My Favorite Books, Arranged by Category

I explained in an earlier post how I will stop reading a book if it is boring or poorly written. There are thresholds for each. I could probably create an equation. I can stomach a boring book when the writing is really good. For example, I don't much care for the boozy sex stories Bukowski likes to tell, but he will regularly describe something that will make me drop the book in wonder or laughter. Bukowski's great writing makes up for his content. With the book I am currently reading, Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee, it's the opposite. The content is great, but the writing is uninspired. It's an information grab. 

Rarely can an author do both. For me these authors are Eric Berne, William James, and Graham Harman. Maybe there are a few others. The ones who can do it all are rare. They will also vary from reader to reader based on personal interest and preference. 

This list of my favorite books changes like the seasons. I will go through periods of interest in logical empiricism where I fall back in love with philosophers of cognitive science such as Owen Flanagan and Francisco Varela. There are periods where I need a reminder of how expensive my education was, and I pull out the Heidegger and Husserl books. And so on. As I said, it's like the seasons. And, just like ordinary seasons that have surprise days thrown in, I will sometimes wander into my office at midnight with a stack of books I am suddenly no longer interested in, and exchange them for where I imagine my interest is headed. 

What follows are the books that are like my oldest and dearest friends. 

Teaching Books

Freedom to Learn, by Carl Rogers
Making of an Adult Educator, by Malcolm Knowles

Psychology Books 

The Organism, by Kurt Goldstein
Games People Play, by Eric Berne
I'm OK, You're OK, by Thomas Harris
On Becoming a Person, by Carl Rogers
Myth of Mental Illness, by Thomas Szasz
Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
The Divided Self, by R. D. Laing

Philosophy Books 

Essays in Radical Empiricism, (or really anything) by William James
Object-Oriented Ontology, (or really anything) by Graham Harman
Ideas, by Edmund Husserl
Phenomenology of Perception, by Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu

Books on Writing

Elements of Style, William Strunk and E. B. White
Pity the Reader, by Kurt Vonnegut
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser

Personal Finance Books

The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko


Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
Post Office, by Charles Bukowski

Note: I am inexplicably bored by fiction (these are stories, such as novels, that are make-believe). School taught me that this meant I wasn't much of a reader. But this view changed for me in graduate school when I discovered the pleasure of reading nonfiction.