Books I have read


Whenever I read a new book, I save resonant or useful passages here. This gives me an online searchable library of my favourite quotes from literature.

Road to Seeing Dan Winters
Dan Winters muses on his journey towards becoming a renowned photographer, and about the meaning and significance of his art. (#64, finished on 2014 May 19.)
Overcome Your Programming And Be A Better Man Chris Gethard
Comedian Chris Gethard on being an angry high school outcast, and how he found a place in a world that 'doesn't owe you anything'. (#63, finished on 2014 May 29.)
The Civilization of Illiteracy Mihai Nadin
Nadin argues that the rapid acceleration of technology and the need to process huge amounts of information quickly is leading to a world of post-literacy. (#62, finished on 2016 Apr 27.)
Iron John Robert Bly
The German fairy tale of Iron John (Der Eisenhands) interpreted as an allegory about manhood. (#61, finished on 2016 Jan 16.)
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers Mary Roach
A fascinating account of what happens to our corpses when we're dead. (#60, finished on 2015 Apr 17.)
Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion Daniel Jones (editor)
Wonderful stories about how love works in the 20th century. (#59, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
Longitude Dava Sobel
The story of all the different ways people tried to find their way at sea for lack of knowing their longitude, and of how the problem was solved. (#58, finished on 2015 Apr 16.)
You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto Jaron Lanier
The design of Web 2.0 and how it changes humans and human relationships. (#57, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
Meditations: A New Translation Marcus Aurelius
Probably the oldest self-help book many people have read. (#56, finished on 2015 Mar 11.)
The New Manhood: The 20th Anniversary Edition Steve Biddulph
I first read this book when I was maybe 15. It was so achingly honest and hopeful and true, and it had a huge effect on me and it informed much of what I did from then on. (#55, finished on 2015 Feb 21.)
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The legendary book about how skill-appropriate activities lead to the sensation of flow. (#54, finished on 2013 Sep 26.)
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Susan Cain
Reflects on the advantages and strengths of introverts, and how to navigate the extrovert world. (#53, finished on 2013 Aug 13.)
The Man Who Lied to His Laptop - What Machines Teach Us about Human Relationships Clifford Nass and Corina Yen
An engrossing overview of how computers have been used as "the perfect research confederates", and what these human-machine studies have revealed about human emotions and biases. (#52, finished on 2013 Jun 27.)
Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity Keith Sawyer
This book stresses creativity as a learned set of behaviours centred around both play and perseverance. (#51, finished on 2013 Jul 30.)
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative Austin Kleon
A short book about creativity as an additive process. (#50, finished on 2013 Jun 09.)
Why Don't Students Like School? Daniel T. Willingham
About how cognitive science can inform teaching methods in the classroom. (#49, finished on 2013 Jun 09.)
Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants Robert Sullivan
A wonderful, deep look at rats in the urban environment. I loved this book, and the reason there are so few excerpts for this one is because if I highlight all the bits that were interesting, they would typically run for 500 words each. (#48, finished on 2013 Jun 07.)
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World Mark Kurlansky
The history of a fish, its strategic and civil importance, and its decline. (#47, finished on 2013 May 20.)
Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Neil Postman
Written in 1985, I found this book still relevant. I haven't watched television for at least a decade, but I wonder about the effect of computers and the internet on the presentation and consumption of information. To me, it feels very similar to my consumption of books. (#46, finished on 2013 May 11.)
Aftershock: The Blast That Shook Psycho Platoon T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling
A short Kindle Single about traumatic brain injuries resulting from explosion shockwaves without other impact (like being thrown against a wall), told in relation to a group of soldiers who suffered such injuries in an IED blast. (#45, finished on 2013 May 05.)
Dealing with the Media Chris Rau
Informs common folk on how to approach and interact with the media fruitfully. (#44, finished on 2013 May 04.)
A Technique for Producing Ideas James Young
Very brief book that breaks the process of having an idea into a set of five strictly linear and unskippable steps. (#43, finished on 2013 May 03.)
Face Of Battle John Keegan
An examination of the act of warfighting and its effect on people, and how the act and those effects have changed (or not changed) over time. (#42, finished on 2013 May 03.)
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation Steven Johnson
An engrossing look at how networking and messiness affect and encourage innovation. (#41, finished on 2013 May 03.)
How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie
A favourite of the self-improvement crowd. The title of the book sounded a bit manipulative to me, but the recommendations therein are actually not (for the most part). (#40, finished on 2013 Mar 02.)
Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line Brendan Keogh
A in-depth analysis of the gameplay and setting of 'Spec Ops: The Line'. (#39, finished on 2013 Jan 30.)
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning Chris Hedges
A moving examination of the significance of war. (#38, finished on 2012 Mar 19.)
Escape Carolyn Jessop, Laura Palmer
A woman's escape with her eight children from a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound and her abusive husband and sister wives. Very difficult to read in parts, a very powerful book. (#37, finished on 2011 Dec 20.)
Triumph: Life After the Cult, A Survivor's Lessons Carolyn Jessop
Outlines Carolyn Jessop's involvement in the raid on the FLDS's YFZ Ranch and the ensuing criminal prosecutions. Carolyn takes the opportunity to reflect on what gave her the wherewithal to escape the cult earlier, and the importance of the support she received along the way. (#36, finished on 2011 Dec 18.)
Finding Everett Ruess David Roberts
Examines the life of the vagabond artist Everett Ruess, from childhood up to his mysterious disappearance, and beyond. (#35, finished on 2011 Dec 18.)
