Reading List for Intellectual Killers

Recently there was a thread on what books one should read to assist in the development of a successful career in finance. I strongly believe in balancing your library with pure "finance books", pleasure reads, and classics, with a strong bias towards the classics. You will learn about structuring a deal, negotiating working capital, building nuanced financial models, etc. on the job. While interesting reads such as Red Notice, Barbarians at the Gate, and King of Capital tell thrilling tales of big things gone bad and how the finance society's masterminds solved them, they won't contribute much to making you a well-rounded "Intellectual Killer". On that point, I bet Schwarzman, Kravis, and Browder have books like Middlesex on their bedside tables. Reading has always been an obsessive hobby of mine, so I thought I would share some of my favorites to the monkey community. Below is a sampling of my favorites with a short excerpt on what makes them the beautiful, timeless creations they are.

The Tempest - William Shakespeare
I would argue this being Shakespeare's best work – its obvious poetic beauty and exploration of life's most difficult questions make this a compelling read. Shakespeare's lyrical tale informs the reader that conquering enemies requires patience and the willingness to bring them intimately close. However, the complexity in characters and paralleling stories / plot make this a challenging puzzle of a story.

Side note – a tasteful reference / quote from the tempest at the dinner table is an ultimate finesse. Strong emphasis on tasteful; there is a fine line between seeming like a do-nothing literary snob and an Intellectual Killer.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Reading this alone is a trial of patience and perseverance; it is a long, dense, but redeemingly thrilling read. Pulitzer Prize winning stories speak for themselves, but this is special. Eugenides breaks literary convention by writing his masterpiece on first-person omniscient narrative, where the protagonist, Cal, is allowed to know what has gone through the minds of other characters. This gives Cal awareness to terribly uncomfortable truths that I think offers a valuable lesson to the reader and you monkeys: learning how to cope with realities far out of your reach. I was a self-conscious kid – inspiring stories like Middlesex helped me find my way to becoming a confidant man.

Ulysses – James Joyce
This book taught me more bout clever, high-brow whit than anything I've ever read or heard. The art of story telling is something I think is way undervalued in society; this is the ultimate, exhaustive guide to mastering that art. Between reading chapters of this mammoth, you can probably recess with some curls and chest presses with this book. However, don't be one of the many who quit before hitting the 100 page mark – this story brilliantly comes full circle and is well worth the time.

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Definitely a book held closely by some of the most intellectual circles in the world, if you have any curiosity of the human condition whatsoever this book is for you. It's essentially about a young man in the 19th century that comes up with the idea that some people should be able to kill without impunity under circumstances which advance the good of many. People are moral creatures and divide humanity into guilty humans and innocent humans. Although I am not justifying this implication, there is a lesson to be learned: the powerful move beyond comforting moral judgments in order to understand the world. Once we have transcended identifying moral acts as guilty or innocent, we have obtained a powerful skill: the ability to understand our enemies.

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
It is a cliché that we hear time and time again – bad things happen to good people. In the circumstance of this true story, horrifying, monstrous acts happen to great people. We realize it doesn't matter how good-natured and loving people are in your community - monsters are everywhere.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Not necessarily a literary classic, but an excellent read and well worthy of its place on the list. A tale of a young, blind girl living in German occupied France during the invasion of WWII. Books like this remind you that things can be a lot worse than working late on a turn of comments in a luxurious Manhattan high rise office. Besides being a study on circumstantial happiness, this is an incredibly intimate view of the war in France. Most of the stories of the war are written about its leaders and soldiers, but getting a terrifying glimpse from its innocent captives is uniquely enlightening.

Thinking Fast, and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
I won't make poetry of this book as most of you are well aware given its popularity in our community, but book builds on challenging concepts that will reshape the way you approach problem solving; full of really enriching intellectual surprise, this is well worth spending the time on.

The Art of War – Sun Tzu
Often found on the favorite reading list of famous leaders and athletes, this is the ultimate guide to combat strategy. As you read, you will hopefully realize how applicable the strategies analyzed are to leadership and success.

