100 books like The Palliative Society

By Byung-Chul Han, Daniel Steuer (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Palliative Society fans have personally recommended if you like The Palliative Society. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Origin of Concepts

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

I’m interested in how mathematicians create mathematics but this book made me realize that learning mathematics is also a form of creativity. Each of us has created our understanding of mathematics as we were growing up. We are all creative!  

What is amazing about this book is that even children as young as six months possess rudimentary mathematical concepts, in particular, the concept of number. (Actually, Carey shows children have two distinct ways of thinking about numbers). The concept of number is built-in. That’s amazing to me! The mastery of counting numbers, 1,2,3,… is a great creative leap in the development of the child. This leap is followed by a series of further amazing accomplishments, for example, the insight that a fraction like 2/3, is a completely new kind of number (and not just a problem in division). How do kids manage to accomplish such radical changes in their concept…

By Susan Carey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Origin of Concepts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only human beings have a rich conceptual repertoire with concepts like tort, entropy, Abelian group, mannerism, icon and deconstruction. How have humans constructed these concepts? And once they have been constructed by adults, how do children acquire them? While primarily focusing on the second question, in The Origin of Concepts , Susan Carey shows that the answers to both overlap substantially.

Carey begins by characterizing the innate starting point for conceptual development, namely systems of core cognition. Representations of core cognition are the output of dedicated input analyzers, as with perceptual representations, but these core representations differ from perceptual representations…


Book cover of What Is Mathematics, Really?

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

Reuben Hersh is responsible for a revolution in the way we look at mathematics. His main idea is very simple: mathematics is something that is created by human beings. Isn’t that obvious, you say? Not if you believe that mathematics is there even before life itself, that it is built into the nature of reality in some way. In philosophy, this view is called Platonism. Hersh had the radical but obvious idea that if we want to understand what mathematics is we should look at what mathematicians actually do when they create mathematics. Like all great ideas it can be stated very simply but the implications are enormous.  His ideas are what got me started writing my own books about math and science.

By Reuben Hersh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is Mathematics, Really? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tackles the important questions which have engaged mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers for thousands of years and which are still being asked today. It does so with clarity and with scholarship born of first-hand experience; a knowledge both of the ideas and of the people who have pronounced on them. The main purpose of the book is to confront philosophical problems: In what sense do mathematical objects exist? How can we have knowledge of them? Why do mathematicians think mathematical entities exist for ever, independent of human action and knowledge? The book proposes an unconventional answer: mathematics has existence…


Book cover of Proofs and Refutations

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

Lots of people have a priori ideas about what mathematics is all about but Lakatos had the brilliant idea of looking at what actually happened. His book is all about one famous theorem: “for all regular polyhedra, V – E + F =2, where V is the number of vertices, E is the number of edges, and F is the number of faces.  Think of a cube where V=8, E = 12, F = 6.  

We tend to think that mathematics proceeds from a well-defined hypothesis to conclusion. But that is only the finishing step. Along the way the definitions keep changing as do the hypotheses and even the conclusion. Everything is moving! This is what makes doing mathematics so exciting!

By Imre Lakatos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Proofs and Refutations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imre Lakatos's Proofs and Refutations is an enduring classic, which has never lost its relevance. Taking the form of a dialogue between a teacher and some students, the book considers various solutions to mathematical problems and, in the process, raises important questions about the nature of mathematical discovery and methodology. Lakatos shows that mathematics grows through a process of improvement by attempts at proofs and critiques of these attempts, and his work continues to inspire mathematicians and philosophers aspiring to develop a philosophy of mathematics that accounts for both the static and the dynamic complexity of mathematical practice. With a…


Book cover of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

This is another book about the new research into how babies think. I am excited about this research because of its implications for how people learn mathematics and how researchers create math. This book taught me something important about how we all think. Gopnik distinguishes between what she calls flashlight consciousness and lantern consciousness. Flashlight is the way adults think. You focus on one thing at a time and give it your full attention. But babies, she claims, use their minds differently. Their lantern consciousness is unfocused and is aware of the big picture all at once.  

