The best gold standard books

Who picked these books? Meet our 27 experts.

27 authors created a book list connected to the gold standard, and here are their favorite gold standard books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

What type of gold standard book?


The War of the Revolution

By Christopher Ward,

Book cover of The War of the Revolution

Andrew Waters Author Of To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan

From the list on the "Race to the Dan" and the American Revolution.

Who am I?

Although I’ve been an avid reader of histories and biographies all my life, I didn’t become passionate about the American Revolution until moving to South Carolina in 2013. That’s when I began to learn about the South’s rich American Revolution history and become fascinated with Nathanael Greene’s role in it. So far, this fascination has inspired me to write two histories on Nathanael Greene, and I hope to keep going. Today, we tend to think about the American Revolution in terms of its northern battles, but if you want to understand the war’s end game, you need understand what happened in the South. These books are a great place to start.

Andrew's book list on the "Race to the Dan" and the American Revolution

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

There have been a lot of comprehensive histories of the American Revolution published since, but Christopher Ward’s The War of the Revolution is still the gold standard.

Want me to prove it? Pick up a Ferling or Philbrick or any other historian writing about the American Revolution today and see how many times they use it in their work.

Expertly documented, with clean, concise writing that can be read end-to-end or used as a reference for specific campaigns and battles, this is my go-to source for everything American Revolution.  

By Christopher Ward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War of the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the first crack of musket fire at Lexington and Concord to the downing of the British colors at Yorktown, Christopher Ward does not tell the whole history of the American Revolution, but rather, illuminates the history of the war caused by that revolution-the military operations on land in the War for Independence. When The War for the Revolution was first published almost sixty years ago, it was instantly recognized as a modern classic of American historical scholarship, as well as a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction Revolutionary War history. Today it is probably the most cited single work on the…

The Leadership Challenge

By Barry Z. Posner, James M. Kouzes,

Book cover of The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations

Ken Wilcox Author Of Leading Through Culture: How Real Leaders Create Cultures That Motivate People to Achieve Great Things

From the list on leadership showing the art of motivating people.

Who am I?

Ken began his career as an Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of North Carolina. After ten years in academe, he went to the Harvard Business School, following which he embarked on a 36-year career banking. Ken worked at Shawmut Bank, Bank of New England, and from 1990 through 2019 at Silicon Valley Bank. Mr. Wilcox earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School, as well as a PhD in German studies Ohio State University. He published Leading Through Culture: How Real Leaders Create Cultures that Motivate People to Achieve Great Things and soon he'll be publishing a second book One Bed Two Dreams: When Western Companies Fail in China.

Ken's book list on leadership showing the art of motivating people

Discover why each book is one of Ken's favorite books.

Why did Ken love this book?

This book is considered by many to be the gold standard; it is used by many many professors of organizational behavior to form the basis of the leadership classes they teach.

I found it somewhat long and a little theoretical, but I would still recommend it to anybody who really wants to study leadership. It covers almost every topic and its insights and recommendations are “on the money.”

By Barry Z. Posner, James M. Kouzes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Leadership Challenge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most trusted source of leadership wisdom, updated to address today's realities The Leadership Challenge is the gold-standard manual for effective leadership, grounded in research and written by the premier authorities in the field. With deep insight into the complex interpersonal dynamics of the workplace, this book positions leadership both as a skill to be learned, and as a relationship that must be nurtured to reach its full potential.

This new sixth edition has been revised to address current challenges, and includes more international examples and a laser focus on business issues; you'll learn how extraordinary leaders accomplish extraordinary things,…

Creative Illustration

By Andrew Loomis (illustrator),

Book cover of Creative Illustration

James Gurney Author Of Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter

From the list on color and painting.

Who am I?

My name is James Gurney and I've been a professional illustrator for National Geographic and Scientific American for over 40 years. Although I went to art school, everything I know about drawing and painting comes from studying art instruction books, and from sketching directly from nature. I'm best known for writing and illustrating the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia book series, published in 32 countries and 18 languages. I designed 15 dinosaur stamps for USPS and a set of five dinosaur stamps for Australia Post. My originals have been shown in over 35 solo museum exhibitions. My book Color and Light has sold over 200k copies and was Amazon's #1 bestselling book on painting for over a year.

