Reading Alone, Reading Together

Recently I asked a question on Twitter: What books have you read that nobody in your circle has read? What books haven't you read that everyone in your circle has read?

Some books we read because they came with glowing recommendations from a trusted friend. Others we refuse to read even though everyone's raving about it. I was curious about what books we pick up for ourselves, that didn't come recommended, and that weren't passed along to friends. These books are specific to our obscure interests, or the sides of us our friends don't share.

I've gone through replies to the thread and compiled a list of all the obscure books people read alone, and the popular books they won't read.

The first list contains some underrated gems - I've found fascinating new recommendations. The second contains some overrated bestsellers. Sapiens comes up 13 times as a book people refuse to read despite peer pressure. And if you didn't read Harry Potter or To Kill A Mockingbird as a kid, you're probably never going to read it.

People's circles are very different. What is popular in one circle is obscure in another. I hope this list is helpful if you're looking for new reads.

Books people read alone

History and Origins of Consciousness - Erich Neumann

Neocybernetics and Narrative

Circe - Madeline Miller

America - Jean Baudrillard

Always Coming Home - Le Guin

The Retreat to Commitment

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Business adventures 

Chaosmosis - Guattari

Don’t sleep there are snakes

Queer poets, Audre Lorde

Jane Jacobs


Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

Biblia Sacra 1609

The LeafCutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

Gravity's Rainbow

Never Split the Difference

Jack Reacher

Derrida, Lacan, Walter Benjamim

The 48 Laws of Power

The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson

Adaptive Markets, the Physics of Wall Street

Godel, Escher, Bach

The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

The Lies of Locke Lamora Business Adventures

Don't Sleep, There are Snakes

Sisters of the Revolution

Anarchy - William Dalrymple

Figuring - Maria Popova

The Beginning of Infinity, Howard Hughes Bio, Intelligent Investor

How to Run A Government - Michael Barber

Dare to Dream A life of M.S. Oberoi - Bachi J, Karakaria

Scale - Geoffrey West

Metaphors We Live By - George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

The Green Priest - Ryan Law

Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker

Bahnwärter Thiel. Anything by Thomas Mann.

5Am club, Founder's Dilemma

The Innovator's Dilemma

Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

A Million Little Pieces

Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Barbaric Surfer

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy Geithner

The man without qualities - Robert Musil

The ZX Spectrum ULA

Dickens or Dreiser


LEO on the cheap - why the way NASA builds rockets is too expensive and how to make it much cheaper. Molecular gastronomy

Who Rules The World - Chomsky

The Creation - E.O. Wilson

Conquistador - Buddy Levy How to get lucky - Gunther Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunemoto


Tom Spanbauer’s “In the City of Shy Hunters”

Yankee Hobo in the Orient, John Patric

Death of Ivan Ilych by Tolstoy

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels by Tommy Gold

Transmetropolitan series.

History of Future Cities

"Reasons and Persons" by Derek Parfit

Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal Nehru

Progress and Poverty - Henry George

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency. Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Liquid Modernity, Zygmunt Bauman

The Horse, The Wheel, and Language by David Anthony. Against the Grain by James C Scott.

The Futurological Congress (Stanislav Lem), The Female Brain (Louanne Brizandine), Basic Economics (Thomas Sowell)

Angela & demon

Man the Unknown by Alexis Carrel

War of art by Steven Pressfield Uncommon Grounds/Pendergast. How to create a mind/Kurzweil. Remote/Fried-Hanson THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME Lessons learned from 15 years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger

Danger Close

Last year, The Hidden Life of Trees, and Prisoners of Geography.

Why we buy

Ends. By joe Macleod

obscure Ursula K. Leguin books.

Void Star by Zachary Mason and Figuring by Maria Popova.

good strategy bad strategy by Rumelt

The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy

Atomic Habits

The Order of Time

Atomic Habits

The Clefts - Doris lessing & The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

The Obesity Code or No Gangsters in Paradise

Deep work by Cal Newport

Diary of a nobody by George Grossmith

Making of atomic bomb, trillion dollar coach

Action Inquiry

Artemis - Andy Weir

Autobiography of a Yogi

Art of War

Becoming Bulletproof


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

business secrets of the pharaohs

Creative Quest by Questlove

Finite and Infinite Games

The Billionaire Raj

How to get Lucky - Gunther

Books people don't read despite peer pressure

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

Neal Stephenson

Harry Potter

The Sovereign Individual

Principles by Ray Dalio


The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck



The Tipping Point

To Kill a Mockingbird

High Output Management

Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader

Harry Potter

12 Rules of Life


Zero to One - Peter Thiel


Chetan Bhagat

Harry Potter. White Teeth. The one about the tiger on a raft The subtle art of not giving a fuck

The Hunger Games

Pride and Prejudice

Harry Potter

Self-help books

The art of electronics third edition

Sapiens, Homo Deus

Atlas Shrugged.



James Patterson or John Grisham

Harry Potter and Chetan Bhagat.


Nassim Taleb stuff

every self-help/SV-esque book

To Kill A Mockingbird

Sapiens, Seeing Like the State

Harari Stuff

the end of alchemy by Mervyn King

The Founders Dilemmas/Wassermann. The Managers Path/Fournier

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman


Jim Collins stuff

Poor Dad, Rich Dad

Atlas Shrugged

The Richest Man In Babylon


Paulo Coelho or Taleb

The Art of the Start, Something Bitcoin related



It - Steven King

Seeing like a State


The Catcher in the Rye



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