What are you reading? (Book recommendations thread)


Techically, it’s three books at the time.

The first one I almost finished. It’s called Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It by Gary Taubes. It’s a really good one, the author explains, in great detail, how we gain weight, how body regulates fat and manages energy from food, how was obesity and gaining weight been studied and countered through history and, at the end, what can we do to lower or maintain weight, aka not get fat. I find it very educative and worth reading. I had it on my laptop for years and read it only now because my internet was blocked and I had nothing else to do.

Another two are novels. My Grandmother Asked me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredric Backman is a very funy and cute story about a little girl and her eccntric grandma, and the other one, Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a detective story set in 1950s Spain. A bit harder to digest, but still interesting.


In English, I am reading When a Crocodile Eats the Sun which is an interesting memoir about living in Africa. Most of it takes place during the early 2000’s when the author, Peter Godwin, goes back to Zimbabwe to aid his aging parents. The author is a journalist who works with BBC, National Geographic and other news sources. I’m about halfway through. This book makes me grateful to live in a first-world country.


Currently am committed to reading Arielle Queen: Le Voyage des Huit. I was inspired to actually read a French book after reading through @zeldajones journal. Also people kept telling me my grammar sucked so I should read more…

On the Non Fiction side (my fave :hearts:), I’m skimming through The Personal MBA and The Startup Owner’s Manual because I’m boring :nerd_face:.


I’m reading The Nightmare Years by William L. Shirer

He’s a German journalist during WW2, documenting the horrors of Nazi Germany.


I try to keep 2-3 books going at once, a trick I learned from Naval Ravikant’s appearance on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

I am currently reading:

  • Column of Fire, by Ken Follett. Fictional thriller set in Elizabethan England. It’s OK, not as strong as the first book in the series, Pillars of the Earth.
  • Heretics & Believers, a history of the English Reformation. I find religion and religious history fascinating, and the Reformation in particular is interesting to me right now. (Much like today, the advent of a new technological medium (printing press) helped drive enormous changes in society.
  • The Leangains Method. Martin Berkhan is a singular voice in fitness. This book offers a really simple, back-to-basics approach to fitness.


The power of habit by Charles Duhigg is a very practical and interesting read. You will really enjoy the stories of all the people who utilized the habit loop to their advantage and take something from it to your daily life. Having a better understanding of habits really helped throughout the Nosurf journey.


I finished When a Crocodile Eats the Sun and I am now reading H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald. I highly recommend this book. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is probably the most well-written and descriptive books I’ve ever read.


I got into Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Great book, but very dense, definitely not one of those you can read in one sitting, as I previously thought. Still a good one. I only wish I knew American geography better, his descriptions of all the places he visited during cycle trip are amazing.


I read the classic Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert during vacation, devouring the second half of the novel in a single day. A mesmerizing read. The perverse fascination of watching a person manufacturing its utter downfall. A powerful example of self-inflicted misery by measuring one‘s life against inhumane ideals.

Before that I read Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, too almost in a single sitting. It has been the first sceenplay I read and I was fascinated by how vividly my mind was able to envision a stageplay based on the writing. The story touched me in its tragic nature. Poor misguided Willy Loman, unable what life would have had in store for him if not for his grandiose visions. I guess there are a lot of people out there sharing his fate in some way.

As an aside: Do you people prefer fiction or non-fiction? Not to pit the two against each other, they both have their merits. But rather to get a feeling and some arguments why one is usually preferred over the other. I prefer fiction because I have made the experience that a novel can transport an idea in so much more powerful a way than most non-fiction books are able to. Reading the so-called ‚classics‘ has torn my view of the world wide open quite often and in unexpected ways, something a work of non-fiction was rarely able to do.

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I like non-fiction not for the experience of reading the non-fiction but because I like to problem solve and understand the world + myself better. Non-fiction helps me achieve those goals. But often the more I know, the more I find holes in my knowledge and so the pursuit of non-fiction starts again. However, I’m working on reading more fiction because it’s healthy to nurture that imaginative side of me sometimes too :slight_smile:.


I personally only read non-fiction. I absolutely don’t judge anyone who reads fiction and I loved reading it in the past as well, but I personally am not interested anymore. I can’t justify it for myself to spend hours reading about something that doesn’t exist, or to connect to people who don’t exist. I‘d rather spend the time learning and reading political or selfimprovement stuff. I don’t know why I think that way about fiction, it just sort of happened when I took up reading again during my NoSurf journey. It‘s like it‘s suddenly „annoying“ to me to even think about extensively reading made up stuff, when I could learn or actually live in my own life. Maybe I just font feel like escaping into someone‘s life anymore, in my case (that’s what I read fiction in the past for, or watched a ton of Netflix, played games…).

