100 books like Gödel, Escher, Bach

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Here are 100 books that Gödel, Escher, Bach fans have personally recommended if you like Gödel, Escher, Bach. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America

John Langdon Author Of The Science of Human Evolution: Getting it Right

From my list on tell us who we are.

Why am I passionate about this?

My sister once remarked that listening to our mother’s stories about living during World War II made it sound like we missed something really exciting. That is what history has always been for me–something I missed out on, for better or worse. What would it really have been like? Could I have survived? Family genealogies bring history to me on a personal level; archaeology and paleontology extend that wonder much deeper into the past. During the time I taught anatomy and human evolution at the University of Indianapolis, I tried to be as interdisciplinary as possible, both in study and teaching. I continue this in my retirement. 

John's book list on tell us who we are

John Langdon Why did John love this book?

After reading David Hackett’s book, I cannot think of American society in the same way again. The United States is touted as the great melting pot, but we all know that cultural nuggets may refuse to mix thoroughly with the rest. What I learned from this book is that even within white Angle-America, behavior patterns that differentiated Englishmen hundreds of years ago persist in America today. This book is not about red states and blue states, but it is impossible to read it and not see the connections.

Hackett traces the colonial immigration of four populations who settled the colonies–New England Puritans, Quakers and others of the Middle Colonies, Cavaliers of the South, and the Scotch-Irish of the Appalachian back-country. They differed significantly in geographic origins, speech, architecture, family structure and values, gender roles, food, dress, work patterns, and the concept of freedom.

Those differences are still with us and…

By David Hackett Fischer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Albion's Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eighty percent of Americans have no British ancestors. According to David Hackett Fischer, however, their day-to-day lives are profoundly influenced by folkways transplanted from Britain to the New World with the first settlers. Residual, yet persistent, aspects of these 17th Century folkways are indentifiable, Fischer argues, in areas as divers as politics, education, and attitudes towards gender, sexuality, age, and child-raising. Making use of both traditional
and revisionist scholarship, this ground-breaking work documents how each successive wave of early emigration-Puritans to the North-East; Royalist aristocrats to the South; the Friends to the Delaware Valley; Irish and North Britons to the…


Book cover of Cosmos

Ursula Goodenough Author Of The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Has Emerged and Evolved

From my list on an ecospiritual orientation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m working with others to develop what we call a religious naturalist orientation or an ecospiritual orientation, and these books have deeply guided my path and inspired the writing of my own book. 

Ursula's book list on an ecospiritual orientation

Ursula Goodenough Why did Ursula love this book?

Astronomer Carl Sagan can be said to have launched the ecospiritual/religious naturalist trajectory with this book, upon which the TV series was based, later writing: A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.”

Two seminal quotes: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

By Carl Sagan,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Cosmos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Spacecraft missions to nearby planets
* The Library of ancient Alexandria
* The human brain
* Egyptian hieroglyphics
* The origin of life
* The death of the sun
* The evolution of galaxies
* The origins of matter, suns and worlds

The story of fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transforming matter and life into consciousness, of how science and civilisation grew up together, and of the forces and individuals who helped shape modern science. A story told with Carl Sagan's remarkable ability to make scientific ideas both comprehensible and exciting.


Book cover of Einstein's Dreams

Mario Livio Author Of Galileo: And the Science Deniers

From my list on science, mathematics, and philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mario Livio is an astrophysicist and author of seven popular science books, including the bestsellers The Golden Ratio and Brilliant Blunders. He worked for 24 years (till 2015) with the Hubble Space Telescope, and published more than 500 scientific papers. He lectures regularly to the general public, and has appeared on television programs ranging from 60 Minutes to NOVA to The Daily Show.

Mario's book list on science, mathematics, and philosophy

Mario Livio Why did Mario love this book?

An enthralling, fictional description of a young scientist (Einstein) and his dreams/thoughts about space, time, relativity, and the nature of reality. The book fictionalizes Einstein’s dreams in 1905, his “Annus Mirabilis” (“Miracle Year”), in which he wrote four fundamental papers, including one on his theory of Special Relativity. While this is a work of fiction, the physics concepts are beautifully explained.

By Alan Lightman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Einstein's Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is ten minutes past six by the invisible clock on the wall. The young patents clerk sprawls in his chair, dreaming about time. He is Albert Einstein, and in his dreams he imagines new worlds, in which time can be circular, or flow backwards, or slow down at higher altitudes.


