The dunes that inspired Dune: Agate beach sand dunes. (Photo: Kevin McNeal)
For a mere 20 years or so, I refused to read fiction. Read something that someone just made up? I can do that myself, thanks.
That was the attitude at least.
My time of reckoning came when I needed to fix insomnia, and non-fiction business books before bed just compounded the problem. I began reading fiction to “turn off” and instead saw breakthroughs in creativity and quality of life as a side-effect.
Now, if people ask me, for instance, “Which books should I read on leadership?”, I might reply: “Dune and Ender’s Game.” I’ve come to look for practical solutions in both fiction and non-fiction.
For those of you who are stuck in the business or how-to sections, as I was for decades, I offer you 10 fiction books that might change how you view the world… and how you perform.
The Top 10
Listed in no particular order…
I have recommended this outstanding book before. It pits the instinctive against the intellectual, the simpleton (brilliant at times) against the over-thinker. Finding myself with my head frequently stuck up my own ass, this book is a constant companion and reminder to step outside of my brain.
Zorba himself would have you believe that words are wasteful and books a frivolous use of time (better spent dancing barefoot on the beach), but Zorba the Greek is stuffed like a grape leaf full of life-altering wisdom. For those looking to release the inner wild man, live each day in passionate awe, and reconnect with nature, Zorba reminds us how to live fully, love lasciviously and appreciate a life in the present tense.
I bought this book at Kinokuniya bookstore in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It is as thick as a Harry Potter book, probably thicker, but the pages are as thin as onion skin. It’s a serious tome. I never expected to finish it, and I tore through it in less than two weeks.
If you’re like me and enjoy a good Samurai story – the wandering ronin, epic battle scenes with lots of penetrating (wisdom), then you’ll love Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi. It’s sold more than 100 million copies in Japanese. Musashi’s transformation from talented yet conflicted young warrior to one of the greatest (perhaps the greatest) swordsman of all time teaches you about critical thinking, strategizing, and ultimately, that there is more to life than merely surviving. Musashi re-created himself from nothing and rose from destitution to legend.
Why not you?
Ever feel like you don’t quite fit in? Don’t want to follow society’s silly rules?
Then you can probably relate to human-born and Martian-raised Valentine Michael Smith. In this controversial 1960’s cult classic, Heinlein questions long held assumptions on religion, government, and sexuality (free Martian love for all!).
It’s also where the term “grok” originated.
At one point, this was the only book listed on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. If it’s good enough to be the sole selection of the founder of Facebook, maybe there’s something to it.
The plot: In anticipation of another attack from a hostile alien race, the search for a brilliant military strategist has led to Ender Wiggin.
In space combat school, Ender stands out, demonstrating exceptional leadership and unconventional strategy. But it is lonely at the top for Ender, as he struggles with relentless pressure from his instructors. Through Ender’s journey, you’ll learn how to capitalize on your strengths and those of your teammates, as well as exploit your adversaries’ weaknesses. Ender is a futuristic Level 5 Leader we can all learn from.
Teaser: Drop kicks in zero gravity are the bomb. Trust me.
To check the power of a fast-rising duke, a space emperor executes a convoluted plan to gain control of the all-important planet that has a monopoly of The Spice (a super drug-cum-jet fuel). But wait! The duke’s son is actually the messianic result of a breeding program run by space witches. Oh, and the Mentats? The coolest. If that all sounds like gibberish, don’t despair. Dune presents, despite my synopsis, perhaps the most incredibly detailed and oddly believable fictional landscape I’ve ever encountered.
Also, to add to any confusion: walk without rhythm, and you won’t attract the worm.
Completely unnecessary YouTube reference — Christopher Walken has rhythm:
After his girlfriend leaves him for another man, Rob embarks on a journey of self-discovery and evaluation by contacting ex-girlfriends to see what went wrong in each relationship. High Fidelity teaches us that eventually we all have to grow up, get past adolescent self-importance, and take responsibility for our own lives.
