Introduction: 45 Must Have Books for a Home Library
I love to read. And I want to get more people reading. There are a ton of good books waiting for you to read. I am sure that there are books out there that will get you excited, but you have to learn about them. All the books that I include in the list of 45 must have books for a home library I have read. I am sure that by next year, as I read more books from the to-be-read pile, some of the books on this list may drop off.
You may be wondering why I would compile such a list of books. In a nutshell, I want you to learn continuously, so that you develop a pool of ideas that you can draw on later when you have a problem to solve or decision to make. Ideas are currency that you can use.
UPDATE: First Published in December 2017
If you have been reading this blog for a while, chances are, you know that I am interested in how to find ideas, how to combine them, and how to develop the skills you need to stay employable. And you know that I love reading books — that is part of my daily life.
Because I have an interest in getting creative ideas, I read books about the topic, hoping that I will learn something new. Many of the books on ideas, have some type of model that you can use to find them. Whether you want to start a business, write a story, or solve a problem at work, the models are supposed to help you. But I realized that some of the models leave out some information, because they assume that it is a given.
In Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young Improved on Graham Wallas’ work. In the preparation stage, there are two types of information you gather when trying to produce ideas: Specific and general. Specific information relates to the issue at hand, and general information is the type of information that you collect throughout your life. You are creating a body of knowledge that you can draw on when you need it. This article is concerned with general information, and the 45 books are meant to help you with that.
Before I list the 45 books, I wanted to say that reading diverse books and reading broadly help you to become more well-rounded. Reading fiction gives you insights into human nature. If you want to hone your problem-solving skills, read detective stories and other mysteries. Use the clues given to solve the case. Many of the detective stories written years ago, are often superior to the ones you see on the shelves today.
Science fiction takes you into a world of possibilities, while children’s books help you to tap into your more creative self, reminding you of what it is like to leap into the world of make believe. Fairy tales and fables often have a moral that make you stop to think. And business books help you to stay on top of trends that can impact the way you perform your role. Reading the bestsellers is not necessarily a smart move, because at times, what you need to find is that one good idea – the one that can transform your life – is to read a book that is off the beaten path.
Have you read?
45 Books to Have in Your Personal Library
Non-Fiction Books for Your Home Library
Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a RaftHow to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines, Revised EditionSam Walton: Made In AmericaSeveral Short Sentences About WritingThe 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and FailureThe 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your BrandNon-Obvious 2018 Edition: How To Predict Trends and Win The FutureBusiness Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and ChallengersLittle Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries
- How to Read a Book: This book is more like a reference book. But it has some solid information like the three reasons for reading any book and the four levels of reading. It is not a book that you rush through, you read it through at least once and then keep on referring to it. (Review)
- How to Read Literature Like a Professor: At first, I thought this book would be dry and academic, but it wasn’t like that at all. If you want to learn how to interpret literary fiction, then this is a must-read book. Why did an author choose certain names for the main characters? What does the heavy rain in the story mean? The best authors are very deliberate when writing the story, and the reader needs to understand subtleties. (Review)
- Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft: Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl isn’t a project management book, but by following the process that Thor Heyerdahl used for his expedition, you’ll learn how to manage a project. The book chronicles the amazing journey from Peru to the Pacific Islands on a balsa wood raft. The expedition wasn’t smooth sailing all the time, but they were excited because they had successfully made it to the Pacific Islands. The journey to success is filled with many obstacles along the way. (Review)
- Briefcase Essentials: Susan T. Spenser attained phenomenal success in areas that are non-traditional for women, so I decided to focus on her experiences which she outlines in Briefcase Essentials: Discover Your 12 Natural Talents for Achieving Success in a Male-Dominated Workplace. You will learn a lot from this amazing woman’s journey. (Review)
- Sam Walton: Made In America: I am not a big fan of Wal-Mart, but I recommend that you give Sam Walton: Made in America a read. You will not agree with all of his philosophies (I don’t), but if you own a business, or planning to start one, you’ll find information that you can immediately apply. (Review)
- How to Build an Empire on an Orange Crate: I love a good rags-to-riches story to discover how people attain personal and professional success against the odds, and that’s what How to Build an Empire on an Orange Crate by Ed Mirvish is about. It’s an autobiography of Honest Ed Mirvish’s life, you’ll learn important business and life lessons. (Review)
- Several Short Sentences About Writing: Don’t you love a book that’s called Several Short Sentences about Writing. This book by Verlyn Klinkenborg is not what you’d expect from a book about writing. While reading the book, you’ll feel some angst because you realize that you’ll have to relearn most of what you know about writing well. (Review)
- The 10X Rule: This is among the best books that I have ever read. If you want to achieve extraordinary success, you have to put in 10 times more of relevant effort than the typical person. What would happen to your output this year if you did that? Make sure that you surround yourself with excellent thinkers and doers. (Review)
- The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand: With the rise of visual content creation tools such as Canva, BeFunky and Fotojet, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio is an important book because it not only shows us, but tells us what we need to know about visual storytelling. This is important because professionals have to create presentations, and you want them to have an impact on the audience. (Review)
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (Review): Are you seriously thinking about starting a business? Has the environment in which you are operating your business changed significantly? If you answered yes to any of the two questions, read Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur.
