To drive home the point of just how much I loved this book, I went on to learn French just so I could read it in the original print.
Make sure it's the full, unabridged edition (1200 or 1400 pages), though!
(Just to throw in a nonfiction title as well, Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything is a great gift for scientifically-inclined minds (esp younger ones) looking for a first foray into the world of nonfiction, wittily-written and well-narrated.)
That is one of my mom's favorite books! Can you please elaborate about the process of getting there/how much practice it took to get you towards the point where you could enjoy The Count of Monte Cristo in its native French?
Right now, I am studying Spanish and my reading comprehension in Spanish is low. It is not enough to understand something like 'The Little Prince' (in Spanish) to enjoy it.
One of the interesting things about Monte Cristo and actually about a lot of 19th century French literature is that there's very little archaic French in there, and I found it easier to read (though still not easy!) than many modern novels that use French street slang / argot.
If you're on iOS, the built-in dictionary app will give you Spanish->English.
1. Vacuum Diagrams by Stephen Baxter. When I think of epic hard science fiction, the Xeelee Sequence books spring to mind. With a story line that spans millions of years (and a few dozen books), this collection of short stories is a good introduction to one of the best and most underrated sci-fi series out there. Baxter's Manifold trilogy (Manifold: Space, Manifold: Time and Manifold: Origin) are also fantastic.
2. Foundation by Isaac Asimov. The whole Foundation series is wonderful, but this book is a landmark of sci-fi that should be on any fan's bookcase.
3. The Martian by Andy Weir. This book is what I've been giving the last couple years to people who don't think they like sci-fi. Everyone I've given it to has loved it.
4. Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. Another hard sci-fi staple. The rest of the Rama books he "co-wrote" with Gentry Lee are decent but become more space opera than hard sci-fi. I enjoyed them but many sci-fi fans find them polarizing.
5. Silver Tower by Dale Brown. More of a military thriller than sci-fi (Flight of the Old Dog is another favorite of mine by him) and terribly dated by modern standards (it was written when the Soviet Union was still a thing). But it's the first "adult" sci-fi book I ever read as a kid, so it'll always have a special place for me.
EDIT: Another one:
6. Coyote by Allen Steele. I love stories like this one: primitive, longshot interstellar exploration and primitive, first generation colonization. Especially for desperate reasons. The first two Coyote books were good, but I just can't get into any of the subsequent ones.
They were going to make a film adaptation of this book, with Morgan Freeman as a main actor and everything. The scope of the scenes in the story however were so large that even with Intel Corp with technology onboard, they couldn't make them. Maybe nowadays it would be easier to make.
I never found Dune all that great.
I enjoyed Red Mars but I really had to slog through Green Mars and Blue Mars. Red Mars was fun and interesting, but I could have done without a few hundred pages of Sax Russell talking about plants in Green Mars.
I think worldbuilding books take a certain level of investment, even among voracious readers.
He's now reading the Foundation series.
(and I'm a life long sci-fi reader!)
also "stranger in a strange land" by Heinlein makes for a great gift
Heinlein, both during his early sane and latter mad years, was an utter genius story-teller.
Oddly, a lot of people hated the various more personal aspects of the book, as you see Cliff's friends, and his life as a whole. While that's valid, calling it a flaw in the book is, I think, inaccurate. The book as much a story a story about Cliff as the shadowy hacker on the other side of the wires, and that's a big part of its charm, IMHO.
Ghost in the Wires, and Exploding the Phone are also good, and true stories.
How do the other two books you mentioned compare?
Exploding the Phone takes an ousider's perspective, having been written by a relative outsider, and the information having been gathered from interviews with those involved. However, I would say it's better than Ghost in the Wires, being a better told story overall. It's also pretty much the definitive history of the phone phreaking scene, AFAICT. Phil Lapsley put a lot of work into getting his interviews, and reading up on the tech. Read it, if only so that you'll stop believing people when they tell you how awesome John Draper is.
I also semi-frequently buy (by accident) a second copy of a book that I already own. Usually instead of returning those to the store, I keep them and just give them to somebody as a gift, where the "who" depends on what the book is.
I find the ideas in the Fountainhead equally powerful. Find something that you love, do it the way you love to do it, stay true to yourself. I don't understand how Ayn Rand always seems to trigger down votes here.
