Brett Goldstein
May 10, 2018 · 3 min read

On May 1st, I quit my job to travel the world and read all the books I can along the way. Here’s what I’m reading, have read, and plan to read.

But first, with millions of great works of literature in the world, it seems important to put some structure around how I decide what to read — I mean, what did you expect? :)

⛔ Less business books

It goes without saying that many nonfiction books are better as short blog-post-length summaries than in full-on book form, especially business books. Barring a small few, these authors tend to be pretty damn verbose.

I use the book summarization service Blinkist to consume most of the business books on here.

👴 No new books, no new ideas

Newer books and concepts haven’t been stress tested in the way that old ones have. There are plenty of horrible books that make best seller lists today that won’t be around a year from now, while books like Marcus Aurelius’ Mediations, which Ryan Holiday calls “perennial sellers”, have been and will continue to be read for centuries.

🛠️ Find the frameworks

Some of the most meaningful learnings from literature can be summarized as frameworks, mental models for how an author or a character in a book thinks about the world. You may remember discussing motifs in literature classes you’ve taken — this is the same concept.

Winnie the Pooh approaches situations with stoic calmness, while Eeyore always finds something to be upset about. Jeff Bezos thinks about minimizing future regrets when making important life decisions. Nasim Taleb emphasizes understanding risks and incentives of individuals when evaluating transactions. George Orwell believes language shapes thought.

These frameworks can exist in any genre, but I’m focused on books whose core purpose is the framework — usually nonfiction and classic fiction.

🔍 Dig into the details

Some books are best thought of like textbooks (that are actually fun to read), providing readers with as much information as possible on a given topic. Some fiction books can also set important context for a given topic. Sci fi books in particular, have had a significant influence on the technology industry — see Ready Player 1 for VR.

For travelers looking to learn about a local culture or entrepreneurs investigating a new space, these books are crucial.


In Progress

Finished

Planned

If you have book recommendations, please message me!

Brett Goldstein

Written by

pm @google, musician @MonteDelMonte, prev. cognition researcher @ucberkeley

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