James' book list on color and painting

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

Long out of print and expensive, this classic of illustration techniques has been republished. Although it was first published over 70 years ago, the sections on color and painting will prove useful for any artist, whether they work for concept art, galleries, or illustration. Loomis was a top magazine illustrator and devoted his later years to writing encouraging and practical guides that covered all the key topics.

By Andrew Loomis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creative Illustration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Creative Illustration" is considered Loomis' magnum opus, which is aimed primarily at the professional-level illustrator. It's divided into seven sections: Line, Tone, Color, Telling the Story, Creating Ideas, Fields of Illustration, and Experimenting and Studies. The book is filled with instructions, tips, insider experiences, and incredible illustrations.

Book cover of Serial Murderers and Their Victims

Marissa A. Harrison Author Of Just as Deadly: The Psychology of Female Serial Killers

From the list on understanding female serial killers.

Who am I?

I'm a research psychologist. My expertise is in evolutionary psychology, which is a lens through which all mental processes and behavior can be framed. I've studied a wide variety of topics, ranging from love to murder. I do believe that we evolved morbid curiosity as a mechanism of protective vigilance. People have a great interest in consuming material about the who, what, why, how, where, and when of these terrible crimes. In Just as Deadly, I provide fact-based information derived from my own empirical research in addition to about 1200 other sources. It was important to me to pursue and write about truths. In addition, I don’t—and won’t—engage in drama or gore.

Marissa's book list on understanding female serial killers

Discover why each book is one of Marissa's favorite books.

Why did Marissa love this book?

Erik Hickey is the pioneer in serial killer research. His renowned book is the gold standard for those wishing to gather the facts about serial murderers, their crimes, and their victims. He does not include “gore” (his word) in his writings. His work is methodical, evidence-based, and respectful, and his results have been consistently replicated by my team and others. With respect to my recommendation theme, in this book, Hickey describes his lengthy research on both male and female serial killers and emphasizes that the crimes of male serial killers (MSKs) are starkly different than those of FSKs. I know him to be a great supporter of other researchers in their empirical pursuits. His book is a must-have for scholars and students of psychology and criminal justice interested in this topic.

By Eric W. Hickey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Serial Murderers and Their Victims as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides an in-depth, scholarly examination of serial murderers and their victims. Supported by extensive data and research, the book profiles some of the most prominent murderers of our time, addressing the highest-profile serial killer type--the sexual predator--as well as a wide variety of other types (male, female, team, healthcare, and serial killers from outside the U.S.). Author Eric Hickey examines the lives of over 400 serial murderers, analyzing the cultural, historical, and religious factors that influence our myths and stereotypes of these individuals. He describes the biological, psychological, and sociological reasons for serial murder and discusses profiling and…

Du côté de chez Swann

By Marcel Proust,

Book cover of Du côté de chez Swann

Kenneth Womack Author Of John Lennon 1980: The Last Days in the Life

From the list on finding inspiration.

Who am I?

If you’re anything like me, you are driven by your passions. And the key to stoking our passions is finding inspiration—sometimes in the most unlikely of literary places. The study of literature is intrinsically about the act of knowing. It is about knowing the world—a vast, uncharted universe of people and places, ideas, and emotions. But in helping us to know the world, literature is mostly about coming to know yourself. It is about exploring the recesses of your mind, the vicissitudes of your memories, the weight and pleasure of your deepest, most personal experiences. It is about getting closer and ever closer to understanding your own essential truths—and yet never quite arriving there. It is, in short, the most intimate and transformative journey that you can possibly take through the lens of your mind’s eye. It is about you.

Kenneth's book list on finding inspiration

Discover why each book is one of Kenneth's favorite books.

Why did Kenneth love this book?

When it comes to finding inspiration in our memories, Marcel Proust is literature’s gold standard. The French novelist devoted the balance of his life to the art of refracting his memories through the lens of his writerly self. Proust understood implicitly that our memories are triggered by sensory experiences—sights, sounds, smells, and touch, to be sure—but most especially through the pleasures of the text. In Du côté de chez Swann, the first volume of his epic À la recherche du temps perdu, Proust interrogates the ways in which memory is catalyzed by the senses, while comprehending, at the same time, the manner in which the reality of our memories becomes shaped by the ruinous work of nostalgia, of a sentimentality that exists beyond our ken.

By Marcel Proust,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Du côté de chez Swann as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Du côté de chez Swann est un roman de Marcel Proust, c'est le premier volume de À la recherche du temps perdu. Il est composé de trois parties, dont les titres sont : Combray, Un amour de Swann et Nom de pays : le nom.

