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Show HN: Top books mentioned in comments on Hacker News (hackernewsbooks.com)
463 points by leandot on Aug 26, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 184 comments

Hacker News Books is a service that aggregates all links to books on Amazon, Safaribooks and O’Reilly found in comments on Hacker News. It does that on a weekly basis, calculates a rank based on how often each book is mentioned and the karma of the users. So books mentioned several times by different people, having high karma will make it to the top. I’ve processed about two years worth of comments (you can also see the whole yearly list, which is pretty long - up to 1000 books). I was expecting to see way more tech books but in fact the topics are really diverse like startup, management, parenting, mindfulness, etc. especially when the links don’t come from a long discussion about functional programming for example.

I’ve added a newsletter in case people want to keep up-to-date and I plan to maintain the service as I’ve found some unique books while I was coding the website. There is also search that searches only the submitted books, so this is another good way to browse the collections. Currently there is a newsletter popup, which may be annoying to some users, please click away if that is the case. I will rework it to be less intrusive.

Any recommendations and feedback are welcome. Disclaimer: For amazon links there are referrals, the other links don't have those.

Here are the first few things that came to my mind:

- I want this & will use it, it's a great idea!

- I didn't understand the rankings based on visiting the site, I assumed it was number of mentions, but so far after some browsing, I've only seen a single comment listed under any book. Is karma used only as a tie breaker, or can a high karma with low mentions rise above a book with high mentions?

- I'd love to see a top 10 monthly or yearly. Weekly is just so much volume. And it looks like weekly lists usually top out with a single mention? I want to see which books get many mentions, whatever time window that takes. Also I can't read a book a week, so I don't shop for books weekly. This means I'm afraid with a weekly list I'd probably miss all the good stuff.

- The signup popup came up too quickly. I see other people complaining about it and saying remove it. But I would probably have signed up if I understood what I was getting. Seeing it before I even have a chance to see the value or understand who and what this is made me dismiss it immediately. But I'd gladly give my email address to get a monthly email with a top 10 list, and speaking personally it'd help me to have a sense for whether this is strictly a side project, or you'll be doing some marketing. The aggressive popup w/ little info just makes it feel like I'm getting trapped into something and I try to escape, when your intent may have been 100% to generously give people a no-nag opt-in reminder.

Thanks for the heads up!

- The rankings use karma and number of mentions, which for a week basically bring books by top karma users to the top. The actual formula is:

  book_entry['rank'] = (avg_karma_count * avg_karma + book_entry['karma'] * book_entry['karma_count']) / (book_entry['karma_count'] + avg_karma_count)
- I plan to make Top 10 monthly or yearly, just wanted to see if people would like the idea at all. Seems like people like it. As a side remark I also did http://hnbuzz.com/ where you can filter, segment HN posts daily, weekly, monthly etc. It is not about books though.

- Yep the signup seems too aggressive, it will get changed :) After I clicked it away the first time it didn't bother me anymore while coding the website so I got carried away and left it as is. But it is also a learning experience to see what people think about those.

The project is totally side project, I actually do that often - build something I like to have and use a new tech to do it to learn. Drop me a mail if you want to know more.

The tech that actually made my life much easier was Docker. Using docker-compose to manage the tech stack (redis, elastic, apache, flask), docker-machine to abstract away where docker is running, docker-haproxy to be able to run multiple services on the same instance with virtual hosts, sane deployment with docker versioning, etc. etc.

I would love to use this when it runs on data from a longer time period.

What's the new tech you used for it?

itd be nice if mentions had a bigger weight in this

> - I'd love to see a top 10 monthly or yearly. Weekly is just so much volume. And it looks like weekly lists usually top out with a single mention? I want to see which books get many mentions, whatever time window that takes. Also I can't read a book a week, so I don't shop for books weekly. This means I'm afraid with a weekly list I'd probably miss all the good stuff.

Second this. Additionally, an "all time" list would be nice. Seems to be a great way to pick out the "timeless" books.

I really agree with your third point and I too would love to see different ranking options. A week to week basis is too much volume to weed out books I'm not interested in.

Nice project.

The modal dialog to subscribe to the mailing list is annoying; why is every site doing this now.

I too usually don't put a link to Amazon when mentioning a book, but maybe I should.

Because it works. General e-commerce practice. The value of an email address is incredibly high. It's a very strong signal of interest and allows a business to reach out to you with new product offerings, receive feedback etc. Without it, you're just a session on the site and not much else and doesn't lead to much actionable data.

I understand the value of an email address; I dispute the fact that it "works". Maybe it helps collect more email addresses than before, but the cost is bugging the hell out of every single visitor: is it worth it?

In my books it's an instant reason to not visit any website that does it. I also feel that the people who do give out their email address within the first 15 seconds of visiting a website are probably not likely to use their real e-mail address, or likely to unsubscribe just as quickly as they gave it out.

