I’ve found bookshelves shared by others to be useful. At risk of presumption, I hope it is of use to the occasional lost internet traveller who finds themselves on this page. I’m always keen to hear recommendations (@samuelalbanie on Twitter, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bigger pictureThe Complete Essays of Montaigne (Michel de Montaigne, 1580)A History of Western Philosophy (Bertrand Russell, 1945)The Open Society and Its Enemies (Karl Popper, 1945)
RiskThe strategy of conflict (Thomas Schelling, 1960)Sustainable Energy – without the hot air (David MacKay, 2008)Superintelligence (Nick Bostrom, 2014)Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control (Stuart Russell, 2019)The precipice (Toby Ord, 2020)How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need (Bill Gates, 2021)
BiographiesBenjamin Franklin: An American Life (Walter Isaacson, 2003)Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer (Tim Jeal, 2008)The Man without a face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (Masha Gessen, 2013)Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future (Ashlee Vance, 2015)Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson, 2015)The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (Walter Isaacson, 2021)
ThinkingFooled by Randomeness (Nassim Taleb, 2001)The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Nassim Taleb, 2007)Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman, 2011)The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding (Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier, 2017)Skin in the game (Nasim Taleb, 2018)
MoneyCapital in the Twenty-First Century (Thomas Piketty, 2013)The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking (Saifedean Ammous, 2018)The Fiat Standard (Saifedean Ammous, 2021)
Some storiesCrime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1866)War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy, 1869)Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, 1878)Before the Law (Franz Kafka, 1915)Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck, 1937)The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943)Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov, 1955)Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)To Kill a Mockingbird, (Harper Lee, 1960)The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967)The Lorax (Dr Seuss, 1971)Oh, the Places You'll Go! (Dr Seuss, 1990)Three Body Problem (Liu Cixin, 2008)Klara and the sun (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2021)
Science, technology and engineeringScience The Endless Frontier (Vannevar Bush, 1945)Inventing The Future (Dennis Gabor, 1967)The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (James Watson, 1968)The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn (Richard Hamming, 1997)Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age (Michael Hiltzik, 2000)In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (David Post, 2008)Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Max Tegmark, 2017)Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don't Have To (David Sinclair, 2019)A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (Jeff Hawkins, 2021)
MiscThe War Against Cliche: Essays and Reviews (Martin Amis, 1971-2000)Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Richard Feynman, 1982)What Do You Care What Other People Think? (Richard Feynman, 1988)The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (Michael Lewis, 1999)Zero to One (Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, 2014)The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World (about Tversky and Kahneman) (Michael Lewis, 2016)Essays - (an internet collection, rather than a book) (Paul Graham, 1990s-present) Note 1
: I've primarily listed books that I found thought-provoking along some dimension. To be explicit (given my position as an academic): outside of my narrow domain of scientific specialism, I am a layperson. I'm no better trained than you are, for example, to make technical judgements about whether Piketty's analysis of capital is valid or hot air. I can, however, say with confidence that I found it thought-provoking. Note 2
: Some books require no caveats. The Lorax is objectively excellent.