Until We Reckon

By Danielle Sered,

Book cover of Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair

Erika Erickson Malinoski Author Of Pledging Season

From the list on where nonviolence changes the world.

Who am I?

I’m a lifelong sci-fi/fantasy reader who loves the way speculative fiction helps us explore who we are, what we could become, and how to troubleshoot the future before we get there. As a parent and active community member, I’m looking for fresh perspectives on how to tackle the increasingly complex challenges of our time, perspectives that go beyond simplistic solutions like finding bad guys and killing them in climactic battles. I hope books that showcase nonviolent social change in all its complexity can help us imagine better ways to make a difference in our own lives.

Erika's book list on where nonviolence changes the world

Discover why each book is one of Erika's favorite books.

Why did Erika love this book?

This first book is nonfiction, but it’s a key book for carving out the imaginative space that makes nonviolence make sense. If you’re like me, you grew up taking for granted that locking up people who do crimes (a form of state violence) is the gold standard for keeping everyone else safe. Nonviolence, the reasoning goes, may be more morally pure, but at the cost of being effective. Sered’s book takes a hammer to this assumption, methodically dismantling the myth that the carceral system does much at all to support victims’ healing and safety. Until We Reckon provides a critical reality check for what benchmark nonviolent solutions should be compared to.

By Danielle Sered,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Until We Reckon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The award-winning "radically original" (The Atlantic) restorative justice leader, whose work the Washington Post has called "totally sensible and totally revolutionary," grapples with the problem of violent crime in the movement for prison abolition

A National Book Foundation Literature for Justice honoree

A Kirkus "Best Book of 2019 to Fight Racism and Xenophobia"

Winner of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice Journalism Award

Finalist for the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice

In a book Democracy Now! calls a "complete overhaul of the way we've been taught to think about crime, punishment, and justice," Danielle…

R. E. Lee

By Douglas Southall Freeman,

Book cover of R. E. Lee: A Biography, Vol. 3

John Reeves Author Of A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

From the list on understanding Robert E. Lee.

Who am I?

I am the author of The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee and A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. I’ve been a teacher, editor, and writer for over twenty-five years. The Civil War, in particular, has been my passion since I first read Bruce Catton’s The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War as an elementary school student in the 1960s. My articles on Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant have been featured in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and on the History News Network.

John's book list on understanding Robert E. Lee

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

Freeman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, four-volume account of Lee remains the gold standard among the numerous biographies of the general. Freeman tirelessly examined the documentary record, and wrote a compelling narrative of Lee’s eventful life. The coverage here of the crucial battles of the Civil War is outstanding. One must be careful with Freeman’s biography, however. Freeman is unabashedly devoted to Lee and is extremely biased in his opinions. In the final volume, Freeman admits that he came “to respect and to love” the subject of his biography. In the third volume, which I recommend here, Freeman argues that Lee would have been successful at Gettysburg, if not for the insubordination of General James Longstreet. The Wilderness Campaign is also examined in this volume. Despite all of the hagiography, Freeman’s R.E. Lee remains an essential work for anyone interested in the Confederate general.

By Douglas Southall Freeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked R. E. Lee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Freeman, Douglas Southall

The Battle for Middle-earth

By Fleming Rutledge,

Book cover of The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings

Richard Middleton Author Of The Wyrm Conspiracy

From the list on Tolkien that will astonish you with his genius.

Who am I?

I read The Hobbit when I was in primary school and was immediately captivated by the world of magic, dwarves, and dragons. Perhaps because in the North of England where I grew up, this world seemed often to be just around the next corner! I grew up writing, and as I learned my craft I naturally turned to books on Tolkien to see what inspired and drove him. I found that every writer on Tolkien brings a new and surprising perspective on his work, each revealing a little more of Tolkien’s genius, and inspiring me to demand ever more of myself as a writer.

Richard's book list on Tolkien that will astonish you with his genius

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

There’s a paradox at the heart of The Lord of The Rings. Tolkien wrote that it is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work,” yet Middle-earth is pre-Christian and has little-to-no trace of religion evident within it. So how to reconcile the two? In The Battle for Middle-earth, Rutledge, a priest, brings his own knowledge and understanding of scripture to bear on The Lord of the Rings, to reveal how Tolkien’s plots, themes, and characters can be understood from a Catholic perspective. One thing shines clear from this book: just what a great storyteller Tolkien is. He never seeks to dictate or persuade (unlike C.S. Lewis in his Narnia series), but allows each reader to discover for themselves the treasures within his stories. 

