Introduce yourself, antilibrarian friends!

Welcome Kyle! Thanks for the book recs, I haven’t read any of these.

Definitely checking out “The Happy Reader” as well, looks great. Physical thing in the mail…nice! Love the look of the format w/ interview + thematic articles. Gonna try a subscription and order the latest issue which looks great (Laurie Anderson / Frankenstein).

This sounds super interesting, would love to hear more detail on what you’re thinking of and chat more about this, I think I can dig up some good links to share…feel free to start as a new topic here!

Hi all :wave:. I’ve meant to introduce myself months ago but never quite got around to it. My name is Kyle, I live in the Bronx and I love going for long walks around my neighborhood while listening to music or podcasts.

A couple of my favorite books:

  • Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman: If I recall correctly I think this was mentioned by others. I really enjoyed reading this one, it was a book that I just could not put down. I quite amused to learn how obsessed Feynman was about breaking into locked rooms and cabinets in Los Alamos laboratory.
  • How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming: This was a pretty quick and easy read but it was a lot of fun about how Pluto was demoted from planetary status. I liked the glimpse of what it was like to work in astronomy at Caltech.

Anti-library picks:

  • Educated by Tara Westover. This is an autobiography about a woman who managed to escape an extremely controlling, conservative and uneducated lifestyle in Mormon Utah. She eventually managed to get into college and get a PhD in history.
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Hey Kyle thanks for joining!

Cool, hadn’t heard of this one but looks very interesting. Another astronomy / pop-sci one I enjoyed is Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars, about the history of searching for exoplants and possible extraterrestrial life/intelligence.

This looks pretty good as well! Now I’m wondering what other good learning / education-themed memoirs are out there…I guess the Autobiography of Ben Franklin might fit the bill. Feynman too to some extent.

Hey y’all! I’m Jared! I don’t really live anywhere properly at the moment, but I do spend a lot of time in Brooklyn and Dubai. I work on a project called fathom building decentralized tools for learning.

Fav books: Invisible Cities, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Ender’s Game, Deschooling Society, Mindstorms

Antilibrary: Thinking in Systems: A Primer has been sitting on my kindle for ages. Surfing Uncertainty by Andy Clark has been on my bookself for a while, and I very occasionally take stabs at it.

I’m excited to talk about book s and how people learn with and from them. “how people learn” is my big guiding interest at this point in time and drives a lot of my interests :stuck_out_tongue:.

Also! I’m soon getting a kobo after many many years of professing my love of my kindle. Kobo’s are pretty open systems, and store all the metadata for your books (like annotations, highlights, etc) in a simple database file that you can pull off and read. I want to build a system to pull my annotations from there and publish them to my website and anywhere else I want to! If anyone has any other ideas for things I could build to integrate with an e-reader, lemme know!

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Hey Jared, welcome! Lots of great books there in your faves list :slight_smile: Not familiar with Surfing Uncertainty but seems very interesting, will check it out.

Maybe we can start a topic specifically for sharing / discussing good books about learning, I’m very interested in that topic as well and would love to swap some recs + share a few from my antilibrary.

Curious to hear your experience with the Kobo. I knew it was a more open ecosystem just by nature of being ~not Amazon~ but didn’t know it made all the book/reading data more accessible as well. I’d love to learn more about the possibilities there…may have to get one myself! Maybe we can make a topic about exploring web + e-reader integrations + open reading data. @tomcritchlow has been doing some cool experiments on his site with annotations, personal wiki scripting, etc. and I think would be interested in this too.

Interested in fathom! And definitely count me in for books about learning and experiments in notes/annotations. Welcome!


Hey @tomcritchlow! Your wiki is what inspired me to start hacking on my own!

I’d love to jam on ways to work with data out of an e-reader. I had this trajectory where at first I was completely smitten with the simplicity of a kindle and it’s single-purposeness and then over time starting imagining ways it could integrate with other systems or be extended ( a simple one being plugging a keyboard into it and being able to write, a more contentious one maybe being able to read newsletters). I’m getting a kobo tommorow so I’ll pop some initial findings into a thread.

