The best books for thinking differently about relationships

The Books I Picked & Why

The New Breed: What Our History with Animals Reveals about Our Future with Robots

By Kate Darling

The New Breed: What Our History with Animals Reveals about Our Future with Robots

Why this book?

Our relationships with living beings like plants and animals may influence the way we treat other sorts of life—or “life”—we encounter in the future, including the artificial life we create. It’s probably prudent to consider what those relationships should look like, now, before we begin engaging with AI or aliens lacking a clear sense of how to behave toward them.


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Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

By Kristen Radtke

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

Why this book?

Much ink has been spilled about the “loneliness epidemic” spreading widely in the modern world, and this book does a good job of illuminating several facets of that epidemic, addressing the distinction between our private and public selves, and questioning the means through which we attempt, with mixed results, to close our social gaps.


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Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works

By Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus

Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works

Why this book?

Josh and Ryan of The Minimalists have been doing a good job, for years, writing about the correlation between consumeristic compulsions and the spaces in our lives these acquisitions are meant to fill. This book focuses especially on several types of relationships that tend to shape our sense of satisfaction and fulfillment with life, alongside discussions of their own (at times troubled) relationships with people and possessions.


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This Is How You Lose the Time War

By Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Why this book?

This is an immensely poetic, beautiful work of science fiction that orients around the non-standard relationship between time-traveling operatives from rival, potential futures. That relationship evolves in interesting ways, and their behaviors toward each other as they go about their opposing tasks are both fascinating and smile-inducing. Just a joy to read, and a lovely example of interpersonal dynamics stealing the spotlight from an also quite compelling universe and plot.


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Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

By Merlin Sheldrake

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Why this book?

We’re only now beginning to understand how completely interwoven fungi are with pretty much every other living creature, and I find that interesting and humbling unto itself, but also find it to be a useful metaphor for the mega-ecosystems of which we’re a part: even relationships we can’t perceive or quantify can play vital roles to the survival and well-being of seemingly disparate elements and entities.


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