“Uno no es lo que es por lo que escribe, sino por lo que ha leído” 1
(You are not what you write, but what you have read)
During the holiday season, it is not uncommon for writers and notable media figures to share lists of favorite books. Titles that are often deemed the “best of the year”. Titles that may or may not be forgotten in a few weeks’ time.
I recently asked some of my colleagues and others in the community2: Which books have continually inspired you? The books that have highly influenced the way you live or work. The books that have provided professional guidance, motivation or new perspectives on life. Books for all seasons.
The richness of the responses includes both fiction and non-fiction titles. Among the latter, there was a good diversity of subjects related to science, management, biographical, philosophy, psychology and other areas. Although a limited sample, the responses offered me a snapshot of what makes us so different, and yet, so similar in relation to general interests and concerns.
Cognizant of my biases, here is a selection of titles.
The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard P. Feynman
Who Is Fourier?: A Mathematical Adventure by Transnational College of LEX
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey K. Liker
What Machines Can’t Do by Robert J. Thomas
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman’s Crusade for Free Software by Sam Williams
Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel
Art of War by Sun Tzu
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
2 Mainly research, computing, software development. Including those sharing their views via this medium.