Me either, but I'm used to it. Whatever. The downvoters are probably the people who thought Ellsworth Toohey was the hero in The Fountainhead.
You aren't the first and you won't be the last Rand fanboy with this attitude. :)
Where in the world did you get the idea that I think anything remotely like that??? Nothing could be further from the truth. But downvoting a post simply for mentioning Rand or one of her works? To me that's very clearly just ideological bias, which is what I was referring to above.
"Whatever. The downvoters are probably the people who thought Ellsworth Toohey was the hero in The Fountainhead."
You just look at your downvotes and you make some pretty ridiculous assumptions about the people who disagree with you - that anyone who disagrees with you is an idiot who didn't understand who the hero of the book was.
If you expect to be taken seriously in discourse, you would do well to be mindful of how you present your views.
I'm not making an assumption that anybody is an idiot. What I am doing is suggesting a measure of ideological bias on the behalf of those people... that is, the people who see Toohey as the hero of the story because they share that ideological outlook. Of course I might be wrong to say that, but I'm not calling anyone's intelligence into question, or comparing it to my own.
Of course, that's pretty much a tautology. That said, there are times when one doesn't care whether the others take you seriously or not.
Here are some books I've given as gifts recently:
* The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm, Lewis Dartnell
* The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb
* Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse
* The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris and Steven Hayes
* Code, Charles Petzold
I've started it a few times. Nassim Nicholas Taleb seems to make sure never to use one word when ten could possibly be used, especially if some of them about himself.
Taleb's Antifragile I did, unfortunately, finish, and it's way, way worse.
Now that I think about it, both books have a similar pattern: the first dozen or so pages present an interesting idea, which does give you a fresh and useful mental model in understanding the world. The rest of the book, unfortunately, meanders off into superficial redundant applications of it and pounding into the reader's head how anti-establishment Taleb is.
However, Taleb has been pontificating on that single idea for fifteen years now and has parlayed twenty pages worth of ideas into three books, a collapsed hedge fund and numerous academic positions.
Skim the first three chapters of any of his three books, and you will have learnt all there is to learn from him.
It's a shame his style, wordiness and pretension sometimes gets in the way of communicating a really significant and fundamental concept that I believe everyone should incorporate into their world view.
Several scifi books have also been gifted to friends, mostly Asimov (both the Foundation and Robots series), Herbert's Dune, and Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama.
Also, gifted a copy of Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad, which is my favorite book about my favorite bands (and the American punk scene of the early 80s). The recipient was too young to remember the scene from that era, but was open to understanding why "punk" isn't so much a style of music, but an ethos.
Every book I've gifted is because I really love the book, and really like the person I'm giving it to.
I also, someday, would love to try my hand at teaching writing style using Freddie de Boer's technique:
But being a CS professor I doubt I'll have that opportunity any time soon :)
Edit: I found this blog post that lists some alternatives http://thewritingresource.net/2011/09/22/forget-everything-s...
About half of the titles are punny or plays on words, which I'm somewhat suspicious of (even though I like puns). And, all are at least twice the size of Strunk and White. I understand that some subjects are bigger than a ~100 page book can cover, but despite having spent a lot of my life writing (and having published a book), I've never been able to plod through a big grammar book. I can read Elements of Style in an afternoon without feeling like it's a chore. As noted in some of the reviews, if it's wrong it's not worth even that much effort. But, I never thought it was predominantly wrong or predominantly misleading. And, it usually reminds me about one or more of my negative writing habits, and I correct it for a while until I forget again.
The Elements of Style was fine for me as a first peek into the subject in junior high; it's just as a kind of bible that it's overrated.
I've (tried to) read many bigger books about style, usage, and grammar, of course, but I really would like a book I can plow through just before I sit down to write something large. Like, the day before NaNoWriMo starts, or before I embark on an editing pass of my company's documentation, just read it all in one sitting as a refresher on how to write clearly and effectively. I've always used Strunk and White for this purpose. I don't want to be a grammar scholar, I just want to write better and more clearly, and I think a lot of folks are in that position; which likely explains the enduring popularity of Strunk and White, despite its critics.
"Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise."
Lord of the Rings - I gave this to the guard who detained me in Russia. I thought it was the best revenge.
The life changing magic of tidying - to my partner. We're both messy. I've read it, she hasn't... neither of us have changed.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami to the friend who lent me Wind up Bird Chronicle all those years ago and started me on the path.
