Reading List

Celia Wan
3 min readFeb 18, 2019

A good mix of philosophy of mathematics, phenomenology, history, historiography, communism. Some novels. Update constantly. Some entries come with sarcastic comments.

  1. Currently reading: In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust (reading for a class. Will see if I can actually finish. French literature… oh man)
  2. The Roads to Freedom, Jean-Paul Sartre
  3. Being and Time, Martin Heidegger
  4. Wittgenstein’s Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, edited by Cora Diamond (Note: Turing-Wittgenstein debate on mathematical ontology is included in this book. Honestly, what can be more exciting than this? These lectures were given around the same time when he wrote Part I of the Philosophical Investigations in 1939)
  5. From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics, Slava Gerovith (Note: cybernetics was, apparently, a bourgeois technology.)
  6. French DNA: Trouble in Purgatory, Paul Rabinow (Note: Of course French DNA is proprietary and unique and it belongs to the people of the Fifth Republic.)
  7. Heidegger, Coping, and Cognitive Science: Essay in Honor of Hubert L. Dreyfus, edited by Mark Wrathall, Jeff Malpas (Note: Dreyfus is the MIT Heideggerian AI guy…)
  8. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Fernand Braudel (Note: 16th-century Mediterranean history written by an early twentieth-century historian, also the leader of the Annales School. Good for studying historiography and also fun.)
  9. The Theory and Practice of History, Leopold von Ranke (Note: honestly feel super bad that I haven’t even finished one book by Ranke as a history student. A quote from Ranke that I jotted down a long time ago and is still my source of inspiration in historical studies: “While the philosopher, contemplating history from his field, sees the infinite only in progress, development, totality, history recognizes in each existence something infinite.”)
  10. The Custom of the Country, Edith Wharton (Note: a midwestern girl who attempts to ascend in NYC. Novel. For fun.)
  11. Nietzsche’s Revaluation of Values, E. E. Sleinis (Note: my knowledge of Nietzsche stops at the 10ish page of Thus Spoke Zarathustra where it says “God is dead.” So this is perhaps more accessible for a Nietzsche amateur like me.)
  12. The Passion of Artemisia: A Novel, Susan Vreeland
  13. At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, Sarah Bakewell (Note: I read the first half of the book in Chinese and got really confused when I started studying phenomenology formally in English. Moral of the story: do not read German philosophy in Chinese.)
  14. Didactical Phenomenology of Mathematical Structure, Hans Freudenthal (Note: I am not gonna read this book cause it is very boring: it starts with a philosophical discussion of what “length” is. However, the existence of this book makes me feel like my academic pursuit is complete.)
  15. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Brain, Douglas Hofstadter (Note: read the book description and have a feeling that I am going to disagree with the author. Although considering the publishing date, the 70s, it would be an interesting read enriching my knowledge on the debate over machine intelligence during that time. Also, the book’s Chinese translation is 集异璧,which means collecting exotic jades and pronounced as Ji Yi Bi (GEB) in Chinese, beautiful Chinese name, super clever.)
  16. The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America, Sarah Elizabeth Igo (Note: a history of privacy that is not written by a law professor)
  17. Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, Jill Abramson (Note: oh man I feel like books on this list are just gonna get more and more practical as I am entering the real world from college. Can’t decide if I am happy about this change.)
  18. The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe, Arthur Koestler (My professor recommended this book to us when he spent a whole lecture critiquing our naively self-assertive writing style. So very looking forward to this “beautifully written” book.)
  19. Note to self: need to ask Lorraine Daston’s Spring 2019 syllabus and get a good reading list!
  20. We have only this life to live: selected essays of Jean-Paul Sartre (some essays in this collection were written while Sartre was in NYC — perfect preparation for my upcoming move to the big apple.)
  21. Marci Shore: professor in the history of literary and political engagement with Marxism and phenomenology



Celia Wan

Certified paradigm shift identifier because I read Kuhn thrice; History and Philosophy of Mathematics @UChicago