A Few Book Recommendations
I’ve now failed to write a complete issue on three different topics this week, so here’s a lightly cleaned up version of a Twitter thread I wrote a while back by way of apology.
The idea is to recommend specifically pairs of books that go together well, such that if you read both books you’ll get more out of it than reading either. Some of these books are great, some of them I probably wouldn’t recommend without the pairing, but I think all are interesting pairs to read both of.
1. "Ritual and its Consequences" with "Games: Agency as Art".
Both detailed analyses of social technologies (rituals and games) and how people engage with them by essentially suspending the normal complexities of the world within a structure. Would reward detailed comparison.
2. "The Collected Schizophrenias" with Ratcliffe's "Feelings of Being"
Autobiography of someone with schizophrenia paired with a detailed phenomenological analysis of what it's like to be schizophrenic. The latter would be an interesting lens to read the former through.
(<)3. "All About Love" by bell hooks and "About Love" by Josef Pieper.
The reason for the pairing is fairly obvious, but each of these has had significant and distinct impacts on my understanding of love.
(Both are fairly religious and/or spiritual)
4. "The Courage to be Disliked" with "Conflict is not Abuse"
Both books about our emotional relationship with interpersonal conflict. The combination significantly moved the needle on how conflict averse I was, in ways that were very helpful and neither have would on their own.
5. "Finding our Sea-Legs" with "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience"
Nontraditional books about ethics, with a focus on how we experience the world ethically in practice. Even if you know a fair bit about philosophy of ethics, each will probably teach you something.
6. "Experiences of Depression" (Ratcliffe) with "The Emotion Machine" (Minsky)
Detailed phenomenological description of depression and what it's like with a bunch of interesting over-simple mechanical models of the mind. Looking at former through lens of latter was very useful.
7. "Thinking in Bets" with "Games: Agency as Art"
The latter argues that games serve as a kind of "library of agencies" in which we learn different agential modes that we can use to navigate the world. The former is a worked example of doing that with poker.
8. "The Inner Game of Tennis" with "Games: Agency as Art"
Same as (7) but with tennis instead of poker. Also the section on "Competition" in "The Inner Game of Tennis" pairs very well with GAaA's discussion of aesthetic striving play.
9. "Experiences of Depression" with "The Power of Focusing"
Detailed explanation of the subjective experience of depression paired with my current preferred intro book on how to explore your own subjective emotional experience.
10. "Feeding Your Demons" with "Existential Kink"
Both fun and slightly ridiculous self-therapy techniques for getting to the bottom of seemingly intractable emotional blocks. Hard to take seriously, and the better for that. I need to spend more time with each.
11. "Feeding Your Demons" with "Self-Therapy" (Jay Earley)
Self-Therapy is about Internal Family Systems which is like the respectable Western version of Feeding Your Demons. It's better organised, has important features the other lacks, but is less fun and feels less targeted.
12. "Self-Therapy" with "The Emotion Machine"
The Emotion Machine provides a lot of useful mechanistic metaphors for how to think of your mind as organised into independent parts, and Self-Therapy is about how to work with parts of yourself. The former helped me with the latter.
13. "All About Love" with "Feeding Your Demons"
All About Love is about how love allows two people to contribute to each other's spiritual growth. Feeding Your Demons is about how to turn that process on yourself by directing love at neglected parts of yourself.
14. "Feelings of Being" with "Perplexities of Consciousness"
Both are detailed but practical phenomenological studies of the human condition and what it's like to have subjective experience, and how it's much weirder than you might otherwise have expected.
15. "Talking About Machines" with "Two Cheers for Anarchism"
Both teach us interesting and important things about what James C. Scott calls "metis" - embodied practical knowledge about the world - and how it exists in communities.
16. "Perplexities of Consciousness" with "The Power of Focusing"
A significant amount of the former is about expressing scepticism regarding introspection, both naive and trained, while the latter is about how to do introspection. Each a good counterbalance to the other.
17. "How to talk about books you haven't read" with "Domination and the arts of resistance: Hidden Transcripts"
Two extremely different (but complementary) takes on the limitations of encoding knowledge in the written word, and the broader cultural "library" we create.
18. "Domination and the arts of resistance: Hidden Transcripts" with "Epistemic Injustice"
Detailed and complementary discussions of the interplay between power and knowledge - who gets to have the privilege of being able to interact as epistemic equals.
