Essential Books for a Home Library

I thoroughly enjoy reading. It is also possible that I enjoy collecting books more than I do reading them. Which results in crammed bookshelves and boxes packed away with books that will never be seen again – or at least for a very long time. Sometimes I find that I own multiple copies of the same book because I forgot I already had a copy or I could not find it because it was packed away in a box.

However, over the last few years, I have been narrowing down the books I own so that they can all fit on the bookshelves. This became important to me because I want to have quick access to a book when I need to refer to it for studying and research while writing. If it is packed away I rarely refer to it. I also have found that books sitting around serve as great conversation starters with guests. When it is not on the bookshelf it cannot start a conversation. Mostly though, I want my children to fall in love with reading and have easy access to some of the best books written on philosophy, politics, spirituality, economics, psychology, self-help, success, business, and other literature. I believe books can help provide a wealth of knowledge and expose someone to areas of interest that they may not have discovered any other way.

I am also a believer in introducing my children to ideas within our home so we can talk about them before they encounter them in the real world. When the time comes that they have to stand up for and give answers for their worldview, I want them to be equipped and have an understanding of the other viewpoints. I am less concerned about them being introduced to “safe” ideas and more concerned about making sure they learn how to think.

With this all in mind, I began identifying what I felt were the essential books that would provide a diverse base of knowledge and expose them to a variety of subjects. I focused on philosophy, politics, spirituality, economics, psychology, self-help, success, business, and then also general literature. It was an enormous task to narrow the list down across the categories and finally feel good about having a list to consider final – which is probably why it has taken me a few years. Before I give my exhaustive list, I want to tell you that I leaned heavily on a series of books by Tom Butler-Bowdon to arrive at my final list. I would highly recommend getting every book in the series as part of your library even though you will not find them in the list below. If it was on my list and also included in his books then it became “essential” most of the time.

Last, I am still making my way through this list of books. I have not read them all but almost all of them have been on my list to read because of being bestsellers, a classic, introducing new and prominent ideas into the world, or simply because they were recommended by someone I trust or aspire to model myself after. There are also many, many, many more books that are beneficial and relevant that I had to eliminate from this list to get down to a list that is a little more than 400 books. I hope you enjoy it and, don’t worry, you can just skip to the subjects you care most about without looking through the entire list… no one will know!

Philosophy

Start with at least a few philosophy books. This is where everything begins. Most knowledge is the outcome of the ideas and thoughts of philosophy. It all builds on the insights produced by the minds of philosophers which then influences politics, theology, economics, psychology, and so on.

  1. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky by Noam Chomsky (2002)
  2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (2016)
  3. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (64 A.D.)
  4. Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel (2005)
  5. The Discourses by Epictetus (108 A.D.)
  6. Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953)
  7. Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology by J.P. Moreland (2018)
  8. Capital by Karl Marx (1867)
  9. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt (1958)
  10. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Jacques Ellul (1962)
  11. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis (1961)
  12. Either/Or: A Fragment of Life by Soren Kierkegaard (1843)
  13. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011)
  14. The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty by Peter Singer (2009)
  15. The Enneads by Plotinus (250 A.D.)
  16. I and Thou by Martin Buber (1923)
  17. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger (1927)
  18. The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell (1930)
  19. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (1962)
  20. Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke (1980)
  21. Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard (1843)
  22. Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard (1981)
  23. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (524 A.D.)
  24. Outlines of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus (200 A.D.)
  25. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)
  26. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre (1943)
  27. The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (340 B.C.)
  28. Pensees by Blaise Pascal (1670)
  29. On Duties by Cicero (44 B.C.)
  30. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant (1781)
  31. The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan (1967)
  32. Phenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1807)
  33. Republic by Plato (380 B.C.)
  34. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb (2007)
  35. A Theory of Justice by John Rawls (1971)
  36. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume (1748)
  37. Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking by Williams James (1907)
  38. Free Will by Sam Harris (2012)
  39. The Ego Trick: In Search of the Self by Julian Baggini (2011)
  40. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (1532)
  41. The Analects by Confucius (429 B.C.)
  42. Living in the End Times by Slavog Zizek (2010)
  43. Fate by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1860)
  44. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762)
  45. Language, Truth, and Logic by A.J. Ayer (1936)
  46. Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes (1641)
  47. Letters of Epicurus by Epicurus (~341 B.C. – 270 B.C.)
  48. On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt (1986)
  49. Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, & the Origin of Evil by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1710)
  50. The Principles of Morals and Legislation by Jeremy Bentham (1789)