So what happens to lantern consciousness when you grow up? The answer is that creative individuals use it and alternate between lantern and flashlight consciousness. When we are creating or learning something new, we have to drop back to lantern consciousness. Logic comes from flashlight consciousness and, by itself, will never produce anything…

By Alison Gopnik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Philosophical Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the last decade there has been a revolution in our understanding of the minds of infants and young children. We used to believe that babies were irrational, and that their thinking and experience were limited. Now Alison Gopnik ― a leading psychologist and philosopher, as well as a mother ― explains the cutting-edge scientific and psychological research that has revealed that babies learn more, create more, care more, and experience more than we could ever have imagined. And there is good reason to believe that babies are actually smarter, more thoughtful, and more conscious than adults. In a lively…


Book cover of Taj Mahal: The Illumined Tomb- An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Mughal and European Documentary Sources

Giles Tillotson Author Of Taj Mahal

From my list on the Taj Mahal.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian and have been engaged with India for over 40 years. Among other topics, I write about the Rajput courts in Rajasthan – especially Jaipur and Jodhpur – and about the Mughal cities of Delhi and Agra. I taught courses on these subjects at the University of London (at SOAS) in the 1990s. Since 2004 I have been living in India, where I work with museum trusts and with travel companies. Before the pandemic, I lectured regularly to tour groups visiting sites like the Taj Mahal, my aim being to bring the insights provided by expert research to a wider audience. 

Giles' book list on the Taj Mahal

Giles Tillotson Why did Giles love this book?

This is an anthology of all of the written sources on the Taj Mahal from the period of its construction in the 17th century. It brings together translations of every description or mention of the building in Mughal court histories, or accounts by foreign travellers, and explains all of the historical and religious inscriptions that are written on the building itself. The book is meant for the serious student and lacks narrative flow; but the focus exclusively on written sources dating from the same time as the Taj really helps you understand it in its own time. 

Book cover of Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century

Ted Pelton Author Of Malcolm & Jack: And Other Famous American Criminals

From my list on historical 2000s novels that aren’t all the same.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of American literary history. Still, as an undergraduate, I studied with a charismatic, postmodern French-American fiction writer, Raymond Federman, who, in a theatrical accent, called me by my last name, “Pel-tone.” Atop the Kurt Vonnegut I’d read in high school that gave me my taste for crazy, socially-conscious novels that I have tried myself also to write, I imbibed the books Federman sent my way: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett. In years since, I’ve championed innovative novels through my own small press, Starcherone Books. I am an artist whose greatest passion is discovering writing that makes me see in new ways.

Ted's book list on historical 2000s novels that aren’t all the same

Ted Pelton Why did Ted love this book?

I love experiments in the novel form, and this book by the Czech Ourednik startled me from the first words of its opening, a deadpan sentence telling us that the Americans who died at Normandy in 1944 were unusually tall. What follows is an accounting of important and trivial happenings of a hundred years of war-riddled world history in roughly the same number of pages.

Throughout, we read random details, skipping from how often people bathed to psychologists’ recommendations about venting aggression through competitive sports to the changes in human lives occasioned by contraceptives and tear-off toilet paper. Every page is always the tongue-in-cheek narration of absurdities I couldn’t help reading aloud to whoever was nearby. No book is like this one, and maybe no other so profound.

By Patrik Ourednik, Gerald Turner (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europeana as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tracing the Great War through the Millennium Bug, 1999 through 1900, Dadaism through Scientology through Sierra Leonean bicycle riding and back, award-winning Czech author Patrik Ourednik explores the horror and absurdity of the twentieth century in an explosive deconstruction of historical memory.

Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century opens on the beaches of Normandy in 1944, comparing the heights of different forces' soldiers and considering how tall, long, or good at fertilizing fields the men's bodies will be. Probing the depths of humanity and inhumanity, this is an account of history as it has never been told: "engaging,…


Book cover of Knowledge And Decisions

Caleb S. Fuller Author Of No Free Lunch: Six Economic Lies You've Been Taught And Probably Believe

From my list on the economic point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an associate professor of economics at Grove City College, where I love introducing students to the economic point of view. My first book, listed below, pursues the relentless logic of tradeoffs. My second book (co-authored with Art Carden), Mere Economics: Lessons for and from the Ordinary Business of Life, is due out in early 2025. It examines how human beings expand their options through cooperation. For me, internalizing the economic point of view is a lifelong project. I think it will become yours, too, if you try these books! 

Caleb's book list on the economic point of view

Caleb S. Fuller Why did Caleb love this book?

Thomas Sowell is underrated. How is a world-renowned thinker and commentator still underestimated? Many people think of Sowell as little more than a cultural commentator or an ideologue.

This book shatters those misconceptions by introducing you to the depth and clarity of Sowell’s thoughts. Reading and re-reading this book will impress you with the power of the economic point of view. Read it after Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.

