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Member: cshalizi

CollectionsYour library (4,795), Read but unowned (3,101), Currently reading (9), To read (2,489), Home (3,402), Office (735), On Loan (32), Favorites (186), Electronic book (468), Lost or Missing (33), Bethesda (130), Wishlist (87), All collections (7,896)

Reviews491 reviews

Tagssold (1,751), science fiction (1,116), fantasy (1,111), donated (904), mystery (743), series mystery (571), comics (495), library (447), read in college (442), philosophy (344) — see all tags

Cloudstag cloud, author cloud, tag mirror

Recommendations3 recommendations

About meWeblog: Three-Toed Sloth,

About my libraryThis is (or will be, when I finish adding books) the union of what I own with what I've read since 1994 or so. Some of what I've returned to libraries, sold, given away, etc., is marked as such. It's now fairly complete, except for the ton of old science fiction paperbacks my parents are holding for me...

Rating is sporadic and approximate. Roughly: 5 = "personal favorite; you must read this, at least if you're me"; 4 = very good (either for entertainment or instruction). 3.5 = good but not very good. 3 = OK, not painful. 2 = bad. 1 = horrible.

Most of my longer book reviews are now linked in, but the shorter evaluations are still mostly in my weblog. I'll get around to this eventually.

Tagging is sporadic, not particularly consistent, and opinionated.

Reading and purchase dates are only sporadically entered. Many are approximate, because I only recorded month or academic year. (Yes, it's probably OCD-spectrum to record the date in the first place.)


Favorite authorsEric Ambler, Stanislav Andreski, Stanislaw Andrzejewski, V. I. Arnold, W. Ross Ashby, Iain Banks, Jacques Barzun, Greg Bear, John Tyler Bonner, Raymond Boudon, Samuel Bowles, Ernest Bramah, Lois McMaster Bujold, Italo Calvino, William H. Calvin, Andrea Camilleri, L. Sprague de Camp, Karel Čapek, C. J. Cherryh, Arthur C. Clarke, Norman Cohn, Evan S. Connell, Frederick C. Crews, e. e. cummings, Avram Davidson, Daniel C. Dennett, Joan Didion, Lord Dunsany, Greg Egan, Barbara Ehrenreich, Harlan Ellison, Warren Ellis, Jon Elster, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Anne Fadiman, John M. Ford, Anatole France, Neil Gaiman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Ernest Gellner, Andy Goldsworthy, Larry Gonick, Martin H. Greenberg, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert van Gulik, Ian Hacking, Jane Haddam, J. B. S. Haldane, Sparkle Hayter, Lauren Henderson, P. C. Hodgell, Marshall G. S. Hodgson, Barry Hughart, Robert Hughes, Shirley Jackson, Russell Jacoby, William James, Steven Johnson, James Joll, Diana Wynne Jones, Mark Kac, Wendy Kaminer, Rosemary Kirstein, Philip Kitcher, Leszek Kolakowski, Paul Krugman, Jane Langton, Larry Laudan, Stanisław Lem, John Leonard, Laura Lippman, H. P. Lovecraft, Ken MacLeod, William Leonard Marshall, Patricia A. McKillip, Robin McKinley, William H. McNeill, P.B. Medawar, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Christopher Moore, Franco Moretti, Philip Morrison, Joseph Needham, Friedrich Nietzsche, Patrick O'Brian, Heinz R. Pagels, Robert Pinsky, Katha Politt, Karl Popper, William Poundstone, Richard Powers, Terry Pratchett, W. V. Quine, I. A. Richards, Phil Rickman, David Ruelle, Bertrand Russell, Will Shetterly, Herbert A. Simon, Karin Slaughter, John Maynard Smith, Jonathan D. Spence, Dan Sperber, L. Susan Stebbing, Aurel Stein, Bruce Sterling, Peter Straub, Stephen Edelston Toulmin, Yi-Fu Tuan, Catherynne M. Valente, Jack Vance, Paula Volsky, Voltaire, Arthur Waley, Jill Paton Walsh, Norbert Wiener, Walter Jon Williams, William Carlos Williams, Connie Willis, Arthur T. Winfree, Roger Zelazny, Hans Zinsser (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresAunt Agatha's, Avol's Bookstore, Caliban Bookshop, Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Dawn Treader Book Shop, Moe's Books, Nicholas Potter, Bookseller, Shaman Drum, The Other Change of Hobbit, University Press Books

