A Reading List

A friend recently commented on a Facebook post asking for some reading recommendations, which I then gave him (boy, did I ever!). But I realized that  I don’t want it to just disappear down the Facebook memory hole so I’m reposting it here.

Blogs (EA/rationalist/politics/philosophy)

  • Slate Star Codex – EA, rationalist, lots of nerdy philosophy/political stuff.
  • Areo Magazine – Liberal Left but not “Progressive” articles, writing quality varies but mostly good.
  • Charlie’s Diary – The blog of Charles Stross, noted SF author – lots of content about writing and politics.
  • Hormones Demystified – The most fascinating endocrinology blog I’ve ever read (also the only one I’ve ever read) – has a lot of good content about the state of the US medical system.
  • Heterodox Academy – Promoting political diversity in academia.
  • Overcoming Bias – Robin Hanson’s blog, where he will piss off just about everybody by analyzing every topic under the sun using economics!
  • Status 451 – Collaborative blog with multiple authors across the political spectrum, mostly about politics and “culture wars” topics.
  • Thing of Things – More EA, politics, and random stuff, including insightful & funny book reviews.

Blogs (AR and veganism)

Blogs (pure entertainment)

Books, nonfiction

This isn’t something I read a lot of so mostly older stuff.

  • The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross – Excellent book on modern music (starts w/ Strauss & Mahler at the end of Romanticism) – also has a really cool companion website with lots of audio snippets and links.
  • Douglas Hofstadter’s books, especially Gödel, Escher, Bach (which everybody has already read) and I Am a Strange Loop.
  • Sleights of Mind by Stephen Macknik, Susana Martinez-Conde and Sandra Blakeslee – About the neuroscience of magic tricks and how magicians exploit how the human brain works.
  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins – A deeper exploration of evolution than you get in high school, plus this is where the word “meme” comes from!
  • Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig – A good way to get yourself to give up entirely on the US political system, or at least to start supporting the MAYDAY.US PAC.
  • Books about security by Bruce Schneier – the most recent one I read was Liars & Outliers – really good for introducing security concepts to the layperson and generally enjoyable reading.

Books, fiction

Mostly speculative fiction. Well, this list could go on forever. Here’s a few (?) favorite authors:

  • Gene Wolfe – start with The Wizard Knight books or The Fifth Head of Cerberus.
  • Ursula K. LeGuin (RIP) – one of the greatest SF authors of all time. If you haven’t read the Earthsea books what are you waiting for?!! Also check out The Left Hand of Darkness and The Disposessed.
  • N.K. Jemisin – Her latest series, starting with The Fifth Season, is fantastic. Every book in the series has won at least one major SF award (Hugo or Nebula), and the awards are well deserved.
  • Jacqueline Carey – I love her writing, the stories are just beautiful and moving. My favorites are the Kushiel books starting with Kushiel’s Dart.
  • Steven Brust – Funny, intelligent, thoughtful, filled with fun references – The Vlad Taltos books are my favorite but it’s a planned seventeen book series so maybe too much of a commitment. Maybe read The Brokedown Palace, which is a totally standalone book in the same setting but with different characters and basically no crossover with the Taltos stories or people.
  • Iain M. Banks (RIP) – The Culture novels are some of my favorites, but his non-culture SF is also great. Start with Player of Games for Culture or Against a Dark Background for a standalone.
  • Seanan McGuire – Start with Discount Armageddon. If you like that you’ll probably like her other work.
  • John Crowley – Little, Big is a truly mind-blowing novel. But you have to stick with it. The plot doesn’t really become clear until after a few hundred pages, but it’s totally worth it, trust me.
  • Mary Gentle – The Black Opera is a great standalone book from her, but I like everything of hers that I’ve read.
  • China Miéville – Embassytown is a quick read and if you like it you’ll probably like his other works. Weird stuff.
  • Jeff Vandermeer – Wrote Annihilation which was a recent film. I loved this series, but my favorites are his Ambergris books. The best is Shriek, but you need to read City of Saints and Madmen first (which is also really good).
  • Sean Williams – Sadly stopped writing fiction a while ago. Start with Cloud’s End. I think he has the most beautiful prose of any author in the SF genre that I’ve ever read.
  • Dozens more including Charles Stross, Karl Schroeder, Robin Hobb, Robin McKinley, Ian R. Williams, Jonathan Lethem, John Scalzi, Paul Kearney, Mike Carey, Claire North, Glen Cook, R. Scott Bakker, Kate Elliott, Elizabeth Hand, Christopher Barzak, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Steph Swainston, Michael Swanwick, Vernor Vinge, Robert Charles Wilson, Matt Ruff, Richard Paul Russo, Lemonsy Snicket, Alastair Reynolds, Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Peter S. Beagle, Walter Moseley (mostly mysteries), Juliet McKenna, Neal Stephenson, James Alan Gardner, Kristin Cashore, Sarah Monette (also writes as Katherine Addison), and probably a bunch of others I’m leaving out unintentionally.

I read a lot, I guess.

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