As for mine,
Science Fiction (I like these authors so I'd recommend most of their books -- listing which ones I think are a good 'starter novel' for them):
Charles Stross: Halting State
Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon The Deep
Iain M. Banks: Culture novels, start with Player of Games
David Louis Edelman: Jump 225 Trilogy
Daniel Suarez: Daemon and Freedom(tm)
John Scalzi: Old Man's War series
Dan Simmons: Hyperion
The Talent Code
Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Amusing Ourselves To Death (highly recommended)
The Science of Fear
The Black Swan
Racing The Beam (Atari history, very cool)
books by Daniel Pink
Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Prize by Daniel Yergin
Anything by Gaiman or China Mieville, pretty much.
EDIT: links to previews (legally) available online
Charles Stross's Accelerando (entire book): http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/accelera...
David Louis Edelman's Infoquake (1st 7 chapters): http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/jump225/infoquake/
One of my favorites is Caesar's The Gallic Wars, because it's so amazing that we have his very own account: http://classics.mit.edu/Caesar/gallic.html
Josephus' account of The Jewish Wars is amazing.
Marcus Aurelius' Meditations is a must-read: http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html
If you like Roman history, you've got to check out Gibbons' History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It's just a masterpiece. I flip through my copy of Meditations from time to time (actually, now I look at it on my Kindle, but I used to flip through my paper copy) and just pick out random quotes. A great work. "It is not the thing itself that disturbs a man, but the man's perception of and reaction to the thing. The thing may not be able to be changed, but a man's perception and reaction may be changed." I'm butchering that quote, but it's incredibly meaningful to me, and I try to reflect on it when things seem to be going wrong or I get inconvenienced.
While talking about classics, there's a lot of good philosophy out of copyright. Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spoke Zarathustra aren't perfect works and I disagree with a fair bit of it, but there's some absolute jewels in them too.
Lately I've been looking for a decent electronic copy of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents and Kierkegaard's Either/Or, but I've been having a hard time finding copies that are decently formatted and readable.
Also, got any other recommendations Staunch? I'm going to get Gallic Wars, and it seems like you and I have similar taste if you have other recommendations.
It's a bit like an ancient Roman Twitter account.
I read The Glass Bead Games after I happened across Timothy Leary's "The Politics of Ecstasy" (a good read but not great - his ignorance/arrogance get's in the way all too often). The thing that switched me onto HH was TLs insistance that the man had achieved enlightenment: I figured that was not to be missed!
HH won the Nobel Proze for literature shortly after it's publication, and I cannot overstate the majesty of this book - it is simply awe inspiring. Easy to read, with a persuasive storyline that seduces the reader into an abominably utopian world of intellectual rule (Epistocracy?).
I won't ruin it for any readers. The basic thrust of the tale is the student becoming the master in a world where the highest grand masters (of "the game") are revered with something approaching religious zeal.
It changed me. Fundamentally. Before reading it I was naive and starry eyed about what education could achieve, now I'm more aware than ever that humanity, educated or not, is still just a many faced beast. All these trappings of wealth, power, and intellect are just reigns temporarily thrown around this rampaging behemoth.
It's not so much an epiphany of despair or futility, strangely it is somehow quite the opposite. It's a realease. I can't quite explain it. It's something that sends me into wild flights of lyrical rhetoric about the nature of humanity and my own part in it. I don't think there is anything better that you can ask from a book.
The Bet by Anton Chekhov
You can read it here: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Bet.shtml
It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. It's so fantastically misanthropic, I cannot recommend it enough.
The polemic against society at the end is just epic.
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
Gridlinked - Neal Asher
Neuromancer - William Gibson
The Reality Dysfunction - Peter F. Hamilton
The Dreaming Void - Peter F. Hamilton
Fallen Dragon - Peter F. Hamilton
Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
Market Forces - Richard Morgan
Blindsight - Peter Watts
The Electric Church - Jeff Somers
Tunnel in the Sky - Robert A. Heinlein
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
1984 - George Orwell
The only one I hated was "Market forces" by Morgan. It felt like reading "The Pilgrim's Progress", but with Chomsky as Jesus -- a little bit too heavy handed in political propaganda. For that kind of stuff done in a fascinating way, check Ken MacLeod's "The Stone Canal" and following.
