces you to discard the narrow (and comfortable) expectations borne of your own experience and look at a greater cycle of life and humanity. I am more in awe of the author than ever and enthusiastically recommend this book for your shelf, if not your bedside table right away.
  • Feb 17 2011: "The Power Broker" by Robert Caro, a biography about Robert Moses and New York City. An amazingly thorough case study of how absolute power can corrupt absolutely, even when starting with the best of intentions. Written in a gripping style, it's lengthy, but a joy to read. It helped me to understand the arrogance of those who are in power, as well as the physical world we live in today that is largely due to the actions of people like Moses. A truly brilliant book.
  • Feb 17 2011: Long time listener, first time caller...

    The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey - the prototype for "eco-terrorists" everywhere.
    The Pinball Effect by James Burke - Incredible non-linear trip through history. I wish they would re-air Connections too.
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson - his most recent but I would recommend ANY of his books...I rank him up there with Sterling and Gibson.
    Art & Physics and The Alphabet vs. The Goddess by Leonard Shlain - amazing perspective on human cultural development.

    I'm sure others have suggested it but composing this thread into a reading list would be great.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: I have given away dozens of copies of "Tottochan, the little girl by the window" by Tetsuko Kuryanagi to help raise awareness of what education can be. It is the only bestseller by a Japanese woman. She is described as the Oprah of Japan. In the same vein any of Torey L. Hayden's books are eye and heart openers.
    • Feb 17 2011: Totto-chan is a good book, but I hope that you do not think that it is "the only bestseller by a Japanese woman." Kuroyanagi Tetsuko is an incredible media personality, but she is definitely NOT the only female Japanese bestseller author. Just want to keep that straight.
  • Feb 17 2011: Gregor Dallas '1918' and Margaret McMillian 'Paris, 1919'. Both deal with The Great War's fallout and political aftermath.

    Fiction: 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay' by Michael Chabon.
    'City of Theives' by David Benioff.
    'Ripley's Game' by Patricia Highsmith- all the Tom Ripley books, in fact.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's "Mother Nature", which I encountered quite by accident, is an authentic, honest look at the behavior of human mothers and children. I have a bias against sociobiology in general as I find the parallels drawn often rather result oriented. But this book changed the way I look at family, parenting, social status, and work. Dry in places. But good.

    Claire Cooperstein's "Johanna" is a beautiful piece of "faction" about Vincent van Gogh, told through the letters and diaries of his sister in law - without whom we might not now have his art to enjoy. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

    Terry Pratchett's "Nation" is not at all what I was expecting from Pratchett. But very lovely.
  • Feb 17 2011: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning - Chris Hedges
  • Feb 17 2011: Anthony Doerr's first book of short stories, "The Shell Collector." It received quite a bit of critical acclaim but not much press. Moving on so many levels.
  • Feb 17 2011: "A General Theory of Love"

    By Drs Lewis, Amini, Lannon (psychiatry professors).

    About the science of human emotions (yep, ironically, there is a science of human emotions). I finally understood why my daughter could sometimes be the bitch-from-hell, and why I could be the father-from-hades.

    I love her. I've always loved her. After reading the book, I understood why.
  • Feb 17 2011: Survival+ by Charles Hughes Smith

    If you ever wanted a better understanding of how we've lost our way and ended up with Crony Capitalism this is well worth your time. Some of the ideas might seem out of the box, but he's pretty much predicted the financial collapse a couple years ago, as well as the major events that have followed.

    Think philosophy meets historical perspective meets macroeconomics.
  • Feb 17 2011: Anything you can find by Strugacki. I do not know how much has been translated to English, best works in my opinion are

    Хищные вещи века
    Понедельник начинается в субботу

    It is formally a sci-fi but really it is about philosophy of being a human.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: I'm from Germany, so some books that my seem obvious to you are not obvious to me...

    My "underground hits" are:

    "How I found freedom in an unfree world" by Harry Browne
    "Winning through enlightenment" by Ron Smothermon
    "The Goal" by Eliyahu Goldratt