By Fleming Rutledge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle for Middle-earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings has long been acknowledged as the gold standard for fantasy fiction, and the recent Oscar-winning movie trilogy has brought forth a whole new generation of fans. Many Tolkien enthusiasts, however, are not aware of the profoundly religious dimension of the great Ring saga.

In The Battle for Middle-earth Fleming Rutledge employs a distinctive technique to uncover the theological currents that lie just under the surface of Tolkien's epic tale. Rutledge believes that the best way to understand this powerful "deep narrative" is to examine the story as it unfolds, preserving some of…

Visual Thinking

By Rudolf Arnheim,

Book cover of Visual Thinking

Frank Jacobus Author Of Archi Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

From the list on design sensing.

Who am I?

I'm a designer, a teacher, a father, a husband, and a friend. I love beautiful things and personally want to know why I find certain things more beautiful than others. I love learning about the world and finding connections between everyday experience and art. When I say “art” I really am blending art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, product design, etc. I believe everything is connected in some way. If I were to pigeonhole myself in any way I would call myself a generalist design thinker. I draw, I write, I make little objects, I make big objects – I see very little difference in any of these things.

Frank's book list on design sensing

Discover why each book is one of Frank's favorite books.

Why did Frank love this book?

This book outlines how the visual field operates at a psychological level.

I am an architect and cannot believe that we don’t teach straight from this and other Arnheim books more often. If you want to know what is happening to you, why you get chills up your spine when looking at art, read this book.

Arnheim is a psychologist, not a designer, so he breaks art down from this perspective.

By Rudolf Arnheim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Visual Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For thirty-five years Visual Thinking has been the gold standard for art educators, psychologists, and general readers alike. In this seminal work, Arnheim, author of "The Dynamics of Architectural Form", "Film as Art", "Toward a Psychology of Art", and "Art and Visual Perception", asserts that all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual in nature, and that the ancient dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading. This is an indispensable tool for students and for those interested in the arts.

The Periodic Table

By Primo Levi, Raymond Rosenthal (translator),

Book cover of The Periodic Table

Hettie Judah Author Of Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones

From the list on making you fall in love with stones.

Who am I?

In my day job I write about art for British newspapers and magazines. I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time talking to artists. As a group they’re always one step ahead in identifying important issues and ideas. So Lapidarium has been fuelled by years of conversations with artists exploring geology as a way to think about things like migration, ecology, diaspora, empire, and the human body. The book is also embedded in personal experience. stone artefacts from cities I’ve lived in, from Washington D.C. to Istanbul. I’m never happier than when walking with my dog, so many of the stories in Lapidarium are also rooted in the British landscape.

Hettie's book list on making you fall in love with stones

Discover why each book is one of Hettie's favorite books.

Why did Hettie love this book?

Rooted in autobiography, Levi’s exquisite collection of interlinked stories teases out the relationship between the human and mineral worlds.

Our idioms habitually position stone as the antithesis to life – we might describe a corpse as ‘stone dead’ or a machinelike bureaucrat as ‘stone hearted’.

Levi instead looks to a symbiotic relationship, in which the raw crags of the Alps teach fortitude, access to rare minerals provide a military advantage, and the ability to read the secrets written in stone offers a route to riches.

In The Periodic Table, exploitation of the elements always comes at a cost – for everything the Earth yields, it takes something in return. 

By Primo Levi, Raymond Rosenthal (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Periodic Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An extraordinary kind of autobiography in which each of the 21 chapters takes its title and its starting-point from one of the elements in the periodic table. Mingling fact and fiction, science and personal record, history and anecdote, Levi uses his training as an industrial chemist and the terrible years he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz to illuminate the human condition. Yet this exquisitely lucid text is also humourous and even witty in a way possible only to one who has looked into the abyss.


By Syd Field,

Book cover of Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Graham Rawle Author Of Woman's World: A Novel

From the list on storytelling and what makes great stories great.

Who am I?

