One of the most important things in my life has always been reading. I wouldn’t have had a fraction of my success in life without distilling wisdom from others, particularly in the book format. Most of us aren’t born into life circumstances that give us access to mentors, or at least not in the areas that we need, so I’ve always felt comforted by how easy it is to access the minds of the best humans throughout history. As much as I’ve learned from self-improvement/history/biographies/textbooks I’ve also probably learned an equal amount from fiction. The non-true aspect of fiction allows us to confidently explore the inner psychology and dynamics of people that we couldn’t do when writing about real life events. It also lets us live vicariously in such a fun diversity of environments.
Something I’ve also come to learn is that our taste in books change just as they do in music, movies, relationships, etc. I think the books that I enjoy the most are often somewhat polarizing; even myself given a different period in my life I might not care for it at all. When you match an exceptional book with your mental state being in the right place though, the power of the book multiplies.
One book that fits that bill for me is Jesus’ Son for example. The title might be a bit misleading as this is definitely not a religious book. It’s a collection of short stories about people in the underbelly of society, often junkies, and often committing crimes. It’s very dark, but one of the most beautiful books that I’ve ever read. I’d heard it recommended by so many people, had even started reading it once, but put it down. Years later when I was looking for something that had beautiful language I reluctantly picked it back up, and it became one of my favorite books of all time.
I personally have several books on Kindle, physical books, and graphic novels on Comixology that I read concurrently. I’m not afraid to quit a book if I’m not getting into it, even if I’m ⅔ of the way through, or skip large sections of non-fiction books to get to what I’m interested in. I also find myself sometimes stopping a book ¼ through, and then a few months later happily reading it. This approach might be scatterbrained for some people, but for me it feels very natural and college like. I enjoy reading a bit of physics, computer science, graphic novels, evolutionary biology, etc. reading a chapter of each exploring the interconnection of the ideas.
I often have a hard time finding reliable book recommendations, as I think like many people I have peculiar and hard even for myself to define taste. Overall I like things that push/expand my limits of comfortability and understanding, but this is of course a moving target. With that said I have a list of books that I’ve greatly enjoyed. There’s no order as I don’t really like categorically ranking things that I think are all great.
I plan to update the list slowly over time, and if you discover something on it you love please let me know. Also if you feel like there’s some overlap between our tastes and you have some different recommendations please share as well!
Leaving you today with another Hearst Castle picture, this time the indoor pool inside the main house.