Last Updated on March 29, 2021
Think before you speak. Read before you think.Fran Lebowitz
I read widely. I am old enough to have grown up without the internet and so reading books was peak entertainment when I was young. Reading still is one of my favorites activities and is how I do most of my learning.
I mostly read books. Blogs and podcasts are nice for time sensitive info, but I find that books/audiobooks generally are better quality.
The library was the most exciting place to go after school when I was young. I haven’t asked my parents if I went there out of choice or if it was some kind of free childcare. I would hang out wander the shelves and read for hours! It must have been formative because I still love reading now. I have incredible gratitude for the libraries. Thank you Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries and the Mitchell Shire Libraries, and the governments who kept up your funding.
I love deep diving into a topic and reading is the best way to do it. I think deep down the other reason I read so much because I’m always trying to get smarter, or maybe to avoid being dumb (terrifying to me).
I think I have a similar condition to Anne Lamott:
I devoured books like a person taking vitamins, afraid that otherwise I would remain this gelatinous narcissist, with no possibility of ever becoming thoughtful, of ever being taken seriously.Bird By Bird
Here are some work-in-progress lists of books that had a big influence on my thinking.
The timelessness of philosophy lends itself well to a book. Here’s some of the books that had a big impact on my worldview, and here’s a semi-redundant work-in-progress list here:
- The Black Swan. For modern philosophy I love all Taleb’s stuff (although it could easily belong in my probability section below). I started with The Black Swan – it blew my mind when I first read it. It drastically changed my perception of time and history and life. All of his books are must-read though.
- Skin in the Game
- Ethics. A bit heavier, but a classic.
- Letters from a Stoic
- On the Shortness of Life
On the lighter side – (lighter to read, still heavy themes):
More on philosophy here.
I’m fairly obsessed with behavioral economics.
- Thinking Fast & Slow. A top three all time favorite.·
- The Art of Thinking Clearly. If Thinking Fast & Slow is too heavy then try this one first.
- Thinking and Deciding. This is hard going but excellent.
- The Righteous Mind. This is epic and really changed my understanding of society.
I’ve read a lot on business and leadership in the past. I don’t read this genre as much these days. A few classics:
- The Goal. I a still a sucker for the business fiction genre though. Often the narrative is clunky as the poor author must sprinkle the education into the story, but it’s worth it. If I even end up writing a book it will probably be some kind of educational fiction.
- The Phoenix Project
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
True business stories
- Bad Blood
- Moneyball. I like the stats worship, but it’s a great story in it’s own right. The movie is very watchable.
- The Big Short
More on business here.
Probability & statistics
I have a lot more to add here, but here’s two of my favorites:
There are very few timeless books in this category. I get more of my tech info from blogs and twitter so it’s more timely. That said, I loved:
- The Art of Invisibility
- The Inmates Are Running The Asylum
- Don’t Make Me Think
- Permanent Record
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
More on technology here.
Health & Fitness
I read a fair bit about health. I have written about those books on these pages:
True survival stories
About a third of what I read is fiction. Mostly sci-fi, or something with a philosophical bent. I’ve tried to read the classics lately.
- Animal Farm. Anything George Orwell wrote, but particularly 1984 and Animal Farm.
- The Stranger. I also love anything Albert Camus wrote, but particularly The Stranger. The philosophical themes that Camus explores really resonate with me.
- Einstein’s Dreams
For lighter fiction reads, some of my favorites are:
Also I am getting into short stories, these are some of my all time favorites: