What’s On My Bookshelf?


After I unpacked my new home office in Chicago, I was struck by the oddball contents of my bookshelf.  You might get a kick out of the list of books I’ve kept around over the years despite moving from state to state.  I’m merciless about discarding books as soon as I’m done reading them, so anything that’s survived has to be pretty good:

My Bookshelves

My Bookshelves

Top shelf, from left to right:

Bottom shelf, from left to right:

  • 101 Salary Secrets – because of my frequent blog posts about the HR side of database administration, I get a lot of questions on the salary topic.  This book crams a lot of info into a tiny package.
  • The Stand – epic work by Stephen King that really captured my apocalyptic imagination.  I’ve read almost everything King wrote, but I keep going back to reread The Stand.
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – my sister gave me this a few years ago and said it reminded her of me.  I still haven’t finished it, but I love it.
  • So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star – by the drummer of Semisonic, a flash-in-the-pan band I really liked.  Great book, too – reminds you that fame is fleeting.
  • The Art of War – by Sun Tzu, translated by Samuel Griffith.  I use lessons from this book at least once a week, and this would be the other of the two Brent-making-books.
  • Elements of Style – trying to improve my word skillz.
  • Getting Things Done – awesome productivity book.
  • Pygmy – by the author of Fight Club.  Couldn’t resist the cover and the author’s resume, and stashed this away for my next cruise.
  • The Whuffie Factor – everything you need to know about the way the world will work five years from now.  The job market is already changing, and this book isn’t just for businesses.  It’s for IT people too.
  • Unorthodox Strategies from the Art of War – the problem with picking up The Art of War is that it can be cryptic and tough to imagine as relevant to our daily corporate lives.  Sawyer helped me get into The Art of War for the first time.
  • Financial Peace – I declared bankruptcy back in 1996, and I had one hell of a tough time figuring out how to manage my finances.  Dave Ramsey’s book gave me the answers, and I’ve been really happy ever since.  The advice ain’t easy to implement, but the really good things in life take hard work.
  • I Am America (And So Can You) – I really believed my first book would be something like Stephen Colbert’s, a big package of hilariously strung-together falsehoods.  Maybe it’ll be my second.  Books like this call to me because there’s none of that fact-checking crap.
  • Talent Is Never Enough – it’s pop psychology motivational crap, but it’s right.  (Note: it has come to my attention that this book is not in the bookshelf photo.  That’s because it’s currently in my bathroom – I rotate books through there regularly.  Probably too much information, but somebody’s going to notice.  Just so you’ve got proof that I own it, I’ve taken a picture of myself with the book before.)
  • Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – you can’t believe everything you read, especially in this book.  It’s filled with dot-com companies that were destined to be The Next Big Thing, and now half of them have gone belly-up.  Good read though.
  • The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer – you can judge this book by the cover.  I’d never done any running before picking up this book, and it got me to my first 18-mile run.  It teaches you everything you need to know to train for a marathon – and I mean everything.
  • The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide – most geeks probably read this in high school, then discarded it.  I reread parts of it periodically to remind myself of the kind of writing I strive for.
  • Tax Savvy for Small Business – I started an LLC last year and I keep kicking myself for not doing it sooner.  Unbelievable tax paybacks.

Now, having seen my oddball bookshelf, are there any books you’d recommend to me or the readers?

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15 Comments. Leave new

  • Not a book but if you like the Hitchhikers Guide books you should try the original BBC radio series http://www.amazon.com/Hitchhikers-Guide-Galaxy-Primary-Original/dp/160283511X/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254146027&sr=8-9

  • I wonder how many of us do have Hitchhiker’s Guide and The Stand on our bookshelves…probably more than we realize! Two of my ‘go back’ favorites as well.

  • Hi Brent. I’m glad you’re finding The Data Access Handbook a good resource for DBAs. Thanks for the mention, and I’m looking forward to your review!

  • The Stand, It and Thinner (in that order) are my favorite Stephen King books

  • Everyone should have a copy of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art Of War’. There are lessons to be learned from the book. Have you been dealing with lots of ‘politics’ in your job lately? Then you might need this book.

    I have also kept a copy of Mario Puzo’s ‘The God Father’ next to the ‘Art of War’. These two books will *teach* you life.


  • I’m going to steal this idea for my blog. I have to agree with Maron, ‘The Godfather’ is an amazing book; I’ve read it at least 10 times.

    As for Stephen King, I think he’s much better when he’s discussing insanity rather than the occult. I prefer stories like ‘The Bachman Books’, ‘Secret Window Secret Garden’, ‘Misery’, etc.

  • Welcome to Chicago! 🙂

  • Brent:


    Thanks for recommending “Talent is Never Enough”. I read it and its companion, “Today Matters”. The author’s style is a little verbose for my tastes, but you’re right: there’s some good stuff in there.

    Can I suggest: “Success is a Choice” by Rick Pitino; and “Overboard!: A True Blue-water Odyssey of Disaster and Survival” by Michael J. Tougias.

    Lastly, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read is “Sh*t My Dad Says” by Justin Halpern. It’s nothing like the lame sitcom.

  • I don’t see this list being updated to new. Please share your new recommendations.

  • Hi Brent,
    It will be good if you can update the SQL Server 2016 books as there are lot of changes and a book would go a long way in updating. And a suggestion on good books is a winner for me.

    • Srinivas – I don’t read SQL Server books anymore. My weird job means I have to be caught up with SQL Server before the next version comes out, so I read blogs, watch presentations, and do experiments with SQL Server myself. Sorry about that!


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