books

Books I’ve read and want to read. I liked, were just ok, I didn’t like, I didn’t finish. nf are non-fiction, f are fiction.

Also see Maulik’s and Jon’s reading lists, movies, games, and other lists.

Books I’d like to read:

Mariana Mazzucato – The Value of Everything nf

Konstantinos Dimopoulos – Virtual Cities nf

Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson – It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work nf

Italo CalvinoIf On a Winter’s Night a Traveler f

Richard Powers – The Overstory, Galatea 2.0 f

Rana Dasgupta – After Nations nf

Thomas Pynchon – Bleeding Edge f

Christopher Alexander – A Pattern Language nf

N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky (Broken Earth) f

Annalee Newitz – Autonomous f

Jeff Vandermeer – Acceptance, Authority, Acceptance (Southern Reach) f

Neal Stephenson – Seveneves f

David Gray – Liminal Thinking nf

Daniel Suarez – Change Agent nf

Richard Adams – Shardik f

Benjamin Grant – Overview: A New Perspective Of Earth nf

Elie Wiesel – Night nf

Ruth Ozeki – A Tale For The Time Being f

Terry Pratchett – The Long Earth, The Long Mars, etc. f

Robert M. Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance f

Bruce Schneier – Data and Goliath nf

Books I’ve read:

Paul Bloom – Against Empathy nf (Blinkist)

Tim O’Reilly – WTF? nf (Blinkist)

Shop Class As Soulcraft nf (Blinkist)

N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season f

Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish – How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk nf (Blinkist)

Hans Rosling – Factfulness nf (Blinkist)

James Carse – Finite And Infinite Games nf (Blinkist)

The Almost Nearly Perfect People nf (Blinkist)

Steven Pinker – Enlightenment Now nf (Blinkist)

The Ceo Next Door nf (Blinkist)

Susan Cain – Quiet nf (Blinkist)

Robert Jackson Bennett – City Of Stairs f

J. Craig Venter – Life at the Speed of Light nf (Blinkist)

Yuval Noah Harari – Sapiens nf (Blinkist)

Tim Wu – The Master Switch nf (Blinkist)

P.G. Wodehouse – Right Ho, Jeeves f

Italo CalvinoThe Complete Cosmicomics f

Mark Z. Danielewski – House Of Leaves f

Tom Wolfe – The Right Stuff nf

Greg Bear – Darwin’s Radio f

Daniel Lerch et al – The Community Resilience Reader

Paul Beatty – The Sellout f

Stewart Brand – How Buildings Learn nf

Junot Diaz – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao f

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor – Welcome to Night Vale (web site) f

Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice f

Philip Roth – Goodbye, Columbus f

Robert Louis Stevenson – Treasure Island f

G. H. Hardy – A Mathematician’s Apology nf

Don DeLillo – White Noise f

Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras – Atlas Obscura (site) nf

Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale f

Michael Lopp – Managing Humans nf

Kevin Kelly – The Inevitable nf

Renata Adler – Speedboat f

Cixin Liu – The Three Body Problem f

Chuck Klosterman – But What If We’re Wrong? nf

Jane Nelsen – Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World nf

Daniel Lisi – World Of Warcraft nf

George Polya – How To Solve It nf

H.P. Lovecraft – The Call Of Cthulhu f , The Outsider f , In The Walls Of Eryx f

Derek Yu – Spelunky nf

Jonathan Franzen – Purity f

The Rap Year Book nf

Philip K. Dick – Vulcan’s Hammer f

Thomas Paine – Common Sense nf

Jorge Luis Borges – The Garden of Forking Paths f

David Gerrold – The Man Who Folded Himself f

A Streetcar Named Desire f

Edward Albee – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? f

Jaron Lanier – Who Owns the Future? nf
I felt the exact same way about this that I did about his last book: “Thoughtfully contrarian, in a good way. I didn’t find all of his arguments compelling, but I’m very, very glad that someone’s making them!”

Randall Munroe – Thing Explainer nf

Walter M. Miller Jr. – A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1) f

Roland Barthes – Death Of The Author nf

Joshua Cohen – Book Of Numbers f
Much heralded. I wanted to like it, and I did like the first section, but the second section, a long transcribed interview with a billionaire tech founder, just didn’t work. Maybe it’s because I live in that world, but the language and tone felt totally, gratingly wrong. Sad.

