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This is mostly a linkpost to a Gdoc which itself links to notes on 20 EA-relevant books (to be updated on an ongoing basis). I hope you'll find it useful! Here is the list, with links included for convenience:


Chip and Dan Heath (2007) Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

History and International Relations

Graham T. Allison (2017) Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?

David Christian (2018) Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

Yuval Harari (2011) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

James C. Scott (2017) Against The Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

Interdisciplinary (history, psychology, philosophy, policy…)

Joseph Henrich (2015) The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter

Joseph Henrich (2020) The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

Toby Ord (2020) The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008) Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Personal Growth/Efficacy/Welfare

Angela Duckworth (2016) Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Chris MacLeod (2016) The Social Skills Guidebook

Kristin Neff (2011) Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Randolph M. Nesse (2019) Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry

Cal Newport (2016) Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport (2019) Digital Minimalism

(Applied) Psychology and Rationality

Dan Ariely (2008) Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Dan Gardner and Philip E. Tetlock (2015) Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

Jonathan Haidt (2012) The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

Daniel Kahneman (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow

Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson (2017) The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life




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Hey Calvin, thanks so much for posting this. I found these notes useful, particularly going back and pulling some of the main ideas from The Precipice. 

I was wondering if you would share what your note taking style is? Do you have your laptop next to you as you read and just take down notes when you find something interesting? Do you read first and then synthesize later? I have been attempting to work on a note taking system for my entertaining reads, but haven't quite been able to find one that balances out.

Hi Cam, I'm glad you found the notes useful! Most of these (with The Precipice being an exception) were notes taken from audiobooks. As I was listening, I'd write down brief notes (sometimes as short as a key word or phrase) on the Notes app on iPhone. Then, once a day/once every couple days, I'd reference the Notes app to jog my memory, and write down the longer item of information in a Gdoc. Then, when I'd finished the book, I'd organize/synthesize the Gdoc into a coherent set of notes with sections etc. 

These days I follow a similar system, but use Roam instead of Gdocs. Contrary to what some report, I don't find that Roam has significantly improved anything for me, but I do like the ability to easily link among documents. As a philosopher I don't find this super useful. I think if I were e.g. a historian I would find it a lot more useful. 

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