The most recommended books about hubris

Who picked these books? Meet our 12 experts.

12 authors created a book list connected to hubris, and here are their favorite hubris books.
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By Lucas Pederson,

Book cover of Leviathan: Ghost Rig

Sean-Michael Argo Author Of Salvage Marines

From the list on blue collar sci-fi and horror.

Who am I?

As a child I grew up around blue-collar type men and women, and as I became an adult I grew to learn that these are the sorts of people who pioneer civilizations, who keep them running once they are built, and who are the ones to brave high-risk labor to bring us the food, shelter, and comforts we often take for granted. Adding a fictional element in the form of aliens, monsters, or the supernatural can put a fine and dynamic point on the life & struggles of such people. I strive for this in much of my military science fiction work and enjoy reading it as an audience member.

Sean-Michael's book list on blue collar sci-fi and horror

Why did Sean-Michael love this book?

This book also strives to capture the harsh working conditions and rugged individuals who must endure such endeavors, as well as the greed that often can push those in management positions to take risks for profit that might put others in danger. While this book paints with a broad brush, it does very well at telling a story about blue collar heroes, greedy villains, and the price of hubris in the form of a hungry beast.

By Lucas Pederson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bracken, a down on his luck oil man is offered a chance of redemption when a billionaire offers him a job to repair a ghost oil rig in the South Pacific Ocean. The payment is enough to retire him and his small crew.

But when they arrive on ghost rig Sera, Bracken soon discovers they're not alone. Something very large circles under the water around the rig. Something that shouldn't exist, but does. A thing of nightmares. And it's hungry...

Dirt & Deity

By Ian McIntyre,

Book cover of Dirt & Deity: Life of Robert Burns

Claire R. McDougall Author Of Veil of Time

From the list on to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland.

Who am I?

There is a saying that you can take the girl out of Scotland but not Scotland out of the girl. I am that girl. Born and raised in Scotland, I earned an MA from Edinburgh University and a M.Litt from Oxford. I met my husband during the summer at  Dartmouth College and the rest, as they say, is history. Or, at least it would be, except for the hankering back to Scotland that never leaves. My novel set in Scotland was published by Simon & Schuster.

Claire's book list on to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland

Why did Claire love this book?

This is an extensive biography of Scotland’s celebrated bard, Robert Burns, and includes a collection of unpublished letters. Scotland’s own “heaven taught ploughman,” gave life a run for its money, giving us in his few but fruitful years lines of poetry that match Shakespeare himself. 

Oh, would some 
Power the giftie
gie us
To see ourselves as
Others see us!

McIntyre gives Burns a good shot. No Scottish writer, including myself, could think of their career trajectory without Robert Burns standing out prominently along that line. He gave us the gift of hubris and the gift of the poetic gab. 

By Ian McIntyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This biography illuminates and explores the complexities and contradictions of Burns's character and personality, untangling the myth from the legend. Based on new evidence from 700 letters Burns wrote during his life, McIntyre concentrates on the circumstances of the writing of poetry itself, and paints a vivid picture of Burns's emotional and impulsive political views, the cruelty and gentleness of which he was capable, stressing the importance and the quality of the satirical poetry as well as the unforgettable love poetry immediately associated with his name.

The Spire

By William Golding,

Book cover of The Spire

Elizabeth Kiem Author Of Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn

From the list on construction projects, literal, and metaphysical.

Who am I?

When I published Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn, in which Soviet-era psychological warfare plays a heavy role, I happily washed my hands of Russian intrigue and turned to more benign, pastoral inspirations – my life-long relationship with an idyllic cathedral town in Wiltshire, for example. Just days later, the world learned that a certain Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov shared my fondness for Salisbury’s “world-famous 123-metre spire,” the glories of which prompted their 72-hour visit from Moscow (and overlapped with the botched poisoning of a KGB defector living down the road). Since then, I find myself drawn to works that explore the interstices of morality, criminality, and great construction projects.