John Brockman – By the Late John Brockman nf

Jon Irwin – Super Mario Bros. 2 nf

William Gibson – The Peripheral f

Mikito Takada – Distributed Systems: for fun and profit nf

Nassim Nicholas Taleb – Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder nf

Michael Faber – The Book Of Strange New Things f
Meh. Forgettable. None of the character or settings really grabbed me, nor did the themes of relationships, faith, and evangelism. Not horrible, but not great either.

Ed Finn – Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future f

David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks f

David Foster Wallace – The Soul is Not a Smithy nf

Jennifer Senior – All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood nf
A must read if you’re a parent, or even just curious. Way more useful than all the popular how-to, what-to-expect, and reference books. The last chapter is mixed, but the rest more than makes up for it.

Mark Russell – God Is Disappointed in You nf
Pretty damn funny. And a surprisingly good cliff’s notes, to boot.

Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises f
Very very very not my kind of thing.

Adrian Hon – A History of the Future in 100 Objects f

Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness f

Pierre Bayard – How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read nf
Maybe I should have taken the author’s advice and written this without reading the book. :P I couldn’t tell how much was serious and how much was a joke. Not a great sign. My sense of humor may not be refined enough, but of his main points, only one made sense to me:

  1. Reading/not reading a book isn’t binary but a spectrum. You can hear about a book, read parts of it, read it and then forget some of it, or even forget you read it at all. (OK.)
  2. We all interpret books differently, and our interpretations are more important and valuable than the books themselves. (Um…not so much.)
  3. It’s usually better not to read any given book than to read it, since it’s mostly unnecessary and it imposes an opportunity cost. (Um…not so much.)
  4. Finally, the ultimate aim of thinking and talking about books (and other works of art) is to be creative, in particular about ourselves. (Creative, sure, but about ourselves? Narcissism, no thanks.)
     

Daniel C. Dennett – Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking nf
Meh. I love Dennett’s work in general, but this just didn’t hang together well enough for me. The bulk of it isn’t intuition pumps at all, but loosely connected essays on topics like computation, evolution, and free will, lightly interspersed with the titular thought experiments.
Dennett himself describes it best: “Some readers…expressed surprise and disappointment that [this book] didn’t include some of my best-known intuition pumps.” Yup.

Meg Wolitzer – The Interestings f
Not much of a plot, but great characters and relationship arcs.

Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince nf
Not nearly as crazy or controversial as its reputation suggests. I was expecting over-the-top malicious, underhanded, downright sadistic stories and techniques, but it was actually pretty tame, even logical and common sense.
Sadly, that also made it less exciting. Lots of politics, campaigning, managing employees and projects, governance and public policy, etc. Important topics, to be sure, but we’ve learned a bit more about them since Machiavelli’s day.

Denis Johnson – Jesus’ Son f
Felt like Haruki Murakami meets Hunter S. Thompson…except I like both of them, and I definitely didn’t like this. Ah well.

Ted Chiang – The Lifecycle of Software Objects f

Umberto Eco – Foucault’s Pendulum f

Jon Gertner – The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation nf
The list of Bell Labs’s inventions is simply stunning: the transistor, switched networking, microwave and satellite communication, digital information theory, fiber optics, cellular radio and telephony, Unix and C, the CCD. Add in a few things from Fairchild and Xerox PARC, like the IC, and you have pretty much all modern computer and telecom technology. This is worth reading as a reminder of that alone.

Michel Houellebecq – The Elementary Particles f

Ernest Cline – Ready Player One f

Marilynne Robinson – Gilead f
Not my style. Wish it was. Ah well.

James Joyce – Dubliners f

John Brockman – This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works nf
Lots of great content! The format isn’t ideal, though. The essays are only a couple pages each or so, so you bounce between ideas a bit too fast. Still good in small doses though.

Leonard Richardson – Constellation Games f

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl f
Very fast, very dark, pretty damn good.

Annalena McAfee – The Spoiler f
I gave up about a third of the way in. It’s slow, uninteresting, joyless, and devoid of any characters I can relate to at all. I’m sure it works for some people, but not for me.

Steven Pinker – The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature nf
The first half or so, parts 1 through 3, are great. Read them alone and you have a five star book. Parts 4 and 5 got too unfocused, though, at least for me.

David Foster Wallace – The Pale King f
Finished, this could have been a great book. Unfinished, it’s just too disjointed, even for DFW. It may not be experimental fiction, exactly, but it’s not far off. It’s basically a series of loosely related vignettes, some short, some longer, with a handful of recurring characters. It’s still enjoyable, and occasionally rises to the brilliance I’d hoped for, but as a whole it’s nowhere near the level of Infinite Jest or Broom of the System. Ah well!

