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Ask HN: Are there any books that inspire or highly influence the way you work?
59 points by azuajef 361 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

Kind of a different one, but How to Win Friends and Influence People dramatically changed me as a person (with some effort, which the foreword explains)


Agreed. Whatever you do in business, if you can master relating to and building rapport with people it will make things a lot easier.

Here is a list of books that I have found most useful in my daily routine, both as a Linux systems administrator at work, and more generally as a human being learning to deal with other people. As always, I welcome correspondence with anyone about these texts or related topics: mitchelldeacon9@gmail.com


Berne, Eric (1964) Games People Play

Carnegie, Dale (1981) How to Win Friends and Influence People, revised ed.

Cialdini, Robert (2006) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, revised ed.

Covey, Stephen (1989) Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Ekman, Paul (2007) Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life

Gray, John (1992) Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Greene, Robert (1998) 48 Laws of Power

Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow

Munger, Charles (1995) 'Psychology of Human Misjudgment', speech at Harvard, unpublished

Packard, Vance (1957) Hidden Persuaders

Patterson et al. (2012) Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, 2E

Sun Tzu (ca. 400 BCE) Art of War


Bowden, Mark (2011) Worm: First Digital World War

Brooks, Frederick (1995) Mythical Man-Month, 2E

Hunt, Andrew and David Thomas (1999) Pragmatic Programmer

Levy, Steven (2001) Crypto: How Code Rebels Beat the Government – Saving Privacy in the Digital Age

MacCormick, John (2012) Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future

Mitnick, Kevin and William Simon (2002) Art of Deception

Poulsen, Kevin (2011) Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cyber-Crime Underworld

Raymond, Eric (2003) Art of Unix Programming

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas (2005) Fooled by Randomness, 2E

_________ (2010) Black Swan: Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2E

Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond (2001) Just for Fun: Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

Williams, Sam (2002) Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software

> Levy, Steven (2001) Crypto: How Code Rebels Beat the Government – Saving Privacy in the Digital Age

Thanks for telling me about this. I read about 50 pages of it on kindle this weekend. Its a beautifully written book.

"So Good They Can't Ignore You" and "Deep Work" both by Cal Newport.

Also, another vote for both Covey's 7 Habits, and "How to Win Friends and Influence People".

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

I read this book last year and it greatly motivated me to get things done, fight against procastination and overcome anxiety.

Can you elaborate on what you liked about The War of Art? I read it earlier this year and I really wasn't a fan. Maybe I need to change my mindset about this book.

Trying to recall my memory - While reading the book, i could many times relate it to the problems i have been facing in life and my day to day work. Reading the book helped me pictures those things as a 'RESISTANCE'. I used to procastinate things for next day, i was reluctant to speak up and reach out to other co-workers. After reading the book i was able to convince myself that this was just a resistance and if i wanted to be happy and successful, i would have to overcome this resistance. I'm not saying i'm a completely changed person after reading the book, but it definitely had positive impacts in my life.

I really wasn't a fan either. I found that the first two sections contained very little useful information/ideas/instructions, and then the third section started talking about muses and angels and it totally lost me. But it's talked about a lot here so maybe I'm missing something too.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It's one of the best selling books of all time for good reason. It's much more than tips and tricks for getting work done.

The Millionaire Fastlane - I know the title sounds cheesy, but the book will open your mind about a lot of things (the value of time, etc). Really good read to pump you up and get that entrepreneurial spirit flowing.

Here are few that have influenced my work:

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn - Richard Hamming

The Timeless Way of Building - Christopher Alexander

The Humane Interface - Jef Raskin

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information - Edward Tufte

The Art Spirit - Robert Henri

have a copy sitting in the corner, just curious how the art spirit influenced you?

At the time, the book helped me develop a new way to see and receive the world. I then applied that into my own life to shape what type of ideas and projects I'd go on to pursue. It helped me find a type of clarity in where I'd focus my energy in the areas I believed in. And looking back, along with other things, I'm able to source the book as an important stepping stone to how I approach my work today.

