Books & stuff

I like reading, and I have for as long as I can remember. Here are some of my favorite books. If you see this and want to trade book suggestions, let me know! I'm always eager for another good book suggestion, even as my to-read list grows to an increasingly unreasonable length.

Fantasy & speculative

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Quite possibly the best book I have ever read. You should read it, and then you should convince your friends to read it.
  • The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. The first book in the trilogy was also the first book I've read that I loved even while strongly disliking the main character. I loved the world-building, and the character development across the trilogy is very satisfying.
  • City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett. A fantasy novel that’s built on the premise: What if a people knew their gods, and then the gods died? I loved this book, and the world is fascinating. Unfortunately, I didn't like the follow-up books nearly as much, but this book stands on its own.
  • Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A riot.
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog: or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last, by Connie Willis. A delightfully ridiculous time-travel romp.
  • Among Others, by Jo Walton. I don't even know how to summarize this book, but it was an entirely new way of thinking about magic and simultaneously a love letter to science fiction and fantasy.
  • The Broken Earth trilogy, by N. K. Jemisen. An excellently written and wonderfully rendered fantasy world that's also a devastating portrait of trauma.

Children's books

  • Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Caroll. Simply delightful—the whole book actually feels like a dream, and it's hilarious, too.
  • Instructions, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess. What to do if you find yourself in a fairy tale. Sweet and poignant.
  • Journey to the River Sea, by Eva Ibbotson. Heartwarming and simply charming.


  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg. Have you read it? You should read it.
  • Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett. Truly gorgeous writing, and wonderfully depicted, complex people.
  • The Human Comedy, by William Saroyan. A moving portrait of kindness and growing up in a small town.
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. A slow, meandering novel with an endearing porcupine of a main character and set of quirky, loveable supporting characters.
  • Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead. A slow, relaxed book with some of the best prose I've ever read.


  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles Mann. A fascinating and extensively researched history of the Americas before the arrival of Europeans.
  • The Emerald Mile, by Kevin Fedarko. Fedarko’s prose is remarkably vivid, and he weaves the the story of the near destruction of the Glen Canyon Dam together with the history of the Grand Canyon and the fastest speed run through it into the tapestry that is this book.

Books that changed my mind

  • The Case against Education, by Bryan Caplan. An economist's analysis of the social and individual benefits of education. Dense reading, but well-researched, and though I don't agree with all of Caplan's conclusions, his arguments had a significant effect on how I think about our education system.
  • The Deficit Myth, by Stephanie Kelton. This is a book that could have been an article, but the central point is important: The debt of the federal government is of an entirely different nature than the debt of individuals, and making false comparisons between the two limits our ability to think about how the federal government and work for public good.

Bonus: Worst books I've read

  • The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly. A tedious book full of characters without personality and writing without style. See my full review here.
  • The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. Another compendium of bland characters and stilted writing, but with the added bonus of insufferable leadership advice.