Essential Books

Reading is essential to our personal growth. There is no other opportunity available to spent countless hours with the greatest minds alive (or to have ever lived). The human heart and the means to a great life have been mapped out for us – we simply to to take the time to access this gift.

What we read matters. We should read deeply.  Books should be unpleasant, searching, drastic, stinging and relentless. They should push us outside ourselves, force us to evaluate different experiences, perspectives  opinions and beliefs – to see the humanity – and SIMILARITY – in others. To see the world through the eyes of another.

Great fiction is hypnotic. Pushes us to  reflect, analyze, and connect our  own memories and opinions. It gives us time to establish an intimate relationship with the author and characters.

The best non-fiction presents the opportunity to learn from the greatest among us – through the vehicle of books they shares their acquired insights, knowledge and experience – and we are their benefactors.

Reading is an immense gift, but only if words are assimilated, taken into the soul – eaten, chewed, gnawed and received in unhurried delight…reading that enters our souls as food enters our stomachs, spreads through our blood and becomes – love and wisdom. – Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book

Here are the books that have most significantly impacted my heart and mind. Some are recent, other’s I read 25+ years ago, yet they all linger within me.


  1. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  4. The Winter of Our Discontent  by John Steinbeck
  5. Les Miserables  by Victor Hugo
  6. The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols
  7. The Magic Journey by John Nichols
  8. The Nirvana Blues by John Nichols
  9. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  10. An American Tragedy (Signet Classics) by Theodore Dreiser
  11. Beneath the Wheel by Hermann Hesse
  12. Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
  13. Demian by Herman Hesse
  14. Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry
  15. The Brothers K by David James Duncan
  16. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  17. The Prince of Tides: A Novel by Pat Conroy
  18. The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
  19. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  20. Native Son by Richard Wright
  21. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  22. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  23. Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
  24. The Risk Pool by Richard Russo
  25. Affliction by Russell Banks
  26. The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  27. A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel by John Irving
  28. East of Eden  by John Steinbeck
  29. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
  30. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
  31. Sweet Hereafter: A Novel by Russell Banks
  32. Rule of the Bone: A Novel by Russell Banks
  33. Continental Drift  by Russell Banks


  1. Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T. S. Wiley
  2. The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
  3. The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen
  4. A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen
  5. Endgame, Volume I by Derrick Jensen
  6. Endgame, Volume II by Derrick Jensen
  7. Listening to the Land by Derrick Jensen
  8. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
  9. Intimacy: Trusting Oneself and the Other by Osho
  10. Awareness:The Key to Living in Balance by Osho
  11. Maturity: The Responsibility of Being Oneself by Osho
  12. Courage:The Joy of Living Dangerously by Osho
  13. Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic by Osho
  14. Mastery by Robert Greene
  15. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  16. Survival+ by Charles Hugh Smith
  17. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  18. Margin by Richard Swenson
  19. A Real Life by Ferenc Mate
  20. Your Money or Your Life by Robert Domiguez