I was considering learning Swift and getting into iOS development, but it appears I was mistaken as to the current fashionable trends in technology and startup culture.

I'll be picking up that Palm OS guide as soon as I can find a copy in print somewhere, thanks!

Clearly Palm OS is making a comeback!

I think the idea of this is great, but I suspect it'll become far more useful given larger aggregate ranges. Last week, last month, last six months - etc. As it stands, many books (like the Palm OS one) may only get mentioned once by someone with a lot of karma - which leads to another issue, since the algorithm is known it's now open to abuse by the HN karma-rich.

I guess it's time for tptacek or some other high-karma user to write a book and start mentioning their book in the HN comments a lot. They would quickly rise to the top of your list and hopefully rake in some money ;)

Playing with the site search, I thought the site was broken because it did not return results for a book that I know I mentioned. That is, until I read this comment.

I will often mention books without posting an Amazon/etc. link figuring that anyone interested can bing with Duck Duck Google to find it. Other times, I will link to the author/publisher page.

Anyway, there's a natural language processing cum machine learning project in their somewhere. One interesting possibility it would open up is surfacing books in electronic form that pass across Hacker News as links to PDF's, eBooks, and HTML.

Good luck.

Yes, I think my tendency to always provide links has skewed the lists.

At least 12 of the books in the top 100 for 2015 are from my posts.

Hmm...my tendencies to use my local public library and buy books used might be why I don't often link to Amazon.

Maybe that's why I didn't immediately recognize any of the books on the list as being mentioned regularly on Hacker News. There were some (but not many) that I recognized, but I don't remember them being mentioned.

Very cool! It seems that you weight karma a lot. In 2016 3rd book is about fractals (I'm sure its great) but probably only because its recommended by user with 110k karma ;) On the other-hand its a great idea to find less popular gems. Perhaps you can consider both options?

Not sure if this was already mentioned but IMO it would be really helpful if a taxonomy could be added to it, so it would be easier to find related books with a certain subject. (e.g. 'economy', 'data science' or 'distributed physics'). It would also open up the possibility of faceted search (e.g. all books on 'data science' with the 'python' programming language).

Other than that this already looks pretty useful :)

Also, as someone actively reducing the amount of email newsletters they receive, I'm wondering if you plan to offer an alternate format, like an RSS feed.

+1 for RSS

I closed the page as soon as the popup happened and reset my scroll index back to the top of the page. Bad UX there.

The page isn't that long so scrolling down again isn't that much of a hassle anyway. Have some tolerance for these projects instead of going into pitchfork mode.

I don't care about the scrolling, but showing a popup like that is pretty user-hostile, and it's hard not to want to return the favor.

Nice site! Personally, I'd like to have the option to view by category. Maybe you could just pull this from Amazon or manually curate your own topics.

Yes, on the todo list. Still have a day job to do, but it will come soon. Thanks for the feedback!

Can you elaborate on the ranking methodology eg is it:

    sum([u.karma for u in users_who_mentioned])
Or something more complicated?

  book_entry['rank'] = (avg_karma_count * avg_karma + book_entry['karma'] * book_entry['karma_count']) / (book_entry['karma_count'] + avg_karma_count)
Where avg_karma_count and avg_karma are the weekly values.

Nice site; I would have loved to see monthly and yearly lists too.

There are yearly lists, although that's a bit harder to find.

Here's 2015: http://hackernewsbooks.com/year/2015


Thank you.

same - would love top books by month/year.

> aggregates all links to books on Amazon, Safaribooks and O’Reilly found in comments on Hacker News.

So just commercial books then? Plenty of excellent books are linked directly from HN, books with their entire contents online.

No recommendations, just feedback; this is really great! Thanks.

would love (a) different filtering (not only week), (b) see some tags, (c) maybe pull amazon ratings, and (d) the count of mentions on HN

some (mostly technical) books are commonly mentioned in shorthand (eg. k&r and gof).

how are those accounted for?

Be up front here and add that the site is monetized with affiliate links.

Edit: you don't have to mention that in the site, but mention it in your description above.

Maybe you should the same in your HN profile.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I think it's fair. The title ought to be a ShowHN title and should include a mention that his site is monetized via affiliate links.

This posting, as it was (before he added the disclaimer in his description of the site in this thread), was basically the same as posts to blogs that are not much more than thinly veiled sales pages.

I don't post/advertise my profile page link, people visit it on their own without me asking them to [check it out] (just like I don't expect him to tell people on his site that they are affiliate links).

Edit: It appears the mods updated the title to be a ShowHN. Thank you Mods.

Just did, thx.

Now in a month, do blog post on how much the affiliate links made for you, like patio11 user to do with bcc. I'm sure lots of folks would like to know.

