“The Infinite Jeff” Book List

Books mentioned in The Infinite Jeff

A big part of The Infinite Jeff is about the knowledge you gain from reading. The character, Jeff, is a prolific reader and hands out books to people continually. One of the frequent requests I get is for a list of books mentioned in The Infinite Jeff. The lists of books are divided into sections corresponding to the parts of the book they are first mentioned in. There is also a list for Other Recommended Reading.

Book List for Part 1

Walden

The opening line of The Infinite Jeff start with the quote from Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  I heard that quote in High School and it has stuck in my head ever since.  Walden offers a wealth of such philosophy.  This is one I would recommend getting the audio book version. I enjoyed listening to it more than reading it.

If I Ran the Zoo (Classic Seuss)

Don’t we all know Dr. Seuss is one of the greatest thinkers in modern times?  All of my kids grew up with my wife and I reading Dr. Seuss to them and this is one of my favorites.  It starts off right away with something we all think:

“It’s a pretty good zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew,” and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too.” But if I ran the zoo, said young Gerald McGrew, “I’d make a few changes. That’s just what I’d do . . . “

We all look at the zoo we live in and wonder why it works the way it does and think of what we would do different if we were in charge.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

This book was one of my early influences and opened my mind to a whole new way of thinking.  I wasn’t a reader in my childhood and early adulthood, but after I read Illusions my first thought was, “Are there more books out there like this?”  Reading this made me realize how I had intellectually cheated myself up to that point.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (P.S.)

This normally isn’t a book I would read but it worked out beautifully for where it is used in The Infinite Jeff.  The main character, Francie Nolan, is an avid reader growing up in a very poor part of Brooklyn.  Her love for reading and learning takes her out of the life that traps everyone else she knows.  In spite of everything pulling against her she grows and heads off to college with a promising future.

Stranger in a Strange Land

To me, this was one of those books that never really leaves you.  It rolls around in your mind the rest of your life because there is so much about human nature in it.  If you haven’t read it then get a copy and do so.

Jubal Sackett (The Sacketts)

I like Louis Lamour books because of the contrast of good and evil.  The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad.  The Sackett series gives some interesting historical perspective of the time period the stories take place.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Pretty much read anything by Karen Armstrong you can.  In Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life one thing that stands out in my mind is when she talks about discussions.  She says if you enter into a discussion and have no intent on listening and possibly changing due to what you hear then don’t get into the discussion.  We all hold our opinions with high regard and work to convince others we are right but seldom listen to learn.  We need to learn to listen better and be willing to admit we may be wrong.

Beyond Good and Evil

I would like to go take a class on this book someday.  It is not a book to read, it is a book to study.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

This is the book that started the path which led to The Infinite Jeff.  It was published in 1884 and is a commentary on the social caste system of the time.  But, to me, it also makes us think about our limited view point due to our limited perceptions confined to our three physical dimensions.  What would we appear to be to a fourth, fifth … eleventh dimension being?  We are extremely finite beings trying to grasp the infinite and then say we understand it in finite terms.

Man’s Search for Meaning

The author, Viktor Frankl, was a holocaust survivor.   He lost his wife, parents and brother in the concentration camp.  You can only imagine someone coming out has to ask, “Why?  What is the meaning of all this?”  This book is a masterpiece born out of pain.  It must be read.

Sadhana: The Realisation of Life

I stumbled across his on librivox.org/ listened to in on my long daily commute.  What a wonderful discovery filled with gentle wisdom.

Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity

I read this while I was writing The Infinite Jeff and it caused me to go back and rewrite parts of it.  Stealing Jesus is a powerful and thought provoking book and points out how much our society uses religion to limit us instead of it being a way to grow us.

Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books)

This is my second favorite book by the great philosopher, Dr. Seuss.   All my kids have had this read to them over and over.

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

his book does a wonderful job dispelling the false belief that religion and science are mutually exclusive.  Collens is an evangelical Christian who ran the Human Genome Project.

