A selection of My Most Influential Books, and some that come close in teaching something of value. A broader range then those detailed below.
Basically I read non-fiction along various, very broad, but oddly focused, categories. And a good deal of certain kinds of Science Fiction, so you probably won't find any novels other then that around here !
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards - Shows that drawing is a skill you can learn, and talks about the creative process. The right and left brained concept isn't as cut and dry as Edwards says, but there are powerful differences between gestalt and reasoning thinking. The book suggests methods that may be useful in many other concepts. There is a lot more to be learned from this book than simply its very effective methods of how to draw.
The Source by James A. Michener - a history of the evolution of religion in Michener's easy semi fictional style. This book was very influential on me, through probably not exactly as he might have imagined.
The point of the following is why I think I have a pretty good 'nose' for good books.
I have used libraries since I was small, initially reading lots of science fiction, but then got interested in lots of technical subjects to go along with school and my model railroading hobby. Book and magazine stores added another data stream to choose from, then companies I worked for, and then computers, and now the internet.
After the Army, I became interested in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other 'Human' subjects in comparison to 'Machine' subjects, like industrial methods and history, electronics, and computers. I've developed a taste for business histories in many different industries, past and present. And lots of stuff on the brain and mind, contrasted with information theory, systems theory, computer software. As you may have gathered by now, I love cross disciplinary stuff !
As I read various books on related, or unrelated subjects, I check out the bibliographies, and am usually pleasantly surprised to find more then a few old friends, or at least acquaintances, plus some new candidates, among the lists.
Sure, I've tried out my share of clunkers: bad writing, bad ideas, hidden agendas, etc. But they have taught me to be much better in my selection over time.
I don't have a lot of patience for authors that can't communicate well. Often one has choices not only in the ideas and facts contained in books on a particular subject, but in the quality of the authors. I will always try and find the one that communicates easily, and can work for a broader audience.
I'm not a scholar, and frankly, am a bit biased against traditional academia. But I've had an interesting education. Private and public schools, a couple of colleges (but not for long). Military, commercial, and corporate technical training, as well as doing some technical instruction at various points in my career. I have learned to guide my own education, without the hide-bound fetters of traditional academia. It's really not that hard in the information rich culture we are lucky to live in, coupled with some curiosity and boldness.
A Bolded Title means a very strong recommendation for that book!
If a book title has an asterisk* after it, it means that I haven't read it. But I include it to fill in gaps, provide alternatives, or I just haven't gotten around to it yet. But I select these from a number of other reviewers and references, to be confident that it's worthwhile for you or me.
Example: Designing Web Usability * - Jacob Neilsen. (I lied, I really have read this one, some of it twice)
The book title links to Amazon provide you with chance to see more information on the book, other choices, and other's opinions.
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