My top 10 non-fiction books

(The content of this blog post is made into a YouTube video. )

1. The Story of Spanish

If you are a student of the Spanish language, or a history buff, or both, you will love this book.

It is a story book, not a grammar book of which there are many. This book tells the story of the Spanish language and the peoples who spoke it, how it came about and moved about from the Old World to the New World, and once there, from Latin America to the United States of America. Entertaining, and educational at the same time.

If you need something to inspire you to learn or to continue learning Spanish, this is a must read for you.

2. Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life

The book was first published in 1984, but don’t let its age fool you, the message is still very much relevant today. All of us yearn to create—be it a painting, a computer program, a photograph, a song, an essay. This book’s premise is simple: we can follow a tried-and-true process from the traditions of the arts and sciences for creating masterpieces. There are some stunning patterns of how the grand masters go about their businesses.

I find myself coming back to this book time and time again when I am frustrated by the lack of progress in my own creative pursuit. It has not disappointed me.

3. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

Of the 30+ books Father Henri Nouwen had written, The Return of the Prodigal Son is my personal favorite. Father Nouwen put down in words his meditation on the painting Prodigal Son by Rembrandt which in turn is based on Jesus’ age-old parable.

There are 2 sons in the parable: the younger son, allegedly the prodigal one who abandoned his father and wasted a big family fortune on his selfish desires, and the older son, the one who stayed behind but acted resentful upon his brother’s return. Which son—or is it possible both—were lost to his father and needed forgiveness? You may be surprised after reading the book which son you actually end up identifying with.

4. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

This is not a typical book that you bring to your vacation to read while sunbathing on the beach. But if you enjoy reading popular science books such as A Brief History of Time, you will enjoy this classic.

In a nutshell, Kuhn argues how paradigm shifts actually happen in science, not through a gradual orderly transition from one world model to another, but often in a disruptive intellectually violent way that destroys the old in favor of the new.

Besides being interesting in its own right in the area of scientific discoveries, this book will inspire you to think if the same forces driving paradigmatic shifts are affecting changes in areas that touch your life, your industry, your career.

5. The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey

This is not a zoology book but a book on management, the management of time, and delegation, the taking on or not taking on of other people’s tasks. The proverbial monkey is the problems that if we don’t delegate properly will become a burden on our back, and hindrance to individual and team progress.

Like the rest of the One Minute Manager books, the Monkey book is short, fun, and practical. It is applicable not just in your career, but in your personal life as well. Be warned: the story is so vivid that it will stick in your head—for a real long time after you put down the book.

6. Crossing the Chasm

First published in 1991, this high-tech marketing classic is featured by Inc. Magazine as 1 of the top 10 all-time marketing books. Even if you are not a marketing professional and you do not work in the hi-tech industry, you are nonetheless a hi-tech product user. You will undoubtedly enjoy reading about the high-tech product adoption life cycle, and see where in the life cycle you typically jump in and buy a tech product.

7. Spiritual Leadership

Books on leadership, secular or spiritual, are plentiful today. This one is special not just because I met the late author in the nineties and he was so kind to autograph a copy of this book, but also the book had withstood the test of time.

I must have reread this book from cover to cover at least 3 times, and every time I was able to pick up nuggets of wisdom which I missed before or forgot over time.

8.The Voice of Jesus

Dr. Gordon Smith is an excellent Christian author and conference speaker whom I had the pleasure of listening live and meeting in person. This book is unlike all other books on the discernment of God’s will that are sitting on my bookshelves today. The other books may be more academically rigorous, but Smith’s was written with such warmth that it would speak to your heart as well as your mind. It is not a how-to book. Rather, it is a how-to-be book.

9. Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy

Twice before, I had alluded to this book (on exercising and connecting socially). It just goes to show that the book has imprinted something on my psyche. Maybe it is because of the hope imparted by the book title.

The book advocates that if you exercises—hard—6 times a week for the rest of your life, you can indeed live strong, fit, and sexy until you are 80. I can truthfully say that I cannot do it, not without trying. But, the book still holds tremendous value for me because I was and still am inspired to work out 3 times a week (for most weeks), a feat not many other exercise self-help books can claim.

10. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This New York Times bestseller will prepare you to make wise health and medical decisions for yourself as you age. It will give you the necessary principles and knowledge so that you can confidently discuss your wishes with medical professionals and your loved ones.

You will find a more detailed review of this book in my earlier post.


Heads up: If you buy a book by clicking through 1 of the above links, you won’t pay a cent more, but I will get a small commission from Amazon. Thanks for your support.

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