The book list continues…

May 28, 2007 — 15 Comments

I posted the books I’d read from Sept 15th to March 30th, but since then I have been struggling a bit. I keep getting bogged down in some less than interesting stuff or distracted by school and work. I’d appreciate it if anyone has any recommendations (and I don’t mean that patronizingly, I almost ALWAYS read what people suggest, first throwing them up on my Amazon Wishlist to track what’s next. Check it here.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve done since the last list:

‘Till Death Do Us Part–Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter–Vincent Bugliosi

Man’s Search for Meaning–Viktor Frankl (Again)

Words that Work :It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear–Frank Luntz

Unhooked: Why young women pursue sex, delay love and lose at both–Laura Sessions Stepp

Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning–Viktor Frankl

The Prince–Machiavelli (2x)

What Makes Sammy Run–Bud Schulberg

And the Sea Will Tell–Vincent Bugliosi

Reveille for Radicals–Saul D. Alinsky

The Predator’s Ball–Connie Bruck

The Republic–Plato

Leviathan–Thomas Hobbes (large chunk)


-I recommend just about all of these.

-Unless you’re really dedicated, you can probably get just as much out of the Hobbes wikipedia page as you do out of the book

-Luntz–Words that Work–is a really interesting guy. He actually wrote The Contract With America. Problem is, the book is boring and dry. He so wants to be liked by the media that he castrates himself and wants you to desperately believe that everything he does it motivated by true belief. The book’s value suffers under the constant rationalization, but the guy still has a lot to say.

-Bugliosi is AMAZING. Read at least one of them. These came Tucker recommended and I would call Bugliosi the greatest lawyer since Clarence Darrow.

-Unhooked would be better if it focused more on the reasons why the college sex scene is bad–as opposed to merely asserting it is bad because it offends Christian morality.

-The Predator’s Ball is good too, if you have the time and energy to suffer through the first 100 or so pages. Again, this is why financial books are often difficult to read. The author assumes we want to know HOW Milken accomplished everything in terms of mathematics and numbers as opposed to WHY and WHAT for. Other than that it’s fascinating and a good picture of the 80’s.

So hit me with your recommendations.

Edit: I read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis too. And it’s really good but the movie sucks.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

15 responses to The book list continues…

  1. I finished Awakening by Antony De Mello a couple of days ago – it’s deceptively short but remarkably deep.

    Some of the concepts require a lot of work to grasp them, but the theme is gaining an internal focus and drive rather than reacting wildly to the world around you.

  2. Sompletely Cober May 28, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    I just got done reading The Cube and The Cathedral: Europe, America and Politics without God. Very interesting read, I recommend it.

    You have a good list of books, I am always in need of good reading suggestions and will use yours for my next book. Thanks.

  3. Before I recommend anything, I should second both the Godfather (which is a truly remarkable book) and The New New Journalists. Both should be kicked further up the waiting list for immediate purchase.

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is probably my favourite book ever written. Eggers divides opinion pretty much down the middle, but I love this book and urge everyone that I ever talk to about novels to read it. I go through it at least four times a year.

    Dave Gorman is a hilarious and unique storyteller, and both his books are tremendous. Start with My Name Is Dave Gorman and I guarantee that you’ll want to read the follow up, the Googlewhack Adventure.

    I do have one question, however. How can you afford to buy all of these books? Given the number that you go through, it must be a massive expense for you.

  4. I’ll move those ones up then.

    As for the money, has been a big help. But I don’t drink so I normally have a plenty of money. Mark Cuban talked about it a few months ago–that investing in a book is probably a better bet than investing in a stock that doesn’t pay dividends, so I stopped funneling my money into my brokerage account and spent it all on books.

  5. I’d highly recommend T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, or if you don’t have the time, read “The Miltary Writings of T.E. Lawrence” (skip to the writings in the second half of the book). Wonderfully amazing man, and he basically invented the 20th Century Guerilla Warfare.

    Also recommend “The Evolution of Desire”. Not as fun of a read as “Sperm Wars”, but it expands on some of the topics presented there.

  6. “investing in a book is probably a better bet than investing in a stock that doesn’t pay dividends, so I stopped funneling my money into my brokerage account and spent it all on books.”

    Most definitely is a better bet for most people. But for those not yet so affluent perhaps they aren’t that much worse off, those with access to an internet connection. Call me ignorant but what purpose (and I’ve read The prince and large portions of The Republic) does The prince and The Republic do for people (yourself included)?

    Perhaps it is not that I lack sophistication but that I lack the taste to any longer appreciate these kinds of books properly (now that I am having a growing affinity towards wikipedia/ delicious/ summary articles that basically simplify The Prince/ The replubic articles); that is perhaps the case.

  7. You can’t be serious.

    The Prince is, without a doubt, one of the GREATEST books ever written. Take your Steve Pavila shit about self-actualization and compare it Machiavelli’s idea of a self-made prince–see what’s more realistic and more inspiring.

    The crux of the entire work rests on how to combat fortune and chance with skill and cunning. How does that not affect nearly every living person?

    The Republic, many would argue, isn’t even about government. It’s a metaphor about the soul. Look up “telos” on Wikipedia ( )

    Why simplify The Prince? Read the translation I linked to, it’s ridiculously simple. And btw, we remember Machiavelli precisely because his writing style and study of history was so simple and clear–more so than his innovations.

