Brian Eno Lists 20 Books for Rebuilding Civilization & 59 Books For Building Your Intellectual World

eno books

Cre­ative Com­mons image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Artist and music pro­duc­er Bri­an Eno wrote one of my very favorite books: A Year with Swollen Appen­dices, which takes the form of his per­son­al diary of the year 1995 with essay­is­tic chap­ters (the “swollen appen­dices”) on top­ics like “edge cul­ture,” gen­er­a­tive music, new ways of singing, pre­ten­sion, CD-ROMs (a rel­e­vant top­ic back then), and pay­ment struc­tures for record­ing artists (a rel­e­vant top­ic again today). It also includes a fair bit of Eno’s cor­re­spon­dence with Stew­art Brand, once edi­tor of the Whole Earth Cat­a­log and now pres­i­dent of the Long Now Foun­da­tion, “a coun­ter­point to today’s accel­er­at­ing cul­ture” meant to “help make long-term think­ing more com­mon” and “cre­ative­ly fos­ter respon­si­bil­i­ty in the frame­work of the next 10,000 years.”

It so hap­pens that Eno now sits on the Long Now Foun­da­tion’s board and has had a hand in some of its projects. Nat­u­ral­ly, he con­tributed sug­gest­ed read­ing mate­r­i­al to the foun­da­tion’s Man­u­al of Civ­i­liza­tion, a col­lec­tion of books human­i­ty could use to rebuild civ­i­liza­tion, should it need rebuild­ing. Eno’s full list, which spans his­to­ry, pol­i­tics, phi­los­o­phy, soci­ol­o­gy, archi­tec­ture, design, nature, and lit­er­a­ture, runs as fol­lows:

If you’d like to know more books that have shaped Eno’s think­ing, do pick up a copy of A Year with Swollen Appen­dices. Like all the best diarists, Eno makes plen­ty of ref­er­ences to his day-to-day read­ing mate­r­i­al, and at the very end — beyond the last swollen appen­dix — he includes a bib­li­og­ra­phy, on which you’ll find more from Christo­pher Alexan­der, a reap­pear­ance of Rorty’s Con­tin­gency, Irony and Sol­i­dar­i­ty, and even Stew­ard Brand’s own How Build­ings Learn (on a tele­vi­sion ver­sion of which the two would col­lab­o­rate):

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

Bri­an Eno Lists the Ben­e­fits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intel­li­gence, and a Sound Civ­i­liza­tion

Jump Start Your Cre­ative Process with Bri­an Eno’s “Oblique Strate­gies”

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

What Books Could Be Used to Rebuild Civ­i­liza­tion?: Lists by Bri­an Eno, Stew­art Brand, Kevin Kel­ly & Oth­er For­ward-Think­ing Minds

What Books Should Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Read?: Tell Us Your Picks; We’ll Tell You Ours

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

The 10 Great­est Books Ever, Accord­ing to 125 Top Authors (Down­load Them for Free)

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (23)
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  • Sky says:

    Why are 98% of these books writ­ten by old White Males?

    Does soci­ety reall yneed to be rebuilt in their image, again, was it so suc­cess­fult he first time?

    Why not Trans Authors, or Les­bians? Or Women of Col­or?

  • OneLeggedTransPersonOfColour says:

    You real­ly are a sad bas­tard.

  • Paul Glover says:

    One might add “Los Ange­les; A His­to­ry of the Future” (1982) the first attempt to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly describe how a metrop­o­lis can be rebuilt toward bal­ance with nature

  • RJD says:

    Oh puh-leeze.

  • Coach says:

    this is what he read and believes in. That in itself is respectable what­ev­er it is, despite your judg­ment. More­over, not all of them are old white males. Not that that is impor­tant since this is kind of a gen­er­al ad hominem argu­ment that you’re mak­ing, i.e., you are attack­ing the list based on the peo­ple’s back­ground by birth rather than the con­tent or sub­stance of their work, which as we all know is a garbage argu­ment on your part.

  • Coach says:

    this is what he read and believes in. That in itself is respectable what­ev­er it is, despite your judg­ment. You claim is a kind of a gen­er­al ad hominem, i.e., you are attack­ing the list based on the peo­ple’s back­ground by birth rather than the con­tent or sub­stance of their work, which as we all know is a garbage argu­ment on your part.

  • Eli says:

    Gra­ham Han­cock — Magi­cians of the Gods … Due lat­er 2015, i think will rewrite his­to­ry!

  • Mike says:

    The Author isn’t what is impor­tant. The work is.

  • Shitlord says:

    0.3 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion iden­ti­fies as trans­gen­der.
    1.5 per­cent of women self-iden­ti­fy as les­bian.
    African Amer­i­can women make up 6.5 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in the Unit­ed States.

    Any­ways, go back to Tum­blr

  • Ecron Muss says:

    We would love to pick up Eno’s ‘A Year with Swollen Appen­dices’, how about get­ting it back into print instead of us hav­ing to pay ridicu­lous “col­lec­tors” prices?

  • Tilman says:

    How a web­site that calls itself “Open Cul­ture” link to Ama­zon more than 80 times on a sin­gle page is beyond me. You should be ashame of your­self. Buy books at the local book­shop!

  • Chris says:

    If you’re ask­ing in good faith, just read some his­to­ry.

  • Whitney Smith says:

    Hey, this is a good site.

    But, real­ly, call­ing your­self the ‘best’?

    Come on, guys.

    You’re smarter than that, aren’t you?

  • harry says:

    whats impor­tant is how much he gets paid for it.

  • Anton says:

    Lim­its to Growth

  • DieWachtAmRhein says:

    Sor­ry for the fact that most out­stand­ing pieces of lit­er­a­ture in his­to­ry have been writ­ten by white men. If col­ored women want to receive more recog­ni­tion they bet­ter step up their game.

  • Jay Barney says:

    I scanned these titles hop­ing to see why Mr. Eno is so miso-Juda­ic.

  • Grant says:

    Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of a Yogi

    Parama­hansa Yoganan­da

  • Luther says:

    Please, give us some good titles (sci­ence, cul­ture, and art).

  • jeez yall says:

    sec­ond­ing this Ama­zon stu­pid­i­ty. what’s the deal with link­ing to one of the most pub­li­cal­ly exploita­tive corps in the world.

    Could­n’t you just link to Abe­books or some­thing?

  • Luther R. Norman says:

    Dear Staff:

    I cer­tain­ly admire the diver­si­ty of books on the list, but I would like to see THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY in both vol­umes by H.G. Wells, along with THE HISTORICAL ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY and THOI (ISLAM) by Wal­ter Williams.

    Williams was a for­mer side­man of Sun Ra in Chica­go, and has delved into the arts and even ‘Futur­ism’, but while vis­it­ing muse­ums in Europe on a tour his world was nev­er the same. he want­ed to write a tome for peo­ple of Afrikan descent to expand their intel­lect through music inter­pre­ta­tion and a new view on real his­to­ry.

    in the 1980s, I was plan­ning to attend one of Eno’s work­shops in San Fran­cis­co, how­ev­er cir­cum­stances recalled me to anoth­er part of the US, so I trust there is always Europe or Aus­tralia!



  • fred nemo says:

    Abe­books now owned by Ama­zon

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