3 Bibles for Problem Solving

*Editor’s Note:* You asked for a founders’ *Reading List,* and we’re building it. For our first installment of recommended titles, we turned to Found|READ contributor and best-selling author, Tim Ferriss, whose hip tome on personal and professional emancipation, “The 4-Hour Workweek”:http://www.thefourhourworkweek.com/, is soaring up both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times business books lists, setting a new standard for successful viral marketing as it does so. See “additional reviews here”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/0307353133/sr=1-1/qid=1185769911/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_top/105-2118619-3581261?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1185769911&sr=1-1#customerReviews. (And if you haven’t already, do check-out Tim’s previous Found|READ contributions on equally valuable topics like: getting to cash flow positive, “here”:http://www.foundread.com/view/the-margin-manifesto and “here”:http://www.foundread.com/view/part-ii-of-the ; and on marketing, “here”:http://www.foundread.com/view/marketing-tip-from.) Tim’s book recommendations begin below.

Feeling overwhelmed? Chances are that—after looking everywhere else for an explanation—you’ll find that unclear or cluttered thinking is your root problem.

Have you defined your desired outcome and eliminated the extraneous? Removed all of the busy but non-mission-critical activities that consume attention? Business books and consultants often skip the fundamental shift we need most often: better mental software. Cut out the bugs and upgrade your machine with these three blueprints, listed in the order I recommend reading them:

*”Simple & Direct”:http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Direct-Jacques-Barzun/dp/0060937238/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-2118619-3581261?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185991542&sr=1-1
by Jacques Barzun
(288 pages)*

It is hard to improve thinking. It is near impossible to remember and review after-the-fact. Practicing writing—thinking frozen in time—is the best way to refine thinking and upgrade your present awareness. Barzun’s stated goal in this book is “to resensitize the mind to words.” His refrain, which applies as much to self-talk as it does to communicating with others, is: do not use a word unless you know both its meaning and its connotations. Great advice and a great book.

*”On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction”:http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Well-30th-Anniversary-Nonfiction/dp/0060891548/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-2118619-3581261?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185991587&sr=1-1
by William K. Zinsser
(336 pages)*

I have read this book more than a dozen times, more often for thinking than for writing. It is a hysterical read and a great example of what it teaches: how to cut all clutter and keep your communication—and thinking—crystal clear. If you think you think and write well, read this book at least once. It’s like going from a tricycle to a ten-speed.

*”The Elements of Style”:http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-Fourth-William-Strunk/dp/0205313426/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-2118619-3581261?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185991625&sr=1-1
by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
(128 pages)*

This is the de facto nuts-and-bolts desk reference for all writers and thinkers alike. There is a refreshing artistry to its bluntness… and brevity. I also love that the New York Times can sum it up and violate its rules at the same time with “Buy it, study it, enjoy it. It’s as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility.” Volubility? E.B. would have slapped them.