The Six Books You Need on Your Shelf

A good man is well-read. The books, or lack thereof, on your shelf reveal a lot about you. Spice up your home library with these good reads that offer a diversity of interests and a wide knowledge base.

I am a book snob. There I said it. I love books. I love them new and I love them old. But I love to keep them, make notes and fold the pages. Needless to say, I love to read. Reading and writing go back nearly as far as the spoken word, and each day, each book offers a chance at a new story.

Whether it is at your “home office” or in your actual office, you need to have at least a few books on a shelf. Trust me, it shows class and sophistication. And no, old college textbooks don’t count. They only count if you’re going to medical school or have books that are research reports that you would reference a lot. That “Introduction to Writing” book either needs to be put in a hiding place or donated to the library.

These are six books from a broad range of genres that will not only provide conversation starters for visitors to your office, but will show your visitors you have a range of reading interests and passions.


“Honeymoon With My Brother” by Franz Wisner

Okay, I know what you’re thinking… and no, the guy does not marry his brother! Franz is living the dream. Great job. Good money. California boy. Engaged to a great girl. But then it happens. Great girl dumps him the weekend before the wedding. What happens next is an affirmation of life. He goes on the honeymoon and invites his brother to tag along.

What Franz finds is life. I won’t ruin the story, but you’ll join him and his brother on their journey through despair and joy, only to find that love is all around.

“Honeymoon With My Brother” on Amazon


The Starbucks Experience” by Joseph Michelli

Even though this book was written three years ago, its content is still very relevant to marketing and to Starbucks. And with founder Howard Schutlz’s return as CEO, the book is as relevant as ever to Starbucks. It’s called, “The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary,” and it's written by Joseph Michelli, who in writing the book, traveled to Starbucks’ all over the world to gain the complete “experience.”

He spoke with executives, baristas and customers and what he found was a culture that promoted personal touch and inspired interaction of a community. It is a book all marketers, branding experts and CEOs should read and take to heart.

“The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary” on Amazon

Current Affairs

There are a lot of choices here, but I am going to recommend two books that while I haven’t read personally, they have both been recommended to me, and they are both on my reading list.

“In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan

You should read this about diet. More precisely, why we as Americans have failed in eating right. Pollan dissects the history of food pyramids and no-carb diets to come up with his solution: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

“In Defense of Food” on Amazon

“The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier

Additionally, a book with political ramifications in an increasingly interconnected world, Collier concedes that while less and less people are living out of poverty, the ones who are, are falling dramatically behind. But rest assured, he offers solutions for the 21st Century.

Both of these books are relevant politically and with the craze to be healthy.

“The Bottom Billion” on Amazon


“Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I admit that I am a history “buff.” I love reading about World War II, about presidents, the American Revolution and the American Civil War. I have enjoyed reading historical fiction books by the Sharra family and by the great Stephen Ambrose, but nothing beats Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals.” Coming in at over 700 pages, the book is a monster. But is also contains some of the most primary sourced information about Abraham Lincoln and the team he assembled around him.

Aside from learning about history, this book teaches many lessons on leadership and building a team. Not a team of consensus, but a team of people who will challenge you. This is the most insight into Lincoln I’ve been able to find. As a reader, you are taken into his mind during his personal debate about freedom, war and politics.

“Team of Rivals” on Amazon


“Riding with the Blue Moth” by Bill Hancock

For the sports fans out there, you may remember back in 2001 when the Oklahoma State basketball team lost 10 members in a plane crash. I do. I was on vacation with my family. Then when I worked at the University of Northern Iowa, the father of one of the people killed in the crash mailed a copy of his book to my boss. “Riding with the Blue Moth” is a true story of a father’s depression and return to life. It’s author, Bill Hancock, used to run the NCAA Men’s DI Basketball Tournament and is now the head of the (much hated) Bowl Championship Series. You’ll laugh, cry and feel inspired to do what he did, ride a bike across the country – to find yourself.

“Riding with the Blue Moth” on Amazon

What books are you reading right now? What is on your recommended reading list for the rest of us at Primer?

