The future as told by books
Posted on Sep 16, 2015
I read a lot of books. I read because it inspires me and shows me paths that I could never imagine. Sometimes those paths are horrible and sad and sometimes they are hopeful and amazing. Not always are they paths to the future and sometimes the paths are actually about the past, but make sense when applied to the future. Books are amazing.
The other day I was thinking about books that have inspired me to think about the future critically. Books that have challenged my optimism and my pessimism. I have a small list that I would recommend, but I was interested in what my peers would suggest.
I did what anyone does in this situation and I asked:
The responses were great. I was worried at first. I thought that maybe the SUPER boring responses would prevail. People being “clever.” But luckily a lot of people took the question seriously.
The results were not altogether surprising. A lot of the suggested books are ones that I would expect and there were a few surprises.
Where possible I have included links to wikipedia or the publishers page
##Books mentioned multiple times
These books were mentioned in multiple tweets
- 1984 by George Orwell: two mentions
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: two mentions
- Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson: two mentions
- Farmers’ Almanac: two mentions
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: six mentions
- The Bible by Jesus: two mentions
- Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis: two mentions
##Books I had never heard of
I had never heard of these books. This is exciting!
- A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity by Walter B Pitkin
- Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather
- But your a horse by David Bussell
- The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
- Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov
- Ishmeal by Daniel Quinn
- Nova Express by William S. Burroughs
- Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
- On such a full sea by Chang-Rae Lee
- Scietia Sacra by Béla Hamvas
- Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
- Texas Isreali war by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop
- The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
- The Soverign Individual by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg
- The sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
- Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis
- Trends 2000 by Gerald Celente
- Truth Machine by James L. Halperin
- Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
- War with the Newts by Karel Čapek
##Books mentioned that are on my list:
These books were mentioned and also on my list of future facing books
- 1984 by George Orwell
- 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke
- Accelerando by Charles Stross
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Canticle for leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr
- Daemon by Daniel Suarez
- Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
- Enders Game by bigot Orson Scott Card
- The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey
- Ghost in the shell by Masamune Shirow
- Interface by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury
- Old Mans War by John Scalzi
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
- Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
- The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
##Other books mentioned
- The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore
- Art of War by Sun Tzu
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
- One Second After by William R. Forstchen
- Paris in the 20th century by Jules Verne
- Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford
- Tao de Ching
- The Lorax by Dr. Suess
- The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- The sigularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
- The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
- Welcome to the monkey house by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
##Books that were not mentioned that I recommend
Books that were not mentioned, but I always include in my list of future looking books (even though some are not at all future looking ;))
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
- Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
- The Line by Teri Hall
- The Mystery of Olga Chekhova by Antony Beevor
- Norby, the Mixed-Up Robo by Janet Asimov and Isaac Asimov
- Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor
- Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
The final list of authors represented
Isaac Asimov, Janet Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Antony Beevor, John Brunner, David Bussell, William S. Burroughs, Monica Byrne, Karel Čapek, bigot Orson Scott Card, Gerald Celente, Arthur C. Clarke, Ernest Cline, James S. A. Corey, James Dale Davidson, Alexandre Dumas, Warren Ellis, Martin Ford, William R. Forstchen, Al Gore, Béla Hamvas, James L. Halperin, Teri Hall, Frank Herbert, Aldous Huxley, George Jewsbury, Elizabeth Kolbert, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, Ray Kurzweil, Chang-Rae Lee, Matthew Mather, Walter M. Miller, Jr, Miyamoto Musashi, Vladimir Nabokov, George Orwell, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Walter B Pitkin, Daniel Quinn, William Rees-Mogg, J.K. Rowling, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Jake Saunders, John Scalzi, Robert Sheckley, Masamune Shirow, Shel Silverstein, Olaf Stapledon, Neal Stephenson, John Steinbeck, Clifford Stoll, Charles Stross, Daniel Suarez, Dr. Suess, Sun Tzu, Jules Verne, Vernor Vinge, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Howard Waldrop, H.G. Wells,
No really. Apparently we are totally fucked. Most of the recommended books are based on dystopian futures. Very few of the books are about positive futures. I imagine this is not unusual. A story of “OMG everything is wonderful and everyone is living in harmony” is probably not super exciting. I would love recomendations for positive futuristic books if you have them.
The other thing I noticed was the general lack of history books. There were only a couple.
There were a handful of books that were written a while ago. This is great. I love books that stand the test of time.
Books have literally powered most of my life. Whether as a stress reflief when doing hard things or as vacation fodder: they are a constant and important part of my life.
When I look for new books, I often struggle to find things that challenge and entertain me. This has caused me to spend a number of cycles thinking about where I can get the serendipitous book discovery experience that we had in physical book stores. Since going to a physical book store is obviously out of the question (sigh), I have found that the most reliable experience is twitter.
Some of my favorite recent reads have come from friends mentioning books on twitter. For example:
My plea/suggestion/thought here is that I need you all to share your read books more publicly. I am not talking about goodreads or whatever. I mean a tweet thatsimply says “This book is awesome.” It helps.
##Thanks for participating on twitter
These are the awesome people who jumped in with suggestions:
@AndrewNebus, @Arkmashton, @Asher_Wolf, @Bar_Code, @BragHQ, @DireCab, @GNU_Ninja, @Iteration23, @JessaBahr, @Joe_Wegner, @JoeyGo23, @KapuraMax, @KimMoldofsky, @MAPstr, @MadcapOcelot, @Pathh1, @RickWebb, @StartupTheory, @Vwampage, @_cz, @_mikesand, @angelcolberg, @bestvpnservice, @brain_the, @cdibona, @cjoh, @crazybob, @dantoffey, @dbentley, @devinhalladay, @ethank, @garethgreenaway, @golovashkina, @hmason, @humanprovince, @hunterwalk, @iOluLawal, @isightdr, @jacobdehart, @jazzychad, @jheltzer, @jstogdill, @kalamahina, @kohlhofer, @lanec, @liposuctor, @marinkodanic, @mattcutts, @melissaWashin, @micah, @milesward, @mlrlf, @mouseferatu, @mrspete, @niftynei, @om, @pelletk, @prisonrodeo, @rgyatso, @rossgstanley, @ryan_a_lane, @senorfrio, @sephcoster, @shadalicious, @superfungo, @thejohnmarc, @therealfitz, @tolar, @weems, @zedshaw, @zfurnas, and @zoink.
A+++ Would tweet for books again!!!!!
As always, if you want to see what I am currently reading — check out my book site: harperreed.com/books
Crossposted to Medium here: https://medium.com/@harper/the-future-as-told-by-books-470a972651d5