Books remain indispensable for critical thinking, during an era when information is proliferate but wisdom is scarce. 

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer paperback, hardcover, audio, or e-books; books are essential. With the possible exception of travel to new places and cultures, nothing compares to the deep learning and insights you garner–along with significant pleasure–when you plunge into an extensive work of fiction or non-fiction.

I’m asked quite often about my favorite books, and offer them here with monthly updates. Enjoy!

Possibilities and Threats

  • Roose, Kevin, Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation
  • Morgan, Jacob. The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces They Want, the Tools They Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate
  • Gates, Bill, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
  • Galloway, Scott, Post-Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity
  • Zakaria, Fareed, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World
  • Diamandis, Peter H. and Kotler, Steven, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives
  • Schwerdtfeger, Patrick, Pandemic, Inc.: 8 Trends Driving Business Growth and Success in the New Economy
  • Guillen, Mauro F., 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything
  • Hastings, Reed, and Meter, Erin, No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention
  • Nadella, Satya, Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone
  • Greger, Michael, How to Survive a Pandemic
  • Lee, Kai-Fu, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
  • Anja, Manuel, This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States
  • Harari, Yuval Noah, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
  • Haass, Richard, The World: A Brief Introduction
  • Zuboff, Shoshana, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
  • Kelly, Kevin, What Technology Wants
  • Figueres, Christiana, and Rivett-Carnac, Tom, The Future We Choose
  • Wallace-Wells, David, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
  • Perry, William J., The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump
  • Spelling, Gene, Economic Dignity
  • Martin, Roger, When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency
  • Tippett, Krista, Becoming Wise
  • Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Mindfulness and Psychology

  • Goleman, Daniel, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body
  • Goldstein, Joseph, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu, The Noble Eightfold Path
  • Hanson, Rick, Buddha’s Brain
  • Kornfield, Jack, The Wise Heart
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
  • Salzburg, Sharon, Loving-Kindness
  • Chodron, Pema, The Places That Scare You
  • Chodron, Pema, When Things Fall Apart
  • Rosenberg, Marshall. Non-Violent Communication.
  • Tan, Chade-Meng, Search Inside Yourself
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  • Hanson, Rick, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness
  • Kaufman, Scott Barry, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization
  • Bradshaw, John, Healing the Shame That Binds You
  • Bradshaw, John, Homecoming
  • van der Kolk, Bessel, The Body Keeps the Score
  • Heuertz, Christopher, The Sacred Enneagram
  • Rohr, Richard, Falling Upward
  • Frankl, Viktor, Man‘s Search for Meaning

Learning and Professional Development

  • Kahneman, Daniel, Thinking Fast and Slow
  • Martin, Roger, The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking
  • Paul, Richard, and Elder, Linda, Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools (Thinker’s Guide Library)
  • Block, Peter, The Answer to How is Yes
  • Gelb, Michael, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
  • Burnett, Bill, and Evans, Dave, Designing Your Life
  • Pink, Daniel, A Whole New Mind
  • Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, Leena Rinne, The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity
  • Johnson, Whitney, Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work
  • Theroux, Paul, The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road


  • Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
  • Campbell, Joseph, and Moyers, Bill, The Power of Myth
  • Movshovitz, Dean, Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films
  • Duarte, Nancy, DataStory: Explain Data and Inspire Action Through Story
  • Godin, Seth, This is Marketing
  • Godin, Seth, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
  • Miller, Donald, Building a Story Brand

Activism and Justice

  • Magee, Rhonda, The Inner Work of Racial Justice
  • Smith,  Zadie, Intimations
  • Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time
  • Wilkerson, Isabel, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
  • Wilkerson, Isabel, The Warmth of Other Suns
  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, We Should All Be Feminists
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi, Between the World and Me
  • Oluo, Ijeoma, So You Want to Talk About Race
  • Kendi, Ibram X,, How to Be An Anti-Racist
  • Kendi, Ibram X., Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
  • Traister, Rebecca, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
  • Wise, Tim, White Like Me
  • DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Race
  • Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow
  • Abrams, Stacey, Our Time is Now
  • Davis, Miles. Miles.

Health, Fitness, and Nutrition

  • Greger, Michael, How Not to Diet
  • Nestor, James, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Writing Tips

  • Seinfeld, Jerry, Is This Anything?
  • Oates, Joyce Carol: The Faith of a Writer: Love, Craft, Art
  • Prose, Francine, Reading Like a Writer
  • King, Stephen, On Writing
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  • Lencek, Lena, and Brunello, Pero, How to Write Like Chekhov
  • Hemingway, Ernest, Ernest Hemingway on Writing
  • Pressfield, Steven, The War of Art
  • Moore, Dinty W., The Mindful Writer


  • Denby, David, Great Books
  • Denby, David, Lit Up
  • O’Brien, Tim, The Things They Carried
  • Whyte, David, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
  • Oliver, Mary, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
  • Angelou, Maya, The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou
  • King, Stephen, The Stand
  • Rowling, JK, Harry Potter series
  • Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man and the Sea 
  • Hemingway, Ernest, A Movable Feast
  • Salinger, JD, The Catcher in the Rye
  • Puzo, Mario, The Godfather
  • Morrison, Toni, Beloved
  • Doerr, Anthony, All the Light We Cannot See
  • Steinbeck, John, East of Eden
  • Wroblewski, David, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.