This is my top ten list of books that I recommend. Many of these books had
a profound influence on my life. It is my hope that my children will take
the opportunity to read these books once they become young adults. I have
listed them in the order in which I think they should be read.
The Selfish Gene
I frequently recommend this book. The idea that we are meat machines
serving to ensure the survival of our genes as the individual units of
reproduction is astounding. This book also introduced the term "meme"
into the modern vocabulary. From the examples provided by the
author, I came to understand a concept which I call "genetic egoism, the
rational self-interest of the genes".
Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
I must have absorbed Ayn Rand's philosophy of Individualism through
reading her fiction novels and the imprint she left on the Libertarian
Party. I was unable to put a definitive name on it, though, until I
picked up one of her non-fiction books and read the first chapter,
"Objectivist Ethics". I now understand the debt I owe her for my
philosophical heritage. I highly recommend this book to fans of her
fictional works and to libertarians.
American Religious Humanism
This book by Mason Olds documents the origins of my religion.
It was first published in 1977 as
"Religious Humanism in America: Dietrich, Reese, and Potter".
The 1996 revision added the history of the movement following World War
II. The 2006 revision is available by request for about $10 from the
Please also see my
Religious Humanist Reading List.
Once you have read these first three books in this top ten list, you will
have the background context for my 2005 sermon
The Virtue of Selfish Genes.
Life, Liberty, and Happiness: An Optimist Manifesto
This blend of Humanism, Libertarianism, and Objectivism comes closest of
any one book to describing the combination of my own personal beliefs.
Despite the fact that the author opines on dozens of issues on a variety
of topics such as sex, religion, and politics, I agreed with just about
everything in this book except for his position on capital punishment.
Please see the
review on my personal blog for a listing of the table of contents.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
Using a checklist can help you achieve your goals in all areas of your
life, personal and professional. This book documents how simple
checklists are saving lives.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
This books teaches you how to have your money working for you instead of
you working for your money.
I do not necessarily believe that real estate is the best place to put
your money but I think the author successfully makes the point about the
nature of investment and debt.
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief
You should read this book if you are at all active in volunteer
organizations. It will teach you how to move the business of the majority
forward in a democratic fashion without ignoring the voices and the rights
of the minority.
I read this book in 1984 while I was in high school and it put quite a
scare into me. As I was reading, I realized that I had already witnessed
some of the techniques described. My views on government and religion
were never the same afterwards.
Time Enough for Love
I started reading the science fiction of Robert Heinlein when I was a
pre-teen. I think it influenced me deeply and a number of other people
that travel in my circles. I picked this particular Heinlein novel
because it is one of my favorites.
The First Immortal: A Novel of the Future
If you love life and hate death as I do, this science fiction novel
provides a soft introduction to a scientifically feasible mechanism for
survival. What is proposed is not guaranteed but it is better than no
hope at all.
The following is a list of other books that I have enjoyed and that I
recommend. I start many books. Here are some that I have finished.