A compendium of Recomendo




Library of America

The Library of America publishes high-quality hardbound books with multiple novels per volume. I’m reading Ross Macdonald: Three Novels of the Early 1960s, which contains three excellent novels about fictional Los Angeles detective Lew Archer. These tightly-written page-turners have kept me up way past my bedtime. — MF 

Books related to The Inevitable

Books related to my new book The Inevitable that I have found useful:

Daily futurology news

Reddit’s Futurology subreddit features news stories that point to our future. “New antibiotic found in human nose.” “Singapore Scientists Grow Mini Human Brains.” “Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a person?” I visit it daily. — MF 

Victorian era novel

The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber’s 922-page novel about a Victorian era prostitute and a soap-and-perfume industrialist, was a full-sensory immersion into 1875 London. I haven’t had this much fun reading a novel about Merrie Olde England since Pillars of the Earth. — MF

Check out library books from your phone

I feel like an idiot for not discovering OverDrive sooner. It’s a free mobile app that lets you check out ebooks, audiobooks, and videos from your local public library. To use it, you need a a library card from your town or county. I got an Los Angeles Library e-card by signing up online and a couple of minutes later I was reading A Burglar’s Guide to the City. — MF

Find out the order of books

Amazon does a poor job of presenting book series in order. I wanted the chronological order of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels. The website Order of Books had it, along with many other book series. — MF

Skeletons on the Zahara

My current page turner is Skeletons on the Zahara, the true story from the early 1800s of American sailors (who may have been slave runners) shipwrecked off the west coast of Africa, starving on a lifeboat, then starving in the desert, then captured by desert Arabs and sold off as white slaves through a chain of tough masters until they were ransomed as “skeletons.” I don’t take our easy life for granted. — KK

Design sourcebook

Every time I return to the masterpiece A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, I am rewarded deeply. It’s a source book for architectural heuristics (guidelines), such as “A balcony less than 6 feet wide will never be used” or “Make a transition between street and front door” or “Vary the illumination. Aim for pools of light”. These design patterns are illustrated with photos and explanations and they serve as remarkable fountainhead for designing any kind of space, whether a room, building, or town. — KK

How to be cozy

To prepare for the holidays I’ve been reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living written by Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Wiking shares tips on how to light your home (aim for pools of light), what to wear and eat (mostly wool and warm drinks), how to create a sense of togetherness, as well as other things that Danes do to be happy all year round. An idea I plan to adopt is to link purchases with good experiences or an important milestone in life so that I’m reminded of it each time it’s used or seen. — CD 

Great read after a break-up

A long time ago, after a bad breakup I read If the Buddha Dated by Charlotte Kasi. By the time I had finished the book, it was covered in notes and dog-eared pages, and I felt healed and ready to move on. Now, as a newlywed, I am enjoying listening to If the Buddha Married on Audible. So many great insights and communication tips. — CD

Fantastic science fiction trilogy

I’m blasting through the last book in Ramez Naam’s fantastic science fiction trilogy about technological telepathy. Start with Nexus, then onto Crux and Apex. He fleshes out not only the benefits of a global mind meld but also its problems, so as the series proceeds he keeps changing my mind on whether I want this invention or not. That’s great reading. — KK

Read movie spoilers

I stopped watching horror movies a while back, because they seemed to be getting more and more graphic and I couldn’t cut it. Instead, I enjoy reading scene-by-scene spoilers for all the films I am too scared or lazy to watch. The Movie Spoiler is not the best designed site, but it’s been around for a long time and all the reviews are well written. — CD

Asimov's autobiography

Here’s a funny anecdote from Isaac Asimov’s autobiography, It’s Been a Good Life. — MF 

New Scientist magazine

One of the few paper magazines I still subscribe to is New Scientist. It is a weekly dose of real science reporting, with broad lay appeal. Of course there is an online version, but I prefer to turn pages and read while I eat my lunch. Either way, it’s the best solid source for new science. — KK

Changing your mind

You are only as young as the last time you changed your mind. Cass Sunstein compiled 10 great books. Here are 5 books to change liberal minds. And 5 books to change conservative minds. Read and see if you can change your mind. — KK

The Inevitable

I unabashedly recommend my book The Inevitable, available this week in paperback for $12, as a clear vision of the 25 years in digital technology. It’s an optimistic explanation of how we can use this tech for our mutual benefit with the least harm. Two years after I finished writing it, I wouldn’t change a word. I think it nails the big trends. — KK

