1. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
Not even close. No book comes even close to this. Yeah I get it, some of you read it in middle school and thought it was just alright. You’re stupid and wrong, this book is amazing. This is one of the few books that I picked up and just could not put down. I think I finished within 12 hours of starting, ending at 4:00 in the morning. Insightful and just downright depressing, this is my favorite book of all time.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
This book really got me thinking about relationships on a different level. I’m sure that if I read this book for the first time today, it would not even be on this list. However, I read it when I was much younger, at a time was I was learning about forming relationships and making friends. To this day I still make remembering names a priority, I write down the name of most people I meet as a mnemonic device.
3. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
Tremendously complicated subject matter, but in plain English. A book I read at a young age, that got me initially interested in science and the universe. A very quick read at 212 pages, and you will finish the book feeling much dumber. Yeah you will learn a lot, but it is a in-your-face reminder of how much you don’t know, and how much our entire species does not know.
4. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall
Bias alert, I’m a born runner. I ran my first marathon when I was 13, and I continued running marathons throughout high school and college. Right now, I’m at 5 total, not including the back leg of my 2019 Ironman. Do I agree with the thesis of this book, that the human species owes much of its evolutionary success due to human’s ability to out-endurance prey? Honestly, no. However, the story of the Tarahumara was fascinating to my younger self, and was influential in by running career.
5. Dune, by Frank Herbert
This is just a fantastic sci fi novel. It’s a shame that every attempt to put this spectacular story on the big screen has fallen flat. If you enjoy worldbuilding, or giant worms, this is the book for you. I’d be hard pressed to find another science fiction book that measures up.
6. The End of Faith, by Sam Harris
I was born and raised Catholic. I went to mass every Sunday, was a leader in my church’s youth group, and prayed every single night. Then by mid-high school I grew out of it. I decided to read three religious books (Mere Christiantiy, Seven Storey Mountain, The Case for Christ) and three anti-religious books (The End of Faith, The God Delusion, God is Not Great). Of all of those books, this one was the most insightful (with Mere Christianity at #2). In no way, shape, or form is this a perfect book. Still, it was important to my development and helped sharpen my critical thinking skills and led me to question authority.
7. A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton Malkiel
Almost didn’t read this book. All I can say is thank god I did. During the summer after freshman year of college, I worked for a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. I was extremely unprepared. To my credit, I had not taken a single finance class yet, and really did not know what I was getting into. Before going back the next summer, I decided that I would be as prepared as possible. I read probably every single page on Investopedia, and then one active-management advocate book (One Up on Wall Street) and one passive-management advocate book (this one). This book completely shattered my preconceptions and caused me to pick a different career path.
8. One Up on Wall Street, by Peter Lynch
The advisor I worked for at Morgan Stanley was extremely smart. He directly managed a ton of money, and he provided great value to his numerous clients. He was probably the most important professional mentor I’ve had in my life. Reading this book essentially set me on this path. I decided I wanted to be a stock picker, and even senior year I was still recruiting for equity research positions. Peter Lynch was a Rockstar, and his advice is genuine and useful.
9. Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
I wonder if putting this book on the list means that I’m a pseudointellectual. Who cares, it’s a great book that I believe draws profound philosophical conclusions. I do not believe in re-reading books. There are just too many books on my to-read list that I want to get to before I die. Still, I am going to re-read this book multiple times.
10. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
So entertaining. Just a fun book all around. I'd say this book is on this list mostly because it reignited my interest in reading. Who doesn't love a good adventure?
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