    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: I'll second 'The Goal' by Eliyahu Goldratt. I read this as an undergrad doing a placement at a big tyre company. Suddenly everything made sense and it's such a simple and interesting read.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
    Possibly a little bit too 'light' for this forum but a definite must read
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: The Zen of Seeing, by Fredrick Franck, written in '73, is a wonderfully hand-drawn, hand-written book that is all about really seeing what is in front of us. Franck explores the difference between looking and seeing and tells us how the simple (to him anyway :-) act of drawing something helps to allow one to see it more clearly. An excellent underappreciated book.
  • Feb 17 2011: 'Salamander' by Thomas Wharton. It is a novel about books, about reading, about immortality. It is beautiful. Thank you to everyone who has contributed. I am now going to go shopping....
  • Feb 17 2011: Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas C Schelling - if reading this book doesn't make you think differently, do yourself a favour and read it again...
  • Feb 17 2011: Mark Twain - the autobiographical books like Innocents Abroad and Life on the Mississipppi, all free on Project Gutenberg. He writes with honesty and wit and sometimes pain and sadness - eg "the death of Jean".
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: "Half the Sky" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn -- I know this sounds cheesy, but it really did change who I am as a person.
  • Feb 17 2011: The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, by Daniel Yergin. Explains how oil has fueled (pun intended) wars, conquests, revolutions, and economic booms and downfalls for the last 100 years. This book gave me a deeper understanding on how the world economies really function.
  • Feb 17 2011: The True Dynamics of Life by Mike Robinson, is a book for those with a passion for the truth. Reading it gives both a shock of realisation and a resonance deep inside as it reveals the 'traps of humanity' and how to break free from the conditioning that humans have passed down through the generations for thousands years. This conditioning is an integral part of our lives regardless of where we were born and brought up, and is the cause of pain and suffering in the world and in individual lives. The True Dynamics of Life is the ultimate book for personal empowerment and freedom and a seminal work currently sitting under the radar waiting for its time.
    • Feb 18 2011: Yes, this is a brilliant, life-changing book. It simply asks us the right questions and prompts us to look at ways we can solve the problems facing ourselves and humanity. It helps us look at how we can individually make changes that can impact the world. It's a refreshing, eye-opening book!
    • Feb 19 2011: I would like to offer Mike Robinson/Mike Robinson's agent some unsolicited advice:

      If you are going to write twenty-five reviews for your own book on Amazon, don't get greedy and have all of them give five stars. Next time you might want to pepper in some four star and maybe even a few three star reviews. And make sure the reviews don't all sound like soundbites that a publishing company would release in the interest of promotion. Also, write a few more reviews for your fake personae that aren't related to your own book. As hard as it is to believe that a book that literally offers the "keys to the universe" would have twenty-five perfect five star reviews, it is even harder to believe that every single one of those reviews was written by someone who had never reviewed another book in their Amazon shopping careers. I believe the Airforce is working on software to help you in this endeavor.

      Everyone else: Probably a safe bet to skip "The True Dynamics of Life."
      • Feb 19 2011: You know Brian you might be onto something there. I checked out the reviews and they did have a very formulaic pattern. Are you right? Is it really this cynical? I really hope you're wrong, but you've at least made me cautious about believing reviews. Have you read the book? Would you recommend it?
        • Feb 21 2011: I've never read it. I was looking into buying the book when I noticed the reviews.

          So I'm definitely spending way more time on this than it warrants but as I writer myself I'm a bit fascinated with how far some authors will go to increase sales. If you cross reference comments on the book's Facebook page with the names of the reviewers on Amazon you'll see that they are almost all the same people. That could be attributed to them being fans of the book so they wrote the review and now leave comments on the Facebook page. What it doesn't explain is why all the reviewers are somehow "friends" with each other. It would take a lot of work to fabricate that many fake Facebook accounts so I'm inclined to believe that the reviewers are real people. They definitely seem to have some kind of relationship with the author, maybe a loose group of friends and holistic healers who prop up each others' various projects. My favorite part of all this is that I guarantee, in some capacity, the book preaches against this very kind of deceitful behavior. The two people who left the comments above, Collette Evans and Sara Gibbons are Facebook friends with each other. Funny how their comments would make you think they are just two strangers expressing an interest in this "life changing book." They are also friends with just about everyone else who wrote a review of the book and anyone who has left a comment in an article like this.

          Your honor, I rest my case.

          And I wasn't joking about the government developing software that facilitates this sort of thing:

  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Alborn

    A touching real story that totally changed my life.
  • Feb 17 2011: "South: The Endurance Expedition" by Ernest Shackleton
    "The Worst Journey in the World" by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
    "Home of the Blizzard" by Douglas Mawson

    All are regarding exploration of Antarctica roughly a century ago and all, for me, tend to put things into perspective. These are not so much travelogues as they are insights into how far people are willing to push themselves in the name of science and exploration ...and of course insights into the often-ignored/often-forgotten last continent, directly from the first people to truly explore and live on it.
  • Feb 17 2011: Homo Ludens - Johan Huizinga
  • Feb 17 2011: I'm glad to see "A Sand County Almanac" mentioned a few times. To push further with these questions about the proper relationship of humanity with the biosphere, I would recommend Wendell Berry's collection of essays "The Gift of Good Land". If you believe that confronting honest, rigorous interlocutors who vigorously disagree with you is important in developing your thinking, then you won't find many better than the stubborn old Christian agrarian from Kentucky. His sharp eye for little questioned assumptions makes his writing particularly valuable.

