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10 Non-Fiction Books to Shift Your Mind into Overdrive

Last updated on January 20, 2023

Some books can fundamentally expand your thinking and potentially change your life. Here are ten non-fiction works that do just that. None can be accepted on faith. All must be read with an active mind.  (There are, of course, many other books that could qualify. Feel free to offer your suggestions. They may become the subject of another post.) Let’s begin.

The God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson: What if you could understand the essential nature of the United States by analyzing it as if it were a machine? Paterson does this and much more.

Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word by Walter J. Ong: This book opens a window to the world of “orality,” the time before writing was invented and humans only had the spoken word to communicate. Ong’s research has special relevance to those who speak in the public arena.

The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand: What is art and what is it for? What makes great literature great? How is one’s sense of life relevant to art? Find out. Read Rand’s revolutionary answers.

Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan:  If you want to know the future of communication, learning, and work, this amazing book published in 1964, can open up new windows of understanding.

A Criminal History of Mankind by Colin Wilson:  What if you wanted to understand the history and psychology of human violence and criminality?  What if you had an incredibly articulate and knowledgeable professor on this subject at your side? You do, if you can get your hands on this rare and amazing book.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand:  She is one of the greatest thinkers and champions of Capitalism in modern times. This is a collection of some key essays on the subject.

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron:  The best book I have found for rescuing and rekindling your ambition and desire to write.  This book is also beneficial to anyone who has the ambition for a creative career. Cameron’s heartfelt advice throws out a much-needed life-preserver for the writer’s soul.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs: Why do some cities thrive, and others decline? Read this seminal work, and you’ll have an answer.

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises: What is the science of choice that you’ve most likely never heard of? And, what’s its relation to economics? Von Mises is one of the best advocates for Capitalism in the world (next to Ayn Rand). He approaches this subject with the broadest possible panorama as “human action.”

The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand: Imagine that you discover a revolutionary and powerful way to live your life. Utilizing this discovery, you’d also be able to see and understand what is wrong in the world, and, more importantly, what to do about it. But be forewarned: this book will challenge your every belief.


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Ken West is the author of the books Get What You Want, Achieve Your Purpose, Capitalism WIIFM, and Your Life Zones.

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