Jul 09, 2015

Reading list Q2 2015

Books I read in the second quarter of 2015:

  1. The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer
    This is a pretty good introduction to effective altruism. I was familiar with most of the material going in, so I didn't get too much out of it.

  2. The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuściński
    Polish journalist extraordinaire interviews former members of Haile Selassie's regime after its fall. I liked this less than The Shadow of the Sun, but still thought it was worthwhile. Ethiopia was a crazy place under Selassie.

  3. Philosophy & This Actual World by Martin Benjamin
    Read at the recommendation of a friend, sort of in preparation for a dinner with the author. Philosophical primer blending Wittgenstein and the Pragmatists (especially James). I need to read Wittgenstein.

  4. My Struggle – Book One by Karl Ove Knausgaard
    Norwegian phenom. Sucks you in until you're wearing his life like your own. I wrote more about it here (not a review, more a half-baked essay about appropriate titles and fascism).

  5. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
    Birth of a libertarian moontopia. Classic hard sci-fi. Early instance of an AI playing a pivotal supporting role. I enjoyed the whole thing, but repeatedly got tired of the premise and had to take breaks.

  6. Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance
    I want to be Elon Musk. (who wouldn't?)

  7. My Struggle – Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard
    Book two of six. Maybe I'll finish the series by year's end (at least what's been translated to English to date – it's super good, but not good enough to learn Norwegian for).

  8. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    Pop science treatment of habit. I wasn't expecting much going in, but was pleasantly surprised. Stimulus –> Response –> Reward is a simple framework, but a fun one to apply to your own behavior ("Identify the stimulus!" "Replace the response!").

  9. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
    I really like stories of people who develop their own plan for the world, then set about trying to execute on that plan as hard as they possibly can (cf. Elon). This is another story like that. It's amazing.

  10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    Interlocking storylines in WWII Europe. Diamonds. Radios. Nazis. Curses.

  11. The Pattern on the Stone by W. Daniel Hillis
    Pop science account of how a computer works. I read it in preparation for this other pop science account of how a computer works. Eventually I'll actually start coding, I swear.

[rereads: 3, edits: added links that I forgot, "it" –> "on that plan", cut "see above"]