Bookshelf

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: samuel.albanie.academic@gmail.com).

Bigger picture

  • The 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)
  • Risk

  • The 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)
  • Biographies

  • Benjamin 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)
  • Thinking

  • Fooled 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)
  • Money

  • Capital 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 stories

  • Crime 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 engineering

  • Science 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)
  • Misc

  • The 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.