"I’m particularly fond of the white books." {Other People’s Bookshelves}

Other people's bookshelves with Ben Arment

I first met Ben Arment in Atlanta last year, and was immediately struck by his warmth and humor. We bonded chatting over our respective families of 4 kids, and our big plans for the future.

Ben is the visionary behind two fascinating endeavors: Story Chicago, a conference for creatives that’s happening for the sixth time this September, and Dream Year, a program that helps people walk their big ideas from conception to reality.

Ben also has a book coming out August 5 called Dream Year: Make the Leap from a Job You Hate to a Life You Love, available for pre-order now on Amazon. (It’s on my to-read list, of course.)

I was stoked to get a peek at the shelves of an Idea Guy like Ben. (And Will–who’s not usually a huge reader–has been plowing through Ben’s recommendations since they arrived in my inbox.)

"I'm particularly fond of the white books." Other people's bookshelves, with Ben Arment, founder of Dream Year and Story Chicago

1. Tell us a little bit about your shelves.

I’m not a “nester” so my shelves are pretty sparse. If I could do away with an office altogether, my dream is to work out of a big living room. With a fireplace. And movie soundtracks playing softly in the background. And fresh popcorn on hand. And an espresso machine. This particular shelf is for books I want to access quickly. I have a little purging to do here in the new year. The other ones are stored in closets on the top shelf.

ben arment shelves 2

2. How are your books organized?

By color, of course. How else do you organize books?

3. Do you have a favorite shelf?

white books 2

I’m particularly fond of the white books. No, seriously. I love a white cover. Malcolm Gladwell’s covers, Wild Company (the story of Banana Republic), Start with Why, the Lincoln screenplay and The Art of Immersion (which looks at transmedia campaigns). I do judge a book by its cover.

4. Any special titles you’d like to point out to us?

These five are special to me right now:

ben arment special titles 2

• Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter is a fascinating read about the company’s beginnings.

• The Red Tent because I’m writing a historical novel this year.

• The Hunger Games because it’s the best constructed novel I’ve ever read.

• Blockbusters which talks about launching ideas in a big way.

• and The Medici Effect because I quote it all. the. time. Amazing book.

Find out more about Story Chicago here, and Dream Year here. To stay current with what Ben is up to, sign up for his email updates here. (Ben writes a great newsletter. These are intended for “people who want to accomplish something,” and I personally find them very worthwhile.)

PS: Unbelievable motivators, and unused creativity.

View more posts in the Other People’s Bookshelves series here.


Leave A Comment
  1. Ben Arment says:

    ha =) I think the chapter progression of The Hunger Games is unmatched. I agree with Robert De Niro who said that “Apocalypto” was the best-structured movie ever made – from a technical sense, the mechanics of plot. In a similar way with books, I think the Hunger Games has an extremely sound structure. Inciting incident by the end of the first chapter… and from there, you just can’t put it down. But that’s just my opinion. =)

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for answering, Ben–and I think you’ve got plenty of company. I’m pretty sure I read it one afternoon because I couldn’t. put. it. down.

  2. Fun to see a fellow sorter-by-color. 🙂 I know it seems impractical to most, but if you’re visually-oriented (I always remember the covers), it totally works. Of course, it also makes my husband completely dependent upon me for locating ones he wants…

    And now I want to read Hunger Games!

    • Anne says:

      I would love to try sorting by color, but my main living room shelves are PINK, and I don’t think that would look too good. But I just got a white IKEA expedit I’m slowly filling. That seems like a great place to experiment with this!

      And yes–read The Hunger Games and come back and tell us what you think!

  3. Anne says:

    Thanks for the introduction to Ben, Anne. I have enjoyed poking around the Story Chicago and Dream Year sites. I will definitely keep an eye out for his book. Dream Year took me to 111project, and *that* was neat! Very inspiring.

    I love sorting by color.

  4. We sorted the kids’ books (just the chapter books and novels, not the picture books) by color for awhile. I loved it. It’s really a very soothing thing to look at, rows of bookshelves all coordinated like that! But eventually the remembering-to-put-things-back-in-place was more than the kids preferred, and we’re back to a hodgepodge shelving strategy. 😉

    I just signed up for Ben’s newsletter–sounds inspiring!

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