The 8 Books That Inspired The Most Ideas This Year

Phil McKinney
5 min readDec 20, 2021

Reading books is one of my favorite hobbies and is my dominant source of inspiration that sparks new ideas. I love books that challenge me to think differently and that introduce me to new concepts. Some of my favorite books have been the ones that have sparked the most ideas, as evidenced by the number of entries from each book in my Roam Research system (2nd brain).

How do books inspire ideas?

The source of ideas is the subconscious mind (sometimes called “the inner genius”). The brain wants to be stimulated, and it craves novelty. It morphs every real-life experience by connecting it with everything we do or see — so the subconscious can leverage it.

When you read books, you are feeding your subconscious so it can make more connections with your experiences and memories.

The more feeding of your subconscious, the easier the ideas will flow. By reading books every day, you’re setting yourself up for success and fueling your inner creativity.

What are my favorite books?

At the end of each year, I go back through the books I read and rank them based on the ideas/innovations I added to my Roam Research knowledge management system from each book. This helps me keep track of what books are inspiring me the most, and it also helps me find new books to read that will inspire me in the coming year.

Here are the 8 books I read in the last 12 months that inspired me.

The 8 books that inspired the most ideas!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In a world where most people spend their lives working and playing in virtual reality worlds, young Wade Watts finds himself on an unexpected adventure. Not only must he survive against enemies from all around him but also find clues left behind by the dead multi-billionaire who rules this future society by controlling both technology and culture — technological determinism.

AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan

In this insightful, utterly original work, the authors imagine our world in 2041 and how it will be shaped by AI. In ten short…



Phil McKinney

// Author of Beyond The Obvious // Host of Killer Innovations podcast // Pres & CEO of CableLabs // Retired HP CTO // All opinions are mine //