Game-Changing Books Of Quintessence


  • I learned about Physical Examination and Health Assessment when a stranger attacked me in a biker bar for playing a song on the jukebox that he didn't like. I couldn't move my arm normally for months. I went to my brother-in-law's house some days later, and he pulled out one of his nursing textbooks. Over beers, he made me stand this way and move my arms that. Figured out it was a cracked shoulder and not a torn rotator cuff. I was going to have to pay a doctor to figure this out. Staggeringly useful book.

  • The Elements of Style is a book so small it can hardly be called a book. It fits in your pocket. It's very simple. It taught me everything I know about writing.

  • Patterns in Prehistory is an anthropology textbook that covers the origins of culture and all seven inventings of civilization. It has more answers than any other book I've picked up.

  • The Tao Te Ching was a book about being good when I first found it. Later it became a book about anarchy. Now it's a book about seeing the world truly. It is a small, very simple book, and my philosophical backbone. It's inexhaustible.


  • Spanish for Gringos is the best basic language book I've seen (and I'm an ESL professor.) It focuses on rapid gains and being able to communicate your meaning, grammar be damned. It kickstarted my Spanish as a teenager and got me talking and making an ass of myself. I'm much much better now.

  • A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants taught me that you can make asparagus with milkweed and bread with acorns. You can go into the woods with this book and figure out a meal really fast. This is the most important book to have if you're making a list in anticipation of an awesome societal collapse.

  • Story of Civilization is an eleven-volume history of the world. It's as big as a set of encyclopedias. It won a Pulitzer in 1968. It's epic. Since history is the matrix that contains all human knowledge (every martyrdom or scientific discovery being in itself a historical event), this book can almost make you feel all-knowing. Poems, prophets, printing presses, forgotten revolutions, sculpture, political experiments, composers, mathematical formulas. I'm five volumes in. I want to finish the whole thing in twenty years.