Personal Book List

by Michael Haberman on November 12, 2012 · 4 comments

 

What books would have on your bookshelf for life?

This post is not really about HR today. I am making it a bit more personal. I came across a blog post on a blog called Closed the Cover. The writer was talking about a new book called My Ideal Bookshelf. The editor of the book had interviewed a number of well-known people and asked them what books they would have on their personal shelf, a shelf that defined who they are. I got thinking about that too. Only I changed it up a bit and started thinking about what books on my bookshelves would I want with me if I was going to only have the opportunity to read and reread that set of books. So here is my personal book list.

No Business Books

After I compiled my list I noted that I had no business books on the list. I read them all the time of course, but nothing jumped out at me as something I would want to have about me all the time. Deciding on my list of books required some thought and a survey of my bookcases. So here they are:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: My mother gave me a small copy that she had been given as a 7 year old. I love the story and it connects me to my past.

Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough: The first biography I read on Theodore Roosevelt. It made me a fan and I have read many more. But I can reread this one anytime.

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz: As a graduate student leaving graduate school and getting into the business world I needed a dose of self confidence and this book helped me get it.

Thrive! by Alan Weiss: I have already reread this book twice and I have not had it that long. Weiss is a favorite author and someone I consider a mentor. I have many of his consulting books but this one is about life.

Lord of the Rings by Tolkien: Yeah I know it is three books but it is really just one. For years I would read this set at Christmas time, mostly because I got it as a gift, but it is a wonderful story of good vs. evil with good triumphing.

Blink, Outliers, Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: I consider this a set rather than separate books. Good lessons on people.

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond: I love reading history and science and this is a good combination that is a great explanation of the why we are what we are today.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson: This is a good review of history and science and funny too. I will read anything by Bryson, butt this is the one I started with.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: A very compelling story. Originally written as a magazine serial it draws you through the book since it was written to make you buy the next newspaper. A favorite story of movie makers, it gets mentioned in Shawshank Redemption.

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone: A biographical novel of another favorite historical character of mine, Michelangelo. A study in artistic genius and human drama.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by well guess: How do you not have some Shakespeare around if you cannot add anything else to your collection?

Well that is my list. What would your list look like? Think about it and please respond with the book that would be at the top of your list.

By the way the HR tie-in is that many of these books are about the “human condition” and in HR you need to be well-versed in the “human condition”. It helps you understand people better and thus make you better able to respond to the variability of people you will encounter.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sayward November 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

Rosemary’s Baby. My mother gave it to me on my 16th birthday, probably to discourage me from having a baby, but I love the descriptions of the city and the apartment. Now, I realize that it is also about trust and making sure that your immediate circle of friends and family is one that will be good for you!

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Michael Haberman November 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

Interesting… not sure I would have suspected such a message from that book.

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Mike Patten November 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

For me, the book is Grapes of Wrath. I first read it when I was a teenager. Way too young to “get it.” I have since re-read it and it the most powerful and evocative work that I have ever read. It talks about man’s inhumanity to man, man’s capacity to love, and it details a resiliency of the flesh and spirit that is both uplifting and overwhelming. While it’s a work of fiction, it truly is a biography of the great depression.

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Michael Haberman November 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

Thanks Mike. I have been remiss in my reading and have never cracked the cover of that classic. I may put that on my “must read” list.

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