For the Instagram version of this list: check out @elklist

Through friendships in the Helena community, it’s become an incredibly rewarding part of my life to develop a book list.

This page records and chronicles each book from that list that I’ve completed, starting in early 2018. Books I’ve just completed are listed first. For a background on this page and how this personal project came about, please read this. For some information on how I’m choosing and reading the books, please read this. 


Leadership in Turbulent Times

Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Future of Power

Joseph S. Nye, Jr

Stealing Fire

Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal

When Women Were Birds

Terry Tempest Williams

The Four Horsemen

Sam Harris, Cristopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett



Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

P.W. Singer & August Cole


Nick Bostrom

The First Conspiracy

Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch

Rules for the Direction of the Mind

René Descartes



Lee Kuan Yew

Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill and Ali White

War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy

On Having No Head

Douglas E. Harding

On the Shortness of Life


Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations

Admiral William H. McRaven

King of Capital

David Carey & John E. Morris

The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Will Durant

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Old Man of the Moon

Shen Fu

On Justice, Power and Human Nature


On the Future

Martin Rees

Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing

Daniel Tammet

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

Jared Diamond

A Modest Proposal

Jonathan Swift

Brutus: The Noble Conspirator

Kathryn Tempest

In Praise of Wasting Time

Alan Lightman

The Cost of These Dreams

Wright Thompson

Mastering Fear

Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Peter L. Bernstein

Annie Leibovitz Sumo

Taschen (Annie Leibovitz)

Socrates’ Defence


Sex at Dawn

Cristopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

Bryan Burrough‎ and ‎John Helyar

1177 B.C. — The Year Civilization Collapsed

Eric H. Cline

World Order

Henry Kissinger


Sam Harris

Einstein’s Dreams

Alan Lightman

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Peter Thiel

The Inner Game of Tennis

W. Timothy Gallwey

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates

How to Change Your Mind

Michael Pollan

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain

Giles Milton

Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor E. Frankl

The Secret World: A History of Intelligence

Cristopher Andrew

On Confidence

The School of Life (Group Publication)

How Not To Be Stupid

Adam Robinson

Valentino: Mirabilla Romae

Edition: Assouline

The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon


Out of My Later Years

Albert Einstein

Who is Michael Ovitz?

Michael Ovitz

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Ola Rosling

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

United Nations General Assembly

Shoe Dog

Phil Knight

Goodbye, Columbus

Philip Roth

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

Anand Giridharadas

On Tyranny

Timothy Snyder

The Bhagavad Gita

Translation: Eknath Easwaran

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play

Kobe Bryant

The Lessons of History

Will & Ariel Durant

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

Kai-Fu Lee

Daring Greatly

Brené Brown

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Stephen Hawking

The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithridates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy

Adrienne Mayor

On Grand Strategy

John Lewis Gaddis

The Meaning of Human Existence

Edward O. Wilson

Letters to a Young Contrarian

Cristopher Hitchens

The Next 100 Years

George Friedman

Waking Up

Sam Harris

Washington: A Life

Ron Chernow

The Essays of Warren Buffett

Warren Buffet and Lawrence A. Cunningham

The Little Prince

Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

What I Know For Sure

Oprah Winfrey

The Art of War: Complete Texts and Commentaries

Sun Tzu

On Power

Robert Caro

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Yuval Noah Harari

Kissinger: A Biography

Kissinger: A Biography

A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life, and Maybe the World 

Admiral William H. McRaven

Alexander the Great

Paul Cartledge

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Ludwig Wittgenstein

The Light of the World

Elizabeth Alexander

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

Yossi Klein Halevi

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Joan Didion

The Art of Intelligence

Henry A. Crumpton

Thank You For Being Late

Thomas L. Friedman

January 1949 Issue, The Partisan Review

Multiple Authors

The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire

Kyle Harper

The Book of Five Rings

Miyamoto Musashi

The Madness of Cambyses


The Gods Themselves

Isaac Asimov

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Carlo Rovelli

On Bullshit

Harry G. Frankfurt

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Robert A. Caro

Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Robert A. Caro

The Qur’an

Translator: Tarif Khalidi

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue


The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power

Niall Ferguson

Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson

Robert Caro

Tuesdays With Morrie

Mitch Albom

The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson

Robert Caro

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Brad Stone

Fire and Fury

Michael Wolff

The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway

Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, from Leonardo and Darwin to You and Me

Andrew Santella

Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’An: Islam and the Founders

Denise Spellberg

Chaos: Making a New Science

James Gleick

The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation


Interstellar Travel and Mutigeneration Space Ships

Yoji Kondo, Frederick C. Bruhweiler, John Moore, Charles Sheffield

Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace


William Cullen Bryant

Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls

Marco Polo

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Yuval Noah Harari

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Douglas R. Hofstadter

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

John le Carré

The Denial of Death

Ernest Becker

Red Notice

Bill Browder

How To Run A Country

Marcus Cicero

The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas


John H. Holland

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari

The Sirens of Titan

Kurt Vonnegut

The Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli


Marcus Aurelius

Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of The Mind

Charles Nicholl


J. Allan Hobson



The Last Question

Isaac Asimov