Who says I only like books with killing, aliens, and Greeks? I’m a sensitive guy
7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Raised in a culture where men are powerful, sexual, and dominant, the Klingon-speaking, D&D-playing chubby boy thinks he’ll never find true love or physical affection. Oscar struggles as a young immigrant from the Dominican Republic living with his older sister and mother in Paterson, New Jersey. A fun read with lots of geek culture, great history, and oh, it also won the Pulitzer Prize.
May the half-elves inherit the earth. Grey or Drow? Tough choice.
This classic work on state censorship remains as relevant in today’s world of digital delights as it was when published in the black-and-white world of 1953.
In a futuristic American city, firefighter Guy Montag does not put out blazes; instead, he extinguishes knowledge and promotes ignorance by conducting state decreed book burnings. After an elderly woman chooses a fiery death with her books rather than a life without the written word, he begins questioning not only his profession, but also a society that allows itself to be lulled into complacency by constant exposure to state-controlled, mind-numbing television shows.
If you wonder why some people take censorship so seriously, this book will give you the answer. It’s also a fantastically inspiring story of a one-versus-a-million fight that’s worth fighting. Who knows when your turn will come?
9. A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
If Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Star Wars had a love-child, it would read something like this.
This colorful novel by Douglas Adams begins with Arthur Dent narrowly escaping the Earth’s destruction as it is bulldozed to make room for a hyperspace bypass. Beyond the bizarre characters and plot twists, Adams proves that despite how bleak ones situation might be, there’s always something to laugh about. Adam’s Total Perspective Vortex is also considered to be a great Zen teaching tool, so if you’re looking for the meaning of life, you might not be far from the answer here.
If you need humor to make the jump to fiction, this might be your gateway drug.
My mother and brother are, thankfully, book snobs. I mean this in the best way possible. Books take a lot of time, after all, and life is short. So when both my mom and broha simultaneously insisted that I read this book, I had to investigate.
A thriller about a detective with Tourette Syndrome? Sign me up. It’s a hysterical romp through high-stakes problem-solving and old-fashioned crime fighting, all told through deliciously mind-tickling prose. One of my absolute favorites.
Zen school and cop tapping? Check and check.
Which one fiction book would you choose to convert a non-fiction devotee to the world of imagination?
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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333 Replies to “The Top 10 Fiction Books for Non-Fiction Addicts”
‘A prayer for Owen Meany’ by John Irving.
The book deals with serious spiritual issues, such as the importance of faith, matters of social justice, and the concept of fate.
I’ve also got a soft spot for ‘Shibumi’ by Trevanian, a story of a displaced highly skilled assassin, with Japanese Zen undertones.
The rest of the Dune series (5 other books after Dune) by Frank Herbet. Takes the leadership thing to an amazing conclusion. And it gets much weirder.
Don’t forget Michael Shaara’s “The Killer Angels” — not only a great novel about the battle at Gettysburg, but also real insight into leadership styles and results.
Shaara’s son Jeff Sharra continues the tradition. Check out “To the Last Man” — a novel about World War I that also focuses on General John Pershing’s challenges in building the production and “back office” infrastructure it takes to bring a country to war. Fascinating stuff and anyone who has ever had to deal with corporate BS to bring a new idea to life will identify with Pershing’s challenges.
1. The Saga of Recluse series by L.E.Modisett Jr. Exploring the idea of different viewpoints of what constitute good and evil without religious terms. Follows a great train of logic that is reveal page by page. Also about balance of power represented by colors : Order (Black) and Chaos (White). The series starts off with Order being the “good guy” but other books also explore Chaos characters as the “bad guy”.
2. Books by Janny Wurst : explores the idea of extreme yet ruthless compassion. If you like Korean + Japanese culture, it’s her Empire Trilogy with Raymond E. Feist whereby the code of honour is very strongly tied to ruthless compassion. Her own books that stands out are “Master of Whitestorm” and “To Ride Hell’s Chasm”.