I would love if other monkeys would contribute to this list with other classics they have read that complement the "Intellectual Killer" theme. As my pops famously said "I prefer books over swords. They don't need sharpening."

Comments (156)

 
Feb 25, 2019 - 9:52am

Dry by Augusten Burroughs actually. Random considering my list above, but it's an excellent book by an author that really has a way of bringing you into the pages.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
 
Most Helpful
Feb 25, 2019 - 6:06pm

The Power Broker by Robert Caro. Fascinating character arc (lowly public servant to "the most powerful man in NY") and provides great insight into state & local power dynamics. Highly recommended for anyone living in the tri-state...if for no other reason than to understand why transportation & municipal governance in NYC are - and always have been - royally f'd up.

 
Feb 23, 2019 - 2:49pm

I'll throw an overlooked one in the mix. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing, and i am no quite sure that i know that.” Socrates
 
Feb 23, 2019 - 5:13pm

One of favorite books was Heart of Darkness. It's a pretty quick read but, similar to Crime and Punishment, provides a brilliant analysis of human behavior. It centers around the imperialism of European powers in tropical Africa

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!” - GOAT
 
Feb 25, 2019 - 2:18am

If I can add to this, I would say that the best autobiography I have read has to be "Titan: The Life of John D Rockefeller"- Ron Chernoff.

It really goes into detail about the character of Rockefeller, his stoic nature and relentless pursuit to succeed. It's an immensely interesting and inspiring story.

 
Feb 25, 2019 - 6:18pm

Listening to this one on audible. Rockefeller was a business man before he hit puberty. Makes me rethink this whole "master of the universe" thing.

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing, and i am no quite sure that i know that.” Socrates
 
Feb 25, 2019 - 11:17am

The Brothers Karamazov | Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

 
Feb 25, 2019 - 6:12pm

I read a lot of history and fiction, but have recently started reading some philosophical and religious texts.

One book I'm really enjoying right now, and I think even non-Christians should read it, is Introduction to the Devout Life. It's a very thought provoking read on developing virtues (primarily part 3 for the non-religious, although I think the whole thing is worth considering).

 
Controversial
Feb 25, 2019 - 12:07pm

Atlas Shrugged by Rand is great.

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

 
Feb 25, 2019 - 4:30pm

Stream of conciousness picks that could create some interesting conversation:

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
The Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami
Flatland - Edwin A. Abbott
Romance of the Three Kingdoms - Luo Guanzhong

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
 
Feb 25, 2019 - 6:21pm

I considered reading/studying this. Anyone care to comment on it's actual application?

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing, and i am no quite sure that i know that.” Socrates
 
Feb 25, 2019 - 6:32pm

Team of Rivals - Dorris Kearns Goodwin

Beyond Good and Evil - Nietzsche

A World Lit Only by Fire - William Manchester

Notes from the Underground - Dostoyevsky

VERY much agree with OP that diversifying your reading list beyond finance books is important. I usually do 1 or 2 non-finance books to every finance book I read.

"That was basically college for me, just ya know, fuckin' tourin' with Widespread Panic over the USA."
 
Feb 25, 2019 - 7:00pm

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

Captures the full-breadth of the human experience.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw
 
Feb 26, 2019 - 5:50am

Great topic for a thread (also a big fan of "The Temptest").

There is real wisdom in the classics. I started really delving into classical works about two years ago and it really has changed my life. Ones that have stuck out for me:

  1. The Illiad and the Odyssey – the foundation of everything we have. Pretty much humanity summed up in these two epic poems. They are also entertaining, interesting and relatively easy to read (if you get the right translation). Do read a verse translation though. It loses some impact in prose (my opinion, others disagree).

  2. The stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius) – Reading the stoics completely changed my outlook on life. I understand a lot of aspects of stoicism make up the basis for modern cognitive behavioural theraphy (CBT) and I can see why it would be so effective. The stoics may have overemphasised our ability to control our emotions somewhat, but I really wish I had read this stuff before starting my first job. Essential lessons in dealing with the difficulties we all face in life.