Favorite librariesCarnegie Library of Pittsburgh -- Main (Oakland), Doe Library - University of California, Berkeley, Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, International House Library, University of California, Berkeley, Memorial Library at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Other favoritesKiva Han Cafe


Also ondelicious, Dopplr, Facebook, Flickr

Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

Real nameCosma Shalizi

LocationShadyside, Pittsburgh, PA

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/cshalizi (profile)
/catalog/cshalizi (library)

Member sinceJun 5, 2006

Currently readingSinan by Arthur Stratton
BLDGBLOG Book by Geoff Manaugh
The General of the Dead Army by Ismail Kadare
Neural Network Learning: Theoretical Foundations by Martin Anthony
The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach to Solving our Most Complex Challenges by Zaid Hassan
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Leave a comment


Hi, i came to your librarything following the 'appalinglly stupid' tag you assigned to Celia Green's 'The Human Evasion'. Not sure if i agree 100% with you on this one, but i like your daring tag! Apart from that we have 182 books in commons now, and apart from the SF those are for a great part books that are amongst the ones i find most interesting. So, if you don't mind i will start follwoing you :-)
I love the "history of truthiness" tag! Good stuff ;)


"She'd be inhuman if she was always right, but what a pleasure it is to bathe in the icy, sparkling waters of her incredulity!"

(Your final sentence, on Wendy Kaminer, in your review of "Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise Of Irrationalism And The Perils Of Piety" . . . that, Cosma, is a fine sentence indeed, & I hope Ms. Kaminer is aware of, and appreciative of, your review . . . which has prompted me to add her book to my WishList.)

As a result of reading your reviews, I've added to my WishList books by S. Robert Ramsey, Steven Berlin Johnson, Melanie Mitchell, Virginia Valian (some of whose work I'd read, with favor, 30+ years ago), and have begun to search out selected Cassirer texts from boxes I have in storage, as well as several Jonathan Spence books (including "God's Chinese Son . . . ")and am planning to take a fair look at Paul Krugman's "Pop Internationalism" . . . for all of which enjoyable reviews, written with your characteristic verve, I thank you.

Cosma, I really dropped by your site today (and thence to your Bactra Reviews)simply to ask if you could recommend a few competently-done books which discuss the impact of recent advantages in technology on society . . . perhaps something in the "techno-skeptic" tradition of Mumford, Ellul, Postman, Mander, et al, but well-informed about current developments.

As you may have gathered from quick glimpses at my library, I'm not a trained scientist, mathematician, or technocrat, but certainly am interested in how societies are affected by scientific & religious ideas.

Currently, I'm reading "How To Teach Physics To Your Dog", by Chad Orzel, and find it intriguing . . . so, once again, I've found insight, information, & pleasure by following up on various books you've reviewed, which prompts my request to you for suggestions!

I look forward to hearing from you, when you have time, energy, & inclination to respond, and, until then, I wish you & yours,

All The Best!


I thoroughly enjoyed your enlightening review of Cassirer's core concepts, as best these can be devised, from his writings. Your observations, blended with your careful, straight-forward style were a delight to stumble upon. Balance, civility, candor, and at times even graciously humble self-assessment, sprinkled here and there with humor to boot -- from one who, in the very thick of the academy's inevitably endless investigations into the specific and particular, never loses the scent, impulse, or at least a leaning toward "the bigger picture" (if any of credible worth are truly out there worth being found . . . or created) -- how admirable and refreshing! No wonder you find the metaphor of the caravan of an archeological expedition so rich and suggestive -- you're on one! And something tells me have been for much of your life. ;-)

I shall be coming back to read more of your reviews, hoping in doing so to also catch sight once again of that colorful caravan, which, of course, will have moved, though I should be able to follow the tracks it left, since there are so many. I take your writings to be a kind of applied epistemology -- of the old-fashioned kind (Cassirer's were too, were they not?) -- in which the grand questions are still alive. Thank you for letting yourself be moved by them. Until next time. G.R.

