Which five books would you recommend to an 18 year old?

by RandomEA 5th Sep 201735 comments


During EA Global San Francisco 2017, there was a panel discussion called "Celebrating Failed Projects." At one point, Nathan Labenz, the moderator, asks, "What are some projects that you guys are harboring in the backs of your respective minds that you'd love to see people undertake even if, and maybe especially where, the chance of ultimate success might be pretty low?" In response, Anna Salamon says, "There's a set of books that pretty often change people's lives, especially 18 year old type people's lives, hopefully in good directions. I think it would be lovely to make a list of five of those books and make a list of all the smart kids and mail the books to the smart kids. This has been on the list of obvious things to do for the last ten years but somehow nobody has ever done it. I didn't do it. I don't know. I really wish someone would do it. I think it would be really high impact."

If I had to choose five books related to effective altruism, I would probably choose:

1. Doing Good Better by William MacAskill

2. 80,000 Hours by Benjamin Todd and the 80,000 Hours Team

3. The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

4. Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

5. Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

However, I doubt that Salamon meant to limit the selection to books related to effective altruism. If you could choose five books on any topic, which five would you choose?