Better than cake: books, articles, and more food for thought

Some other eyes will look around, and find the things I’ve never found. — Malvina Reynolds

For my birthday last week, I asked my Facebook friends for links to things they would recommend. These could be books, movies, articles, cat GIFs, or anything else. The motivation behind this was twofold. First, I was curious as to what I would be sent, since I consider my friends to be intelligent and perceptive people. Second, one of my goals for 2017 is to become more well-read, and I wanted to build a repertoire of material that helps me along with that goal.

The responses were a delightful grab bag of everything from webcomics to short stories to book recommendations. I’ve compiled the list of everything that was shared with me, where the author was comfortable with public sharing.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a note, a recommendation, or a link.


In no particular order…

  1. What was Gay? by J. Bryan Lowder.
  2. The days are long but the decades are short by Sam Altman. This recommended to me twice, from people I respect very much. I’ve read it in the past and had it bookmarked for some time now. Highly recommend the read.
  3. The Egg by Andy Weir: an insightful short story about the circular nature of life and humanity.
  4. Beat Generosity Burnout by Adam Grant and Reb Rebele.
  5. What I Wish I’d Known About Equity Before Joining A Unicorn, suggested by a friend who presently works at an early stage startup.
  6. To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. “It’s a good look into voluntourism.”


In no particular order…

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. “Not because you should clean up more! What I found really interesting was how it described a philosophy of life, maybe not one I want to follow absolutely, but reading about Marie’s philosophy inspired me to think about my own philosophy and how I want to live.”
  2. Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness by Epictetus.
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
  4. Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull. Otherwise known as the Pixar book. I’ve read this and it not only references the Pixar films we know and love, it also imparts insightful information about leading and motivating teams.
  5. The Code Book by Simon Singh. “For cryptography history.”
  6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.
  7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
  8. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall R. Rosenberg. I’ve been thinking about methods of effective communication lately, which puts this book at the top of my to-read list.
  9. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks.
  10. The Codebreakers by David Kahn.
  11. Six of Crows by Lauren Bardugo.
  12. Buffering by Hannah Hart.
  13. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien.
  14. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang.
  15. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss.
  16. The Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam.
  17. Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss.
  18. The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier. “I thought I’d share something that’s a bit more academic but nonetheless impactful to my perception of the world. This is the book that got me really interested in economics and I think feeling an obligation towards helping the poor of the world gives life a lot more meaning.”
  19. To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis.
  20. Grit by Angela Duckworth.
  21. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.
  22. Sleep Smarter by Sara Gottfried.
  23. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.
  24. Influencer by Kerry Patterson.
  25. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.
  26. Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.
  27. The Martian by Andy Weir. “The book is funnier imo.”
  28. Peak by Anders Erikson.
  29. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.


  1. What’s the most important thing to do in your 20s? A Quora post about lessons learned in people’s 20s.
  2. A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic.
  3. The Mask You Live In: a documentary that “follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.”
  4. This hilarious YouTube video.
  5. Mr. Money Moustache. From what I’ve gathered, this is a blog about “money, and the freedom it can give you. Freedom from worry, and freedom from most forms of bullshit.
  6. The Smarter Every Day YouTube channel.
  7. A cat GIF!
  8. Two dog GIFs.
  9. These words: “It’s not a mistake to fall in love with someone. Yes, it will hurt when you break up. Eat the foods you like. Spend time with friends. Make new friends. Go outside, even if you don’t feel like it right now, because you might change your mind once you’re there.”
  10. And these: “Trying to cope with emotions with rationality is not usually the best path for me.”
  11. Sanjay Gupta’s UMich 2012 commencement speech.
  12. Loading cat.
  13. Much Ado About Nothing (the Joss Whedon movie and the original play script).
  14. “Habits are powerful and easy to acquire.”
  15. “Make the most of every opportunity, don’t slack off in school, explore interests and topics and root yourself in a few that you love — although life is short, it’s better to pick stuff and decide and move onward and become the best you can truly be at something, than it is to spend time pursuing things without resolve and en cup being mediocre. Find your place in the world for now, and enjoy the time. And more importantly, give back and help others and build friendships — they stay on regardless of what age you are. The good ones at least.”