Politics

Politics form the ideas about how society should be formed and its function. Basically, how do we live well with others and contribute to the collective in a way that advances culture. Honestly, historical books on politics are not my thing even though there are some really important books included in this list. I’m more a fan of political philosophy but we cannot live in our ideas all of the time. We have to take action and that is a focus of politics.

  1. The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln (1863)
  2. From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000 by Lee Kuan Yew (2000)
  3. The Law by Frederic Bastiat (1849)
  4. The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill (1948)
  5. For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray Rothbard (1973)
  6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X (1965)
  7. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (1994)
  8. The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (1951)
  9. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1986)
  10. The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973)
  11. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Goodwin (2005)
  12. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall (2015)
  13. The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper (1956)
  14. American Nations: A History of Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (2011)
  15. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein (1974)
  16. The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek (1944)
  17. Two Concepts of Liberty by Isaiah Berlin (1958)
  18. The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson (2009)
  19. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000 by Paul Kennedy (1989)
  20. Politics Among Nations by Hans Morgenthau (1948)
  21. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton (1787)
  22. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu (2012)
  23. Discourses on Livy by Niccolo Machiavelli (1531)
  24. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi (1927)
  25. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (1835)
  26. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis by Graham Allison (1971)
  27. The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities by Mancur Olson (1982)
  28. The Age of Walls: How Barriers Between Nations Are Changing Our World by Tim Marshall (2018)
  29. Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government by P.J. O’Rourke (1991)
  30. Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
  31. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)
  32. On War by Carl von Clausewitz (1832)
  33. Politics by Aristotle (350 B.C.)
  34. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (1849)
  35. Crito by Plato (385 B.C.)
  36. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
  37. No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies by Naomi Klein (2000)
  38. The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria (2008)
  39. Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1755)
  40. Propaganda by Edward Bernays (1928)
  41. The Future of Power by Joseph Nye, Jr. (2010)
  42. Second Treatise of Government by John Locke (1689)
  43. Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick (1974)
  44. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel Huntington (1996)
  45. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul Alinsky (1969)
  46. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1905)
  47. The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State by John Micklethwait (2014)
  48. Leviathan: Or the Matter, Forme & Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil by Thomas Hobbes (1651)
  49. Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall (2016)
  50. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx (1848)

Spiritual

You’ll find that this list includes a lot of books from a Biblical worldview as that is the lens through which I tend to view the world. However, there are a few books that do not fit this description; New Age books on ideas of the soul, Stoic philosophy (one of the primary philosophies during the New Testament), and a couple of books from Asian religions. Last, I apologize for the number of books from C.S. Lewis, but I am a big fan of his ability to creatively communicate ideas of faith and theology.

  1. Love and Responsibility by Pope John Paul II (1960)
  2. The Francis Schaeffer Trilogy: The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent by Francis A. Schaeffer (1968)
  3. Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey (2015)
  4. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller (2014)
  5. The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (2018)
  6. The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1951)
  7. The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis (1949)
  8. Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace (2013)
  9. The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine by A.W. Tozer (1948)
  10. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolph Richards (2012)
  11. A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards (1980)
  12. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (1942)
  13. A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis by C.S. Lewis (1968)
  14. Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore (2015)
  15. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1951)
  16. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (1945)
  17. The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David Benner (2004)
  18. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney (1991)
  19. Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton (1994)
  20. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1956)
  21. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (2006)
  22. The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron (2001)
  23. Enchiridion by Epictetus (125 A.D.)
  24. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics by William Lane Craig (1984)
  25. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (1942)
  26. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche (1992)
  27. The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living by Chip Dodd (2001)
  28. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis (1427)
  29. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster (1978)
  30. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (1908)
  31. Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories by C.S. Lewis (1966)
  32. Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti (1964)
  33. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (1998)
  34. Angels: Gods Secret Agents by Billy Graham (1975)
  35. The Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (1938)
  36. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhard Tolle (1997)
  37. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman (1980)
  38. Spiritual Laws by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)
  39. Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung (1961)
  40. The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich (1952)
  41. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis (1940)
  42. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis (1943)
  43. The Enneads by Plotinus (250 A.D.)
  44. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis (1955)
  45. I and Thou by Martin Buber (1923)
  46. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav (1989)
  47. On the Soul by Aristotle (350 B.C.)
  48. Confessions by St. Augustine (400 A.D.)
  49. Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas (1265-1274)
  50. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig (1974)