    Wangari Maathai's memoir "Unbowed" still sticks in my mind as especially inspirational and thought-provoking. She's a Nobel Peace Prize winning activist who started the Green Belt Movement to replant the forests of East Africa. Maathai's emphasis on the importance of knowledge of the place where each of us lives draws a nice thread between her and Berry.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: "Le Hasard et la Nécessité" from Jacques Monod.

    The philosophical and moral implication of modern biology discoveries.
  • Feb 17 2011: Sarah Lacey “Brilliant, Crazy and Cocky” It made me laugh and it made me cry a brilliant book about today, a must read.
  • Feb 17 2011: "Designing Freedom" - Stafford Beer.

    Includes prescient essays "the Threat to All We Hold Most Dear", "The Future That Can Be Demanded Now" and a "A Liberty Machine in Prototype" taken from the Massey Lecture series of 1973 (part of The CBC Radio Ideas series). A delightful, short (100 pages) read that tells where we are now, and what should be done about it....

    (unfortunately Canadian edition from Anansi Canada is out of print while UK publisher now charges near astronomical price of ~$1 per page so used is probably best bet)
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: Oh Stafford Beer - now there is a thinker - a forgotten genius indeed. There is a new collection of his writings called "Think before you think" compliled by a friend of his david Whitaker. Very good introductions to a massively intelligent man - the collection includes the most bizarre christmas round robin letter you will ever read - god knows what his friends and relatives thought when they recieved it!
      It's available here (with a great picture of Beer looking like an old testament prophet) and I am sure from amazon too ...
      • Feb 18 2011: Almost chose it my self!

        I'd originally gone back and forth between Whitaker's compilation ""Think Before You Think" and Beer's own compilation "Platform for Change" before squirting sideways and going with Designing as the single book, of any genre from my book collection, that "resonates" and is the one "must read" as called for in Seth's request.

        The delightfully titled "Ten pints of Beer" which describes the rationale of each of his ten books on cybernetics - all of which are well worth reading - is available at
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Cradle to Cradle, best book you will read for a long time.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Seth,
    Here are three of my great loves:

    "Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire", by Wade Davis - for a dozen funny, original, memorable stories of cultures other than our own "answering the question of what it means to be alive".

    "Walking On Water", by Derrick Jensen - a deeply perceptive and entertaining perspective on teaching creating writing in colleges and in prisons, and the parallels between.

    "In the City of Shy Hunters", by Tom Spanbauer - a lyrically brilliant, heartbreaking, unforgettable story of love and being gay in New York at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: "The Judgement of Paris" by Ross King -- about the triumph of the Impressionists over the French Academics in the 1870's... a great read-- ever heard of Meissonier? Most famous artist in the world in the 1870's. Manet? Died broke and obscure. Right up your alley.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Two from Luis Alberto Urrea: "The Devil's Highway" and "The Hummingbird's Daughter".
    Second the recommendation of "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey
  • Feb 17 2011: 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan.
    Not reading so much as there are no words.
    Near perfect representation of the immigrant/refugee experience in picture book form.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: The book "Gung Ho" by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles to turn on the people in any organization. I got it as a birthday gift from one of my seniors in 1998. Inspired by the expression of the spirit of cooperation and "can do" attitude shown by the US marines, I chose Gung Ho be the name, spirit and slogan of my new company - Gung Ho BPO.
  • Feb 17 2011: "The Rape of the A.P.E. (American Puritan Ethic)" -1973 Playboy Press

    An amazing and hilarious history of the American Sexual Revolution.
    By comedian Allan Sherman of "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah!" fame.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: "Rules of the Red Rubber Ball" by Kevin Carroll
    "Unbroken: A World War II Laura Hillenbrand
    "How lucky you can be" by Buster Olney
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Art of War - Sun Tzu - Key insights into how to strategize
  • Feb 17 2011: I love _The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism_ by Tim Keller. It challenged the way I thought of faith and reason.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Mary Roach's "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers."
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, both by Joseph Campbell.
  • Feb 17 2011: The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: First and Last Freedom -- J. Krishnamurti
    Siddhartha -- Herman Hesse
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Based on what you've revealed about your likely taste for reading material, I recommend;

    Anything written by Malcolm Gladwell (obvious but worth saying)

    'Guns, Germs, and Steel' by Jared Diamond

    'Gulliver's Travels' by Jonathan Swift (everyone who's read it knows what it's about, everyone else only thinks they do)

    'Homage to Catalonia' by George Orwell.

