My Reading List


A lot of times people ask me, “What’s a good book to read”. I have no idea. You ever go in the bookstore and think, “Wow, there are 10,000 books here and all of them are boring”.

Well… I do. And then it’s even worse when someone gives me a book and says, “you have to read this!” and actually hands me the book. I can never read it. Sometimes it’s even the end of that friendship. I feel I can’t talk to them until I’ve read the book and returned it.

But I read through a lot. Lately, Claudia Azula Altucher and I have been working on a book, “The Power of No”. We finished it but while we were working on it (and to this day) I put an auto-response on my email.

The auto-response had my reading list and I updated it every few days.

I think I’m going to keep the auto-response forever. And I’m going to throw out my phone. Freedom.

The reasons I can’t recommend one book is because I find 100s of books to be equally useful and also because zero books might be useful to you. Just because I liked them at this point time in time doesn’t mean anyone else does.

Here’s my reading list from the past few weeks. I hope you give me more ideas to read in the comments. I’m always desperate for new stuff. I left off the list books I started but didn’t like. All of the below I recommend and really enjoy.

[Update December 8]:

1. “Emperor of the Air” – Ethan Canin
2. “The 33 Strategies of War” – Robert Greene
3. “Not Without Laughter” – Langston Hughes
4. “Selected Poems” – Langston Hughes”
5. “Illusions, Adventures of a reluctant messiah” – Richard Bach
6. “A Kind of Flying” – Ron Carlson
7. “Dusk” – James Salter
8. “Grand Central to the End” – Joe Choi
9. “Crash and Burn” – Artie Lange

Comment: Maybe too many collections of short stories. I need a bit more well-written non-fiction or inspirational. “Not Without Laughter” is a better coming-of-age novel than Catcher in the Rye. “Illusions” I read when I was 13 and loved it and decided to read it. Still beautiful. The 33 Strategies of War once again illuminates Robert Greene’s blinding intelligence.

I started “Tree of Smoke” by Denis Johnson (my favorite short story writer) but I didn’t enjoy it. Started some other collections of stories that I didn’t enjoy. Ron Carlson, James Salter, and Ehtan Canin are excellent short story writers. But maybe Thom Jones from last week is the best I’ve read in a long time.

[Update Nov 26]:

1. “Jerusalem” – Boaz Yakin
2. “Manhood for Amateurs” – Michael Chabon
3. “Eight Men” – Richard Wright
4. “Why I Write” – Will Blythe
5. “At Eighty-Two” – May Sarton
6. “The Pugilist at Rest” – Thom Jones
7. “My Less Than Secret Life” – Jonathan Ames
8. “This is the story of a happy marriage” – Ann Patchett
9. “Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.” – Rob Delaney

[Update Nov 20]: it should be more like “this week I read from.” I also don’t include books I’ve read from and didn’t like. For instance, #1 on Amazon is “the Book Thief”. I can’t get past page ten. I hate it. I’m sorry. Me saying that in an auto-response won’t hurt it’s sales so god bless it. But it’s not for me.

So all of these books are books I recommend.

I also don’t mark the books I’ve read in full. But about 1/3 of the books below I’ve read in full and about 1/3 I’ve read more than once and I’m re-reading either for inspiration or because I love them.

[Update Nov 20]

1. “Pittsburgh Stories” by Clark Blaise
2. “Cathedral” – Raymond Carver
3. “The Frackers” – Greg Zuckerman
4. “Mastery” – Robert Greene
5. “FAQ ME” – by me (I sometimes need to read what I wrote)
6. “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” – Gary Vaynerchuk
7. “Selected Stories” – Alice Munro
8. “Portions from a Wine Stained Notebook” – Bukowski
9. “Raymond Carver Will Not Raise These Children” – Dave Newman
10. “How to Be Happy All the Time” – Yogonanda
11. “The Stories of John Cheever
12. “Dad is Fat” – Jim Gaffigan

[Update Nov 13]

1. “Lit” by Mary Karr
2. “Steps” by Jerzy Kosinski
3. “The Alphabet of Manliness” by madox
4. “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo
5. “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey
6. “Me the People”
7. “Scar Tissue” by Marcus Sakey
8. “The Art of Power” by Thich Naht Hanh
9. “Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!” by Scott Adams

[Update Nov 11]
1. Cormac McCarthy – “The Road” (bleak)
2. Junot Diaz – “Drown”
3. Walter Isaacson – “Einstein”
4. “Searching for Dave Chappelle”
5. “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist”
6. “Hatching Twitter”
7.”A Multitude of Sins” – Richard Ford
8. “The Five Elements of Effective Thinking”
9. “David and Goliath” – Gladwell

Earlier list:

1. “What Is This?” a collection of stories from Stephen Dixon
2. “How to Fail At Almost Everything…” by Scott Adams
3. “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz
4. “It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me” by Ariel Leve

Please help me. What have you been reading (and really enjoying) recently?