The books we find on the shelf of Casey Neistat.

One of Casey Neistat's passions is reading. He is one of the great storytellers on the interwebs himself, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise. Casey even started his own book club back in 2017 when he announced his book club in a Vlog to share the experience of reading with his audience: “Reading is like leaving the house. Yes, you can go your whole life without doing it, but you’re not really experiencing all life has to offer, if you never leave the house.”

In the past we could find American Kingpin on his list. The journalist Nick Bilton inspired him before to go on to do great things and start his tech company. In this nonfiction he tells the story of Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the billion-dollar marketplace Silk Road.

What a better time for reading than these times when we all seem to leave the house much less. But the last entry on book club is from 2018.

Anyone else following Casey's book club? from caseyneistat

So what is Casey reading at the moment?

In his latest Vlog we get a peak of his bookshelf. Yes! the daily Casey Vlogs are back and it makes me happy to see. Casey Neistat is the probably the most underrated documentarian of our generation. Especially for the generation younger than himself and the generation "giving out the official recognitions". It is beyond what he finds in the places and the daily life. It is what he finds in the beauty and tranquility of the simply, sheer meaningless things and how he goes out and "leaves the house" to face the storms and wade through the shallows.

The master of Vlog storytelling he is, he uses a book to illustrate the story of a war that he knows he's likely to never win.

The Roman Empire serves the example as he fights against... well, you gotta watch his vlog to find out. Casey takes you along to study the history of the Roman Empire and those who sought and tried to take it down. And while he does, in one of the first intro scenes he takes out that book The Enemies of Rome and thus allows us a glimpse of his bookshelf:

i started a fight i'll never win

Next to it you'll find among some nice camera gear five other books. Let's take a look:

Trade Is Not a Four-Letter Word

"Trade Is Not a Four-Letter Word: How Six Everyday Products Make the Case for Trade" by Fred P. Hochberg is about the pro's and con's of globalization.

Using the example of six everyday products Hochberg exercises the basic trade principles that make our everyday life's without us knowing it. Or even worse, with us believing popular misconceptions about it because we listen to overly simplistic politicians and populists. A love story of globalization and coming together through the thorough grasp of the basics of trade. Seems to be definitely a recommendation:

i've never paid too much attention to trade and globalization but this book does a great job making sense of complicated issues.

Not only does Casey seem to be good friends with Fred Hochberg but the story of how he met Fred is amazing in itself

In the Tim Ferris interview from 2015 he tells the story of how he met Fred Hochberg as Fred was the talent for the first paid gig the Neistat Brothers ever had. It was a Happy Birthday video with the brief: “I don’t want boring video for Freddie’s birthday. I want something that is going to keep people laughing.” and involved all the members of the Clinton Cabinet

How Renegade Filmmaker Casey Neistat Breaks Rules, Reinvents Himself, and Gets Thanked For It (#116)
aka How Renegade Filmmaker Casey Neistat Breaks Rules, Reinvents Himself, and Gets Thanked For It

Obviously

"Obviously: Stories from My Timeline" by Akilah Hughes

Akilah Hughes is another friend of Caseys and fellow creator living in NYC and as such she got featured in his famous YouTube Trailer Video DO WHAT YOU CAN'T

They go and watch the occasional movie together and he seems to value her input beyond creative on societal topics as well. Don't know what Casey has to say about the book though.

https://itsakilahobviously.com/post/170840910912/casey-and-i-went-to-see-black-panther-yesterday

The book itself  is a collection of essays of the life of Akilah. Something you can also follow along on her blog and social media.

It's about damn time

"It's About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage" by Arlan Hamilton is a powerful one and the recognition that it gets gives me hope. For Arlan "being undervalued simply means that a big upside exists."

The powerful message is two-fold:

  • If you don't conform you will need more determination and will to succeed: "underrepresented often means being underestimated".
  • If someone doesn't look how you suppose them to look, you will underestimate them.

Stillness is the Key

Stillness is the key by Ryan Holiday.

I have yet to finish a Holiday book. It always scares me off to read about the topic instead of reading the authors themselves. It feels like a summary and the author missing the nuggets that would have been valuable for me.

And with Stoicism being so popular I find it extra hard to read as I avoid jumping on any bandwagon. When there is so much great literature about a topic reading the secondary literature about it feels like reading bad blogposts instead of reading the book itself...

Yet, Ryan always gives a great impetus. From growth marketing to finding stillness he masters to tapp into topics that drive the human nature.

Always Day One

"This Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever"
by Alex Kantrowitz is another new book by another journalist. Alex brings together a couple of tech companies from Facebook to Google, but makes Amazon and their "Always Day One" philosophy the headliner of his book. There has much been written publicly about Amazons "always day one"  mantra and its operationalization. Jeff Bezos himself writes extensively about it in his shareholder newsletters.

It is a great book but everything is kinda obvious, at least for me. It's not a read that ties me up and makes me change the world or gives me new ideas to implement in business or life.

What makes this a great read for you, Casey?

Conclusion

[Raise a professorial voice]
We can conclude: Casey plans his set very carefully and with as much detail as you would anticipate from someone who moved out to Hollywood to finally make it as a filmmaker... The effort to make something look as easy and just shaken out of their wrist, is just as difficult as flying like Michael Jordan through the Air.

Great storytellers have a deep empathy for humankind and so I'm happy to share what Casey has on his bookshelf and therefore amplify not only his work, but the work of those he deems important to support.

Montage with photos from BanterSnaps and Moritz Mentges.

There are plenty of "Most Recommended Books" lists out there. I like to go with Werner Herzog on this one:

Do not believe that reading all my book recommendations would make you into a different person. It is the permanence of reading, the insistence of reading that will.

– Werner Herzog

Do NOT follow reading recommendations! You will sit down and you will read them. And then you think you have done it. You don't. Read less recommended books, read some classics; and overall: Read Less, Do More. Go!