I’m an artist, designer, writer. I usually work in collage. I enjoy how the constraints of collage generate more inventive thinking, forcing me to come up with unexpected solutions. I also like how the found material retains traces of its original context. I’ve always been interested in the interplay between words and images – for 15 years I did the weekly Lost Consonants series in the Weekend Guardian – and that gradually led me to writing fiction. All my books have visual or structural elements designed to bring an additional narrative dimension to the story. Over the years, I’ve become fascinated by what makes great stories great. Hence this list.

Graham's book list on storytelling and what makes great stories great

Discover why each book is one of Graham's favorite books.

Why did Graham love this book?

Syd Field is revered as the original master of screenplay story structure, and this guide continues to be the industry's gold standard for learning the foundations of screenwriting. Even if you’re not writing a screenplay, read this book.

I have learned over the years that the principles of three-act structure can be recognised in, or applied to, almost every form of storytelling, whether you are making a film; telling a joke; designing a firework display; writing a novel, a play, a song; performing a magic act or making a speech. No one explains 3-act structure more clearly than Syd Field. He doesn’t offer it as a failsafe formula, but I have found his paradigm invaluable as both a writer and a teacher, especially for identifying narrative flaws in a story that is not working. (Usually mine).

By Syd Field,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Screenplay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hollywood's script guru teaches you how to write a screenplay in "the 'bible' of screenwriting" (The New York Times)—now celebrating forty years of screenwriting success!

Syd Field's books on the essential structure of emotionally satisfying screenplays have ignited lucrative careers in film and television since 1979. In this revised edition of his premiere guide, the underpinnings of successful onscreen narratives are revealed in clear and encouraging language that will remain wise and practical as long as audiences watch stories unfold visually—from hand-held devices to IMAX to virtual reality . . . and whatever comes next.

As the first person to…

Money and Empire

By Marcello De Cecco,

Book cover of Money and Empire: The International Gold Standard, 1890-1914

Perry Mehrling Author Of Money and Empire: Charles P. Kindleberger and the Dollar System

From the list on the forces making the global money system.

Who am I?

My interest in money (understanding it, not so much making it!) dates from undergraduate days at Harvard, 1977-1981, exactly the time when the dollar system was being put back together under Volcker after the international monetary disorder and domestic stagflation of the 1970s. The previous decade had very much disrupted the personal economics of my family, perhaps in much the same way that the Depression had disrupted Kindleberger’s, and set me off on a lifelong quest to understand why. Forty years and four books later, I feel like I have made some progress, and hope that my book can save readers forty years in their own question to understand money!

Perry's book list on the forces making the global money system

Discover why each book is one of Perry's favorite books.

Why did Perry love this book?

My own book title is explicitly an homage to this book, which tells the story of the sterling standard in its heyday. 

It is my dream that readers will put my book next to this one on their bookshelves, reading mine as a continuation of the story that DeCecco tells so masterfully. He is more economic historian, and I am more historian of economic ideas, so the books are different (and his original was in Italian), but they can be read as in conversation with one another. 

This is another book that I look forward to rereading, now that I know more, and engaging more deeply and systematically.

By Marcello De Cecco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Money and Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of Roughing It in the Bush Or, Life in Canada

Morgan Wade Author Of Bottle and Glass

From the list on frontier life in 19th century Canada.

Who am I?

When I moved to Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 2001 I was amazed to find how this city, unlike many North American cities, has preserved and celebrated its past. It’s in the architecture, the streets, the fabric, and the soil. As someone with a deep love of reading and exploring history, I immediately began to research my new home. I didn’t discover the sort of bloodless accounts often taught in school, replete with dates and facts. This history simmers and boils; full of tales of pirates and officers, gadflies and ne’er-do-wells, countless plucky frontiersmen and women. There is enough raw material for a thousand novels. 

Morgan's book list on frontier life in 19th century Canada

Discover why each book is one of Morgan's favorite books.

Why did Morgan love this book?

The gold standard source for what life was like for the hardy souls arriving in Upper Canada in the early 19th century. Although writing from a position of relative privilege, Moodie writes of hardships and deprivations that make the modern reader blanch. We wonder whether we could have survived what she and her family endure.  She writes with richness and great humanity so that we can vividly imagine what it must have been like for her to be taken from the relatively comfortable life she’d known and to make a life in the bush.  Despite her trials and tribulations, she comes to have a great love for the beauty and wildness of her adopted home.

