Favourite Books


I read a lot. This page collects the absolute best books I’ve read: the ones that I’d recommend unreservedly, defined how I think about certain subjects, or became emotional touchstones.

Fiction & Poetry

  • Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych; Anna Karenina
  • Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband; The Glass Essay
  • John Berger, Here Is Where We Meet
  • J.D. Salinger, Seymour: An Introduction & Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter; Franny & Zooey
  • Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
  • A.S. Byatt, Possession
  • William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Auguries of Innocence, etc.
  • Anton Chekhov, Stories esp. Gooseberries/Man in a Case/About Love
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, parts of The Brothers Karamazov
  • W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz, Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants
  • Franz Kafka, Stories esp. The Hunger Artist 
  • Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle Books I and II
  • TS Eliot, major poems esp. Four Quartets
  • Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language
  • Shakespeare, major plays esp. King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest
  • J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace; Elizabeth Costello; Summertime
  • Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials
  • Thomas Gardner, Poverty Creek Journal
  • Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky, HPMOR

Non-Fiction + Other

  • Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building; The Nature of Order
  • Larissa Macfarquhar, Strangers Drowning + her New Yorker profiles, particularly of Derek Parfit & the Zen monk
  • Joan Didion, certain essays esp. On Keeping a Notebook, Goodbye To All That 
  • Richard Feynman, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!; Lectures on Physics
  • Daniel Ingram, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
  • Stephen Booth, Precious Nonsense
  • Jane Jacobs, Death and Life of American Cities
  • Haruki Murakami, Underground
  • Derek Parfit, Reasons and Person
  • The Paris Review Interviews, I & II
  • Harold Pinter, Betrayal
  • M. Mitchell Waldrop, The Dream Machine
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations; Blue & Brown Books
  • David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity
  • Nassim Taleb, Antifragile; The Bed of Procrustes
  • Ray Carney, Cassavetes on Cassavetes
  • Ray Dalio, Principles
  • The Gospels
  • Paul Cronin, Herzog on Herzog
  • Keith Johnstone, Impro
  • Andy Grove, High Output Management
  • Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach
  • Richard Hamming, The Art of Doing Science and Engineering
  • Paul Graham, Essays