    'Justice' by Michael Sandel.

    Those are just shots in the dark as far as what your interest is. All have resonated with me.
  • Feb 17 2011: 'A Message to Garcia' by Elbert Hubbard - a classic essay by one of America's great but forgotten philosophers. May seem corny or trite through 21st century eyes, but he puts forward a timeless point of view on accountability and commitment.
  • Feb 17 2011: Great question! What a great list of books that cover the spectrum. Life changers thus far...
    When Things Fall Apart & Start Where You Are ~ Pema Chodron
    Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee ~ Dee Brown
    Desert Solitaire~ Edward Abbey
  • Feb 17 2011: Straight and Crooked Thinking by Robert H Thouless.
  • thumb
    Feb 17 2011: Here's my precious list:
    Miranda July's "No One Belongs Here More Than You" (my number one!!!)
    Ervin Laszlo's "Chaos Point" (my life could be described as "before and after" this book - surprised by Vivienne Westwood recommending it at a speech she gave here in Brazil)
    Dino Buzzati's "The Tartar Steppe" (about waiting)
    Herman Hesse's "Damien" (many people recommended 'Siddartha', but I prefer 'Damien')
    Alain de Botton's "The Art of Travel" (a good light unpretentious companion for a trip)
    Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"

    I haven't resisted and created a wiki page with mostly all books listed here. I must confess I took the liberty of deliberately omitting books I've read or know about and that would not fit in my "lost gem little box".

    * If anyone wants to join the wiki please write to me at
  • Feb 17 2011: "Mister God, This is Anna" would have to be my overlooked gem.

    (Despite the title, it is not particularly concerned with religion or faith - though such matter to its characters.)

    It is, perhaps, a book to read young. I stumbled across it at the age of nineteen. It has stayed with me ever since. It is a singular work.
  • Feb 16 2011: It would be really useful if somebody could compile these replies into a list that may keep me busy the rest of my life.
    Notes From The Hyenas Belly by Nega Mezlekia: Memories of an Ethiopian boyhood. After I had finished reading it I missed it so much I started to read it again.
    Dolores Claiborne by Steven King. I started to read one night and could not put down until finished.
    The Taming of Chance by Ian Hacking; Other end of the literary spectrum about how modern mathematical thinking evolved during the 19th and 20th century.
  • Feb 16 2011: "A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction" by Christopher Alexander.
    This book will change the way you think about buildings, rooms, light, trees, people, and much more.
    • Feb 18 2011: A great book, but I've actually been more influenced by his earlier NOTES ON THE SYNTHESIS OF FORM, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1964.
  • Feb 16 2011: Discovering Anne Carson's poetry and prose a few years ago was a miracle for me - Autobiography of Red is the most powerful long poem since The Wasteland, and her essays are astounding. Her integration of her lifetime of investigation of the Greek classics and her own poetic sensability are unique: read one page and if you're like me you're hooked forever.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: All Michelle Moran historic novels. Light, enjoyable, yet mature. I have read all her books, once I start the book I can't let go of it, yet I don't want it to finish.. It's as good as a piece of chocolate.
  • Feb 16 2011: I perfect masterpiece: Machado de Assis´ 'Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas' . I`m sure it´s been translated into English; don´t know under what title. And while you´re at it, read "Dom Casmurro", also by M. Assis, also translated into English and, again, I don´t know under what title.
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: For sure it is a gem, since only recently the author's writing have been more publicized in languages other than Portuguese. The titles are: The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis, and Dom Casmurro a Novel. Just to add a final note, Machado de Assis, brazilian novelist and poet is considered the greatest wriiter in brazilian literature.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Not sure that they classify as "hidden gems" but here go a couple of books one should not miss ...