  3. Michel de Montaigne, Essays – Montaigne was a 16th century French statesmen who decided to chill out later in life and write a bit for his friends and family. The result was a series of essays that became a best seller at the time that is still massively influential today. Buy a copy and keep it on your bedside locker. Dip in and out. His essays are funny and often profound and again teach important lessons on living a good life and the importance of self-reflection.

  4. Nietzsche – unfairly hijacked by nihilists, nazis and, worst of all, broody teenagers, Nietzsches philosophy is actually very beautiful and ultimately life affirming. His work is hard to get into, and I would be lying if I said that even now after studying him a bit I get the finer points, but it is worth the reward in my opinion.

As far as more modern stuff, I am a big fan of Nicholas Nassim Taleb and I also really liked "Thinking Fast and Slow".

In terms of reading older works, to get the most from the experience I recommend learning as much about the book as you can before reading it. Learn about the author, why they wrote the book, when it was written. How does it fit into the key intellectual movements of the time? Get some context. Most importantly, try to understand what the author was trying to achieve. What is the key point/argument they are making. As you read think about how they build their argument and ultimately ask yourself if they have achieved what they set out to do. Do you agree or disagree?

Also before you read a book, ask yourself what you want to get from it? I'm not gonna lie and say these books are always easy to read. They do take a bit of work and effort but they can be very rewarding if you approach them in the right way.

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 9:45am

+1 SB - awesome insight. Thanks for taking the time to lend a thoughtful and substantive contribution. I have never thought to read Nietzsche as I have been dissuaded by his common criticism - I will definitely give him a spin with an open mind.

A couple other books I gather you would enjoy given this selection:

Snow Falling on Cedars - a tale of one of the most unjustly overlooked scars in American history, Japanese Internment. Really flushes out the topic of hysteria and the frightening mob mentality that ensued during the mess. (Novel, but a truthful novel, if you will).

Ghandi's Essential Writings - a full on call for peaceful war against materialism, this brings so many sound, rational arguments in favor of extreme altruism. It would be a shame not to come away from reading this book without even a modest inclination to give to someone in need.

A Short History of Nearly Everything - our generations before us would be ashamed of our keen ability to know and understand where we came from. In an era we are constantly told to look ahead, we have seemingly lost the ability to appreciate what has fallen behind. This is an essential cure - America history brought to light in the feverishly entertaining prose of Bill Bryson. All time great read.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
 
Mar 5, 2019 - 1:35pm

Zatopek:
  1. The stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius) – Reading the stoics completely changed my outlook on life. I understand a lot of aspects of stoicism make up the basis for modern cognitive behavioural theraphy (CBT) and I can see why it would be so effective. The stoics may have overemphasised our ability to control our emotions somewhat, but I really wish I had read this stuff before starting my first job. Essential lessons in dealing with the difficulties we all face in life.

Not sure if you have read any of Ryan Holiday's books but he has a book called "The Daily Stoic", which is apparently really good. His book called "The Obstacle is The Way" is also a fascinating read, it basically tells numerous stories of how successful people such as Roosevelt, Obama, Ulysses Grant, Steve Jobs etc have overcome obstacles to achieve success. If you into this sort of thing I would definitely recommend it. Resonated with me quite a bit.

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 8:31am

So many great recs in this thread. Enjoying it. My recs will be a little different but I'll recommend two fiction series & one non-fiction:

  1. The First Man in Rome (and the rest Masters of Rome series) by Colleen McCullough

This an incredible in-depth look at Republican Rome and has multiple POVs. The first two books focus on Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Two of Rome's greatest leaders & generals and uncles of the greatest roman of all, Julius Caesar. I recommend reading the series till the Julius Caesar books, because she makes him just too perfect and it can be over the top.
Prior to the Caesar books however, it's the best introduction to the Roman Republic in print. Period. In fact it was so factually accurate that she was awarded a Ph.D in History for her research & the Prime Minister of Australia lobbied for her to write more.

