I’ve found all of these books to be helpful in some way, and I can pretty much guarantee that all of them will infuse you with a powerful burst of inspiration. For best effect, consume when you have a day off and an unlimited supply of strong Greek coffee.

  1. A guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy – William B. Irvine
  2. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Dr. Jordan Peterson
  3. Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor E. Frankl
  4. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength – Roy. F. Baumeister
  5. Superbetter – Jane McGonigal
  6. Tools of Titans – Timothy Ferris
  7. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
  8. The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle
  9. The Road Less Travelled – M. Scott Peck
  10. The Brain that Changes Itself – Norman Doige

These are all books I’ve read since January 1st 2017 that I thought were good. I don’t have time to do extensive reviews. That said, if it ‘made the cut’ it means I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. So if you’re at a loss for what to read next…

I also recently (20/3/20) started a Goodreads account.

Key: (F)=Fiction (NF)=Non Fiction (C)=Classic (OW)=On Writing (P)=Philosophy/Self Help (S)=Short Stories

Books I liked:

Talking To Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell (NF)

The Nevernight Chronicles Trilogy – Jay Kristoff (F)

The Madness of Crowds – Douglass Murray (NF)

The 3 Body Problem – Cixin Liu (F)

House of Leaves – Mark Danielewski (F) Horror

Irresistable – Adam Alter (NF)

Economics in One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt (NF)

Making Evil – Dr. Julia Shaw (NF)

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe (F)

The Wise Man’s Fear – Pat Rothfuss (F)

Nevernight – Jay Kristoff (F)

Mongrels – Stephen Graham Jones (F) Horror

The Deep – Nick Cutter (F) Horror

The Gulag Archipelago – Alexander Solzhenitsyn (P)

Flowers for Algernon (F)

The Hunger – Alma Katsu (F) Horror

The Name of the Wind – Pat Rothfuss (F)

The Institute – Stephen King (F) Horror

Wake in Fright – Kenneth Cooke (F)

Blue Mind – Wallace J. Nichols (NF)

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters (F) Horror

A Sense of Style – Steven Pinker (OW)

Enlightenment Now – Steven Pinker (NF)

How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes – Peter Schiff (NF)

Moby Dick – Hermann Melville (F)

Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

The Butchering Art – Lindsay Fitzharris (NF)

The Ritual – Adam Nevill (F) Horror

The Labyrinth of the Spirits – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (F)

The Original Grimm’s Fairy Tales (S)

The First 5 Pages – Noah Lukeman (OW)

October Country – Ray Bradbury (S) Horror

Anything You Want – Derek Sivers (P)

Some Will Not Sleep – Adam Nevill (S) Horror

His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman (F)

Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice (F)

Win Bigly – Scott Adams (P)

Summer of Night – Dan Simmons (F) Horror

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Succeed – Scott Adams (P)

The Troop – Nick Cutter (F) Horror

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (C)

Psycho – Robert Bloch (C) Horror

Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins (P)

Planet Word – J.P Davidson (NF)

The Damnation Game – Clive Barker (F) Horror

Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maas (OW)

Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (F)

Bird Box – Josh Malerman (F) Horror

Flow – Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi (P)

Ordinary Men – Christopher Browning (NF)

Hellbent – Gregg Hurwitz (F)

Mistborn #1 – Brandon Sanderson (F)

The Fireman – Joe Hill (F)

The Emotional Craft of Fiction – Donald Maas (OW)

The Rape of Nanking – Iris Chang (NF)

Tribe – Sebastian Junger (P)

Nowhere Man – Gregg Hurwitz (F)

Orphan X – Gregg Hurwitz (F)

Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes (F) Horror

The Rape of Nanking – Iris Chang (NF)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch – Alexander Solzhenitzen (C)

Dracula – Bram Stoker (C) Horror

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain (NF)

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (C)

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (F)

Where Nightmares Come From – (Various) (OW)

Reality is Broken – Jane McGonigal (P)

The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom (F)

NOS4R2 – Joe Hill (F) Horror

The Nightrunners – Joe Landsdale (F) Horror

Influence – Robert Cialdini (P)

Dune – Frank Herbert (F)

Discipline Equals Freedom – Jocko Willink (P)

Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg (OW)

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Jordan Peterson (P)

Musashi – Eiji Yoshikawa (F)

Writing Tools – Roy Clark (OW)

How to Stop Worrying and Live – Dale Carnegie (P)

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie (P)

Junky – William S. Burroughs (F)

Midnight Sun – Ramsey Campbell (F) Horror

I was Blind but now I see – James Altucher (P)

How to Win Friends and Influence People (P)

The Martian – Andy Weir (F)

Panzram – Journal of Murder (NF)

Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (F)

Watcher in the Shadows – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (F)

Nocturnal – Scott Sigler (F)

Madam Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (C)

Bird By Bird – Ann Lamott (OW)

Permutation City – Greg Egan (F)

The Uses of Enchantment – Bruno Bettleheim (OW)

Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (F)

The View from the Cheap Seats – Neil Gaiman (OW)

The Passage – Justin Cronin (F) Horror

The Warrior Ethos – Steven Pressfield (OW)

The Knowledge – Steven Pressfield (F)

