My Library

To see someone's mind, peruse their bookcases.

(Why not post these on Goodreads or wherever? Because all those tools funnel you towards parasocial human interactions for the purpose of corporate power and I don't like reducing my thoughts on books to a 1-5 scale. And because I quixotically believe in the old ways of the web.)

Here are some books I have in my library.

Science, Engineering, Software, Design

In increasing order of appreciation: The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder, Dealers of Lightning - Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age by Michael Hiltzik, and John Markoff's rollicking What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture shaped the Personal Computer Industry.

I got a lot out of Zach Tellman's Elements of Clojure, Nygard's Release It!, and Ben Fry's Visualizing Data (see also my port of the exercises to Clojure).

In no order: Norvig's Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp, Kernigan & Pike's The Practice of Programming, Thinking Fast & Slow, Six Easy Pieces, and Faust in Copenhagen. A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman. Friedman & Felleisen's The Little Schemer and The Reasoned Schemer by Friedman, Byrd, Kiselyov and Hemann. Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

I must admit that despite Tufte CSS, I myself own none of Edward Tufte's works – too many friends and employers have them available to borrow. Nevertheless, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information has earned a spot on this list. So too might Beautiful Evidence.

Humanities, Fiction, and Poetry

David Reich's Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family. John Hersey's Hiroshima. James Hawes' Shortest History of Germany and Shortest History of England. Neil MacGregor's insightful Germany: Memories of a Nation. Sam Sheridan's A Fighter's Heart. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David Anthony. Europe: the First 100 Million Years, by Tim Flannery. Michael Pollan's How To Change Your Mind: The new science of psychedelics. Thinking Fast & Slow. Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes. Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Once They Moved Like the Wind, Pretty Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crow, Charles Mann's 1491. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's The Old Way: A Story of the First People and also The Harmless People. The Good Life, and Loving and Leaving the Good Life. Burglars on the Job and Armed Robbers in Action. Feynman's Six Easy Pieces. Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety. Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner. Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Maria Montessori's The Secret of Childhood, Be Prepared Babies for Dads, German Grammar Drills 3. Ed. by Swick, and Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno's Slamming Open the Door (a book of poetry about the murder of her daughter), Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, Mary Oliver's A Thousand Mornings. W.A. Mathieu The Listening Book. Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey by Özge Samanci. Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. The Odyssey (Emily Wilson's excellent translation – Lombardo's was only okay). Janet L. Abu-Lughod's fascinating, dense-but-still-readable Before European Hegemony: the World System A.D. 1250-1350. Stephen Kinzer's excellent Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds. Giles Milton's Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922 (NB: not the other Paradise Lost by the other Milton). Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World by Michael Schuman. Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

Philip K Dick's Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said. All in the Timing by David Ives. Kurt Vonnegut: Mother Night, Hocus Pocus, Breakfast of Champions, and Slaughterhause Five. George Saunders: 10th of December. Paper Girls, Watchmen, Berlin City of Stones, Maus, and Saga (both German and English). Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many many scifi or space-fantasy tales by Lois McMaster Bujold, Joe Haldeman, Larry Niven, and Spider Robinson. Jefferey Eugenides's Virgin Suicides, The Stranger by Camus, Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, Palahniuk's Fight Club, Ginsberg's Howl, DFW's Consider the Lobster, Flix Faust, and Labyrinths by Borges.

The following I do not recommend, and I am eager for better books on the same topic. Cline's 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed is a dry recitation of facts about what should be a stirring narrative. (Paul Cooper's Fall of Civilizations Podcast is good but only an hour on this particular collapse.) John M. Barry's The Great Influenza is full of narrative but lost my trust when I discovered many of its lofty central claims were false. For instance, he writes floridly about the dearth of medical solutions prior to the nineteen teens, unacceptably downplaying the long-time and widespread use of (makeshift) vaccinations against various poxes. Norman Stone's Short History of Turkey is a rich recitation of events rather than a dry recitation of facts, but fails to live up to its claim to weave six conceptual threads from the Ottoman Empire through to today.

For reading to young children, I keep buying Eric Carle books and have not yet found any diminishing of returns.

Physical culture

Ross Enamait's Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless. Tom Kurz's Science of Sports Training and Stretching Scientifically. Jim Wendler's 5/3/1, Greg Everett's Olympic Weightlifting, Rippetoe & Kilgore's Starting Strength and Practical Programming. Explosive Lifting for Sports by Harvey Newton. Gray's Anatomy, Yoga Anatomy (but I prefer my friend's Hatha Yoga Anatomy by Coulter), Take Care of Yourself. Bikeline's Radfernweg: Berlin - Kopenhagen (bicycle tour map).

Vital Judo by Sato & Okano and Vital Judo II: Grappling Techniques by Okano are both incredible gems. Judo Training Methods by Ishikawa & Draeger. Judo in Action: Grappling Techniques by 9th dan Kudo. Aikido Sketch Diary by Homma. Mark Bishop's Okinawan Karate. Hokama's History and Traditions of Okinawan Karate. Medical Care of the Judoka by Anthony J. Catanese, MD, FACS, 4th dan. Yonezuka's self-printed autobiography is incredible. Two by the excellent pair Kennedy & Guo: Jingwu, the School that Transformed Kung Fu, and Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey.


Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. Samin Nosrat, Salt Fat Acid Heat. Anna Jones' The Modern Cook's Year. A Moleskine my wife and I fill with our own recipes.

Dave Liepmann, 25 January 2021