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The Brendan Voyage
Blue Latitudes
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Thomas Jefferson
Great Big Sea
Crosby, Stills, & Nash
The Simple Art of Greatness


Books, music, and movies that inspired


There is a common theme in Gideon’s life that is buried in the subtext and backstory of his character. It is his belief in Possibility and his willingness to work his heart out to achieve it that drives him. Dreams and vision for a good life are vital to having one, but what is also vital is the will and willingness to gut it out and do the slop work of getting it done. Gideon has both of these qualities in spades. These themes are also vibrantly expressed in some of my favorite pieces of art, largely books. They are stories of people who think and dream and take chances to achieve that which they believe in, to achieve in the end, greatness.—Mark Clement

South: The Endurance Expedition 

By Earnest Shackelton

Fortitudine Vincimus—Through endurance we conquer.


The Brendan Voyage 

By Tim Severin

The true-to-life tale recreating the mythical voyage of Saint Brendan, the Irish monk reputed to have reached the New World in a leather boat hundreds of years before Eric the Red.

In the Heart of the Sea

By Nathanial Philbrick

The true story behind Moby Dick.


Mark saw this movie as a boy in 1977 and it changed his life. It made Mark believe—more than any other thing he has ever witnessed—in possibility. If Mark could thank Sylvester Stallone for making this film, for touching his life more deeply than any other single piece of art he has ever seen, he would.


Blue Latitudes, Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

By Tony Horwitz

Horwitz’s history of Captain Cook and the description of his genius leads Mark to believe that Cook is among the smartest, most capable people ever to have lived. Reading of his adventures is true inspiration.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

By Robert M. Pirsig

“Zen and the Art…” truly connects life and craft as does Gideon.



By Alfred Lord Tennyson

This poem speaks to the hero that Mark believe is in us all, to the hero who burns to live the fullest life possible, to drive ever further, to love ever more, and ultimately to be great.


Thomas Jefferson

Mark learned about Thomas Jefferson as a sophomore at Barnstable High School in Hyannis, Mass. As the subject of his first research paper, Mark learned that Jefferson was considered a Renaissance Man—someone capable of being good at many things, both physical and intellectual. Another Cape Codder, Jack Kennedy, described Jefferson at a White House dinner packed with the world’s great minds: “Never before has the White House seen such great minds around a dinner table, except perhaps when Jefferson dined alone.” That says it all.

Great Big Sea

A traditional/Irish music band from Newfoundland, Canada, Great Big Sea’s songs tell stories with unstoppable energy and passion. Gideon was already named in The Carpenter’s Notebook , but when Mark stumbled across the song Gideon Brown, it was too good not to put in the book. Go see these guys.

Crosby, Stills & Nash

The shanty Southern Cross speaks of journeys and inspirations in a lyric that only a musician can find. It is at once tearfully beautiful and spirit-raising in its vision of the ocean, wind, and sail as a vehicle to come into concert with heart of one’s very being.


The Simple Art of Greatness: Building, Managing and Motivating a Kick-Ass Workforce

By James X. Mullen

Even if you’re not in business, this book is worth a read—or at least a listen (I experienced it as an audio book.) It was from Mark’s mother that he learned Occam’s Razor, but it was in Mullen’s extraordinary book that Mark learned it had a name.


• Meet the People who inspired The Carpenter’s Notebook

• Visit the Places that inspired The Carpenter’s Notebook

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