10 Books Randomly Picked From My Shelves
I get asked to recommend books a lot—everything from fiction to business and everything in between. My collection (which I refer to as the Roman Archives), is exceptionally eclectic, and while I’ve certainly got a lot of fitness stuff, the 900 or so books I have in the apartment are about things far more interesting than that.
Today, I would like to give you some recommendations, and rather than just list favorites, I thought a random sampling would be more fun. I didn’t trust myself to be objective and not just pick my favorites and give you those. So, I devised a little system.
Being a bit meticulous with my collection, I have every shelf is organized by genre to the greatest degree possible. I figured I’d pick a book from each shelf. To randomize it further, I picked the same book on each shelf. I have 10 non-fitness shelves in my main room, so I picked the 10th book in on each shelf, from left to right.
Below is a brief description of each book, as well as why I think it might be a good read. You may not like every book or even every genre, but I think that all of these have value.
I hope you enjoy.
10 Random Books from the Roman Archives
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, by Fareed Zakaria. This is a book on what it truly means to be a “democracy.” Very relevant in today’s world, and VERY insightful. A great book to start with if you’re looking into politics.
I view Zakaria as a true centrist, but he’s been described as a liberal (by the right) and a conservative (by the left). He does a fantastic job of summarizing a variety of viewpoints.
The Rebel Sell: Why Culture Can’t be Jammed by Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter. An insightful look into the how application of counter-culture can increase profitability instead of stalling it. In short, sticking it to the man often helps to encourage our consumer-centric culture, making the radical opposition to it counterproductive. I enjoyed it because I have an interest in subcultures and the way they pull the mainstream. Politically, this is neither right nor left; it offends both sides equally.
Androphilia: Rejecting the Gay Identity and Reclaiming Masculinity by Jack Malabranche. Along the same lines as Rebel Sell, it has a lot to do with discarding pre-conceived notions, but here, it’s of what it means to be “gay.” Good for that alone, but also because it can be applied to nearly any subculture that starts to buy too heavily into its own image. A friend of mine (who is gay and teaches LBGT studies at a university in NYC) recommended this and I loved it. Really interesting read.
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach. I am hesitant to try and describe the book; I believe everyone who reads it will find something different in it. The plot details a man’s journey to become his own messiah, and by going along on his quest, you’ll learn about yourself.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl. This is one of the most mind-altering books one can get their hands on. Deep and well written, it has within it the potential to change your perspective, if not your life. It is the author’s experience as a Holocaust survivor; but, his perspective as a psychiatrist allows him to tell it with an odd scientific detachment. A powerful story told in a completely different way.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. This is a lighter book. An adventure story set in the near future, it has to do with technology, linguistics, and the despondency that occurs within someone when they have “come of age” and not really be satisfied with things. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from this book:
“Until a man is about twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right set of circumstances, he could be the baddest motherfucker alive.”
Snow Crash is also a little bit awesome because it is one of the earliest examples of success in the cyberpunk genre.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: My own personal history and love of the book aside, I think it is important to read because it was, quite literally, a game changer. Without question, nearly every book that has been since LOTR is in some way influenced by it. It is the second best selling book of all time, after the bible. It is the new mythology, filled with a history of history.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Once again, important for reasons beyond the scope of the story. This book launched a genre, made children’s literature commercially viable. Because of Harry, an entire generation of children started reading, and an entire generation of writers to pick up a pen and write books–sci-fi or otherwise–for children. This, in turn, has had a direct effect on how children read. Even if you don’t care for wizards or children’s books, you must read this, if for no other reason than you should know about it.
On The Road by Jack Kerouack. Just incredible. Great not only for the story but for how it was written: totally stream of consciousness and brilliant. On the Road has been called the bible of a generation, in fact.
Very Far Away From Anywhere Else by Ursula K LeGuin – a coming of age story about a kid who is so confused he almost rivals Holden Caufield. Short, poignant, and well written, worth a read. I read this book when I was 13 and again when I was 30, and I found something different in it. It’s a bit emo, but you’ll finish it in an hour and it’ll make you think.
More recommendations to come. Soon.