By Susanna Moodie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roughing It in the Bush Or, Life in Canada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…

Lever of Empire

By Mark Metzler,

Book cover of Lever of Empire: The International Gold Standard and the Crisis of Liberalism in Prewar Japan

David Flath Author Of The Japanese Economy

From the list on captivating Japanese history.

Who am I?

I'm a retired economics professor from the US who studied Japan for most of my 46-year career and have lived in Kyoto since 2008. I first visited Kyoto in 1981, naively hoping to revel in the splendors of the Heian era, and was disappointed to find that the physical manifestations of medieval Japan as evoked in The Tale of Genji had vanished. But the persisting legacy of that ancient age is still evident to the trained observer. Japan today embodies its past. It's not enough to know that Japan today is a prosperous country. Curious people also want to know how it got that way. The roots lie deep in the past. 

David's book list on captivating Japanese history

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Britain, America, and France collectively adopted deflationary policies after 1920 to reestablish the gold standard at the pre-World-War-I parity. Japan's government joined in. The ensuing Japanese deflation retarded growth, produced widespread economic hardship, precipitated a banking crisis in 1927, and ultimately contributed to the sharp swing in Japan's politics towards fascistic, right-wing reactionaries, punctuated with an exclamation mark by the “Manchuria incident” of 1931. Metzler describes in granular detail this historical arc, with special attention to the key persons—including Innoue Junnosuke, Takahashi Korekiyo, and Thomas W. Lamont—and their own written justifications or critiques for the policies they or others implemented. It is not an economic analysis (like much of my book is) but a historical narrative, and a gripping one.

If you already know the economics of the gold standard, it’s even more gripping, because those behind the return to the gold standard in Japan, particularly including Innoue Junnosuke, were…

By Mark Metzler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lever of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, the first full account of Japan's financial history and the Japanese gold standard in the pivotal years before World War II, provides a new perspective on the global political dynamics of the era by placing Japan, rather than Europe, at the center of the story. Focusing on the fall of liberalism in Japan in late 1931 and the global politics of money that were at the center of the crisis, Mark Metzler asks why successive Japanese governments from 1920 to 1931 carried out policies that deliberately induced deflation and depression. His search for answers stretches from Edo to…

Iron Prince

By Bryce O'Connor, Luke Chmilenko,

Book cover of Iron Prince

Chris Tullbane Author Of See These Bones

From the list on starters in progression fantasy.

Who am I?

As an author, I’m fascinated with the fictional quest for power and the challenges and changes that journey both entails and provokes. Progression fantasy, beyond all the numbers and formalized rankings, is about the character first… not just people growing stronger, but how that growth impacts them on a fundamental level. It's something central to my own fiction, and as I’ve explored the progression fantasy genre, I’ve loved seeing the different ways other authors tackle that same idea. The worlds, people, and magic systems vary wildly between different series in the genre, but that central conflict’s impact on those engaged in it remains uniquely compelling.

Chris' book list on starters in progression fantasy

Discover why each book is one of Chris' favorite books.

Why did Chris love this book?

Iron Prince is unique in this list (and among most progression fantasy books) in that it takes place in the distant future, on one of many planets in a galaxy at war.

Instead of mystical cores or game or system-imposed leveling constructs, individuals are given CADs (combat assistance devices) that largely do the same thing. 

What I love about the book is that the main character, Rei, is the ultimate underdog. He’s done everything he could to achieve success despite his shortcomings, only to get crushed by peers and a governing system that abhors weakness.

His determination to push on is one of my favorite traits in characters, and ensures that we, the audience, remain engaged, even as he learns to leverage his unique gifts. Smart and never boring, I can’t wait for the sequel!

By Bryce O'Connor, Luke Chmilenko,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Iron Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reidon Ward will become a god. He doesn't know it yet, of course. Reidon was born weak, sickly and small. Afflicted with a painful disease and abandoned by his parents because of it, he has had to fight tooth and nail for every minor advantage life has allowed him.His perseverance has not gone unnoticed, however, and when the most powerful artificial intelligence in human history takes an interest in him, things began to change quickly. Granted a CAD—a Combat Assistance Device—with awful specs but an infinite potential for growth, Reidon finds himself at the bottom of his class at the…


By Paul Mayersberg,

Book cover of Croupier

Cara Bertoia Author Of Casino Queen

From the list on true stories set in the casino industry.

Who am I?