- The New Birth Order Book: Why You are the Way You Are: The New Birth Order is entertaining, yet insightful, and packed with a lot of interesting information, which gives you insights about why people behave the way they do based on their birth order. However, I think there is too much going on in the book, so to get the most from this book, I suggest that you read the first ten chapters and use the Table of Contents to decide which other chapters to read. (Review)
- Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy: Four Seasons by Isadore Sharp, Founder, Chairman and CEO is an autobiography which weaves in the story of the renowned five-star Four Seasons Hotel chain. While reading the book, I noticed distinct similarities between it and The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: A Handbook for Implementing Great Service in Your Organization. Both Nordstrom and Four Seasons are best-in-class and they compete by having impeccable customer service. (Review)
- The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: Nordstrom is known for its impeccable customer service and by reading The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence, you will learn about some great ideas to introduce in your business. (Review)
- The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success: Carmine Gallo has identified 7 principles to guide innovation based on what he has learned from studying Steve Jobs, the Co-founder and former CEO of Apple. The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs is an enjoyable read and you will find yourself stopping several times to think about what you are reading. (Review)
- Non-Obvious: I have always been interested in learning how to spot trends, and wanted to find a formula to do so. I read about Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate ideas & Predict the Future by Rohit Bhargava, and was far more intrigued by the subtitle, so I decided to buy this book. So many people talk about curation, and most of them do not know how to do it properly. I love this book because it teaches you to dig below the surface, because some of the best things are non-obvious. And there are steps you can use to identify trends in the short-term. I love the many examples in the book on how to use the trends that the author identifies. (Review)
- The 3 Gaps: The 3 Gaps is among the best books I have ever read. The three gaps that Hyrum Smith references, are Beliefs, Time, and Value. If you’d like to make a difference in life, like most of us would, you have to close the three gaps. In so doing, you’ll find inner peace. Another thing I liked about the book is that there are instructions for you to develop your personal constitution. (Review)
- Little Bets: In Little Bets by Peter Sims, the author draws on a lot of research for taking consistent, small actions, instead of waiting for perfect timing or a well-laid out plan. It supports the idea of failing fast, and learning from the failure. There are two types of innovators and you will learn the six-step approach. (Review)
- The MacGyver Secret: In the 1980s I liked the television show MacGyver because the star was able to use the tools he had access to, to solve the problems and challenges he faced. The MacGyver Secret, written by Lee D Zlotoff, the creator of the television series, shows you how to get in touch with your inner MacGyver. For the process to work effectively, you have to be knowledgeable and understand the problem that you are trying to solve.
- Technique for Producing Ideas: The author James Webb Young expanded on Graham Wallas’ problem solving and creativity model. The book provides the model, and a critical stage is gathering information. (Review)
- Decision Diagnosis: I love this book because it is taking ideas from one industry and applying them to another. The author is a surgeon, and he outlines the steps he takes to make decisions. The book is worth the read.
- What Do You Care What Other People Think?: The title of the book is very telling. Richard Feynman writes about some of his experiences, and the reader cannot help but like his honesty and authenticity.
- Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong: This book is important because women can learn from the experiences of other women.