(Asher got a little too much of Space Opera for me, in the end.)
For sf, I'd add Greg Egan (Stross has been mentioned multiple times).
I'd also like to recommend the worst author I used to buy books in hardcover from -- Robert L Forward. The guy couldn't have written a believable character to save his life, but he had some cool physics ideas. RIP.
For fantasy, which I didn't see mentioned, I'd add Scott Lynch, most stuff by Jack Vance, the black company series (Glen Cook), Joe Abercrombie and Vlad Taltos (Brust).
Dawkins' Selfish Gene has been mentioned. Steven Pinker was interesting.
Edit: Re Schoeder, I've heard good things but not read anything yet. Thanks for advice and kick to start.
I can see how you'd feel that way about Market Forces. Personally what I liked most in that book was the way the main character developed/changed over the course of the story. That being said I would consider it on the 'lighter' end of the SF spectrum, but I still think it's an interesting exploration of a society taken to the extreme.
Another really good book is Ventus by Karl Schroeder. It's phenomenally entertaining and has some really interesting ideas in it.
This book is a "how it works" guide to the infrastructure of modernity: the power grid, mining, steel production, etc. Great photographs & readable text. I read it cover to cover and was enriched thereby.
Some other general business books I like include The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution and First, Break all the Rules. A non-software specific design book I highly recommend is The Design of Everyday Things. Even though it is geared towards manufacturing related industries, I'm also very fond of Winning at New Products.
If you haven't already you should learn more about negotiation. Even if your only negotiation is negotiating a new job every several years, reading a book on it is very worthwhile. If you can negotiate yourself an extra $1000 bonus, once, the book has paid for itself with interest. The two books I recommend there are Start with No and Bargaining for Advantage. I'd recommend the first if you need a general purpose bargaining strategy and aren't experienced. I'd recommend the second if you're an experienced bargainer who is looking to improve.
A few years back I read The Prince by Machiavelli. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.
For general interest for anyone who likes math I strongly recommend The Mathematical Experience by Davis and Hersch. My summary of it is that Godel, Escher, Bach is the book that non-mathematicians have on their coffee table book, while The Mathematical Experience is the one that mathematicians have.
Lots of people gave sci-fi recommends for you. To those I'll add Peter Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction series and Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series. Furthermore if you haven't seen it yet, go to an IMAX and see Hubble 3D. If you ever dreamed of space, you need to see it. Really.
For random science fact, I like Jared Diamond. I like virtually everything by Stephen J. Gould. I recently re-read Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and still love that.
I could list more, but that's enough for the moment.
It’s especially fun to compare it to the accounts written by historians in Spain who had never been to New Spain, and didn’t know anything about anything.
This book is about reconciling this, and thus reconciling rationality, art, and religion with one another, though the religious part isn't touched on all that much. The author goes on to suggest an idea that "quality" is the fundamental force in the universe. As an example of this idea-application in practice, the author says to open the Tao Te Ching and replace "the way"(etc..) with "quality", and then see how much it makes sense.
While insightful, it really is a bit silly. But don't let that get you down on the book -- the book is well worth your time to read. The material is really very interesting. I am certain you will love it.
i am also uninterested in motorized transport in general, but have read that book three times and it is the only book i've ever read twice in a row.
Describes a very interesting conceptual framework, with a division between intellect, biology and society.
However, I think the Chautauqua theme is enlightening. For me, the book was a "mind-shaper", if you'll allow me such a term. It didn't convince me, but what it taught me was tangential to what the book was actually saying.
I guess another way of saying it is that, for me, the journey taught me something very valuable, whereas the destination was a bit silly.
