I love books. The ones I’ve read, and the ones I’d love to read.
Reading is a form of freedom. Libraries and bookstores are some of my favorite places in the world. Growing up, we had a library of 5,000 books in the house—so much possibility. Right at a point in my life when I also had the time. Though there’s always time for good books.
Lately, I started reaching out to people who I think should write one. Because we seem to miss the books we could really use.
Whenever I come across a substantive body of thought—usually in a blog or a podcast—I reach out to the author to inquire about books on the topic.
And often the books I find on the subject fall short.
They don’t cover the theory well. Or they precipitate too quickly into tactical application. Before the thesis was fully formed.
I tend to stir clear of self-help material and “how to” stuff. There’s the web for that.
There are videos.
Books are for entering new worlds. My sweet spot are good conversation books. That is books that make me think, and that could hold a conversation with me.
I start with who’s writing. How they see the world, their voice. Who, and then what. Why comes later.
Even with fiction, I’m a serial reader.
Tana French, Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths are some favorites. At some point I realized that mystery books by women are much more difficult to figure out. Good for thinking.
I read select non fiction. I’ve loved Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff. From the motivation for writing the book, to the quest of learning to manage herself, to the stories.
She put a ton of value in the book. Because she did the work. I enjoyed Matt Ridely’s books. Hence I also look at who and what he’s reading.
As for the people I’m chasing to write books…I’m hoping at some point my dear friend and colleague Peter Tunjic publishes a book on his theory of capitals. We’ve been talking about his ideas and work for the better part of twenty years. His theory has had a great influence in my work. And I’d love to have it all in one place.
Recently I came across Jonathan Cook’s work on ritual design. I listened to and read two years of his podcast, cover to cover. Then I went on to all of his articles. When I was done, I reached out to him to ask when he’s planning to publish. His work and Peter’s are what I call foundational.Foundational work opens the door to a new paradigm.
Big ideas. New stories.
They require deeper thinking—for the author and the reader. They did the work. You do the work reading. Hence the transfer of value.
These are the books that stay with you. That you go back to and re-read. The theory holds. The energy flows.
Photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash