Here are a few of the books that have had a great effect on me, or given me great pleasure, or proved very useful. I need your recommendations at the end please!
1. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Total deconstruction of the American myth, very funny, insanely imaginative. If you have any interest in not just being entertained, but also in the ways of writing, and just what extraordinary lengths it is possible to go to within the medium of ficiton, then you will find this quite an inspiration.
2. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
My favourite book on Spain. Orwell’s writing is quite a thing to behold, and nowhere more so than here, especially when he describes what it is like to be shot in the neck.
3. The Outsider by Albert Camus
Surely you’ve read this. Much here on the very meaning of life, the universe etc. Incredible book. Actually better to read when it’s really hot outside. Like in Madrid in summer. Probably just as good in winter when you need warming up!
4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
One of those books that everyone feels they should read, but this one is actually worth it. Unlike Ulysses I imagine, which I haven’t bothered with, but did obviously make sure I had prominently displayed on my bookshelf throughout my late 20’s.
5. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
This book explains exactly what marketers, waiters, salespeople, soldiers in communist POW camps, business owners etc do to get us to give then our money, opinion, or consent. It should be required reading at school, as it is likely to save you a lot of money, and hassle, throughout later life. I read this book on and off for a year (there is a lot to digest), but it is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. If you’ve ever wondered how you’ve occasionally been pursuaded to do people favours who don’t deserve them, buy toys for your kids that they don’t want, tip waiters too much, buy cars you aren’t sure about, even why two-year-olds are terrible (and hundreds of other fascinating examples), the answers lie within. What all non-fiction should aspire too.
6. Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
Ages ago I read a post on a ‘productivity blog’ about mindfulness. Hmmm, I thought, being more mindful sounds good, so I got this book as recommended by a comment on that blog, and have been immensely grateful ever since. I may not be very mindful all the time, but I have developed a far more interesting relationship with many of the things I value in the world – actually that sounds ridiculous, I’ll stop trying to explain further, and just say that this book, by a gentle Vietnamese monk exiled in France, is non-denominational, nothing to do with ‘self-help’, or peace activism, and the wisdom inside, on the right days, surely has improved my life no end. Great audio, The Art of Mindful Living, by TNH on iTunes too.
7. The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
I’m re-reading, well, skimming this right now, as I have a baby that doesn’t sleep much, and the flu all week. I have less time than ever, and still the same business to run. So I’ve gone back for a look here at ways to get more done, more efficiently, and am presently surprised again by what a fun book it is, and just how useful it is in saving time for the important things in life. Like going to the park with my family. Mindfully. Which I want to do more of. When I get over this damn flu.
8. Your choice! Please recommend good fiction for me in the comments! I’m sick of reading non-fiction, and need really really amazing fiction to help me relax at night! I don’t care if it’s modern or classic, but it must be the best you’ve ever read. Please, recommend something for me in the comments!