Book cover of Men of Mathematics

Basil Mahon Author Of The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside: A Maverick of Electrical Science

From my list on science to enjoy and to get you thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always had a fascination with science. It came not from school or college, where lessons were sometimes dull, but from books about the discoveries and the people who made them. After careers as a soldier and as a government statistician I felt impelled to spread the word by writing, or at least try. After 40 rejections, my first book – about James Clerk Maxwell – was published and, to my joy, found many readers. My aim in writing is simply to share enjoyment with readers in an equal partnership. And I hope always to leave the reader feeling that he or she really knows the people I am writing about.

Basil's book list on science to enjoy and to get you thinking

Basil Mahon Why did Basil love this book?

First published in 1937, this lovely book is a true classic. In two volumes Bell brings to life 30 or so mathematicians, from Archimedes to Cantor. When first reading the book many years ago I had remembered some of the names from school and college, but only as labels to theorems or equations, and I felt taken into a delightful new realm of knowledge – I could now think of Fermat, Lagrange, Gauss, and Riemann as people. And I began to want to know more about the scientists whose names I had heard in school and college. Bell’s book had sparked a lifelong interest.

By E.T. Bell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Men of Mathematics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of A History of Western Philosophy

Michael E. Long Author Of The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race

From my list on finding your place in the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m interested in everything – which is a problem, because there’s not time for everything. So how do you find the best of the world and your own place in it? Understanding your motivations is a good place to start, hence The Molecule of More. The rest comes from exploring as much as you can, and that begins with understanding the scope of what’s out there: ideas, attitudes, and cultures. The greatest joy in my life comes from the jaw-dropping realization that the world is so full of potential and wonder. These books are a guide to some of the best of it, and some of the breadth of it.

Michael's book list on finding your place in the world

Michael E. Long Why did Michael love this book?

Whatever those deep questions are that you have, somebody’s already thought about them, and this masterwork of a book will show you that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re thinking and feeling the same way women and men did a couple thousand years ago – and some very wise individuals have thought through what you’re thinking through. This book will change your life and your mind. You have to be patient, but it’s worth it. Read three pages (no more) a day, every day. Plan on sticking with this for more than a year, then do so. Use a highlighter for a bookmark. It changed me. It’ll change you, too.

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A History of Western Philosophy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1946, History of Western Philosophy went on to become the best-selling philosophy book of the twentieth century. A dazzlingly ambitious project, it remains unchallenged to this day as the ultimate introduction to Western philosophy. Providing a sophisticated overview of the ideas that have perplexed people from time immemorial, it is 'long on wit, intelligence and curmudgeonly scepticism', as the New York Times noted, and it is this, coupled with the sheer brilliance of its scholarship, that has made Russell's History of Western Philosophy one of the most important philosophical works of all time.


Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Bradley Bevers Author Of The Mental Game of Real Estate: How to Thrive as a Real Estate Agent

From my list on showing you how to sell anything without losing your soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to read books. I read over 100 books a year and really try to implement principles and tips from those that I love. I also hate traditional sales advice and have worked on building my business differently from the typical salesperson, trying to serve my clients better by learning and practicing in a different way. Nothing happens until somebody sells something, but there is a better way. That’s why I wrote my book, The Mental Game of Real Estate, about the same principles that I teach my agents every day.

Bradley's book list on showing you how to sell anything without losing your soul

Bradley Bevers Why did Bradley love this book?

If you are going to read one book about how to be a better salesperson, read this one. Cialdini is a master, and most modern sales psychology books are built off of his work in this book. I have used all six of the principles that he lays out in this book to grow the real estate business, but I especially love the principle of reciprocity.

In a nutshell, this is the power of giving gifts to build relationships, and it is one of the main things I learned from reading to grow my business. When I show a property, I bring water, snacks, and beer. I follow up with my clients with at least 5 personal gifts a year. Cialdini also teaches the power of accepting gifts from others, and I always accept a glass of water, a snack, or anything else my clients offer me. You are not…

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


Book cover of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Martin Erwig Author Of Once Upon an Algorithm: How Stories Explain Computing

From my list on computer science without coding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of computer science at Oregon State University. My research focus is on programming languages, but I also work on computer science education and outreach. I grew up in Germany and moved to the United States in 2000. Since computer science is a fairly new and not widely understood discipline, I am interested in explaining its core ideas to the general public. I believe that in order to attract a more diverse set of people to the field we should emphasize that coding is only a small part of computer science.

Martin's book list on computer science without coding

Martin Erwig Why did Martin love this book?