* Jared Diamond - Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Jared Diamond is a geographer who writes about societies and civilizations, and how they tackle changing conditions)
* Herfried Münkler - Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States (Münkler writes about different historical and contemporary empires and hegemonies, why they did what they did, and why they failed early or managed to stay for centuries. Very non-political and matter-of-factly)
* Ursula K. LeGuin - The Word for World is Forest, The Earthsea Saga (Science Fiction/Fantasy, LeGuin is pretty different from most sci-fi-writers. Earthsea is pretty standard magicians/dragons-fantasy, though)
* Ryszard Kapuściński - Travels with Herodotus (Kapuściński was a Polish journalist who traveled a lot. Here, he tries to walk in Herodotus' foot-steps. Basically, a modern day Herodotus)
* Jules Verne - All of his books are worth reading. Visionary and engaging.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Mostly about cognitive biases. Helps you think better by knowing your shortcomings.
Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand
About protecting the environment, but with interesting takes on nuclear power, GMOs, cities and slums, etc.
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
Made me re-think a lot of things about food. Despite the "pop-science" title, this is a well researched book that looks at countless studies from the past 150 years.
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheier by Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird
A biography of Robert Oppenheimer. Fascinating man.
The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
A must read. Evolutionary psychology.
If you want to read scholarly refutations of arguments for the existence of God, as well as read some arguments put forward explicitly for the non-existence of God, then you have to turn elsewhere: Michael Martin's "Atheism: A Philosophical Justification", Robin Le Podevin's "Arguing for Atheism" and Nick Everett's "The Non-Existence Of God". Another good book from an agnostic rather than atheist perspective is Anthony Kenny's "The God of the Philosophers". A slightly easier read is Julian Baggini's "Atheism: A Very Short Introduction" which is okay. I have some reservations with it, but it covers most of the important arguments and has some stuff about ethics and living the good life and all that happy-clappy stuff too.
As for stuff that isn't concerned with the philosophical arguments? I found Onfray's "In Defence of Atheism" a pretty good read - it is polemical, but is well-written. Nietzsche is always good to read so long as you don't - you know - become a damn goth or whatever after reading it or try and commit genocide or something. Russell's "Why I Am Not A Christian" and the much less read compilation "Russell on Religion" (not widely available outside academia as far as I'm aware) - Russell is a good writer and says some very refreshing things like:
<blockquote>Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cozy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a splendor of their own.</blockquote>
Perhaps the newer
The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
This book was very important for me, as it gave me a new way of approaching both books and almost everything in life. It also gives a rather thorough collection of the most important books of western culture, ordered by authors then dates.
If you ever wanted to know how to read more effectively, this book is it. It teaches you how to mark up a book in such a way that you'll be able to remember what you need from it after a few minutes of review. I highly recommend it. My life would have been much poorer without having read it.
1) What the book is about
2) Why do you recommend it?
Also along this line of epic fantasy are the Malazan Empire books by Steven Erikson - http://www.amazon.com/Gardens-Moon-Malazan-Book-Fallen/dp/07...
The adventures of a two-dimensional creature into the lands of the single-dimension and the three-dimension (and more). Also, on his efforts to evangelize his visions.
When I first read this over ten years ago, I was surprised to learn that the book itself had been published in the 19th century. It was my first true realization that people just as "smart" as us modern folk have existed for quite a while.
Very imaginative short stories bordering on the philosophical, some of them hilarious.
Borges constantly wove themes of what is too much knowledge, how are we ensnared and consumed by it, and ultimately how are beauty & wonder itself contained in that paradoxical process from which all things flow.
Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely
Nudge - Richard Thaler
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - Chip and Dan Heath
The Black Swan: Impact of the Highly Improbable - Nassim Taleb
Fooled by Randomness - Nassim Taleb
Drunkard's Walk - Leonard Mlodinow
Opening Skinner's Box - Lauren Slater
The Education of a Coach - David Halberstam
I wrote a review on Amazon that you can read there for more details, but in short: this book describes the themes that interested Hayek, their historical context, and how attitudes to them evolved.
