the library

Delightful books, as recommended in the Dicks & Betties newsletter.  


Recent Recommendations

The Denial of Death
By Ernest Becker

The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker, in which the author argues that human civilization is an elaborate, symbolic defense mechanism against the knowledge of our own mortality.

"What man needs most is to feel secure in his self-esteem. But man is not just a blind gob of idling protoplasm, but a creature with a name who lives in a world of symbols and dreams and not merely matter. His sense of self-worth is constituted symbolically, his cherished narcissism feeds on symbols, on an abstract idea of his own worth, and idea composed of sounds, words, and images, in the air, in the mind, on paper. And this means that man's natural yearning for organismic activity, the pleasures of incorporation and expansion, can be fed limitlessly in the domain of symbols and so into immortality. The single organism can expand into dimensions of worlds and times without moving a physical limb; it can take eternity into itself even as it gaspingly dies."


Currently Reading

The Information, by James Gleick


politics and society

"Suckers try to win arguments, nonsuckers try to win." — Nassim Taleb

The Lessons of History
By Will Durant, Ariel Durant

media and culture

"We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us." —McLuhan


philosophy & thought

The abstractions and processes of thought, from how we approach play (Finite and Infinite Games) to knowledge creation (The Beginning of Infinity) to confidence (The Inner Game of Tennis).


technology, time, & culture

From the origins of man (Sapiens, Homo Deus), to speculations on artificial intelligence (Superintelligence, How to Create a Mind), to how we perceive time (Why Time Flies, Felt Time).


science fiction & fantasy

Space operas, dystopias, gender speculations, cyber wtf-ery, temporal gymnastics, and killer fungi, ranging from accessible page-turners (Atwood, Ishiguro) to mega-laser geekery (Banks, Vinge).

Consider Phlebas (Culture)
By Iain M. Banks
Oryx and Crake
By Margaret Atwood
The Left Hand of Darkness
By Ursula K. Le Guin
By William Gibson
Snow Crash
By Neal Stephenson
By Isaac Asimov


"Poker is a game of making decisions under conditions of uncertainty." — Annie Duke, Decide to Play Great Poker



"Again the bell and again and you and your opponent so evenly matched it’s impossible to see your opponent is you …” — Joyce Carol Oates, On Boxing

On Boxing
By Joyce Oates
The Sweet Science
By A.J. Liebling
The Fight
By Norman Mailer