19. "Epistemic Injustice" with "Trans Like Me"
The latter is effectively a detailed first person account of being on the receiving end of a number of the themes of the former, and also includes discussions of epistemic injustices missed out of its taxonomy.
20. "Trans Like Me" with "Rewriting the Rules" (Meg-John Barker)
Pairing because both books contain good discussions of gender from the perspective of a nonbinary author. The former is more autobiographical, the latter a more practical guide that is directly useful to everyone.
21. "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience" with "Self-Therapy"
Odd pairing but a legit one I think. One of Voices's chief metaphors is that of "voices of conscience" who argue amongst themselves. Self-Therapy is good for exploring those arguments.
22. "All About Love" with "Rewriting the Rules"
Both books significantly improved my understanding of relationships, both romantic and friendships, in ways that work well together and more than the sum of their parts.
23. "Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences" with "Seeing Like a State"
Both books about the interaction between the messy reality of humanity and the desire to put us into tidy boxes, and how it interacts with power. Very complementary ideas and examples.
24. "The Inner Game of Tennis" with "Conflict is not Abuse"
The former's chapter on competition pairs very well with the latter. It's tempting to fall into a pattern of being too nice to someone, never trying to "win", but this denies them opportunities to grow.
25. "The Origins of Unfairness" with "The Strategy of Conflict"
Easy pairing. Both are about toy models of positive-sum (i.e. both parties can win) games and what they tell us about human behaviour. Former is about gender, latter about war, but both very informative in general.
26. "The Strategy of Conflict" with "Conflict is not Abuse"
The former helped me have a much more nuanced and interesting view of what conflicts are when reading the latter. Conflicts are anything where goals are misaligned, even when not really "opposed". This happens a lot.
27. "The Origins of Unfairness" with "Sorting Things Out"
Both are about classification schemes as applied to people and how these interact with power. Very different, mostly complementary, takes, with each focusing on different upsides and downsides.
28. "Finding Our Sea-Legs" with "The Courage to be Disliked"
Interesting and quite disparate takes on interpersonal relationships. Not quite sure why I feel this pairing is good, but I feel like a person who internalised both books would be substantially better off for it.
29. "Talking about machines" with "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience"
Latter has lots of detailed discussion about norms and how they evolve in communities, and you can see a lot of this playing out in interesting ways in the technical community of the former.
30. "Seeing Like A State" with "Trans Like Me"
Because literally nobody else will ever suggest this pairing.
Err. That is to say, because I often find the frame of "legibility" extremely useful for understanding the complexities of gender and queerness in general.
31. "Descartes' Error" with "How Emotions Are Made"
I like this pairing because they each have interesting and different things to say about the role of emotions, are by respectable neuroscientists, and profoundly disagree with each other about the feeling/emotion distinction.
32. "Descartes' Error" with "The Emotion Machine"
I find the latter a useful set of metaphors to reason about the more biologically informed information presented in the former. Helped me connect it up to actually practical material.
33. "How Emotions are Made" with "The Power of Focusing"
One of the core arguments of former is that precisely labelling our emotional states is very powerful for improving our experience of the world. The latter is a detailed guide on how to do that.
34. "How Emotions are Made" with "An Invitation to Personal Construct Psychology"
Similar reasons but different toolkit: Latter is about how our emotions derive from how we frame the world, and how we can use reframing to improve our experience.
35. "An Invitation to Personal Construct Psychology" with "Rewriting the Rules"
Very overlapping themes. Former is much more about the psychological theory, latter lots of worked details about how to apply it to your life in specific (especially relational) contexts.
36. "The Righteous Mind" with "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience"
Former is about people's actual moral intuitions, latter is about how those develop. I find the former's model unconvincing but the examples are very interesting and illustrate latter well.
37. "Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" with "Self-Therapy"
Feels like a very complementary set of tools - each can involve investigating "inner children" parts of your mind and pouring love on them.
38. Also "Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" with "The Power of Focusing" in that you should read the latter before the former because I don't think the former adequately teaches the relevant skillset.
39. "Talking about machines" with "Sorting Things Out"
Each of these have interesting things to say about the interactions of technical communities with those outside those communities, and containing complexity. Not totally sure about this one but it feels interesting.
40. "Thinking in Bets" with "Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgement"
I think of these as "The good books about technical rationality". Both overly naive about its limitations, but articulate the viewpoint well and are worth reading for that.
41. "Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgement" with "Talking About Machines"
The former has a lot of stuff about how experts are really unwilling to adopt simple rules that outperform their expet judgement. You'll understand why they do that better by reading latter.