Momo by Michael Ende. It made me think about how to work at a sustainable pace and to focus on the things that matter in my life.

Who is Fourier? That taught me to think of calculus and mathematics as a form of human language rather than something that I had resisted before I got into computing, at the time i was a poet and performance artist I didn't see the value in pre-calculus, trig and statistics, now complex math is a basic part of my every day work doing training of machine learning AI.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.

Yes everyone is an Elon fan already, but the book offers a great inside look into how he thinks and how he faced down some incredible challenges. The book really inspired me to think bigger and to optimize for impact.

Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble. “If it hurts, do it more frequently, and bring the pain forward.”

Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks [0]. Very informative series of essays on his experiences and lessons learned with IBM. If nothing else, helps to properly frame my expectations on projects with respect to resources needed to properly coordinate with others, and the pros and cons of adding people to projects at different stages (and in different roles).

Getting Things Done, David Allen [1]. Useful toolkit for getting things out of my head and onto paper (or org-mode or OmniFocus) so that I can properly focus and prioritize my time on the things I need to get done.

Communicating Sequential Processes, C.A.R. Hoare [2]. Strongly influenced the way I think about programs in general, but specifically in the embedded field where I work. (NB: I've not actually read or worked through the full text, but mainly taken what was needed to properly communicate ideas in my designs or to analyze designs and systems others have produced. This is a task for myself for early next year.)

Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer [3]. I've always had a good memory, I actually picked this up to give to a girlfriend who had a terrible memory and read it in a couple days before giving it to her (she was out of town when it arrived). Helped to explain methods that I'd somehow developed over the years, and gave me concepts and a better understanding of other methods of memory acquisition (for either short or long term purposes). If you really want to improve your memory, there are probably better resources to learn specific techniques, but this was an informative and entertaining overview. WRT work, we have to keep large systems in our minds all the time, and potentially dozens of different systems written in different languages. Memory is critical for this, even if it's just the memory of where to find the information and not the information itself.

Fluent Forever, Gabriel Wyner [4]. This one is my current read. Goes back to Moonwalking with Einstein. While the book is itself about language acquisition, it's actually given me quite a bit to think about with respect to general learning and memory acquisition (in this case, specifically for long term retention and recall). We have a couple training programs (we need more) for our new hires on development and testing. There are some concepts in here and in related readings that I think would greatly improve how we teach these folks what they need to know and in a way that would improve their retention of that information. We have a lot of people retiring in the next 1-3 years, so this is actually quite critical right now, though management is quite lackadaisical about it.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Mythical-Man-Month-Software-Engineeri...

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-Free-Produ...

[2] http://usingcsp.com/cspbook.pdf

[3] https://www.amazon.com/Moonwalking-Einstein-Science-Remember...

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Fluent-Forever-Learn-Language-Forget/...



The Toyota Way, Jeffrey Liker [5]. I grokked Lean from this. Hardware focused, but the concepts can be (and have been) generalized to other process focused fields. This has helped with understanding what business processes really need to be codified, what feedback mechanisms need to be present for improvement, the criticality of bottom-up feedback and improvement (employee investment in the company/product cannot be overvalued if you want quality and good craftsmanship).

The Little Schemer, Friedman & Felleisen [6]. Going back to the comments on Fluent Forever. The structure of this is fantastic for conveying and helping students retain information. The Socratic method is very useful, and structuring courses and introductory material in this format is useful, this happened to be my introduction to it (well, I'd heard it before, but my first time really encountering it in practice). It's a useful tool for solo-study of a topic (pose your own questions and construct answers), and as a method of guiding someone to a conclusion or better understanding. Also useful in debugging software or decoding software you didn't write, after a fashion.

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Toyota-Way-Management-Principles-Manu...

[6] https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/little-schemer

"What Machines Can't Do" - the concept of an aesthetic of process has really changed how I think about software development.

"Before you quit your job" by Robert Kiyosaki. It definitely did...

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Look no further.

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