1. Business: Zero to One – Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel, who was involved with Elon Musk at Paypal from its infancy, went on to invest in multiple winning companies in the tech space. Thiel’s star rose internationally as he acquired stock in all the right places, becoming a billionare in the process. However, Thiel is much more than another dull beneficiary of luck and circumstance in the silicon era.
This is proven by his succinct and direct business guide. The book\’s prose is accessible and provides sage advice to anyone that seeks guidance on tech innovation, startup idealogy and good common sense. When you read this book you soon realize that Thiel is not just another bestselling business guru. He is a phenom, proven, someone who is naturally unusual. Thiel comes across as abnormally intelligent, refreshingly honest and eloquent in his advice. This is a manual to step up to the plate for anyone who wants to succeed in tech, business or life
2. Romance: The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
Long, but rewarding is how I would describe Ayn Rand’s tale of capitalism, politics, philosophy and love. The book’s central characters of Howard Roarke and Domonique Francon are forced to deal with that illusive poison that permeates modern society: cronyism. Whether it’s a torturous and forced daily work routine, acolytes we view in the office or promotions to un-derserving sycophants. We have all suffered within the realm of the ‘second rater’ (Rand’s name for work and societal drones).
The book has been discussed and theorized as a commentary on various lofty themes and has even promoted Rand as a harbinger of a new-age philosophy. I saw the novel as primarily a love story. One that is bold, and brutally honest. The characters are brilliantly threshed out and Rand is a genius at setting a scene and moving the narrative. Domique Francon is one of the stronger female figures I have come across in literature and Elsworth Toohey is a vividly portrayed intellectual villian. The Foutainhead is a great story, with a rewarding conclusion.
3. Science Fiction: The Man In The High Castle – Phillip K Dick
An alternate reality where Germany and Japan win World War II is enough to spark anyone\’s interest. Phillip K Dick takes the concept much further by entwining his tale with eastern mysticism, rocket science and various social commentaries. Dick reportedly researched the novel for seven years before writing it.
The work paid off as the book won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. It’s a brilliant read, visionary and completely drenched in Dickian metaphysical meddling. The ending presents an idea so brilliant, that I still ponder it to this day.
4. Psychology & Philosophy: Memories Dreams & Reflections – Carl Jung
Jungian psychology has made a comeback in recent times. Most beginners who are eager for an introduction to Jungian thought usually find a biography or commentary. Some folk even go for the commonly recommended: “Man & His Symbols”. The problem with “Man & His Symbols” is that it scares many new readers.
Jung’s concepts explore the edges of comtemporary Judeo-Christian thought and push further into places that some readers may find confronting. “Memories Dreams & Reflections” is an easier read and a perfect introduction to the Jungian world. It is autobiographical, in part, and skims the surface of Jung’s ideas whilst telling the tale of the man who conceived them.
5. Non Fiction: The KLF Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds – John Higgs
When thinking of a non fiction title I was assuming a book would surface on war, politics, or possibly a biography. Then I remembered an excellent book I fell upon at a local library. The non fiction classification may be a bit loose, but John Higgs’ investigation into The KLF and their shenanigans, turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and funniest of non-fiction reads.
The KLF are commonly recognized as a popular main stream dance music act from the 90s, who happened to burn a million pounds in a ritual ceremony… for no particular reason. Higgs’ book investigates the event as well as: popular culture, modern day ‘sorcerers’, eye witness accounts of arcane ritual ceremony and the UK’s post punk scene. Any book that makes you laugh this much is worth the read.