I consider myself "left wing" and Hayek is no great hero of mine (when I read the book I was barely aware of him - I think he is more famous in the USA than Europe), but that doesn't stop this being one of my favourite books. The range covered is huge, the historical background of the times is fascinating, and Hayek is a much more complex thinker than you might imagine from the way he is treated in current popular culture.
Vaguely related, "Machine Dreams" by Mirowski is another absorbing, thought-provoking book on the history of Economics (simplifying hugely - the influence of the cold war on the rise of "free market economics"). The style can be a little frustrating, but it's worth the effort. http://www.amazon.com/Machine-Dreams-Economics-Becomes-Scien...
Musashi was one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) swordsman of all time. He invented a Japanese longblade/shortblade mixed style of swordsmanship, at one point fighting himself out of an ambush when he was attacked by over 30 men. He was undefeated in over 60 duels, including defeating arguably the second best swordsman in Japan at the time while fighting with a wooden oar he carved into a rough swordlike shape.
Here's Musashi's Wikipedia page:
The book by Eiji Yoshikawa is historical fiction - it's period accurate and follows all of Musashi's most well known story. It fills in some other details we don't know of Musashi's life - how he might have trained, some minor scuffles with bandits of the day, and it added a love story.
The book is exceptional. Musashi has immense amounts of raw talent, but is in conflict with himself in the world, arrogant, keeps getting into problems and trouble until he comes to more mastery and wisdom. Seriously, I read a lot, and this is hands-down my favorite book of all time. It's a hell of an enjoyable read, really pleasant and beautiful, fun and adventurous, but also filled with deep wisdom. It's a great swashbuckling story, but also teaches you about thinking critically, tactics, strategy, training, tradeoffs, and so on. Just a masterpiece. Easily the most influential book of my life.
No affiliate link:
Whilst on subject, I'll also recommend Husain Haddawy's translation of Arabian Nights, which is uproariously funny and also contains a lot of wisdom, and "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber, which I consider the Bible of small business. I buy a copy of E-Myth and make anyone I'm going to partner with read it before I'll do business with them.
Edit: Wow, that's quite a few upvotes pretty quickly. If you pick a copy of one of these and enjoy it, feel free to shoot me an email if you want to chat about it. These books have been huge for my life, and not enough people read, so I don't get to talk books as much as I'd like. Also, people with similar tastes feel free to make recommendations either commenting here or by email. Lurkers too! I'm always looking for great books.
If you recommend a good book to me, I'd like you to get a kickback.
How do others feel about affiliate links? I've created an Ask HN on the topic: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1227196
Basically, I don't recommend enough books to bother with an affiliate link, but if someone on the HN/YCombinator team would register a link, I'd voluntarily add it to my recommendations. It is a bit wasteful to leave the potential affiliate commission on the table when it could go to something valuable. People can discuss in that thread.
And Paul, if you're reading this, what's your take? I figure a bit of extra resources in the way of free books couldn't hurt, and it might add up. I reckon a lot of the community would be happy to give back that way.
On another note. Could the author of the parent (froo) put together a shared Google Doc of all recommended books that didn't get negative total points?
Takezo lay among the corpses. There were thousands of them. "The whole world's gone crazy," he thought dimly. "A man might as well be a dead leaf, floating in the autumn breeze."
You're going to love it :) I damn near never guarantee someone is going to love a book, but I figure almost anyone here would. Everyone, literally everyone I'd recommended or gifted a copy of Musashi too is crazy about the book.
At the risk of getting way ahead of myself, Taiko by the same author is quite good too, but larger in scope - more characters, more history, a bit more work but still a good story. If you really like Japan or Yoshikawa's writing style, check that out afterwards. But for now, you're in good hands with Musashi. Feel free to drop me an email if you've got thoughts as you're reading, my email is in my profile.
I'm definitely picking up the Yoshikawa book though. Thanks for the recommendation.
