1. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Her first full depiction of her philosophy and the ideal man that lives by it. The creative individualistReally deep shit, for real. If you read this and only get a story about an architect, you need to call me so we can have a long fucking talk.

2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Her philosophy, even more fully spelled out. Here she shows the role that the mind plays in the world, and the consequences of what happens when those creative productive minds say “fuck you” when they are not properly dealt with.

3. The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I prefer the Thomas Cleary translation. Trust me.

4. Go Rin No Sho by Miyamoto Musashi. For real. A strategy book written by a man that killed dozens of other martial artists in duels, and died from cancer. Can’t go wrong.

5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. If ever a love story was written, this is it. As a somewhat uneducated reader, here’s what I got out of it: Love does not have to be perfect to be genuine, and sometimes, if not usually, that genuine love is what is perfect.

6. Seraph On The Suwannee by Zora Neale Hurston. Another love story from a different angle: What do you do, how do you feel, when everything you do, to show how much you love someone, is not enough? How do you push through that?

7. Song Of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I have never cared about my own past and the legacy I might leave until after I read this.

8. The Art Of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian. A Jesuit priest that is somewhere in the middle of a Venn Diagram consisting of The Art Of War, The Prince, and How To Win Friends And Influence People.

9. Honoring The Self by Nathaniel Branden. At some point, you are going to have to start giving a shit about yourself and other people. He talks about being honest with yourself and your self-esteem, so that you can have the empathy to know others and really be a whole person.

10. Anything by or about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Just read his words, his quotes. There are power in his words.

11. Same thing with Martin Luther King, Jr. Same reason.

12. How To Be Good by Nick Hornby. The author of High Fidelity gives you a delicious premise.

13. Pedagogy Of The Oppressed by Paulo Friere. This is some pretty rad shit. If you consider yourself any sort of teacher of student, if you care about really learning how to affect change in yourself and in others, or I should say, WITH others, you need to read this. The foreword blew me away. You’re going to hear so much about this, and see some radical changes in me, when I finish this one.

14. Logicai Chess by Irving Chernov. The best book I have EVER read on chess, period. The surest way to learn how to THINK about what you are doing when you play.

15. Winning Chess by Irving Chernov. Logical Chess focuses on the strategy, or overall plan of a game. This book teaches you how to address the situation when it becomes tactical, that is, when you have to address an immediate danger. The focus here is how to use tactics as forceful moves for powerful combinative play.

16. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by, well, duh. An excellent primer for learning the game, no board required. A very weird book, as you would expect.

17. Traditional Aikido and Takemusu Aikido series by Morihiro Saito Sensei. Pardon my bias, but hands down these books are the still the most authoritative and encyclopaedic presentation of Aikido out there, period.

18. Tao Of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was the man, period. How could you not read his book?

19. White Noise by Don DeLillo. An extremely well written book that makes you think.

20. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. LOTS of great stories here. It makes your mind work as well.


Required reading for Aikido

Budo by Morihei Ueshiba

This is the raw nitty gritty with photos and accompanying Kuden, or oral instruction by the man himself.  He demonstrates the basic taijutsu movements along with several weapons techniques.

Budo Renshu by Morihei Ueshiba

An older book than the previous one, illustrated by one of his students, with the explanatory text approved by Ueshiba himself.  There is a lot of old school in here, and it’s worth reading so that these techniques can be preserved.

Traditional Aikido Volumes 1-5 by Morihiro Saito

This was perhaps the first series of books to lay down and codify basic and advanced practice in Aiki Ken, Aiki Jo, and Aikido’s taijutsu.  Written by Saito Sensei, who lived with Ueshiba for over 20 years, these books reflect the knowledge of someone who has had the most direct study of Aikido from the Founder.

Takemusu Aikido Volumes 1-6

Here, Saito Sensei picks up where he left off.  In this first series, he gives us the weapons curriculum in what was at the time, it’s full entirety.  This time, he gives us a the kihon taijutsu curriculum in it’s entirety with astounding detail and instructive detail.  They are also given in a proper order for practice.  The weapons in this series are bukidori.  He details the ones in the old series, and shows even more in this one, including a section on tantodori.  The special edition explains Budo, which is a real treat.

Aikido In Training by Kathy Crane

This book gives an wonderful overview of basic and advanced Aikido practice in an organized manual.  There are also several kuden given for the techniques.

Aikido and The Dynamic Sphere by Adele Westbrook and Oscar Ratti

One of the most popular and easily available Aikido books.  This is another book that gives an enomorous overview of Aikido practice.  This book is also famous for its illustrations.

There are many more books on Aikido, and I own and enjoy many books besides these, but these are the ones that I refer to on a regular basis.