Recommended books from Sprezzaturian

This person’s book list is valuable.

http://mikaelsyding.com/never-read-classic-book/

http://web.archive.org/web/20150705125456/http://mikaelsyding.com/never-read-classic-book/

Extracts:

My 15 all-time favorite books (in no particular order):

  1. How an economy grows and why it crashes
    1. (easy read, important, micro and macroeconomy, part cartoon – the best book on economics ever written)
  2. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
    1. (easy read, predicts technological evolution, important long-term)
  3. The user illusion – Cutting consciousness down to size
    1. (psychology, difference between me and I, the conscious self and the subconscious, an eye-opener on the human condition)
  4. Gödel Escher Bach
    1. (a very difficult and heavy book, challenging but rewarding, it took me a full year to read and understand this Pulitzer-winning tome; about self reference, consciousness, art, music, mathematics and artificial intelligence illustrated by ant hills. Terry Pratchett invokes GEB in his Discworld series)
  5. The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal
    1. (entertaining, easy about the human condition, bonding, psychology, physiology etc)
  6. Atlas Shrugged
    1. One of only two fiction book on my list. (A bit hard to get into but once you do it’s amazing. On the surface an addictive political thriller set in a time similar to the one of Rockefeller, Ford, Edison etc. In reality a comment on the dangers and evils of socialism and communism). It’s long and it’s fiction but the average person needs to get these lessons hammered into them over and over again over 1000 pages to get it.
  7. Engines of creation
    1. (The book that popularized the promises and dangers of nanotechnology some 25-30 years after Richard Feynman’s talk about Plenty Of Room)
  8. The Road to Serfdom
    1. Hayek’s readable and scary version of Mises’ more dense work on communism
  9. A Brief History of Time
    1. The original Hawking book about the universe, now updated several times and illustrated in The Universe in a Nutshell (which is the one you really should read)
  10. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
    1. An optimistic run-through of available or near-available technology that promises to solve the five big challenges of water, energy, hunger, pollution and death. Yes, death.
  11. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed
    1. Kurzweil’s thought provoking work on brain structure and the roadmap to strong general artificial intelligence and the logical next step to a run-away technological singularity that seeds and wakens up the entire universe with intelligence
  12. Tomorrow’s Gold
    1. A much needed perspective of empires, hegemonies, leaders, cities, currencies and countries that come and go over the course of human history. It would be very unusual for the US dollar, New York and the U.S. to remain global leaders for an other hundred years.
  13. A Short History of Nearly Everything
    1. An entertaining and inspiring book about more or less everything, from the big bang to present day, including the origin of species and why the moon is so important. This is one of very few books that should be mandatory in school – if anything should be mandatory.
  14. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
    1. Taleb’s classic that reveals the dangers of sloppy statistical analysis and cognitive biases. You’ll never view your investments or brokers in the same way after this masterpiece
  15. Post-Human by David Simpson: A super high paced story in 5 (so far) installments about a future society populated by enhanced humans, artificial intelligences. Simpson’s imagination knows no limits and neither do his characters (that keep changing from friend to villain and back again).

7 Additional good and useful reads:

  1. Lords of Finance: 1929, The Great Depression – and the Bankers Who Broke the World
  2. The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy—How to Save Yourself and Your Country
  3. Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos
  4. The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor
  5. Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet
  6. The Fountainhead: Easier than Atlas shrugged but almost as strong in its message that every man is an island
  7. The great crash: The one and only objective description of what actually happened in the US in 1929-1932
  8. Thinking fast and slow: You may have read all of this at college (economic psychology classes) but TFAS provides an entertaining and much needed rehearsal of the lessons about how poor our minds are at some things.

These books (most of them are included above) have had the largest impact on me

  1. Atlas Shrugged turned my view on right and wrong, fair and unfair upside down
  2. Gödel Escher Bach took me a year to finish but instilled a dramatically different perspective on math, symbol language, self-reference, consciousness and artificial intelligence. The ant hill analogy to the human brain and consciousness is brilliant (and is a recurring feature of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld magicians)
  3. The User Illusion shows very convincingly (with references to scientific experiments) how small and deceitful the mind is and how powerful and capable the subconscious is
  4. Engines Of Creation explains why a super high tech future is inevitable. Whatever can be done will be done, and it starts with nanotechnoogy
  5. The Singularity Is Near shows step by step how technology evolves from punch cards (and actually far before that), via vacuum tubes to semiconductor based super computers and possibly mechanical nanocomputers, to strong artificial intelligences that self-evolves to billion times more intelligent than a human being
  6. Your Competent Child is a testament to the wonders of children’s minds, and how robustly the will evolve to independent grown-ups with a strong self-esteem, as long as you basically stay out of their way, act as a witness, an inspiration and a role model, rather than a hindrance, a punisher or a nanny.