They go in a very different direction. The Bean/Shadow books are still military fiction, and the Ender ones are... not. I do recommend reading them, but just don't go into them expecting anything similar.
1. Do the legal thing and go down to the local library, even at some inconvenience to yourself.
2. Drop the smug sense of moral superiority.
3. Stick up for your moral superiority by making a sacrifice by depriving yourself of the pleasure.
It doesn't make a whit of difference in the economy, but it's the right thing to do for your principles. I'll be over here celebrating having a diversity of viewpoints in literature, so git off my lawn.
I was actually shocked to find out about his personal views years after reading his books. Perhaps he needs to give Speaker a read himself.
How the fuck is that any different than my torrenting the epub and reading it on my iPad?
The exact same words, read by the exact same person, for the exact same amount of value transferred between the exact same people.
Stop it with this meaningless worship of the fiction of intellectual property.
PS: Downloading content for which you lack a license is not illegal.
To answer your question regarding library ... libraries have a limited number of copies (versus the unlimited digital pirated copies) thus still creating a supply a demand market that may have some people decide to simply purchase if there is a long wait list for a popular title.
>PS: Downloading content for which you lack a license is not illegal.
That depends on where you live ... however morally it's wrong no matter where you are.
>Stop it with this meaningless worship of the fiction of intellectual property.
Those who create works have the option of controlling the licensing ... same as with software, hey can open source, close source, public source etc... the point is they have the choice... if you can't respect the decisions of those who license under licenses you don't personally agree with how can you expect anyone to respect works licensed under licenses that you do approve of.
I have a right to copy any bits I choose. What those bits represent is immaterial.
I mean, if you just said "property is theft!" as a justification when you lifted peoples' wallets, it'd seem a bit like "situational ethics". When you have an intellectual beef with someone while pirating their intellectual output in the form of literature, though, that's really going the extra mile. It may not be complete hypocrisy, but it sure has a lot of the appearance thereof.
In England authors get a (tiny) fee when their books are borrowed from a library.
Is that not the case in the US?
He literally said that, at a reading I attended. After telling us about the power of stories and humanity, he veered into that as a total non-sequitur.
But it's not like he's a painter; he tells stories of empathy, of understanding, of togetherness, of bridging chasms of understanding. He came up with the Hierarchy of Foreignness - he wrote stories of people emphasizing with insect hives, of aliens that have nothing in common with us, of people who suffer for others with no reward.
And yet, he can simultaneously see the other side of the Necker cube where two men kissing is somehow going to bring down America.
It's just... uncanny.
I just don't understand how a man who wrote a book with such a thorough understanding of empathy can display so little of it in life.
Surely a great many people who have accomplished amazing things are also deeply flawed (even reprehensible) humans.
That said, and while I like _Ender's Game_ a great deal and think it's an excellent book, I did find an analysis once about how fundamentally it's about how fear and violence are the only appropriate actions when faced with the unknown; Ender may be sorry for what he did afterwards... but that's afterwards. Unfortunately there are so many half-baked essays about the book online I've been unable to find this again.
Do go and read Haldeman's _The Forever War_ as a counter to it, though. (It's also an excellent book.)
Have you read the sequels? The Speaker for the Dead branch of the sequels; Ender goes on to do more than just feel sorry for the Formics, and other intelligences that humanity discovers. Arguably, he more than makes amends for the mistakes he and the rest of humanity make.
That's silly of him. Even if you're a fan of family-values theory, he's got cause-and-effect backwards here. Widespread acceptance of gay marriage is simply the ultimate realization in these times of the sexual revolution that firmly took hold in the nation in the 1960s; if something is "destroying civilization", it's that larger cultural shift.
There's that allegory on the Book of Mormon - the pure allegory, the Homecoming one, meh, might be worth scrutinizing the last bits when they actually get to their little promised land and there's fractious conflict? Betting no one really reads that stuff outside of Utah, though - I certainly can't believe I bothered. (It was a slow summer that year and my standards may have been low.) Anyway, moving on... I skipped most of the horror except for the Sleeping Beauty novel...
Oh! There's also the Songmaster stuff in which - in 1980! - had a homosexual main character who (while ultimately a tragic character) was treated with such human dignity and respect that Card had to fend off scathing criticism from his own church (and others') for doing so.
