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October 2021
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Favorite Books
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 1:20 pm

Alan’s favorite books / authors

The test is what books come off the top of my mind.

I love Science Fiction.  I love audio books (  I now have a Kindle but haven’t tried it yet.

Top 5 Sci Fi is easy.

1. Dune, by Frank Herbert - read the entire series but really only the first book is worth it

2. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card - read the entire series, but only Ender’s Shadow comes close

3. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov - Asimov’s Robot series is what made me study Electrical Engineering, hoping to design the next robot.  I didn’t learn until Junior year in college that CS / AI was probably closer to what I wanted to do, but by then, I was too far into my EE program to change.

4. Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book) by Neal Stephenson - Loved this book, so read all his other ones.  The Diamond Age was a good read, but the plot got really weird.  Cryptonomicon was a toil to get thru - loved the WWII story, not the modern day one.

5. Chung Kuo: The Middle Kingdom by David Wingrove - So excited to read a Sci Fi book centered around China.  Like all above, the first book was best.  Plodded thru the rest of the series.  The ending was a disappointment.  Some of the violence was too much for me. 


Other Sci Fi I’ve really enjoyed:

Excession by Iain M. Banks - I love Ian’s imagination in the Culture but often his plots disappoint.  Just enjoy the journey.

Altered Carbon: A Takeshi Kovacs Novel (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) by Richard K. Morgan

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson - but I didn’t like the 2nd book Axis


Spy Novels

This is my 2nd favorite genre, with Ludlum as all time favorite.

The Bourne Identity: A Novel by Robert Ludlum - after his 5th book, you realize all his books follow a pattern, but damn, it’s a good one

Eye of the Needle by Ken Follet; The Key to Rebecca

The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader - read this a long time ago but seem to remember i loved it

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy - but his other books are way too long



I read a lot of fantasy as a kid but not as interested any more.

J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) by J. R. R. Tolkien - the king of Fantasy, but to tell you the truth, I thought the series was ok; maybe I should reread as an adult

Harry Potter Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-3) by J. K. Rowling  - read this as an adult; loved the first 3

Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Book 1) by Lian Hearn

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.


Other Fiction

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Angel & Demons was close, but not quite

The Firm: A Novel by John Grisham - read of few of his other ones but weren’t as good

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - didn’t expect to like this so much, but couldn’t get past the first few chapters of the 2nd book

Tai-Pan by James Clavell - but couldn’t get into Noble House

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault - made Alexander the Great one of my favorite history heroes; also loved The King Must Die: A Novel and The Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


Non fiction

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - loved a bunch of his books, though much slower reading / listening

Caesar’s Commentaries: On The Gallic War and On The Civil War by Julius Caesar - pretty crazy that this is his own story

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

Banker To The Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus - recommended by my friend Dave McClure; finally a type of philanthropy that I found meaningful for me

The Story of Civilization [Volumes 1 to 11] (Hardcover Set 1963-1975) by Will & Ariel Durant - I listened to these audiotapes (literally cassette tapes) for a year while I commuted to San Ramon with Andersen Consulting.  What a way to learn history.  Some of it has been debunked by now but still an amazing tour de force by 1 person.

Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip by Jim Rogers - pretty sweet to see his investment theses in each country he drives thru


Business / Self Help

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - the classic; I resisted reading it for a while because I didn’t like the word “influence”. 

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is good too but Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking  isn’t as useful, good for cocktail parties; now reading What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki - Tipping Point borrowed a lot from here

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb - intriguing but got a bit tired at the end

Where East Eats West by Sam Goodman - a good, street-smart book for doing business in China

Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss - fascinating book about previous lives, reincarnation; if nothing else, it helps you ask, “What is the 1 reason I’m (back) on Earth?  What’s the 1 lesson my soul came back to the physical world to learn?”  If you drop the metaphysical aspects of the question, the reflection is still very deep.


2 Responses to “Favorite Books”

  1. Alan Says:
    Just finished Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. So good that I immediately downloaded Catching Fire on my iphone. I also enjoyed A Fire Upon the Deep by Vinge Vernor (Sci Fi). Read another Ian banks - Against a Dark Background. I really love his writing, if you can ignore the plot. Also read David Wingrove’s Prequels Son of Heaven, and Daylight on Iron Mountain. Makes me want to re-read Chung Kuo. I’m surprised I left off 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.
  2. Alan Says:
    Check out Richard Nisbett’s book Geography of Thought. While you are at it, check out Fukuyama’s book on Trust.

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