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Ed Cooke's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Ed Cooke recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Ed Cooke's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Joyous Cosmology

Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

In describing the effects of mescaline, Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception literally opened a door. Watts walked through it with this classic account of the levels of insight consciousness-changing drugs can facilitate �when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding.” Watts and peers including foreword authors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (then Harvard professors) anticipated physicists recognizing the individual’s �inseparability from the rest of the world,” the work of New Age thinkers who combine... more
Recommended by Ed Cooke, and 1 others.

Ed CookeWell worth the read. (Source)

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Intolerance and bigotry lie at the heart of all human suffering. So claims Bertrand Russell at the outset of In Praise of Idleness, a collection of essays in which he espouses the virtues of cool reflection and free inquiry; a voice of calm in a world of maddening unreason. From a devastating critique of the ancestry of fascism to a vehement defense of 'useless' knowledge, with consideration given to everything from insect pests to the human soul, this is a tour de force that only Bertrand Russell could perform. less
Recommended by Carl Honoré, Ed Cooke, and 2 others.

Carl HonoréThis is wonderful, but feels dated to me. It was written in 1932 so it’s from a different era, when there was still the landed gentry. His basic thesis is that one of the ills of the modern world is the lie that has been sold to us that work is a virtuous and ennobling thing. His argument is that that’s a form of social control – keeping people down by keeping them working. There’s also the... (Source)

Ed CookeA great book. (Source)

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'The Age of Wonder' is Richard Holmes' first major work of biography for a decade. It has been inspired by the scientific ferment that swept through Britain at the end of the 18th century, and which Holmes now radically redefines as 'the revolution of Romantic Science'. less

Philip BallThe wonder that Richard Holmes is thinking about in this book was an emergent appreciation of the awesomeness of nature. (Source)

Ed Cooke[Ed Cooke recommended this book in the book "Tools of Titans".] (Source)

Caspar HendersonAmong Holmes’s qualities are is his warmth, his extraordinary depth of knowledge and the fluency in his writing. It’s just a really enjoyable read. (Source)

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The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther propelled Goethe to instant fame when it first appeared in 1774. Goethe's story of a sensitive young artist--an alienated youth of searching introspection and passionate intensity--captured the Romantic sensibility of the day and led to a wave of imitations. Translated by the award-winning author David Constantine, this new edition captures the novel's lyric clarity and powerful immediacy. In addition, Constantine's critical introduction sheds light on the autobiographical background, the novel's epistolary form and structure, and Werther's... more
Recommended by Ryan Holiday, Ed Cooke, and 2 others.

Ryan HolidayI read The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe which looks at a different burning fire—that of young love—and how crazy it makes us. A beautifully written book that every person should read. (Source)

Ed CookeWonderful story of a young man who falls in love and it doesn't really work out so well. (Source)

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Maxims and Reflections

Maxims and Reflections is a collection of several hundred brilliant, unforgettable paragraphs and aphorisms by the legendary German Renaissance writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, divided into the categories Life and Character, Literature and Art, Science and Nature. Like the Manual of Epictetus and Seneca's Letters, Goethe's Maxims and Reflections is a timeless guide to navigating the mysteries of existence. less
Recommended by Ed Cooke, and 1 others.

Ed CookeI was traveling around the world at the age of 18, which is what people in England do between high school and university. In my coat, I had Goethe's aphorisms, his short little thoughts in my pocket. I read and reread this book... It's actually had quite a fundamental [impact] on my life because these are his little snipets of wisdom on almost any imaginable topic, and all of them are brilliant.... (Source)

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Touching the Rock

"Touching the Rock" is a unique exploration of that distant, infinitely strange 'other world' of blindness. John Hull writes of odd sounds and echoes, of people without faces, of a curious new relationship between waking and dreaming, of a changed perception of nature and human personality. He reveals a world in which every human experience - eating and lovemaking, playing with children and buying drinks in the bar - is transformed. 'The incisiveness of Hull's observation, the beauty of his language, make this book poetry; the depth of his reflection turns it into phenomenology or... more
Recommended by Ed Cooke, and 1 others.

Ed CookeThis is about a man's slow descent into blindness over 20 years. "He's a kind of theologian, but he has these wonderful reflections on how he came to enjoy the world [as a blind man]. One go-to example is that rain is the best thing for blind people, because you can hear the world in three dimensions. The pattering of the raindrops on the roofs, the pavement, the lampposts, and the buildings,... (Source)

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