The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant (3.5k words of notes!)

The Lessons of History is a short edition, about a hundred pages, written by Will and Ariel Durant – a couple who were both historians in their time, and presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their lifetime’s work. This one is one of their last publications, carries the weight of their fifty-plus years of study, and displays the quality of writing honed over that period. I cannot begin to recommend the book enough. It is short, illuminating, and engaging, with a dry wit that shines through and endears the book to me even more. High praise, but it has become one of my favorite books ever.

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Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy is on the range of historical fiction, but closer to fact than fiction. The novel’s basis comes from the interviews of its author, Barbara Demick, with defectors and refugees of and from North Korea. In it, the stories of those refugees become threads that Ms. Demick uses to weave a tapestry portraying life in North Korea, giving readers a look into a country that most only know through fanciful tales and overblown media, and that an unfortunate few know through hard, terrible experience. It is a deeply touching, engaging read, and she brings the characters, who are in fact real people made characters to protect their identities, to life. I highly recommend this book.

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Extreme Productivity by Robert Pozen

This one was quite useful. I can see it being paradigm-shattering for anyone that doesn’t regularly procrastinate by reading about productivity on the web.
If you already read people like Sebastian Marshall, you’ll most likely recognize snippets here and there, like the Touch It Once principle. However,
even being the productivity-researching procrastinator I can be, I still got a lot out of this book, and would recommend it to students and working
professionals alike.

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Jumper by Steven Gould

Jumper (and its sequel, Reflex) are light yet deeply engaging sci-fi novels about a young man who can, as you might know if you’ve seen the movie, teleport at will. The books are far better than the movie, just FYI. Mr. Gould doesn’t delve too deeply into the mechanics of teleportation itself; the novel uses Davy’s — the protagonist — ability as a catalyst for the plot and character development. It’s rather well-done, and the second book especially had me frantically tapping my Kindle screen to advance through the pages.

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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

This book was overall a 9/10 for me. 12/10 for the first half and a 7/10 for the second. You can learn so much from the rise of Genghis Khan, and the story reads like an actual story. Rather than just saying there was X battle in Y year, Weatherford lays out the motivations behind the powers and the conflicts that erupt, and the narrative comes alive. This is a perfect book for somebody who wants to begin reading history or learn about an infamous figure who deserves a much better reputation.

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Around the World in Fifteen Friends by Tynan

Around the World in Fifteen Friends by Tynan is an entertaining and short read, yet still mind-expanding and interesting. You can almost feel Tynan’s curiosity for life come through, and each story is short enough for the book to be easily finished, yet still engaging; all are well-told, and you’ll learn about things like a family in Japan famous internationally for their quality of tea and personal hospitality.

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What do you say after you say hello? by Eric Berne

What do you say after you say hello? by Eric Berne was a good read. Berne is a psychologist with a good grasp of style and a sense of frank humor. The book itself is informative without being overwhelming, humorous without being overly dramatic, and realistic without being cynical. It’s a bit of a longer read — it was worth it, for what I got out of it. It’s an older book now, and can usually be found on Amazon for cheap, if you would like to read it after reading this review.

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Progression by Sebastian Marshall

Progression is one of the most life-changing and applicable series of nonfiction I’ve ever read. Sebastian Marshall writes with a strong sense of storytelling, yet manages to weave in philosophical and actionable lessons from analyzing the historical narratives he presents them with. It’s almost like reading a Malcolm Gladwell book where he not only analyzes high-performers from the past ten years, but from history’s most famous figures, and gives you clear action items to go along with.

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Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Rationality was an incredibly beneficial book for me. It was a bit of a slog to get through, but absolutely worth it. My cognition has improved, and I came away with a stronger mindset for learning and reasoning. The book itself is engaging and polarized; Eliezer Yudkowsky writes with an unapologetic style that can be irritating, educational, dramatic, and intuitive all at once.

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