His absolute priority on winning. It's not that his style is the best way to win, it's that his style is based around winning. The whole point of the book is winning! You always have to win, by any means necessary. It's very bald; the text is peppered with bits like
A tenet of my teaching is that one must win regardless of the length of the sword one uses, so I do not dictate the length of the sword. The ultimate objective of my style is to be prepared to win, no matter what weapons are involved.
and somewhat disconcertingly,
When applying martial strategy to the world of leadership, it is important that you make the acquaintance of people of good character; that you become a good leader to others; that you conduct yourself in a correct manner; that you govern people well; that you take good care of others; that you follow and maintain the laws and customs of the land for the sake of order; and that you never take second place to anyone in whatever you engage.
It's also noted that while Musashi did take on well-known opponents, especially Sasaki Kojiro, he also never dueled with several other extremely famous samurai in the same period. Ochiai notes that it is entirely consistent with his strategy to not fight if you think you will not win.
Directness and simplicity: As I sit down here to begin writing this book, I do not intend to use any archaic words from the scriptures of Buddhism or Confucianism, nor will I depend on the examples of various writings of old war chronicles and battle tactics. Musashi also considers the idea of dividing techniques into basic and advanced stupid, although he concedes that you should teach what's easiest for a beginner first, depending on the person.
Humility: However, after the age of thirty, I started to reflect on my experiences and began to wonder whether or not my victories were attributable to my natural ability, sheer luck, or the inferior techniques of those whom I had defeated, rather than my true understanding of the principle of martial strategy.
Once I became enlightened by the true meaning of martial strategy, I ceased to have any real interest or desire in the worldly affairs.
Strangely individualistic: Ochiai writes, "It’s true that Musashi intended to teach his readers to be victorious in one-to-one combat as well as in war involving armies. But if you read the book carefully, with an open mind and sincere attitude, it becomes clear that Musashi’s teaching goes far beyond that. His philosophy can be summarized as ji-riki; the power of each individual that emanates from within oneself. Musashi believed that ji-riki must be cultivated and empowered through constant effort and training. With correct understanding, his messages become concrete and personal, directly relating to the problems of living – to the human being who struggles and strives for individual achievement."
Spirit of discovery: It is not enough that you read what is written here, you must train as hard as if you were the one who developed the doctrine, instead of being the one who had it given to you. Train constantly as if you were the source of the discovery of the Way. Avoid mere imitation or learning without sincerity.
"The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him."
you might also find the 3 mushashi set of movies by Hiroshi-Inagaki pretty
nice. i certainly enjoy them a lot...
Toshirô-Mifune plays samurai roles with elan
If you are reading Hitchhiker's, the "best books" of the "trilogy" are the 1st, 5th, and 4th. The 2nd and 3rd are relatively weak, but the 4th and 5th will make substantially less sense without them. The readers can decide what to do with this knowledge.
You see, Nabokov toys with his readers - he leaves puzzles throughout his books; he writes in defiance of literary criticism (part of his impetus in Pale Fire); he foreshadows with a trail of anagrams. To throw someone in media res of two of his most complex tales (perhaps only surpassed by Lolita and The Gift), might give a premature distaste for Nabokov's heady style.
What I would personally recommend for someone new to Nabokov would be any of Despair, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, or Transparent Things.
If you like Nabokov, you may also want to try:
Rushdie, Salman - The Satanic Verses
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
AMZN blurb: You have heard about how a musician loses herself in her music, how a painter becomes one with the process of painting. In work, sport, conversation or hobby, you have experienced, yourself, the suspension of time, the freedom of complete absorption in activity. This is "flow," an experience that is at once demanding and rewarding--an experience that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates is one of the most enjoyable and valuable experiences a person can have. The exhaustive case studies, controlled experiments and innumerable references to historical figures, philosophers and scientists through the ages prove Csikszentmihalyi's point that flow is a singularly productive and desirable state. But the implications for its application to society are what make the book revolutionary.
I've done more than my fair share of stumbling (including one divorce) and at the age of 32 only now do I feel like I am "getting it".
Nonetheless, I'd recommend the book _Conscious Loving_ by Gay and Kaithlyn Hendricks.
