Each book below is included for slightly different reasons that I address in the first sentence after listing the book title and author.
This book is a favorite because it taught me at an early age that I can create my own happiness. I first read this work quite some time ago at the age of 13, and completed it again at age 17. I talked about this book in my college application essay and in my application video for the entrepreneurship program I attended in 2012. In both of these cases, I discussed the role of this book in my personal realization that no matter the circumstances around me I controlled my reaction, and that by adapting my reaction, I could literally create my own happiness in situations others would find miserable. If you are not familiar with the book, the entirety of the ~110 page book is set to a single day of a prisoner at a Soviet labor camp. The reader steps into the minute details of grueling labor, injustice, and the harshest of winter conditions. This was quite a moving day to relive vicariously knowing that it is but one day of a ten year sentence at the camp. My favorite part of the book comes in the concluding pages and is what ties the jarring conditions to my realization that happiness is rooted largely in one’s perception. Though it’s not a complete spoiler, you may wish to skip ahead from here to the next paragraph to avoid it. As the main character lays down to review his day, he finds that it was a day with ‘not a dark cloud in the sky’ and, that, despite all the abuse and suffering, which I as the reader had observed with shock, the day in the book had been ‘an almost happy day.’
Similar Books that I’ve Enjoyed: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This book is a favorite because it is a beautiful compression of life and love to the 4-day timeline of the story. I consider it a favorite because the deep emotional response the writing elicited from me. Without getting much into plot specifics, I will simply say I recommend this story highly. I’ll also point out that I find it interesting that two of my favorite five books include stories told in great detail over a very short timeline. Previous reflection on this, lead me to read The Art of Time in Fiction by Joan Silber and Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman this past fall and to continue to evaluate why timelines of this slowed time nature appeal to me.
This book is a favorite because it’s the innovation from a life’s work explained in terms simple enough for novices to follow. The lightweight backpacking system presented is one the author developed from the ground up over decades that covered more than 25,000 miles of long distance backpacking. Jardine has a phenomenal repository of knowledge and he provides an incredible representation of this knowledge in Trail Life. This book expertly covers the fundamentals of long distance backpacking knowledge from A to Z for your planning, conditioning, and time on the trail.
Similar that I’ve Enjoyed: Walking the Entire Appalachian Trail: Fulfilling a Dream by Accomplishing the Task by Warren Doyle
This book is a favorite because it helped me remember why I lived and breathed running during five of my teenage years. I devoured this book in three days and found myself at the end of the book with delusions that I’d be running an ultramarathon in the following month. This book taught me the value of prescribing the reading of running/high intensity books to a fixed amount per day or a fixed amount per number of runs completed so that I could translate the intensity of the story into intensity in my training. Born to Run discusses the forefoot running style associated with barefoot running and also introduces the basics of the evolutionary case for humans as runners (the ability to cool off while in motion by sweating, our Achilles tendon, our arched feet, etc.). My favorite single thing in the book was the account of a persistence hunt in which a group of bushmen in the Kalahari Desert chase an antelope and relentlessly run it to a death by overheating — talk about awakening a primal desire to run!
This book is a favorite because it thoroughly explains the insanity that is present day international monetary policy. I’ve been reading for years in articles and newsletters about how crazy it is to allow a small handful of men to control the majority of the world’s monetary supply. This text takes a much deeper dive into how we arrived in the present situation, why the current situation is so fragile, and the extremely unlikely actions that would need to be taken to avoid further economic turmoil.
Similar that I’ve Enjoyed: Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard