I was shared a link to an article with the title “33 books everyone should read before turning 30” and, aside from being more than a few years too late, most of the books on the list didn’t appeal to me whatsoever. The only one I have read, I wouldn’t necessarily include on a list of must read books.
It got me thinking though, what books would I recommend people read, whenever? My list is nowhere near as long (just 8 books, and some authors I like to read).
This is a tough one because for the most part I would say reading fiction is about entertainment, and what I find interesting to read may not interest you at all. The following is just a sampling of the books I think have been most enjoyable for me. Your mileage may vary as they say.
The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars)
I don’t think there is a doubt that we will eventually leave Earth and start to explore other planets, and star systems at some point in the future (assuming we don’t annihilate ourselves first), and the most likely first step in that direction is Mars. This trilogy, while being fantastic science fiction, will also make you think a little about what could be involved in turning Mars from an inhospitable, dusty red planet into a place we could call home.
Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition by Dan Brown
OK, yes, this is the Da Vinci Code and you’ve probably already read the book and/or seen the movie. But the illustrated edition adds something else to the experience: you get to see pictures of the many historical artifacts, buildings and places that are woven so seamlessly into the story. Not only are you getting an entertaining story, but you are also seeing and learning about so many historical items.
The Eight by Katherine Neville
Not sure what made this such a memorable read, but I guarantee if you have any interest in technology and history this will draw you in and you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve finished it, and at over 600 pages it isn’t a short book!
Other Notable Authors
Our small library here at home includes a selection of other authors. The most common on the shelves are, in alphabetical order, David Baldacci, Dan Brown (the rest of his books are also great reads, and I recommend getting the illustrated editions if they are available), Tom Clancy, Stephen Coonts and James Patterson.
While you might be expecting a bunch of technology titles here, in general those are out of date before they’re printed and they are best purchased with the sole purpose of learning a specific topic. If you need to know about, say, Apple’s new Swift language, go on Amazon or your favorite bookseller’s website and scan the reviews of the books listed there for that topic.
While I should probably read more general non-fiction books, I do still have a few that I would recommend.
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
So, the book in the article I linked to at the top that I had read was Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. It’s not a bad book to read, but if you want something that might have a bigger impact on your life, Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week might be the book for you. Even if you don’t end up working remotely from different parts of the world, some of the tips for better management of your time might help you get more done even while working in an office. This is more about creating a lifestyle company than creating the next PayPal or Google.
Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson
An autobiography of one of the most interesting businessmen in the world today. This is the story of the creation of the Virgin brand. There is a newer book (Finding my Virginity), which I have not read, but may have to add to my Kindle reading list.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Another book that, while still useful if you are trying to start the next Google, can be applied just as easily within the big company you already work for. This the guide book for the minimum viable product (MVP) strategy to product development.
Back when it was published, I enjoyed Bill Gates’ The Road Ahead, but that was in 1995 so much of it will now be the road behind!
I keep meaning to read the Steve Jobs biography, but haven’t done so yet (if you have, maybe let me know in the comments if it is worthwhile).
Elon Musk’s Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future also looks like it should be interesting.