I love books. Anytime, anyplace, in any form. Novels, poetry, non-fiction, textbooks. Books for studying, to relax or to be entertained. Preferably printed but also digital. That has always been the case. Books have inspired me and opened up new horizons for me. With Wernher von Braun, I flew to the moon. With Roald Amundsen, I fought my way through the ice of the South Pole. And with Jim Knopf, I defeated the Ferocious Thirteen.
Inspiring books are always in my suitcase
No matter which of the many journeys, I pack my suitcase nowadays, at least one book is always with me. A good book is a good friend to me. It accompanies me, challenges me, and somehow never lets me down. Books have decisively determined my journey to become a Master of Wine. And they were not only reference books. My definite recommendation for all students – no matter whether for the Master of Wine or any other study: If possible, read different literature in addition to your specialist books on wine or another topic. About those things that interest you, inspire, and motivate you. The balance between topic and off-topic reading to refresh your mind has always been crucial for me.
My personal selection of inspiring books
The following list is my very own selection of seven books that always inspire me. Their order is not essential; they are much too different for that.
The “World Atlas of Wine” by Hugh Johnson was the first wine book I ever bought. It opened the door to the wine regions of the world for me. Today, I own more than eight versions in different languages and layouts. These books reflect the changes in our wine world in a fascinating way in terms of scope, wording, and focus. In the 1972 edition, for example, there are just two pages each for Australia and South America.
The paperback “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahnemann has nothing to do with the specialist subject of wine in a general sense. It rather summarizes the consciousness-research of Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky. Both assume two basic types of human thinking – fast, intuitive thinking and slower reflective and logical thinking. Both thought patterns often lead to different conclusions. This insight has always been helpful for me to question my own decisions and thinking reflexes.
“Exponential Organizations” by Salim Ismail similarly inspired me. It is a fascinating book about what it is that can make organizations and business models based on exponential thinking so successful. Although some things are presented in the book rather briefly and sometimes very abbreviated, I find the approach to managing companies in our digital age, which in many cases no longer follows linear but exponential laws, intriguing.
David Goggins’ “Can’t Hurt Me” provided me with a motivational boost in the final phase of my Master of Wine thesis. Former Navy Seal David Goggins describes how he transformed himself with discipline and focus into an icon of the US military. From a lousy childhood, he has become the only soldier ever to complete all elite training for Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Air Force Tactical Air Controllers. It illustrates why most people only use 40 per cent of their capability.
I have always been a politically and historically minded person. That’s why I studied political history, economics, and communications. My passion for wine also has to do with the fact that the wine reflects the political, social, and economic conditions of its time. For me, professor emeritus Mike Veseth is one of the people who excellently connect the dots wine, economy, and politics. I love his blog wine economist and I have read his book “Wine Wars” many times during my studies. I have read his book “Wine Wars” many times during my studies. Even if it is no longer quite up to date, it is worth taking a look into this standard work. Even if it is no longer entirely up to date, it is worth taking a look into this standard work.
Magnificent written is “The Bridge on the Drina” by Ivo Andric. The novel by the Yugoslavian Nobel Prize winner for literature spans the centuries from the Ottoman occupation of the country to the First World War like an arch. He describes the events surrounding a bridge in Bosnia in an unembellished yet incredibly intense power of images. This book has accompanied me for almost 30 years. I read it for the first time when I reported as a journalist about the war in Yugoslavia. And just today it has gained topicality again. In our time, in which bridges no longer only connect, but also separate still yet.
Even at school, William Goldings’ parable “Lord of the Flies” both fascinated and horrified me. Like no other book, it shows the reader how dangerously thin and fragile the layer of culture, upbringing, and education is. And how quickly the literally inhuman spell could break through. Unfortunately, this too seems more topical than ever.