Divine Comedy

A classic.

Book List for Part 2

Here is the list of books mentioned in part 2 of The Infinite Jeff.

More than Enough: The Ten Keys to Changing Your Financial Destiny

I read this book years ago and later on took Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University.”  I think he does an excellent job putting money in perspective.

Now, Discover Your Strengths

We are all unique people with unique talents and strengths.   Knowing those strengths is key to finding a career path or even hobbies that fulfill you.  Take the time to read this and learn about yourself.

Walden Two

I took a behavioral  psychology class in college and this book was required reading.  It is idealistic but isn’t all out of the box thinking idealistic and shouldn’t we strive towards the ideals of (some) idealistic people?

The Hobbit (Movie Tie-In)

The movie was pretty good but as always it is just a shadow of the book.

Hatchet

I was a fourth grade teacher at one point in my life and read this to the class and fell in love with it.  I read it to every class after that and this is one I have read to all of my children.

Voyage from Yesteryear

I recently re-read this because some of the ideas from Hogan kept coming up in my head.  (I love it when a book never leaves you)  He has some wonderful ideas about what a world could be like with some changes in our basic philosophies.

Book List for Part 3

Part 3 is going to start it’s final revision after part 2 is done.  The list will be give closer to the release of part 3.  But for now, enjoy parts one and two and read some of the books listed there or in the Other Recommended Books list.

Book List for Part 4

Part 4 is going to start it’s final revision after part 3 is done.  The list will be give closer to the release of part 4.  But for now, enjoy parts one and two and read some of the books listed there or in the Other Recommended Books list.

Other recommended reading

Hopefully you have read part one of The Infinite Jeff by now and realize the importance I places on reading as a means to personal and spiritual growth.  The Infinite Jeff is the product of the reading I have done over the years.  My thoughts and beliefs have been shaped by many books.  Many were mentioned in The Infinite Jeff but not all of them.  The books on this list are not any less important.  They just did not fit the story for the scenes needed or were read after the story was written.  Hope you enjoy some of the books on this list as much as I have.

The books are in no particular order but have been grouped by author.

Karen Armstrong

She is always high on my personal reading list.  She has many more books than this but these are the ones I have read.

The Bible: A Biography

An extremely well done book on the history of the Bible.  To me, one of the interesting realization that came out of this is not the history of the Bible as much as people’s relationship with the Bible and how they read it has changed over time.

Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time

I don’t know much about Muhammad so this was an interesting book.  I like that she is not pitting Christianity vs. Islam.  The book, as much as possible, was the story or Muhammad’s life without the slant of modern biases.

The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

Karen Armstrong was a nun and this is the story of her time at the convent and healing after the damage it had done.  I found it to be a very honest story of her path spiritually and intellectually.

Rob Bell

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived

I thought this book was interesting in that Bell wants to change the focus of Christianity from the reward/punishment belief of Heaven and Hell to instead focus on making our time here Heaven.  If our focus is on heaven as somewhere else then we won’t put the effort into making our time here the blessing it was meant to be.

Barbara Wendland

Misfits: The Church’s Hidden Strength

As a lifelong misfit myself, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Wendland as to how the church is missing the mark with so many people.  We have all heard that church attendance is dropping and there is a good reason for that.  I think this book does an excellent job addressing what the churches could do to reverse the trend.

Brent McCay

Confessions of a Heretic: How a Right Wing, Fundamentalist, Conservative Pastor Became a Leftist, Liberal Heathen

The author was a minister in a fundamentalist church for thirteen years and grew up in a highly religious, dysfunctional house before that.  The first part of the book is a very honest account of his growing up, his ministry, and the therapy needed to recover from that.  The second part is his current theology.

Mark Sayers

The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in An Age of Self Obsession

Vertical growth vs. horizontal growth is a theme which runs through The Infinite Jeff.  Sayers does a good job of pointing out how our focus on self is not bringing us the fulfillment we keep thinking it should.

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