By Thomas Sowell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knowledge And Decisions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a new preface by the author, this reissue of Thomas Sowell's classic study of decision making updates his seminal work in the context of The Vision of the Annointed , Sowell, one of America's most celebrated public intellectuals, describes in concrete detail how knowledge is shared and disseminated throughout modern society. He warns that society suffers from an ever-widening gap between firsthand knowledge and decision making,a gap that threatens not only our economic and political efficiency, but our very freedom because actual knowledge gets replaced by assumptions based on an abstract and elitist social vision f what ought to…


Book cover of The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis

Victoria W. Thoresen Author Of Sustainable Development, Education and Learning: The Challenge of Inclusive, Quality Education for All

From my list on what education is and needs to become.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been concerned about the happiness and well-being of other people, whether they are friends or strangers, rich or poor, young or old. To me, they are all members of one human family. I became engaged in community actions at an early age, and in addition to my work as a teacher, teacher trainer, and international educational consultant, I have been involved in many efforts to reconcile conflicts, ensure justice, and foster collaboration. My interest in civil rights, as well as my concern for the environment, led me to dedicate much of my time to developing global education and education for sustainable development.

Victoria's book list on what education is and needs to become

Victoria W. Thoresen Why did Victoria love this book?

I have always doubted the claim that people are predominantly violent and egotistical and can never change. Jeremy Rifkin, in this well-researched book, shows that despite humanity’s history of conflicts and misery, human beings have the potential, and have already begun, to create an empathic, global society.

A book such as this is needed to help us understand history as a process of humanity’s gradual maturing.

By Jeremy Rifkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Empathic Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping new interpretation of the history of civilization, bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin looks at the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development-and is likely to determine our fate as a species.

Today we face unparalleled challenges in an energy-intensive and interconnected world that will demand an unprecedented level of mutual understanding among diverse peoples and nations. Do we have the capacity and collective will to come together in a way that will enable us to cope with the great challenges of our time?

In this remarkable book Jeremy Rifkin tells the dramatic…


Book cover of The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century

Benjamin Carter Hett Author Of The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic

From my list on the legacy of the First World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a law school graduate heading for my first job when, unable to think of anything better to do with my last afternoon in London, I wandered through the First World War galleries of the Imperial War Museum. I was hypnotized by a slide show of Great War propaganda posters, stunned by their clever viciousness in getting men to volunteer and wives and girlfriends to pressure them. Increasingly fascinated, I started reading about the war and its aftermath. After several years of this, I quit my job at a law firm and went back to school to become a professor. And here I am.

Benjamin's book list on the legacy of the First World War

Benjamin Carter Hett Why did Benjamin love this book?

David Reynolds is simply one of the smartest and most original historians operating today. Do we imagine that no one thought much about the poems of Wilfred Owen until the 1960s? Do we think about how important the fiftieth anniversary of the Somme was for the politics of Ireland? This book is packed full of perceptive and original insights about the Great War’s very long legacy.

By David Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Long Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most violent conflicts in the history of civilization, World War I has been strangely forgotten in American culture. It has become a ghostly war fought in a haze of memory, often seen merely as a distant preamble to World War II. In The Long Shadow critically acclaimed historian David Reynolds seeks to broaden our vision by assessing the impact of the Great War across the twentieth century. He shows how events in that turbulent century-particularly World War II, the Cold War, and the collapse of Communism-shaped and reshaped attitudes to 1914-18.

By exploring big themes such as…


Book cover of Age of Anger: A History of the Present

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

In this book, Pankaj Mishraj describes how the failures of secular modernity led to the rise of revanchist movements seeking to provide those left behind with a common sense of purpose.

I greatly appreciated the international scope of Mishraj’s analysis, with which he reveals how the growth of reactionary, theocratic, and xenophobic populist politics across the globe are manifestations of the same sense of malaise.

He convincingly argues that these tensions are as old as modernity itself. Rather than engaging strictly with the same old historical and sociological sources to make his case, the author refreshingly engages the poets and novelists of the era he describes.

By Pankaj Mishra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Age of Anger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2018

NEW STATESMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2017

'The kind of vision the world needs right now...Pankaj Mishra shouldn't stop thinking' Christopher de Bellaigue, Financial Times

'This is the most astonishing, convincing, and disturbing book I've read in years' Joe Sacco

'Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely' John Banville

How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world - from American 'shooters' and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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