Economics

Economics can be a dry topic to read. Like politics, I find I am drawn to books on the subject of economics that tend to be more philosophical. Also, anything on behavioral economics is interesting to me, likely due to my academic study and work in psychology. It is helpful to have at least a foundational knowledge of the economy just so you understand why certain policies in politics have real consequences… or benefits!

  1. The Use of Knowledge in Society by Friedrich Hayek (1945)
  2. The Ultimate Resource 2 by Julian Simon (1996)
  3. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics by Ludwig von Mises (1940)
  4. Progress and Poverty by Henry George (1879)
  5. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (2010)
  6. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee (2011)
  7. Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell (2007)
  8. The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous (2018)
  9. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (1949)
  10. Capital by Karl Marx (1867)
  11. Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert Reich (2004)
  12. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John Bogle (2007)
  13. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler (2016)
  14. Stabilizing an Unstable Economy: A Twentieth Century Fund Report by Hyman Minsky (1986)
  15. The Competitive Advantage of Nations by Michael Porter (1990)
  16. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (2008)
  17. Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by Ernst Schumacher (1973)
  18. Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education by Gary Becker (1964)
  19. Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (2013)
  20. Economics by Paul Samuelson (1948)
  21. The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti (2012)
  22. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter (1942)
  23. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed (2009)
  24. Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling (1978)
  25. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando de Soto (2000)
  26. The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy by Dani Rodrik (2010)
  27. Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller (2000)
  28. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt (2005)
  29. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang (2010)
  30. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson (2014)
  31. The Great Crash of 1929 by John Kenneth Galbaraith (1954)
  32. Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman (1962)
  33. The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen (1899)
  34. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson (2007)
  35. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand (1966)
  36. Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)
  37. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes (1935)
  38. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo (2009)
  39. Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn (2013)
  40. An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Robert Malthus (1798)

Psychology

Psychology is a really fascinating subject and covers a vast amount of domains. Psychology can work along philosophy, politics, religion and faith, as well as economics. It can be the study of how humanity engages with a higher power, how we engage with each other, how one can better understand themselves, or how humans live within the natural world. There are very few subjects that cannot engage with psychology!

  1. The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge by Beatrice Chestnut (2013)
  2. Psychological Types by Carl Jung (1921)
  3. Ego and Archetype: Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche by Edward Edinger (1972)
  4. The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport (1954)
  5. The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson (1972)
  6. The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy by Viktor Frankl (1969)
  7. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson (2016)
  8. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran (1998)
  9. Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis by Karen Horney (1945)
  10. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer (1951)
  11. Eyewitness Testimony by Elizabeth Loftus (1980)
  12. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (2012)
  13. Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram (1974)
  14. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini (1984)
  15. The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker (1996)
  16. Toward a Psychology of Being by Abraham Maslow (1961)
  17. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature by Abraham Maslow (1971)
  18. Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey (1998)
  19. The Art and Science of Personality Development by Dan McAdams (2015)
  20. The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Richard Riso (1999)
  21. Nurture by Nature: How to Raise Happy, Healthy, Responsible Children Through the Insights of Personality Type by Paul Tieger (1997)
  22. The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin (2013)
  23. The Courage to Create by Rollo May (1975)
  24. Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward (1997)
  25. Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff (1980)
  26. Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control by Albert Bandura (1997)
  27. Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality by Frederick Perls (1951)
  28. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone (1999)
  29. The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness by R.D. Laing (1960)
  30. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1996)
  31. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (2002)
  32. A New Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis (1961)
  33. Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow (2012)
  34. The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are – The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright (1994)
  35. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (2006)
  36. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2012)
  37. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks (1985)
  38. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert Hare (1993)
  39. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (2003)
  40. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison (1996)
  41. The 16 Personality Types: Profiles, Theory, & Type Development by A.J. Drenth (2013)
  42. On the Aesthetic Education of Man by Friedrich Schiller (1794)
  43. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron (1990)
  44. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
  45. The Psychology of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden (1969)
  46. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (2007)
  47. Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are by Daniel Nettle (2007)
  48. Games People Play by Eric Berne (1964)
  49. Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner (1971)
  50. I’m OK – You’re OK by Thomas Harris (1967)