    "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins ... I did not really understand evolution until I read this.
    "Guns, Germs & Steel" by Jared Diamond ... helps to bring all of the human cultural evolution into one big picture.
  • Feb 16 2011: "The Emperor of All Maladies A Biography of Cancer" by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Although this is a new book and one clearly not overlooked by reviewers I still wanted to mention it because the subject matter touches so many people and this book helps put the science, the compassion as well as some the healthcare debate in context.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Brida by Paulo Coelho, if you take the magic stuff out of it, it is full of wisdom, one couldn't resist diving in to it. Personaly it became like a personal diary for me with writings and notes on all sides of the page.
    The Empathy Gap, building bridges to the good life and the good society.
    The Art of Love, I found an answer for a the true meaning of friendship, if one is lucky enough to find it.
    On Desire, on going philosophical conversation. Reading the book was an on going discussion with a close friend, all what you can talk about with that close friend.
    And finally, 5 Languages of Love, as simple as it was, it added value to my relationship with the closest people to me, my husband, kids and parents. it was recommended to me by a beloved friend, God bless him where ever he is..
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The book that has both made an indelible mark and also created a trajectory into new professional realms for me was Lewis Hyde's 'The Gift.' I heard about it first when reading an essay by the creator of Burning Man, which I want to attend but think it might be a hard sell with my wife. ;)
  • Feb 16 2011: For a laugh "Who moved my blackberry?"
    Otherwise "The world according to Garp" J. Irving and "Underworld" J. DeLillo
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I am yet to finish this remarkable book, Not-Two Is Peace by Adi Da Samraj. It contains Adi Da's vital wisdom on the root of human conflict: the limits and errors of conventional religion and politics. He points to the necessity of re-establishing human civilization based on principles of mutual trust, cooperation, tolerance, 'prior unity', and the limitless participation of all humankind in transforming its own destiny. An absolute must read for all humankind!
  • Feb 16 2011: The touchstone book for me is "The Floating Opera" by John Barth.
  • Feb 16 2011: Software For Your Head by Jim and Michele McCarthy. A new model for interacting with each other that will help us build 21st century businesses.
  • Feb 16 2011: The History of Love. I got to the end of it and immediately started to read it again. Had no idea what I was getting into when I picked it up. An except: "He learned to live with the truth. Not to accept it, but to live with it. It was like living with an elephant. His room was tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom. To reach the armoire, to get a pair of underpants he had to crawl under the truth praying it wouldn't choose at that moment to sit on his face.... "
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Two books I'm loving right now are Antonio Damasio's, SELF COMES TO MIND, and Chabris and Simons, THE INVISIBLE GORILLA. They are both gems for the moment. In the kid's books realm, I am always cheered up by VOYAGE TO THE BUNNY PLANET, by Rosemary Wells.
  • Feb 16 2011: try KRAKAUER - Into the wild;
    moving, critical and yet honest
    you'll love it
    • thumb
      Feb 17 2011: I loved it indeed! And right after reading it I wanted to understand a bit more of its own literary references so I read Walden, by Thoureau.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: One of the biggest eye-openers I ever read was "How to win friends & influence people" by Dale Carnegie.
    If you get past the title, it's a must read! Not only for the corporate environment, but useful in many aspects of life.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere
    By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho
    Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho
    Social Intelligence by Goleman
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The book that i loved the most which seemed to change my life the most was "on turning eighty" by henry miller. I loved it so much that i was always surrounded by' miller's' no matter where i journeyed and even co-created a son named Makiah Miller. Guess you might say "on turning eighty" took me straight into the miraculous magic of the heart of life.

    As i sit in my basement studio i glance over at my near by book shelf filled with hundreds of my one of a kind art books that i have created over the decades...there lay...dozens and dozens of books that have never had the chance of catching on...because they all are surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of books that have caught on throughout the ages. Then i glance over to the blank white wall in front of me and 'see' that one book that might tickle mr godin's fancy...."The PEACE of ART" ....full of the magical journey of my art as it was walked across the united states with the great peace march and russia with the international peace walk. Peace is always hysterically blissful and unforgettably ecstatic compared to ANYTHING war-ish. Ya, "The Peace of Art" is that book that might even bring a smile to henry miller's heart!
  • Feb 16 2011: Two books that influenced my thinking were "Understanding Media", Marshall McLuhan, and "EarthWalk" by Philip Slater. Slater's book was published in 1974, but as i read it through the years, I kept discovering new ways of thinking about old problems. To me, this is the mark of a great book.

    For information on alternative currencies and community values, Tom Greco is a good author. See his work at
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
    • Feb 17 2011: I also loved "A Distant Mirror" by Tuchman as well.
      • Feb 17 2011: Also by Tuchman: 'The Proud Tower' a look at Europe as it is heading toward 1914.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: 'What a Carve Up' by Jonathan Coe. My favourite novel ever. Hilarious, savage critique of Thatcher's Britain, if that interests you at all.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina Brown. Helps children of Narcissistic parents. Unbelievably helpful for what's proving to be an increasingly large portion of the population.
    • Feb 16 2011: Another wonderful book on this topic: "Prisoners of Childhood" by Alice Miller.
    • Feb 21 2011: Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb is also worth reading on this subject.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Tough one. I post selections from your daily email and have been following you for a while. Here are some titles from my six star and beyond list (10% of the books I review at Amazon, focusing only on non-fiction across 98 categories that are more easily browsed at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

    Buckminster Fuller: Ideas and Integrities–A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure. We've lost our integrity, this is "Ref A" for what TED is trying to do as I understand it.

