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Sam Freedman's Top Book Recommendations

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


The Quincunx

The protagonist, a young man naive enough to be blind to all clues about his own hidden history (and to the fact that his very existence is troubling to all manner of evildoers) narrates a story of uncommon beauty which not only brings readers face-to-face with dozens of piquantly drawn characters at all levels of 19th-century English society but re-creates with precision the tempestuous weather and gnarly landscape that has been a motif of the English novel since Wuthering Heights. The suspension of disbelief happens easily, as the reader is led through twisted family trees and plot lines.... more
Recommended by Sam Freedman, and 1 others.

Sam Freedman@matthewclifford Just read The Quincunx - absolutely brilliant. And The Kingdom is wonderful too - have you read Carrere's book on Phillip K Dick? (Source)

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I Am a Strange Loop

Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, “I” arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here?I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the “strange loop”—a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is the one called “I.” The “I” is the nexus in our brain, one of many symbols seeming to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse.

How can a mysterious...
Recommended by Sam Freedman, and 1 others.

Sam Freedman@michael_merrick Dougla Hofstader's "I Am A Strange Loop" is the best book on "purpose" as an atheist I've read. I found it enormously moving and hopeful. Whereas the idea of a god doesn't do anything for me. Different kind of faith I guess. (Source)

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Secondhand Time

The Last of the Soviets

From the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, comes the first English translation of her latest work, an oral history of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia. Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive documentary style, Secondhand Time is a monument to the collapse of the USSR, charting the decline of Soviet culture and speculating on what will rise from the ashes of Communism. As in all her books, Alexievich gives voice to women and men whose stories are lost in the official narratives of nation-states,... more
Recommended by Sam Freedman, Stephanie Flanders, and 2 others.

Sam Freedman@martinbright It's amazing. Have you read Second Hand Time? Best book of the century so far for me. Just incredible. (Source)

Stephanie FlandersThe power comes from the stories themselves, the people she found and talked to. (Source)

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Civilization and Its Discontents

It stands as a brilliant summary of the views on culture from a psychoanalytic perspective that he had been developing since the turn of the century. It is both witness and tribute to the late theory of mind—the so-called structural theory, with its stress on aggression, indeed the death drive, as the pitiless adversary of eros.

Civilization and Its Discontents is one of the last of Freud's books, written in the decade before his death and first published in German in 1929. In it he states his views on the broad question of man's place in the world, a place Freud defines...

John GrayCivilisation, as Freud understands it, begins with the restraint of violence… which means that the civilisational condition is one of discontent. (Source)

Sam FreedmanA rough synopsis of the book is that love is a social construct designed to prevent us from murdering each other, at the expense of creating profound neurosis, so definitely a bold choice for a second date. (Source)

David BellA dispassionate view of the cost of civilisation to the individual. (Source)

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What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century?

In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. Now, in What the Dog Saw, he brings together, for the first time, the best of his writing from The New Yorker over the...
Recommended by Sam Freedman, and 1 others.

Sam Freedman@mrianleslie (Also I agree What the Dog Saw is his best book). (Source)

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