Our Favorite Fiction and Why We Read It

We talk a lot about nonfiction on this podcast. We’ve covered The Procrastination Equation, Deep Work, The Productivity Project, and many others. But is there a place in our busy schedules for fiction? Do we read for fun?


Few things make me as happy as reading. I grew up a voracious reader, even going so far as to flip through and read sections from an encyclopedia set my Dad got me. Obviously that’s an example of nonfiction writing, but I read plenty of fiction — I actually still have a trophy I won for reading 100 books in 1st grade.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so immediately drawn to stories and words. It’s easier to sell the idea of a productivity book — who feel like they’re on the verge of something great if they could just focus a little better? I’ll read some words if it’ll make me more money somehow, but what good’s a story?

We’ll talk a bit about the more “productive” benefits of reading fiction in this episode, and to make it a little more fun we’ll go over a few of our favorite books and what they mean to us. No spoilers though, I promise!

Things mentioned in this episode:

Tom’s Books:

  • , by Neil Gaiman
  • , by Neal Stephenson
  • , by Apostolos Doxiadis
  • , by Douglas Adams
  • , by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Martin’s Books:

  • , by Kurt Vonnegut
  • , by David Mitchell
  • , by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • , by Patrick Rothfuss
  • , by Gene Yang, Michael DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko (also see , which takes place after the television series)

Other links:

  • Tom on Goodreads
  • Martin on Goodreads
  • Crash Course
  • Tom’s Impossible List
  • How Ben Franklin Structured His Day
  • The Procrastination Equation: An In-Depth Breakdown (Ep. 167)
  • How to Make Consistent Progress on Your Goals (Even If You’re Lazy)
  • , by Viktor Frankl
  • Buffer – The Surprising Power of Reading Fiction
  • , by Clifford Stoll
  • , by Gabriel García-Márquez (Spanish version)
  • How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition
  • 9 Life-Changing Books (Ep. 96)
  • , by William Gibson
  • , by Catherynne Valente
  • , and , by Lewis Carroll
  • A Crash Course on How to Start Investing (Even If You’re in Debt) (Ep. 168)
  • Listen Money Matters
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Tom’s Top 10 Favorite Fiction Books!
  • , and , by Patrick Rothfuss
  • , by George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, and more (the anthology with a story about one of the characters from The Kingkiller Chronicle)
  • , by Orson Scott Card
  • , by Eliezer Yudkowsky
  • , by Dan Ariely
  • , by Daniel Kahneman
  • , by Bill Bryson
  • Marvel Unlimited
  • , by Brandon Sanderson
  • , by Alexander Wales

Want more cool stuff? You can find all sorts of great tools at my Resources page.

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Our Favorite Fiction and Why We Read It (Ep. 169)