Jaron Lanier – You Are Not a Gadget nf
Thoughtfully contrarian, in a good way. I didn’t find all of his arguments compelling, but I’m very, very glad that someone’s making them!

Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas f

Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow f
I know there’s a brilliant book hidden in here somewhere, but I couldn’t get through enough to find it. I stopped about halfway through. :/

Tom McCarthy – Men in Space f

Tom Wolfe – The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test nf

David Foster Wallace – This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life nf

Steven Johnson – Where Good Ideas Come From nf

Ian McEwan – Sweet Tooth f

Daniel Pink – Drive nf

John Keegan – A History of Warfare nf (didn’t finish)

Philippa Perry – How To Stay Sane nf

Tom Wolfe – Back To Blood f

David Brin – Existence f (didn’t finish)

Michael Nielsen – Reinventing Discovery nf

Lawrence Osborne – The Forgiven f

Craig Thompson – Blankets f

Thomas Sowell – A Conflict Of Visions nf

Larry Niven – Ringworld f

Max Ernst – Une Semaine de Bonté f

Brendan KeoghKilling Is Harmless nf

Kevin Kelly – What Technology Wants nf

Stewart Brand – Whole Earth Discipline nf

The Ph.D. Grind nf

David Byrne – How Music Works nf

David MacKay – Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air nf

Cory Doctorow and Charles StrossThe Rapture Of The Nerds f

Beowulf f

Ben Marcus – The Flame Alphabet f

Lewis Carroll – The Hunting Of The Snark f

Siddhartha Mukherjee – The Emperor Of All Maladies nf

Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow f (didn’t finish)

John Berendt – Midnight in the garden of good and evil f

Haruki Murakami – 1Q84 f

George Orwell – 1984 f

Hugh Howey – Wool f

Téa Obreht – The Tiger’s Wife f

Sam Harris – Lying nf

Daniel SoloveNothing to Hide nf

China Mieville – Embassytown f

Alan Lightman – Einstein’s Dreams f

Bruce Schneier – Liars and Outliers nf

Cormac McCarthyBlood Meridian f

Bret Easton Ellis – Less Than Zero f

Tom McCarthy – Men in Space f

Jay McInerney – Bright Lights Big City , Story of My Life f

Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow nf

Tyler Cowen – The Great Stagnation nf

Richard K. Morgan – Altered Carbon f

Italo CalvinoInvisible Cities f

Kurt Vonnegut – Sirens of Titan f

Upton Sinclair – The Jungle f

Tom McCarthy – C f (didn’t finish)

Charles Perrow – Normal Accidents nf

T. S. Eliot – The Waste Land f

Ian McEwan – Solar f

Daniel Paul Schreber – Memoirs of My Nervous Illness nf

Edwin A Abbott – Flatland f

David Foster WallaceInfinite Jest f

Dashiell HammettThe Maltese Falcon f

Cormac McCarthyThe Road f

Terry PratchettThe Color of Magic f, Going Postal f

Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Goon Squad f

Gever Tulley – Beware Dangerism nf

Raymond ChandlerThe Big Sleep f

Jonathan Franzen – Freedom f

Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now nf

Hank Taggart – How to Purchase Anonymously on the Internet nf

Steven Levy – In the Plex nf

Douglas Hofstadter – I Am a Strange Loop nf

Alan Moore, David Gibbons – Watchmen f

Neal Stephenson – Anathem f

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – The Little Prince f

Monkey: A Journey to the West f

Matt Ridley – The Rational Optimist nf

Lynd Ward – Woodcut Novels f
Gods’ Man , Madman’s Drum , Wild Pilgrimage , Prelude to a Million Years , Song Without Words , Vertigo

Sep Kamvar, Jonathan Harris – We Feel Fine nf

Jonathan Franzen – The Corrections f

Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The Black Swan nf

Michael Pollan – Food Rules nf

Robert J. SawyerFlash Forward, etc. f

John Updike – Rabbit Run f

Gary TaubesGood Calories, Bad Calories nf

Vernor Vinge – A Fire Upon the Deep f

Robert Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land f

Jonah Lehrer – How We Decide nf

E.M. Forster – The Machine Stops f

Ted C. Fishman – China Inc. nf

Clay Gordon – Discover Chocolate nf

Anthony Swofford – Jarhead nf

Clive Cussler – Atlantis Found f, The Chase f

Scott McCloud – Understanding Comics nf

Andy Oram, Greg Wilson et al – Beautiful Code nf

Stieg LarssonThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo f, The Girl Who Played with Fire f

US Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual nf

Kemble Scott – The Sower f

Michael Chabon – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay f

Peter Seibel – Coders at Work nf

Iain M Banks – The Algebraist f, Excession f

Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull f

Dan Simmons – Hyperion f, The Fall of Hyperion f

David Foster WallaceThe Broom of the System f, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again nf

William Faulkner – The Sound and the Fury f

Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5 f, Player Piano f

Bertrand Russell – The Problems of Philosophy nf

Tom WolfeBonfire of the Vanities f, I Am Charlotte Simmons f, A Man in Full f

J.D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye f

Philip Roth – American Pastoral f

Steve Lopez – The Soloist f

Jill Taylor – My Stroke of Insight nf

Aubrey de Grey – Ending Aging nf

William Strunk, E. B. White – The Elements of Style nf

Dave Eggers – What Is the What f

Stephen King – On Writing nf

Chloé Doutre-Roussel – The Chocolate Connoisseur nf

Blastland, Dilnot – The Tiger That Isn’t nf

Rebecca Walker – What Makes a Man nf

Iain Simons – Inside Game Design nf

Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle – The Mote in God’s Eye , The Gripping Hand f

Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner f

Geoffrey Stone – War and Liberty nf

Chris DiBonaBruce Napoleon, Vampire Veterinarian f

James W. Loewen – Lies My Teacher Told Me nf

John Perkins – Confessions of an Economic Hit Man nf

Cory DoctorowDown and Out in the Magic Kingdom , Eastern Standard Tribe , Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town f

Daniel SoloveI’ve Got Nothing to Hide… nf

Haruki Murakami – Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World , The Elephant Vanishes , After Dark f

Vernor VingeTrue Names , Rainbow’s End (available online!) f

Edge – The 100 Best Videogames nf

Christof Koch – The Quest for Consciousness nf

Zadie Smith – On Beauty f

Freeman Dyson – Our Biotech Future and Joyce Carol Oates – Lest We Forget, from the New York Review of Books nf

Daniel Gilbert – Stumbling on Happiness nf

Tim O’Reilly in a Nutshell (available for free!) nf

Etgar Keret – The Bus Driver who Wanted to be God f

Raby, Ruggeri – How To Protect Your Personal Information nf

Orson Scott Card – Getting Lost nf

Carter Scholz – Radiance f

Bruce SterlingThe Difference Engine , Mirrorshades , Schismatrix f

Robert Charles WilsonSpin , Axis , Blind Lake , Darwinia , The Chronoliths f

Ken MacLeod – Learning The World f

J. J. Luna – Invisible Money nf

Scott Rosenberg – Dreaming in Code nf

David SimonHomicide , The Corner nf

Tom McCarthy – Remainder f

Salman Rushdie – Shalimar the Clown f

Kemble Scott – SoMa f

David Sedaris – Naked nf

Lewis et al – A General Theory of Love nf

James Gwartney et al – Common Sense Economics nf

Thomas Nagel – Concealment and Exposure nf

Bobby Henderson – The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster nf

