For several years now I've followed three rules for buying and reading books.
- I don't spend more than a minute deciding if I want to buy a book. If I find anything about a book interesting - the title, the author, the subject, the description, a review - I buy it. I've found contemplating this decision to be a waste of time. Even a single idea or a beautifully worded sentence is usually worth the $10 or $20 a book costs.
- I've permitted myself to read multiple books at a time.
- I don't put any pressure on myself to finish a book. I can pick it up, skim it, start, stop, and sometimes never finish a book, with minimal guilt. (This is almost a requisite for rule #2.)
These rules mean that I have many books that I own but haven't read and may not read for a few years.
The list below is an evolving, random sample of the books I own. I've highlighted the ones I'm currently reading. I thought about identifying once I've read completely but that goes against rule #3. I think I may eventually include every book I own and perhaps highlight ones I've especially enjoyed.
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Shunryu Suzuki)
Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein)
The Architecture of Happiness (Alain de Botton)
Sum - Forty tales from the afterlives (David Eagleman)
Cannae 216 BC: Hannibal smashes Rome's Army (Mark Healy)
Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! (Richard P. Feynman)
Something incredibly wonderful happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the world he made up (K.C. Cole)
Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life (Rory Sutherland)
Lord Cornwallis is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India (Nico Slate)
The Songs of Trees: Stories from nature's great connectors (David George Haskell)
The Crisis of Islam (Bernard Lewis)
From Beirut to Jerusalem (Thomas Friedman)
Sex at Dawn: How we mate, why we stray, and what it means for modern relationships (Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha)
How to be an antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi)
Creative Selection: Inside Apple's design process during the golden age of Steve Jobs (Ken Kocienda)
The Box: How the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger (Marc Levinson)
Tools of Titans (Tim Ferriss)
I will teach you to be rich (Ramit Sethi)
Skin in the game (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
Antifragile: Things that gain from disaster (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
The Gene (Siddhartha Mukherjee)
Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
1984 (George Orwell)
Benjamin Franklin: An American life (Walter Isaacson)
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (Peter Theil with Blake Masters)
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (David Epstein)
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process (John McPhee)
An Unorthodox Soldier: Peace and War and the Sandline Affair (Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer OBE)
Under and Alone: the true story of the undercover agent who infiltrated America's most violent motorcycle gang (William Queen)
A field guide to getting lost (Rebecca Solnit)
Devotions: The selected poems of Mary Oliver (Mary Oliver)
The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami)
We don't know ourselves: A personal history of modern Ireland (Fintan O'Toole)