Books remain indispensable 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!


  • Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
  • Campbell, Joseph, and Moyers, Bill, The Power of Myth
  • 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

Mindfulness, Contemplation, and Psychology

  • Goldstein, Joseph, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
  • 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
  • Tan, Chade-Meng, Search Inside Yourself
  • Rosenberg, Marshall. Non-Violent Communication
  • 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

Activism and Justice

  • Magee, Rhonda, The Inner Work of Racial Justice
  • 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

Economics, Science, and Technology

  • Greger, Michael, How to Survive a Pandemic
  • Zuboff, Shoshana, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
  • Smith,  Zadie, Intimations
  • Figueres, Christiana, and Rivett-Carnac, Tom, The Future We Choose
  • Harari, Yuval Noah, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
  • Tippett, Krista, Becoming Wise

Health, Fitness, and Nutrition

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

Business and Career

  • Godin, Seth, This is Marketing
  • Block, Peter, The Answer to How is Yes
  • Miller, Donald, Building a Story Brand
  • Gelb, Michael, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
  • Burnett, Bill, and Evans, Dave, Designing Your Life
  • Pink, Daniel, A Whole New Mind

Writing Tips

  • 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


John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.