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
Antonia 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 and all his other fiction
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 Persons
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