What books to read to get smarter?

There are lots of various book recommendations, and I will share with you some of them. The list below is by far the most versatile and technical from all the recommendations I found.

Adapted from psychologytoday

E. O. Wilson argued, in his book Consilience, for the need to integrate knowledge across subjects. Wilson says, “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”


The Method of Coordinates, Gelfand, Glagoleva, Kirillov.

Functions and Graphs, Gelfand and Glagoleva.

Lines and Curves, Vassiliev and Gutenmacher.

Mathematics for the Nonmathematician, Morris Kline.

Mathematics and the Physical World, Morris Kline.

Innumeracy, John Allen Paulos.

Reckoning With Risk, Gigerenzer.

Mathematics: A short introduction, Gowers.

The Story of Mathematics, Marcus du Sautoy.

Symmetry, Marcus du Sautoy.

Number, Dantzig.

The Joy of X, Strogatz.

Scott Page’s Model Thinking on Coursera.

How to Solve It, Polya.

Solving Mathematical Problems, Terence Tao.

Causality, Judea Pearl.

What is mathematics?, Courant.

Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to its Use and Abuse, Franzen.

Mathematics: Its content, methods and meaning, Kolmogorov et al.

Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, Morris Kline.

Calculus, Spivak.

Hardy’s A mathematician’s apology.

Mathematical Education, Bill Thurston.

Terence Tao’s blogTao on sets and logic.

Computer Science

Artificial Intelligence, Russell & Norvig.

Sebastian Thrun (Udacity) and Andrew Ng (Coursera) on machineintelligence.

Scott Aaronson course.

Wired for War, Peter Singer

Gleick on a history of information theory and computation.

Dyson on the story of Turing, von Neumann and the computer.

Introduction to the Theory of Computation, Sipser.


Six Easy Pieces, Feynman.

Tips on Physics: a problem-solving supplement, Feynman.

Here is a wonderful interview with Feynman.

Physics for Future Presidents, Richard Muller.

Theoretical Minimum, Leonard Susskind.

Fab: From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication, Gershenfeld.

The Great Equations, Crease.

A Cavendish Quantum Mechanics Primer, Mark Warner.

The Second Creation, Crease & Mann.

The Infinity Puzzle, Frank Close.

A great biography of Einstein by Isaacson.

A great biography of Dirac,The Strangest Man, Farmelo.

The Dance of the Photons, Zeilinger.

The Limits of Quantum Computers, Scott Aaronson.

Quantum Computing Since Democritus, Scott Aaronson.

Michael Nielsen: Why the world needs quantum mechanicsQuantum Computing for Everyone, and Quantum Computing for the Determined.

Woit’s blog.

Dorigo’s blog.

Genetics, The Brain, Mind, And Artificial Intelligence

Natural selection 150 years on, Pagel.

Pinker’s The Blank Slate.

Plomin’s Behavioral Genetics.

What is Thought?, Baum.

Consciousness, Koch.

Thinking, fast and slow, Kahneman.

Expert Political Judgment, Tetlock.

Sources of Power, Klein.

Drexler describes how he educates himself.

Hamming on how to do research.

Carlson’s Biology is Technology.

The Language of Lifeby Francis Collins.


A Farewell To Alms, Gregory Clark.

Beinhocker’s Complexity Economics.

Mandelbrot’s The Misbehaviour of Financial Markets

Vernon Smith’s Rationality.

Mackenzie’s An Engine, Not a Cameraand anessay.

This paper by Lo.

This memoir by Charles Ferguson.

Complex Systems And The Math of Prediction

This talk by Fields Medalist Terry Tao.

Gell Mann’s The Quark and the Jaguar.

E.O.Wilson’s Consilience.

Barabasi’s Linked.

Mitchell’s Complexity.

The Signal and the Noise, Nate Silver.

War And International Relations

Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Clausewitz’s On War.

van Creveld’s The Transformation of War.

Colin Gray’s Introduction to Strategic History.

John Robb’s Brave New War.

This paper on nuclear strategy.

Pontecorvo’s movie The Battle of Algiers.

Bismarck: Pflanze’s Biography.

Hoskyns’ Just in Time.

Plouffe’s Audacity to Win.

The Victory Lab, Issenberg.

Cialdini’s Influence.

James Frayne’s Meet the People.

Good Strategy, Bad Strategyby Rumelt.

Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto.

Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Informationand Beautiful Evidence.


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2 Replies to “What books to read to get smarter?”

    1. Usually I have several well-supported answers. Here I do not have a good answer, since no person I know actually completed the list. Just take a book that looks good and see where it gets you. I will be happy to learn with you.

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