  1. Any of: The Two Towers, the Folding Knife, Savages (the general Callojan is based on a Marius/Sulla hybrid) or the Scavenger series by author KJ Parker

KJ Parker writes fantasy that has no magic. Very philosophical and repeatedly examines the principles of strategy, war, moral relativity and how good people do evil things.

  1. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

Yes, it's an apology of the Christian faith, but you don't have to be christian or even religious to enjoy this. It's an intellectual exploration of several religious or spiritual thoughts.

 
Feb 28, 2019 - 12:51pm

numbermassager:

So many great recs in this thread. Enjoying it. My recs will be a little different but I'll recommend two fiction series & one non-fiction:
  1. The First Man in Rome (and the rest Masters of Rome series) by Colleen McCullough

This an incredible in-depth look at Republican Rome and has multiple POVs. The first two books focus on Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Two of Rome's greatest leaders & generals and uncles of the greatest roman of all, Julius Caesar. I recommend reading the series till the Julius Caesar books, because she makes him just too perfect and it can be over the top.
Prior to the Caesar books however, it's the best introduction to the Roman Republic in print. Period. In fact it was so factually accurate that she was awarded a Ph.D in History for her research & the Prime Minister of Australia lobbied for her to write more.

Be really, really careful with these. They are historical novels, not necessarily accurate history. As far as I know she follows the broad strokes of history fairly well, but takes a lot of artistic license in interpreting personalities and motivations. Not saying it's a bad read, but maybe one that should be read with the understanding that it isn't "in depth" as much as "well realized".

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 10:43am

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Almost finished it, easy to see why he is considered one of the greatest Russian writers, you really get involved in the story and I could physically feel the worries of the main character. However, I did not and I do not intend to finish it because the translation is awful. My native language is very close to Russian and things that didn't make sense in English to me, made sense in my native language. The structure of the sentence etc. This led me to believe that a large amount of the text and the point was lost in translation. It just makes it difficult to read because I spot it every time.

Thinking, Fast & slow is on my book shelf and I'll get to it as soon as I am done with** "Let my people go surfing"** **by Yvon Chouinard **[Patagonia's founder- great story so far (100 pages in)] and "When Genius Failed".

From the comment section I see that there are a lot of Taleb fans. Well, remember what he says about traders and their aspirations to become more sophisticated as they make more money. This thread reminds me of this. Graduates get a job, start making money and suddenly they are art/wine/jewellery connoisseurs. Meek Mill, yes the rapper, is playing chess on a jet as seen from his instagram story. Everyone has the freedom to do whatever they want but the purpose behind stunts like this is obvious.

Don't read books because you want to be seen as an intellectual. Do it for fun. I like that OP recommends reading classics and poetry etc. because that's what you would do if you read for fun. The thread name is weird though.

Also, I am certain that some people feel inspired to pick up a new book after reading this thread. If you have decided to read a few books, just order them now so you actually have them (Assuming you read hard copies). It will be easier to make reading plans if you have the books in front of you.

tl;dr good recommendations, be careful with translated works of Dostoevsky because of language differences, +1 for recommending classics/poetry not just hardo books about sociopaths, don't read books to appear sophisticated; do it for fun, order a few books while you are in this state of mind

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 10:54am

I actually haven't read it - I've heard of it and have always been pretty interested as it's hard to pole holes in Shakespeare's absurdity and get credibility for doing so. I'll definitely give it a try

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
 
Feb 26, 2019 - 11:02am

it's a play so the "book" is literally 110 pages of "he said/she said". Very easy to read, I finished it in 2 days when my average reading on other books is like 10-20 pages a day. Someone like you could finish it in a day. Let me know what you think about it once you read it. Could be in a few days or a few months, I don't mind :)

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 11:38am

Some of my personal favorites from my bookshelf:

  • V. - Thomas Pynchon

  • Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

  • Mason & Dixon - Thomas Pynchon

  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

  • Consider the Lobster - David Foster Wallace

  • Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce

  • Ulysses - James Joyce

  • JR - William Gaddis (seriously, everyone on this board would love this one)

  • Recognitions - William Gaddis

  • The Tunnel - Gass

  • Sound and the Fury - Faulkner

  • As I Lay Dying - Faulkner

  • White Noise - Delilo

  • Iliad & Odyssey - Homer (Fagles translation)

  • Mythology - Edith Hamilton

  • Metamorpheses - Oviid

  • Histories - Herodetus

  • Twelve Caesars - Suetonius

  • SPQR - Mary Beard

  • Brave New World - Huxley

  • Doors of Perception - Huxley

  • Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Wolfe

  • On the Road - Keroac

  • Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

  • Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

  • Decameron - Boccaccio

  • Notes from the Underground - Dostoyevsky

  • Brothers K - Dostoyevsky (P&V translation)

  • Anna Karenina - Tolstoy

  • Don Quixote - Cervantes (Raffel translation)

  • 2666 - Bolano

  • The Wasteland - Eliot

  • Nausea - Sartre

  • The Time Machine - Wells

  • Trial - Kafka

  • Siddhartha - Hesse

  • Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut

  • Breakfast of Champions - Vonnegut

  • Heart of Darkness - Conrad

  • To the Lighthouse - Woolf

  • Naked Lunch - Burroughs

  • Women & Men - McElroy

  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy

  • Foucalt's Pendulum - Umberto Eco

  • Wittgenstein's Mistress - Markson

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 11:59am

Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillard
Society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs. Human experience is a simulation of reality. Now apply that theory to late capitalism.

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Are you a Dagney, a Hank, a Jim Taggart or a John Galt? Or perhaps poor Eddie Willers?

Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan
The medium is the message.

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, Ursula K. LeGuin
Would you acquiesce to injustice for happiness?

The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
Some people think we're to Atlas Shrugged. I say we're at Margaret Atwood.

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 2:22pm

If anyone can confidently and accurately reference 2 of these in a conversation, they have my attention.

Godel, Escher, Bach - Hofstadter

Maps of Meaning - Jordan Peterson

Antifragile - Nassim Taleb

Unbearable Lightness of Being - Kundera

Genealogy of Morals / Twilight of the Idols - Nietzsche

Power of Myth / Hero - Campbell

The Bible - G-

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemingway

"well thank god your feelings aren't a fucking priority here"
 
Feb 27, 2019 - 10:00am

Wags_Wagner:

If anyone can confidently and accurately reference 2 of these in a conversation, they have my attention.

Godel, Escher, Bach - Hofstadter

Maps of Meaning - Jordan Peterson

Antifragile - Nassim Taleb

Unbearable Lightness of Being - Kundera

Genealogy of Morals / Twilight of the Idols - Nietzsche

Power of Myth / Hero - Campbell

The Bible - G-

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemingway

one of these things is not like the other

 
Feb 26, 2019 - 3:21pm

I was hugely fortunate at school to have some incredibly enthusiastic, experienced, and talented English teachers, so I find a lot of my favourite reads were, in fact, covered in class. I'm under no illusion that a large reason why I first enjoyed these books was likely down to the passion of my teachers, so your experience may prove a little different! That said, some personal favourites are as follows:

L'Etranger (Albert Camus, 1942)
Paradise Lost, Book IX (John Milton, 1667)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)
King Lear (William Shakespeare, 1603-06)
"Jeeves" series (P.G. Wodehouse, 1915-1974)

This will be the sort of thing I think about for the next few days, so if anything else comes to mind, I'll be sure to add as an additional comment. Also goes without saying that I'm a fan of Lewis' "Liar's Poker" (1989) and most of his other works!