Richard Dedor is a writer, speaker and personal coach dedicated to helping each person achieve their dreams. He ran for political office at age 18 and recently published his first book, Anything is Possible. You can find him at his blog Believe in Possible and on Twitter @RichardDedor.


  • […] post by Richard Dedor and software by Elliott […]

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Primer Magazine. Primer Magazine said: New on Primer: The Six Books You Need on Your Shelf […]

  • Reply July 1, 2010


    OK, this may not be popular amongst many. But I’ll say it nonetheless

    The Bible is packed full of helpful guides as to how to become a better man. Living a life of integrity and being beyond reproach

    Plenty of people will scoff at this suggestion, but so many men these days could learn so much from it.

    Of course it must always be read in context

    Song of Songs, for example, is a book in the Bible which is essentially just about sex. And love. OK, it’s a bit mushy for some but so many discussions these days are had about how to treat women correctly, how to love and what is love. Well there’s a book right there, although poetic, that can teach so many so much

    And when it comes to being a leader, a leader of men and a leader in the household, then the Bible will always be one of the first places I will look. So much stuff in there about leadership

    Don’t forget: women don’t want a follower, they want a leader.

    Myself included.

  • Reply July 1, 2010


    I have to second what Sam said in his comment. The Bible is truly in a different realm from other sacred texts. The teachings of Jesus are counter-cultural and often challenge men to treat women in a different way. Of course, as was mentioned in the previous comment, Song of Songs is as practical as any book written about marriage. Psalms can aid one in times of depression. The historical books of the Old Testament are not wanting in leadership lessons. And finally, Paul’s discussions on integrity are top-notch.

    However, I understand that this post was not necessarily concerned with the “Greatest Books of All-Time.” The books on this list all seem to be worth reading. I personally can only speak for Team of Rivals which is an excellent book that is certainly not lacking in life-lessons. Nonetheless, I commend the post and found it to be quite enjoyable and informative. I will be giving some of these books a home in my book shelves.

  • Reply July 1, 2010


    How about some Ayn Rand? Agree with her or not, her novels are becoming the most read books in America, and are arguably changing the world we live in. And not only will reading one become more culturally literate, but they also offer some of the best examples of the masculine (and feminine) ideal out there.

  • Reply July 1, 2010


    Hey all, great suggestions! Scott, I’ve never read Rand myself but have always heard good things.
    .-= Andrew´s last blog ..The Six Books You Need on Your Shelf =-.

  • Reply July 1, 2010


    I’ll also third what SAM said in his comment – the Bible is essential reading for everyone. Even my atheist boss required his sons to read it when they were growing up.

    But you also need to add a section for Fiction. And personally anything by Hemingway should be on that list (maybe just have a Hemingway section in and of itself). But also, Moby Dick, Adventures of Huck Finn and/or the Rabbit series by John Updike.

    And for a contemporary spin – Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel or Netherland by Joseph O’Neill should be considered.

  • Reply July 1, 2010


    To go along with what Sam said, take a look at Wild at Heart by John Eldridge. It is a great book that backs up the Bible and kind of sums it into how we should look at ourselves and ways for us to be the best godly men possible. He also has a second book called The Way of the Wild Heart. It goes a little more into father hood and raising kids mainly for those that have boys.

  • Reply July 3, 2010

    Doc Brown

    Spacetime Physics by John Archibald Wheeler

  • Reply July 5, 2010


    Just wandered on in, and am taking your “Team of Rivals” recommendation very seriously: I actually don’t encounter enough that works with the contradiction of how people are supposed to work together for a common cause while competing. Of course, that “contradiction” happens to be reality many times.

    But like you say: 700 pages? I write on poetry quite a bit, partly because poems aren’t usually 700 pages long.
    .-= ashok´s last blog ..Abraham Lincoln- “Remarks to Baltimore Presbyterian Synod- Washington- DC” =-.

  • Reply July 5, 2010


    Guess I don’t need to write the fiction version of this compilation! Great suggestions everyone!

    @Ashok – I can’t wait to hear about thoughts on it… I took so many notes from it!

