Six books I wish someone had handed to me:

1. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

2. The Guide to Getting It On by Paul Joannides

3. The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature by Geoffrey Miller

4. Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham; you can also get this material from his essays, which are posted online.

5. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

6. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Each book profoundly shaped how not only I think, but how I live and view the world. All suddenly revealed new connections and ideas about the world I’d never experienced or expected to experience before. Their tendrils extend into a great deal of my thought and work.

Granted, no book can be removed from its context, and its possible that if I’d read some of these books as a younger person I wouldn’t have been ready to appreciate them. But Flow seems by far the most valuable of the choices listed above because it engulfs more of the content of the others than any other choice. Still, each one made me think so profoundly differently than I had before that I feel compelled to list them.

4 responses

  1. Let me see. For me, these books:

    1. Robert Cialdini’s Influence.
    2. Mystery, Mystery Method. (It’s a little too reductionist, but it really got me thinking about dating tricks). I really compare this to Ovid’s Art of Love.
    3. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies. Roy Peter Clark
    4. Ovid’s Metamorphasis. I can’t believe I discovered it when I was 40!
    5. The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. By Michael Ondaatje. What an amazing book on aesthetics, film and literature!
    6. No Impact Man.

    Of course, you and I can both think of a few dozen other titles, but these are 6 which come to mind.

    Funny, I’ve read Miller and Graham and I’ve read summaries of Flow and the Gilbert book. Perhaps I should get around to reading the actual book sometime….


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