Computer scientists frequently think about and manipulate concepts of different dimensions and magnitudes. So, we often count and enumerate stuff. It is an interesting mental exercise; you should try it. E.g., How many leaves are there on this tree? How many sand grains are there on the preferred beach of our childhood? What volume of drinking water is turned grey per day on Earth? You ask it! Today, I asked myself a bit more subtle question. When autocratic fascist governments and groups are elongating the list of banned books daily, I question: which books should we read to become free citizens?

Let’s suppose one can live for a century and read one book every day during its life. That’s 36,500 books and an impressive upper bound. The lower bound is zero, just in case you wonder. Many close to this more inadequate limit have been failed by their governments, education systems, or poverty. And the worst offenders are not necessarily the ones you imagine.

Google estimated in 2010 the cumulative number of books published to ~130 million. Of course, there is a broad spectrum of quality and relevance in this heap. Nonetheless, since our hypothetical reader can only discover ~0.028%, which books would you advise? I bet that many are on a banned list somewhere. I truly believe that education is the only solution not to repeat our past mistakes. If you can, gift a book that counts.

Credits: Snøhetta (here) and Bibliotheca Alexandrina (here).