    Kent Myers: Reflexive Practice–Professional Thinking for a Turbulent World. This is the first modern book in the tradition of Russell Ackoff (stop doing the wrong thing righter, do the right thing instead).

    Matt Taibbi: Griftopia–Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America. Others have written in this area, but this is the one book that connects the two-party tyranny and the tri-fecta of fraud (mortgage clearinghouse, Wall Street derivatives, Federal Reserve fraudulent lending).

    Ken Conca: Governing Water–Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building (Global Environmental Accord–Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation). Hard for some, this is the single best overview of how we must create hybrid networks to self-govern across all boundaries, fully informed about true costs, eradicating corruption and waste.

    Joseph David Osman. Surrender to Kindness (One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace). This is what America SHOULD be doing, rather than the 1.3 trillion in waste (and the $90 billionon secret intelligence that produces nothing of value).

    Curtis J. Bonk. The World Is Open–How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. In combination with the web site, this book is a foundation stone for the future. It helped me realize that we need a Vice President for Education, Intelligence, & Research, redirecting 75% of the money from secret intelligence to creating a Smart Nation.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I stumble onto obscure authors all the time.... Most recent discovery is a 19th century friend of Charles Dickens and author of mysteries named Wilkie Collins. I could name dozens of others but is that important? Each human explores the world following a different path, and each of us finds strange wonders in unlikely places in our own solitary quests. If someone wants a specific name, here's one: G.A. Henty. He's at his best in novels involving small boat handling and the Crimean War, both of which formed large parts of his fascinating journey through time.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I believe that with the caveat of overlooked taken into account I'd have to nominate Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by David Hawkins. Just get over anything he says that might tempt you to discount the message. However he got there it certainly resonates and it definitely shifted my paradigm.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: In my humble opinion - Right NEXT to my "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie - which is SORELY NEEDED in todays High Schools for a Number of reasons I feel in their senior year as well as you (if you haven't already
    read it from cover to cover - actually done each and every exercise completely) would be :

    The Power of Focus
    You're welcome or you can thank me later.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Oh Seth!

    I believe the most overlooked Gem of all time is a book hailed by stigma:

    The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

    Even if you're not a christian this book is incredible.

    Now, if you're not interested in reading one of the most overlooked yet influential books of all time, then...

    I know something else you'll personally resonate with:

    Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift
    Hugh W. Nibley
  • Feb 16 2011: The Art of Thinking Sideways is one of the most intriguing books I have ever seen.
  • Feb 16 2011: Ravage of René Barjavel. A science Fiction Novel. Was in my father's library and I read it I was 11...amazed me, and is still my favorite book.
  • Feb 16 2011: "Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet " by Jeffrey Sachs builds on his "The End of Poverty" and suggests solutions to our planet's problems. "Common Wealth" came out the same year as Tom Friedman's, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," which is why it might have been overlooked. I thought "Common Wealth" was a much more engaging, thought provoking read.
  • Feb 16 2011: Lipstick Traces - A Secret History of the 20th Century

    Covers everything from DaDa to Punk and back again. A brilliant and penetrating look at culture and sub-culture. The prose is adventurous to say the least and in the midst of confusion and rhapsody there are moments of piercing insight and genius.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart. Stumbled on this in a school library as a teenager. It's a 1949 post-apocalyptic novel that many later novels and screenplays owe a great debt to. The AMC show "The Walking Dead" being the most recent example.
  • Feb 16 2011: The Wave...The Wave is a 1981 young adult novel by Todd Strasser under the pen name Morton Rhue. It is a novelization of a teleplay by Johnny Dawkins for the movie The Wave, a fictionalized account of the "Third Wave" teaching experiment by Ron Jones that took place in a Cubberley High School history class in Palo Alto, California. The novel by Strasser won the 1981 Massachusetts Book Award for Children's/Young Adult literature.