Given your academic interests and specialty fields, I found myself wanting to explore your gaggle of review further --
Hi; thanks again for responding.
The reason I asked you is that I randomly came across your LT profile and that led me to your web page. I found stuff there that made me think you'd be knowledgable. I don't remember what I found, as that was several months ago! The reason I sent you the message yesterday is that I found it in my word processor - apparently originally I drafted the message but forgot to actually send it!
Hello Cosma,

How are you and how has life been post SFI?


I've just found your LT site, & have begun to explore it. You have a fascinating combination of books & links to other resources---as well as a sense of humor, which I find refreshing.

I'm expecting to learn a lot about things new to me, by browsing your array of connected resources---thanks for putting so much on line. You really do a service for readers interested in learning about the topics you address, by letting them share the results of your experience, training, & judgment.

In particular, thanks for the review of Pinker's "How The Mind Works", which is the first of your reviews I read (thanks to jimroberts' comment below); I'm sure I'll wind up putting more titles on my Wishlist, after reading other books you review.

I like your rating system, as well as the tone of the reviews of yours which I've read thus far.

Also, it's pleasant to encounter someone who appreciates L. Susan Stebbing, who is, I think, unknown to or underappreciated by most readers who came of age after 1970.

In short, finding your site is a treat. Keep after it!

All The Best, to you & yours, from "J.A.Lesen"

I wish I could give your review of How the Mind Works more than one thumb up.
I was exploring LibraryThing today and found a book that looked interesting (Computational Modeling of Genetic and Biochemical Networks). Went to Amazon to buy it and noticed a seller by the name of "Bactra" which I recalled having done several reviews that I've read in the past. So I bought it. Now I just realized that "cshalizi" (who I've had in my interesting libraries list for a while now) is the same as "Bactra". I guess this just proves that the more specialized the books the smaller the population of people interested in the topic.

- greg
It is nice to talk to a person who like various books)))
Hello - I was interested to read your review of Knowledge of angels
by Jill Paton Walsh. However the link to the review was not working and I wondered if I could find it elsewhere? Many thanks.

I notice that your vast library contains some New Mexico books. Ever read any Tony Hillerman?

You induce me to greater variety while the algae grows in my fur, and I am grateful. Also, since your blog doesn't have comments, I'll express gratitude here for introducing this particular math major who spent all of his classes on analysis and logic to a rich practice of statistics.
You might be interested in a recent piece I had on Zellig Harris in Language --
John Goldsmith
Hi Cosma,

Nice library. Good to see you here.
Been a few years -

(from FringeWare)
To amend my previous comment:

Hello again - since I posted my previous note to you, I've discovered your blog, and I'm a great admirer.

But I didn't make the connection between "Three-Toed Sloth" and "LibraryThing" until I wondered who else had 'favorited' John M. Ford, and I finally recognized your name.
Hi. I was wondering who was the other person who holds Cipolla's "Fighting the plague in seventeenth-century Italy", so I stopped by to read your profile page: I must say, I enjoy your tagging philosophy.

So I suppose now I should look to see if there's any overlap between my own "wingnuttery" tag and your "psychoceramics"....
Hi, I am a great fan of your Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur. Glad to see you have a library thing account. Perhaps you could cross post some of those reviews here?
I have a recommendation for you. Karl Popper and the Social Sciences by William A. Gorton (State University of New York Press, 2006). Makes the claim that the best Popperian social science is being done by the analytical Marxists (Jon Elster, in particular)! It is not perfect--I found the discussion of Popper's views on the ontology of social institutions and free will/determinism sort of irrelevant to the really interesting parts.

P.S. The "publisher's description" up at Powells is obviously of another book.
Dear Cosma,

I wonder if you will ever getting around to reading my Common Causes and the Direction of Causation? It's on your list -- but I know that is a very, very big list... if you do, do let me know what you think.

Nice library,

Mr. Shalizi, over the years I've dipped into your notebooks on line and have enjoyed your thoughts and recommendations. Like you, I wish that the dross could be burned away and only the really good books would remain. How to weed out the Junk? You have helped. Thanks, and Happy Holidays.
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