Things to Read

A list of books I want to read, films I want to see, games I want to play, music I want to listen to.

NPR’s top 100 sci-fi & fantasy books as a decision tree.

“Humankind: A Hopeful History”, Rutger Bregman (via Fani Partsafyllidou)
“The Art of Translation”, Vladimir Nabokov (via George Szirtes)
“Öræfi”, Ófeigur Sigurðsson
“Data and Reality”, William Kent
“The Netanyahus”, Joshua Cohen
“Lateral Cooking”, Niki Segnit
Vannevar Bush’s autobiography
“The Secret Life”, Harley Granville Barker (noted on 1992/3 Heffers diary)
“An Instance of the Fingerpost”
“How to invent everything”, Ryan North
“The Systems Bible”, John Gall (via Ali)
“The Book of Pages”, David Whiteland (via Frabcus)
“The Portable Atheist”, ​Christopher Hitchens
“Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages”, Bruce A. Tate (via Tom Oinn)
“The Search for the Perfect Language”, Umberto Eco
“Epimetheus Bound”, Keith Fahey
“The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty”, Benjamin Bratton (via Geoff Manaugh)
“The Great Game”, Peter Hopkirk
“One Hundred Poets”, Hokusai (89 images) ISBN 0-304-31898-1
“An Atlas of Typeforms”
“Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell”
“The Elements of Typographic Style”, Robert Bringhurst
“The Anxiety of Influence”, Harold Bloom
“Images of Organization”, Gareth Morgan
“Aramis”, Bruno Latour (French edition)
“Reinventing Discovery”, Michael Nielsen
“Daemon”, Daniel Suarez
“Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore”, Robin Sloan (plus prequel!)
“Space-Time and Beyond”, Toben and Wolf
Zachary Mason, “The Lost Books of the Odyssey”
“House of Leaves”, Mark Z. Danielewski
“Zany Afternoons”, Bruce McCall
Rupert Thomson
“Socrates’ Ancestor: Essay on Architectural Beginnings”
“Literary Machines”, Ted Nelson
The rest of Iain [M.] Banks
Ros Barber, “The Marlowe Papers”
Sam Leith, “The Coincidence Engine”
Robert Jackson Bennett, “The Company Man”
Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados detective mysteries
E. L. Konigsburg, “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”
“KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money”
Stanisław Lem’s essays on SF
Olaf Stapledon, “Star Maker”
“The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip”, George Saunders
“Sentimental Education”, Flaubert
“Techgnosis”, Erik Davis
Adonis (Syrian poet)
“The Folding Star”, Alan Hollinghurst
“Phi”, Giulio Tononi
“Lost in Translation”, James Merrill
“Logicomix”, Apostolos Doxiadis
“The remains of the day”, Kazuo Ishiguro
Essays, T. B. White
“Open City”, Teju Cole
“Tropic of Cancer”, Henry Miller
Film Socialism (dir. Godard)
“On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction”, B. Boyd.
Michael Moorcock
“L’Astrée”, Honoré d’Urfé et al.
“Breaking the Spell”, Daniel Dennett
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”, Moonbot Books
“Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo”, Nicholas de Monchaux (interview)
“Design For The Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change”, Victor Papanek
“Middlesex”, Jeffrey Eugenides
“Sum”, Dave Eagleman (“The Language Construction Kit”)
“The Road To Reality”, Roger Penrose vs Abelson & Sussman, “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”
“The Half-Made World”, Felix Gilman
“You Are Not A Gadget”, Jaron Lanier
“The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind”, Julian Jaynes
“Immortality”, Milan Kundera
“Le train de nulle part”, Michel Thaler
Carol Davidson Cragoe, “How to read buildings”
“How to Read a Book”, Mortimer Adler; revised Charles van Doren
Alistair Elliot, “The Young Fate”
Wilhelm Reich, “Listen, Little Man!”
Walter Benjamin, “The task of the translator”
Richard Powers, novels
Erich Auerbach, “Mimesis”
Peter Porter, poetry by
Paintings by Arne Ekeland
Patrick Modiano, “Rue des boutiques obscures”
S. I. Hayakawa, “Language in Thought and Action”
Philip Hoare, “Leviathan”
Tarkovsky/Lem, “Solaris”
Constantine Cavafy, Complete Works translated by Daniel Mendelsohn
Alan McFarlane, “Japan Through the Looking Glass”
Hurford, “The Origins of Meaning”
Bellos, “A Life of Perec”
Harry Mullisch, “The Discovery of Heaven”
Borges, “Dreamtigers” (El Hacedor)
Borges, “The Total Library”
“The Fatal Shore” (Australian history)
“Borges: A Life”
Steve Talbott, “Devices of the Soul” (0-596-52680-6)
John H. Holland, “Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity” (1995)
Italo Calvino, “Why Read The Classics?”
Burks, Goldstine & von Neumann 1946 in Bell & Newell 1971
Edward Gorey
G. Spencer Brown, “Laws of Form” (1969)
Edward Regis, Jr. (ed.), “Extraterrestrials” (0-521-26227-5)
Peter Newmark, “A Textbook of Translation” (0-13-912593-0)
Horace Freeland, “The Eighth Day of Creation: The Makers of the Revolution in Biology” (0-87969477-7)
Michael Machtey and Paul Young, “An Introduction to the General Theory of Algorithms” (0-44400226-X)
Alistair Crombie, “Styles of Thinking in the European Tradition” (0-71562439-3)
Richard Feynman, “Feynman Lectures on Physics” (3 vols, 0-20150064-7/0-20102115-3)
David Wells, “The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry” (0-14011813-6)
Peter Lee, “Bayesian Statistics: an Introduction” (FirstBayes:
P.D.Q. Bach
Mary van Leunen, “A Handbook for Scholars”
Robert Berkow and Andrew Fletcher, “Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy” (0-91191016-6)
Philip and Phylis Morrison, “Powers of Ten” (0-71670344-0)
Milton Abramowitz and Irene Stegun, “Handbook of Mathematical Functions” (0-31811730-4)
Tarthang Tulku, “Time, Space and Knowledge” (0-98900205-2)
Freeman Dyson, “Infinite in all Directions” (0-06091569-2)
Noam Chomsky, “Power and Prospects” (0-7453-1107-5)
Noam Chomsky, “Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies” (0-7453-0820-1)
Edward Tufte, “Envisioning Information”
Edward Tufte, “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”
Ableson and Sussman, “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”
Theoretical Comp. Sci. 50:1-102 (1987)
Information & Computation 93:55-92 (1991)
Ninian Smart, “World Philosophies” (0-415-18466-5 (Hbk))
Vera Bodansky, “Extended Massive Orgasm”
Michael L. Scott, “Programming Language Pragmatics”, ISBN 1-55860-442-1
Robert Cormier, “After the first death”; “I am the cheese”
E. O. Wilson, “Consilience: the unity of knowledge”
William Asprey, “John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing”
Grevisse et Goosse, “Le Bon Usage”
Geoffrey Wellum, “First Light”
Manuel Castells, “The Information Age”
“Company of Wolves”, screenplay by Angela Carter
Theoretical computer science papers:
John Raulston Saul
Martin Gardner, “The Ambidextrous Universe”
Vasily Grossman, “Life and Fate”
Francis Spufford, “Unapologetic” (via Johann Hari)
Neil Postman, “Crazy talk, Stupid talk” (influenced by Korzybski)
Andrew Solomon, “Far From The Tree” (via Anna P-S)
James Merrill, “The Changing Light At Sandover”
Ralph Vaughan Williams, “The House of Life” (song cycle)
Anne Carson, translations of myth (via @johannahan)
James C. Scott, “Seeing like a state”
Siobhan Roberts, “Genius At Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway”
Kieran Egan: “The educated mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding”
Margery Williams, “The Velveteen Rabbit”
Kate DiCamillo, “The Tale of Despereaux”

