Below are my favorite books or books that shaped my life in one way or another. If you are interested you can see what I am reading right now and what is on my reading list at Goodreads.

Non-Fiction

4 Hour Trilogy (The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body & The 4-Hour Chef) by Timothy Ferriss – Starting with The 4- Hour Workweek, Tim’s books have been instrumental in teaching me that there are ways to live life well outside of what I have always known as normal. The 4-Hour books re-shaped my thinking and gave me the confidence to quit my corporate job and strike it on my own. Each book can help in very different ways. The 4-Hour Workweek will help you to streamline your life and give examples on how to Define, Eliminate, Automate and put you on the path to Liberation. The 4-Hour Body will give you tangible ways to improve your health; everything from weight controls to holding your breath for 4+ minutes. Finally, The 4-Hour Chef is a book on how to deconstruct learning; taught through the medium of cooking.

Cleaving by Julie Powell – Julie’s follow-up book to Julie & Julia. The story of a year long apprenticeship at Fleischer’s Butcher Shop. The story of an obsession with meat is woven with her challenged marriage. This book stirred within me a desire to learn the art of butchering; one that I have yet to fully dive into. My jump into cooking is the start of a long journey that I know will include a good amount of butchering.

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis – It is extremely difficult to pick a favorite Michael Lewis books; therefore I just started with his first. Michael’s memoir of his time at Salomon Brothers in the 1980’s. The excess of the 1980’s coupled with a great storyteller in the thick of the hysteria. Michael has a way to take complex ideas/stories and make them read like a great piece of fiction. If the 1980’s are not your bag I would recommend: The Big Short, Flash Boys & The Blind Side.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson – Two stories told side by side: The tale of Daniel H. Burnham architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair and H.H. Holmes, serial killer who lured victims to his murder castle. Written in novelistic style; this book reads like a great movie. I remember reading half of the book in one night; sitting up till 3am just to see how it would finish.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday – The book that got me through the last couple months of Corporate America. I took more quotes from this book than any other in my life. The teachings of the Stoics is powerful ideas to get anyone through difficult times. Here is a little nugget:

“Certain things in life will cut you open like a knife. When than happens – at that exposing moment – the world gets a glimpse of what’s truly inside you. So what will be revealed when you’re sliced open by tension and pressure? Iron? Or air? OR Bullshit?” — Ryan Holiday

The Secrets of a Happy Families by Bruce Feiler – By the first chapter (Agile software development tweaked for family operations) and I was hooked. I have not read tons of books on family dynamics but this one hit home with several tactical methods to make for a more happy family.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder – Warren has amassed one of the largest fortunes in recent history. From a young age to his ripe old age of today he has had a singular focus to uncover value where ever it may lie. Get inside the mind of one of our generations greatest investors.

“I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.” – Warren Buffett

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – Birth, Hippie, Spiritual Quest, Apple, Next, Pixar, Apple & World’s Most Valuable Company. The story arch of Steve Job’s life will inspire you to follow your passion no matter who or what stands in your way.

Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith – A self confessed fat, lazy slob who did good; Kevin’s writing will have you in tears both ways. From tears of sadness recounting the passing of his father to the grovelling at his wife’s feet for sex; get ready for a roller coaster of story telling. I love both his movies and his writing. If this guy is lazy I am not sure what his life would look like productive.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer – A personal account of one of the deadliest season on Mt. Everest. After being tasked to write about the commercialization of Mt. Everest by Outside magazine; Jon is thrust into a life or death situation for himself and the people he is with. I will never attempt to go to the roof of the world but better understanding why people choose to will help you better understand your own mountains.

Fiction – I am not a huge fiction reader and felt too shy to put all three 50 Shades of Grey books on the list; so here you are….my short list

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – I would be lying to you if I told you that I was able to finish this tomb in one block of time. If my memory serves me it took an off and on reading of all 1,075 pages. The story is largely told from the point of view of Dagny Taggart, chief of operations for Taggart Transcontinental. Many people look to this book more as religion than a work of fiction. What I took most from this book is the importance of free spirit and a hard, driven work ethic.

Animal Farm & 1984 by George Orwell – I read both of these book when I spent the summer in Alexandria MN without a TV while finishing my technical degree. I can fully explain it but both books have perpelled me to re-read them over and over again. They are well written and expecially Animal Farm have a dark comedy vibe. Look forward to discussing these with my kids once they have them as assigned reading in high school.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – From the first time Tyler asks narrator / Jack to hit him as hard has he can; I was sucked in. For a good central MN boy I related to never being in a fight and as the story takes a turn towards extreme minimalism and anarchy it becomes more and more engulfing. I enjoyed the ending of the book much more than the movie; that being said both complement each other very well and Brad Pitt’s take on Tyler Durden is spot on.

Cookbooks

The Silver Spoon New Edition – With the 1st edition published in 1931 (Original Title: The Illustrated Four Eggs – II Quattrova Illustrato) and only firsted pubilished in English in 2005. Now on its 5th reprint and 2nd Edition. The number one gift to Italian brides on their wedding days for nearly 70 years. No recipe is more than a paragraph long in description (Expanded from even less detail when translated to English). Over 2,000 simple and authentic recipes. It has been my Bible for Italian cooking.

The Complete America’s Test Kitchen – With every recipe from the hit show this will give you all hardened, tested and fully vetted recipes; ATK style. If the Silver Spoon leaves much to experience and self discovery; America’s Test Kitchen will give even the most inexperienced cook a well formed map to great food. Every imaginable type of recipe you would ever want to cook plus a great shopping guide for kitchen equipment and ingredients.