Book Pile Rule No. 3

Image: Capt. Pete Kromhout, US Army

From an author’s point of view, there’s nothing better than having readers tell other readers that they must read this new book.

In doing so, books create connections between communities, especially when readers are passionate about a story for different reasons.

This is very much at the core of The Art of the Future Project’s mission to spread the word within the international security community about relevant creative works — particularly science fiction.

Image: Capt. Pete Kromhout, US Army
Image: Capt. Pete Kromhout, US Army

Here are some of the books donated by me and Steven Pressfield to the Commander’s Action Group at the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning in Georgia following my visit to talk about the importance of narrative in policy and official writing. These books form part of an informal lending library at the base. Some of the other donated books not pictured include Linda Nagata’s The Red Trilogy: First Light, Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. They weren’t in the picture because they were out on loan.

The five rules of the CAG book pile are simple. The most important is number three: Talk about Book. After heeding rule number three, conversations about man-machine interaction will be richer after reading The Peripheral, which never loses sight of the human current that flows through even the most profound technological advances. The Dark Forest offers enormous insight into the essence of disruption and innovation in defense when faced with an existential threat to humanity. The Profession recasts America’s political and strategic future as a tale that is straight out of the Classics, updated with disquieting next-generation military concepts of operations.

The rules for a particular book pile will vary according to its location, be it aboard a destroyer at sea or an unattended on-post mailbox. There is one rule, however, that should be constant: Talk about the book.