Orson Scott Card is like Atticus Finch and we're all reading Go Set A Watchman. If all we can find for either of these characters today is hate and loathing and calls to pirate books, what kind of a future are we really setting ourselves up for?
This actually supports my hunch that Card has been pressured to make a public pronouncement of homophobic values, since the messages in the Ender series are largely subversive and pacifistic.
I'm not too familiar with the Book of Mormon, so any detail you care to share about the allegory would be appreciated.
That's the Homecoming series plot (complete with the voice of a guardian spirit / computer system that only a chosen few hear), the (extended) Ender's Game endgame, the Alvin Maker endgame, the Wyrms endgame, and you can see deep dark shadows of it in Pastwatch and Treason, among others. Oh, and you can see clearly that the unfinished series that Lovelock is going that way to boot.
It's not a bad tale, but the variety's a trifle lacking.
Edit: add Amazon link.
* Good Omens, by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman 
I wish Pratchett and Gaiman had written more books together.
Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" is a great book for reading to younger kids. Weird, creepy, but strangely uplifting, even if it does begin with a triple murder. I can't remember which kid took that.
I bought Robert Silverberg's "Nightwings" in the 80s and read it several times. I was going to give away but couldn't find it, so I had to buy a new copy and read it again first. This seems to anticipate a lot that followed, from genetic modification to drastic climate change, but it is essentially about a character trying to cope in a mad world.
I've also done this a couple times with Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.
It is really shocking to me, that bright young people (with a bachelors degree) choose to go for a crappy paid hamsterwheel job, barely make ends meet, feel miserable at work, begin drinking/TV to cope with these frustrations and complain all day.
A few years ago I discovered that it isnt a choice for them at all. Many can't even imagine that life can could be any different than this suffering. Once you're trapped in the hamsterwheel a few years, your life is basically wasted and you're a slave to the paycheck forever. But being exposed to very basic lessons like kiosaki's early on can spark just enough curiosity to break out. Just invest a little time in yourself aside of work goes a long way to improve life situations over time. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, not a lottery ticket.
Going entrepreneur isn't even required, but just getting paid adequately for something you actually like doing, and the confidence by being quite good at it, does work wonders to improve your daily quality of life. You just have to "get" some basic ideas and invest a little effort in yourself.
Every once in awhile, I'll have a conversation with friends about finances, and they'll complain about how much work it is to manage money, and I'll go home and order them this book. It's an easy $10 gift, and they've all told me it changed the way they approach finances. Good stuff. Cannot recommend it enough.
It's a book I wish everyone would read, particularly everyone in a public office and the media. It's a shame that comparing politicians and their actions to Hitler has became a cliche everyone now is quick to ignore. Meanwhile there's plenty of stuff happening in the world straight from the Nazi playbook of the 30s.
The trouble is that whenever person Y puts person X and Hitler in the same sentence, there will be news headlines that say, "Y compares X to Hitler". At that point it looks like Y suggested X would do something on the level of the Holocaust. If Y really just meant that X and Hitler provoked distrust of minorities, that nuanced message will get lost.
Apparently Shirer's book has drawn some criticism because he was a journalist and not a historian whereas Evans is a historian.
and agreed, it's particularly relevant today in helping to think about Trump and whether it's wise for Americans to vote him into power
How do you separate what is true from what is he biased about?
here's a incomprehensive list in alphabetical order:
a people's history of the united states; howard zinn
a rebours; joris-karl huysmans
belaya staya; anna akhmatova
die verwandlung; franz kafka
epic of gilgamesh; unknown
ficciones; jorge luis borges
fractals: form, chance and dimension; benoit mandelbrot
gospels of mary and judas; unknown
i ching; unknown
la vida es sueno; pedro calderon de la barca
leaves of grass; walt whitman
letters of vincent van gogh
my life; isadora duncan
nightwood; djuna barnes
oku no hosomichi; basho
one piece; eiichiro oda
poems; emily dickinson
relativity: the special and general theory; albert einstein
saga; fiona staples and brian k vaughan
the brothers karamazov; fyodor dostoyevsky, translated by constance garnett
the first third; neal cassady
the power of pi; stickman lagrou graves
the secret life of salvador dali; dali
the way of a pilgrim; unknown
twelth night; william shakespeare
thing explainer; randall munroe
ulysses; james joyce
women, race, and class; angela davis
if you want a quick description of any i enjoy talking about them, and i appreciate suggestions
especially if you come from an us educational upbringing where songs about oceans being blue(o) are historical place holders stead primary sources
the elucidation is immediate.. zinn's first paragraph has an excerpt from christopher columbus' log:
They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they
exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they
owned... . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear
arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut
themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... . They
would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do
whatever we want.
