What’s the most influential book you’ve ever read, and why?
Jason, our Director of Engineering, recently posed that question to all of Quick Left. It was our Monday-morning standup “icebreaker” question. While some weeks the question is better than others, it always provides an opportunity for everyone to say something and get to know each other a little better. It turns out that Quick Lefters aren’t just computer-geeks — we’re also bookworms! The answers varied from children’s books to management and self-help books, and included everything in between!
As a result of our morning discussion, purchases were made, more recommendations were given, and we even created a books channel in our company chat room to share these and other books we’ve enjoyed reading.
Here’s an annotated sampling of some of the most influential books Quick Lefters have read and why they were influential:
- Metaprogramming Ruby, by Paolo Perrotta. Matt Huggins said this book is perfect for “the ruby nerds” like himself.
- American Pastoral, by Phillip Roth. Recommended by Michael Phillips.
- Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. Recommended by Michael Phillips.
- 1491, by Charles C Mann. Recommended by Matt Work.
- In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life, by James Deetz. Laura Steadman said: “It’s a super-cool introduction to archaeology that discusses how a person’s perspective of the world can affect everything from how they build their house to what gets put on their grave stone.”
- I Ching. Ben Lewis explained that this book of ancient philosophy” describes the natural ebb and flow of events. It has about 6 different historical layers, and several metaphors for things at different levels (country, royal court, family, individual) that mirror each other.”
- The Blessings of a B Minus, by Wendy Mogel helped Jason Collins understand his kids and better relate to them.
- The Bible gave Donald Harris “guidelines how to be a good father, husband, son, and friend.”
- God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi, by Jamie Korngold. Recommended by Justin Abrahms.
- Fear and Trembling, by Soren Kierkegaard. Flora Worley said that this book opened “the door for me to understand what animates expressions of faith that might otherwise seem unintelligible, irrational, unreasonable, and even amoral.
- The Republic, by Plato was a book that changed James Kenly’s life.
- Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius. Justin Abrahms recommended this book because “its a book about how to live your life by one of the most celebrated humans of the Roman empire.”
- The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk. Donald Harris said that this book “taught me how to treat customers no matter what role I have at a company.”
- 10% Happier, by Dan Harris. Blair Anderson shared this preview of it from The Colbert Report.
- The Game of Life and How to Play It, by Florence Scovel Shinn. Recommended by Keith Mitchell.
- Early Retirement Extreme, by Jacob Lund Fisker. Justin Abrahms noted that this book changed the way he thought about his finances in a big way.
- The Origin of Wealth, by Eric D. Beinhocker. Recommended by Matt Work.
- Yes, Please Understand Me II, by David Kiersey. Jason said that this book is fantastic for learning about how to understand other people.
- Between the Lines:My Autobiography by Victoria Pendleton. Recommended by Christa Ghent for opening her up to the troubles/challenges of Track Cycling and how to persevere through anything.
Children’s/Young Adult Books
- Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling. Amanda Cyr is listening to the series on cd. She recently started sporting thick-rimmed glasses. Coincidence? We’ll let you muggles think that.
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Charles Hurd . Recommended by Mark Jackson.
- Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery, by Deborah and James Howe. Alex Johnson said that “this was my favorite book when I was little. I eventually got a cassette tape version of it that I would listen to every night.”
- The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. Phuong Palmares explained that this book “was a really important one to me. It didn’t become important to me until I read it with my son, however. I was surprised that his 6 year old brain was able to grasp the theme of unconditional love and complexity of relationships from that story.”
- Written on the Body, by Jeannette Winterson. Rachel Scott explained that: “it changed my perception of forcing a stereotype – in this case gender – based on actions by the main character. This book forces you to look at why the human mind wants to ‘put things in boxes.’ It really changed the way I think.”
- The Stand, by Stephen King. Scott Lasica says: I was choosing between going to Florida or CU, and the book spends a lot of time in Boulder, and gave me a connection here. I chose CU.
- No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories, by Miranda July. David Aragon highly recommends.
- Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. Recommended by Matt Work. Another book by Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, was also highly recommended by a Quick Lefter.
- Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Recommended by Dave Stadler.
What’s the most influential book you’ve read? Please share with us below. We’re always looking for things to inspire us!