How To Create A Reading List For A Lifetime

You ever turn on the news, and wonder…yo…what the hell are they talking about? Ever felt like…you wanted to know more about some particular subject, so you could sound like a genius at the next happy hour?

Don’t lie.

Over the years, as I’ve taken this explore truth project more seriously, I’ve become more intentional about what books I read.

I can’t say I’ve read as many books as I’ve wanted to read.  Life happens.  But one thing that I appreciate, is having a birds eye view of what it is I’m trying to learn.  Identifying great books that cover the fundamentals, and help lay a foundation for some of the topics I want to delve into.

Finding these sort of books, can help me cut through the over indulgence of information readers have to deal with today.

We need filters.  More and more, the old simple maxim of Read More, is quickly becoming, Read Wisely.

So how do we select BIG, introductory, foundational books, and keep track of what it is we’re reading?

Here’s what my basic plan looks like so far.


  • Write a list of the subjects you want to learn more about.
    • History? Art? Writing? Poetry? World Events? What do you want to know?
  • Identify the best books on each subject, based on your criteria.
    • What do you value?  What books have met those values in others?  What’s popular?  Will you enjoy it?
    • Can you approach the topic in diverse ways, by looking at different perspectives on it?
    • Look at people you respect , and read what they read. Check out 5 Books – They interview an expert on a topic and they suggest five books you should read about it.
    • Check out the Best Intro Book website.  They suggest an introduction book for any topic.
    • Check the NY Times best seller list
    • Check out the bibliographies of the books you do like.


  • Have a singular place to track your growing reading list.
    • You can always stick to your trusty notebook, or check out some online communities for reading list, and book lovers. In the past, I’ve mainly used my Amazon Wish List to track what I plan on checking out. But here is a list of 9 social networks for book lovers that can also help you plan what to read next, and connect with others who are reading the same books.
  • Join a reading & discussion group.
    • If life seems to get in the way of your very best intentions of actually reading …the books on your reading list, then consider joining a reading group that will give you that added push to actually read!  Also… by getting to discuss the ideas you come across, it can help to reinforce what you have learned. (Shameless plug for the #truthchat reading/discussion group.)

So what are you interested in?  What do you want to know?

Tell me what ideas, or suggestions you have for creating the best possible reading list.



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