In fact track the monthly revenue for a year and do monthly updates.

That would be cool if OP decided to write it, but the tone you used here comes off as demanding which seems odd to me.

You're right. I should have prefaced my comment with, "I'd highly suggest that you" and end with "then you would be able to keep your site active and in the mind of HN users periodically." I would suggest he does the write ups on "hidden" pages on his domain and just link to them from his future posts regarding them. Much like patio11 use to do (he'd write up the revenue/expense update on a blog page on his own domain and then he or someone else, finding it interesting and useful, would submit the link to HN).

Someone had just posted some snarky comment about "Winning Through Intimidation" listed in my profile as a must read so they implied my standard operating procedure must demanding and aggressive. I tried responding to their comment but they apparently deleted it before I could hit submit on my reply. So here is what I was going to say:

"Winning Through Intimidation" is not about what you think it is. It's actually a fascinating story about a fellow in [commercial] real estate from the 70's? and the things he learned. Somethings include "marketing" and projection and how he went about getting big deals done. One thing I found fascinating, and perhaps where the title came from, was after he got burned a few times he started thinking "If the seller has a lawyer and the buyer has a lawyer (to get through the paper work and finalize the deal) in the room (to which he wasn't in) then maybe he, the broker, should have a lawyer in the room too since he too was a party to the transaction but didn't have fair representation. So he started hiring his own lawyer to sit with the other lawyers to hash things out and soon learned that the buyer and seller lawyers didn't seem so work so hard to find a way to remove him from the transaction and not pay his fees.

I guess I could just read the book, but can you expand on the lesson implied by "the buyer and seller lawyers didn't seem so work so hard to find a way to remove him from the transaction"?

Excerpts from Chapter 5:

As closings go, this was as good as it gets, because all three parties involved-the buyer, the seller, and the real estate agent-were working hard to accomplish the same objective. Then, as we progressed toward a closing, I observed a phenomenon I was later to discover occurs prior to most real estate closings. My professor [1] "sharpened his pencil" (his words) and continued to find one cost after another that he either had not previously considered or hadn't known about.


The closer we got to the closing, the more my professor sharpened his pencil. Being a Type Number Three [2], he was very nice about it and never came right out and said that he did not intend to pay my fee. He just mumbled a lot of negatives, and the more figuring he did, the more he mumbled-and the more concerned I became.

In fact, my concern became so great that I dared to ask myself a question that only an inexperienced reptile [3] like me would dare ask: "If the buyer and seller in a real estate deal are represented by attorneys as a closing, why shouldn't the real estate agent also be represented by an attorney?"


After all, didn't I have a vested interest in the deal, too? Nonetheless, ... I thought ... my professor would take it as an insult to his integrity and probably use it as an excuse not to pay me at anything at all. In a sense, I was being intimidated by my own thoughts.

Finally the big day arrived-my first real estate closing. I talked to my professor just a couple hours before the closing ... he said he felt terrible about it, but, after adding up all the figures, there was no way he could spare even $100 out of the proceeds of the closing, let alone $6,500.


I then made a bold decision. I scurried over to the office of an attorney friend of mine, showed him the document my professor had signed, described the conversation I had just had with him, and explained that the closing was about to take place. The attorney and I then went over to my professor's office and found that all the parties involved were in the process of preparing for the closing.

Whereupon my attorney sat down with the other two lawyers, and the THREE of them went through the mechanics of finalizing the deal. Although I didn't understand the principle at the time, what I had going for me at that closing was the unwritten, universally accepted understanding among all attorneys that I subsequently dubbed the Universal Attorney-to-Attorney Respect Rule. It's kind of analogous to "honor among thieves." ...


P.S. I got my $6,500 fee-at the closing.


First, not only did I not have a written agreement with my professor, I didn't even have a clear verbal agreement. Our understanding was vague, at best. all I had done was volunteer to try to "solve the financial problems in Cincinnati" and if "successful" (which also was not defined), I was supposed to be "paid handsomely in return." In other words, there was no agreement, written or verbal, that morally obligated me to present my professor with offers to buy out his interest in the property. I was strictly on my own, and my fiduciary responsibility was to myself.


In addition to learning how a Type Number Three [2] operates, I received a bonus in this deal in that I got an answer to my naive question, "Why shouldn't a real estate agent also be represented by an attorney at a closing?" Firsthand experience had emphatically given me the answer: "He should!"

Regardless of the business you're in, never allow yourself to be intimidated into believing that you aren't entitled to the same rights as the so-called principals in a deal. I say so-called because, from your standpoint, you ARE a principal. If you have a vested interest in a deal, you have a right to protect that interest, regardless of the size of your stake relative to the other players' shares. Just don't expect the other principals to agree with your viewpoint. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

[1] he refers to the people he learned a lot and got an expensive education from as his professors... these would be either the buyer but more often the seller

[2] Type Number Three, who, like Type Number Two, assures you that he's not interested in your chips. Unlike Type Number Two, however, he sincerely means what he says. But that's where the difference ends. Due to any one of a number of reasons-ranging from his own bungling to his amoral standards for rationalizing what's right and wrong-he, like Types Number one and Two, still ends up trying to grab your chips. Which means that his supposed good intentions are irrelevant to the final outcome.

