Tom Webster, writing and speaking

Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me

Added on by Tom Webster.

I don't do a ton of these, but Douglas Karr tagged me on Facebook to name 10 books that have stayed with me. I swore off physical books several years ago (with very few exceptions) so there are some books that I have had physical copies of, have no longer, and bought again on Kindle. So, those probably qualify.  Also, my undergrad and graduate work prior to my MBA were in English Lit, so I read craptons of fiction, much of which I will spare you from. Anyway, here are 10, in no particular order:

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman. Think of an interesting behavioral economics book you've read in the past decade (Freakonomics, Paradox of Choice, Predictably Irrational, etc.)--they are all just popularizing Kahneman's work--so go to the source, already. He won the Nobel for Economics in 2002, despite never studying economics. He's my intellectual hero.

The Strategy Paradox, Michael Raynor. The business book that changed and influenced my thinking the most. The bits on survivor bias alone will cause you to think more critically about any business fable you ever read again.

The Cluetrain Manifesto. Still the best book on social media that wasn't even about social media.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving. I cried when I finished this book, because it was over. (I did the same for Garp.) I wanted to read it forever.

Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro. A *clinic* in tone, and (for my money) one of the most masterful writers in the English language. Never Let Me Go qualifies, too.

Dune, Frank Herbert. I re-read this every 5 years or so. After I read it the first time, I wanted to become a Sci-Fi writer.

Any and every "Culture" book by Iain M. Banks (start with "Consider Phlebas," which will be my pick here). When I started reading Banks, I immediately *stopped* wanting to write Sci-Fi. His imagination is absolutely pyrotechnic. I couldn't hope to match it.

The Books of Wonder, Tommy Wonder. A two-volume set chronicling the philosophies and major effects of the great Dutch magician Tommy Wonder (Jacobus Maria Bemelman). Tommy was taken from us far too soon, but these volumes are a marvelous gift for magicians and non-magicians alike (except you shouldn't read them if you aren't a magican). It's on my nightstand now. If you create art, it's essential. Tommy was a relentless perfectionist, stripping everything away except, well, the wonder. I've linked his Cups and Balls routine below; it's the last word, as far as I'm concerned.

Strong Magic, Darwin Ortiz. Another magic book, from a legendary card sharp. This book isn't about tricks, though--it's about stagecraft, attention management, and owning a room. If Wonder's books were about creating art, Ortiz is mandatory for *presenting* art. I still know less than 5% of it.

This is Water, David Foster Wallace. Another nightstand book, this was DFW's commencement address to Kenyon College, sadly three years before his suicide. The only thing you can control--the only thing--is how you *choose* to think about things. I'm still not very good at this, but I'm trying. This book (and that practice) informs my philosophy as much as anything possibly could.

What are yours?