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Reading List Updates, end November '10

Just finished:

Think and Grow Rich: A marvelous book, but I was having a hard time finishing it. Then I realized - the last three chapters are pretty much fluff that repeat points already covered. I skimmed the last three chapters... it starts very strong, ends weak, but I'm happy it's finally done.

The Alchemist: What a masterpiece by Paolo Cuehlo. Read it in one day, couldn't put it down. Got me thinking a lot... lots of great quick ways to think, quick heuristics and mantras in there. Really wonderful short little book with some great lessons.

If I Did It: I read OJ Simpson's autobiography on a whim when I saw a copy. It's a weird book. It's about a guy trying to be a decent husband and having his marriage fall apart. Then he kills his wife. Oh, and it's OJ Simpson, and the most famous trial/legal story of the last 20 years. Weird to read the guy's perspective... it's weird in how surreal and normal it is. A famous guy marries a beautiful 18 year old girl but they don't have a really deep or mature connection. She doesn't take well to money and stability, gets unhappy, starts acting kind of crazy in the marriage. OJ acts crazy in response. They divorce. Then he keeps hearing her partying around town and doing drugs, flips out, and kills her. Weird reading it in his own words - I lived in Los Angeles for awhile, and the first part read like a fairly normal L.A. story with a rich, famous guy making a bad choice in a young beautiful woman without much depth or character. Then it gets kind of crazy at the end. It wasn't sad so much as weird. It's sureally normal in parts, and then ends with... well, you know. I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to read it, but it's interesting for a few hours if you get a chance.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: Eliezer Yudkowsky's fanfiction is exceptionally good. If you're a reader of LessWrong at all, you'll love it. If not, you still might like it. He wrote it in "serialized" format where each chapter is a mostly self-contained adventure with plot arc, and then a cohesive whole. It works well, reads well, lots of good insights. He didn't really hit his stride and tone until chapter 15 to 20... if you like Yudkowsky's normal writing, give it until chapter 20. Trust me on this - Eliezer sets up a lot of backstory and forces some humor in the early chapters, and the tone isn't quite smooth... still good, but then wow, it kicks into overdrive around chapter 20 and it's just a page-turning must-read. It's free online at fanfiction.com and you can also find pdf compilations with some googling.

The book explains it better

On Megan Clark

Each time I finish a book, I want to tell someone else about it. Typically that someone else is my husband because, well, he's often in the same room. At the start of these conversations, I tend to be very high energy, rattling quotes and ideas off the top of my head that seemingly have no connection to one another. I get increasingly flustered because I'm horrible at talking and my husband is good at poking holes in everything. By the end, I usually find myself exasperatedly saying, "The book explains it better," as I slink off to lick my wounds.

Needless to say, our book conversations are rarely as rewarding as we hope, but then I had an idea. Well, Sarah Bessey had an idea and I shamelessly stole it. We should make a 2014 reading list for one another. We initially decided to each pick 6 books for the other to read and 6 books to read ourselves; this later changed to picking 7 books for the other and 5 books for ourselves, but the result is the same--one book per month.

Nate was extremely methodical about the books he picked for me. He can give you all sorts of reasons that fit together nicely explaining why he chose the books he did, and if you're interested in that sort of thing, you can read them here.

I, on the other hand, am not a very methodical person (see first paragraph). I don't have one uniting cause for my book choices to gather around. I chose my personal book assignments for a number of reasons listed below, and I picked my books for Nate for one of three reasons: It changed me, It entertained me, It comforted me. So, without further adieu:

Books I assigned to myself:

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