Growing up in a strait-laced Southern family, I was always fascinated with casinos. In my twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, I drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. My mother highly disapproved of my working in a casino, "a place so bad it has 'sin' in the middle." Eventually, I returned east to take a hi-tech job in Boston. I also began working on my MFA in writing at Emerson. My characters were breathed into life from my years in the gambling industry. You learn a lot about the human personality when you watch thousands of people from behind the felt of a blackjack table.

Cara's book list on true stories set in the casino industry

Discover why each book is one of Cara's favorite books.

Why did Cara love this book?

This is a book made from a screenplay that tells the story from behind the felt. As a croupier you can always tell if an author knows their stuff. Stepping behind the table as a dealer Jack Manfred a rejected author becomes enmeshed in his new job. He intends to write a novel about this fascinating world of casinos. As a writer myself I can relate to his need to tell his story. London dealers are considered the gold standard in the casino world. Their intense training thins the herd. I know because my husband learned to deal at an upscale London casino just like Jack. Ray also went to The Grecian Grill an all-night Greek restaurant in the West  End after his shift. That touch of authenticity gave Croupier my stamp of approval.

By Paul Mayersberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Croupier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You have to make a choice in life. Be a gambler or a croupier. Then live with your decision come what may.
It's all numbers, the croupier thought. A spin of the wheel. A turn of a card. The time of your life. The date of your birth. The year of your death. In the Book of Numbers the Lord said: "Thou shalt count thy steps."
A wave of elation came over him. He was hooked again. Watching people lose.
His existence was forming an interesting pattern of betrayals. Sometimes he was unsure whether he was the betrayer or the…


By Mary Oliver,

Book cover of Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

B.L. Bruce Author Of The Weight of Snow: New & Selected Poems

From the list on contemporary nature poetry.

Who am I?

My name is Bri Bruce, writing as B. L. Bruce, and am an award-winning poet and Pushcart prize nominee from California. Over the last decade and a half, my work has appeared in dozens of literary publications. I am the author of four books and Editor-in-Chief of nature-centric magazine Humana Obscura. I was raised with a wildlife biologist/avid gardener for a mother and a forestry major/backpacker/fisherman as a father. Both my parents instilled in me at a young age a love of nature. A lifetime spent outdoors inspires my work—so much so that I’ve been called a “poetic naturalist” and the “heiress of Mary Oliver.”

B.L.'s book list on contemporary nature poetry

Discover why each book is one of B.L.'s favorite books.

Why did B.L. love this book?

Devotions is a comprehensive anthology of Mary Oliver’s best work. Oliver is without a doubt the gold standard in nature poetry, and one of the most renowned authors of the genre. It reminds me of all the reasons why she is and will always be my favorite poet, and one of the best poets of the last century. If anyone feels themselves drawn to nature poetry, this book is a must-read.

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Devotions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller, chosen as Oprah's "Books That Help Me Through" for Oprah's Book Club

"No matter where one starts reading, Devotions offers much to love, from Oliver's exuberant dog poems to selections from the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Primitive, and Dream Work, one of her exceptional collections. Perhaps more important, the luminous writing provides respite from our crazy world and demonstrates how mindfulness can define and transform a life, moment by moment, poem by poem." -The Washington Post

"It's as if the poet herself has sidled beside the reader and pointed us to the poems she considers most…

The Rider

By Tim Krabbé,

Book cover of The Rider

Evan P. Schneider Author Of A Simple Machine, Like the Lever

From the list on the beautiful act of bicycling.

Who am I?

As a cyclist from a young age (thanks to the encouragement and engineering of my dad—he literally welded one of my first bikes together from the carcass of another kid’s bike that was run over by a car in his driveway on accident), I’ve always had a fondness for bicycles and, more specifically, *riding* bicycles. So, as is probably common for anyone who is fond of something, I’ve spent years exploring it from as many angles as possible. In the process, I’ve loved studying bicycles in motion, along with collecting artistic and philosophical expressions that center the act of getting around on two wheels under your own power. 

Evan's book list on the beautiful act of bicycling

Discover why each book is one of Evan's favorite books.

Why did Evan love this book?

If you’re looking for a short, classic novel starring the poetic machinations of racing a bicycle, the answer is Tim Krabbé’s The Rider.

It’s really the gold standard in terms of fiction about bicycling—I’ve long revered it that way, at least. It’s no wonder Krabbé is also a chess competitor because the prose and internal monologue are beautifully played, in addition to being both tactically and technically stunning.