    If you can’t understand the significance of those two works you really need to rethink your positions on a lot of intellectual issues.

  8. Of the Bugliosi books, if you were to pick one, which would it be?

  9. With every book I read it seems to change a little bit of my personality, I evolve. Unfortunately a lot of my friends I still hang around from high school do not. I feel my beliefs and viewpoint of the world broadening, yet theres never change. I feel sick because I’ve known these guys my whole life yet find myself not wanting to be around them because some of the things they say are mind boggling retarded.

    I’ve also realized that a lot of people can’t comprehend much outside of talk about the weather. I feel ill. Do I want to separate myself from my peers, yet grow.

    Is it really lonely at the top? Have you gone through this?

  10. Hey Ryan

    Good list as always, however I was just wondering why you thought the book, American Psycho was better than the movie?

    For me what the book tries to do, I find the movie does more effectively. The book tries to reflect the anxiety of the Regan era by contrasting consumerism and the ownership of consumerism (Bateman has to ‘own’ everything from Whitney Houston CDs to women) and as such it tries to represent the ME Generation. This is contrasted with the realities of lack of happiness and a tangible life.

    I guess I just found that the movie expressed these themes more clearly than the book. The book definitely tries to shock more than anything else where as the movie it seemed to me found a balance between being shocking and still expressing the theme of the novel.

    Oh yeah and what the fuck is up with those unfinished chapters?


  11. As far as Bugliosi goes either Helter Skelter or And the Sea Will Tell. If you like Hollywood, go with HS, if you like boating go with ATSWT.


    I can’t tell you what it’s like on the top because I’m nowhere near there, but yeah it’s hard to connect with people. Sort of, in the sense that if you’re having trouble, you’re spending time with the wrong people. Find the people that don’t make your head hurt and tell the rest to go fuck themselves. The only difficult part is the pain period where you shed the negative and wait for the positive.

  12. I thought the movie was stupid because he went from being the protagonist to this caricature douchebag that it was impossible to identify with.

    In the book you’re in Bateman’s head, you see the self-loathing but still make a clear distinction between him and the rest of the yuppies. In the movie, they’re all the same, all losers, all lame, all impossible to learn from. In the book, you see how Bateman lost himself, lost his ability to stand out and thus he is forced into outlandish terror simple to feel alive. In the movie…who gives a shit?

    Like when he kills Jared Leto, he puts on a slicker and dances around with an axe. That’s just retarded. In the book you see how much he hates him, how he’s obsessed with getting rid of a guy that makes him feel inferior–and that’s a feeling that is relatable.

    Plus I think he murders too early, so we don’t get time to like him as a character yet. And lastly, the hooker is disgusting.

    By all means though, tell me why I’m wrong. This is actually kind of important for something I am working on, where did I slip up? What am I missing?

  13. I thought that he went from being a caricature douchebag(yuppie) to being a protagonist who I could empathize with.

    The movie starts out and they all seem the same. Each character a carbon copy of the next. I was just disgusted by this and their lack of individuality.

    As it progress I identified with Bateman more through his overall disgust with the people around him(he would look at the other characters with absolute disgust, then show a fake smile and nod when they saw him), the lifestyle he lead(The scene where he walks into his office listening to Walking on Sunshine) and how pitiful it was that he really didn’t seem to know who he was anymore or what he was becoming( the way everytime he looked at reflective surface his face would be distorted and in his daily routine where he has to put on all those masks so that he can fit in and be like everyone else)

    This disgust which Bale showed I think is what helped distinguish him from the other characters. That and his murderous impulses.

    The murders I thought worked fine in the movie or atleast the pass at which were set up for them. At start all we see is implied violence, like when tells the waitress he wants to bath in her blood or when he smiles at the girl crossing the street then the next scene is him trying to wash white sheets with red stains all over them.

    I thought the escalation was done well so as to set up the question in our minds of whether or not what were watching was reality.

    I do agree though that in the book we get more multi-layered motives than simply Bateman wanting to stand out from his peers. However for every motive he was for killing someone( Leto, or his college girlfriend in the book) we get a whole range of sense less murders as well which have no apparent motive.

    I agree that in the book you see more of a clear distinction between the other characters especially for example between Price and McDermott. Also you really do get more of sense of why he hates Jared Leto so much better.

    Nevertheless I found those to be I don’t want to say lesser points of the book, but not as important in overall scope of the work. I thought the movie was really trying to push the idea of loss of identity that Bateman felt, and the other idea/theory that maybe all the murders were going on in his head.

    It’s been a while since I read or saw the movie so some of this may be foggy. I hope this helps, even if you disagree with everything I said.

  14. I would just assert that all the things you said were good about the movie were done better in the book. But I think that’s just the nature of turning work from first person to third.

  15. Daniel Goleman is a really good science writer. “Emotional Intelligence” and “Social Intelligence” are both supposed to be very good, although I’ve only read half of Social and none of Emotional. The premise of Social is that our brains are designed for interpersonal experience, and isolation causes sickness, and vice versa. That’s only one of the many things addressed, I can’t speak to the whole thing cause I’m not done yet. Accessible and top-selling

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