Seven “Special” Books

The library in Cortex City is said to contain countless books, videos, podcasts, poems, magazines, articles, and of course love letters. A whole section of the library is dedicated to unwritten stories. Citizens are more than welcome to pick one, fill in the blank pages, and give it to the Librarian who will then make it available to the public. There are also reading clubs, and a few days ago one of them asked me to provide input for their next reading list.

“Sure thing”, I said. “What kind of books are you looking for?” It turned out that this particular reading club had an interesting way of selecting books: “It could be absolutely any topic, as long as the book is special1 to you. We ask not just for the title of the book, but also a short explanation why you chose it.”

When I came back to them with a list of almost a hundred books, they looked a bit embarrassed. “Apparently we forgot to tell you that we just select seven books at a time.”

As it turned out, creating a list of only seven books was a lot harder than a hundred. But I feel pretty good about my choices. Feel free to agree, disagree, or even better – submit your own list. An email to the Librarian will do the trick.

Without further ado, here is my list of seven “special” books:

  1. Beyond the C++ Standard Library: An Introduction to Boost
    There’s no denying it. When you have written a book, it’s special to you. Even if it’s dry, a bit pompous, and has been known to cause people to fall asleep in mid-sentence. Good thing it’s not a hardcover, otherwise it could well have broken a few noses.
  2. Images of Organization
    Here’s a book that inspires me to think in metaphors as a tool for deeper understanding and to gain new perspectives. It also helped me understand a few things about myself, by the way I was drawn to some organizational metaphors and detested others.
  3. Talent is Overrated
    Whenever I see people achieving great things and wonder if I could do the same thing, I reflect on the guidance from this important book. It’s a constant reminder that if I want to go beyond what others are doing, I have to do things differently, deliberately, and be willing to fuel it with energy. Or be lucky enough to be among those who get special treatment.
  4. The Color of Magic
    Terry Pratchett has taught me and millions of other people that you can be serious and funny at the same time. A great source of inspiration, laughter, and reflection.
  5. The Starfish and the Spider
    Whenever I get stuck in thinking that traditional hierarchies need to be put in place to solve a certain organizational problem, this book reminds me to think about more interesting solutions.
  6. Freakonomics
    A book that tries to make sense of the world through the eyes of an economist. It makes me wonder how we can use other “unexpected” disciplines to help explain how the world works.
  7. The One-Minute Manager
    Three things about the book makes it special to me. It was the first leadership book I read. The storytelling model was inspirational to me. It taught me to not be afraid of short books.


1. The reason for putting ”special” in quotes in the title is to ambiguate the meaning of special. I know many people work hard on disambiguating things, so I thought I’d “help”. You’re welcome!

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