[3] he refers to himself as a reptile like a tortoise.. he's "slow", but slow and steady wins the race

EDIT: What is missing above is the setup. How he went about trying to obtain the deal and "setting" the buyers offer price. He opened himself up to be easily squeezed and excluded from the deal. Luckily he had the seller sign a "letter of understanding" as things started unfolding that mentioned his fee so that his lawyer could at least retain it and keep the deal on the rails.

I have to admit, when I read your previous comment, I looked at your profile, saw the book recommendation and had the same assumption. Thanks for explaining - I'm actually ordering the book now.

Another great idea he had and did was buying a private jet. After he explained the benefits it became obvious that the expense was more than worth it.

I don't have a problem with the affiliate links. If I buy one of these books, should all the money I spend go to Bezos & Co., or should a small portion go toward the person who took the time and effort to compile the weekly list of books?

Would love an all-time/yearly list! Also, I see a few comments criticizing the affiliate links. That's the reward you get for building cool stuff. No reason not to!

Affiliate links are fine. A newsletter signup modal that pops up when I've scrolled most the way down the page, and when dismissed scrolls me back to the top, is not. What even is that supposed to be about, to be building a page for Hacker News readers and that seems like a sensible thing to do?

Even worse, both the popup, and the dismissal of it, enter the back stack. So to get back to HN I had to click 'back' twice [edit: thrice of course].

I think it's an honest mistake. The fact that you dismissed the popup seems to be stored in a cookie, so it bothers you only once ever (twice if you use the back button).

Sidenote: since I'm in the EU I think you need to need to ask me for permission, but let's not open that can of worms.

I mean I don't doubt it's an honest mistake, but it's also an honest mistake that wouldn't have had the opportunity to be made absent the decision to annoy the user with the signup modal anti-pattern.

Will get rid of the popup (at least in that form) as soon as the load goes down a bit. Appreciate all the feedback.

I'm sure the decision itself wasn't 'to annoy the user', but I get your point

It's now bothered me twice, 2nd time on a dynamic search page (and, BTW, after I subscribed by hitting the top level link to "Newsletter" :-).

Indeed, get rid of it, your site design is so sparse it's hard (I think) to miss the "Newsletter" item at the top. Or put it inline somewhere else, e.g. at the bottom of the list, if someone's bothered to scroll down that far the odds they're interested in the newsletter are quite a bit higher, I'd think.

There are a lot of books rated 5 stars. They're good reads most of them, but there's another class of books. The kind where even a year later you remember them. They truely changed how you think about a topic. I'm always searching for those top class books, the kind that feel like religious experiences to read. The issue is there's no way to distinglish them from regular 5 star books, the kind where you put them down and say "wow good book", but a year from now you really can't recall much about it..

Would you care to share some of books that did this for you? :)

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

I can't help but see the world as Fragile Robust Antifragile.

do you know if there is a compilation of those really awesome books somewhere ?

There was a great post about a week ago about books you would give as a gift.


I haven't found one yet :\

The problem is that your top-tier book for one person isn't a top-tier book for another, and then there's different kinds of top-tier books, ones that focus on depth vs ones that focus on context. I think it should be possible though to identify these books, classify them based on depth vs breadth vs context, and then put them in sub-tiers (eg layman, motivated amateur, budding specialist, master).

Getting back to the individual though, it's very hard to know how big of an inference gap there is for the model(s) you're trying to convey and how much the person "knows" already. Some books are masterful if you've read precursor books a, b, f, and p. Some books are masterful if you're coming from the right cultural context. And then there's tightly held biases that can get in the way of some core assumption of the book, ruining the whole effort.

You should remove the numbering. It gives the impressions of some kind of ranking and I really doubt anyone should be looking to purchase "Palm OS Programming Second Edition"

Well it is a rank - a simple bayesian avg of number of mentions together with karma of the user. But as someone below mentioned it kind of boils down to the karma of the user who mentioned the book. A good post about that is - http://fulmicoton.com/posts/bayesian_rating

Why not use upvotes of the post instead of user karma? Having the community upvote the recommendation in context is more important to me than how much karma the user has. I find that some of the most insightful book recommendations come from people that are new to a community or lurk until they see an opportunity to contribute.

Tried that but there were few who had upvotes, probably a combination of the karma and upvotes would work well.

