Books That Everyone Should Read (Updated 2023)

1. What to Read

Reading, for some, is an essential activity and an integral aspect of their daily routine. Aside from its therapeutic benefits, reading provides access to the greatest minds, ideas, and concepts humankind has generated over the last three millennia.

Surely, nobody wants to miss that, or do they?

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

— George R. R. Martin

Philosophers have had a variety of views on the value of reading books.

Some, like the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, believed reading is essential for developing critical thinking and gaining knowledge. Others, like the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, felt that too much reading could lead to losing one’s voice and individuality. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed that books could be dangerous if they lead to the uncritical acceptance of others’ ideas.

Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, believed that books were a valuable source of knowledge and inspiration. Still, he also thought too much reading could harm one’s intellectual and spiritual development.

The individual has always struggled to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Schopenhauer’s quote encapsulates his views on the value of reading: “To read too many books is harmful. In most men, it first inspires a certain arrogance and vainer; then leads to a certain narrowness and finally to a certain effeminacy.”

2. How Much Reading is Too Much?

What about the idea of reading one book every week? Here is what this author thinks.


  • It can provide structure, motivation to read more regularly, and a sense of achievement when one book is over.
  • It can lead to developing a reading habit, which is beneficial for personal development and education.


  • It can add stress and pressure to the reading experience, taking away enjoyment and pleasure.
  • It can cause disappointment and frustration if the objective is not met. Reading is a pleasure for most people, a journey rather than a destination.
  • It can lead to focusing on quantity over quality, causing one to read books that are not of interest or relevance. Some of the best books are massive; you can never truly appreciate them with a hasty read.
  • It might be hype that one day will fade away.

3. Three Heuristics to Help You Pick Your Next Book

Most people today balance their time between a full-time job and their family with activities like reading confined to at most a couple of hours a day, perhaps less. Therefore, making your next read worthwhile is vital, especially if you avoid giving up on a book midstream.

The following are three heuristics that this author often uses when deciding on his next book.

  • Sampling the text is the surest way to test the author’s writing style and authority and the content’s accessibility. My favourite approach is to read a paragraph or two from three random pages and see how I feel about it. Glossing over the table of contents is sometimes a good idea, although many books have cryptic chapter titles that will not convey much about their contents.
  • Researching the author is vital for assessing authority, credibility, and writing style. Something that has worked very well for me is picking up books recommended by other authors whose books I loved. The reason why this works is straightforward: like-minded people will generally have similar tastes.
  • The final step in the book selection process is to look up online reviews from credible sites such as I avoid online shopping sites since the assessments they publish are always more favourable than those of non-online shopping sites.

Reading is a very personal and subjective endeavour; most people read for pleasure because they are genuinely interested in the topic they are reading about. While the selection below reflects this author’s taste, I trust that people with similar views and preferences will find the selection helpful.

4. Looking for a Good Book? Check Out These Suggestions

The below list is divided into several categories for convenience. We even included a Don’t Bother section. I hope the reader finds the selection rich and valuable and the accompanying reviews helpful.

Business Management

Big Ideas, Cultural Studies, and Self-Management

Popular Science

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

By Richard Feynmann
“QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” is a fascinating and accessible book that provides an in-depth look into quantum electrodynamics (QED). The book covers the history of QED and the development of Feynman’s diagrams, which revolutionized the field. Feynman’s ability to make the complex easy to understand is a testament to his brilliance as a physicist and a communicator.

Read Full Review

Computer Science, Quantum Computing, and Artificial Intelligence

Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos

By Seth Lloyd
“Programming the Universe” is a fascinating read that explores the concept of using information and computation to understand the universe. Lloyd’s writing is clear and accessible to a broad audience. The book delves into the relationship between physics, mathematics, and information theory and presents the idea that the universe is a vast quantum computer. It’s a unique and original take on the nature of reality, a must-read.

Read Full Review

The “Don’t Bother” Section

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

By Carlo Rovelli
You might enjoy this tiny book if you are stuck in an airport for a few hours (but no more). I picked it up only because I have read the other two (utterly fascinating) books by the same author, but I was thoroughly disappointed with its flimsy content devoid of any new insights.

Read Full Review

Black Holes and Baby Universes

By Stephen Hawking
While “Black Holes and Baby Universes” may be a good read for those looking for an introduction to the subject, readers seeking a more up-to-date and in-depth understanding of black holes and the universe are better off looking elsewhere. I would recommend you read instead “A Brief History of Time”.

Read Full Review

Other Worlds — Space, Superspace, and the Quantum Universe

By Paul Davies
“Other Worlds” explores the classic topics in physics: Newtonian dynamics, Relativity Theory, and Quantum Mechanics. Barring a few insightful discussions and Davies’ brilliant storytelling style, the discussion is geared toward the layman. If you have read “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking or “The Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene, you will find this book superfluous.

Read Full Review

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