Any useful book recommendations (or just dump your recommendations here)? I have a lot of nonfiction books (John Keegan for example), , but none of them seem worth reading - nothing in them is worth remembering 10 years from now.
comment by gilch
· score: 1 (1 votes) · LW
Any useful book recommendations (or just dump your recommendations here)?
That's too vague to answer directly, so I'll start by going meta. Books vary a great deal in quality. Some are so deceptive that reading them is probably a net negative. Most of the rest are probably not worth your time compared to what else you could be reading, but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Take some risks. The more knowledge you have, the better judge you are. People don't usually regret reading too many books.
Don't be too afraid to start and don't be too afraid to stop reading a book. Remember the sunk-cost fallacy. It's okay to stop reading a book if you judge that it's not worth your time. This should make you more inclined to start reading any book that looks interesting. You can limit your risk. It's okay to judge a book based on incomplete information, because you can't just read them all. Reviews and recommendations are a good starting place. There are plenty of these online. Then you can read the table of contents and skim the start of each chapter, just to see if it's worth reading for real. And even once you start in earnest, you can still quit if it's not worth your time.
Now for the recommendations. It's hard to recommend something to someone I know almost nothing about, but CFAR and MIRI have reading lists. These books have a high probability of being interesting for the kind of people who hang out on LW. (I'm gradually working through them myself.) You're here for some reason. How did you find LessWrong? Why are you asking us for books? Can you ask a more specific question?
Note that Rationality: From AI to Zombies is on both lists. It's probably a good starting point if you haven't read the Sequences already. Many of us here (myself included) consider the Sequences life changing. It reached that point for me long before I finished. I think some parts were better than others. There were boring parts and parts I couldn't follow, but the average density of insights was so high compared to everything else I'd found thus far, that I eventually read the whole thing.
Still, not everyone is ready for the Sequences. I got here via search engine after reading Drexler's Engines of Creation and Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near after stumbling upon the "singularity" meme--the idea that the near future could be so radically different than the present. I'd still recommend Engines of Creation (though it's a bit dated) but I now think Kurzweil is too optimistic and have come around to Yudkowsky's view.
nothing in them is worth remembering 10 years from now.
Have you read the classics? Some of these are centuries old and still considered important. These are all books worth remembering for at least 10 years. But is this the best we can do? If you've had good a liberal arts education, you already know most of this stuff.
Most human knowledge was developed very recently. (e.g. a modern Physics major knows more about relativity than Einstein, because their teachers used his life's work as their starting point.) We have a higher population than ever before and Internet access. If rationalists designed a general education curriculum, knowing what we know now, what would be different? Study that.
comment by mortal
· score: 1 (1 votes) · LW
First off, thank you for taking the time to reply to my message. I understand that not many people are helpful, even on LW, so I appreciate what you are doing.
Thank you for your suggestions.
I don't think the classics are helpful for me because I cannot afford to take the time to understand them right now.
I read most of the Sequences. I planned to convert them to Anki cards but am unable to summarize most concepts. So I have given up on that.
I try to keep a buffer of Anki cards to learn always and a book from which I read and. Convert to Anki cards.
I read a lot, but I am restricted to reading relatively straightforward books - things you don't have to think about to understand. This is because I aim to spend the majority of my time studying to get into college.
So I have been searching for books that fit my rather idiosyncratic criteria -
Reading it will contribute to improving my life. Eg - 48 Laws of power, that Social Psychology textbook lukeprog recommended in his epic dating post.
The book must give straightforward advice, suggestions, or facts. Some textbooks are better than others in this sense. Popular psychology books also work, but I find many don't pass the 3rd criteria.
Has to have a minimum of 3.9 rating on Good reads and the top review should show the book isn't all hype (Economics in One Lesson, for example. I am not reading it because I haven't found a good intro to economics and the top review of this book points out a hell lot of supposed problems (I don't get what the review said).)
It takes me an hour or two to find books worth reading.
Let me tell you of my recent reads to give you an idea.
George Ainslie - Breakdown of Will. Bloody brilliant. I cured most of my Akrasia that has almost destroyed my life (I am taking a gap year to study now.) Using personal rules. I didn't Anki amythinh, because I reread the damn book enough times.
Nick Soares - That epub currently being linked in the discussion section. Now bad, but his blog posts on motivation seem more useful. But the first essay in this epub was Anki worthy.
Algorithms to Live By - Amazing book, but hard to Anki. I will spend more time reading it though. It is worth it.
Cormen - Algorithms Unlocked. I aim to get into the CS field in college. So this is sort of an intro, a preliminary reading or whatever. It should be fun.
I also am trying to read Epictetus and rereading Marcus Aurelius. When I get around to it.
Thanks for the resource of LW link. Awesome rabbit hole to fall into.
You don't really need to reply with recs actually. You have helped me.
But I would still enjoy reading your recs.
comment by gilch
· score: 1 (1 votes) · LW
I read a lot, but I am restricted to reading relatively straightforward books - things you don't have to think about to understand.
No such thing. Reading is thinking. I'll assume you mean that it doesn't take too much effort, but effort is relative to your ability. Reading some enjoyable fiction to help you unwind would be a terrible chore for most kindergartners, for example. This is true even for your past self. What will your future self consider easy? That might depend on what kind of books you read.
Since you're interested in CS and algorithms, and aren't looking for anything too difficult, I recommend Petzold's Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software. This is a pop book, not a textbook. I found it to be a pretty easy read, though there were small parts in the middle that you may gloss over. That's fine. One of my better computer science classes in college was Computer Architecture. Code does an excellent job of covering most the same ground. You'll feel like you could engineer a computer from scratch (if only you had a multimillion-dollar chip factory).
There are a number of other CS book I'd recommend, but they take more effort.