Elizabeth's book list on construction projects, literal, and metaphysical

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Golding was living in Salisbury when he wrote The Lord of the Flies, and his day job as a teacher at a local boys' school left a clear imprint on his dystopic view of young men left to their own hierarchical devices. But the classroom also provided a very literal view of the inspiration for The Spire, a dense and disturbing parable in which rationality and physics crumble under evangelical mania and corporal lust. It is the story of Jocelin, Dean of a medieval cathedral, who, obsessed with a divine “vision in stone,” insists that the spire be raised to impossible heights. There is no happy ending in this cautionary tale of construction hubris, yet I return to it regularly in search of solace.

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Succumb to a churchman's apocalyptic vision in this prophetic tale by the radical Nobel Laureate and author of Lord of the Flies, introduced by Benjamin Myers (narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch as an audiobook).

There were three sorts of people. Those who ran, those who stayed, and those who were built in.

Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire. His master builder fearfully advises against it, for the old cathedral was miraculously built without foundations. But Jocelin is obsessed with fashioning his prayer in stone. As his halo of hair grows wilder and…

The Great Crash 1929

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Book cover of The Great Crash 1929

Matthew P. Fink Author Of The Unlikely Reformer: Carter Glass and Financial Regulation

From the list on American financial history.

Who am I?

I was always interested in American history and studied at Brown University under an outstanding professor of American economic history, James Blaine Hedges.   During my career at the mutual fund association I often approached issues from an historical perspective. For example:  Why did Congress draft legislation in a particular way?  How would past events likely affect a regulator’s decisions today?  As a lawyer I had been trained to write carefully and precisely.  As a lobbyist I learned the need to pre

Matthew's book list on American financial history

Why did Matthew love this book?

The book does an outstanding job in describing the people and events that produced the October 1929 stock market crash in a highly entertaining style. Galbraith wrote more like a witty and insightful journalist than the award-winning economist that he was. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about American financial history. The book is a model for writers who want to educate non-experts about public policy issues.

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Great Crash 1929 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the most engrossing books I have ever read' Daily Telegraph

John Kenneth Galbraith's now-classic account of the 1929 stock market collapse remains the definitive book on the most disastrous cycle of boom and bust in modern times.

Vividly depicting the causes, effects, aftermath and long-term consequences of financial meltdown, Galbraith also describes the people and the corporations who were affected by the catastrophe. With its depiction of the 'gold-rush fantasy' ingrained in America's psychology, The Great Crash 1929 remains a penetrating study of human greed and folly.


By Simon May,

Book cover of Love: A History

John Cottingham Author Of In Search of the Soul: A Philosophical Essay

From the list on the human search for meaning.

Who am I?

I have spent my career writing and teaching philosophy, working on early-modern philosophers, especially that most controversial and enigmatic figure, René Descartes. In recent years my main interest has been in the philosophy of religion, focusing on grand traditional questions about the meaning of life, and on the spiritual dimension of religious thought and practice. I have argued for a ‘humane’ turn in philosophy, meaning that philosophical inquiry should not confine itself to abstract intellectual argument alone, but should draw on a full range of resources, including literary, poetic, imaginative, and emotional modes of awareness, as we struggle to come to terms with the mystery of human existence. 

John's book list on the human search for meaning

Why did John love this book?

This astonishingly rich and beautifully written survey shows how deeply love is involved in what has always been one of my main philosophical preoccupations – the human search for meaning. Simon May reveals love as the ‘harbinger of the sacred,’ while at the same time warning of how often it bears the burden of unrealistic and misconceived expectations.

By Simon May,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An illuminating exploration of how love has been shaped, idolized, and misconstrued by the West over three millennia, and how we might differently conceive it

Love-unconditional, selfless, unchanging, sincere, and totally accepting-is worshipped today as the West's only universal religion. To challenge it is one of our few remaining taboos. In this pathbreaking and superbly written book, philosopher Simon May does just that, dissecting our resilient ruling ideas of love and showing how they are the product of a long and powerful cultural heritage.