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes" - Oscar Wilde
 
Feb 27, 2019 - 1:36pm

Agree with many books mentioned on this thread. I'd add the Theodore Roosevelt biographical trilogy by Edmund Morris. Recently finished reading it, and although very detailed at times it gives you a great insight into the fascinating man he was (top 3 president IMO).

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is probably best of the 3 books.

 
Feb 27, 2019 - 5:26pm

12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
- Thought provoking read that touches on nearly every philosophical point about what it means to live a "good" life

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- A true classic providing insight into the impacts of racial segregation

The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg
- A legendary physicist goes in-depth explaining what happened in the first three minutes of our universe's existence

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
- A look at one of the titans who built this nation, who you probably don't know much about

The House of Morgan
- Required reading for new hires at JPM; goes in-depth on the Morgan dynasty

Who Made the Moon?
- Ignore the religious sentiment if you must, but this book provides an interesting perspective on the things that science and religion have in common

 
Feb 27, 2019 - 5:49pm

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

1776 by David McCullough

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

time is the coin of your life: be careful, lest others spend it for you - Carl Sagan
 
Feb 27, 2019 - 6:05pm

Quickest Reads:
Three Day Blow (Hemingway)
Forever Overhead (DFW)
A Painful Case (Joyce)
The Dead (Joyce)
The Balloon (Barthelme)
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (Hemingway)
Signs and Symbols (Nabokov)

Medium Reads:
The Moviegoer by (Walker Percy)
Blood Meridian by (Cormac McCarthy)
Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway)
East of Eden (Steinbeck)
Metamorphisis (Kafka)
Lolita (Nabokov)
As I Lay Dying (Faulkner)
Hamlet (Shakespeare)

Longer Reads:
Underworld (Don DeLillo)
Infinite Jest (DFW)
Moby Dick (Melville)
House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski)

 
Feb 28, 2019 - 10:05am

Has anyone read Clausewitz's On War? Have it on my shelf and thinking of picking it up.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

 
Feb 28, 2019 - 1:52pm

I don't work in finance, I dropped out of university and now invest in real estate, but I found an old list of Harvard business school books and I have made an effort to read them all one by one. Right now I'm reading.
'cost accounting a managerial emphasis 14th edition'

If anyone from a well-respected business/economics/real estate school can send me their college reading list that would be great

 
Mar 2, 2019 - 4:27pm

Macroeconomics 11th Edition
by Rudiger Dornbusch I am not sure if Macro Theory will help you, but it is always good to know.

Investment Valuation: Tools and Techniques for Determining the Value of Any Asset.
by Aswath Damodaran Well renowned NYU professor.

Investments by Zvi Bodie. Pretty much a universal text for investments found in almost every school in the world.

The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide To Decision making And Investment by William J. Poorvu -I have only heard good things about this book. I have not read it myself

 
Mar 4, 2019 - 10:06am

The Real Estate Game is a fantastic read for anyone thinking of pursing a career in real estate, or even with any level of interest.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

 
Mar 2, 2019 - 12:05pm

Fantastic post! For all of those college students here (like me), I highly recommend enrolling in a philosophy 101 class. It gives you a nice overview + having a professor guide you through the material helps you understand philosophers like Nietzsche, Kant, etc. Two great (and as far as I know well-respected) online sources for philosophy are the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. There is a great, short essay by Bertrand Russell on the value of philosophy that I highly recommend.

I also loved Crime and Punishment. If you enjoyed the book, I'm sure you'll find Nietzsche and the concept of nihilism in general quite interesting.

"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." - Marcus Aurelius
 
Mar 5, 2019 - 1:38pm

Agree!! I loved my philosophy class (even though I only focused on Machiavelli, Locke, and Nietzche), always great fun to discuss the finer points of their ideas and listen to other's views. Trolling my Marxist professor is also hilarious.

Cash and cash equivalents: $138,311 Financial instruments and other inventory positions owned: $448,166
 
Mar 5, 2019 - 12:43pm

The Lessons of History - Will and Ariel Durrant.

