I’m sure I’ll omit some of my favorites here. The most glaring omission from my earlier lists was The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I love this book deeply (though, strangely, the first time I picked it up, I read forty pages and then quit).
1. The Selfish Gene. Richard Dawkins.
2. This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Ken Rogoff, Carmen Reinhart.
3. Micromotives and Macrobehavior. Thomas Schelling. Read this before you read The Tipping Point, please!
4. The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. Peter Watson.
5. Bad Money. Kevin Phillips.
6. Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century. John McNeill.
7. The China Study. Colin Campbell.
8. From Dawn to Decadence. Jacques Barzun.
9. Chaos. Gleick.
10. The Assassins’ Gate. George Packer.
11. The Fourth Turning. William Strauss, Neil Howe.
12. The Misbehavior of Markets. Benoit Mendelbrot.
13. Devil Take the Hindmost. Edward Chancellor.
14. Nixonland. Rick Perlstein.
15. The Power Game. Hendrick Smith.
16. Freakonomics. Steve Levitt, Steven Dubner.
17. Bobos in Paradise. David Brooks.
18. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and Principles of Screenwriting. Robert McKee.
19. The Graying of the Great Powers. Neil Howe, et al.
20. The Price of Loyalty. Ron Suskind.
21. Black Swan. Nassim Taleb.
22. Reinventing the Bazaar: The Natural History of Markets. John McMillan.
23. The Money and The Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America. Sally Dinton, Roger Morris.
24. The First World War. John Keegan.
25. The Meme Machine. Susan Blackmore.
26. The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Frank Rich.
27. Decision-Making with Insight.xla. Sam Savage.
28. Stabilizing an Unstable Economy. Hyman Minsky.
29. The Dollar Crisis. Richard Duncan.
30. House of Bush, House of Saud. Craig Ungar.