Don’t Read These Books
My 2018 reading list, last updated December 31st
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.
- The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
- 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Thinking Fast and Slow, rec via Mike, Andrey, Jesse, Bruno
- The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris, rec via Bruno
- Principles by Ray Dalio
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, rec via Mom
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford, rec via Chris
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, rec by Ayesha
- Waking Up by Sam Harris, rec via Bruno
- Free Will by Sam Harris
- How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollen
- On The Road by Jack Kerouac
- Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday (reread)
- Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, rec via Sneha
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, rec via Ayesha, Isaac
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brein
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (blinkist)
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts (blinkist)
- Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden (blinkist)
- Lying by Sam Harris
- The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, rec by Vanessa
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
- Skin in the Game by Nasim Taleb, rec by Colin
- The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday (reread)
- Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday
- Fire & Fury by Michael Wolff
- The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Dereliction of Duty by HR McMaster
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
- The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, rec via Mike
- Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull, rec via Andrey
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, rec via Bruno
- Enchiridion by Epictetus, rec via Bruno
- The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, rec via Will
If you have book recommendations, please message me!