Self-Help

Starting with the subjects of self-help, success, and business I feel like a lot of the books and ideas are recycled from philosophy, politics, spirituality, economics, and psychology. The ideas and topics are still valid and definitely worth the read – especially if you enjoy books with a little more pop culture feel. These books have changed a lot of peoples’ lives and could change yours too!

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (1946)
  2. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (600 B.C.)
  3. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (1902)
  4. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell (1988)
  5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown (2012)
  6. The Dhammapada (400 B.C.)
  7. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar (1974)
  8. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life by Maxwell Maltz (1960)
  9. Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline, and a Winning Attitude by Mark Douglas (2000)
  10. Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders by Jack Schwager (1989)
  11. One Up On Wall Street: How to Use What You Already Know to Make Money in the Market by Peter Lynch (1988)
  12. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (180 A.D.)
  13. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)
  14. Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow (1954)
  15. On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1969)
  16. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay (1984)
  17. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV (1998)
  18. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Financial Destiny! by Tony Robbins (1992)
  19. The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker (1973)
  20. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher (1957)
  21. The Power of Positive Thinking by Vincent Norman Peale (1952)
  22. The Bhagavad Gita by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (400 B.C.)
  23. The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn (1978)
  24. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy (1963)
  25. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey (1988)
  26. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton Malkiel (1973)
  27. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (1997)
  28. Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain (1978)
  29. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra (1993)
  30. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2012)
  31. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990)
  32. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen (2012)
  33. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by Scott Peck (1978)
  34. Technical Analysis Explained: The Successful Investor’s Guide to Spotting Investment Trends and Turning Points by Martin Pring (1985)
  35. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers (1987)
  36. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns (1980)
  37. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)
  38. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman (1995)
  39. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch (1997)
  40. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner (1981)
  41. How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad by William O’Neil (1988)
  42. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman (1990)
  43. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (524 A.D.)
  44. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life by Richard Carlson (1997)
  45. Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore (1988)
  46. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)
  47. Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly (1984)
  48. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (1791)
  49. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
  50. The Road to Character by David Brooks (2015)

Success

You’ll start to see a lot of topics repeated from the self-help books. One minor difference in this list of books is that there is more focus on financial success. However, do not be fooled, even the books that talk of financial success present solutions and tactics that can be applied to areas outside of finances.

  1. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy (2010)
  2. The Secret Door to Success by Florence Scovel Shinn (1940)
  3. How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Les Giblin (1956)
  4. How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger (1947)
  5. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason (1926)
  6. Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills that Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed by Brian Tracy (1993)
  7. The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh (2009)
  8. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (1959)
  9. The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder (1962)
  10. The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to Mental Side of Peak Performance by Timothy Gallwey (1974)
  11. Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement by Tony Robbins (1986)
  12. The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian (1647)
  13. Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell (1892)
  14. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre (1923)
  15. The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley (2006)
  16. My Life and Work by Henry Ford (1922)
  17. How I Made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market by Nicolas Darvas (1960)
  18. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles (1910)
  19. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937)
  20. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (2008)
  21. Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein (1995)
  22. Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald Phillips (1992)
  23. Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace (1992)
  24. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James Collins (2001)
  25. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller (2013)
  26. The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin (1757)
  27. Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender (2015)
  28. Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant (2013)
  29. Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton (1992)
  30. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (2016)
  31. Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose – the Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership by John Whitmore (2002)
  32. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money – That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki (1997)
  33. Margaret Thatcher: The Autobiography by Margaret Thatcher (2013)
  34. Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments by Muriel James (1971)
  35. Thick Face, Black Heart: The Asian Path to Thriving, Winning, & Succeeding by Chin-Ning Chu (1992)
  36. Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc (1977)
  37. Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson (1998)
  38. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (500 B.C.)
  39. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David Landes (1998)
  40. On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis (1989)