42. "Existential Kink" with "A Little Book on the Human Shadow"
Both good books about the shadow (in the Jungian sense) and how to navigate it. Somewhat overlapping, somewhat complimentary, stylistically and aesthetically *incredibly* distinctive.
43. "A Little Book on the Human Shadow" with "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience"
Another weird pairing but one I feel quite strongly works. The former is much more enlightening when read through the lens of the latter's discussion of norm acquisition.
(Going to pause for a bit to go do other things, but will resume later)
44. "Two Cheers for Anarchism" with "Democracy in Small Groups"
The latter is a very good cold shower for when reading too much Scott makes you want to to throw everything in and go start an intentional community with all your friends.
45. "Democracy in Small Groups" with "The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures"
The latter has a lot of really good models for how to arrange people in small groups for a variety of purposes, which is interesting to contrast with the near free-for-all of the former.
46. "The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures" with "Games: Agency as Art"
The discussion of differing agential structures and multiplayer games in the latter sheds a lot of light on the tools of the former, which can be thought of as game design applied to meetings.
47. "How to talk about books you haven't read" with "How to read a book"
Partly because the pairing is funny, and partly because they describe two very different relationships with books that I think it's useful to be able to fluidly switch between.
48. "Models: Attract Women Through Honesty" with "Rewriting the Rules"
Two very different takes on dating and relationships, both good in their own ways - the former is very cishet male (but I unironically think it's very good), the latter very queer. Both valuable perspectives.
49. "100 ways to improve your writing" with "Style: Towards Clarity and Grace"
Two books about a particular style of writing (plain, fairly practical and technical, but with a journalistic focus). The former is a great lead in to the latter and much better to dip into.
50. "Style: Towards Clarity and Grace" with "Clear and Simple as the Truth"
Two books about different writing styles (the former more workmanlike, the latter more rhetorical), with the latter providing a good set of tools for reasoning about different styles and when to use them
51. "Clear and Simple as the Truth" with "Orality and Literacy".
The latter discusses the fundamental differences between spoken and written communication, and how this affects the way people think. Ties in well with the former's comparison of spoken and written rhetoric.
52. "Orality and Literacy" with "Conflict is not Abuse"
A recurring theme of the latter is how "flat" written communication is compared to oral, and how many conflicts are escalated by trying to have them in textual form, when a phone call or face to face would defuse them.
53. "About Love" (Pieper) with "Anam Cara"
Both very Christian (indeed, both Catholic) discussions of the nature of love, which are almost completely unlike each other. The former is very philosophical discussion, the latter more poetic oratory. Each have quite different focuses
54. "Anam Cara" with "Models: Attract Women Through Honesty"
This is a ridiculous pairing which makes no sense, but I stand by it. The justification for it is something like "Positive visions of confident masculinity".
55. "Never Split the Difference" with "The Customer Service Survival Kit"
Social skills learned in two very different scenarios - hostage negotiation (high power, high stakes) and customer service (low power, low stakes until not). Very interesting to compare and contrast.
56. "The Customer Service Survival Kit" with "Nonviolent Communication"
Feels like a lot of overlap between the two styles, with the latter teaching you a lot about how to communicate your needs. The former feels much more practical. Suspect the two synthesise well.
57. "Nonviolent Communication" with "Self-Therapy"
I'm pretty -1 on NVC as a way to talk to people in general (I think it's very useful in some circumstances, but as a set of norms it's a disaster), but talking to parts of yourself seems like an excellent use case for it.
58. "Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters" with "Behind Human Error"
Two books on safety critical systems and how people behave within them. The former is riveting, the latter is... not. However the latter is very useful, and the former helps enjoy it.
59. "Behind Human Error" with "Talking About Machines"
Both contain important discussions of technical expert communities and how they interact with the world and other people, each describing an important piece of the puzzle.
60. "Nonviolent Communication" with "The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures"
NVC is best thought of as a particular mode of conversation that you can adopt, and I think in that regard designing group structures around it and similar has a lot of interesting potential.
61. "Clear and Simple as the Truth" with "Learn to Write Badly: How to Succeed in the Social Sciences"
The latter can be thought of as a book about how people weaponise the work of the former, by adopting writing styles that obfuscate your point to impress and deflect criticism.
62. "Learn to Write Badly" with "How to talk about books you haven't read"
Bit of an eccentric pairing, but I kinda like the latter as a guide for navigating a world which is rife with the former. If people write "important" books that are not worth reading, why read them?
