The last month of the year traditionally gives us the chance to reflect on what we’ve done and how we want to move forward. It’s also a great moment to give a friend or lover or parent or child a nice gift. Like a book. Here’s my list of 52 all-time favorite books.

The list

  1. Antifragile
  2. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
  3. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism
  4. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
  5. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
  6. Letters to a Young Poet
  7. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
  8. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
  9. On Doing Nothing: Finding Inspiration in Idleness
  10. We Learn Nothing: Essays
  11. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel
  12. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
  13. The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European
  14. Montaigne (Zweig)
  15. Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
  16. The Crossroads of Should and Must: How to Find and Follow Your Passion
  17. Leonardo Da Vinci: The Biography
  18. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
  19. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
  20. The Meek One
  21. Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust
  22. If This Is A Man/The Truce
  23. Brave New World
  24. 1984
  25. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
  26. The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
  27. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
  28. Magellan
  29. How to Win Friends and Influence People 
  30. Think On These Things
  31. Hannibal and Me
  32. Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II
  33. The Prophet
  34. The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By (watch Entourage, the series, first)
  35. Milk and Honey
  36. Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
  37. The Sun and Her Flowers
  38. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
  39. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
  40. Norwegian Wood
  41. Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton
  42. Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger
  43. The Big Fat Surprise
  44. The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam
  45. Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History
  46. Atlas Shrugged (small print version. Not the nicest to read.)
  47. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir
  48. Thinking, Fast and Slow
  49. Stories of Your Life and Others
  50. Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People
  51. Investing: The Last Liberal Art
  52. The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking

You cannot go wrong with any work by Matt Ridley, David Deutsch or Walter Isaacson. And last but definitely not least: Elephant in the Brain.