Dan Gardner is the New York Times best-selling author of Risk, Future Babble, Superforecasting (co-authored with Philip E. Tetlock), and How Big Things Get Done (co-authored with Bent Flyvbjerg). His books have been published in 26 countries and 20 languages. Prior to becoming an author, Gardner was an award-winning investigative journalist. More >

Summer reading

I'm into the early phases of research for my next book, and that means heaps of reading. The books alone are, in a stack, precisely 14 inches taller than I am. So I asked on Twitter if anyone wanted to know what I'm reading. Some of you said yes, for some reason, so I'll keep a running tally here. I may single out some books as particularly timely, interesting, important, or whatever, but I won't comment on most. That may or may not mean they're not worthy of comment, but if the latter my comments will be in my book.
  1. The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge. A reprint of a short 1939 essay, plus a preface of equal length by the director of The Institute for Advanced Study. The focus is on the good things that happen when scientists are allowed to follow their curiosity about basic science without any regard for how "useful" their research will be. However, the point applies to any human endeavour. Inspiring and important. Please read.
  2. The Art of the Long View.
  3. Homo Prospectus.
  4. The Worlds of Herman Kahn.
  5. The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning.
  6. Your Brain is a Time Machine.
  7. The Clock of the Long Now.
  8. How Few Remain. Yes, it's a novel -- about an alternate history in which 20 years have passed since the Confederacy won the Civil War -- but it's highly relevant to my book. It's also really fun reading. Particularly unsettling and thought-provoking are the occasional cameos by great figures in history who, in this timeline, have become bitter mediocrities (Sherman) or little-noticed drunks (Grant).
  9. The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA.
  10. The Art of Conjecture.
  11. The Making of the Atomic Bomb.
  12. The Fat Tail.
  13. The Emergence of Probability.
  14. Judgments Over Time.