Instead of the superficialities preached by the Venus books, etc they get to the heart of the matter by having us examine ourselves for personal projects, secrets that we are hiding and other subconscious developments that lay at the root of our psyche. We our worlds truly are in our head and our relationships are manifestations of those thoughts. I finally found a book that helps me peal back those layers and helped me figure out why I had been fucking up over so many years...
The Mystery Method by Mystery - About half is a real down-to-the bits theory of love and attraction. The other half is advice about how to pick up dates at bars. I only wanted the first part, but both are fascinating. After reading this, it's like the veil was lifted and I could see the fnords.
The Game by Neil Strauss - The story of field research into practical romance by a great writer and a peek at the author of the first book above. The author masters seductive romance and discovers that it is not the same as love. In the end, though, he needed the first to have a chance at the second.
Once you accept that love and romance are hard and not free, these two books are a start at finding and building a quality relationship. Of course, you'll have to ignore that they market themselves as manuals on how to avoid one.
* no exit - jean-paul sartre
* brave new world - adolous huxley
* 1984 - george orwell
* foucault's pendolum - umberto eco
* l'etranger - albert camus
* 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - jules vernes
My all-time scifi list started out in a reddit comment: http://akkartik.name/blog/2006-06-02-08-13-58-soc
Both of these are in the tradition of Oswald Spengler's _Decline of the West_ and Arnold Toynbee's _A Study of History_; I'd recommend the abridged version of the latter, and I'd observe that if you can make it all the way through either of these you have more stamina than I do...
The History of Sexuality - Michel Foucault
Discipline and Punish - Michel Foucault
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America - Daniel J. Boorstin
The Perennial Philosophy - Aldous Huxley
* Atlas Shrugged (also good: The Fountainhead) by Ayn Rand
* Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
* Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Freedman
* The Plague by Albert Camus
Churchill, Hitler, and "the unnecessary war": how Britain lost its empire and the West lost the world
Both books are iconoclastic looks at how WWII came to be, and whether it was truly a "just" war. The second is by Pat Buchanan, but neither book is crazy or racist. Both are extremely well-researched and documented. Pat Buchanan's book is explicitly in response to the "just war" trope which was used to justify the US occupation of Iraq, but I think I see the same motivation in Human Smoke.
The most interesting single tidbit I learned from the two books was that Roosevelt was an anti-semite:
(I looked that vignette up in Morgenthau's memoirs. The story he tells there was meant to justify to the younger Morgenthau Roosevelt's policy of restricting emigration to the US by Jewish refugees.)
One of the few books that I think really everybody should read.
I moved house 15000 km recently and this was one of the few books that came along (the others are in storage). Most of the other ones are mentioned in other comments.
From the New Yorker review:
In 1649, after Oliver Cromwell and his army had taken King Charles I prisoner, they had to decide what to do with him. The easiest option, according to a contemporary, was assassination, "for which there were hands ready enough to be employed." Instead, a lawyer named John Cooke was given the brief to prosecute him. (Other lawyers left town to dodge the job.) At the time, there was no language for what Charles was charged with: as king, he was the law, so prosecuting him seemed a logical absurdity. Robertson, a lawyer involved in the prosecutions of Augusto Pinochet and Saddam Hussein, credits Cooke with helping to make those proceedings possible; he "made tyranny a crime." But Cooke himself was executed after the monarchy was restored. His heart and genitals were fed to stray dogs, and his head, at King Charles II's direction, was displayed at the entrance to Westminster Hall.
All related to having a passion for learning and life in general:
"Art of Learning" by Josh Waitzkin
"Mastery" by George Leonard
"A Mathematician's Lament" by Paul Lockhart
"Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" by Richard Feynman
Plowing the Dark by Richard Powers. The book follows to parallel stories: one of a company that invents virtual reality and another of a teacher that gets taken hostage by terrorists. It's an incredible book and the reason why I decided to study computer science.
Moving Mars by Greg Bear. Mars is a colony of Earth and the book follows a struggle for Martian independence. Also an incredible book.
George Orwell - 1984
The foundations of computational neroscience - and lots of practial demonstrations of how your eyes and brain work.