63. "Orality and Literacy" with "Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts"
Former is about the difference between oral and literary cultures, the latter about how oral cultures spring up in marginalised populations within literary cultures to protect themselves.
64. "The Shock of the Old" with "Seeing Like a State"
Each about projecting simplifying narratives onto a messy world - the latter about the destruction of that messiness, the former about how new messiness arises on top of the order in order to allow it to function.
65. "The Shock of the Old" with "Talking About Machines"
Both about cultures of maintenance of technical artifacts, with interesting things to say about how ad hoc they have to be and how they tend to depart from the tidy "scientific" realities that occur in service manuals.
66. "Never Split the Difference" with "The Strategy of Conflict"
Many of the tactics in the former fit well with the theory of the latter, in particular they often rely on credibly removing options from yourself so that your opponent can't rely on you caving to demands.
67. "The Shock of the Old" with "The Economy of Cities"
Both have interesting things to say about the intimate connection between maintenance and production. The former is very detailed as to what happens, the latter contains interesting high level thought experiments.
68. "The Economy of Cities" and "Against the Grain" (James C. Scott)
Both talk about the early history of cities and the development of agriculture. The former mostly through fun thought experiments, the latter through actual history. The contrast is interesting and informative.
69. "Unfuck your Habitat" with "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"
Books about tidying with a focus on the emotional dynamics of it. Very different approaches, each informative about a different set of emotions. Former much more practical, but latter adds important details.
70. "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" with "The Power of Focusing"
Figuring out if something sparks joy or not (the central thing of Marie Kondo's method) is a Focusing skill, and learning each helps you be better at the other.
71. "The Year of Reading Dangerously" with "How to Read a Book"
The former is about how to actually read books, in that it's the author's personal journey from having lost the habit to regaining it. This is a good combo for learning how to relate to reading.
72. "The Year of Reading Dangerously" with "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up"
The former covers a lot about one's personal relationship with books, the latter tells you to throw away most of your books. I think it's a useful pair of books to let fight it out in your head.
73. "Identity and Violence" (Sen) with "Rewriting the Rules"
The former has some very good discussion about how identity works and the role of choice in your identity that I think meshes well with the latter's discussion of how to examine the rules that you live by.
74. "How Emotions are Made" with "The Book of Human Emotions"
One of the key arguments of the former is that we can improve our emotional health by developing better emotional vocabulary. The latter is an encyclopaedia of emotions, so is the book you want for that.
75. "Work, Leisure, and the American Schools" with "Leisure: The Basis of Culture"
Books about the relationship between work and leisure, and why we are bad at leisure. Different takes which complement well. Slightly disagree with each other but mostly by using words differently
76. "Leisure: The Basis of Culture" with "Ritual and its Consequences"
A significant component of the former is the importance of the role of ritual celebration in daily life. The latter helps understand that better separated from its more religious-embedded context.
77. "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience" with "Intelligent Virtue" (Annas)
The former is all but a book about practical virtue ethics but never actually says the words, so it pairs well with a good book about virtue ethics. Latter is my current favourite.
78. "The Limits of Organization" (Arrow) with "The Strategy of Conflict"
Something of an ad hoc pairing. Both very good and clear books by economists that significantly reshaped how I think about a lot of social behaviour.
79. "Schadenfreude" (Tiffany Watt-Smith) with "The Book of Human Emotions"
Both are books by Tiffany Watt-Smith doing detailed explorations of specific emotions. In all honesty Schadenfreude is the much better of the two (I really like it), but the other has much more breadth.
80. "Schadenfreude" with "Conflict is not Abuse"
Latter is about how it's OK to make people uncomfortable sometimes. Pairs well with the former for a kind of synthesis of "And also you're allowed to enjoy it..."
(You shouldn't do that too much but the correct amount isn't none)
81. "Talking About Machines" with "The Best-Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review"
Bit vague on this one. Something about communication in technical communities? Each have a different piece of the puzzle. Certainly I'd recommend the former to anyone who I'd recommend the latter to.
82. "The Best-Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review" with "The Customer Service Survival Kit"
Communication skills learned in professional contexts. Also the latter is probably a good skill set for code review, especially for being on the receiving end of bad reviewers TBH.
83. "cPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" with "The Body Keeps the Score"
The latter is probably a good intro book to this space. Not a lot of useful content but somehow points your brain in the right direction anyway. Useful to contrast cPTSD with "standard" PTSD.
