Ten Book Recommendations (Actually, Eleven)

Readers, I thought I'd share a list of the best books I've read so far this year. And also, I have a favor to ask: What have you been reading lately that you'd recommend? Please share in the comments--I'm always looking for new reading material.

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Now, on to the books:

Spent -- Geoffrey Miller
This book looks at consumer behavior through the lens of evolutionary psychology, and it helps explain much of the conspicuous trait-signalling and virtue-signalling we see all around us. This book was at times funny and at other times tone-deaf, but it gives readers--particularly frugal, Casual Kitchen-type readers--a helpful set of tools for understanding modern consumerism.

The Hidden Life of Trees -- Peter Wohlleben
An unusual, even kooky book, but absolutely hypnotic. You might think you already appreciate trees… read this book and you'll appreciate them far more.

Never Split the Difference -- Chris Voss
An excellent book on negotiating. Readable, insightful, and often counterintuitive.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up -- Marie Kondo
A book that really changed the way I think, and one that has forever changed how I think about my stuff. If you could only pick one book from this list, make it this one.

Spark Joy -- Marie Kondo
This is a companion guide to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Where "Tidying Up" had a lot of philosophy and theory, Spark Joy gets into the pragmatics and practical applications of how to execute the specific steps of tidying. Use both.

Happier -- Tal Ben-Shahar
Useful. Offers readers helpful techniques and mini-habits to spur self-awareness and gratitude in your daily life. (Note: this author is an intellectual disciple of Martin Seligman, whose book Learned Optimism was also a subject for an unusual post here at Casual Kitchen)

Hannibal -- Harold Lamb
No, not Hannibal Lecter. I'm talking about the Hannibal, the general from the lost city of Carthage. This is a short, well-written biography, telling the nearly unbelievable story of how Hannibal attacked Rome after moving his entire army (including, incredibly, his elephants) across the Alps. Excellent.

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid -- Douglas Hofstadter
I strongly recommend this book for geeks, and strongly do not recommend it for normal people. But if you're a geek and you take pride in being so, you'll never forget the experience of reading this foundational book, which has helped shape the past few decades' discussions on consciousness, software programming, recursion, and artificial intelligence.

The Education of a Value Investor -- Guy Spier
Best investment book I've read this year by far. Excellent advice on how to control your intellectual and emotional inputs, useful thinking on what kinds of media you should (or shouldn't) consume, and helpful insights about what kinds of people you should surround yourself with (consensus thinkers or rigorous non-consensus thinkers), and even thoughts on how often you should check stock prices (in my case, less often--probably a lot less often). This is a very honest book that looks at the "water" we're in, and how to to improve the intellectual environment driving our investing decisions.

Capital -- Karl Marx
No one actually reads Capital, they just opine about it. And in our modern era of infantalized, "I'll talk louder than you" public discourse, you can barely bring up this massively influential book without people losing their shit and spouting all their pre-fabbed opinions. It turns out, at least in my opinion, that there are two totally different ways to read Karl Marx's divisive book: you can see it as a bible for people who want to believe "capitalism" is a horrible, awful, no-good, really bad economic system, or you can read it as a how-to guide for joining the investor class. If you'd like to protect yourself financially and help construct a good future for you and your family, try reading it through the latter lens.


Unknown said...

Godel, Escher, Bach has been on my list a long time. I've had it since it was released. One day.

Some recommends:

Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life
How Emotions Are Made
The Brain's Way of Healing
The Brain That Changes Itself
The Nature Fix
It's Not About the Shark: The Simple Path from Problem to Answer
Who's In Charge
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Their Best and Worst

Blue said...

I've read Marie Kondo and couldn't stand her. Understand her message but the "sparks joy" concept and thanking objects for their service just me the wrong way.

One book I did read and enjoyed: The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More. A series of essays at enjoying life without spending (or spending when appropriate).