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15 Authors in 15 Minutes

Updated on January 19, 2013

15 authors, infinite ideas

Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

This was a meme that went around Facebook not too long ago. I was able to put the list together, along with some thoughts on each, but there is so much more to say about all of them than what I could write in just 15 minutes. Some of these authors I first encountered in high school (Hofstadter, King), and some of them I've only come across in the past year or so.

What they all have in common is BIG IDEAS and a systems approach to the world. Sometimes that systems approach was the point of a book (such as in Steven Johnson's Emergence), and sometimes it was just a nature of the story being told (Neal Stephenson's Anathem). Either way, the teasing out of the interconnectedness of everything is what has stuck with me through the years.

FICTION

Stephen King

I read The Stand in high school, and was just blown away by the scope of it, the imagination. Instilled in me a love for big, sweeping stories and taught me that 1,000 pages is fine for a novel. (Came in handy later when I read Tom Clancy and Neal Stephenson, also on my list below.)

Tom Clancy

I started reading Tom Clancy when I was in the Army, and loved the detail he potrayed in his stories about Jack Ryan and friends. Clancy's love of te material - and affection for those in the military - really comes through in those books. I have to admit that I stopped reading his books after Executive Orders, but still go back to the Jack Ryan books on occasion.

Neal Stephenson

My current favorite author of fiction. I reread either Cryptonomicon or Anathem every year. Sometimes both!

NON-FICTON

Douglas Hofstadter

From his first book, the masterpiece Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid to his latest, I Am a Strange Loop, he is the instigator of much of my interest in how our minds work.

Steven Pinker

Speaking of How the Mind Works, Pinker’s books have also influenced how I think about and understand why we do the things we do, and how we learn.

Daniel Pink

His latest Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and his earlier A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future are outstanding. And every parent should give their high school senior The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.

Seth Godin

Linchpin

Steven Johnson

His latest, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, is the book I wish I had written. Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software and Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter are required reading if you want to understand how our culture ended up the way it is (and why that isn’t really so bad.)

E.O. Wilson

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, and everything else.

Richard Feynman

Not so much an author as a story teller, but oh what stories he had to tell.

Atul Gawande

I’m not a doctor, and after reading his books I don’t understand why anyone would ever want to be. But he has some great insights on what it means to walk the master’s path.

George Leonard

Speaking of the master’s path, Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment has a permanent place on the shelf on my desk.

Don Tapscott

Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation gave me my first real understanding of the potential of the digital age, everything else is just gravy.

Temple Grandin

She has helped me understand autism better, and what it must be like for autistics to make their way in this society of ours. If you are the parent of an autistic child, run (don’t walk) out and pick up Emergence: Labeled Autistic and/or Thinking in Pictures.

Stuart Kauffman

Investigations just blew me away. I still only understand about 1/2 of it, but I keep going back to it to learn more and more.

Who is your favorite author? Do you have a lens dedicated to them?

Who are some of your favorite authors?

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      Marelisa 6 years ago

      What a great idea for a lens. I've been influenced by many great authors in the personal development field, so my list would be filled with that type of author.