Book I'm devouring

I’m into the newest sci-fi thriller from Daniel Suarez, Change Agent. Posits a near future where human faces and bodies can be altered by applying a one-time DNA treatment. In this story, the first to master this experimental technology is the underworld. Hijinks ensue. The speculative science is plausible. – KK

Good book I enjoyed

The recent short biography of the Wright Brothers, in a book by that name, written by the historian David McCullough had tons of news for me. I did not realize the brothers worked out the mathematics of airfoils. They were not just tinkers but doing actual science. Pioneering that pure research paid off. But they also spent too much time trying to defend their initial patents and not enough inventing new stuff afterwards. This succinct book has other lessons and is well worth the time. — KK

Forgotten history

A book I recommend, The Friendly Orange Glow. I’ll just paraphrase the rave burb I wrote for it: “I love this deep unknown history. It’s an incredible tale of a rag-tag team of students inventing key technologies such as flat screens, instant messaging, networked games, blogging — in the 1960s and 1970s, several decades before Silicon Valley, Apple, Facebook. Then they were totally forgotten. Your mind will be blown.” — KK

Unusual articles

Wikipedia’s “Unusual articles” page has links to hundreds of eclectic and offbeat articles. Learn about the Korean invasion of Normandy, happy numbers, and the Phantom time hypothesis (it’s really 1719, not 2016 as we’ve been led to believe). I’d love this as a multi-volume hardbound illustrated set. — MF 

Award-winning Chinese science fiction novel

 A science fiction novel I really liked is The Three-Body Problem. It is the first Chinese-written novel to win a Hugo award, and it is making waves in China and, in a new English translation, with the rest of the world. Complicated, deep, and seeped in a different view of China, it’s a masterpiece. — KK 

Read first pages of novels

When you go to Recommend Me a Book you are presented with the first page of a novel, but you are not told the name of the book or the author. If you don’t like what you’ve read, click “Next Book.” If you do like it, click “Reveal Title & Author,” and buy it from Amazon. I wish it let you buy a book without finding out who wrote it, so it was a surprise when it arrived in the mail. — MF

Classic travelog novel

To get as far away from my bubble in Silicon Valley, I am enjoying reading Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger. Written in 1959 (not that long ago) this classic travelog describes the extremely remote path of Thesiger in the Empty Quarter of Arabia. He goes native with the Bedouin, and after years of traveling with them he can convey their alien mindset. They are not just pre-modern, they are pre-literate, primeval. The book plunges me into a wholly different way of seeing the world, which is why I keep reading. — KK

Welcome to Pleistocene Park

My friend Stewart Brand has been trying to resurrect extinct species. He is not the only one. Ross Andersen has written a beautiful article in The Atlantic, entitled Welcome to Pleistocene Park, about a charismatic Siberian family who are trying to bring back the wooly mammoth by the thousands in order to change the climate. The article is a memorable story about a complex father and son relationship, about renegade Russian scientists, about tree-smashing tanks, about isolation of the tundra and the role of mammoths, about deep geology, and of course about the astounding science of restoring extinct animals. All told with beautiful grace. A 20-minute read that is highly recommended. — KK

Five good crime books

On the excellent Five Books website Author Simon Brett is interviewed about his five favorite crime novels. Three of his picks (A Kiss Before DyingThe Big Sleep, and The Talented Mr. Ripley) are among my favorites, so I added his other two picks to my wish list. — MF

Inspirational read

This list of 20 Essential Truths That Women Over 50 Want To Share With Younger Women seem like no-brainers and things I should already be doing daily, but unfortunately for me, I forget. I made a shorter, more personal version of this list for myself and if I’m ever feeling agitated or unbalanced, I read it again to gain perspective and make everything all better. — CD

Book I enjoyed

I zipped through Nick Bilton’s crime thriller about the rise and fall of Dread Pirate Roberts, founder of the Silk Road dark website, where anyone could buy drugs or weapons anonymously. It’s a real life Breaking Bad story of a likeable dreamer who invents his own idealistic libertarian world, but then with good intentions slowly succumbs to his absolute unregulated power; he hires hitmen to kill an employee he believes embezzled him. His artful take-down in a public library was a satisfying climax. American Kingpin is a fast book, economically told, with just the right amount of technical detail about the dark web, bitcoin, and anonymous servers. — KK

MediaClaudia Dawson