The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Climate Shock

The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet

How knowing the extreme risks of climate change can help us prepare for an uncertain future

If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you'd take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you'd reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there's a 10 percent chance this might eventually lead to a catastrophe beyond anything we could imagine, why aren't we doing more about climate change right now? We insure our lives against an uncertain future--why not our planet?


The Centre for the Study of Existential RiskFor a non-fiction book on a quite heavy topic, Climate Shock is very readable. (Source)

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A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1)

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature—a chilling and still provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.

In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed...

The Centre for the Study of Existential RiskThis book is both quite depressing, and surprisingly hopeful, and I think that characterises the entire field of existential risks quite well. (Source)

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The Last Children

"As we drove through Lanthen, everything was still as usual, but in the forest, just at the bend in the Kalden field, it suddenly flashed a glaring glint that we had to shut our eyes." My mother uttered a cry and my father kicked As soon as the car was standing, we saw a blinding light in the sky, behind the tree tops, white and terrible, like the light from a huge torch or a lightning bolt that does not go away In a moment, I was blind for a while. "

Atomic bombs are exploding over Germany. From now on, disease, fear of death and crime dominate everyday life. There is no future

The Centre for the Study of Existential RiskQuite often in post-apocalyptic stories, you intermittently see some rays of hope, but not here. It’s quite didactic, a sort of cautionary tale about the consequences of nuclear weapons. (Source)

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Cloud Atlas

A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity.


Robert EaglestoneIn this novel, you find stories that interlock like Russian dolls…an obvious example of a writer learning clever postmodern tricks, but domesticating them. (Source)

The Centre for the Study of Existential RiskThis is the perfect book if you want to read about human extinction but you still need to be ‘seduced’ into it. (Source)

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The Dark Forest

With the scope of Dune and the rousing action of Independence Day this near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multple-award-winning phenemonenon from Cixin Liu Chinas most beloved science fiction author In DarkForest Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasionin just four centuries time The aliens human collaborators may have been defeated but the presence of the sophons the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information means that Earths defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy Only... more

Adam SavageI felt like I was getting a Chinese version of Chinese culture. And that frame felt unique. (Source)

Ben Brode@noahmp @devonzuegel I thought book 2 and of the series that starts with “the three body problem” fulfilled this condition and was awesome (Source)

The Centre for the Study of Existential RiskIt makes the point that humanity is fairly weak, and that if we’re ever faced by a really big threat, we most likely won’t survive it. (Source)

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