What’s on Your Shelf

I own too many books, but these are some of those that I keep very close to me, on the shelf just above my monitor. What’s on your shelf? What books do you keep close?

Power CopywritingPower Copywriting – Lewis
I keep this one in memory of my good friend Ken Jessup who passed several years ago. It’s been a while since I read it; I’ll get back to it. (I have a feeling it is not nearly as good as most of the other copywriting books I own, but I will keep it as a memento.)

How to Write a Good Advertisement – Schwab

This is one of the classics in the field of copywriting. The examples are dated, but the lessons are timeless. Recommended

The Back of the Napkin – Roam

How to make presentations that don’t suck. Highly RecommendedThe Back of the Napkin

Learned Optimism – Seligman

Turns out that you can train your mind into optimism and out of pessimism. Some fascinating and intensely useful stuff here, especially if you have a melancholy bent. Highest Recommendation

Mike Caro’s Book of Tells, the Body Language of Poker – Caro

When I decided to get serious about poker, I started reading. This book came up constantly. It’s… Well, I’m ambiguous about it now. I think this is probably Poker PhD stuff and I’m still working on my Bachelor’s. The jury is still out

The Theory of PokerThe Theory of Poker – Sklansky

Any new skill requires both practice and theory. The best way to learn is to just do it, but after doing it for a while, a study of the theory will put your experience into context as well as show you where there are holes in your understanding. That’s the purpose of this book. Don’t read it until you’ve played a lot of poker. Recommended

Phil Gordon’s Little Blue Book – Gordon

This is the book that changed my poker experience. It is intensely practical, no fluff, no filler, and a terrific read. Highly recommended

The Elements of StyleThe Elements of Style – Strunk & White

There’s something indescribably appealing about this little book. I think perhaps the fact that it embodies the very qualities it promotes: brevity, clarity, potency. I don’t refer to it often, but when I do, it is always a pleasure. Highest Recommendation

Advanced Mathematics – Saxon

I was not the student I wish I would have been when I had the leisure to actually concentrate on learning. This book is helping me fill those gaps in my advanced math. For those who don’t know the Saxon method, it is by far the best way both to teach and learn math.  Highest Recommendation

Essential Readings for MLK Day

Martin Luther King

Every year on MLK Day, I like to read MLK’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail.  It reminds me of where we’ve been and where we thought we were going.  Where we are is much better than where we were and not nearly as good as where we are going.

In his I Have a Dream speech, he verbalized his hope that one day his children would be judged by “the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin. Who today has the moral courage to stand up and demand that we judge them by the content of their character rather than by their membership in some group or another?

Yeah. No one.

Non-violent civil disobedience was King’s weapon of choice for effecting change in his country. He believed that by provoking moral outrage in average Americans, he could direct their anger and their power towards creating a moral revolution in society.

His recipe for positive, non-violent change as described in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom included these 6 observations:

  1. Nonviolence is not passive, but requires courage
  2. Nonviolence seeks reconciliation, not defeat of an adversary
  3. Nonviolent action is directed at eliminating evil, not destroying an evil-doer
  4. A willingness to accept suffering for the cause, if necessary, but never to inflict it
  5. A rejection of hatred, animosity or violence of the spirit, as well as refusal to commit physical violence
  6. Faith that justice will prevail

The core of King’s message was libertarianism wrapped in a strong faith in the essential goodness of his fellow American citizens. That’s still a potent formula for change.

It is good that we remind ourselves of his words, his deeds and his results.