Books: Best Ever

By Dom Nozzi

I have read 1,226 books in my life. Of those, the following books are either the most important, most provocative, most unforgettable, most influential to my thinking on various topics, or most life-changing of any of the over one thousand books I have ever read. They are books that have forever shaped how I see the world, and many are the books I most refer back to in conversations with others. In my view, each is an essential book that must be read.

For some of these books, I now realize that I have matured or otherwise moved to a place in conflict with the propositions put forth in the book. However, even these books undoubtedly shaped my thinking in certain, durable ways. And they certainly inspired me, through the sheer intellectual enjoyment of reading them at the time, to read voraciously in a never-ending search for further epiphanies.

Trees in Urban Design, by Henry Arnold (1993)

The Limits to Power, by Andrew Bacevich (2008). My review of this book can be found here.

Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, by Andrew Bacevich (2010)

The New American Militarism, by Andrew Bacevich (2005)

Religion, Philosophy and Science, by Burnham Beckwith (1957)

Cities in Full, by Steve Belmont (2002)

Licit and Illicit Drugs, by Edward Brecher (1972)

Is Marriage Necessary (1974), by Lawrence Casler

Antioxidant Revolution (1994), by Kenneth Cooper

Toward a Steady-State Economy, edited by Herman Daly (1973)

The Morality Wars, by Charles Derber and Yale Magrass (2008). My review of this book can be found here.

Stuck in Traffic, by Anthony Downs (1992)

The Car and the City, by Alan Durning (1996)

Pulling Your Own Strings, by Wayne Dyer (1977)

The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt (1997)

Secrets, by Daniel Ellsberg (2002)

The Rhetoric of No, by Ray Fabrizio, et al (1970)

The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida (2002)

The New Industrial State, by John Kenneth Galbraith (1967)

The New Male-Female Relationship, by Herb Goldberg (1983)

Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed, by James Gray (2001)

Exploring New Ethics for Survival, by Garrett Hardin (1968)

The Rise of Anthropological Theory, by Marvin Harris (1968)

Cultural Materialism, by Marvin Harris (1979)

The End of Faith, by Sam Harris (2004)

An Inquiry Into the Human Prospect, by Robert Heilbroner (1974)

Natural Causes: Death, Lies, Politics with Supplements, by Dan Hurley (2006)

Col R.G. Ingersoll’s 44 Lectures, Vol. I, by Robert Ingersoll (1924)

Col R.G. Ingersoll’s 44 Lectures, Vol. II, by Robert Ingersoll (1924)

Some Mistakes of Moses, by Robert Ingersoll (1879)

The Religion Virus, by Craig James (2010). My review of this book can be found here.

The Deserter’s Tale, by Joshua Key and Lawrence Hill (2007). My review of this book can be found here.

America’s War on Sex, by Marty Klein (2006)

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn (1962)

Home From Nowhere, by James Howard Kunstler (1998)

Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe (1971)

Zoned Out: Regulations, Markets, Transportation, by Jonathan Levine (2006)

The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg (2001)

The Limits to Growth, by Donnella and Denis Meadows (1972)

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, by J Mearsheimer and S. Walt (2007)

Obedience to Authority, by Stanley Milgram (1974)

On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Living in the Environment, by G. Tyler Miller, ed. (1979)

Cities and Automobile Dependence, by Paul Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy (1989)

Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, by Peter Norton (2008). My review of this book can be found here.

What On Earth is an Atheist!, by Madyln Murray O’Hair (1969)

The Great Good Place, by Ray Oldenburg (1991)

Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity, by William Ophuls (1977)

Reinventing Collapse, by Dmitry Orlov (2008)

1984, by George Orwell (1949)

Green Metropolis, by David Owen (2009)

Sex, Art and American Culture, by Camille Paglia (1992)

The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine (1794)

Democracy for the Few, by Michael Parenti (1974)

Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam (2000)

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (1943)

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (1957)

Kindly Inquisitors, by Jonathan Rauch (1993)

The Greening of America, by Charles Reich (1970)

The Mass Psychology of Fascism, by Wilhelm Reich (1946)

Entropy, by Jeremy Rifkin (1980)

Unpopular Essays, by Bertrand Russell (1950)

Human Scale, by Kirkpatrick Sale (1980)

Mismatch, by Richard Sander & Stuart Taylor (2012)

The Overworked American, by Juliet Schor (1991)

The High Cost of Free Parking, by Donald Shoup (2005)

Beyond Freedom and Dignity, by B.F. Skinner, B.F. (1971)

Atheism: The Case Against God, by George Smith (1979)

The Transparent Cabal, by Stephen Sniegnoski (2008)

The War of the Flea, by Robert Taber (1965)

Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler (1970)

Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo (1939)


I urge you to email me ( or leave a comment if you have a suggested addition or subtraction from this list. Or if you have any other thoughts about this list.


Each list in this blog contains my own personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I acknowledge that there may be a need to add or subtract from these lists (or to create a new subject list), and I welcome such suggestions. The lists are not ordered from higher to lower quality. Each list is a work in progress.

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here:

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About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable & bikeable streets & trails specialist, writer, editor, speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, urbanist. Make my own beer, wine, pasta, bread. Live by the motto that it is the things we do NOT do that we later regret. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.
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