What books have made you a better person?

This post is largely an aggregation of some conversation on twitter that I want to preserve for posterity and share with a wider audience.

Yesterday I asked:

Question: What books have you read that you’d say improved you as a human being? (Ethically, rationally, creatively, whatever),
I’m aware that’s a bloody hard question. I’m not sure I can answer it.

Here are the responses, in roughly chronological order.

  • @alexjs: 1984 taught me at an early age to question misinformation. HHGTG taught me that ignorance can be even better…
  • @mdreid: Singer’s How Are We To Live. DFW’s Infinite Jest. Feynman’s QED. Mandelbrot’s Fractal Geometry of Nature. Coetzee’s Youth.
  • @etorreborre: I think it was this one: http://amzn.to/kl9Mjv (psychology)
  • @davidpeto: American Psycho.
  • @riffraff: excluding others already suggested, “King Solomon’s Ring” by konrad lorenz, taught me “human” behaviour is not so human after all
  • @wgren: Stephen J Gould – “The Mismeasure of Man”. Charles Stross – “Accelerando”. Carl Sagan – “The Demon Haunted World”.
  • @newsmary: In that case, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! tends to be the first one I recommend to storytellers.
  • @illyrica: I Fought the Law, Dan Kieran. Chinese Whispers, Hsiao-Hung Pai. Contingency Irony & Solidarity, Richard Rorty
  • @cemenzel: 1984; The Demon-Haunted World; The God Delusion. None really changed me much, but made me more aware.
  • @lordcope: Full Catastrophe Living; Getting Things Done; The Little Schemer; Crucial Confrontations; 7 Habits; Getting to Yes.
  • @reyhan: Neuromancer and The Adventures of Endill Swift
  • @channingwalton: zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, Tao te Ching,Timeless Way of Building (look at things differently)
  • @jarhart: Working backward – Learn You A Haskell; Sex, Ecology Spirituality; No Limit Hold ‘Em Theory And Practice; Rich Dad, Poor Dadu
  • @wgren: Also- Diamond: “Collapse”. Wright: “Remembering Satan”. And ofc 1984, Brave New World, Postman: “Amusing ourselves to Death”
  • @toluju: Not sure if it’s been mentioned, but Sophie’s World has a pretty big effect on me.
  • @kssreeram: “If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland. More than just writing, that book is about self-expression and creativity.
  • @DanielJMaxwell: Domain Driven Design by @ericevans0. It looks technical but really it’s about communication. Every human being should read it.
  • @dylanbeattie: ‘Chess for Young Beginners’ – the book that taught me that you can learn things from books. I can remember every page vividly.
  • @dylanbeattie: Chaos (Gleick). Every Rough Guide I ever read. Andrew Martin’s “How To Get Things Really Flat”, the first Dirk Gently novel…
  • @obs3sd: To Kill A Mockingbird has stuck with me for over 30 years
  • @dylanbeattie: …and Leonard da Vries Book of Experiments. Neuromancer. Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. Does the Jargon File count?
  • @paraseba: If “Les Misérables” doesn’t improve you, I bet you’re a statue
  • @runarorama: Ethically: Getting Things Done. The Virtue of Selfishness. Hávamál. And of course The Nicomachean Ethics.
  • @palfrey: Godel, Escher and Bach
  • @dcsobral: The Players of Null-A, Hellspark

Feel free to add more answers in the comments.

Myself, I still don’t have a good answer. But maybe when I’ve got through the above list I will.

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