Books have been a central element of my life for a very long time. I learned to read during my time in a British primary school. A school that I owe quite a lot of great memories and lessons to. We had a teacher who’s entire job was to teach us to read. She would take us out of class one at a time to, in my case, teach us a skill that is priceless. I loved it. Since then reading and books have been a constant presence in my life. In elementary and middle school I always carried a book. Every chance I got I would read. I made my way through Magic Tree House, the great Alex Rider, Percy Jackson, and eventually Harry Potter (which I am currently rereading for the third time). Of course, there were many others, but those were and are my favorites. I didn’t read as much in High School I just sort of suffered. Eventually however, in my last semester in that terrible place I began to read more. I was just ready for it to end, so I decided to skip lunch to go sit in my car and read. That was the best decision I made all year.
Books are special, technology can’t compare. They can whisk you away into impossible worlds full of adventure and possibility. They can teach you what you simply couldn’t understand before. They inspire, calm, and advance your emotions. It is for these reasons that I would like to share a few of my favorites. The type of favorites that truly impacted me, the type you can read over and over. Without further ado, in no particular order, here they are:
I’ll start with The Underground Storyteller by Alex Day. Alex Day is one of my biggest inspirations. Nowadays he has changed a bit, but I often quote and live by things he has said. Alex has a certain knack for telling stories about ordinary life, while throwing in fascinating history and insightful observations. In the book, Alex travels on every line and to every station of the famous London Underground. His ventures led me to dream about the underground on multiple occasions. In one dream I was fed up with America, so without telling anyone I flew to the UK. I went straight to the underground and visited shops on its three levels (they don’t exist), I then proceeded to take my favorite knife and camera on a ride down the Thames…floating on a couch…that later sank. In another dream I skateboarded around the underground stations until I came to a McDonalds where my friends where meeting up. Dreams are great.
Next up is, Mud, Sweat, and Tears by Bear Grylls. Whenever I mention my love for Bear Grylls, the first thing anyone says is: “Didn’t he drink his own pee?” Well no, not exactly. He used it to moisten his mouth and his shirt, in order to cool himself down and forget about his insane thirst. But that’s beside the point, it made for good TV. His autobiography is fascinating. He tells stories about his childhood adventures at Eton, his failed attempt to join MI6, his successful attempt to join the SAS, his life-changing parachute accident, his Mt. Everest summit…I could go on. After reading the section about the SAS, I ran five miles…non stop…in the rain (hows that for insane?). Other than his adventures, as a whole his outlooks on religion, relationships, and life align perfectly with mine. He did a lot more than drink pee!
This one I have already mentioned in my post about learning, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. If there is one book on this list that anyone and everyone should read, it’s this one. It’s short and written in a way that includes plenty of illustrations and snappy quotes. The book is super inspirational, particularly for creative types. It would take forever to list everything in my life that was inspired by this book, however this blog is one of them. There is more to it of course, just read it. His second book Show Your Work is a great follow up read as well.
So there they are, three (well basically four) great books. If you love to read, give these a go. If you hate to read, then read Steal Like an Artist….and then start reading more. Reading is good. Phones, TVs, gaming systems, and poor schooling are causing books to be pushed further and further away. But they will always be there, waiting to show you what you’re missing.