Books and Other Media That Have Changed My Life

I'm very interested in Media which significantly change the quality of my life by engaging with them. Books usually have the most impact for me, coming close to what is possible with immersive environments which I cover elsewhere. I cannot imagine my life without the contributions made by these Media.

If you like these Books and other Media or are inspired to read them soon, I'd love to share our experience of them. In the case of the books that are especially deep or are best read over a period of time, I'd love to have regular conversations with you while you read them and it might inspire me to read them again. The same goes for my other favorite authors and books

The Human Condition

The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute
This extraordinary book provides a simple and compelling model for relating to one another with integrity, respect, authenticity and power without force. The focus is first on relating within families and it also includes relating in business and among people in general. It is a fictionalized condensation of the work of the Arbinger Instittute's workshops with troubled families. I highly recommend this book! If you want a taste of the book, watch this video: The Anatomy of Peace (Excerpt)
Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
This wonderful sequel to The Anatomy of Peace was actually written first. It applies similar principles to our ways of relating within business while also being relevant to human relationship in general. I highly recommend this book as well!
Us & Them: The Science of Identity (Originally: Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind) by David Berreby
This book lays out our tendency to thoughtlessly identify with groups and view others through the filter of whether they're an insider or and outsider. Yes, you know that already, but until you read this book you have no idea how deep that rabbit hole goes! I highly recommend this book!
The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
What is the basis of my feelings and judgements about what is right and what is wrong? Why do other people disagree? Why can't we usefully discuss these differences? After reading this book I have much better insight about all of these things, I am making better moral evaluations and I can understand and communicate better with other people. I highly recommend this book!


I rarely take the time to comment on fiction but some of it has made a huge impact on my life. I mention some works and many of my favorite authors in my favorite authors and books page. I'd love to share favorite works and authors with you!

The Human Condition - A Bit More Challenging

The Better Angels of our Nature by Stephen Pinker
Stephen Pinker is on my short list of authors so good I'm inclined to read everything they write that is not too specialized. At almost 700 pages, The Better Angels of our Nature seemed a bit daunting! I'm about 2/3 of the way through now and finding the experience very worthwhile. Most of the book so far has been about the extraordinary and ongoing decline in all forms of violence in all cultures over time, especially since the various 18th Century Enlightenments began to change all human cultures. The facts and figures leave no doubt that this excellent good news is real. The only speculative part of the book is the attempts to address why violence has declined so much and whether it will continue to do so in the future. If you'd like to get a taste of the general arguments in the book, try this link to The Edge.
The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch
The Beginning of Infinity is an inquiry into the nature of Knowledge, the Universe and Human Being's Place in it. As David Deutsch is one of the smartest human beings on the planet and a noted out-of-the-box thinker, this inquiry goes extraordinarily deep and into unexpected places. It has permanently altered how I view and think about who we are as human beings in the Universe. If you want a taste of the book, watch his TED talk: A new way to explain
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright

I've just finished re-reading Nonzero. Robert Heinlein once defined a good book as one which you can read again and get more out of it, and a great book as one which you can read again and again and keep getting more out of it. Nonzero is definitely in the great category. A conversation I was having recently with John Smart of the Acceleration Studies Foundation reminded me of Nonzero and made it clear to me that a re-read was in order. In Nonzero, Robert Wright brilliantly applies game theory to the evolution of life and human culture and makes an excellent case for the continuous expansion of non-zero-sum games in both arenas, giving a strong direction of progressive change in both. The book is much deeper and broader than that simple sentence implies, and I consider the book a must read for anyone who is interested in the nature of being human.

Very Technical

These are books best read as part of a study group, I think. Ideally with access to an expert mentor and/or someone who's recently studied them. Let me know if you'd like to pursue that journey!

Geometric Algebra for Computer Science by Leo Dorst, Daniel Fontune and Stephen Mann

I've been wanting to study Geometric Albebra for ages because it make much of Physics and other areas of science much more accessible - it looks like one of the best mathematical systems ever developed for understanding the Universe. However, it's hard (at least for me) to learn deep new areas of mathematics for myself. I was delighted by the appearance of this new book because it allows me to explore Geometric Algebra in a more familiar and tractable context, Computer Graphics, along with software tools which can render the objects which have been constructed. I still expect that reading through this will be a challenging (and exciting) journey and would love companions if you're interested.

Concepts, Techniques and Models of Computer Programming by Peter Van Roy and Seif Haridi

I love computer programming and all of the books and languages I've used up until recently have been severely limited in their approaches. This is the first book to cover most of the major computer programming models and it uses one of the best programming environments (Mozart/Oz) for its examples. I'm having a blast reading the book and doing the exercises. Soon I'll need to come up with some really challenging projects to exploit the power of Mozart/Oz. The only flaw in my mind is the bias against lexical typing. If you're seriously interested in computer programming, this one is a must read.

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