Ditto on a thread for books about learning. I’m travelling at the moment ( wow the US is big ) but I’ll create one at next opportunity if no one’s gotten to it yet!

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Hi, I’m Jay, an experience design person living in sunny Brooklyn, NY. Books sit between records and t-shirts in the pantheon of things that exist in far too great a volume for a studio apartment. My collection is full of hippie stuff.

Favorites are too hard. I dig all these though.
Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. A conservationist classic, and after reading it for a course taught by my uncle during ye olde college years, it just kinda stuck.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Roadtripping! Motorcycles! Philosophy! Another college find that lodged itself in there, and probably the reason I bought my first motorcycle.
Neuromancer by William Gibson. Quintessential cyberpunk. Technology is tight.

Antilibrary book is a little easier.
The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth. It’s supposed to be super far from tactical writings on development, which tend to make my brain feel like hot soup, and instead focus on the theory of how one could go about writing competently. It’d be a dramatic departure from the sorts of things I usually read, so that’s neat.

There’s totally a topic I’m interested in!
I’m doing this intro so I can bounce over to the recommendation section and look for books about how to most efficiently learn new things. I’m also interested in seeing how y’all keep track of books you want to read, or books you think you might want to read based upon what you’ve read about them in another book, but totally need to do a bit of research on first. I find that without a bibliography, sometimes I have to slam through parts of a book a second time just to remind myself what that other thing I wanted to read was, and that’s a bummer.

And in the spirit of contributing something, I’m gonna big-up Melville House’s Art of the Novella subscription. It was a great way to be spoon-fed high quality short stories that were perfect for killing a few trips on the subway. It’s a good look for jackets with pockets season.



Welcome Jay!

Sand County Almanac looks wonderful, definitely have to check that out. I see it described as a forerunner to Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, which is one of my faves.

I also enjoyed both Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance & Neuromancer…though I think I read Zen like end of high school and it kinda went over my head at the time!

The Art of Computer Programming looks great…one of the big ones in my antilibrary is Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, also a classic in CS and known to be big & challenging. I have a copy but haven’t read past the first chapter. TAOCP looks even more intimidating (and more comprehensive/foundational)…four giant volumes! Good pick for an extremely committed multi-year reading group :smiley:

Apropos of just thinking about giant multi-volume magnum opus academic works, Christopher Alexander’s The Nature of Order (also 4 big volumes) comes to mind! (On science/life/order/design/architecture)

Awesome, yes please start up that topic any time!

Good question…I mostly use Goodreads for tracking books I’ve already read, and a general big antilibrary list for all the books I want to know about in some capacity, but not super specific w/ books to read next, or research on a specific topics, or books related to other books. Couple somewhat related things here:

But this could def be a new topic as well & something I should think about more! Definitely could do a lot more w/ building e.g. features on the antilibraries site to better support inter-book references or specific topical sub-lists etc. Curious to see how others may approach this.

Ah yeah, can vouch for @myacademy’s Melville House “Art of the Novella” selection–thanks for lending me all the ones you finished with! Discovered lots of nice bite size pieces of great literature that way.

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Hey, guys!

My name’s Rashan, and I’m currently a Congressional staffer on Capitol Hill focusing on tech and telecom policy. (I love politics, but I’m not the type to spar about it online - I come in peace!)

I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend (who’s living in Chicago for now) and my friends, running, and reading just about anything I can get my hands on!

Like many of you, I’m having a pretty hard time naming an absolute favorite book, but here are some favorites that quickly come to mind:

  • Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol.1, by Robert Caro
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Fineman!, by Richard Fineman
  • American Icon, by Bryce Hoffman
  • The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
  • American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird
  • The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin

My anitlibrary is currently massive, and seemingly getting bigger by the day! The most ominous item in it is probably Robert Caro’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize winner The Power Broker.

I’m excited to discuss the art of learning and growing from reading! Glad to be here! :smile:

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Hey Rashad, welcome and thanks for joining!

Great list here :slight_smile: I loved the whole Three Body Problem (and I think several others here did too!) Invisible Man is def in my antilibrary, I think I started it a reeeallly long time ago and only got a few chapters in and still have around somewhere…

Gotta look up some of the others! The Right Stuff sounds really interesting.