I think everybody should read these – for themselves (as well as for the good of society, i.e., indirectly for my sake). Most are included above:

  1. How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes – to understand money and the economy
  2. A Short History Of Nearly Everything – Everything you need to know about history. Forget Caesar, Hitler, the US civil war and the stone age. This is the history that made us what we are.
  3. Abundance – this is where the world is heading in 2040. make sure you and your children are change resistant
  4. Your Competent Child – don’t spoil or ruin your child. We all have the capacity for strong self-esteem, brilliance, love and independence as long as our parents stop messing things up by being overprotecting, judging or just mean
  5. The Road To Serfdom – a true economic horror story about why communism failed and why it still lingers behind every altruistic corner
Technology, nanotech and artificial intelligence
  1. Engines Of Creation – the original book about the risks and promises of nanotechnology
  2. Abundance – an update of how close humanity is to solving the problems with poverty, starvation, illnesses, pollution and death
  3. The Singularity Is Near – Ray Kurzweil, futurist extraordinaire, demonstrates the inevitable path to artiicial superintelligence and our merging with computers
  4. How To Create A Mind – Pattern recognition lies behind human intelligence. This is how it works
  5. Physics Of The Future – Popular and accessible science; tells you what there already is and what most likely will be available in 10, 20, 50 and 100 years
Knowledge, communication, science theory, intelligence
  1. Gödel Escher Bach
  2. A Short History Of Nearly Everything
  3. The User Illusion

The origins of the universe, astrophysics

  1. The Universe In A Nutshell
  2. (A Brief History Of Time – a bit dated now, however)
  3. (The Grand Design – an update to nr 1 and 2, but quite unnecessary after “nutshell”)

The economy and financial markets

  1. How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes – The best book on economics. Illustrated, funny, entertaining and incredibly pedagogic and smart
  2. The Black Swan – About the risks we are ignorant of
  3. Tomorrow’s Gold – Don’t think the US hegemony will last forever
  4. The Road To Serfdom – How socialism leads to slavery
  5. The Most Important Thing – Down to earth rules of thumb and thoughts about investing by one of the best
  6. Bull! – The epic tale about the IT mania, the stock bubble and the consequent crash
People (remember that dogs and apes are people too)
  1. The Naked Ape – A zoologist’s take on human customs, culture and drives
  2. Ditt Kompetenta Barn – Why and how you should witness your child growing up, not raise it
  3. Men are from Mars, women are from venus – Yes, men and women are different
  4. Dog Sense – what science actually says about dogs and wolves. This is how you should socialize with your dog, not master it.

Fictional books that I think have important things to teach about the political system:

  1. Withûr Wé – An epic space adventure in libertarian spirit
  2. Atlas Shrugged – A fantastic and yet believable tale about a free economy spiraling into communism
  3. The Moon is a harsh mistress – The colony on the moon is just as unhappy about things as the US was under British rule

And finally just a couple of good reads with no purpose or message:

  1. Prey – Prey (nanotech gone wrong; a very well researched book by Crichton)
  2. Neuromancer – AI and digital agents, one of the first and still highly relevant
  3. Post-Human – Ultra-modern sci-fi, fast-paced multifaceted story about hard core nanotech and AI. Three out of five books (so far) are fantastic, two are “just” very good. All are extremely entertaining page turners. Beware, many, many have claimed to skip several nights of sleep once they got hold of Simpson’s books
  4. The Diamond Age – Inspiring and well written about a nanotech book raising a little girl
  5. Reamde – computer viruses, virtual world crimes and some other stuff
  6. The Hydrogen Sonata – a space epos
  7. Marooned In Real Time – oldie but goldie about a conceivable form of time travel
  8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (all five) – so fun, so smart!
  9. Nexus/Crux – Hard core tech books
  10. Discworld – just fun fantasy; not all the 40 books but several of the first ten are …magical – not least “Mort”
  11. Ender’s game – the book has an incredibly strong message about revenge that is almost totally overlooked in the movie. I can’t remember ever feeling so engaged and alive reading a book as I did during some specific scenes in Ender’s. Unfortunately the author dropped the ball after the follow-up (Speaker for the dead – which I also recommend reading)
  12. Atopia and Dystopia – Cultural clashes between the nanotechnological and virtual reality seasteading paradise and the rest of humanity

Podcasts

  1. NPR TED Radio hour
  2. Brain Science
  3. Discovery
  4. Nature
  5. Freakonomics
  6. Science talk
  7. 60-seconds science

Websites and blogs

  1. Zerohedge – counterweight to the polyannish financial commercial media
  2. Hussman – weekly objective comments on the stock markets by one of the best asset managers
  3. Contrarian edge – market philosophy by Vitaliy Katsenelson
  4. Financial Orbit
  5. http://disciplinedinvesting.blogspot.co.uk/
  6. KurzweilAI – technological progress
  7. Singularity Hub – technology watch
  8. Science News – technology watch
  9. Clarifying concepts – science explained
  10. Kelly Starrett – mobility
  11. Wait But Why – a lot of fun and perspective
  12. xkcd – satirical and sciency cartoons
  13. SMBC – satirical cartoon
  14. Dilbert – satirical cartoon about the drudgery in a large company cubicle landscape

Popular books I think you should skip:

  1. The count of Monte-Cristo – don’t get me started! This is not the adventure it promises to be. Read a synopsis or see one of the recent movies instead
  2. The bible – long, boring, poorly written, paradoxical and with exactly zero value as an inspiration, guide, entertainment or whatever you can think of. Simply a collection of garbage
  3. What’s wrong with right now – I am all for mindfulness, but this one was just awful
  4. Choose yourself – I just didn’t get what was so great. It’s fine, sure, and probably inspires a lot of people, but I didn’t get one single impulse from it
  5. The foundation (it was a good adventure story back in the days, but everything else is so much better these days. Read David Simpson, Robert Heinlein, Neal Stephenson or Iain Banks for epic sci fi instead)
  6. Rama (utterly pointless and slow-moving B-movie drama sci-fi)
  7. Micro by Crichton/Preston (see Rama above)
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