6 Feb 2022

List of Favorite Books

The full list is on Goodreads The Story Graph.

It's so incredibly hard to make a selection. And my preferences change over time!


I dislike it when people have long lists of books.

I always think: they can't all be good.

But then I made my own list, and it's true.

Each one of these has had a profound impact on my life.


1. Non Fiction

1.1 Total Recall

You probably did something right if you were a world-champion bodybuilding, a tier 1 actor, and a governor.

It's probably romanticed as it reads as fiction at times. Nevertheless it's a great story.

It's also the first biography I ever read, and it started my interest for reading and learning through biographies.

Total Recall

1.2 Open

The most personal biography I've ever read. It made me realise even top stars doubt themselves. The only other book which shows this vulnerability was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (which was never intended to be read lest himself).

I hesitated to read this book as I have little affinity with tennis, but I absolutely don't regret reading it!

Agassi Open

1.3 The Beginning of Infinity

Finally an optimistic book about the future!

The Beginning of Infinity

1.4 Man's Search for Meaning

To learn the meaning of life...?

Man's Search for Meaning

1.5 The Way of the Superior Man

Because life is more than work alone.

The Way Of The Superior Man

1.6 Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic

Best inspiration to start building a business with my spouse.

The Way Of The Superior Man

1.7 Wild Swans

More or less covers the history of China for the last 100 years through a personal story. Helped me understand how China became what it is today.

Wild Swans

1.8 Surely You're Joking Mister Feynmann

A masterclass in curiosity and the fruits it bears.

Surely You're Joking

1.8 Thinking Fast and Slow

1.9 Getting More

The first business book I read. I felt like a loser reading a book like this. But I read it over and over again because it was so useful in so many of life's situations. More than the contents from the book, it's the way it made me realise how much knowledge is available out there. From here I started buying more non-fiction books on any topic which interested me.

1.10 How To Have A Good Day

This one I also read and listened over and over again in my early career.

1.11 The Power of Habit

I finished this one on a day flight from New-Zealand to Bangkok. I was hesitant because of the cliche title, but there are some good learnings there. Habits are a very powerful things. Made me realise quitting coffee is hard, better to replace it with something. More books have been written on habits. Atomic Habits being the most recent one. I haven't read that one.

1.12 The Power Of Now

This one and the next ones are more spiritual. This one has the same style of stupid cliche title as the previous, but is once again a gem to understand myself.

1.13 Siddharta

Leading the simple life.

1.14 The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Not sure if it belongs in this list, as I don't remember much of it, and I ended up being disappointed as this was a fiction story. Then again fictional characters could be the best inspiration of all. For me that's definitely true for James Bond (especially the Pierce Brosnan ones), Gentleman in Moscow, and Toranaga in the Shogun book.

1.15 The Untethered Soul

This one should probably be higher up in the list. Together with Michael Singer's other book (the next one in this list) it made a profound impact on how I think. Accepting things as they happen is now a common philosophy of mine. Also one of the few times I like to read two books by the same author.

1.16 The Surrender Experiment

By the same writer as the previous, it's an autobiography. It helps me be more accepting of unexpected things which happen in my life.

1.17 Meditations

It puts a lot of things in perspective when reading the doubts from the most powerful man in the world 2000 years ago. Not really a book that you "read" though.

2. Fiction

Fiction allows to create some great, inspiring people. Sometimes I wonder how authors can create these characters. Are they like that themselves, they must be great people then.

2.1 The Bonfire of Vanities

So deep, so real. Not just a good guys versus bad guys story, but real people with real nuances.

Vreugdevuur der ijdelheden

2.2 The Secret History

This one strongly resonated with me when I was a student. Maybe I should re-read to remember how I feel about it today. Similarly to the Shadow Of The Wind it's quite a dark story if I remember correctly, and these days I'm more opportunistic.

Vreugdevuur der ijdelheden

2.3 The Shadow of the Wind

Such a magical story when I was younger, but re-reading it when I was in my thirties it resonated less. Maybe also because it's quite a dark story, and these days I'm more opportunistic.

Vreugdevuur der ijdelheden

2.4 A Gentleman in Moscow

A story which made me smile. The protagonist is the best most inspiring character in the world. Probably my favorite fiction book of all.

Gentleman in Moscow

2.5 Shōgun

Rough to get through the first few chapters, but after that the characters become larger than life and the story full of surprises. What I really love is that some characters are just amazing, inspiring people.

Shogun

2.6 Grand Hotel Europa

A piece of art about love, tourism, immigration, Europe, ... And on top of that it's hilarious.

2.7 Cryptonomicon

Similar to Shogun it's rough in the beginning, but it's great to read a book where all the pieces of the puzzle come together so magically at the end. Admittedly, it has been a very long time ago since I read this book.

2.8 1Q84

Yes, with a Q.

Weird, but nevertheless, I couldn't put it down.

1Q84

2.9 Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

It took me until my thirties to discover this. Way too late. Great humour.

2.10 The Thousand Autums Of Jacob de Zoet

There is something profound about a book which spans a person's entire lifetime. It makes me realise my time here on earth is limited, and I better start to appreciate the moment more, and make sure I don't regret not doing anything when my time has come.

Other than that also a good historical fiction book about the Dutch in Japan in the colonial times.