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50 Books Recommended by This Year’s TED Speakers

The much buzzed about conference generated a gargantuan list of intriguing book recommendations.

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BY Jessica Stillman - 10 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

TED is one of the world's premier cultural events, providing not just a chance for the thousand or so attendees to hear from some of the smartest people around, but also opening up this knowledge to millions of learners around the world through the event's wildly popular online videos.

But those aren't the only ways the much buzzed about conference promises to expand intellects and spur fresh thinking. The event's world-class speakers also regularly recommend books for further reading from the stage, and this year's event, recently held in Vancouver, was no exception.

The big brains on show suggested an incredible number of titles, all of which were helpfully rounded up by ParrotRead (hat tip to Kottke). Here's a small fraction of the truly gargantuan list to get you started. Load up those shelves or e-readers with everything from history to poetry to sports memoirs and you're all set for summer.

1. Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman; recommended by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and Martin Ford (Amazon calls it, "A field guide to the twenty-first century.")

2. Success Through Stillness by Chris Morrow and Russell Simmons; recommended by Serena Williams (The hip-hop mogul on meditation)

3. Lying by Sam Harris; recommended by Elon Musk (A neuroscientist argues giving up white lies will improve your life, and the world)

4. Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson; recommended by Tim Ferriss

5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo; recommended by surgeon and author Atul Gawande (and Barack Obama)

6. Our Kids by Robert D. Putnam; recommended by futurist Martin Ford (A bestselling examination of growing inequality)

7. Machines of Loving Grace by John Markoff; recommended by Martin Ford (Will machines help us, or will they replace us?)

8. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg; recommended by psychologist Adam Alter (A Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter on how to change your habits)

9. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel; recommended by Atul Gawande (A novel set in the French Revolution from the double Booker prize-winner)

10. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz; recommended by Atul Gawande (Short stories from the Pulitzer prize winner)

11. The Unwinding by George Packer; recommended by Atul Gawande (2013 National Book Award Winner)

12. Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos; recommended by Atul Gawande (A portrait of contemporary China from the New Yorker's Beijing correspondent)

13. Where We Belong by Hoda Kotb; recommended by Gayle King ("Inspiring stories of people who find their life's purpose in unexpected ways," says Amazon)

14. The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster; recommended by Elon Musk (Classic sci-fi)

15. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan; recommended by Tim Ferriss (Just what the title suggests)

16. Our Final Invention by James Barrat; recommended by Elon Musk (Will advanced AI be the end of humanity?)

17. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari; recommended by Martin Ford (Predictions about the future of humanity from the bestselling historian)

18. Unfair by Adam Benforado; recommended by Adam Alter ("A law professor sounds an explosive alarm on the hidden unfairness of our legal system," says Kirkus Reviews.)

19. How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett; recommended by Adam Alter (A new theory of how the brain constructs emotions)

20. Mindwise by Nicholas Epley; recommended by Adam Alter (Science shows your intuition about other people probably isn't as reliable as you think.)

21. Dancing with Dementia by Christine Bryden; recommended by neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova (After being diagnosed with dementia at 48, a woman goes on to live positively with the condition)

22. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; recommended by Lisa Genova (The true story of how a poor woman's cells were harvested without her knowledge and became one of medicine's most important tools)

23. Wetware by Dennis Bray; recommended by economist Robin Hanson (Jargon-free introduction to systems biology)

24. The Midas Paradox by Scott B. Sumner; recommended by Robin Hanson (History of the Great Depression)

25. Surfing Uncertainty by Andy Clark; recommended by neuroscientist Anil Seth (Exploration of new theories of consciousness)

26. Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik and Sarah Hunt Cooke; recommended by Anil Seth (The history and science of everyday materials)

27. Heller's Tale by David Pablo Cohn; recommended by doctor and 2017 TED prize winner Raj Panjabi (Fiction set in the South Pole)

28. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman; recommended by cultural historian Jeffrey Schnapp (Classic American poetry)

29. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis; recommended by astrophysicist Katherine Freese

30. Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom; recommended by Martin Ford (Another one on the future of AI)

31. Originals by Adam Grant; recommended by Adam Alter (The star Wharton professor on how to come up with and champion original ideas)

32. The Accidental Admiral by James Stavridis; recommended by meteorologist David Titley (Autobiography of NATO's 16th Supreme Allied Commander)

33. To Build a Castle by Vladimir Bukovsky; recommended by chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov (Memoir of a Soviet dissident's time in the gulags)

34. Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez; recommended by Elon Musk (Gripping techno thriller about killer drones)

35. Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty; recommended by Gayle King (The legendary basketball coach tells his story)

36. Lucky Jim by James Hart; recommended by writer Anne Lamott (Memoir of the author's escape from a hard luck childhood)

37. Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit; recommended by podcaster Helen Zaltzman

38. The Stress-Proof Brain by Melanie Greenberg; recommended by psychologist Guy Winch

39. The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall; recommended by author Emily Esfahani Smith (How stories make us human)

40. The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel; recommended by Katherine Freese (Little known story of one group of women's contribution to astronomy)

41. The Spiritual Child by Lisa Miller; recommended by Rabbi Sacks (A psychologist explains the link between spirituality and health)

42. Strangers Drowning by Larissa Macfarquhar; recommended by Atul Gawande (Portraits of people who devote their lives to helping others)

43. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle; recommended by Dan Ariely (How tech is changing our relationships)

44. Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah; recommended by refugee activist Luma Mufleh (A novel offering "a harrowing account of Sierra Leone's civil war and the fate of child soldiers," according to Amazon)

45. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; recommended by health activist T. Morgan Dixon (Celebrated novel set during Nigeria's civil war)

46. The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes; recommended by Guy Winch (A pro football player on how he bounced back from a career-ending injury)

47. Inviting Disaster by James R. Chile; recommended by Robin Hanson (It "delves inside some of history's worst catastrophes in order to show how increasingly 'smart' systems leave us wide open to human tragedy, says Amazon.)

48. The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner; recommended by Robin Hanson (Environmental dystopia)

49. Ghost Boat by Dan Gillcrist; recommended by refugee advocate David Miliband

50. Against Empathy by Paul Bloom; recommended by historian Rutger Bregman (A Yale researcher makes the counterintuitive case that empathy is bad for us)