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Steve Jobs & Dan Kottke’s “Spirit Bookshelf”

100 Titles from Daniel Kottke’s “Steve Jobs Memorial Bookshelf”

Much has been written about Steve Jobs’ early readings and how mystical and “alternative” writings may have influenced his character, as well as his power as an entrepreneur.

No one knows that booklist better than Daniel Kottke, who became Steve’s friend early in their freshman year at Reed College and who became his companion in reading, a wide range of life adventures, and travel to India.

Dan shared this list and his memories of knowing, and reading with, Steve, at the March 2015 Dent Conference. To capture and honor this unique “primary source,” I’m sharing it here. Please use Comments to add your own references or articles you feel contribute to this theme. Later lists, such as this from Business Insider, include well-known business books that Steve also read and learned from, but this list of early inspiration has a unique flavor that seems foundational to many of the stories in Steve’s life.

Dan is quick to say that these books played a role in his and Steve’s lives, although the depth of reading (some read many times, some skimmed) varied between them and book-by-book. However, those at the top of the list were significant to both of them at this time in their lives.

It all began with the landmark “Be Here Now” by Baba Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert) and gains momentum from there.

I will post the Dent interview here when it is published <added December 2015). Meanwhile, here’s an image of Dan’s “Spirit Bookshelf” list, pics of that shelf from his home, followed by an (increasingly) hyperlinked list of each of the books.

With thanks and credit to Daniel Kottke. Scroll down for a picture of Dan’s “Spirit Bookshelf.”

100 Titles from D.Kottke’s “SteveJobs Memorial bookshelf” mar2015

— In no particular order. Roughly the first 20 were books we definitely read 1972–4 prior to the India trip.

Be Here Now/Ram Das

Autobiography of a Yogi/Param. Yogananda

Ramakrishna and his Disciples/Isherwood

The Way of the White Clouds/Lama Govinda

Cosmic Consciousness/Richard M. Bucke

Zen Mind Beginners Mind/Shunryu Suzuki

Meditation in Action/Chogyam Trungpa

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism/Trungpa

Meetings with Remarkable Men/Gurdjieff

The Way of Zen/Alan Watts

Dhammapada: The Sayings of Buddha

Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism/Lama Govinda

The Essene Gospel of Peace/Edmund Szekely

Hindu Mysticism/S. N. Dasgupta

Das Energi, and Energi Inscriptions/Paul Williams

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment/Thad. Golas

Sixty Songs of Milarepa (pdf)

The Diamond Sutra & Sutra of Hui Neng

On The Road/Jack Kerouac

The Dharma Bums/Jack Kerouac

Miracle of Love: Stories About Neem Karoli Baba/Ram Dass

Barefoot in the Heart: Remembering Neem Karoli/Keshav Das

The Near & the Dear: Stories of Neem Karoli/Dada Mukerjee

By His Grace: A Devotee’s Story/Mukerjee

It’s Here Now (Are You?): A Spiritual Memoir/Bhagavan Das

Be Love Now/Baba Ram Dass

Still Here/Baba Ram Dass

The Aphorisms of Baba Hari Dass

Sweeper to Saint/Baba Hari Dass

Living with the Himalayan Masters/Swami Rama

Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography/Swami Kriyananda

Mejda: The Early Life of Yogananda/Sananda Lal Ghosh

Bliss Now/Swami Ramananda

The Essential Aurobindo/McDermott

You Are The Eyes of the World/Longchenpa

The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi/Shambala Pubs.

Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna/Advaita Ashrama

Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga/Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda on Himself

Where Are You Going?/Swami Muktananda

Creative Meditation and Multi-Dim.


A Thousand Journeys: The Bio. of Lama Govinda/K. Winkler

The Lost Teachings of Lama Govinda

Magic and Mystery in Tibet/Alexandra David-Neel

I AM THAT/Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

The Road to Eleusis/Wasson, Hoffman, Ruck

Music/Sufi Inayat Khan

Moksha/Aldous Huxley

Siddhartha/Hermann Hesse

The Illuminati Papers/Robt Anton Wilson

The Guru Papers/Kramer, Alstad

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!/Rich. Feynman

The Meaning of it All/Rich. Feynman

The Mucousless Diet , Rational Fasting/Arnold Ehret

With thanks to Daniel Kottke.




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Ellen Petry Leanse

Ellen Petry Leanse

Apple pioneer, entrepreneur, Google alum, Stanford instructor. Neuroscience author / educator. Coach, advocate, advisor, and optimist. Thinks different.

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