Both are relatively light reading (no longwindedness that bores me a lot) yet with very rich description and very engaging plot to the storyline. They explore human behaviour through stories simple for the layman to understand.
3. Adrian Mole Diary Series: The first one was great and the best one. By the time he got older, got too long winded. British Humour at it’s best and definitely he would have strived as a blogger.
In general, if an author is good he will lace lessons and his perspective through out the book. The better authors do it without you realizing it and you find yourself thinking about it or adopting the ideas, the mediocre hit you over the head with it (Heinlein, I’m looking at you and those ‘flashbacks to college’ from starship troopers!) Some authors play make believe with ideas of the future or past. Some authors examine and present philosophy and different beliefs, values and ways of looking at the world (my favorite.. tends to lead to personal change and self examiniation for self improvement), and some authors give just mind candy.
The diamond age is about 3 girls who are given self learning and teaching books, and how they develop the ability to think for themselves, through this teaching you independent thought.
Brandon Sanderson laces his book, very well, with lessons of leadership. All his books(mistborn, Stormlight archive, Elantris, lightbringer). All of them are amazing. Easily a favorite author.
Brent weeks in the night angel trilogy, examines the philosophy and morality of right and wrong, and what defines ‘wrong’. It’s not dry at all by the way. He does this through an amazingly gripping story of assassins, kings and magic.
Mythology and folklore tales often have amazing lessons. A few examples are A journey to the west, also called Monkey, from china teaches about Chinese view on the world and about the internal adventure of meditation and taoist development. Greek mythology teaches both psychology and life lessons. Grimm’s fairy tales teach life lessons as well. And can’t ever forget the odyssey.
I saw in one of your videos you have a very comprehensive method of taking notes in your books.
I was wondering if you could elaborate on this or give any tips on the system you use.
Well, I would say MY fiction works… but that’s a little bit too much shameless self promotion.
Ender’s Game is good stuff, I am actually reading Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide right now.
My favorite fiction series of all time though is A Prince of Nothing. It’s a trilogy in the fantasy genre and highly philosophical. You would probably like it a lot Tim.
It’s by Scott Bakker, if you do read it, let me know your thoughts
“The Alchemist” By Paulo Coelho. Anytime I loose focus I give it a read. It is also the first book I gift to anyone who has shown interest in ‘doing something big’ with their life.
‘My top books’ sort of article always generate maximum comments and replies. This post is no exception to that rule. your suggestions seem interesting, let me read a few. Btw, fountainhead and Atlas shrugged HAVE to be in this list
I’m guilty of exclusively reading autobiographies, mostly business people and natural leaders, although I have actually read Ender’s Game and have to agree it’s a fun read, even if you’re not really into that type of genre give it a try!
Excellent List. The first choice is brilliant. Zorba the Greek is one of the most exciting books I have ever read. I like the sound of Stranger in a Strange Land and Mushashi. I highly recommend Jack Kerouac’s work. You can start with On the Road or Dharma Bums to get a taste of his poetic prose. And don’t hate me if you end up with an entire line of kerouac books on your shelf.
I apologise. I read the comment rules (about names) after i had posted my comment.
Great list Tim,
And so many great comments.
But you forgot Atlas Shrugged by Ann Rand. Granted, a long book, but a strong theme of peservernace, leadership and bussiness savy!
Keep the blog entries coming!
Good list. I’m also a rare fiction reader so it has to be really good. A few I’d add:
– Confessions of a Crap Artist (Phil Dick – non-sci-fi. Great because it is a simple story, very easy to read, but that really illustrates how different people’s perceptions of the same events are).
– Catch 22
– Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
I just want to ask if you’re thinking in offer a spanish ou portuguese versions of your blog. I know you have a lot of people interested in follow your ideas but is not so good yet in English like me and the traductors change the meaning of the ideas. Think about it… I’ll love to find it.
