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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!

Storytelling (Including Mythology, Religion, Mysticism, Creativity, Marketing, Literature)

  • Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
  • Campbell, Joseph, and Moyers, Bill, The Power of Myth
  • Hamilton, Edith, Mythology
  • Armstrong, Karen, A Short History of Myth
  • Bonnet, James, Stealing Fire From the Gods
  • Smith, Huston, The World’s Religions
  • Smith, Huston, Tales of Wonder
  • Huxley, Aldous, The Perennial Philosophy
  • Butler-Bowdon, Tom, 50 Spiritual Classics
  • Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism
  • Merton, Thomas, New Seeds of Contemplation
  • Keating, Thomas, Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer
  • Rohr, Richard, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See
  • Rohr, Richard, Discovering the Enneagram
  • Heuertz, Christopher, The Sacred Enneagram
  • Heuertz, Christopher, The Enneagram of Belonging
  • Lamott, Anne, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
  • Hutchens, David, Story Dash!
  • Jiwa, Bernadette, Story Driven
  • Corn, Lisa, Story Genius
  • Drake, David B, Narrative Coaching: The Definitive Guide to Bringing New Stories to Life
  • 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
  • McKee, Robert, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
  • 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
  • Davis, Miles, Miles.
  • Kahn, Ashley, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album
  • Crouch, Stanley, Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker
  • Abdurraqib, Hanif, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
  • Alexander, Stephon, The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe
  • Gioia, Ted, How to Listen to Jazz
  • Hilburn, Robert, Paul Simon: The Life
  • Rilke, Rainer Maria, Letters on Cézanne
  • King, Ross, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies
  • Denby, David, Great Books
  • Denby, David, Lit Up
  • Foster, Thomas C., How to Read Literature Like a Professor
  • Foster, Thomas C., How to Read Novels Like a Professor
  • Foster, Thomas C., Reading the Silver Screen
  • Walsh, George, 50 Plus One Books You Should Have Read (And Probably Didn’t)
  • 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

Learning (Including Careers and Professional Development)

  • Roose, Kevin, Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation
  • Clear, James, Atomic Habits
  • Barzun, Matthew, The Power of Giving Away Power
  • Odell, Jenny. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
  • Tippett, Krista, Becoming Wise
  • Grant, Adam, Think Again
  • Newport, Cal, Deep Work
  • Newport, Cal, Digital Minimalism
  • Daio, Ray. Principles: Life and Work
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  • Kahneman, Daniel, Thinking Fast and Slow
  • Kahneman, Danie. Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment
  • 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
  • Gelb, Michael, Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking
  • Gelb, Michael, Discover Your Genius
  • 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

Mindfulness (Including Psychology and Healing)

  • Gunaratana, Bhante, Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu, The Noble Eightfold Path
  • Goldstein, Joseph, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
  • Batchelor, Stephen. Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
  • Wright, Robert. Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
  • Goleman, Daniel, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body
  • Hanson, Rick, Buddha’s Brain
  • Kornfield, Jack, The Wise Heart
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, Living Buddha, Living Christ
  • Salzburg, Sharon, Loving-Kindness
  • Chodron, Pema, The Places That Scare You
  • Chodron, Pema, When Things Fall Apart
  • Chah, Ajahn, Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah
  • Armstrong, Karen, 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life
  • Rosenberg, Marshall. Non-Violent Communication.
  • Tan, Chade-Meng, Search Inside Yourself
  • Rohr, Richard, Falling Upward
  • Frankl, Viktor, Man‘s Search for Meaning
  • Becker, Ernest, The Denial of Death
  • 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
  • Neff, Kristin, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
  • van der Kolk, Bessel, The Body Keeps the Score

Digital Transformation, Business, and Customer/Employee Experience

  • Christakis, Nicholas A., Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Kelly, Kevin, What Technology Wants
  • Kurzweil, Ray, The Singularity is Near
  • Zuboff, Shoshana, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

  • Christakis, Nicholas A, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society Spelling, Gene, Economic Dignity
  • Harari, Yuval Noah, Sapiens
  • Wilber, Ken, A Theory of Everything
  • Kaplan, Mark, and Donovan, Mason, The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off
  • Catlin, Karen, Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces
  • McGhee, Heather, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
  • Martin, Roger, When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency
  • Wiesel, Elie, Night
  • 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
  • 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
  • Ratliff, Sarah, Being Bi-Racial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide
  • 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
  • Ortiz, Paul, An African American and Latinx History of the United States (REVISIONING HISTORY Book 4)
  • Ramos, Paola. Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity
  • Villavicencio, Karla Cornejo. The Undocumented Americans  
  • Hong, Cathy Park. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning  
  • Wong, Alice. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century
  • Neihardt, John G., Black Elk Speaks
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (REVISIONING HISTORY Book 3)
  • Harjo, Joy. Crazy Brave: A Memoir
  • Orange, Tommy, There, There
  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, We Should All Be Feminists
  • Traister, Rebecca, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
  • Downs, Alan, The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World
  • Gainsburg, Jeannie. The Savvy Ally: A Guide for Becoming a Skilled LGBTQ+ Advocate 

Existential Threats

  • Kolbert, Elizabeth, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
  • Gates, Bill, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
  • 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
  • Harari, Yuval Noah, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
  • Haass, Richard, The World: A Brief Introduction

Health, Fitness, and Nutrition

  • Greger, Michael, How Not to Diet
  • Nestor, James, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
  • Phillips, Steven, and Parish, Dana. Chronic: The Hidden Cause of the Autoimmune Pandemic and How to Get Healthy Again
John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.