9 books that changed the way I see the world

I love reading. Actually, that isn’t really true. I hate reading. Takes forever, can’t watch TV or code at the same time, etc. What I really love are stories. More than that, I love the ability that some authors and books have of getting me to see the world in a different way. I’d like to share with you a few of the books that I’ve found especially thought provoking. I tried to keep it a mix of classic and modern, familiar and obscure.

In no particular order:

Wool by Hugh Howey – I started this series of five short books without really knowing what it was about. It was recommended to me by a friend that said I’d like it, but I’d like it even more if I read it without knowing the premise. He was right. This book is awesome, but if I told you what it was about then I’d be depriving you of the enjoyment of finding it out on your own.

The Plagiarist by Hugh Howey – Yup, another book by Hugh Howey. This one is a look into the future, when people have the ability to simulate entire worlds so accurately that the world’s inhabits don’t now that they are virtual. The main character has a rather interesting job: he copies the literary masterpieces from these virtual worlds so they can be sold in the real world.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – The story of a young child that is chosen by the world’s military to attend a special school designed to train soldiers to repel a future alien invasion. Being released as a major motion picture on November 1, 2013, but I guarantee you’ll be a happier person if you read this book before you see the movie.

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus┬áby Orson Scott Card – Another book by Orson Scott Card. The future didn’t turn out quite as great as everyone had hoped. Using newly developed technology, a group of scientists plans to go back in time to put things into balance. It sounds like a scifi, but even my wife (a scifi hater) liked it.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – An old classic that most people haven’t taken the time to read. If all you know of Alice in Wonderland is the Disney movie then you are missing out. Take the time to read it.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Whether you like this book or hate it depends largely on your political and philosophical views. I think the author’s views are a bit extreme, but nevertheless I think they accurately depict many of the problems faced by our society today.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow – Carnegie Mellon used to have a lecture series where professors would have the chance to impart their most important wisdom in a sort of “last lecture” format, as if it was the last chance they had to speak to the world. Randy Pausch, diagnosed with cancer, was invited to participate in this lecture series. This book is an extended version of his lecture and contains many gems of wisdom.

Added Upon by Nephi Anderson – An fairly old book that few people are familiar with. I’ve never seen a good e-book or reprint version, so I’d recommend spending the few dollars to get an old out-of-print copy. It is geared towards LDS members but I think it is a great read for any Christian. The story outlines the lives and interactions of several individuals, from before birth all the way to the afterlife.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott – This book may be a difficult read for some, but it is under a hundred pages so stick it out and finish it. Seriously. It isn’t that long, and all the good stuff is in the last half of the book. The book describes a two-dimensional world filled with two-dimensional beings. These sentient creatures are unaware of anything but their own existence, until one day a sphere introduces itself to a square. The square’s entire worldview is changed. This is one of the books that I feel can only be disliked if you aren’t willing to apply its message to your own life and understanding of things.

Well that is my list. Any suggestions on what I missed?

Photo courtesy of brewbooks under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

2 comments

  1. Hey Jacob,

    Thanks for sharing your list. My father in law gave me The Last Lecture for Christmas. I’ve read about half the others on your list, but never heard of Wool, The Plagiarist, or Added Upon. I’ll put them on my list to read.

    Recently a really good friend who is an awesome leader at Infusionsoft (Jeff Mask) recommended, “Start with Why.” I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list.

    The “Dream Manager” is one that really helped me see how employer’s find more success when they help their employee’s achieve their dreams.

    And “The Power of Positive Thinking”, more changed the way I look at myself then the world, but a fantastic read.

    P.S. Thanks for the book. Haven’t built anything yet, but I will.

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