Quick question:

I would love to get some non-fiction book recommendations on interesting topics or selfimprovement.
To be a bit more concrete, something that fits in well with The Shallows, Deep Work, Willpower Instinct, Sleep Revolution - just stuff that is either directly or indirectly about selfimprovement, and with nice theories and studies. I like how these books take a common topic (work, sleep, technology, …) and explore it and tell you how you should do it or how it can be improved, problematic behavior, ways to change, so that their concepts can be applied to life.

Any recs?


I can really recommend Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.


On the top of my mind I would recommend Daniel Kahnemann‘s seminal Thinking, Fast and Slow and Richard Wiseman‘s 59 Seconds where he distills numerous studies on self-help topics into a concise book.


“The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. I’m only about halfway through the book but I can already easily recommend it. He talks about how habits influence our behavior and what we can do to change these habits or establish new ones.


I read a book called The Compound Effect when I was around 17 years old. Although I can’t remember precisely what it was about, I think it impacted me a lot in a positive way. This might be because it was one of the first self-help styled books a actually read.

I guess I could say the book teaches people Who they need to be to achieve their goals. It’s really ideal for people who are just starting out with this self-development but you might find something valuable in it too.

The author more reasons through analogies rather than theories however.


I would also recommend the book by Matthew Walker, although I am not sure how much overlap there is with Sleep Revolution, which I haven’t read.


When I was younger I read exclusively fiction. From the age of about ~18 on I read almost exclusively non fiction. Like @Anthymn I was very focused on self improvement and on some level equated fiction to a form of “mindless consumption” like binge watching Netflix.

I have since changed some of my thoughts on that. I think with learning there is never really end but at least with self improvement there is some point where you have optimized enough. You have enough knowledge to live the ideal life, and the rest of the consumption now actually reverts back to the reasons why I consumed fiction, it’s just the brains desire for new things.

In the words of Alan Watts…”Once you get the message…hang up the phone”.

To counter my own response, it can be beneficial to continually consume information. As human beings our default state if to forget things. If there’s something we value and want to incorporate in our lives it’s beneficial to continuously remind ourselves of it over and over again. You want to get as immersed as possible with positive ideas so in some sense, constant repetition by reading nonfiction of the same genre can be a form of karate “katas” that drill things down in your brain.

But I think you just have to be honest about it with yourself. There’s an art to knowing when you’re acquiring knowledge to immerse yourself in an environment, to truly learn, or because it’s out of a misguided notion that all units of time must be occupied by some “productive activity” or therefore those moment of time are wasted.

In general I’ve seen people who come to the realization that they have wasted a vast amount of time in their youth on media, games, and the like suddenly swing in the opposite direction. Where they end up in the relentless pursuit of productivity in an effort to recoup the lost time. I think this ultimately is just as harmful as wasting time. Idle moments begin to have a negative connotion and give you a sense of lost opportunity, rather than seeing the moment of idleness as an opportunity itself.

It’s really just traded sloth for frenzy. I think now that I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum, the art is actually to know when to suspend the pursuit of more knowledge and be able to slide back and forth down the spectrum at will.

So for me, I realize that going back to the way I was as a child is the next step in my advancement. Reading for pleasure is something I’m doing more often now.


I would argue that while this is a valid argument against a lot of fiction reading top-placing entries of Best books of all time lists is as far removed from mindless consumption as thinkable.

Reading excellent novels is not only reading for pleasure, it is an exercise in widening horizons of thought and thereby a very valid form of self-improvement.


Reading excellent novels is not only reading for pleasure, it is an exercise in widening horizons of thought and thereby a very valid form of self-improvement

I understand where you are coming from. While reading fiction, I’ve learned a lot about how the world works given fiction tends to just be an twist on real life events and problems. If you’re reading the right fiction book, it truly CAN be a form of self-improvement. It doesn’t improve your productivity but instead it improves the quality of your ideas and “widens your horizons” as you’ve noted. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve read a work of fiction which gave me this feeling. I really do miss it. Perhaps, I just need to keep trying until I find the right book…


I like both. When choosing a book, I’m more often drawn toward non-fiction, but some of my most treasured experiences come from reading stories. Well-written fiction feels like a distillation of the fragility and vulnerability of humanity, and it can teach us a lot about character and resilience as well. To sum up, I feel like fiction vs non-fiction is a bit like art vs photography. Both are valuable for different reasons, and both can change one’s life.