- Daniel Dennett "Consciousness Explained"
How the mind works?
- J.E Gordon: "The new Science of Strog Materials" & " Structures, or why things don't fall down."
How is 'stuff' strong/hard?
- Steve Grand: "Creation" & "Growing up with Lucy"
The programmer behind the game 'Creatures' and his adventures in artificial life.
- Joseph Campbell: "The Hero with a Thousand Faces"
Never look at Star Wars in the same way again.
- David Deutch: "The Fabric of Reality"
Many worlds or mad as a box of frogs?
- Richard Leakey & Roger Lewin: "The Sixth Extinction"
We're doomed - maybe
- Braitenberg: "Vehicles"
Emergent behaviour from simple rules
- Ian Wilmut, Keith Cambell & Colin Tudge: "The Second Creation"
How Dolly the Sheep was made. Takes you through the background such that you can read & understand their paper which appears at the end.
- John Brunner: "The Shockwaver Rider"
Snowcrash - hah! - 1975 and this dude got it already.
Other general authors:
Martin Gardner, Greg Egan (lots of free stuff on his site).
Edit: Sorry, it's probably just a formatting problem and you were referring to The Shockwave Rider.
It's like The World is Flat on steroids. It's probably even more pro free trade. It's the most optimistic look at world affairs I've ever seen. The idea is that trade ties countries together and makes them stop fighting.
Gates of Fire - same as above, the story of the stand at Thermopylae
Agincourt & 3 part series Archer's tale - Bernard Cornwell - accounts of medievil warfare
StrengthsFinder 2.0 - Tom Rath - take a test and discover your strengths/things you love to do, focus on on doing those
Taoism in general is something I'm going to dive more into.
Don't be scared off by it being poetry. It is easily understandable and has an economy and elegance of phrasing that I have yet to see elsewhere.
I've always thought that poetry and coding have a lot in common. A focus on structure, economy, and elegance as well as working with the language to best effect.
I can't speak to the relevance of any specific work of fiction to any HN'er but the one writing this comment, but "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison and "Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald are two novels that stand out to me as being particularly good.
I recently finished reading this book and their four subsequent volumes, each of which goes into great detail about the four archetypes. Reading them has given me much stimulus for thought and personal growth.
1. Bertrand Russell - The Problems of Philosophy
A good introduction to the basic things which philosophers in the Anglo-American/analytic tradition worry about in logic, metaphysics and epistemology (primarily epistemology): induction, a priori knowledge, anti-sceptical arguments, and universals.
2. Hans-Georg Gadamer - Truth and Method
You know about the 'Continental' philosophers, right? All those wacky guys like Derrida. They are all a bit suspicious, right? Like, Heidegger was a Nazi, and Foucault spreads HIV. Yeah, gossip is great. A lot of this type of philosophy seems like bunkum - Alan Sokal showed that, right? Lots of waffly French dudes talking out of their ass, abusing science to basically support their political ideology. Gadamer isn't like that. He sets out to try and answer the question "how do we understand texts?" and rather than saying something goofy like "we just make up what we understand about texts" or that we deconstruct them by subjecting them to our ideological whims, ripping the book apart to suit whatever the passing fancy is. No, Gadamer tries to explicate how the reading of a book is more of a process that starts with pre-judgement - 'prejudice' in Gadamer's words. Such prejudice is natural and actually quite desirable. You do judge a book by the cover. To understand a book as a whole, you need to understand all the components which make it up. But to understand any bit of the book, you need to understand how it fits into the wider contest of the book. This 'hermeneutic cycle' is daunting, but the only thing you can do is jump on board.
3. Saul Kripke - Naming and Necessity
Kripke's book is on a slightly strange topic: how we use names. But how he deals with this is an interesting problem is a model of clarity and philosophical excellence. It has also been very influential - the way Kripke solves the problem with names led to other philosophers producing many so-called causal accounts of all sorts of things.
I'd post some more, but I've got to get the hell out of my hotel room and go to a philosophy conference...