Welcome to the club :sunglasses:

I’m the inverse w/ Robert Caro — haven’t started the massive LBJ bio series, but really enjoyed The Power Broker. If you liked Path to Power I’m sure you’ll dig that one too, fascinating epic and particularly interesting for me living in New York and seeing how Moses shaped so much of the city.

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Hey all,

I’m from India and currently building LearnAwesome DOT org as a better replacement for GoodReads. My reading used to be very wide till a few years ago:

  • Philosophy: Bertrand Russell is my favorite for his clarity, precision and courage.
  • Economics: Frederic Bastiat’s “That which is seen and that which is unseen”
  • Psychology: The Moral Animal

But recently, I have decided to go deeper into mathematics. The joy and beauty in mathematical ideas seems unparalleled to me :grin: . One of the obscure books that I found great was “The Magic & Joy of Exploding Dots”.

The books/authors I’d like to read soon are:

  • Yudkowsky’s Rationality
  • Ken Arrow’s papers

Recently, I’ve been reading as much as I can about learning (How People Learn, Ultralearning, Atomic Habits and more). Partially motivated by the fact that I now have a child to teach and raise. :grinning:

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Hey, welcome! Cool, not familiar with Bastiat, it’d be fun to explore some classic economics texts more deeply. I don’t have much of a math background but I do enjoy reading really good math books! One I liked recently was How to Solve It. And one I picked up recently (but haven’t gotten into yet): The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics

Not familiar with Ken Arrow — can you say in a sentence or two what you find intriguing about his work? Thanks for posting some recs on learning in that topic as well…one of my personal biggest interests too!

(Look forward to chatting more about Learn Awesome on the other topics where you mentioned it!)

Ken Arrow is famous for his impossibility theorem that had huge implications in social choice theory (and voting systems). The theorem proves that no ranked voting system can have all 3 desirable properties. A lot of social issues that we see around us: polarization, only two extremist choices - are a direct consequence of the voting systems we have chosen to adopt.

Here’s a great interactive to learn about the flaws of different voting systems:

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Hey all, I’m Alana, a product manager from Singapore! I have been a member here since quite a while ago but never got around posting anything although it’s a beautiful site, lovely community and has an interesting UX. @Brendan, thank you for building this!

What are some of your all time favorite book(s) and why?


  • I finished His Dark Material Trilogy last year, just before the HBO show started! Loved the series.
  • Harry Potter - I still go back to the first book once in a few years, it brought me so much joy since I started reading it when I was 12.
  • All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr - one of the few war fiction I read, but very touching and the language is beautiful.
  • I read 8 of Haruki Murakami’s book (might be a phase, but I was quite addicted to his magical realism - finished 1Q84)


  • Reasons to Stay Alive - a very easy, but tough read - read it in one sitting, and cried a lot
  • Brene’s Brown’s books - The Gifts of Imperfection, Rising Strong - her books/research/ideas on shame and vulnerability influenced me a great deal and I always thrived to be more Wholehearted.
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit - once again, got me through tough days like both mentions before this - and I loved the poetic writing and quotable quotes.

What’s at the top of your antilibrary list (books you haven’t read yet but are excited about)?

  • Code: The hidden language of computer hardware and software by Charles Petzold. (I’m not a technical PM, but I want to learn to be more technical and maybe also learn to code so that I can find my niche in data analytics or data-related products.)
  • Been wanting to get more into literary fiction. (Haven’t gotten around reading my fiction To-reads because I’ve been prioritising non-fiction to help me get better at my work or becoming a better self - but Fiction feeds my soul)
  • Infinite Jest (For the theme of addiction and suicide - and the author’s backstory. I’m pretty into mental health type of books, fiction or otherwise!)

Other topics / questions you’d like to talk about here?


  • I organise my books (to reads and summaries/notes) on Notion here if anyone is interested to see my list. :grin:


  • Does anyone have books to recommend a non-technical person who is not very numbers-inclined but wants to get into being more data-driven, and less afraid of numbers? :sweat_smile:

Floating idea

I’m also looking to build something digital related to books. But haven’t wrapped my head around what real problem I want to solve. I’m not an e-books reader, and still prefer to read a physical book because I feel like I can get into the book better when it’s not read from the screen like any other article online.

