About

The internet is full of bullsh*t. This site can’t fix that. But it can help make you less stupid.

My goal is simple: to give you straightforward, curated reading lists selected by experts on a variety of topics. You can think of them as course outlines for regular life.

I’ll be studiously avoiding the usual self-help and pop science. If you’re looking for yet another list consisting of Jordan Peterson, Sun Tzu, Ryan Holiday, Ray Dalio, Robert Greene, Tim Ferriss, one woman author (Barbara Oakley or Susan Cain, probably) and a solitary book of fiction (Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, probably), look elsewhere.

Will those books possibly show up in a list? Yeah. But not because I think they’ll change your life. They’ll show up in a list only as part of a broader collection of books so you can gain a better understanding of a topic from more than one perspective.

Let me head off a few questions I know will come up.

FAQs

Hey, why didn’t you include *this* book?!

Are you an expert? No? Then why should I give a sh*t which book you recommend? If I’m trying to learn about vaccines, for example, I don’t give a flying f*ck what my barber recommends. I want to know what people who dedicated their whole lives to a subject think.

Omg, you’re just blindly following the experts? Even when they’re wrong?!

Oh, I see. You’re a rebel. A punk. Your identity is wrapped up in the fact that some authority figure once told you that you were wrong or wouldn’t amount to anything and you either proved them wrong or are busily still trying to achieve that.

That’s your hang-up, not mine.

I’m not following experts or rejecting them. I’m just not stupid enough to think I have the requisite knowledge to assess who is right or who is wrong just because I read an article on a blog somewhere. So I’m reading. And I’m thinking. Reading is a *prerequisite* to quality thought, not a substitute for it.

The author you chose is a TERRIBLE HUMAN!

Take it up with your God, I’m not in charge of deciding who goes to heaven or hell. Also, I’m not electing an author to office, I’m reading their f*cking book. I may think Jordan Peterson is a jackass but I’ll read his book, take what’s good and leave the rest. And if there’s nothing good at all, at least I’ll know what it’s about and can safely dismiss him and move onto more helpful and useful writers.

Also, if you find a writer morally repugnant, don’t pay for their books. Buy it used, get it from the library, or borrow it from a friend. That last one might seem scary, but if you borrow from a friend and they tell you the book was fantastic but it was lousy and morally repugnant, you’ll have extra information about your friend and the kind of person they are.

Who are these lists for?

Simple people who know that they do not know.

The idea comes form this Arab proverb:

Men are four. He who knows not, and knows not he knows not, he is a fool—shun him; He who knows not, and knows he knows not, he is simple—teach him; He who knows, and knows not he knows, he is asleep—wake him; He who knows, and knows he knows, he is wise—follow him. Arab Proverb quoted in The Life of Captain Sir Richard F. Burton Isabel Lady Burton 1831-1896

As an Arab myself, I feel qualified to append a fifth man for our current moment:

He knows not, and knows not he knows not, and won’t shut the f*ck up about his theories to his foolish audience, he is a jackass—ignore him.

My assumption is that you are not this person. In choosing to shut the f*ck up and read, you’re also not a fool. You’re simple.

My goal is to get you from simple to asleep and eventually to awake. By the time you wake up, I want you to be able to recognize the difference between a wise person and a jackass and follow the former.

In short, these lists are for beginners with open minds.

How will you curate these lists?

I’d like to interview experts, eventually. But for now I’ll start by finding course outlines, syllabi, and book recommendations from experts in their field.

Lists will go through iterations over time, since it’s likely that I won’t have read every book I put in a list. I’ll be trusting others and that means I need a mechanism for revision. I’ll do my best to keep these revisions transparent.

Books that don’t belong in the core list but may be of interest will be considered supplementary and included at the bottom of each list.

Who Are You?

Great album.