This book is not about computing, but it is relevant in an indirect way. I love this book, since it is written in such an engaging style and illustrates with many examples that math is not a dry subject to be practiced only by mathematicians but helps everyone to solve real-world problems. The book shows how important it is to be precise in describing problems and that applying a little mathematical rigor goes a long way in solving them. Ellenberg describes mathematics as the “extension of common sense by other means.” In a similar way, I view computer science as the extension of problem-solving methods (aka “algorithms”) by other means. 

By Jordan Ellenberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How Not to Be Wrong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Witty, compelling, and just plain fun to read . . ." -Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

The Freakonomics of math-a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn't confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do-the whole world is shot through…


Book cover of Machines Like Me

Peter McAllister Author Of The Code: If Your AI Loses Its Mind, Can It Take Meds?

From my list on where we expect AI to behave as our tool, but.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an engineer, scientist, turned technology manager who works in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and have gotten lost in Sci-Fi since I could first read. Now I want to share the stories that keep me awake at night.

Peter's book list on where we expect AI to behave as our tool, but

Peter McAllister Why did Peter love this book?

Adam is a limited edition robot who can pass for human (something I can’t do on a bad day). It takes a while for Adam to learn to be part of that world, but as time passes, he moves from being the slave of his owner Charlie to being better than him in every way (just ask his girlfriend!). I kept thinking of what would it be like to have a better version of me hanging around the house. It took slaves a long time to be recognized as people, how long for the robots?

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Machines Like Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Booker Prize winner and bestselling author of Atonement—”a sharply intelligent novel of ideas” (The New York Times) that asks whether a machine can understand the human heart, or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.

Set in an uncanny alternative 1982 London—where Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power, and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence—Machines Like Me powerfully portrays two lovers who will be tested beyond their understanding. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a…


Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Joseph Pitkin Author Of Exit Black

From my list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My science fiction and fantasy writing is concerned with the values I was exposed to growing up. As a lifelong Quaker, I have struggled—often unsuccessfully—to live out Quakerism’s non-conformist, almost utopian commitment to equality, simplicity, peace, and community. Not only have I tried to bear witness to those values in my writing, but those ideals led me to my career as an instructor at a community college, one of America’s great socioeconomic leveling institutions. My background as a speculative fiction writer has also made me into a teacher of science fiction and fantasy literature at my college, where I read and came to love the books I recommend here. 

Joseph's book list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality

Joseph Pitkin Why did Joseph love this book?

Haunting and beautiful, it gave me a new perspective on what science fiction can accomplish: Ishiguro’s book is subtle, humane, and deeply concerned with the troubles of the real world.

This story of Klara, an “artificial friend” purchased to keep a sick little girl company, takes up questions of eugenics, artificial intelligence, and, ultimately, what it means to be a human being.

Along the way, the book explores the gulf between economic and social classes with as much care and compassion as Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy—Klara and the Sun is some of the most inspiring science fiction I have ever read.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…


Book cover of The Center Cannot Hold

Satya Doyle Byock Author Of Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood

From my list on quarterlife beyond the crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before becoming a psychotherapist and author focused on the stage of adulthood between adolescence and midlife, I survived those years myself. The stage of development that I now call “Quarterlife” is a complex and rich period of life. Countless fictional heroes and protagonists in novels are in Quarterlife, yet the emphasis on these years within psychology and memoir is lacking. I personally love memoirs about this period of life and think they offer so much to others who are struggling through Quarterlife themselves and the trials of “adulting.”

Satya's book list on quarterlife beyond the crisis

Satya Doyle Byock Why did Satya love this book?

I first read this book in graduate school, and it completely changed the way I think about schizophrenia and the daily experience of living with a mental illness.

This memoir chronicles Saks’ experiences attending Oxford University and then Yale Law School with ever more progressive symptoms of schizophrenia; she details her therapy sessions as she worked closely with a psychoanalyst and then the journey to study psychoanalysis herself. I was captivated by Saks’ experience and her skilled storytelling.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that most commonly emerges in the Quarterlife years and frequently after people have gone away to college. This book is a gift to understanding this experience more fully or for those who want to feel less alone in the struggle with mental and emotional anguish during this time of life. 

By Elyn R. Saks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Center Cannot Hold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Elyn Saks is Professor of Law and Psychiatry at University of Southern California Law School. She's the author of several books. Happily married. And - a schizophrenic. Saks lifts the veil on schizophrenia with her startling and honest account of how she learned to live with this debilitating disease. With a coolly clear, measured tone she talks about her condition, the stigma attached and the deadening effects of medication. Her controlled narrative is disrupted by interjections from the part of her mind she has learned to suppress. Delusions, hallucinations and threatening voices cut into her reality and Saks, in a…


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