Reading Recommendations

Books read is just a vanity metric. If you read one book a year that changes your life, that’s all it takes.Naval

So here’s a few texts that had an impact on me. Or that I would recommend to a friend. In no particular order. For each book or blog that I recommend, there are at least 10 that didn’t make the cut. I tried to only include the best of the best.

I last updated this list in July 2021. If it gets a bit old, feel free to tell me @loregrav and I’ll update it.

Do note that the list is personal — when you read something is just as important as the thing itself.


This Will Make You Smarter, edited by J. Brockman

The book is a collection of mental models. It was my first introduction to the concept, something which would open me up to an entire world of self-growth and discovery, and eventually to the rest of the books on the list. I read it young, it hit me at the right time, and the content did actually make me smarter (or so I think.)

The Black Swan, by N. N. Taleb

Taleb is brash, and it takes a little to get used to his style. But by the end you start seeing things from his point of view, and the style only amplifies the book’s effect on you.

Per se the concept explained in the book may not seem all that revolutionary at a first look — unexpected things happen — but he looks at it from a different point of view, exploring ramifications you hadn’t thought of. Worth re-reading, and a good entry book for the rest of his Incerto series.

The Lessons of History, by W. and A. Durant

Will and Ariel Durant spent 40 years writing a sprawling 11-volume magnum opus on the history of human civilization. Then they wrote this 100-page book summarizing what they believed were the lessons to be learned from history. If you had to read only one history book in your life, let this be it.

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by D. Kahneman

Our brain is split into two: one part thinks deeply, and the other doesn’t think all that much. But it sounds a lot better when Kahneman says it.

This book changes how you see your own brain. Perhaps by the end you’ll be more forgiving towards it. A must read.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, edited by E. Jorgenson

This book is a free compendium of Naval‘s maxims and lessons that were already available on the Internet, in one neat package.

Naval completely changed my view on money, wealth, and entrepreneurship. It may be a case of “the right time,” but it hit me and I still feel the effects years later.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William B. Irvine

Do you have a philosophy of life? Do you have bedrock principles that guide your actions, or do you kind of just go randomly about life? Having a philosophy of life helps to move you from the second to the first category. Give Stoicism a try, this book is the perfect introduction to it.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

This is the only fiction book on this list, and for good reason. It’s one of the few books where I truly felt transported to another era. Eco’s historical accuracy is uncanny. He wrote this first book of his after countless years of pouring over medieval texts, and his expertise shows. Plus it was inspired by, and is just as gripping as the Sherlock Holmes novels.

How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

I’m aware the author of this book is considered to be controversial. When decoupling the ideas in the book from the author, however, they stand up, at least for me.

In the book, Adams explains how he went from having just a regular, good old office job to becoming more realized and fulfilled as a person, including happiness, money, fitness, etc. It sounds like some self-aggrandizing tale, but it is not. He gives tips which, when I think back to it, changed my life.


Paul Graham’s Essays

What are Graham’s essays about? Hard to tell. Some are about startups, some about identity, others about growing up. The common thread is that they are all insanely evergreen. That’s the best compliment I can pay a blog. Read his essays from 2004 and they are just as fresh and current as the ones he just posted. Plus, you are guaranteed to finish one having learned something new.

Stratechery by Ben Thompson

This weekly column is one I read religiously. Ben Thompson’s blog is a must read for anyone who is interested in the cross section between technology and strategy. He carved a niche diving deep into explaining why tech companies do what they do. Great read.

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