84. "Against the Grain" with "Debt: The First 5000 Years"
Fairly obvious pairing - both a mix of history and social commentary by anarchist-adjacent people. If you like one you'll likely like the other.
85. "Debt: The First 5000 Years" with "The Undercover Economist"
Feels like a nice pairing for contrasts - the latter is a very approachable book by an economist that makes a strong "Markets are good, actually" case if you're feeling a bit bleak after the former.
86. "The Undercover Economist" with "The Limits of Organization"
Both economists looking at society through an economic lens, both short and very approachable. Latter is shorter and more insightful, former has broader scope, but if you like one you'll probably like the other.
87. "Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience" with "Work, Leisure, and the American Schools"
Same author 30ish years apart. It's interesting to do a compare and contrast, and they're complementary themes.
(NB. The latter is almost impossible to find)
88. "Feelings of Being" with "Experiences of Depression"
Same author using the same toolkit to look at two different categories of mental health problems. You don't *need* to read both, but I got a more complete understanding of what he was talking about by having done so.
I'm running out of steam a bit. I think I can make it to 100, but I'll definitely be taking to my option to stop around there.
89. "Two Cheers for Anarchism" with "Rules for Radicals"
Not quite sure how to justify this one. They feel like they fit together somehow and have a significant overlapping target audience. Quite different themes though.
90. "Rules for Radicals" with "The Dictator's Handbook"
Interesting explorations of political power and influence and how they work, from quite different angles.
91. "The Dictator's Handbook" with "The Strategy of Conflict"
It feels like some of the specific explorations of power dynamics and conflicting interests in the former would be well read in the light of the technical tools of the latter. I haven't actually tried doing this.
92. "Experiences of Depression" with "Illness" (Havi Carel)
Both books that are in some sense "practical phenomenology", focusing on how (respectively mental and physical) illness affect lived experience. Usefully complementary.
93. "Illness" with "Exuberant Animal"
Two *very* different books about embodiment and the experience of being a physical being made out of meat. Interesting to do a compare and contrast.
94. "The Inner Game of Tennis" with "Mindfulness in 3D"
Part of an Alexander technique adjacent cluster. Both of these provide good ways of thinking about your mind and body and how they interact, and feel quite complementary (also author of latter recommended former to me).
95. "Mindfulness in 3D" with "How you stand, how you move, how you live"
Former is how to think about Alexander technique, latter is a much more practical manual for how to use it to improve movement.
(You probably need a teacher, but reading it is better than nothing)
96. "How you stand, how you move, how you live" with "Exuberant Animal"
Both books about movement and how it integrates into your life. Very different philosophical backgrounds and themes, but feels like they have a valuable synthesis between them.
97. "Identity and Violence" with "Epistemic Injustice"
Both expose you to ways of reasoning about identity and its impact that you won't necessarily have picked up on from mainstream feminism and other theory. Some mild synthesis around how we reason about identity.
98. "Intelligent Virtue" with "On Virtue Ethics" (Hursthouse)
Fairly obvious pairing. Read the former, then if you want to know more about virtue ethics more broadly read the latter, as the former argues a fairly narrow case for a specific conception of virtue.
99. "Models" with "100 Truths You Will Learn Too Late"
Both feel like books by similar authors for similar target audiences, though with very different focuses, that people outside that audience will still find useful.
(I also don't fully endorse claims of either)
100. "Models" with "Sexual Consent" (Popova)
Honestly because I think people who are a bit too into the former book would probably benefit from the latter book as a counterbalance. Models itself is fine (though the first edition is a bit PUA), but handled badly could go badly.
We've now reached the 100 tweet mark and I'm going to take a break. I might add some more, but I'm probably not going to make it to the full 195 (😬) and counting. Here's the current state of play.
101. "Reliable Reasoning: Induction and Statistical Learning Theory" with "Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgement"
An epistemology plus Science! pairing. Both useful takes on how good reasoning works as informed by hybridising epistemology with other fields.
102. "The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia" with "Games: Agency as Art"
Straightforward pairing: The former is the foundation text for the latter. I read the latter then the former, but the other way around might be better.
103. "100 ways to improve your writing" with "The Communication Book: 44 Ideas for Better Conversations Every Day"
Both good flick through books with tips on how to improve your communication skills, one written, one spoken.
104. "The Communication Book" with "The Customer Service Survival Kit"
Both worth reading for practically informed verbal communication skills.
