Books & MOOCs I recommend

NONFICTION BOOKS I FINISHED IN 2017:

Serge Faguet
Jan 25, 2018 · 4 min read
  • Behave by Robert Sapolsky — neuroscience of human decisions and in-particular a lot about the interplay between amygdala and pre-frontal cortex.
  • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark — explores concepts like what “intelligence” “memory” and “consciousness” are at a laws-of-physics level, and convincingly argues that these can be recreated in many different substrates.
  • Free Will by Sam Harris — convincingly argues that free will does not exist. Persuaded me.
  • Lying by Sam Harris — explains that you can and should always tell the truth (like really, always, including never telling kids Santa exists, and never holding back if asked “do I look fat in this dress?”). I adopted this as a habit.
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli — fun, light discussion of interesting concepts in physics.
  • Waking Up by Sam Harris — excellent book on meditation.
  • The Universal Laws of Life and Death and Scale by Geoffrey West — a discussion of universal patterns found in the world. For example that dynamic systems (cities, lungs, companies) tend to evolve as fractals because that happens to be the most efficient way for them to be.
  • Body By Science by Doug McGuff — very good primer on the biochemistry of exercise. Lots of the right ideas.
  • The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene — great book on quantum mechanics and string theory. Was definitely a mental challenge to understand everything, but I feel it left me smarter.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight — cool story of someone who started a cool company
  • Driverless by Hod Lipson — very smart discussion of the implications of driverless cars for society. For example — falling real estate prices in city centers because it will be easier to access and have less need for roads and parking.
  • Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini — I am not sure I have ever read a book that had greater impact on how to be persuasive.
  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker — truly excellent overview of sleep that made me feel I should pay even more attention to it than I already did.
  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely — lots of examples that clearly show humans are irrational to the core.
  • Win Bigly by Scott Adams — excellent book on persuasion with Donald Trump as a case study.
  • Hooked by Nir Eyal — great book on psychology as specifically applied to designing highly addictive products.
  • Head Strong by Dave Asprey — has some interesting ideas around intelligence enhancement

FICTION BOOKS FINISHED IN 2017:

  • The Nexus Trilogy by Ramez Naan — one of the best sci-fi I ever read. Focuses on near-term future and the promise of neuro-modification technology.
  • The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss — great fantasy, consistently rated as one of the best ever.
  • Permutation City by Greg Egan — another awesome sci-fi.
  • The Quantum Thief Trilogy — very unusual sci-fi about a radically different humanity after the Singularity and an explosion in picotechnology.

BOOKS PARTIALLY FINISHED:

  • Principles by Ray Dalio — brilliant overview of life principles of one of the world’s most successful investors.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer — basically a historical book about how humanity discovered more and more about this fascinating flaw of our DNA-based architecture.
  • Life at The Speed of Light by Craig Venter — history and future of genetics.
  • Rationality by Eliezer Yudkovsky — a crazy-long collection of various intelligent essays from LessWrong
  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss — a collection of advice from a lot of smart people.
  • Hyperspace by Michio Kaku — old but interesting discussion of progress in particle physics.
  • Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku — interesting discussion of the future of neuroscience.
  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams — interesting autobiograpy and life advice from the creator of Dilbert

Plus there were a bunch of books I didn’t like enough to include on this list.

MOOCs FINISHED IN 2017:

MOOCs IN PROGRESS:

  • Stanford — Intro to Mathematical Thinking — if you are like me and feel like an idiot when you see something like [ (∀x)(∀² > 0)(∃δ > 0)(∀y) ³ |x − y| < δ =⇒ |f(x) − f(y)| < ² ] written online, take this class. Easy and interesting, changed how I think about math. https://www.coursera.org/learn/mathematical-thinking
  • Technion — Nanotechnology — terrible professor and really really hard material, but I haven’t found any other classes that help understand what nanotech is actually about today https://www.coursera.org/learn/nanotechnology1
  • Stanford — Algorithms — quite hard for me, but interesting way to learn more about real computer science.

    Serge Faguet

    Written by

    Founder of Mirror AI, Ostrovok, TokBox. Stanford GSB, Cornell, YCombinator, Google alum. Extreme biohacker. Born in Siberia. Live all over the world.

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