The following is a guest post by Shane Snow, a frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company. It includes photographs of some fun bookshelves, including yours truly (Tim Ferriss). CLICK ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE.
They say a person’s eyes are “the window to the soul.”
I am not very good at pupil-based soul-reading, but I’ve found that I can learn a lot about a person by the books on his or her shelf. When I go to someone’s house or office for the first time, my favorite thing to do is check out the bookshelf.
Here’s what’s on mine:
(click to enlarge any and all photos in this post)
Storytelling is a powerful force, as I’m a fan of reminding people. Stories—fiction and non—make ideas stick; they change minds and shape us in often subconscious ways. I believe the mind of a well-read person is heavily influenced by the books of her past.
A few weeks ago, I decided to conduct a little experiment.
I emailed a few friends and people I admired and asked them if I could see photographs of their bookshelves (or book stacks or Kindle screens). Just about everybody said, “yes.” The experiment soon metastasized, and I started pestering thought leaders in spaces I followed–tech, advertising, philanthropy–to see what books the innovators cared enough about to allot real estate.
Soon, I had more photos than I knew what to do with. Here are some of my favorites:
He sent me this one:
But I actually found this closeup in his Flickr photostream, too:
Mike Lazerow, Founder of Buddy Media (sold to Salesforce last year for $700 million)
Jonah Berger, Bestselling Author of Contagious and “virality” guru
Claire Ortiz-Diaz, head of Social Innovation at Twitter and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People In Business
And I certainly couldn’t leave out Tim Ferriss, whose penchant for anime happens to be his secret weapon for language-mastery:
Interestingly enough, the book I referenced in the beginning about stories making ideas stick (Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath) shows up several times in this gallery. There are a few other repeats if you look carefully!
Of course, there were a number of well-read people whose bookshelves I’d love to get a peek at (but unfortunately couldn’t get a hold of). In particular, I wish I could check out the shelves belonging to the following five:
Cory Booker (and not just because of the name!)
We’re all a product to some degree of the books we read, the programs we watch, and the people we meet. In the comments, I’d love to discuss: What books from this gallery jumped out at you? Whose bookshelves above do you identify with in particular?
And, perhaps most importantly, what are the most important 2-3 books on your bookshelf?
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 800 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.