fuck you chris
if you like zinn check out angela davis, her ability as a historian to find substantial sources is incredible
or sick like, 'the decadence on display in against the grain is revolting'
There seems to be some sort of strange obsession with applying the scientific method to psychological issues. Bunch of my friends started meditating because it is 'scientifically proven' to make them happy, make them rich, make them have good sex or whatever . Nevermind that all those "studies" are pure nonsense. But people will buy anything with the stamp of science on it, they are not joking when they claim 'I believe in science not god' .
Congratulations on your wedding and for finding a compatible partner. That's really great!!
Similar to the OP of this thread, I didn't marry a person who said he finds his teachings dry :), I am now happily married to my spouse for twelve years who humbly says it is too difficult to really understand Jiddu.
My favorite concepts from "The Book" are the Wiggles and the Net, exploring the idea that so many modern pressures and stresses are human created and are therefore open to change.
His live lectures, recorded in the 1960s, are great as well. Audible carries various collections: http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_search_c4_1_16_1_srAuth?...
It's my grandmas favorite non-fiction and she's read over 1000 books. She gave it to me and it sat on my shelf for months because the title wasn't appealing and I'm not a big book reader. Since I read it, I've now bought a second version of this book and give it to friends to read.
It's a technical write-up about Love in the general sense. Fromm pitches the idea that love is an art rather than a feeling.
I highly recommend the read. This book discusses the topic in a serious and insightful way.
It is a great little book, which deals with how we handle change in our lives (work and other) and how we sometimes fail to see, when it is time to move on.
My favorite one-sentence takeaway from the book is the question: "What would you do, if you were not afraid?" - which has helped me make hard decisions many times over the years.
I found this at NY Times:
Many of my friends are straight out of university, and it's a period where most people seem to start asking existential questions. The two books which have affected me greatly (and which I regularly give as gifts) are:
* Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
* Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Another is CODE, by Petzold. It explains computers from the ground (literally) up. After reading this, one can go buy some magnets, relays, and wire and proceed to build a rudimentary computer.
Stopped smoking six years ago and haven't had the desire to start again since. it feels great.
I actually played the nintendo DS adaptation of the book, which was also available on ios for a while.
it turned all the points the book was trying to make into a series of minigames that really illustrated the principles beautifully.
It does not try to make smokers feel guilty or use the usual rethoric of addict = weak. What really make it click for me was its deconstruction of the addiction mechanism. After reading the book, when I wanted a cigarette I knew exactly why, and I was convinced the feeling would fade quickly and subsequent occurrences would get milder as well.
It's still my favorite book on business, a short easy read filled with anecdotes from his time running CD Baby. The situations are ones I keep encountering myself running a small business, and the way the stories are written makes them highly memorable & applicable. If I can't decide between opportunities, I remember "Hell Yeah! or No." If I'm working on fraud screening, I remember "Don't Punish Everyone For One Person's Mistake". When working on an MVP and feel it isn't big enough, I'm reminded of "Start Now. No Funding Needed." And it has my favorite twist ending in business.
It's the first book I've specifically bought multiple copies of to give away, including to clients.
I read it at the age of 19, multiple times, and for me it was the ultimate primer for everything: whatever you deal with, take it apart, change the context in which you are looking at it, look from the distance, look close and from all sides, extract patterns and apply them somewhere else, combine, prescind, generalize, play, be curious about each and everything and then - while reading the book, and on other occasions in life - enjoy brief moments of epiphany. And for this purpose - to open the mind for another perception of everything - GEB is timeless.
I gave it as a gift to a colleague at work, with whom I regularly ended up in funny, crazy scientific discourses. And I keep two shrink-wrapped copies from 1989 for each of my two kids - if I am gone and the kids ever want to know how I perceived the world, they just have to break the seal and read.
And, of course, if you want to simply read the proof, there's Nagel's /Gödel's Proof/.
Neurolinguistic hacking! (it works, just ask Stephenson)(JOKE)
Given them to 5+ people over the years and every one has loved them.
