All of these books are exceptional, for which I consider myself lucky to have read them and to be in the midst of friends who continue to provide a steady stream of recommendations. The ones that truly expanded my thinking at the time of reading are highlighted in blue.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.”
– George R.R. Martin

  1. The Harry Potter series by Joanne Kathleen Rowling

  2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  3. The Martian by Andy Weir

  4. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman

  5. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

  6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

  7. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

  8. The Most Human Human by Brian Christian

    A record of Brian Christian’s experiences in his quest for the prize of the interlocutor voted to be the human most times in the 2009 Turing Test. He thoroughly explores a deeper question of what our philosophical, biological, neurological, moral, linguistic traits are that set us apart from our artificial counterparts.

  9. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

  10. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

  11. The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler & Robin Hanson

    By far one of the most (almost depressingly) influential books I’ve read in a while. Operates at an extreme density of insights / reality-check moments on a spectrum of topics from everyday life – art, charity, politics, education, religion, medicine, etc.

    Chapters follow a simple framework – begin with observations of usual human activities (going to school / voting in elections / taking medicines, etc.), then describe why people think they do what they do (to get educated / to elect effective leaders / to keep healthy, etc.), then point out obvious loopholes in how activities don’t align with stated goals, and finally propose an alternative causal hidden motive that explains behavior better than the publicly stated one.

    You might or might not like what’s said, but the observations of lack of alignment between stated motives and behavior do help build an accurate world model.

Have a recommendation? Let me know!