I have been asked in the past to list ten books that have “inspired, moved, and enlightened” me. Here’s my list:

Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges


by Jorge Luis Borges

An inspiration that never runs out of batteries for me. Shines a new light on everything; Borges follows no one’s rules but his own.

The Bear, by William Faulkner

The Bear

by William Faulkner

I bought this for 50 cents at a garage sale when I was 17. The combination of story-telling and facility with the language blew my socks off. I immediately became an English major.

The Most Human Human

by Brian Christian

A book about the wild frontiers of chatbots reveals more than expected about what it means to be made of flesh and blood.

The Arrival

by Shaun Tan

A wordless story about the immigrant experience. Peerless.

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Who would have thought the Pulitzer Prize committee would fall in love with a post-apocalyptic tale with almost no dialogue? It’s clear why they did. Haunting for all the right reasons.

Invisible Cities

by Italo Calvino

Mother’s milk for my own writing career. It’s a series of very short stories that are all about the same thing.

Plagues and Peoples

by William McNeill

An early book that unmasked the deep influence of the invisibly small on the very large.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by Michael Chabon

A rare combination of perfect wordsmithery and limitless imagination.


by Carl Sagan

Oldie but goodie. Changed my life as a child.

Last and First Men

by Olaf Stapledon

Science fiction written in 1930. Describes the future of humans 2 billion years into the future. Boundless imagination.

What books would you put on your list? Which books made a difference for you?

"[A] neuroscientist and polymath."
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