Tracing over 2,500 years of human thought and history, May shows how our ideal of love…

The Wizard and the Prophet

By Charles C. Mann,

Book cover of The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World

Patrick N. Allitt Author Of A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism

From the list on understanding American environmental history.

Who am I?

I am a history professor at Emory University. I was born and raised in England and feel equally at home in Britain and America. I’ve written six books on religious, political, and environmental history and one on my life as a college professor. I’ve also made eleven recorded lecture series with The Great Courses, on a wide variety of topics, including a series on the History of the Industrial Revolution and a series titled The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales.

Patrick's book list on understanding American environmental history

Why did Patrick love this book?

Here is a double biography that every environmentalist should read. One of its subjects is William Vogt, a grim pessimist who thought the twentieth-century world was blundering toward self-destruction because of human industrial hubris. The other is Norman Borlaug, an optimistic plant scientist whose work with crop hybrids was central to the “green revolution” that massively increased world food supplies and diminished the danger of famine. Mann explains the internal logic of each man’s work, their strengths, and their weaknesses, and compels readers to question their own cherished assumptions about the environment, humanity, and the future.

By Charles C. Mann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In forty years, the population of the Earth will reach ten billion. Can our world support so many people? What kind of world will it be? In this unique, original and important book, Charles C. Mann illuminates the four great challenges we face - food, water, energy, climate change - through an exploration of the crucial work and wide-ranging influence of two little-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt.

Vogt (the Prophet) was the intellectual forefather of the environmental movement, and believed that in our using more than the planet has to give, our prosperity will bring us to…


By Sandeep Jauhar,

Book cover of Heart: A History

Mara Altman Author Of Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front

From the list on the human body to deepen your appreciation.

Who am I?

People, including me, can be so uptight about their bodies. Early on in my career, I found that writing about my shame (chin hair!) or embarrassment (dogs sniffing my crotch!) helped the stigma go away. Researching and learning about how amazing our bodies are helped empower me to feel confident and comfortable being fully myself. I think it can do the same for others, too. My takeaway: There is greatness in our grossness. 

Mara's book list on the human body to deepen your appreciation

Why did Mara love this book?

The amount of blood that passes through a human heart every week is enough to fill a swimming pool. That and facts like it saturate this book about our most essential organ, the heart. Jauhar weaves a dynamic science-based narrative with personal accounts that infuses the reader with love and reverence for the body part, the medical personnel, and the innovations that keep us all pumping.  

By Sandeep Jauhar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Jauhar weaves his own personal and family story into his history of the heart...very effectively... This gives a certain dramatic tension to the book, as it tells the fascinating and rather wonderful history of cardiology.'

-Henry Marsh, New Statesman

A Mail on Sunday Book of the Year

The heart lies at the centre of life. For cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar it is an obsession.

In this fascinating history he interweaves gripping scenes from the operating theatre with the moving tale of his family's history of heart problems - from the death of his grandfather to the ominous signs of how he…

The Jaws Log

By Carl Gottlieb,

Book cover of The Jaws Log

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From the list on what Hollywood is really like.

Who am I?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Why did Carleton love this book?

In my book club I’m known as Second Carl, since Carl Gottlieb has been a member far longer than I. In fact, I was still a lawyer in Washington, D.C. secretly dreaming about Hollywood but never suspecting I’d someday myself work on a Spielberg TV series, when I read this short, fast, now revered account of the filming of Spielberg’s breakout film. It proved to be a deeply accurate and comprehensive description – and warning – about what life and work on location and in Hollywood itself would be like. It’s also so engagingly readable and relevant, a Broadway musical based on the book is in tryouts as I write these words.

By Carl Gottlieb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of 3 Oscars [registered] and the highest grossing film of its time, "Jaws" was a phenomenon, and this is the only book on how 26-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's best-selling novel into the classic film it became. Hired by Spielberg as a screenwriter to work with him on the set while the movie was being made, Carl Gottlieb, and actor and writer, was there throughout the production that starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. After filming was over, with Spielberg's cooperation, Gottlieb chronicled the extraordinary year-long adventure in "The Jaws Log", which was first published in…