Over the past three years, I’ve read more than 200 non-fiction books. I’ve dived into Philosophy, Marketing, Productivity, Evolution, History, Biographies, and many other books you read to learn something.
Because that’s the main reason most of us read non-fiction, right? You read a book to get something out of it. And after reading a lot of similar books, you start noticing patterns.
One thing I’ve noticed is that non-fiction books of the past ten years are not boring to read. I think Malcolm Gladwell played a huge part in that development. His book The Tipping Point, published in 2000, also seems like a tipping point for non-fiction books.
Non-fiction books of today are equally entertaining to read as fiction books. That’s also because they’re forced to be more interesting — books have a lot of competition these days.
We live in a world where we all expect to be entertained all the time. Entertainment is everywhere. Just look at the options you have: Movies, tv shows, funny cat videos, Snapchat Stories, articles, you name it.
But to me, reading a good book beats everything. Also, books can truly change the way you think. Especially fiction books because you don’t expect them to change your life or anything.
I’ve made a list of 7 fiction books that have inspired me. You won’t find the cliché books on this list. We all know The Catcher In The Rye, Lord Of The Flies (I really hate that book, it’s so obvious), To Kill A Mocking Bird, and so forth.
No, I’ve tried to create a list with less familiar books. I hope you pick up at least one of them.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This book was recommended to me by a reader. It’s not something I would stumble upon myself. But I’m glad I read this book. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an entertaining and creative novel about weirdoes in Seattle. Maria Semple wrote for Arrested Development (one of my favorite tv shows). And that’s something you can tell by her style. ‘Dudes’ probably call this chick lit. But grow up man, and read this shit.
- Naïve. Super by Erlend Loe
Another funny and entertaining book. Loe is from Norway, and I like his minimal style. It’s a story about a young kid who’s searching for meaning in life. Way better than all the corny self-help parables like The Alchemist. This is book down to earth and fun to read.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Let’s get a little serious. This book is an examination of human suffering. If this book doesn’t change the way you think about people, nothing will. And if you think it’s a lengthy and hard to read novel, you’re wrong. It’s actually a very light read. Just don’t get stuck on all the characters and continue reading. It will make sense along the way.
- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The only very familiar book on this list. I’ve referred to this book more often and I still enjoy it after all these years. It never gets old. And if you’ve never read it, drop whatever you’re doing and get this book. You’ll change after reading it.
- Ask The Dust by John Fante
My favorite writer, Charles Bukowski, was influenced by Fante. In Ask The Dust, you read the story of Arturo Bandini, a struggling writer in 1930s Los Angeles. It’s a story about struggle and perseverance. It’s both depressing and feel-good at the same time. Just like life.
- Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago
We all die, right? But what if that wasn’t the case? A lot of people are afraid of death, but in this novel, people don’t have to be afraid anymore. Because on the first day of the new year, no one dies. Death basically gives up her job (yes, death is a her in this book). What happens next? Read the book. It’s really good.
- Cathedral by Raymond Carver
Because Raymond Carver wrote short stories, he’s never included in any ‘top novels’ lists. And that’s a shame. Most people have heard about his classic What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. But Cathedral makes you think more. My favorite Carver collection because it’s about exploring everyday moments in human life.
Maybe you’ve read some of these books. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. And maybe they’ll change the way you think. Or maybe not.
Let us remind ourselves that it’s okay to ‘just’ read a book. Reading a good book is like having a conversation with a friend. J.D. Salinger said it best:
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
Not every single book has to make you a millionaire, turn you into a life hacker, or the best version of yourself.
So, grab a book. Sit back. Turn off your phone. And READ. Not because it will improve your life. But because it’s food for your mind.