Biz - the Personal MBA - Josh Kaufman - http://amzn.to/2aFsj3c
Org - the Fifth Discipline - Peter Senge - http://amzn.to/2aNpbQz
SciFi - Perdido Street Station - China Mieville - http://amzn.to/2aNoWFn
Parenting - The Continuum Concept - Jean Liedloff - http://amzn.to/2aZEAAL
My taste for Orwell's two most read, Animal Farm and 1984 was especially dulled after I read his non-fiction masterpiece Homage To Catalonia which is a harrowing lesson in realpolitik and the socialist infighting of the 1930's.
Homage To Catalonia is a wonderful book. I would also highly recommend checking out Down and Out in Paris and London and Burmese Days (two works of fiction loosely based on events from his real life experiences).
I actually just finished "Fermat's Last Enigma" after reading "The Code Book" 2 years ago.
He's an excellent author who begins all of his books with the premise that the lay person will be reading it. He even makes this explicit in Fermat's Last Enigma.
He gives the reader an amazing depth of knowledge by gradually building on very simple examples and explanations which still can intrigued someone with deep technical knowledge.
Coming into "Fermat's Last Enigma", I had two years of higher level math, number theory, discrete math, and linear algebra. I still learned so much about Mathematics, the progress of the field, and proofs of simple things like Pythagorean triples.
Singh is the best scientific writer, truly.
It opened the doors to the remote lifestyle for me and led me to switch to careers to tech (due to the abundance of remote opportunities) and to embrace a new kind of lifestyle.
* Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier--eye opening list of vegetables that come back year after year
* The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. Somewhat presumptuously, I bought multiple copies and sent them to some of my friends/acquaintances that were CEOs.
* Climate Wars, by Gwynne Dyer. This mix of fiction and non fiction really brought the climate change crisis to my attention.
 - https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Ref-4th-Thomas-Glover/dp/18850...
The four I remember gifting were Asimov's entire Foundation series, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, The Phantom Major by Virginia Cowles and See you in November by Peter Stiff.
Admittedly, it may be a bit below the reading level for the average user here but I can't recommend this book enough. Especially for those of us that sit in front of a computer all day. Take a look at the reviews at Amazon which are numerous and nearly unanimous. Do yourself a favour and give it read.
Set in a mediaeval China that never existed (but should have), it's the story of how village peasant Number Ten Ox and the ancient sage Master Li (who has a slight flaw in his character) go on a quest to save the children of his village from a plague which can count... and the other quest which they find themselves part of.
On the way you'll learn how to make a fortune with a goat, how not to cook porcupine, the best way to move rocks using only a corpse, why you should always be polite to ginseng, and the true meaning of courage. You'll meet ghosts, monsters, and gods --- and they're typically less bizarre than the human cast, which contains such jewels as the Ancestress, Miser Shen, the Old Man of the Mountain, Lotus Cloud and of course, the inimitable Ma the Grub and Pawnbroker Fang...
It's by parts hilarious, touching, gripping, and there are parts that will make you cry from sheer beauty. Read this book.
Shameless plug -I posted a summary here: https://rkirti.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/learnings-from-the-d...
It's a relatively short book and it's focus is on college fraternities (which is what I was in when I first read it). I bought about 20 copies and handed them out after reading it. While it has nothing to do with software development I have found it's core message to be applicable to working on a team. The core message is you can normally divide your organization up into 3 categories, these will not necessarily be equal in size. These categories are the highly motivated "top" go-getters who will do everything they can to help further the org, the "middle" who with the right motivation can work just as hard and be just as driven as the first group, and the "bottom" who rarely make more than minimum effort if that and are extremely unlikely to go out of their way for the greater good of the org. The book suggests to more or less ignore the bottom and spend your energy on "motivating the middle" to use them to their greatest potential. It says that spending your time on the bottom is a fruitless endeavor and will only result in alienating the middle people who are somewhat on the fence.
Now this applies much more to a community-run (in this case student-run) organization where letting someone go is often off the table (in greek life removing a brother/sister can be a much bigger challenge than one might assume). I do not bring any of this up to debate the pros and cons of greek like of which there are many (you can talk to me privately if you wish to do that), but just to bring some clarity to what I'm trying to say.
Often as an employee not in a managerial role you are in a similar situation and while I'd be a lier if I said I always applied this logic but I do try to always remember that being annoyed/angry with under-performers is, in all honesty, a zero-sum game. It's best to focus on what I can do to make the place I work better and work to bring the "middle" to want the same.
