My mom got us kids books instead of video games. My brother and I battled to see who could read the most books each summer. He was infuriatingly competitive. I'm really grateful for that now.

I believe that all great stories are products of other great art and literature before them. Below are some of my favorite (mostly contemporary) books in the whole world, my tiny tribute to the authors whose sentences and ideas have inspired my own:

10 books that have helped me work smarter:

  1. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

  2. Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova

  3. Smarter Than You Think, by Clive Thompson

  4. Give And Take, by Adam Grant

  5. Moonwalking With Einstein, by Joshua Foer

  6. Think Like A Freak, by Dubner and Levitt

  7. Manage Your Day To Day (series), by Jocelyn Glei (Behance)

  8. Made To Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

  9. Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer*

  10. Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon


8 books that have made me a better writer and/or more interesting human:

  1. Lost At Sea, by Jon Ronson

  2. The Fiddler In The Subway, by Gene Weingarten

  3. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace

  4. On Writing, by Stephen King

  5. The Storytelling Animal, by Jonathan Gottschall

  6. What The Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell (his most underrated, IMO)

  7. Telling True Stories, by Wendy Call and Mark Kramer (and many others)

  8. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell


5 books that will definitely mess you up (in a wonderful way):

  1. Kafka On The Shore, by Haruki Murakami

  2. Vurt, by Jeff Noon

  3. A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick

  4. The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman

  5. This Town, by Mark Leibovich


3 books that I totally hated but you should probably read anyway:

  1. Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger

  2. Perks Of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

  3. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville**


2 great series for if you’re ever feeling down:

  1. Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

  2. Scott Pilgrim, by Bryan Lee O’Malley


1 book if you want to know what the future is going to look like, and you also love the ‘80s:


My favorite opening line from a book:

  • "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."***


If you have a book to share with me in any of these categories, please do share! You can find me @shanesnow on Twitter.


From Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist

From Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist


* Yes, I know. But it will make you think, specifically the Urban Friction chapter.

** Hated that book!

*** Two points if you get the reference. (And a high five if we ever meet!)