How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew Erin Bried
A short guide on how to do everyday tasks. (#34, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
Under the Banner of Heaven - A Story of Violent Faith Jon Krakauer
An examination of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the role of its leaders and its dogma in the murder of a woman and her infant child by her husband's brothers, who say they were compelled to do it by God. (#33, finished on 2011 Dec 18.)
In the Land of Invented Languages Arika Okrent
A wonderful tour of some of the myriad artificial languages that have been invented by people, their shortcomings, and their successes. (#32, finished on 2011 Nov 22.)
Into the Forbidden Zone William T. Vollmann
A prolix recounting of the author's travels to the contaminated regions of Japan following the failure of the Fukushima NPP. (#31, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
Lying Sam Harris
A basic overview of lying, why people lie, and what lying means. (#30, finished on 2011 Nov 16.)
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah
A man recounts his experiences as a boy soldier during the Sierra Leone Civil War, the events leading up to it, and his life afterwards. (#29, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
The 100 Thing Challenge Dave Bruno
A man writes about how he challenged himself to live with a hundred or fewer personal possessions for a short amount of time. (#28, finished on 2011 Nov 09.)
What Do You Care What Other People Think? Richard P. Feynman
Assorted stories from the life of physicist Richard Feynman, as told in interviews and in other writings. (#27, finished on 2011 Nov 06.)
Problem Solving 101 Ken Watanabe
A description and demonstration of practical and basic problem-solving skills. (#26, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
A Writer At War: Vasily Grossman With the Red Army Vasily Grossman, Antony Beevor, and Luba Vinogradova
An overview of the Soviet writer Vasily Grossman's frontline reporting during the Second World War. (#25, finished on 2011 Oct 31.)
Blink Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell talks about the human faculty for snap decision-making, how it can be trained, and how it can let us down. His examination of the Millenium Challenge 2002 wargames as a competition between snap decision-making and systematic decision-making was very, very interesting. (#24, finished on 2011 Oct 24.)
Sniper on the Eastern Front Albrecht Wacker
The biography of a German sniper, outlining the ugly business of war between two armies that hated each other intensely. (#23, finished on 2011 Oct 20.)
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue John McWhorter
Another book that examines the changes in English grammar and structure over the centuries (which the author insists is all but ignored in most discourse), and stresses how different English really is from all of its sister languages. (#22, finished on 2011 Oct 15.)
You Are What You Speak Robert Lane Greene
Outlines the change in English grammar and usage across the centuries, and why grammar- and spelling-sticklers don't quite get it. (#21, finished on 2011 Oct 12.)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick
This is a classic work of dystopian sci-fi. I only wish it was more fleshed out. (#20, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
Into The Wild Jon Krakauer
An examination of the life of Christopher McCandless, who adopted the life of a vagrant by choice, had many untold adventures all over America, and finally starved to death in Alaska. (#19, finished on 2011 Sep 11.)
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession Allison Hoover Bartlett
An excellent investigation of a prolific rare-book–thief, his motives, his victims, and the people who caught him. (#18, finished on 2011 Sep 07.)
Mother Night Kurt Vonnegut Jr
A pseudo-biography of a life lived in the ambivalence of war. (#17, finished on 2011 Sep 06.)
Have a Little Faith Mitch Albom
This book (and to a lesser extent, Mitch Albom's other books) turned me from an antitheist who looked down on religion to a plain old apatheist who now feels that religion has something vital to offer the human experience. It is a biographical story about two preachers from two different religions, and the different paths they took towards faith. (#16, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Ideas Into Words: Mastering The Craft Of Science Writing Elise Hancock
Indispensable reading for anyone who wants to write about science for a layman audience, or really anyone who wants more clarity in their writing at all. (#15, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Poke The Box Seth Godin
Basically a manifesto to get business entrepreneurs to take risks on the new market; it got a mediocre rating because it didn't appeal to me so much, and it didn't appeal to me because I am not its target reader. (#14, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
I Die, But The Memory Lives On Henning Mankell
A sombre look at the AIDS epidemic smoldering in Africa, and its effect on the children left behind. (#13, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other Sherry Turkle
So far the most revealing book I've read about the way people interact with technology and how our inventions are changing who we are and how we treat each other. (#12, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means To Be Alive Brian Christian
The threat of chatbots tricking Turing Test judges into believing they are talking with people is ever-present, and in preparing to out-human these bots in the 2009 competition, Brian Christian tried to discover what it means to be human, and how we can be more human to each other. (#11, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ is Wrong David Shenk
People often say that they don't have the genes to do this or that, but it seems more and more that talent is closer to what Bob Ross had been saying all along: If you're willing to practice at it, you can do it. (#10, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Weapons of Mass Instruction John Taylor Gatto
An award-winning public school teacher talks about how deeply the current education system is failing American children. (#8, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks Ben Goldacre
An interesting read about pseudoscience, hoax, or the lack of scientific rigor in food, cosmetics, and medicine. (#7, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Carl Sagan
A deeper exploration of the way pseudoscience distracts peoples' sense of awe and wonder from evidence-based science. (#6, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
The Varieties of Scientific Experience Carl Sagan
Legendary astrophysicist and educator Carl Sagan explores the meeting of science and faith of all kinds, from religion to the supernatural. (#5, finished on 2022 Dec 08.)
Sum: Tales From the Afterlives David Eagleman
Thoughtful, humorous, and contemplative stories about the different afterlives that might exist. (#4, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
A horrible dystopia where nobody reads, and people no longer know why they are laughing. (#3, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman Richard Feynman
A wonderfully cheeky autobiography from the second most famous physicist of all time. (#2, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
I read 112 books before September 2, 2011
Before I started this mini-blog, I had a GoodReads account. (#1, finished on 2011 Sep 02.)
That's all there is, there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2022.