Inter libros

Books I already have and particularly intend to read.

Perec, “La disparition”
Goncharov, “Oblomov”
Christopher Alexander, “The Nature of Order” (4 vols.)

Ex libris

I have read, watched or listened to the following. Jan Lochmann’s appreciation of the list gave me the idea of keeping already-read books. (I should probably add good books that were never on this list to begin with.)

Salman Rushdie, “Haroun and the Sea of Stories”
Bonnie Nardi, “A Small Matter of Programming”
Morgan D. Jones, “The Thinker’s Toolkit” (1998)
Theodore Zeldin, “An Intimate History of Humanity”
Philip Pullman, “His Dark Materials” trilogy
Andrew Hodges, “Alan Turing: The Enigma” (0-67152809-2)
A. N. Wilson, “Paul: The Mind of the Apostle” (1-85619-542-2)
David Gelernter, “Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Computing”
James Brook and Iain A. Boal, eds., “Resisting the Virtual Life” (City Lights, San Francisco)
Kernighan & Pike, “The Practice of Programming”
“Strange Days” dir. Bigelow
“The Right To Be Lazy”, Paul Lafargue (
Bryn Terfel, “Silent Noon”
Murray Gell-Mann, “The Quark and the Jaguar”
“Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour your World”, Guy Deustcher
Neal Stephenson, “The Baroque Cycle”
Lemony Snicket, “A series of unfortunate events” (books 1–13): highly recommended: the way that the series grows up, particularly in the last two books, is impressive, and made me want to reread them, a temptation I hope to satisfy vicariously.
“Asterios Polyp”, David Mazzucchelli
“Ways of seeing”, John Berger & Mike Dibb
Raymond Queneau, “Zazie dans le métro”
“Wolf Hall” and “Bring up the Bodies”, Hilary Mantel
“Pincher Martin”, William Golding
“The Inheritors”, William Golding__ “Evening In The Palace Of Reason”
“Roverandom”, J. R. R. Tolkien
“Illuminatus!” Trilogy, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
“Schrödinger’s Cat” Trilogy, Robert Anton Wilson
Guy Deutscher, “The Unfolding of Language”
Steven Mithen, “The Singing Neanderthals”
“Plowing the Dark”, Richard Powers


The following I decided not to read.

Curb your enthusiasm (TV Series, couldn’t bear to watch more than one episode!)
John H. Holland, “Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity” (1995)
Gang of Four, “Design Patterns” (OOP patterns)
“Proust Was A Neuroscientist”, Jonah Lehrer
Lanfeust des Étoiles (tômes 4-8)

Instrumental music

Some music I thought might be nice to play. But I haven’t touched a double bass since 1997 nor a ’cello since 1987. I was given the Paganini and Barrière for Christmas 2016 by my parents…so now I guess I have to put taking up one of my old instruments back on the agenda firmly‽

Viotti, Scherzando for cello and double bass
Jean Barrière: Sonata for cello and double bass
Paganini: Fantasia for cello and double bass

Last updated 2023/01/01