If you happen to be a cyclist who’s ever had an inkling to race someone else, you’ll be enthralled from page one, I promise. Think of it as Breaking Away meets Queen’s Gambit in book form.

By Tim Krabbé,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the start of the 137-kilometre Tour de Mont Aigoual, Tim Krabbe glances up from his bike to assess the crowd of spectators. 'Non-racers,' he writes. 'The emptiness of those lives shocks me.' Immediate and gripping from the first page, we race with the author as he struggles up the hills and clings on during descents in the unforgiving French mountains.

Originally published in 1978, The Rider is a modern-day classic that is recognised as one of the best books ever written about the sport. Brilliantly conceived and best read at a break-neck pace, it is a loving, imaginative and…

The Everyday Parenting Toolkit

By Alan E. Kazdin, Carlo Rotella,

Book cover of The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-By-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child

Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero Author Of Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four

From the list on raising emotionally healthy children.

Who am I?

Childhood is a special time but can also be wrought with severe challenges for some children. Children vary in emotional health and resilience, so we must provide extra support to those who struggle. I learned so much from the parents and therapists I interviewed for my book, about their experiences building resilience and emotional health in adopted children. I have a PhD in social work and have worked on federally funded child welfare and child trauma grants. Currently, I am a freelance writer and researcher and teach social policy and research courses at several graduate schools of social work, but my most demanding and rewarding job is being a mom!

Stephanie's book list on raising emotionally healthy children

Discover why each book is one of Stephanie's favorite books.

Why did Stephanie love this book?

My coauthor Gloria Russo-Wassell introduced me to the wonderful world of Dr. Kazdin. I was skeptical at first about his all positive rewards, no negative punishment techniques, but the more I read, the more I realize he is right on the mark. When you associate positive rewards, praise, and feelings with specific children’s behaviors they will remember those events much more than the memories of being punished. We need to move past punishment as a cornerstone of parenting and discipline, and consider Dr. Kazdin’s ABC method.

By Alan E. Kazdin, Carlo Rotella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Everyday Parenting Toolkit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alan Kazdin's The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child is the gold standard for research-backed advice on being a better parent for difficult children. But what about children who are not "defiant"? Now, in The Everyday Parenting Toolkit, Dr. Kazdin addresses how parents can deal with the routine challenges that come with raising a child. Dr. Kazdin's methods are based on the most up-to-date research and are implemented in real-world ways. From getting ready for school on time to expanding the palates of picky eaters to limiting computer time, no parenting book does a better job at helping parents…

Take Control of OCD

By Bonnie Zucker,

Book cover of Take Control of OCD: A Kid's Guide to Conquering Anxiety and Managing OCD

Dawn Huebner Author Of Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety

From the list on for older kids who worry too much.

Who am I?

I am a Clinical Psychologist and the parent of a once-anxious child who grew up before I developed the expertise I now have, which means I did just about everything wrong. The silver lining, I guess, is that I see anxiety not only from a therapist’s perspective but also through the eyes of a child who is suffering and a parent who has no idea how to help. All of the books I have written, and all that I have recommended, speak respectfully to children and the adults reading with them about real struggles and real solutions. I feel privileged to be able to do this work.

Dawn's book list on for older kids who worry too much

Discover why each book is one of Dawn's favorite books.

Why did Dawn love this book?

While specific to OCD (versus anxiety more broadly), this is a gem of a book that needed to be included in a best-of listing. Like a really good CBT therapy session, the book walks tween and teen readers through the specifics of OCD including what it is, why it happens, and what to do about it. Exposure and Response Prevention (ER/P), the gold standard in the treatment of OCD, is given ample space here, with clear examples to help readers (with the support of an adult) figure out how to chip away at OCD. Plenty of therapists use this book as a guide, for good reason.

By Bonnie Zucker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take Control of OCD as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take Control of OCD: A Kid's Guide to Conquering Anxiety and Managing OCD is a must-have guide for kids and teens ages 10-16 with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to help them take control and use their strengths to find success in school and in life. This fully updated second edition:

Uses a cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure/response prevention method to stress gradual exposure to obsessive thinking patterns. Provides a step-by-step ladder-based process to help readers conquer their fears and demolish their worries. Helps kids change their obsessive thoughts, tolerate uncertainty, and develop positive self-talk and stress management. Also helps kids advocate for their…