- Job to be Done: Not very long ago I learned about the Jobs to Be Done Framework, so I decided to read the book to learn much more. Every product or service has a job that it has to do. A customer hires the product to do a job it has.
- Start with Why: I really appreciated this book. WHY is a belief. HOWs are the actions you take to achieve your belief. And WHATs are the results of the actions – products, services, marketing, PR, culture and so on. When all three are in harmony, you become an authentic brand. (Review)
- Mind Hacking: The book is about how to focus and replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. And it is so much more as well. Mind Hacking includes exercises to help you to become more aware of what you are thinking. You become more conscious of the many unconscious interruptions you face each day while working. (Review)
Fiction Books for Your Home Library
The Arabian Nights (New Deluxe Edition)Murder on the Orient Express (Poirot) by Agatha Christie (2007-09-03)The Devotion of Suspect X: A Detective Galileo Novel (Detective Galileo Series)The Coroner’s Lunch (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery)Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition)Girl with a Pearl Earring: A NovelJamaica InnGilgamesh: A New English VersionThe Handmaid’s TaleBunker Bean
- Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition) : This book allows you to get in touch with the warrior in you. Beowulf, a young warrior, and 15 of the bravest men sail to Denmark to assist the Danes in slaying Grendel. There’s much rejoicing, and Hrothgar bestows Beowulf with many gifts for releasing his people from Grendel’s reign of terror. This book was easy to read. (Review)
- Season of Migration to the North (New York Review Books Classics): This is another book you’ll find difficult to read because of the subject matter, but one you have to read because it deals with the immigration experience. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih is a surprise because there’s a lot of graphic sexual references in the second half of the book, which is unusual because Sudan is an Islamic country, which frowns upon such things. (Review)
- The Woman in White (Penguin Classics): Not enough people are reading the classics today. The Woman in White by Wilkie delivers and you will enjoy it tremendously. There’s a good mystery waiting for you to solve it. This is an intriguing story. (Review)
- The Three Questions [Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy] (Review): The Three Questions [Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy] is a short story that can literally be read in five minutes. Despite that, the story is very profound and the lessons are suitable for all age groups. Although this is a children’s book, you will think about what you are reading. Learn what the three questions are!
- Jamaica Inn: Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier is another fantastic classic. After her mother dies, Mary makes the journey to her Aunt Patience and uncle Joss Merlyn. While on the journey, Mary learns that people don’t think highly of her Uncle Joss, and in fact, he’s despised by his neighbors. While Joss is away, one day, Mr Bassat, a magistrate, raids Jamaica Inn, but finds no evidence of smuggling or other wrongdoing because the evidence had been removed the night before. Are you intrigued yet? (Review)
- Bunker Bean: Although Bunker Bean by Harry Leon Wilson is an excellent book, the character, Bunker Bean, will drive you nuts because he is so simple-minded and gullible. You will find certain sections of the book difficult to read because the character speaks very bad English. Persist reading because you will learn some important life lessons. The book also gives you great insights into human nature. (Review)
- Nervous Conditions: As a black person, it is always difficult to read about racial discrimination. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga forces you to think about what it’s like to be discriminated against. Reading books such as this one, helps you to develop cultural sensitivity. (Review)
- Girl in Hyacinth Blue: In Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue, the star in the story is a Johannes Vermeer painting. At his apartment, Cornelius Engelbrecht shows Richard an unsigned painting that is in the style of Johannes Vermeer. For a math teacher, Cornelius knows an awful lot about Johannes Vermeer and his paintings, and tries to convince Richard that the painting is an authentic Vermeer. This is an intriguing story, and I like it because not much is known about the artist, Johannes Vermeer, and it’s interesting to see, how based on history, someone uses her imagination to reconstruct the artist’s life. The bigger lesson here is that you will never have all the information you need, so you have to fill in the gaps. (Review)
- Girl With a Pearl Earring: A Novel: This is another book about Johannes Vermeer. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is very different from Girl in Hyacinth Blue, but is also worth the read. In the story, the artist is an aloof character, however, every so often, when he senses interest from Griet, he takes the time to explain what he’s doing. I included both books here for a reason. There are times when you decide not to work on a project because others have done it before. Don’t let that stop you because you will bring a different perspective. (Review)
- Ender’s Game (Ender’s Game (The Ender Quintet)): Although I found Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card difficult to read because of the child abuse and bullying, I found myself taking notes because the book is an excellent training course on strategy and tactics. (Review)
- Strangers on a Train: I loved this book, but it was distressing to read. We want to do the right thing, but we often do what others tell us to do — good or bad. It is difficult to do the right thing when someone is pressuring you to do otherwise. You need to have a support group that you can talk to, to help you make better choices in life. This is a murder mystery. Alfred Hitchcock also made it into a film. (Review)
- The Feed: You have to pre-order this book because it will not be released until Spring 2018. I read an advanced copy and it was frightening to think of what the world would be like if people were able to stream information. This is the world in the story. Everything was fine until the Feed collapsed, then chaos reigned. Technology is great, but what happens when we rely on it that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves. (Review)
- Gilgamesh: I have read Gilgamesh about three times and I enjoyed it every time. Although this book was written a long time ago, the themes are still relevant today. People are always searching for the fountain of youth, and people will always abuse power. This is a fast-paced book that the reader will enjoy.
