Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Personal creative process talk with some important books


I recently had a chance to speak at a new event in Baltimore called Midmorning Social where I was asked to speak about how I work and where I find inspiration. It ended up being one of the most personal and introspective things I've ever done. The video is embedded below, or you can watch here.

I thought a lot about all of the books that had influenced me on my current path or that just resonated with me and shaped me. I mentioned a bunch of these in the talk but left out others due to time. Since I was asked over Twitter to provide links to the books, I ended up making the following reading list. Hope you find it interesting as I really enjoyed compiling it!
  • The 4 Hour Work Week / The 4 Hour Body: very trendy amongst the Internet set, I know, but full of provocative and inspiring ideas about how to design the way you live instead of just following a pre-defined path
  • Organizing from the Inside Out: very useful technique for getting organized and staying that way
  • The Primal Blueprint: helped me plan how I exercise for maximum benefit with minimal, regular investment of energy/time
  • Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It or the more intense version Good Calories, Bad Calories: helped me figure out a healthier way to eat and lose weight; also a great example of debunking widely-accepted conventional wisdom. Good to contrast with another favorite book about eating, Omnivore's Dilemma.
  • The Cybernetic Brain: still grappling with what this book means, but my favorite part is the dissection of the ontology of unknowability as applied to the brain
  • The Song of the Dodo: the first really good nonfiction book I can remember reading, really turned me into a nonfiction fan
  • Collapse: I think about what happened to the European settlements on Greenland, and how that applies to the fate of our society, almost every day
  • Wizard and Glass: probably the best novel I've ever read, an incredible coming-of-age story. There's a powerful battle scene in the end that I recall so vividly it's like I lived it.
  • Godel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop: awesome meditations on the nature of conciousness; the first book is also just an awesome work of art, stretching the notion of what a book can be or do far beyond anything else I've read
  • Imperial Hubris: Extremely prophetic book written in the early years of the "war on terror"; greatly influences how I think about the conflicts we're embroiled in and explains why "war on terror" belongs in quotes
  • Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software: being a self-taught programmer, this book really helped me understand lower levels of computational abstraction that I don't usually spend much time thinking about
  • Getting Things Done: also very trendy, but definitely changed the way I work and made me much more productive
  • Daemon: great near-future novel exploring the implications of current technology developments
  • The Warrior Elite: about Navy SEAL class 228; I washed out of class 230 and this book helped me decide to move on and not try to go back
  • Man's Search for Meaning: helped me clarify the truly important sources of happiness in life (the "pillars" that I mention in the talk
  • Hackers & Painters helped me decide to leave the Navy and become a programmer
  • The Lean Startup: really great manual for how to build things with less wasted effort in the 21st century. I reference this book in business conversations many times.
  • Rapid Development and Software Estimation: introduced me to the notion that in software you want your schedule to be very predictable, not necessarily super fast
  • Code Complete: introduced me to the notions of software quality and how to achieve it
  • Full Catastrophe Living: I ran out of time to discuss meditation, but this book helped me learn how and why to meditate, and helped me cultivate a mindfulness practice
Here's the video of the talk, about 20 minutes long:

1 comment:

francine said...

great post, mike. loved it.
-carl