P.S @morgane I was so excited to see The Elegance of the Hedgehog being mentioned! I remember reading it when I was a teen, and loved it so much (but can’t even remember why I had such a strong feeling about it). Maybe I should really pick it up again to see how a second read might feel different :slightly_smiling_face:

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Welcome and thanks for this great intro post, glad to have you here!

Lots of fans of His Dark Materials here I think :smiley: Really enjoying the new trilogy so far too…and Philip Pullman’s essay collection Daemon Voices is pretty great too. I really like some of the classic Latin American magical realism (e.g. García Márquez & Cortázar) but somehow have read zero Murakami novels. Any one stand out in particular as a best starting point?

I’ve got a couple of Rebecca Solnit’s books on my shelf, I’ve enjoyed her essays but don’t think I’ve read through any of the books yet. Hope In the Dark is one on my list.

I think I have the PDF of this and started reading a few chapters a while back but only part way through. Supposed to be really good, like one of the best all around introductions to computation…lmk if you want to get into it & maybe kick off a casual forum reading group for it at some point!

Awesome, I like the use of the “notes” field for tracking the source of different book recs. Been chatting w/ @davidklaing about how this would be a very useful built-in feature to have in an app like Goodreads or any potential similar replacement. (Also been thinking of book metadata to add to my own list e.g. books on, like “reading priority”, genre/topic tags, etc.!)

Great question! Can you make a new topic for it? Might have a couple ideas but want to come back to it (+ keep separate from this intro thread which is already getting pretty lengthy!)

Nice, definitely a few of us interested in this sort of thing, me and @jaredpereira and @tomcritchlow and @gabekelley and maybe others. I’m also in the camp of preferring physical books for most reading but very interested in possibilities for digital books/reading/tracking… See a couple discussions here:

And go ahead and make a new topic for any specific ideas, would be fun to discuss more! Could be worth even making just a general topic for talking about possibilities for e.g. ideal features in a Goodreads alternative, etc., maybe I’ll do that :slight_smile:

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Have not heard of the Latin American magical realism - wouldn’t mind starting one of those myself too!

Hm, for Murakami - it’s definitely not for everyone, and I started with Norwegian Wood which was less magical and more reality than his other works. His books are not so much about the plot, but I get a very strong emotional connection to his characters because of his writing style. I’m not sure where you could start but this penguin article’s recommendation is pretty good :slight_smile: A Wild Sheep Chase might be easy to get into.

Hope in the Dark is also a collection of her essays and commentary on hope in the history of social movements! Was a delightful read, although emotional.

I’ll be borrowing a physical copy soon, and will try to get into it!

Where are you keeping your list? I’d love to take a look!

Thanks for pointing to the relevant discussions and people who are interested in the same topics!

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I’m Dan, currently located in northernmost North American city >1M, and I heard about this place in the I don’t really have favorite books, foods, or anything — the concept has never sat well with me. My best recent answer to that type of question is geared toward poetry and non-fiction, especially political philosophy done by people who are/were historians and/or especially immersed in the events of their day. I have so many unread or partly read books at home… I’m afraid to find more here. I have a lifelong bias against the contemporary and familiar. I do this with film to. I figure I’ll deal with anything good enough from the present to survive into the future. I still have a lot of catching up to do from the past.

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Hey Dan, welcome! Ha, totally understand re: “favorites” — my solution to that tends to be making a list of e.g. a dozen favorite books, and it’s always changing!

And yeah I feel like there are so many current “best books of the year” lists, and cultural bias toward recency, it makes sense to counteract that by trying to surface great books from the past. Just one of the reasons I prefer used bookstores :smiley:

Also realize I forgot to answer this question from @agpz a while back—

The short answer is my goal is to catalog the entirely of my antilibrary right on — right now I have a bunch of data imported (lists from Amazon) but not yet published, b/c it’s thousands of books and would be super messy to just dump them all in there, so I want to first work on adding more metadata so I can easily filter out my very favorites, as well as make some “collections” grouped by topic and so on. Will get to that eventually!