Side note: I probably wouldn't recommend all of these books individually without more context. e.g. the communication book is fun but it's definitely not something where you need to rush out and buy this book. But sometimes books work well in a pairing even if they're only OK.
105. "The Meme Machine" with "Where Good Ideas Come From"
Both books about applying evolutionary thinking to ideas / language / concepts / etc. Both poked my thinking in very useful ways (though the former partly because I was 18), although should be read well salted.
106. "Where Good Ideas Come From" with "Wonderful Life" (Gould)
Because it's good to pair the former with a book about actual evolutionary biology, and the latter has a lot of interesting things to reflect on when applied to ideas as well as to life.
107. "Wonderful Life" with "The Crucible of Creation"
Because it's interesting to pair a book with another book that is directly an assassination of it. I think I end up coming down on the side of "Wonderful Life" but also I'm not actually competent to resolve that debate.
108. "Where Good Ideas Come From" with "Lateral Thinking" (de Bono)
Both useful books for thinking about creativity - the former is about how it works in general, the latter more directly practical, but the combination works well for putting breadth of former into practice.
109. "Lateral Thinking" with "Six Thinking Hats" (also de Bono)
The former is the much better book, the latter is worth a skim after reading the former. Cannot (unless you're de Bono) and should not be taken seriously, but has some useful themes and directions.
110. "Six Thinking Hats" with "The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures"
One of the reasons the former is worth reading is that it has a bunch of useful thoughts on how to explicitly take on different cognitive roles in meetings, so it pairs well with LS for meeting design.
111. "Where Good Ideas Come From" with "The Shock of the Old"
The latter is a good counterbalance to the innovation-centric former, but also the former's toolkit of reasoning (e.g. the platforms stuff) very helpful for looking at cultures of maintenance in the latter.
112. "Shock of the Old" with "Atomic Accidents"
Thinking about cultures of maintenance and long lived technology seems interesting and useful in the context of nuclear power plants, though I've not actually done a detailed comparison of the two myself.
113. "Models" with "Masculinities" (Connell)
I'd recommend both to anyone trying to understand masculinity better (especially, but not exclusively, men). Former more practical (it's a dating book), latter more academic. Both interesting, though I fully endorse neither.
114. "The Book of Human Emotions" with "Daring Greatly" (Brene Brown)
For if detailed explorations of human emotions are your thing. Latter is largely about guilt and shame - it's quite annoying, but also fairly short and contains some very useful bits.
115. "Daring Greatly" with "Existential Kink"
Because the pairing is funny and the authors have *deeply* disparate views on the subject of shame that it's probably useful to let duke it out in your head.
116. "Lateral Thinking" with "The Art of Creative Thinking" (Judkins)
Slightly annoying but useful books about creativity. The former is about the skillset, the latter is more of a thing for flicking through for ideas and different sketches of useful features.
117. "Finite and Infinite Games" with "The Grasshopper: Life, Games, and Utopia"
If you enjoyed the former you will also enjoy the latter, and in doing so you will possibly understand why I don't like the former.
(I don't recommend this pairing unless you'd already read former)
118. "The Grasshopper" with "Leisure: The Basis of Culture"
Distinct and differently interesting takes on the nature of leisure and what distinguishes it from work.
119. "Leisure: The Basis of Culture" with "Ritual and its Consequences"
The former's conception of leisure is I think well understood by looking at it through the lens provided by the latter. In particular its notion of ilinx.
120. "Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies" with "Existential Kink"
Both books about how to use sexuality as a guiding tool for figuring out other emotional problems. Both a weird mix of insight and nonsense. Complementary insights and toolkits.
121. "Come As You Are" (Nagoski) with "Arousal"
Complementary books about sexuality. Former is much more targeted at women, but covers a lot more territory. Latter is about a specific problem but provides some missing puzzle pieces.
(Both are kinda annoying in different ways)
And here is a graph of all of the books and how they connect up (you’ll probably have to open the image in a separate tab to be able to read it):
I was keeping track of this graph as I went, so the fact that they all connect up is somewhat deliberately engineered, but even so there weren’t too many nonfiction books I rate that I felt unable to recommend because I couldn’t connect.
Lucy Keer has also done a similar graph of texts, though hers includes a lot of links rather than just books (this is a good idea).
I’m really glad I did this exercise - I feel like I significantly improved the degree to which my knowledge fit together by doing so - and I’d kinda recommend most people who read a nontrivial amount do the same.
I’d also recommend you read some of the specific books I recommended of course, but no rush. There are quite a lot of them.