Sounds like the problem is that your sample size is too small. What happens if you expand the timeframe out to a month? Or a year? That should give you books that are cited repeatedly, not just the books which have recently been mentioned by high-karma HN users.

Agreed. Monthly seems like a much more natural timeframe for book recommendations than weekly. Trailing 30 days would probably be the best for the homepage. Then allow browsing by calendar month.

You can rank by upvotes and use karma as the tiebreaker.

Having/not the numbers seems like the sort of thing that might be A/B tested. Though there might never be enough results to be statistically meaningful, aggregated anecdotes are probably more informative than unmeasured hypotheses.

You just boosted the ranking of "Palm OS Programming Second Edition" again.

Exactly what I thought (including the book you picked :D)

There are quite a few book recommenders based on HN data. This recent one came to mind:

Top 30 books ranked by total number of links to Amazon in Hacker News comments http://ramiro.org/vis/hn-most-linked-books/

I am surprised that someone doesn't solve this problem once and for all by allowing decent search parameters (e.g., all time, last month, by karma, by genre, etc.).

This latest submission weights by karma and bins the results weekly. Those restrictions make it personally unappealing but it is a great first step. I wouldn't have thought to consider karma.

Edit: clarity

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but https://hn.algolia.com/ is pretty much the default (unofficial) search and personalized sorting site for HN. Super fast and works well in my experience.

From my understanding and my own desires, I think the previous comment is looking for a site that will offer a list of book links on HN with parameters to filter/sort the books. That way you can find "most mentioned books in the last year" or "highest karma book links for the last month".

I wanted to take a second to share the contrarian opinion in support of OP's use of affiliate links.

He/she did a lot of work to make this project and to maintain it. I think they are done tastefully and sensibly in a service that adds value.

Having done a similar project[1], that also includes affiliate links to Amazon and being called a spammer by some people because of that, I really appreciate your stance, that if a project adds value, monetizing it is okay.

Moreover, I'd like to add that affiliate links are less intrusive and dangerous wrt to malicious code and user privacy. I wonder why Adsense et al rarely get called out, but affiliate links do. Maybe it's my confirmation bias or it's because people don't see those other ads, because of using an ad blocker.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10924741

I remember that one... it looks like I shared a similar view in your thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10927366). :)

I think your hunch is correct — we hover over the links and see it in the query string. There's probably a Chrome extension out there somewhere to strip affiliate links from URLs, but honestly they've never bothered me because they don't detract from my experience.

I just searched the page for "affiliate" and most of the comments seem to be requests for how much money they generate. I'm curious myself.

When somebody posts a link to Amazon in a comment thread that contains an affiliate code, I think that's fair to criticize. When somebody points to something they built that uses affiliate links, it comes down to how it's presented (and more importantly, how often it's reposted).

Who wouldn't be interested in a followup post 6 months from now with a breakdown of traffic and revenue?

Kudos to OP if he decides to share that information, as like others, I'm curious to know.

Sure thing!

Exactly. If google.com was posted as a Show HN would they be complaining about outgoing links being monetized?

As soon as I heard books I automatically assumed it would have links to amazon. And if you are linking to amazon from your own website you are stupid if you aren't using affiliate links.

Perhaps if the creator had clearly disclosed at the top of the list that a) links contain affiliate codes and b) just trying to pay for a good service that they'd like to expand, then perhaps there would be less vitriol. But without disclosure, then whether tasteful or "sensible" (what does this even mean here?), it can easily come across as deceptive.

My feature request is to know the frequency with which these books are mentioned! I love the simplicity of the site though - thank you!

Right now I aggregate weekly, because I was personally interested in getting a digest of the books. This usually is 1 mention per book, rarely 2-3 (I filter same user spamming one link).

Will soon code an aggregation for the two years, good point.

I didn't knew about "Feynman Lectures On Computation" and was reading the reviews. There's only one 2 star reviews, I clicked to see what it was about. And surprise, it is by Guido Van Rossum! (And he's not that impressed by the book)


Btw you can also list a whole year - http://hackernewsbooks.com/year/2016

This can't be right. There's zero chance that "Palm OS Programming" is the 16th most mentioned book.

Maybe there was a thread about "which book did you buy that is least relevant today?"

Looks like the homepage displays last week's results; If you select "Browse" you can drill into the weekly data and the list for week 33 is the same as the main list.

With the frequency of comments being 1 for each book, it will ultimately come down to karma ranking of each comment author.

Some stats if people are interested :

- People online right now according to GA is about 500 and has been stable like that for the last two hours or so

- ~80% of the traffic comes from HN, rest is FB, Twitter, etc.

- Last two hours - 9,414 users, 16,338 pageviews

Will write a blog post with more info.

Looking forward to the write up!

It's an honest question, as I can't see anything in the guidelines: are submissions of webs with useful data but with referrals ok with HN? Just asking in case some day I have a cool idea as this.