Business

Again, business books tend to have some of the same elements of self-help and success books but often from the perspectives of great business people and companies or organizations. There are a lot of great stories in this list and, as long as you can learn from others’ life lessons and stories, you will find quite a few gems in this group of books.

  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight (2016)
  2. Black Box Thinking: Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do by Matthew Syed (2015)
  3. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz (2014)
  4. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal (2015)
  5. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance (2015)
  6. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull (2009)
  7. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt (2011)
  8. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel (2014)
  9. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow (1998)
  10. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (2013)
  11. Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness by Robert Greenleaf (1977)
  12. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis (2012)
  13. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder (2008)
  14. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by James Collins (2011)
  15. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries (2011)
  16. Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits by Robert Townsend (1970)
  17. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker (1966)
  18. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek (2009)
  19. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni (2002)
  20. Out of the Crisis by Edwards Deming (1982)
  21. How Google Works by Eric Schmidt (2014)
  22. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace by Al Ries (1980)
  23. Pour Your Heart Into It: How Startbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz (1997)
  24. The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross (2016)
  25. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber (1985)
  26. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford (2015)
  27. Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel (1994)
  28. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton Christensen (1997)
  29. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore (1991)
  30. Strengths-Based Leadership: A Landmark Study of Great Leaders, Teams, and the Reasons Why We Follow by Tom Rath (2007)
  31. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by Chan Kim (1994)
  32. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (2013)
  33. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher (1981)
  34. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge (1990)
  35. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie (1920)
  36. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark (2016)
  37. Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch (2001)
  38. The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter (1969)
  39. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin (2003)
  40. The Art of Money Getting: Golden Rules for Making Money by P.T. Barnum (1880)

General Literature

Last, in the general literature category, I have mostly classic books of fiction. Admittedly, these books as a collection seem a little heavy on masculine interests, but still valuable reads for anyone. Perhaps, I’ll work with my wife to make another list of books focused on general literature that our daughter might be more interested in as she grows up.

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1955)
  2. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings by Jorge Luis Borges (1962)
  3. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (1959)
  4. East of Eden by Jon Steinbeck (1952)
  5. The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports by Joshua Robinson (2018)
  6. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1879)
  7. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1974)
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
  9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
  10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
  11. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)
  12. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2008)
  13. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor (1955)
  14. 1984 by George Orwell (1949)
  15. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (1997)
  16. Wilderness Essays by John Muir (1888-1914)
  17. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (1927)
  18. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855)
  19. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
  20. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)
  21. The Death of Ivan Illych by Leo Tolstoy (1886)
  22. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1969)
  23. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (1980)
  24. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)
  25. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche (1886)
  26. Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)
  27. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
  28. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  29. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
  30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  31. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (1989)
  32. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
  33. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
  34. Boy Scout Handbook (1911)
  35. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
  36. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (1958)
  37. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (1988)
  38. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
  39. The Illiad by Homer (1260 to 1180 B.C.)
  40. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)
  41. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (2017)
  42. White Noise by Don DeLillo (1985)
  43. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)
  44. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879)
  45. The Odyssey by Homer (700 B.C.)
  46. Oil! by Upton Sinclair (1926)
  47. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
  48. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
  49. Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine by Lou Ureneck (2011)
  50. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)

There it is! My personal list of essential books for every home library. Hopefully this has inspired you to read more, build your own library, or just think about the books you find to be essential. What books would you leave off your list? Which would you include that I’m missing?

Leave a comment