Great list. Here is one amazing short story writer :Jorge Luis Borges from Argentina.He wrote about Funes el memorioso -a man who remembered everything and was so tortured by it he had to live in a dark room so he could acquire no new memories. He wrote about the structure of a labyrinthian library with every book in the universe. He wrote about the land of the inmortals where you meet a destitute and insane Socrates (I believe). He discovered the Aleph where all of the universe can be seen from one spot. Highly recommened author, perhaps the most deserving Nobel prize non-winner.
Just a quick note on Fahrenheit 451: it’s not about censorship, despite what most think. Bradbury himself said that the book was about how technology was (and is) destroying our society (see also: Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, etc.). The rampant misinformation about his book’s topic reached a head that, when he talked about its anti-technology theme to a literature class at UCLA, a student brazenly told the author that he was wrong.
Has read most of what’s on the list. Is confounded that not a single person mentions a single book by Mark Twain. Is fully aware that many of his books are banned because of overzealous political correctness junkies. However its important to recognize that Mark Twain wrote in the dialects that his characters would have used. Huckleberry Finn should be required reading for everyone. The encounter with the two con men on the river alone makes it worth the price of admission..
So many mentions of Dune makes me feel good inside. And apology to anyone who has only seen a screen version of Dune. No one has come anywhere close to succeeding with that.
Great article. Ender’s Game is actually one of my teenage favorites, and it definitely came to mind at times in college leadership positions.
I would like to add the classic “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. It’s satire and sci-fi, though written in the 1930’s. Definitely read the foreword by the author hmself written in the 50’s, as he has a lot to brag about! (I think you will get it after you read it.)
Tim – You must try The Witcher Series by Andrzej Sapkowski
So far translated into english:
-The Last Wish
– Blood of the Elves
Amazing stories: Quick rundown: A man genetically mutated to hunt monsters named Geralt of Rivia does a whole bunch of badass stuff involving . Boom.
Give them a shot, and I guarantee you will learn Polish just to read the untranslated books.
250th COMMENT! #Winning! Haha Out of curiosity, Tim. Have you ever read The Lost Symbol? Or have study symbolism in general? It would seem that is an area of study that you would have picked up already in your life time. To your success and mine! Shalom.
My favorite all time fiction rec is Aztec by Gary Jennings.
Intelligent satire loaded with wry humor, action … a must read!!
Thanks for your book… when’s the next one??
I liked Fahrenheit 451, although I think we are becoming obsessed with the idea of an Orwellean future (just watched “In Time” which corroborated this.) or gasp, Hunger Games 🙂
I think i’ll check out enders game next. as always, thanks Tim.
Re: your post about The Hunger Games and marketing, I have a minor point of interest. I bought a copy of the book today at a discount retailer, not yet having read any of the series, nor having seen the movie. I did so for three reasons:
-Every library copy within a 30mi radius has a 50+ person waiting list.
-The movie tie-in paperback has been raised to ~$10 at most retailers in my area.
-The original-design paperback is now only ~$6 at the same retailers.
I know sales figures aren’t really published, but it’d certainly make for some interesting reading. This may be fairly common but it’s the first time I’ve experienced it firsthand!
Thanks for all you do,
“The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” by Neal Stephenson
Without knowing its contents, the title is misleading. It is one of THE best hmmm…sci-fi/cypberpunk novels I’ve ever read (William Gibson being the other AWESOME author in that genre).
Definitely a book to add to your “100 things to do before I die” list.
I see it’s been mentioned multiple times already, but Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Do yourself a service and read it.
Totally thought Tim meant that spice was a superdrug/cum/jetfuel as I’m a bit behind in my knowledge of latin conjunctions. It fits pretty well.
I’m a big fan Tim, I just picked up your books a week ago and looking forward to your next! Reading dune now as well 😀
World War Z!!!! The best Zombie novel for those who hate zombie novels, while also delving into the human condition as it relates to catastrophic events.
Do yourself a favor and never pick up an Ayn Rand book unless all you’re looking for is to be beaten over the head with an obnoxious philosophical system developed by an immense hatred of the Soviet Union conjoined with an infatuation with an idyllic interpretation of capitalist society.
