JamesDrain comments on Which five books would you recommend to an 18 year old? - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: JamesDrain 06 September 2017 03:17:44AM 2 points [-]

I could really have benefited from a list like this three or four years ago! I wasted a lot of time reading prestigious fiction (Gravity’s Rainbow, Infinite Jest, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses) and academic philosophy – none of which I liked or understood – as well as a lot of sketchy pop psych.

If Doing Good Better, 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, Animal Liberation, and Superintelligence are already taken, then I’d say the five most influential works I’ve read are: All of Steven Pinker’s books The Art and Craft of Problem Solving Here Be Dragons: Science, Technology and the Future of Humanity Nick Bostrom’s Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, Infinite Ethics, and Astronomical Waste, (I would add Anthropic Bias if I could understand it) The Tell-Tale Brain

Runner-ups include: To Be a Machine, Freakonomics, 1984, Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms, The One World Schoolhouse, Computability Theory, Human Accomplishment, Linear Algebra and Its Applications, Spivak’s Calculus, The Willpower Instinct, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Nurture Assumption, Introduction to Algorithms, Practical Programming (this is about weightlifting – not CS), Surely You’re Joking, Innumeracy and also Beyond Numeracy, An Anthropologist on Mars, The God Delusion, The Righteous Mind, Poor Economics, Mathematics 1001, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Selfish Gene, and Reasons and Persons. It’s not a book, but I feel like SlateStarCodex also belongs on this list.

Another good vegan book is Eating Animals.

I imagine I would also have been enthralled by a book like Soonish about emerging technologies (it hasn’t come out yet.)