The short answer is yes it's ok, but may provoke some pushback in comments.

The nuanced answer is that there's a bit of a sliding scale. Known users, who have been participating in the community for a while, can do some things that might be spammy in other contexts, such as when a new account is created only to promote something. Of course that only holds as long as they do it tastefully (e.g. don't try to hijack someone else's launch) and don't do it much.

My personal opinion is that it's fine.

People seem to mind if you post referral links to threads as replies.

The idea is good and the service seems well intentioned but there is a nit I have to pick. A god awful book (GAB) that a high karma poster (HKP) mentioned to talk about its god awfulness would also make to this list, and would be worsened if other HKP mentions in a discussion/debate. Of course, one could argue that a debate amongst HKPs on a GAB making that GAB appear on the list is a positive thing as it lets the reader decide the worth of the book, but I am talking about a degenerate case without such a debate or discussion.

Internet citizens are sort of programmed to attribute high value to items near the top of a list when no explicit negative context is mentioned. What I am trying to say is that it would be truly beneficial if there were a bit of context mentioned along with the book, but I guess it would have to use AI/ML for NLP which is by no means a trivial thing. But that would make this spectacular. If that is not feasible (for whatever reasons), I suggest there be a prominent message saying to the effect of "this is not a recommendation list but just lists top mentions made by HKP".

"Palm OS Programming, 2nd Edition" curated content at its best! Is there some seminal work in this book I'm not aware of?

There's a link under each book taking you to the comment on HN.


> To this day, I recall with fondness poring over Palm's documentation and the book by Neil Rhodes and Julie McKeehan [1] and writing code using the MetroWorks CodeWarrior for Palm OS [2].

Absolutely fantastic site I do have to say. Thanks for sharing, I think I will - and did already - find some interesting books to read. Thanks for this repository, I am sure I have found the perfect goal for weekend. :)

Highly recommend "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator", number 18 on the list.

Like others have said, for the love of god please get rid of the popup subscription, or at least make it not alter history.

Hey, where's SICP? Has nobody mentioned that and gotten enough upvotes? Because I see it all the time...

It's based off of links to Amazon, O'Reilly and Safari. SICP probably isn't counted much because I'd imagine most people link to the free text on MIT press.

Ahhh. I'd say that somebody should build a special case for it, but most of us know about it, and it would just take up space at the top spot :-).

I made something last winter (http://www.hnreads.com/), though I haven't fixed a couple of bugs or updated it since. I used named entity recognition rather than links to find book titles, perhaps something you might consider if you wanted to expand the site. I like the idea of showing the top books per time period!

OP, great site. Curious whether you've already been approved by the amazon affiliate program. (For others not in the know, amazon will only approve your site once you've completed your first sale.)

I ask because I was recently rejected for my application (http://addonbuddy.com/). Their reason was "lack of original content." Here's part of the message I received:

"A part of our criteria is that your site has to be established with enough unique content. We rejected your application due to one or more of the following reasons. - Lack of content which is original to your site and beneficial to your visitors - Pages that are mainly empty when advertisement content is removed"

I like your site and think it offers a lot of value, but Amazon's affiliate program seems to favor blogs that have a lot of content. They can also be real sticklers about including certain text in your website indicating that you're part of the affiliate program.

Nice. I'm always taking books that are mentioned in various HN comments and adding them to my reading list. Thanks for making it easy!

Nice project, but probably worth adding some natural language processing to avoid things like this from being added to the list:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11704954 --> "I loved this book for being exceptionally clear and terse. I was hooked from the first sentence: "Probability is a mathematical language for quantifying uncertainty." That one sentence makes the concept clear in a way that the entire chapter on probability from "Statistics in a Nutshell" (http://www.amazon.com/Statistics-Nutshell-Sarah-Boslaugh/dp/...) did not."

--> "Statistics in a Nutshell" got added to list 20 of year 2016

I'd like to shamelessly plug my own site here. The itch I was trying to scratch was to have an HN like site for books that could lead to discovering and promoting higher quality books and better reviews than the average review at Amazon.


What no "Zero to One"? No "Meditations of Marcus Aurelius"? Where's the "Innovator's Dilemma", or "Hard Things", or "Lean Startup", or "Creativity, Inc.", or "Black Swans", etc, etc, etc ;)

If there were no links with the title, then they don't get considered. As someone mentioned earlier there is tons of good stuff mentioned without a link, but that requires a whole other level of looking into the data than this hobby project ;)

Thanks for building leandot. Lot's of interesting finds, definitely bookmark'd!

I expect those have been listed a lot as well, but interestingly using the "weekly" format means that there are a lot more books to take in. Now if I only had time to read them all...

Great idea! It'd also be great if someone created hackernewspapers.com too. There are so many great papers mentioned on HN. Since most links point to pdf files, it'd be possible to collect the pdfs on the same site (if there's no copyright violation).