A Bend In The River by VS Naipaul. One of the problems I have with a lot of fiction is that to read another persons’ excessive descriptive writing is tedious – writers like this (most writers) tend to write with the intention of creating characters that readers identify with. Really great writers (Naipaul is one) ignore the reader and tell the truth of a matter, fiction or not, and as a consequence you identify with the writer and not the characters he’s created. A time saving tip to avoid crappy fiction: look at the list of Nobel Prize Winners In Literature, then read their best known works. It’s a great filter, provided you have patience and reasonable intelligence.
I´m just like that, haven´t read fiction in years! Thanks for the list man, it will certainly help; I´ve been wanting to get some interesting books for a while, and this sound like a scrumptious path to follow.
I would suggest the John Rain series of thrillers by Barry Eisler. Really well written series with good research into characters and plot along with reflections about today’s political/social/economic arenas.
A great scifi book is The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. Not only well written but very inventive.
Fools Die by Mario Puzo; has everything, Over the years, I have given this to a lot of people as a gift, they all loved it.
FIASCO by Frank Partnoy
thanks fr the list ,as non fiction addict its a way through…!!
I completely agree with Ender’s Game being on the list. It’s an absolutely brilliant book.
Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was
super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for first-time blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.
Lit for the non-fiction reader? #1 – A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; #2 – A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami; #3 – Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, also by Haruki Murukami
Nice List I will certainly check it out.
I am just wondering how I didn’t see any book from Isaac Asimov, for me he’s the king of sci-fi. A nice one is Foundation its a must read.
Thank you for the list anyway.
I just purchased “Zorba the Greek” based on your recommendation, I look forward to reading it 😉
I read science fiction as an adolescent including 4 on this list on this list,
Heinlen, Vonnegut,Bradbury, etc… If the author enjoys Stranger, and Farneheit, I sugges the read a large variety of Sci-FI books from these and other authors as well as jump into Vonnegut with gusto, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five (a mix of fiction and non-fiction)
These books form the basis for my interest only in History and Biography!
Self Help books?….a waste of time…You only need one…”Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten”
In answer to your question, “Which one fiction book would you choose to convert a non-fiction devotee to the world of imagination?” I would recommend my first novel, “Bad Trip”.
I don’t mind saying that you were a primary inspiration for that book, Tim, and the title that you gave yourself in FHWW (‘Retired Drug Dealer’) finally prompted me to make the transition from reader to writer.
I actually think that YOU might like the book, after reading a line from TFHC, in which you said “It felt like I was holding the Necronomicon in my hands”.
What if the Necronomicon were a real book?
What if Rex Stout or Roger Zelazny had written a Cthulhu Mythos story?
I invite you to go to the Amazon page of Bad Trip, which may be found here:
The Quest of the Sparrows is a great and meaningful book. I found it one of the best books I have read. It answered to many of my questions of life through an interesting story that touches the heart. It’s a must read for youth in these turbulent times of unrest.
If I were in charge of re-writing the what you have to read list in school, all of these books would be on it, starting with Stranger in a Strange Land. Beside of Huckleberry Finn, it’s the great American novel of the 20th Century, attacking every sacred cow and the very things that make us American–and ugly Americans. Oscar Wao and Motherless Brooklyn are now on my to-read lists.
Top fiction books for me is really by one author, Malcolm Gladwell. 1. Outliers 2. Tipping Point 3. Bllink 4. What the Dog Saw.
Interesting reads that will manipulate the way you view things.