It's probably not the best book to bring up here but it's really the only book I'd ever bought for more than 1 person (and the only one that I didn't by for purely entertainment/enjoyment reasons, I've gifted fiction books on a number of occasions).
It's focus is to get people thinking about 2nd and 3rd order effects. It's very simple and well written.
It's ground hog day, but on a lifetime scale. The search for happiness and what it means to be happy.
The latter have become one of the basic building blocks of my life.
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0321934113/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_1Y6P...
This book was amazing.
(Edit: I just looked at the Amazon page and realized the book seems to cost about $200 used -- can that be true...?! I think I paid $30 for it. Maybe I should have kept it.)
The Black Swan by Taleb
Thinking Fast & Slow by Kahneman
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Diamond
The World According To Monsanto by Robin
The Organized Mind by Levitin
The Vital Question by Lane
Life Ascending by Lane
Chasing the Scream by Hari
Anything By Gladwell.
I've given probably 10 copies to family and friends with kids and it's been universally liked.
I think when Rothfuss releases his final Kingkiller Chronicle book it might be my new intro series :)
Also Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings (fantasy and same author as Mistborn). The audio books are really good.
The Dominant Man: The Pecking Order of Human Society
__ Completely changed my perspective on social interaction. I've been trying to get people to read this but the title sounds very non-pc. Got it for 1AUD on a second hand book table somewhere, it's very dry though and mostly just presents evidence without drawing conclusions.
Cat's Craddle - Kurt Vonnegut
__ I love the word Karass. Lots of travelers like this book.
When Nietzsche wept
__ Amazing book, the amount of strategy in their conversations is amazing and the book is just high quality. Best to know some stuff about Nietzsche and that era before you read it though.
Teach us to sit still - Tim Parks
__ Not something you'd give to anyone but if the person is a little intrigued by meditation then this book will probably get them to start doing it.
Why the West Rules for Now: The patterns of history and what they reveal about the future
__ I had learned the history of certain periods in certain locations but this book brought it all together into a cohesive narrative. Highly recommended if you want to start inquiring into history but don't know where to start.
Carlos Castaneda's series on learning shamanism
__ I dunno what to think of this. I can believe that the guy actually experienced what he's writing, it's just too much to make up imo. Anyway I'd recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy, religion or meditation because it's just such a radically different perspective on how to live life and the meaning of enlightenment.
I also have a long list of books that I've seen recommended here or recommendations from people I've met all over the world that I use for inspiration when I need to give gifts for Christmas or something but I haven't read them yet so I won't mention them here.
One of the most welcome gifts I've ever bought. One friend told me he had rediscovered the pleasure of reading; another read the full Masters of Rome series shortly after. Really good feedback.
Terry Pratchett's Night Watch is also one of my favorites to give. Although when asked if it is the first of a series people tend to be somewhat surprised by the answer: I send them a graph spanning all the Discworld books. Night Watch is in no way the first but I've found it to be a good starter and the order is not that important in Pratchett's books.
Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. Already mentioned by someone. Some translations have an incredibly lyrical prose, but you've got to be careful with the one you buy.
Humor: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I've recommended this to many friends who needed a good laugh. I don't remember another book that made me laugh so hard that I dropped the book.
Non-fiction: this one's a tough one because many good books are mentioned already, but two that I really enjoyed and have recommended in the last year are: Boyd by Robert Coram and How the Other Half Banks by Mehrsa Baradaran. Boyd tells the story about a brilliant but petulant air force pilot who rewrote the guidelines of US military aviation. How the Other Half Banks is an eye opening account of how broken our banking system is and the history of how we got to where we are.
Business: again, a lot of good books are mentioned already, but two I've enjoyed are Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg and Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. Both are fascinating books that'll leave you thinking about how to improve your own game.
Bonus: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a tremendous piece. It's a short read but a must read!
Just kidding. I did give a friend The Go Programming Language by Donovan & Kernighan, though
Non-Fiction: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Technical: The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Richie
* Persepolis, first version
* Dark Angel, by David Klass
I've just started reading "Flowers for Algernon", I guess this can also be a good birthday present. I think gifting books is something very difficult, in my experience I never wanted to get books for present.
Gleick: The Information
Michener: The Source
Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire (all of them, digital)