[Book Snake]1There’s a facebook thing going around on 10 books that’ve stayed with you. I’m not terribly inclined to do these things…but then, the mental exercise actually thinking about it was broadly interesting (and who doesn’t like book recommendations?) so here are 10 books (or in some cases, authors – what a cheat) I think you should like, in no particular order: 1. Ursula le Guin, particularly A Wizard of Earthsea, but actually what reminded me of her writing (and persists) was an excerpt given in Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life (introductory ethics book) which uses [‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’]2 as an example 2. Iris Murdoch, let’s go with particularly The Sea, The Sea > “Then I felt too that I might take this opportunity to tie up a few loose ends, only of course loose ends can never be properly tied, one is always producing new ones. Time, like the sea, unties all knots. Judgements on people are never final, they emerge from summings up which at once suggest the need of a reconsideration. Human arrangements are nothing but loose ends and hazy reckoning, whatever art may otherwise pretend in order to console us.” 3. Oliver Sacks, particularly [‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’]3, along with [Ramachandran]4‘s book on Synesthesia. Both are fascinating insights into the role of the brain, embodiment, plasticity, neural development, etc. 4. [The Dice Man]5 – probably not a book I’d chose now, but I was interested in hard determinism at the time, I remember it starting with an epigraph: > We are not ourselves; actually there is nothing we can call a `self’ any more; we are manifold, we have as many selves there are groups to which we belong. Van Den Berg 5. [Why I am not a Christian (and other essays)]6 (Russell) 6. [The Man Who Loved Only Numbers (a bio of Paul Erdős)]7 – I was hanging out with mathematics students at the time, and got interested in philosophy and history of mathematics. Later I talked to some students a bit about it (“history of maths? What’s that?”) and recommended [A Mathematician’s Apology]8 for a UCAS personal statement (she selected a fantastic quote from it), but this was the first maths book I’d read I think. 7. Hitchhiker’s Guide – no need to explain surely? Don’t forget your towel (full of nice thought experiments too) 8. The language instinct, Stephen Pinker – my introduction to linguistics 9. The selfish gene – my introduction to sociobiology, game theory and issues around units of analysis 10.

Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) – a great collection around philosophical/psychological perspectives on mind and learning, pretty key to my first Masters (and work after)


  1. /static/2014/10/book_snake.jpg

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ones_Who_Walk_Away_from_Omelas#Synopsis

  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Mistook_His_Wife_for_a_Hat

  4. http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind?language=en

  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dice_Man

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_I_Am_Not_a_Christian

  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Loved_Only_Numbers

  8. http://www.math.ualberta.ca/mss/misc/A%20Mathematician%27s%20Apology.pdf