Great post and a very strong list. Military Science Fiction is my favorite choice of genre at the moment. When real life issues are thrust into a fantasy realm it can make for really fascinating reading. Bennett R. Coles writes sci fi military fiction beautifully and during a time when so much attention is on our military and the insanely rapid growth of technology, it can be very relevant reading. Coles most recent novel ‘Casualties of War’ is my recommendation of the year so far. http://www.bennettrcoles.com/works/casualties-of-war
“With a colonial rebellion put down, the veterans of Expeditionary Force 15 can return to Earth. But the welcome they may have expected isn’t waiting for them. The State is on a witch-hunt for someone to blame for the recent war. The Astral Force has placed incompetents in charge of developing a new super-weapon. Families and friends have no concept of what happened amongst the stars. And subtle forces from the colonies are secretly at work.”
how about adding the book “the unincorporated man” to this list of very interesting books?
i think it contains a whole bunch of nice ideas and depictions on alternative ways the government, advertising, leisure industry, tax system, investment etc. could (and can?) be done than today…
I read mostly nonfiction too (history and culture) because most fiction is badly written — especially dialog — but I do enjoy great fiction, so I read mostly the classics (free at Gutenberg books http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/ and also often available on Amazon’s Kindle Store OR at Amazon self-published sci-fi, much of which is awesome and either free or $.99. Recent finds include Hugh Howey’s Silo series (now a best seller), Paul Anthony Jones Extinction Point series (movie rights sold), and William Hertling’s Singularity series. I often hear about them through Book Bub http://home.bookbub.com/landers/index2.php?source=email or Amazon’s Daily Deals, Singles and Sci-Fi newsletters. Just read the most negative Amazon-verified reviews before you commit, to make sure it has been well-edited and to your literary standards. And always stay away from almost ANY fiction that blurbs itself as being about “long-buried family secrets!”
Actually, I’m not really a reader. But this post gathered a lot of feedback. It seems like these books are really great start to read. Thanks for sharing it here in your blog.
Philip K. Dick’s VALIS should probably be on this list.
Everything by Philip K. Dick should be on the list 😀
I have truly enjoyed finding this website, to have the opportunity to try and walk in a few of your footsteps in my own path to “greatness” as I define it, is an honor. I have like 15 of your tabs open right now(my computer may crash at any moment.)
I read Ender’s Game at my then 12-year old son’s insistence. Good so far. But the next three books in the series are better: Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and especially Children of the Mind. The Big Questions explored.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles- I tell everyone about this book-immediately after finishing it I thought I can never read again because I have just read the greatest book written.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Treasure Island, Siddartha, Candide, I will reiterate Zorba, Gates of Fire, and A Song of Ice and Fire.
“Ready Player One” is pretty amazing for anyone into video games, the future, and 80s culture.
Gates of Fire by Pressfield – well researched historical fiction.
Like you, I mostly read non-fiction, but the books that have changed my life have always been fiction.
Also since you love adventure, you’d love old Norse sagas I think. Hundreds of years later, they are still great adventure stories.
I love all books from Ken Follet. Especially the new trilogy shows a lot of history contant starting bevor wold war 1 until Obamas precidency. Great for non-fiction addicts
If I had to choose one fiction book to recommend, it would be A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It’s a little bit of a struggle to get into in the beginning but totally worth it by the end. It’s so…strange. But if you ever want to read a book about seeing your purpose, planning your purpose and never letting anything sway you from it, this is it.
Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
Interesting list Tim! I will make my way through at least a few of them, starting with Musashi.
One of the best sci fi worlds I’ve encountered was from Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. It’s an excellent plot played out within a post-apocalyptic world where cities on wheels eat each other. It sounds weird but is thoroughly entertaining!
Please read “transformation ” by Carol Berg, see if you can put the book down after you’ve started. We think she’s the new “Heineken” classic.
I think Atlas Shrugged should be on this list.
Hmm, try ‘Bode Shacker’, new novel by Derek D. Ginger.
A fraction of the whole by Steve Toltz
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
The corrections by ?
All dark and humerous
Shibumi by Trevanian – Japanese sword mastery, international assassins, extreme diving, all from a mysterious writer who goes only by this pen name? It had Ferriss written all over it…. Enjoy!
High Fidelity is in my top 10 too. I’d rank Jonathan Franzen’s the corrections, Cormac Maccathys The Road, or a book called Finding Pablo, which I read in one sitting.
