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What books to get?


I have a bit of money to spend, so I want to do an Amazon shopping trip. I can’t really make up my mind what to get, lately I have bought mostly books about Buddhism and ancient Greek literature. But I’d like to get some other things too…literature books that I have are mostly older, like 19th century or early 20th. Maybe it’s good to try new things, more contemporary literature, or modern philosophy, or popular science stuff. Not that big on genre fiction, but maybe some good sci fi books might be good.

I think I’ll get this by Richard Feynman. Can anyone recommend something else that I really need to get? Or that they’d just want to recommend for anyone in general?


I always recommend The Invention of Morel.


Popular science :grinning:


If you’re looking for some good sci-fi to read, you can’t go wrong with The Expanse series by James Corey.


Nice suggestions! Thanks. I might need to get something by Borges. Expanse series looks interesting too.


He has a great complete short story collection that is pretty nice in is price range.


I misread, I thought the Invention of Morel was by Borges. I never heard of Casares before. Is it similar in style to Borges?


Borges and Casares were bosom buddies.

In fact, Borges is envious of The Invention of Morel.
It is similar but a bit more blunt in places, but is overall vastly charming.


As mentioned, they were friends. You see the progression of magical realism to science fiction, and Borges considers Morel to be a perfect novel, in terms of plot and structure.

I found Morel to be sort of bland, to be perfectly frank. One or two interesting ideas, but the style didn’t appeal to me, and I wasn’t very surprised.

Borges, on the other hand, I love. He writes as an academic writes, and that might get tiresome over a long novel, but with short stories it’s wonderful. it’s a very ‘tell, don’t show’ style that is very out of vogue; rather than write novels, he prefers to write reviews or responses to fictional novels. The sheer breadth of his imagination and the edge of his wit is phenomenal. I can’t recommend his work enough.

Feynman’s work is fun, by the way - I’ve read it all, and it’s very easy, very down to earth.

In terms of modern literature, you can’t go wrong with Vonnegut or Pynchon, for my money. Eduardo Galeano is one of my favorite authors, and Mirrors is one of my favorite books.

if you’re looking for contemporary philosophy, Chomsky’s “Understanding Power” is seminal and Baudrillard’s America is a lot of fun.


I can be bland, but I think that as a fable of obsession it is rather perfect.


Can anyone recommend something by Christopher Hitchens? I’m also interested in history books, both ancient and more recent history.


Not read any Hitchens. Read Stephen Alford’s The Watchers recently - Elizabethan espionage, codebreakers, blackmail, etc. Good read.

What areas of history exactly? Any of Mary Beard’s books are worth reading. Tom Holland is excellent for classical and mediaeval history.
Paul Bahn’s History of Archaeology is a good overview but a bit more academic maybe.
Thomas Asbridge has written some good stuff on the crusades.
The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Julia Lovell’s The Opium War
Just a few random suggestions.
Let me know if there’s any more specific period you’re interested in.


I love classical history, Greek and Roman. And renaissance. Also Chinese and Japanese history. But also more modern, like WW2.


Might be some good ideas in this thread.


The Last Testament of Gideon Mack


The whole Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams


I haven’t read it yet, but want to after seeing the television show’s first season. How does it compare?


I’m the opposite, read the books but not seen the show. Have heard good things though. Hopefully someone else here can answer that.


Classical history: definitely Tom Holland and Mary Beard
Judith Herrin’s Byzantium
Byzantium and the Crusades by Jonathan Harris
WW2: Max Hastings is good - Nemesis: The Battle for Japan + loads of others.
I have some ancient history Chinese and Japanese books, will have a look for you. For now can only think of Coxinga and the Fall of the Ming Dynasty by Jonathan Clements - great book (he also wrote a good book on The Vikings if anyone is interested).
Fiction re Japan: David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
Renaissance: Andrea Di Robilant’s Venetian Navigators. And The Enchantress of Florence by S. Rushdie is a wondrous novel.

Project Gutenberg is a great resource online. Tons of free books on every historical period.