    This book gives new perspective to the pressures of living in Germany during the WW2.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Maybe you should read "The Power of Kabbalah" by Yehuda Berg?, that one was one of my best choices ever
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: "Normative Discourse" by Paul Taylor. It is out of print, but if you can find it, I suspect you will quickly agree it is quite the lost gem.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I studied and taught the history of social change at Northwestern, and for my money, Adam Hochschild's "Bury The Chains," about the first wave of British abolitionists is the most essential book about social movements that most people haven't read. I think it's far more profound than his "King Leopold's Ghost" because it tells the story in great detail of the actual mechanics by which the movement came together, and how many different types of people it took to make it work. One of the great moments in the history of human compassion and organizing, and the best book about it.
  • Feb 16 2011: Oops -- forgot How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci (Gelb) ... if only ;-)
  • Feb 16 2011: Now I have a new list of books to read, thanks! A few favorites of mine ... Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across Millennia (Gregory Benford); At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bill Bryson); and currently reading The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (Brian Greene). Then there's fiction ... Talk Talk (T. C. Boyle ); Matched (Ally Condie); and of course The Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins). A bit eclectic.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The Urantia Book will challenge your thoughts.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The Wild Trees by Richard Preston.

    Fantastic book that changed how I thought about myself and my surroundings.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I still love and cherish, "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie about his years at Hallmark. The visuals in the book are as wonderful as the stories.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Momo by Michael Ende a Children's story about time and how it is used in modern societies. Super powerful in making you aware of how you spend your time and what is really important.

    Had a visit from the grey men of the time saving bank lately?

    I did and it is tough to shake it, Mark.
  • Feb 16 2011: I like the book, "The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten" which is a great book that will get your mind thinking.

    And also Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible. Another great one.
  • Feb 16 2011: Read anything by Fernando Savater, Spanish philosopher who is able to put his mind into understandable words.
  • Feb 16 2011: Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner. Lyrical account of childhood on the last North American frontier. Part memoir, part history of the region near the Cypress Hills in Canada.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Another one quite similar is a good read : Quantum Physics for Poets
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I wonder if you've read any of the Seth books? by Jane Roberts? The nature of personal Reality is my favorite.
  • Feb 16 2011: Shamanism and the Drug Propaganda: The Birth of Patriarchy and the Drug War, by Dan Russell

    This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read!
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: I'm currently on a Philip K. Dick sci-fi binge. Reading Simulacrum now. His paranoid visions based on life in California in the 50s is so on target. Makes me laugh.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: Seth I like this, its making us all think and share; brill!

    "Coal" by Barbara Freese, the story of a dirty black flammable rock that has taken you and I from living in a state of genuine need to the prosperity many of us enjoy today. I found it absolutely fascinating. Civilization, the accidental by-product of the harnessing of energy and enterprise...
  • Feb 16 2011: Why WORK SUCKS and what you can do about it - this is the future of the modern workplace (in one form or another)
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: When Everything Changed. Gail Collins

    Modern and informative relevant history of the emergence of Women in America.

    A highly readable epic novel...

    Pity, that Gail has not yet found women in other parts of the world, to be relevant to
    the emerging identity of women.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
    by Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers

    The authors offer their viewpoint of how networks affect our lives and the power of community which is a subject that interests you. They discuss a new kind of consumerism.

    They talk about the generosity of the human spirit when given a chance to put this aspect into play...emerging economics and culture of collaboration.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. It came out so long ago, some people missed it-- but is so ... NOW!
  • Feb 16 2011: Hi Seth, The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction; Vol 1 & 2--available in the US
  • Feb 16 2011: How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World - Francis Wheen
  • Feb 16 2011: The Quantum & The Lotus. Absolute must read for anyone interested in Philosophy and Science and how they merge. Wonderful book.
    • thumb
      Feb 16 2011: Great topic... this sounds ...YES.
  • thumb
    Feb 16 2011: The first chapter of "Probability theory, The logic of science" by E.T. Jaynes

    You can download it here:

    It is mathematical and logical, so be prepared to do some effort
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: Nice topic, always good to find new channels fining the best of the best.
    I would say that two books that still are on my topten list are Tor Norretranders (Danish),The Generous Man: How Helping Others is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do. Well written, fun and full of insights.
    He has also written a book called "Mark the World" (1999) on Informationtheory, but it might be hard to find in English.

    The other one is sort of the comprehensive work of R. Buckminster Fuller, named "Critical Path", from 1981, but it still is very relevant.
    Critical Path details how humanity found itself in its current situation—at the limits of the planet's natural resources and facing political, economic, environmental, and ethical crises.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: I haven't heard many people talk about the book "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. On the surface level, it does the same thing as Contact (first contact with an alien race by radio) but has a world of deeper levels. It explores - much more maturely than anything else I've read - questions of faith, and why bad things happen to good people. Hands down, my favorite book.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: There’re some books which are worth reading once again – like “A Moveable feast” by Hemingway.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: "Brain Rules" by Dr. John Medina is excellent.
    I found it via Slideshare and a presentation by Garr Reynolds endorsing the book.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: Seth, I must say that once I discovered Linchpin my mind really changed but I don't want to flatter you too much so I would like to suggest my bible, a book that really impressed me...