Letters to Lucilius – Seneca (P)

Killing Rommel – Steven Pressfield (F)

Mothertongue – Bill Bryson (NF)

Wild – Cheryl Strayed (P)

Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman (F)

Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink (P)

A Brief Guide to William Shakespeare – Peter Ackroyd (NF)

Danse Macabre – Stephen King (NF)

Watership Down – Richard Adams (C)

If This is a Man – Primo Levi (P)

Night Music – John Connolly (F)

The Writing Life – Annie Dillard (OW)

Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari (NF)

Top 10 Nonfiction

  1. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  2. Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
  3. The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan
  4. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors – Carl Sagan
  5. Tribe – Sebastian Junger
  6. Freakonomics – Steven Levitt
  7. Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  8. Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
  9. Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker
  10. The Rape of Nanking – Iris Chang

Every single one of these books changed my writing significantly for the better, each in a different way, and I’ve read some of them several times. That’s saying something by the way, since as a rule I never read a book more than once – there are too many good ones out there.

I should probably caution you to take your time reading these, if you’re planning to go through the list. The best way to do it, I think, would be to work your way down from #1, and as you finish each book spend at least a few months practicing and applying the things you learn. Otherwise you run the risk of taking in too much information and forgetting half of it before you get a chance to internalise it.

  1. The Elements of Style – Strunk & White
  2. On Writing – Stephen King
  3. Stein On Writing – Sol Stein
  4. On Writing Well – William Zinsser
  5. The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  6. The First 5 Pages – Noah Lukeman
  7. No One Wants To Read Your Shit – Shaun Coyne
  8. The :Emotional Craft of Fiction – Donald Maas
  9. The Hero With a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
  10. Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury

Top  100

These are my 100 favourite books. I wrote them down as they occurred to me, so the order is roughly best to worst. Your taste might not be exactly in line with mine, but I’m willing to bet that whoever you are, you’ll enjoy the hell out of most of these.


  1. It – Stephen King
  2. Drood – Dan Simmons
  3. Summer of Night – Dan Simmons
  4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R Tolkien
  5. Harry Potter 1 – 7 – J.K. Rowling
  6. The Dark Tower series – Stephen King
  7. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
  8. Carrie – Stephen King
  9. The Terror – Dan Simmons
  10. Flashback – Dan Simmons
  11. Tommyknockers – Stephen King
  12. Needful Things – Stephen King
  13. Jack Reacher Series – Lee Child
  14. Live by Night – Dennis Lehane
  15. Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane
  16. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  17. The Heroes – Joe Abercrombie
  18. First Law Trilogy – Joe Abercrombie
  19. Game of Thrones series – George R.R. Martin
  20. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stephenson
  21. The Witches – Roald Dahl
  22. Orphan X Series – Gregg Hurwitz
  23. Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
  24. The Silence of the Lambs – Robert Harris
  25. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
  26. The Ruins – Scott Smith
  27. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  28. Gates of Fire – Steven Pressfield
  29. The Last Kingdom series – Bernard Cornwell
  30. The Things They Carried – Tim O’ Brian
  31. Let the Right One In – Joh Ajvide Lindqvist
  32. Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  33. Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson
  34. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  35. Requiem for a Dream – Hubert Selby Jnr.
  36. Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  37. The Beach – Alex Garland
  38. Post Office – Charles Buckowski
  39. A Time to Kill – John Grisham
  40. Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
  41. Pirate Latitudes – Michael Chrichton
  42. Eaters of the Dead – Michael Chrichton
  43. A Series of Unfortunate Events 1 -13
  44. The Stand – Stephen King
  45. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  46. Call of the Wild – Jack London
  47. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  48. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  49. 1984 – George Orwell
  50. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  51. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  52. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
  53. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
  54. The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
  55. Perfume – Patrick Suskind
  56. Joyland – Stephen King
  57. Audition – Ryu Murakami
  58. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  59. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  60. King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
  61. She – H. Rider Haggard
  62. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
  63. The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  64. Dr. No – Ian Fleming
  65. Artemis Fowl 1 – 3 – Eoin Colfer
  66. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  67. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
  68. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  69. The Firm – John Grisham
  70. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  71. The Help – Katherine Stockett
  72. Hearts in Atlantis – Stephen King
  73. The Shining – Stephen King
  74. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Shwartz and Stephen Gammell
  75. Pet Sematary – Stephen King
  76. The Eyes of the Dragon – Stephen King
  77. Some Will Not Sleep – Adam Nevill
  78. Bird Box – Josh Malerman
  79. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
  80. NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
  81. The Princess Bride – William Goldman
  82. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  83. Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut
  84. Marina – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  85. Best Served Cold – Joe Abercrombie
  86. Red Country – Joe Abercrombie
  87. Sharpe series 1 – 24 – Bernard Cornwell
  88. The Woman – Jack Ketchum
  89. I am Legend – Richard Matheson
  90. The Thief of Always – Clive Barker
  91. The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien
  92. 20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill
  93. Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  94. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  95. Rant – Chuck Palahniuk
  96. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
  97. Minority Report – Phillip K. Dick
  98. Dune – Frank Herbert
  99. Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
  100. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
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