Yesterday, I went to the gym, plugged in my iPhone and disappeared into the world of music, elliptical treadmills, weights and pulleys. The few times I awoke from my adrenalin haze, I caught site of runners and exercisers of all kinds texting, surfing, emailing with earbuds all lost in the world of multi-tasking. I wondered, does anyone just read a book anymore? Fortunately, I know that they do.

So, I will continue on with my collection of the most inspirational books. These are the books that got me motivated enough think and accomplish more and write better, regardless of genre. Welcome to the top 40-35

40. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

In general, Gaiman is dark, funny, entertaining and interesting. This collection of short stories is all of that. Snow, Glass, Apples is particularly memorable for me. After reading it, I sat down and wrote three complete short stories. My stories stunk up the room but the inspiration and a few lines that followed were keepers.

39. Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku

Kaku got me to learn quantum physics and M-theory. He write about incredibly difficult subjects in a way that even I could understand them. His writing and thought process are a reminder of how hard topics can be dealt with by keeping it simple.

38. The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea

RAW as he is often and affectionately know as is equal parts mystic, scientist, philanthropist, conspiracy theorist and goofball. For me, he opened huge doors into strange ideas and philosophies. His writing inspired me enough to explore topics like quantum physic (see above). This three-part novel is written with Robert Shea and had me locked in a room for three days reading this 800-pager from cover to cover.

When I found out that RAW died last year, I got all misty.

37. Falling off the Map by Pico Iyer

Covering one of my favorite subjects about being the other in a foreign place. His experiences in Falling brought out numerous memories in me which have become articles in a variety of publications.

36. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is slow and methodical and lets his characters get into all kinds of trouble. While I routinely find his work inspiring, this one gave me nightmares. Yes, real nightmares. There are a couple of scenes in particular. One psychological and the other intensely graphic and realistic. His writing lulls me into pleasant cool water and ever so slightly heats up with every page. The book can get uncomfortable by the time it boils when the reader is the last to know. You have been warned.

More coming soon

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