    It is The Story of Art by E H Gombrich. This book is really the Standard on Art history. It is so easy to read and detailed, short chapters that cover an era of styles and artists. You can feel as you read the pages the huge culture of Gombrich. I recommend this book to everyone, not only people interested in Art.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: I have too many good books to suggest, so I will start with:
    Beyond Authority - Leadership in a Changing World by Julia Middleton

    It is about a new approach of leadership: one that can cope in unfamiliar territory, where authority has to be earned, that will take leaders beyond the closed world of their own organisations and make them effective in the outside world too.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: Hey Seth,

    Love your blog. People on my campus joke that I syndicate your content.

    David Pye.  The Nature and Art of Workmanship

    David Pye discusses how the separation between design and execution is largely artificial: designs can only be realized to a high level of quality with good workmanship or execution, good design usually requires a strong understanding of the execution process, and good workmanship requires an understanding of the concepts and motives behind the design. Pye's book addresses the translation of an idea from designed concept to finished entity and adds another layer of sophistication to our understanding of the idea translation process.

    John Dewey. The Child and the Curriculum

    Here is Dewey’s clear manifesto for experiential childhood learning and national educational reform.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: I really loved to read The Art of Possibilty by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: The world without us by Alan Weisman

    If all humans disappeared tomorrow what would the world look like in 5, 10, 100 years. Even when we are gone and the cockroaches take over we have done enough damage to leave our mark on this planet permanently.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: In The Meaning of Culture, John Cowper Powys makes the point that the difference between education and culture is that culture is the incorporation of music, art, literature, and philosophy not just into your library or your CV but into who you are. He talks too about the interplay of culture and life, the way that what we read can enrich what we experience, and what we experience can enrich what we read.

    So there's one book. Here are some of the other key books in my mental toolbox:

    Science and Sanity, by Alfred Korzybski (though you might be better reading one of the many more popular treatments of General Semantics.)

    The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu. The Tao Te Ching, as translated by Witter Bynner. Far and away my favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching.

    The Palm at the End of the Mind, by Wallace Stevens. Stevens is my favorite poet, and this is the most commonly available collection of his poems. His meditations on the relationship of language and reality have entranced me for more than thirty years. I keep reading the same poems, and finding more and more in them. Also someone I quote often. Special favorites are "Sunday Morning," "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven," and "Esthetique du Mal."

    Islandia, by Austin Tappan Wright. A utopian novel written in the 1930s that questioned the pace of modern life, and imagined a land in which slowness and connection to the land and other people were valued more highly. Lovely and insightful.

    For more, see,, and
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: The Way to See (W)hole by Gola Wolf Richards
    A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
    Psychology and Religion by C.G. Jung
    Wholeness and the Implicate Order; On Creativity; On Dialogue by David Bohm
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: I just finished reading "Some mistakes of Moses" by Robert Ingersoll. It was written in the 1800's but it is still a very common sense look at Christianity, and the silliness of it all. It's a much simpler read than say "The God Delusion" making it a great resource for anyone questioning religion, or coming out of it!
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: depends on what u want to discover...if u are looking for individual freedom and basics of happiness...then any of betty dodson's books would do
  • thumb
    Feb 14 2011: A Search in Secret India by Paul Burton

    The book covers the journey of a british journalist exploring the realms of spirituality in pre-independence India. Don't get scared by the topic as the book is more of a journalistic work than philosophical work and is an extremely good read.
  • thumb
    Feb 14 2011: Jon Kolko's Exposing the Magic of Design.

    It's new and I hope it is well read because its applications are limitless.
  • thumb
    Feb 13 2011: "The Birth of Venus" by Sarah Dunant, "Buddha" (8 book series) by Osamu Tezuka (godfather of Japanese Manga comics), and "the Sexual Life of Catherine M." by Catherine Millet spring to mind. All narratives that follow fascinating lives twisting and turning through unusual paths..or paths less spoken.
  • thumb
    Feb 12 2011: To me, that would be "La Solidarité : Chez les plantes, les animaux, les humains", by Jean-Marie Pelt, the famous French Botanist. This is about how solidarity and symbioses have been essential features of evolution, despite what many interpretations of Darwin's works claim, and how those mechanisme are vital to save the planet and ourselves. Too little seen on the English-speaking scene and web, what a loss! Spread the word!