120 pages and you can get through it in an two hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Will lived to be 96 and wrote *The Story of Civilization * which is 11 books (no I have not read) of pure information along with what feels like hundreds of other classic works. Reading the Lessons of History and how they were able to pack so much knowledge and trivia in to so few pages and actually make it mean something to me is artful. Dude is an OG Intellectual Killer.

 
Mar 6, 2019 - 3:30am

The Naval War of 1812, Theodore Roosevelt.

The timing around its publishing and the amount of research Roosevelt needed in order to write this book make it exceptional.

Maximum effort.
 
Mar 8, 2019 - 4:33am

You will probably enjoy Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead - the supposed lone philosopher of capitalism.

I also highly recommend Nietzsche to anyone who wants to go down to path of questioning the value of values. Go down the rabbit hole and contemplate deeply the human condition in our worldview - at least it makes a darn good hungover Sunday.

 
Mar 8, 2019 - 10:30pm
  1. The Prophet - Khalil Gibran: This is the greatest book ever written in any language.

  2. Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl: If you never pick up another book in your life, pick this up.

  3. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alex Dumas: This is long but it's a legendary tale of justice.

  4. Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky: I never saw our way of life here in the U.S. the same after finishing this.

  5. The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo: For those who are unsure of their destination.

  6. Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle: Literary and creative genius. Learn how to problem solve.

  7. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger: Only the young are truly innocent.

  8. The Adventures of Huck Finn - Mark Twain: Play life by your own rules.

Array
 
Mar 9, 2019 - 1:31am

Taleb and Nietzsche are great. I almost never read fiction, so I'm super picky. I usually go a dark sci-fi route like Stephen King or Michael Crichton. My favorite is Crichton's The Sphere. It had a movie adaptation, which was good, but I read the book afterwards and I couldn't put it down. Read the whole damn thing in a sitting and I hated reading at the time. It's hard to discuss without spoiling to a degree, but it has to do with the power of imagination far outweighing human control. It has some cool elements: set in a habitat in the bottom of the ocean where what appears to be a foreign spacecraft was discovered...under enough coral to prove it's been there for centuries...but something inside it is still ticking.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.
 
Mar 14, 2019 - 12:34pm

Ben Franklin an American life.
You can literally bring Ben Franklin into any conversation.
Talking about engineering- Bring up Ben Franklin
Talking about Finance-Bring up Ben Franklin
Talking about Prestigious universities like U Pennsylvania- Bring up Ben Franklin
Talking about mail-Bring up Ben Franklin
Talking about France-Bring up Ben Franklin
Talking about Politics-Bring up Ben Franklin
Talking about News-Bring up Ben Franklin

If you can't somehow spin him into a conversation just drop a $100 bill on the floor (by accident). And you guessed it-Bring up Ben Franklin.

 
Mar 14, 2019 - 3:59pm

Of those already mentioned, I can't recommend enough to try your hand, eyes and mind at:

  • Atlas Shrugged
  • The Fountainhead
  • Much of Marcus Aurelius' writings
  • Understanding Media
  • Brave New World
  • The Prophet
  • Anything by Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw or Arthur Conan Doyle

…and a few additional and different reads that I've thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend:

  • The Divine Comedy – Dante

  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair – over 100 years old and yet still speaks to the ever-existing challenges of the immigrant experience, labor laws and the America Dream.

  • The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride – told in alternating chapters by son and mother – a Polish Jew leaving her family drama and religion in Virginia, she married and raised 12 mixed-race children in an all-black Brooklyn housing project. A powerful telling of race relations, religious differences, family dynamics and perseverance.

  • The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan – insightful observations about the dynamics of what's involved in a bringing a fast-food meal to fruition, visiting a sustainable farm, and hunting/gathering for wild boar and wild mushrooms.

  • The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard – recommended to me years ago by my step-dad, who read the book in the 1950s when he first got involved in film editing in advertising. It shows how everyone is selling something, whether it's manufacturers of product or politicians or television programmers and explains how our feelings and thoughts can get manipulated psychologically.

