A list of my favorite authors, books, essays, and collected works. Updated yearly. You can find my Substack recommendations over at A Work in Progress.
Philosophy / Politics
- Nietzsche (Everything)Ignoring Nietzsche is a mistake. Disregard popular misconceptions about him while also discounting his later work. “Each of us can discover a different Nietzsche to admire and/or detest.” — Shelley Frisch.
- Nietzsche: A Philosophical BiographyRüdiger Safranski · Highly recommend. Extremely easy to read and covers all of Nietzsche's work in the context of his life. A fantastic supplement to the primary sources.
- The Human ConditionHannah Arendt · Prescient book, written in 1958 but diagnoses a lot of "modern" problems. Characteristically Arendtian, but easier to contextualize than some of her other work. Helpful introduction to Ancient Greek philosophy.
- The Machiavellians: Defenders of FreedomJames Burnham · A book you cannot unsee. Permanently changes the way you analyze and view politics.
- Essays and AphorismsArthur Schopenhauer · A great collection of essays. Stylistically brilliant with tons of memorable one-liners.
- In the Presence of SchopenhauerMichel Houellebecq · In Schopenhauer, Houellebecq found a companion. This short book shines a light on Houellebecq's worldview. Crucial if you want to understand Houellebecq.
- The End of History and the Last ManFrancis Fukuyama · Fukuyama was right. Strong and widely misunderstood thesis, more relevant with each passing day. Written for the modern reader, weaves a beautiful tapestry of history and philosophy. Also a great introduction to Hegel and supplement to Nietzsche.
- The Elementary ParticlesMichel Houellebecq · My favorite from Houellebecq thus far. Warning: graphic and gruesome at times, but another instance of an author presciently diagnosing some of our modern ills.
- The Map and The TerritoryMichel Houellebecq · The most palatable of Houellebecq's novels and a very good introduction to his thinking. Touches on a wide variety of Houellebecqian themes.
- The Complete Short StoriesErnest Hemingway · Hemingway at his best. Memorable stories include "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", "Che Te Dice La Patria?", "Today is Friday", and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber".
- The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway · Simple writing that reads as if you were watching a movie in your head. Good gateway drug if you want to get back into fiction.
- The Brothers KaramazovFyodor Dostoevsky · Nietzsche will make you mean and then Dostoevsky will save you. Long and complex, a book that calls to be reread over the course of a lifetime.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into ValuesRobert Pirsig · An enjoyable read. Another good gateway drug to get you back into fiction if that's what your looking for.
- CubaErna Fergusson · Best book on Cuba that I have ever read. Shines a light on 1940s pre-revolutionary Cuba from a first-person perspective. The author sits down for a coffee with my grandfather. Tough to find a copy but I've linked to the Goodreads for those interested.
- The Sugar King of HavanaJohn Paul Rathbone · Another great book on Cuba. It is every Cuban American's dream to tell the story of the Revolution while weaving in some family history. Great insight on Julio Lobo, very much a live-player in the tragic Cuban drama.
- Leonardo da VinciWalter Isaacson · A memorable biography of a brilliant and heretical figure. So good that years later it prompted me to write an essay.
- BolívarMarie Arana · Fun read, does not shy away from the complex details of such a monumental figure. Doubles as a lesson in Latin American history.
- The Civilization of the Renaissance in ItalyJacob Burckhardt · Fascinating look into some of the driving forces behind a Golden Age. I arrived here by way of Nietzsche, it explains some of the historical motivations behind certain aspects of his philosophy. Coined "the state as a work of art".
- Don't Tell Me I Can'tCole Summers · You'll read it in an hour and will never forget it. Raw, concentrated optimism straight from the mind of a 14 year-old.
- The Timeless Way of BuildingChristopher Alexander · Contains secrets of the universe. A wonderful introduction into the world of a seminal and perenially underrated thinker. Worth buying despite being out of print.
- The War of ArtSteven Pressfield · The only "self-help" style book you'll find me recommending. Pressfield understands the fundamental nature of creativity.
- A Moveable FeastErnest Hemingway · Allegedly a work of fiction but not really. A great look into Hemingway's time in Paris with fun anecdotes about Gertude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Essays / Speeches
- The White AlbumJoan Didion · I try to always have easy access to something by Didion. Makes you want to write.
- Slouching Towards BethlehemJoan Didion
- Quit Your JobWolf Tivy
- Start With CreationSimon Sarris
- In Praise of the GodsSimon Sarris
- The Most Precious Resource is AgencySimon Sarris
- Adult Fantasy of YouthMarilyn Simon · Beautiful and delicate analysis of a complex film. Motivated me to watch the movie and now it is one of my favorites.
- How an 18th Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife CrisisAlison Gopnik
- La Patria a flor de pielIMarie Nuñez · A piece of family history written by my aunt, from the perspective of my grandmother.
- This is WaterDavid Foster Wallace
- From Mises to CarlyleMencius Moldbug · Critical to understanding Moldbug, the closest person we have to a philosopher-king today. Just like Nietzsche, ignoring Moldbug is a mistake.
- A World Split ApartAleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- The End of HistoryFrancis Fukuyama · Worth reading the 1989 essay before diving into the book, which takes the essay and then proceeds to blow it out of the water.
- Burning in Water, Drowning in FlameCharles Bukowski · Turns out you can just buy a book of poems and sit for 30 minutes straight reading poem after poem, one after the other.