Soylent-related book recommendations/reviews


#1

EDIT: Consensus seems to be that general books don’t belong here, but that soylent-related ones are worth discussing on this forum. I’ve left what I wrote first below for posterity.

Continuing the discussion from Frustrated in Australia:

It looks like there might be demand for a book recommendations thread. Here it is, to avoid dragging the previous one off-topic :smiley:

I propose a convention: when recommending a book, give its title, author, and “when should I stop reading it if I don’t like it”, as well as anything else interesting you want to say. When reviewing a book, try to avoid spoilers if you possibly can; if you must include spoilers, use spoiler tags as invoked by wrapping text in [spoiler ] [/ spoiler] without spaces, and warn at the top of the post.

My own short list of book recommendations is here. To this I would add “anything written by Douglas Hofstadter, not just Gödel, Escher, Bach” - in particular, Le Ton beau de Marot is a brilliant book about translation (stop reading it after the first chapter if you don’t like it). In my opinion, it is worth dropping whatever you are currently reading to read these, unless your current book(s) is/are really fascinating/absorbing. Your mileage may vary - I am one of those people who loves Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (stop reading it after the first five chapters if you don’t like it), so make of that what you will.

I also enjoyed The Debt to Pleasure, by John Lanchester (part cookery book, part fictional biography, lots of unusual words; stop reading after the first ten pages if you don’t like it).


#2

How about not?

By adding offtopic threads like this we’re just raising the barrier of entry for newcomers to Soylent.

We already have quite a lot of information dispersed through legitimate threads which makes it harder to find. If you throw in random threads that have nothing to do with nutrition or Soylent, you’re making things worse.

Also, I don’t want to come back and read about books. It’s just noise.


#3

There was demand for it - @JulioMiles or someone, what’s your thought on this?


#4

@Smaug, your book recommendations are impeccable, but I agree that this isn’t a book club. Maybe if we were discussing books relevant to soylent? In that vein I will contribute something other than a complaint (after strongly seconding the recommendation for HPMOR!)

I recently read Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. I found it interesting, fairly engaging, easy to read, and not too long. It wasn’t too technical either, I think it’s something that everybody could get to the end of. In fact, I would have preferred it to be a bit denser, more sciencey, less anecdotal. That said he does cite plenty of actual science, but just mentions the result rather than discussing methods or other implications, etc. The thrust of the book is that all carbohydrates are bad - in all circumstances and with no exceptions. The book is reasonably convincing but apparently this idea has little traction with those whose jobs it is to know about such things. Nonetheless I have largely eliminated carbs from my diet after reading this, and not only do I feel better (e.g. memory has gone from useless to merely bad) but I’ve lost a good deal of flab.

The opening chapters can drag a little as there is a lot of scene setting (introducing evidence for later arguments) and not much getting to the point. If you get bored you can more or less just look at the chapter list and skip to what you want to read about. Though later chapters do refer back to the earlier ones, there is almost always some reminder so you could almost just read the final third of the book and ignore the first part.

Overall it was a decent book, a gentle introduction to some anti-carb concepts, the sort of thing you might give someone that didn’t really have an interest in the topic so as to draw them into it. I for one am seeking further , more detailed reading material on the topic.


#5

You’ll find demand for anything but that’s no excuse to derail a forum, no matter how good your intentions.


#6

Consider the lesson learnt. Only soylent in the Soylent forum.

By the way, I don’t know if you realise, but that post comes across as very close to “angry”. If you realised this already, then please be nice - there’s a person who meant well on the other side of this wall of text :smiley: Otherwise, if you were tired or something, please try to avoid writing annoyed posts on a text forum until you’ve woken up, because it’s quite hard to get circumstances like tiredness across in text. If English isn’t your native language, then a) very well done, it doesn’t show at all, and b) English likes having things softened up.


#7

Note taken. I will try to be careful.