Mike Cohn – Agile Estimating and Planning nf

Jeff Hawkins – On Intelligence nf

Penny Arcade – Attack of the Bacon Robots! nf

William GibsonNeuromancer , Pattern Recognition f

John Battelle – The Search nf

J. J. Luna – How to Be Invisible nf

Neil Strauss – The Game nf

Terry Grossman and Ray Kurzweil – Fantastic Voyage nf

Ellen Fein, Sherrie Schneider – The Rules nf

Max Brooks – World War Z f

Niel Gaiman – Neverwhere f

Michael Roizen, Mehmet Oz – You, The Owner’s Manual nf

Steven JohnsonEverything Bad is Good for You , Mind Wide Open nf

Bruce Schneier – Beyond Fear nf

Helen Fisher – Why We Love nf

Lauren Weisberger – The Devil Wears Prada f

Thomas Kuhn – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions nf

Stephen Wolfram – A New Kind of Science nf

Joel Spolsky – The Best Software Writing I nf

Michael J. Behe – Darwin’s Black Box nf

John Allen Paulos – Innumeracy nf

Freeman Dyson – Disturbing the Universe nf

Susan Blackmore – The Meme Machine nf

Matt RidleyGenome , Nature Via Nurture , The Red Queen nf

Drew McDermott – Mind and Mechanism nf

Steven Strogatz – Sync nf

Frank Close – Lucifer’s Legacy nf

John F. X. Sundman – Acts of the Apostles f

John Compton Sundman – Cheap Complex Devices f

Randy Cohen – The Good, The Bad and The Difference nf

Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time f

Matt Ruff – Set this House in Order f

Sean Stewart – Perfect Circle f

Bill Bryson – A Short History of Nearly Everything nf

Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiFlow , Creativity nf

Ray KurzweilThe Age of Spiritual Machines , The Age of Intelligent Machines , The Ray Kurzweil Reader nf

Thomas FriedmanLongitudes & Attitudes , The World is Flat nf, Hot, Flat, and Crowded nf

Lawrence LessigThe Future of Ideas , Code nf

Richard DawkinsThe Selfish Gene , The Blind Watchmaker , Unweaving the Rainbow nf

Steven LevyHackers , Insanely Great nf

Neal StephensonThe Diamond Age , Cryptonomicon , Snow Crash f

Neal Stephenson – In the Beginning…Was the Command Line nf

Charles StrossAccelerando , Singularity Sky , Iron Sunrise , Glasshouse f

China MiévillePerdido Street Station , The Scar , Iron Council , King Rat f, The City & The City f

James Trefil – 101 Things You Don’t Know about Science and No On Else Does Either nf

Ernest Nagel and James R. Newman – Godel’s Proof nf

David Brin – Sundiver f

M. T. Anderson – Feed f

Franz Kafka – The Trial f

Stewart Brand – The Media Lab nf

Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People nf

Alec Mackenzie – The Time Trap nf

Ian McEwan – Atonement f

Michael E. Edleson – Value Averaging nf

Jeff Fischer – Investing Without a Silver Spoon nf

David and Tom Gardner – The Motley Fool Investment Guide nf

Percival Everett – American Desert f

Richard Feynman – Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman nf, The Character of Physical Law nf, Six Not-So-Easy Pieces nf

Stephen Hawking – Black Holes and Baby Universes nf

Dave EggersYou Shall Know Our Velocity , A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius f

Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Being f

Tao Te Ching nf

Shunryu Suzuki – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind nf

Paul Reps and Nyugen Senzaki – Zen Flesh Zen Bones nf

Leonard Shlain – Sex, Time, and Power nf

Gabriel Garcia MarquezOne Hundred Years of Solitude , Love in the Time of Cholera , etc. f

Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel nf

Richard AdamsWatership Down , Tales from Watership Down f

Laura SchlessingerTen Things Women Do to Mess Up their Lives , Ten Things Men Do to Mess Up their Lives nf

Richard Watson – Cogito, Ergo Sum nf

T. R. Reid – Confucius Lives Next Door nf

Guy Gavriel KayTigana , A Song for Arbonne , The Lions of Al-Rassan f

Arnold C. Schonberg – The Great Pianists nf

Nick Bollettieri – My Aces, My Faults nf

John Nunn – Secrets of Rook Endings nf

A. J. Gillam – Simple Checkmates nf

Al Horowitz – Chess nf

Suparna Damany and Jack Bellis – It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! nf

Eric RaymondThe Cathedral and The Bazaar, The Art of Unix Programming nf

Frank HerbertDune , Dune Messiah , Children of Dune , etc. f

Douglas AdamsThe Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, etc. f

Gamma, Helm, Johnson, Vlissides – Design Patterns nf

Robert SilverbergLord Valentine’s Castle, Valentine Pontifex, Majipoor Chronicles, etc. f

Stephen KingThe Stand, It, Needful Things, Cujo, etc. f

Plato – Republic nf

Melvin Rader and Jerry H. Gill – The Enduring Questions nf

Immanuel Kant – Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals nf

Rene Descartes – Collected Writings nf

Aristotle – Ethics nf

David HumeAn Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding nf

Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights f

Charles Dickens – Great Expectations f

Bernard Williams – Morality nf

William James – Essays in Pragmatism nf

Thomas Aquinas – On Law, Morality, and Politics nf

Lex Williford and Michael Martone – The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction nf

Michael CrichtonRising Sun, Sphere, The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, Congo f

Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow Of the Giant f

Piers AnthonyA Spell for Chameleon and the Xanth series, the Incarnations series, and many others f

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