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Steve Alvest


My Favorite books

This list was adapted from an article on my personal website.

Here are ten books (or book series) that I enjoyed reading the most. These books either changed my life or were a joy to read, or in some cases, both.

My Favorite books

    1. Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang

    I heard this book recommended by Tim Ferriss and others, so I finally decided to start reading it. Wow. Each short story in this collection is scientific, original, and thought-provoking. The stories may be fantastical, but they stick in your mind long after you’ve finished them and make you think. One of the stories, “Story of Your Life,” was the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival.

    2. Atomic Habits, by James Clear

    In this book, habit expert James Clear breaks down and explores what makes our habits “stick.” He gives a framework for how habits are formed, then offers concrete strategies for building our good habits and breaking our bad ones. His insights will give you new perspectives productivity and time management.

    3. On Writing Well, by William Zinsser

    William Zinsser’s classic guide to writing non-fiction teaches how to write clearly and concisely. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts, and writing well correlates to thinking well. On Writing Well changed my whole philosophy of how to write.

    4. The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod

    One thing just about every successful person has in common is an established morning routine. The Miracle Morning provides a framework for creating the perfect morning routine. I always thought of myself as a night owl, but after following Hal Elrod’s advice and waking up early every morning for a few days, I changed myself to a morning person. While my family circumstances have changed and I can no longer wake up at 5AM every morning, I do long for the time in the future when I can go back to waking up before the sun rises, because it felt so good while I was doing it.

    5. Guerrilla Publishing, by Derek Murphy

    I’m hesitant to put a how-to book in this list because not many people are into book publishing. But this book was a game-changer for me. It skips all the positive wishful thinking and keeps it real: more than 95% of authors fail. Then it goes into detail about how not to fail.

    6. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

    I don’t read a lot of fiction books, but I was excited to read this one. It’s a story of a father and son trying to survive several years after an apocalyptic event that destroyed nearly all life on Earth. Only a few humans are left alive, subsisting off of a dwindling supply of canned goods and cannibalism. It’s a bleak tale of survival in the darkest of times. And it won a Pulitzer Prize. A movie based on the book was released in 2009.

    7. Influence, by Robert Cialdini

    This book will change how you see the world. After reading the book, you will see all the marketing tricks corporations use to get your money, all the techniques sales people use to make the sale, and all the ways other people try to influence your behavior.  It is effectively a book on mind control.

    8. A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin

    I first heard about the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series from the popularity of the Game of Thrones HBO television series.  When I watched the pilot episode of the television series, I knew I had to read the books.  In 2014, I read all five of the published books of the series—all 4,000+ pages. However, it’s 2022 now and it’s been over a decade since the last book in the series was published. I’m doubtful whether George R.R. Martin will ever finish it, so I recommend waiting until this series is finished (if ever) before starting it.

    9. The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs

    This is a humorous write-up documenting author A.J. Jacobs’ year spent trying to live as closely and literally as possible to the teachings of the Bible.  Interesting for religious and atheist alike, the results of his experiment are hilarious and thought-provoking.

    10. Any book by Tim Ferriss

    Okay, I have to admit that I’m a total Tim Ferriss fanboy, but seriously, each one of his books packs enough information to change your life several times over. They provide the most bang for the buck of any non-fiction books I have ever read.

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