I admit, I wasn’t sure I could come up with this list. Reason being that, I have read so little in my life and I didn’t think I could make a good enough list. So here’s my attempt at a list of lists, in no particular order:
PS: I have linked to most books and authors that I could find.
My school time reading: Definitely includes most of the middle school Enid Blyton reading, Biggles series, William series (upon the suggestion of my high school English teacher), Alistair Mclean, some Forsyth and the occasional Hardy Boys. Special mention to Animal Farm which I read again 10 years later to discover a new meaning to the book. And, PG Wodehouse, whose humor I didn’t appreciate until I grew older and discovered the pythons.
H2G2 and other books by Douglas Adams. I distinctly remember going to Blossoms on Church Street (Bangalore) and discovering a small pocket book with no cover in the Sci Fi section. Turned out it was the book “Meaning of Liff”, a dictionary of words that should be but isn’t, which included a self referential joke to the word Liff.
God Delusion - Richard Dawkins. I admit that I didn’t lose my religion by inspiring works like Cosmos or the Selfish Gene. I was bullied into it by my friends during my masters. Come to think of it, with the contradictions piling up and, an almost aching sense of self doubt, this book answered critical questions around the relationship between justice, morality and religion. And it led me down a rabbit hole looking for answers.
Naked Ape - Desmond Morris : This brilliant book killed the idea of romance in the second chapter when it discussed human sexuality. I am still yet to read two books in this series but I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in reading through a zoologist’s account of the human species. You will be surprised how much of an ape man really is.
Guns, Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond. A brilliant book about the impact of globalization & conquest on human societies, and how invaders with an edge ( contents of the title) managed to subdue continents and bend human will.
Mythical man month: a book that I planned to read at least once every year, something that I have failed to do but wish I didn’t. It taught me the honest truth about craft based jobs (Software Engineering in my case). This a must read for every person who works in the software industry.
Shallows - Nicholas Carr. This book might eventually be denounced as heresy but it, with its complementary reading - Understanding Media, opened my eyes about how people perceive information. Side effect of this book was that my presentation skills got better :)
Man who mistook his wife for a hat - and other works by Oliver Sacks. I enjoyed this book because it got me fascinated with neuroscience and led to other authors like Steven Pinker and Bill Bryson.
Predictably Irrational- Dan Ariely : This book got me hooked onto behavioral sciences and more books like Nudge, Freakonomics series, Malcolm Gladwell series (who I don’t take seriously anymore) and others.
India after Gandhi - I have always been a big fan of history, so this was an impulse buy at a book store (because it was a signed copy) that really paid off. This along with other books like Justice (Michael Sandel), Code (Lessig), and authors like Noam Chomsky, Edward Luce and Shashi Tharoor helped me shape my views on politics, governance and liberty.
I have missed out many other books that have changed the way I think. Prominent among them would be the reading material prescribed by my Professors in my masters program that introduced me to authors like Tom Standage, Lessig, Michael Cusumano, Christopher Hitchens and many many more. I also missed the classics and funnies, who I have just begun to enjoy, thanks to a well stocked library that I discovered close to home. These include authors like David Sedaris, Kurt Vonnegut, Ian Huston, Chris Moore etc.
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