Its written by Scott Adams, the guy who does Dilbert, but its completely different from Dilbert. Its basically an exploration of one theory about where the universe comes from, the nature of god, etc... A thought experiment in conversation form, if you will.
I like it because it brings up some neat ideas that may not be obvious.
Side Note: He gets some of the science wrong in the book, so if you do read it, make sure you fact check any science before you believe it.
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear
Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures
The City of Dreaming Books
"Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination" by Neal Gabler (This is awesome because the 1st third is about his multiple failures)
Any David Macaulay book (breathtaking deconstruction construction)
Any book on child crafts and games, vintage better. (The writing is superb and a lot of activities are excellent)
Any book on network marketing (I'm not involved but have been pitched many times. The talk about funnels for recruiting is realistic).
The Innovator's Dilemma can be summed up in two paragraphs but is still worth reading - it explains why giant companies fail to keep innovating.
Stumbling upon happiness - how people's perception of what makes them happy has little basis in what actually makes them happy - and why.
Reserved "Founders at work" at the library, but currently reading "Match King" the biography of Ivar Kreuger. After failing a bunch of times, he figured it out: put on a show and pretend you're successful then other people buy in. Problem is he took that too far.
Surprisingly, good to read as an entrepreneur, both inspirational AND _cautionary_.
A few example i enjoyed:
The State of Africa, Martin Meredith
The Code Book, Simon Singh
Pity the Nation, Robert Fisk
The Great War for Civilization, Robert Fisk
Alan Turing: The Enigma, Andrew Hodges
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
Fermat's Engima, Simon Singh
The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein
The four pillars consisting of investment theory, history, psychology and business. I ascribe to the indexing model of investing and this book helped crystallize my view point as well as provide an interesting overview of investment history.
Plus I'll throw in one of my favorite, bloody gems of a book:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
No Country For Old Men is more accessible and I'd definitely recommend it. The Road is also a must.
I've recommended, and reviewed, it here before. Basically it is a pop-science look at how humans react and view fear. Brilliant read with lots of good referecing to scientific papers etc.
It was almost as revelatory to me as the selfish gene.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Time Machine or Invisible Man
One of my personal favorites which you won't be able to put down: Dracula
* The Technological Society, Jacques Ellul
* Tools for Conviviality, Ivan Illich
* Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew Crawford
* The Lost City of Z
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter.
Not only did I by it, but I read it, and enjoyed it too!
A Briefer History of Time - Stephen Hawking
Interesting book on why people act irrationally.
It's like an instruction manual for a utopian society, in novel form. This book set my mind on fire with crazy and inspiring ideas about how society could be...
One of the few books I've read 3 or more times. An important discussion about determinining what is important in life, and what is just the details.
* Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational
* Christopher McDougall, Born to Run
* Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
* Jeb Brugman, Welcome to the Urban Revolution
* Richard Florida, Who's Your City?
I figure there are lots of books people can recommend here that are relevant to my interests, so why not ask?
The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith
Rework - 37 Signals
Ogilvy on Advertising / Confessions of an Advertising Man -
In fact, while reading it I would swear I read a lot of the passages in it were added in wholesale from Getting Real.
I was experiencing some serious Deja Vu while reading it. More power to 37signals for being able to sell me something I've already essentially read.
A very enjoyable description of the pinnacle of pre-Industrial technology.
This is a particularly good book that ought to be spread around more.
Yes, it's a cookbook. Bloody good one, though, and you've gotta eat.
Taiko - Eiji Yoshikawa
Alexander of Macedon - Peter Green
and +1 for Staunch's choice:
Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
"A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" the title essay of which is now available on the internet and is a terrific introduction to the late great American author (http://www.amazon.com/Supposedly-Fun-Thing-Never-Again/dp/03...)
"Consider the Lobster" (http://www.amazon.com/Consider-Lobster-David-Foster-Wallace/...)
Some of the few pieces of physical literature I actually own and chase back every time I lend them to someone.
Seth Godin's Linchpin
Viral Loops by Adam L. Penenberg