    As for the Bible, I didn’t put it on the list for a variety of reasons because for all intents and purposes, it isn’t a “literary work.” I do agree that it has value though for a lot of areas of life (and I own two Bibles myself).

  • Reply July 7, 2010


    I just finished this book called “Life on Standby” about a college kid who figured out a way to fly around the country for free and then made a game about not spending money on his trips. But it also has some deeper meanings there. Check it out:

    Here’s the back cover summary of the book:

    Nothing could have fueled his overoptimistic imagination more than when the unrealistic, made-up world he fell smitten with—the one in which he’d be able to fly around the country for free—became the one he lived in. Life on Standby chronicles Matt Johnson as he drags his friends onto planes and into unfamiliar cities with the self-imposed restriction of not spending money. Their food, lodging, and transportation are all just maybes, yearning to become more, but relying on the (hopeful) charity and selflessness of strangers to do so. The book serves as ambition’s bruised-and-battered tour bus, crashing through the daunting terrains of street slumber, self exploration, and even that impossible thing called love, hoping to catch a glimpse of the world’s unfiltered social conscience. It makes wrong turns and literary detours all along the way, hardly even arriving back home. But it does, and with this story to tell.

  • Reply July 31, 2010


    “The Starbucks Experience” has been on my ‘must read’ list for ages now.

    I was actually considering “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, however at the last minute I plumped for “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler instead. Fascinating book that dissects modern food processing and the rise of obesity; definitely worth a read.

  • Reply July 29, 2011


    Yes, the Bible, great for stories on genocide, rape, incest, drunkenness, etc. Great fiction

  • Reply February 14, 2012


    Seriously I’m with John, don’t put the Bible on any list like this. I mean really, it talks about how it’s okay to murder entire cities, take their virgins and rape them, it encourages slavery and even gives you the rules for owning a slave. It boasts that women can’t hold positions of power and that their opinion is less than that of a man. It even encourages the killing of witches and wizards… really guys?

    Here’s a few parts of your “manly” reading guys, PLEASE TAKE THEM IN CONTEXT LOLOLOL:

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

    “Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.” (1 Samuel 15:3)

    “You shall not let a sorceress live.” (Exodus 22:18)

    “And the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.” (Romans 1:27)

    “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

    So yeah, have fun bringing your children up on that. Me and the rest of the rational world will continue to discourage it. Believe me, I used to be like a lot of you, thinking it had a lot of “good” to outweigh the “bad” but there are such better examples. What the bible teaches is fear, not love.

  • Reply February 14, 2012


    Michael – I’m not going to argue, but as the author I do want to defend my reason for including the Bible in the list. I will admit, I am not the world’s most religious man and I do not attend services on a regular, or even measurable basis. I did growing up, so I have a certain passion for faith.

    However, I believe religion has hijacked faith. But they can’t hijack the good teachings that are in fact, in the Bible.

    You could say a book on history shouldn’t be in your library either because the history of the world is just about people who led armies that killed and conquered. In fact, it was once researched that 96% of the world’s history was and has been, war.

    I respect your view that there is a lot of bad stuff in the Bible, but I believe the good far outweighs the bad when taken at the high-level.

  • Reply February 16, 2012



    I can’t argue that there are valuable teachings in the Bible, and I agree that you can have faith without religion in a way i.e. Morgan Freeman.

    However the difference between the Bible and an actually book on History (maybe not American text books (check out “Lies My Teacher Told Me”)) is that The Bible actually asks you to take action against others! It doesn’t just tell you the stories, in Leviticus it clearly tells you to kill gay men.

    I think you have a clear choice Richard. You can either admit that the Bible is wrong and that it is a book that asks you to forgo common sense or you can be a bigot, saying that God’s word is infallible and that all the things I mentioned above are okay in God’s eye.

    Now then, as a substitute for the Bible, might I recommend The Jefferson Bible. A SECULAR book, based only on the moral teachings of the New Testament (the one where God all of a sudden wanted to be all nice to humans…).

    • Reply January 28, 2013


      If you would read the whole Bible before passing judgment, you might be more informed about what it actually says

Leave a Reply