A Personal Canon

What follows is a collection of things that have shaped my thinking, things I email people, things I return to often. If you are familiar with a literary canon, it’s kinda like that.

Writing

The best guide I’ve ever found to improve your writing is On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Stephen King’s On Writing does a good job of describing the literary life, but doesn’t give the details of craft like Zinsser.

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has a great article titled “The Day You Became A Better Writer.”

There is a thread on Quora regarding “tips for advanced writers” which has some good advice on craft. The responses from Venkatesh Rao and Alexandra Pell are especially interesting.

Also, you’re probably using the wrong dictionary.

Design

Design is how it functions, not how it looks—how it looks is called art.

This is Broken by Seth Godin

Personal Finance & Self Reliance

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin

How to Survive Without a Salary by Charles Long

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour

Permaculture

While Bill Mollison was the founder of Permaculture and author of Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual, it was Geoff Lawton who did more to popularize the system. Many of Lawton’s films can be found on the web.

Garbage Warrior: a documentery about architect Michael Reynolds and his house designs.

One Man, One Cow, One Planet: a documentery about farming in India and a man from New Zealand teaching Biodynamic agriculture methods.

Masanobu Fukuoka: while I’m not a big fan of his book The One-Straw Revolution, I very much like his ideas on natural farming.

Why is gasoline so cheap? What is the vaule of oil?

Business

Building something interesting requires a surplus of time and money. Salaried jobs provide neither.

Rob Fitzpatrick

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz

Art & Craft

By art I don’t mean paintings or drawings, but those things people do that make you feel good. Think of that time someone did something for you that was way beyond what was required. Think about how that made you feel. That is art and no one describes it better than Seth Godin in Linchpin.

Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain: an exploration of craft.

Artifacting

Craig Mod on books, walks, and the edge of the world.

Austin Kleon on keeping a logbook and how diaries are evidence of our days.