Thank you for adding a few more books to my reading list. If your a child of the 80’s like me, check out Ready Player One. I just about read it in one sitting. Great story full of 80’s gaming and pop culture references.
The Goldfinch should have made this list.
I am reading through 4 Hour Work Week and noticed Tim wrote that reading more than one nonfiction book is unoroductive. I was wondering if he speaks more on this at all anywhere?
Love your new book and thanks for this list!
After Dachau by Daniel Quinn
Anybody here of this book called The Palos Trilogy kinda like John Carter and Dune mixed into one. I got it from a friend and had to order my own copy. [Moderator: link removed]
Sherlock Holmes. The Complete works volumes one and two. Most of the stories are really short reads. Fifteen to twenty minutes. Perfect right before bed. They still hold up today.
I love a lot of books on this list. One I would add would be the “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende. If you have only watched the movie, it’s a travesty of the book. In the book Bastion saves Fantasia and begins to rebuild Fantasia through his wishes. Each wish though strips Bastion of himself. By wishing himself strong, he forgets he was ever weak .Until he has lost himself within Fantasia and becomes the villain of the story. Bastion represents all of us in life. We aren’t sure of our path and we make mistakes often when we are trying to help. It’s an amazing journey that’s set in fantasy but speaks deeply if life.
The Hobbit. It was the first novel that I read, and experiencing Bilbo’s journey (with internal and external) was life changing.
I know that Tim uses it in his advertisement for audible but The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is sublime
I would add ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir. Great story and science!
Did you know you were training to be a Mentat before you read Dune? Thanks for the recs, I’ve read half of these and look forward to the other five.
Interestingly I read a few of these… So I can’t agree more.
Check out The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein.
Real classic that fits well into that list.
I fall into the non-fiction addict category, and I recently finished Thick as Thieves by Peter Spiegelman. I have to say, it was pretty good. I have trouble finishing fiction books and I had more trouble putting that one down.
Atlas Shrugged and East of Eden are the books that made me love fiction. They are long, which is key to really escaping into the world the author created and recreates with you. Vladimir Nabokov compares reading a great novel to climbing a mountain and then embracing the author at the top when you have broken through the mist. To enjoy fiction, you have to get lost in it and be willing to come out a changed person.
The Eight, by Katherine Neville
On your podcast with Tim O’Reilly, you both make a passing joke about how the later Dune books (God Emperor, Heretics, and Chapterhouse) were not as good and Herbert was just milking the cow at that point.
If I might: DISAGREE.
If you haven’t read them, I’d highly recommend to re-read the first trilogy again, then read the last 3 (technically, the middle book and the first two books of the second trilogy which Herbert did not finish before his death). Much of Dune is not read for the plot, but for the *ideas* that Herbert invokes. Especially with the last 2 books, Herbert looks to these fascinating ideas of prolonged peace, famine, and dealing with the aftermath of a living god. I have read the series probably 5 times now, they only get better.
I’m a non-fiction junky….the first sentence could have been written by me… I copied your list and will let you know what I think. Thanks for helping me expand my book selections.
Tim, Stranger in a Strange Land…great read for sure! My most memorable thing from that so far is the Jubal Harshaw quote “Obscurity is the refuge of the incompetent”
Love that story.
Lonesome Dove should make this list. The only book to have me full on ugly cry when a character died. I was on an airplane and after finishing my full meltdown, the guy across the isle said he knew exactly.
Hmmm. Most of these are seemingly almost non fiction. Books that make you think. Are not fiction books supposed to help you relax and stop thinking before sleep?
Steven King’s Dark Tower
Starting with The Gunslinger
It is the beginning of holding all of his fictional universe together in an epic adventure through the end of days to modern New York.
Great books! I also really like The Art of War, and Hidden Reality.
Musashi is amazing. I have an edition with 2 books, 1000+ pages each and I read It twice.
I recommend Isaac Asimov’s First book of Foundation trilogy, The Gods Themselves and The End of Eternity. They’re all great books!