- The Arabian Nights: This book is an important one because it includes many stories that we are familiar with. But what makes it special is that things get lost in translation because the stories were translated from Arabic to Latin to English. For instance, you have probably heard of Aladdin and the Three Lamps, except in the original Arabic tale, he could have as many wishes he wanted once the lamp was in his possession. It is good to get the version translated by Richard Burton.
- Murder on the Orient Express: I recommend well-written murder mysteries because they help you to hone your problem-solving skills. Murder on the Orient Express is a Hercule Poirot Mystery. I love Agatha Christie, and I loved the story because you have to pay attention, so you accurately figure out who committed the crime. (Review)
- Handmaid’s Tale: It is a dystopian novel which reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984. With what is going on in the world, Handmaid’s Tale has become popular again and there is even a television series based on the book. In the story, there is a revolution, the entire US Congress is wiped out, and a totalitarian regime is now in power. Women lose their rights and freedom that they fought so hard for, and no longer have control over their reproductive rights. (Review)
- Castle of Otranto: This book written by Horace Walpole is important because it is the founding text of the Gothic genre, which branched off into sub genres – historical romance, science fiction and detective fiction. The building, the castle, plays a very important role in the story – the gothic castle is the protagonist in the book. (Review)
- Devotion of Suspect X: This is a Japanese detective story. I have said it countless times that reading a detective story or mystery is a great way to hone your problem-solving skills – and this book delivers. It takes problem solving to a new level. I missed one vital clue that threw me off completely. You have to read very carefully to figure out this case. (Review)
- The Coroner’s Lunch: I was rooting for Dr. Siri, the main character, because I like the underdog. Imagine being placed in a job that you are not qualified for, but you were not placed there because your superior believes that you could grow into the position and do an excellent job. You are being set up to fail. You decide to teach them a lesson, and therefore, rise to the occasion. You invest the time to learn the new job, and you succeed. The Coroner’s Lunch is also a murder mystery.
- Watership Down: This is the best leadership book that I have ever read, and it validates that great leaders are made. Watership Down by Richard Adams demonstrates leadership in action. When you read the book, you’ll know what great leadership is. The Hero’s Journey is evident in the book: The rabbits get the call to go on a journey and have to leave the only home they ever know. (Review)
Final Thoughts: 45 Must Have Books for a Home Library
I have listed 45 must have books for a home library, how many of them have you read already? How do you plan to work your way through these books? I recommend that you make reading books an important part of your day.
UPDATE: April 2018 – As can be expected, I post a lot about books on Instagram. In fact, I am participating in the #The100DayProject, and I am using it as an opportunity to post tips about reading, something I have been meaning to do for over two years. Someone asked me for book recommendations and I referred him to this blog post and promised that I would get back to him in a day or so. I looked at the list, and I cannot believe that I left off the Witch-Doctor’s Apprentice. I have mentioned several times that this book allowed me to successfully complete an interviewing project because it gave me insights into how interact with people from Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. Review of Witch-Doctor’s Apprentice.