Some read to escape to another world. I read to learn about this one.

Some of the greatest, most interesting people in human history have written books, and in reading those books, we have the incredible opportunity to confer with them. To learn from them. To meditate our minds with theirs.

Books can take us inside the head of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius through reading his nearly 2,000 year-old notes to himself on how to live. Books can pass us the understanding that Henry David Thoreau gained living a deliberately simple life at Walden Pond. Books can teach us lessons from ultimate hardship and help us discover our own values as in holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.

Below is a list of the best, most influential books I've read.

I read with a pen in hand, marking insightful or useful passages to return to later. Upon finishing a book, I go back and write each down on a 3x5 index card. I'm building a personal library of condensed profoundness to remind myself of what I've learned, to reference in tough times or when making big decisions, and to attempt to find overlapping beliefs and concepts held by some of the greatest humans of their time.

Click a book, you can read a short review and my ten favorite index cards from each.