That can be done, question is how to recognize id a pdf is a paper or not. A bit trickier than books imho.

That sounds like a fun application of a neural network. Finding large repositories of "real" papers to train it with should be fairly easy, too.

That said, I have zero experience working with neural networks, so it might not be very easy at all.

You'd get pretty far just by whitelisting arxiv, .edu, .ac.uk, etc.

Let us know how the Amazon referral program treats you.

I hope this isn't a criticism. Referral links are about the only reasonable way to monetize a blog, and are a whole lot less intrusive than advertising.

Fundamentally, I don't have any problem with it. If you're going to link to something anyway, as would be obvious with a book list like this, it's a no-brainer to use affiliate links, get a cut, and earn back some hosting fees. The price is what it is for the consumer, whether they get there through an affiliate link or not.

My problem is that he scrapes Hacker News data and then infringes the Hacker News name right there in the domain name to hock his wares.

I think it's fair criticism. The title ought to be a showHN title and should include a mention that his site is monetized via affiliate links.

This posting, as is, is basically the same as posts to blogs that are not much more than thinly veiled sales pages.

Edit: It appears the mods updated the title to be a ShowHN. Thank you Mods.

Visited the site, dismissed the pop-up, scrolled to the bottom, saw that every book had just one mention. Wound up spending more time reading comments and looking at the list, don't think I'll return as the biggest problems do not seem fixable. You are using Amazon links as a substitute for actual linguistic processing to parse out book names. It may be possible to use the links to prime the pump by creating a list of titles, then re-scanning all comments for closer approximations of those titles but I don't know the fesability of that.

I see one of the books at the top links to a comment of mine, but your service would get the Amazon referral for it. Which I don't care about entirely, it just got me thinking - do we presently have a technology that would make it possible for us to split some sort of a micro-credit/payment - I think if such a thing existed, that would be quite revolutionary. People could finally get paid for all the things they refer to, not to mention ads on their blogs, etc.

Would you mind adding TLS compatibility? The free LetsEncrypt CA is, of course, an easy way to do so.

Great site, looking forward to the new reads.

Recommendation engine based on (occurs in same base post) or (suggested by the same HN user) could be interesting as well.

I quite like this (not that my opinion really matters tbh), but a thought does occur to me - any chance of putting the title of original post on HN that contains the referring comment - i know you can click to it via the comment link, but seeing the post title alongside the book would make for interesting browsing.

Nice site! Maybe add links to reviews of the books too?

Example #17: http://eli.thegreenplace.net/2009/10/07/book-review-c-interf...

Personally, the most helpful link for me because that's what I inevitably check out first is the list ranked descending by "helpfulness" (votes) of the negative reviews. Usually they are more interesting to me than the positive ones including the top-voted ones.

For example, for one book in the list the review (with lots of ALL CAPS SENTENCES, but still interesting) in 5th place of the negative reviews by "truestara" seemed to be a good summary: https://www.amazon.com/Iodine-Crisis-What-About-Wreck/produc...

Here is a direct link to the comment I think you are talking about: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3NZHDP4ALNJ4I/re...

Since HN discusses about books time and again - will it be a good idea to have a group for HN in goodreads ?

Can anybody comment on #1 in list : Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species

Here's the comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12316857

nkurz has over 37,000 karma, and is currently about 30-35 in the list of people by karma. https://news.ycombinator.com/leaders

Thank you @nkurz

edit: meant @DanBC in above line but wrote nkurz. Never mind - thanks to both. :)

Funny that the first book in the list "Mother...", I cannot find when using hacker news search!?

"Mother Nature", searching comments not stories, and sorting by date, returns it.

This can't be top... there's so few technical books and a book about Palm OS programming is showing up here.

Is there an 'all time' list that would be better? This contains a lot of garbage that got referenced once in an argument (and often a bad one at that).

But there's also a lot more books that are mentioned without the Amazon link. On the top of my head "The cathedral and the bazaar" is probably mentioned zillions of times. Are you thinking of handling that as well?

Sure, now only Amazon, Safari and O'Reilly links are processed, for the rest I'd need to recognize the website, make sure that it is a book and then get some meta.

Think GP is referring to book titles in mentioned in comments without a buy-the-book-here link eg "Two books i always recommend reading are 'The cathedral and the bazaar' and 'The Mythical Man-Month'."

Ah, I see what you mean. Well that is another level of digging into the data, love to have the time for that.

The "Hacker News Books" title raised too much my expectations, I was expecting books which talked about entrepreneurship, technical topics and good practices, not "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids"...

HN has always had this pluralistic bent, because that's the way the site founder is. The word for pg's taste is 'catholic' in the original sense. So the appearance of a book on child-rearing isn't a decline or even a change; the question is whether the book is interesting, not what it's about.