  • The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman – fascinating read about the relatively recent invention of childhood, when you take into account the impact of the printing press and how the concepts of things like contracts and invoices began the division between adults and children long before labor laws.

For shits n' giggles and lighter fare:
anything by...

  • Carl Hiaasen [former Miami Herald investigative reporter [he wrote a great expose piece on the world of Disney] who writes hysterical capers and characters that usually revolve around corruption and often take place in the Florida Everglades. His novel Striptease was made into a so-so movie with Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds, but don't let that stop you, LOL].

  • Louis Bayard [writes fiction involving historical people such Edgar Allan Poe, Teddy & Kermit Roosevelt and others]

  • and for sci-fi, William Gibson's Neuromancer, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, most of Philip K. Dick's writings but his Now Wait for Last Year is one of my faves and one of his trippiest tales.

 
Apr 23, 2019 - 10:01am

A lot of great suggestions made, several of which I've added to my list. Of those mentioned, I highly recommend "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and "The Alchemist." The former will likely take you outside your comfort zone, unless you're a philosophy major, and require re-reading of passages for comprehension while remaining incredibly rewarding. At the risk of making the list even longer, I would recommend the following in no particular order:

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  • Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose - story of Lewis & Clark's expedition

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight - story of Phil Knights early career and founding of Nike

  • Farther Than Any Man by Martin Dugard - story of Captain James Cook's expeditions

  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham - TJ biography

  • The Game by Ken Dryden - story of Montreal Canadien's 1970s dynasty

"The Game" is arguably my favorite book, and I am neither Canadian nor a Canadien's fan. It's a fascinating look into the culture/lockerroom of an hockey club that won 6 Stanley Cups in the 1970s as told by their star goaltender who was also an attorney and later served as a Canadian MP for nearly a decade.

 
May 29, 2019 - 9:09pm

Just got into Dostoyevsky. I absolutely loved The Brothers Karamavoz like others mentioned before, and am starting to enjoy most things to do with Russian art and expression. I'm looking forward to reading Crime and Punishment soon.

Looking forward to reading some of these other suggestions.

 
Mar 11, 2020 - 3:51pm

Great thread

Any recent or soon to be college grads, an easy read worth checking out is The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce. I think it's great in that his life touched people from many different walks, so it's relatable. Also, to keep in mind that life is not really linear. It can help to broaden your perspective in terms of what to expect when the very structured future path starts to fade, and you're learning a lot is up to you to decide. I think it's better for that target demographic, and easy to knock out over a couple weekends or plane rides

 
Mar 17, 2020 - 6:14pm

Terrific suggestions and thread. Thinking Fast and Slow is an absolute banger - would recommend it for anyone anywhere. Would also add "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen. Fascinating and insightful read- definitely a lot of application when you're chatting with client executives about business strategy and marketing. Full endorsement for Atlas Shrugged as well.

 
Mar 19, 2020 - 2:35pm

Didn't read all the above comments so might be redundant but would advise:

- How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie - great for relationship building

- The Power of Now - Ekhart Tolle - terrific for reducing stress and enjoying your life + great introducer to meditation

- Influence: The Art of Persuasion - Robert Cialdini - a must rea

- High Performance Habits - Brendon Burchard

- Radical Honesty - Brad Blanton

- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (only on audible) - to understand how the mongols conquered various countries, shaped current China and other territories, and created a civilization to unify and manage the largest empire ever created

- The Green King - Paul-Loup Sulitzer - just for fun

- The Wheel of the Time - probably the best heroic fantasy series every written, it's quite long thouh

Also recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow as recommended by the author of the post although it's a very slow reader

 
Apr 20, 2020 - 12:52pm

Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Milton, Joyce, and Nietzsche are all great authors dealing with a similar canon.

If interested in history the great biographers (Ron Chernow and Robert Caro especially, but also including David Mcullough and Walter Isaacson) do an excellent job of painting people and their times.

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