It would be concerning if unpredictable, unrelated things didn't appear, still more concerning if all the things made sense and were correlated with some (any) convention, and most concerning of all if the convention were that of a majority.

We're getting older...

I love this.

I think it gives too much weight to me.

Look at 2016, and there's a bunch of books I've linked to. I believe these are great books, but it's a bit weird to see them so high on the list.

Not sure if it's an anomaly or a repeating issue, but I notice that in week 30, Exploring Expect is listed twice, at positions 11 and 12.

This is amazing!!! Great idea, and really useful!

Nice aggregation -- Would be handy , if the books available will be by Category and Source (Amazon , Safari, O'Reilly)

Having a top year, month would be a 100x more attractive for me. Weekly is too much churn to figure out what is good.

some (mostly technical) books are mentioned in shorthand (eg. k&r and gof).

how are those accounted for?

apologies...asked under wrong comment

something seems off, Palm OS programming is mentioned as #16. This does not make sense.

Canonical Lists.

I remember loving them then going to hate.

Guess it's where you are in life.

Terrible pop-up subscription panel hijacking my back button.

Sorry for that will have a look..

Get rid of it. Nobody wants to see it.

Any option to browse books by category?

The popup asking me to subscribe is an annoying trend I'm seeing on a lot of sites. It's the first time I've been to the site, why on earth would I sign up for anything without even knowing if the site is any good or of any interest to me?

Apparently it "works."

Which is really disappointing.

Sometimes (especially on mobile) it seems to be the only way to get rid of it.

I should apologize to "someguy@gmail.com" and "ihateyou@gmail.com" for all the things I've signed you up for.

This is not terribly on topic but that hits so close to home.

I get tonnes of emails at my, what i would assume to be uncommon [navarr] @ [gmail] address getting signed up for all sorts of things. Dating websites, Car dealerships, ugh its awful. Do they not accept @example.org which is a reserved domain? That would be a much better address to use

EDIT: You guys suck [1]

[1]: http://i.imgur.com/FaTJ4QB.png

It's a problem with Gmail. I get all sorts of email for other people with my initial and last name. Yesterday I got someone's signup confirmation at Venmo which would have let me empty their account if I wanted. Some of it's the dot problem (https://techcrunch.com/2012/10/21/psa-the-dot-in-your-gmail-...), some of it may be human error. All I know is there's a guy in Ireland who needs to declare bankruptcy and a guy in Australia whose sexual proclivities I wish I knew a lot less about.

I forgot all about example.org.

The more annoying thing for me is that they often won't accept my actual email address. It seems to be due to either the period in my name or the hyphen in the domain name.

> Sometimes (especially on mobile) it seems to be the only way to get rid of it.

Or hit back and don't sign up at all.

Can't you just use mailinator?

Well, there goes YouTube...

In spite of this warning, I clicked to see the list.

It looks like the author has removed the popup.

It didn't appear until I scrolled a bit just now.

Great website, but the popup subscription window is terrible.

Yikes! I would love to hear the justification for that.

Yeah, I especially love the way dismissing it scrolled the page back to the top. That's new.

It is indeed.

Please do not ever pull that "Subscribe" pop-up stuff.

Pleeasse don't do it... especially on a website whose target audience is the HackerNews folk, because they will not put up with it.

Those pop-ups are jarring. I think it's great you've got an affiliate link, and I get you want to get as many recurring eyeballs on this as possible, but those pop-ups are everyone's pet peeve... it's the MIDI autoplay, MARQUEE and BLINK tag of websites today.

Edit: Removed capitals for emphasis and adjusted tone to better communicate my intention and comply with HN Guidelines.

When commenting here, please be civil, even though you don't like popups. Your comment is uncivil, because it rants and yells at another user who is sharing their work. That's especially bad in a Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html.

The comment also breaks the HN guidelines by using uppercase for emphasis. Please don't do that.


Apologies, will edit accordingly. Will add that I did it with the intention of being helpful, but understand that it was rant-ey.

Thanks! It's always a pleasant surprise when people react like this, and I have the impression that it has been happening more often lately. Dare we hope?

I agree that it's annoying, but I would like to see some data about conversions before I would say "Do not ever pull that 'Subscribe' pop-up crap." I have heard anecdotes to the effect that it's actually great for the publisher and it would be especially great to hear the results of site targetted to the HN crowd.

Keeping a mailing list is great and super convenient, but there has to be a better way... For example, the inline Subscribe form is tucked all the way down as the last thing on the page.

I'm sure you'd get better conversion with it as the first thing at the top of the list, maybe with a pastel yellow background for the form.

It's sort of the same thing with pop-under ads or those video ads, sure you're likely going to get more clicks on those, but you've made your website look (1) sketchy (2) difficult to use and (3) undesirable to return to.

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