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Ask HN: Books you wish you had read earlier?
631 points by jmstfv on June 3, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 270 comments
Any book or set of books you wish you had read before a certain age, regardless of topic.



Non-Fiction:

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, because it changed my understanding of people for the better.

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard Feynman, because it gave me a model for how to enjoy life.

"Models" by Mark Manson, because it helped shape my understanding of heterosexual relationships.

"An Introduction to General Systems Thinking" by Gerald Weinberg, because it illuminates the general laws underlying all systems.

Fiction:

"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A Heinlein, because it showed me a philosophy and "spirituality", for lack of a better word, that I could agree with.

"The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand, because they showed me how human systems break, and they provided human models for how to see and live in, through, and past those broken systems.

"Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" by Eliezer Yudkowsky, because it set the bar (high) for all future fiction, especially when it comes to the insightful portrayal of the struggle between good and evil.


"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, because it changed my understanding of people for the better.

Absolutely everyone should read this book. I wish it had a better title. "Understanding People" would be an excellent one.


I've seen this book recommended many times. I read a few chapters and don't feel like it was useful. Some of the stuff is obvious common sense like smile don't criticize others, be a good listener etc. Then it tells you to be genuinely interested in someone. How can you force yourself to be interested in someone?

Does the book go into anything actually useful later on?


Some people are born communicators and find interaction with others completely intuitive.

Others are born with a brain more ready to understand math, or writing screenplays, or software engineering, or business management - and bumble their way through communication, getting a lot wrong, not knowing where the lines are between their successes and failures, and generally having a miserable time.

Books like these define specific scopes to focus on as worth investing time and energy in, with the promise that understanding in these areas will definitely bring reward, as unintuitive as this may seem [to these people].

I wouldn't mind similar ones that explain learning how to learn, on a related note.


You imply that emotional intelligence and reasoning ability are a tradeoff. They aren't.


Even if they are orthogonal, they are less likely to occur in the same person than either apart.


Woops, that was unintentional.

Although... now I think about it... when I'm anxious (I have reasonably mild but fairly broadly scoped anxiety), I can become more emotional/instinctive/reactive to things, and my ability to reason can be greatly impacted as well.

So I do think there is some indirect correlation, in practice.


Emotional intelligence does not imply that you are driven by emotions. It imply that you understand them, which makes it easier to control how you react.

Someone who is emotional is not displaying emotional intelligence at that moment.


I definitely agree with you there.

Often when I feel certain ways, I don't have reference points to mentally articulate how I'm feeling - if I even have the ability to consciously distinguish the feeling and highlight it. That shuts down a lot of internal dialog and analysis before it has the chance to take place.

When I'm anxious, my thinking is clouded across the board, which makes this weakness all the more apparent.

I wonder if there are any books out there that specifically help to instil an understanding of the nuances in emotional processing.


> learning how to learn

Look at the writings of Dr. Barbara Oakley or at https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn.


Thanks so much, this is now on my todo list :)

I found someone uploaded all of the videos to YouTube!

Unfortunately I don't have the disk space to download them at this exact moment (been saving for several months for a couple new disks, not quite there yet) so I've base64-encoded the following YouTube playlist URL to heighten the chances the videos stay up til I can grab them (both to archive them and also because I download videos to watch them - old computer).

data:text/plain;base64,aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cueW91dHViZS5jb20vcGxheWxpc3Q/bGlzdD1QTFcxcDdMZkhNTW5ERVQxcjh2Ymo4a1FENHNndXM1dnFZCg==

I also found https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCojOYrwehhFpaJfYG3DziHA/vid..., which has some related videos (that I think were placed on YouTube explicitly).


No, It doesn't. I've read it a few times trying to glean similar understanding and I just cannot for the life of me see anything beyond a basic human social communications and behavior. Perhaps if you knew absolutely nothing about communicating with others it would be beneficial.


I find the little bit I read helpful because it helps you be more deliberate about these things. Though I stopped because I had a strong "yeah i get it" feeling after a few chapters.


You're lucky if this is common sense for you. Sadly, for me, coming from a family where bad mood and malice is daily fare, this book was an eye opener.


For someone who was socially awkward growing up, it wasn't all common sense for me either.

I once had a neighbour tell me "I have a name, you know" and it seemed a crazy thing to say, of course they have a name! It wasn't until reading the book that I understood they were offended that I never used their name in conversation.


I don't use people's names during conversations and no one has ever pointed it out. Maybe I should read that book


It doesn't necessarily mean during conversations (which can be and sound weird), but could simply mean when greeting them.

As an example, do you have a normal bar, restaurant, or coffee shop that you go to? When you go in, I'm sure that they greet you as most places do, and you probably toss of a "Hi" or a "Hey" and that's about it, even if you know their name. Try this next time. When you walk in and they greet you, give them a big smile like you're happy to see a friend and actually address them by name with a "Hey Mark! Can I get a Miller Lite" or "Hey Deb, table for four tonight". It doesn't really take much effort, but it really builds a connection.

WARNING: I'll toss this in as a warning. Don't fake knowing their name if you don't. A sincere "Hi" with a smile is still good. An "Oh hey...(looks at name tag) Jill..." comes off as fake. However, if they go ahead and give you their name ("Hi, I'm Jill and I'll be your waitress this evening") then by all means go ahead and say "Hi Jill" and address her by name throughout the evening.


It's worth reading, even if just to understand why others are recommending it. Sometimes they're not really recommending the book, but just "this book was the first to get me thinking about people skills".

The section on names is Chapter 3, ending with the principle "Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language."

The chapter itself rambles on a bit and claims the success of US presidents & Andrew Carnegie is their ability to memorize thousands of first names... I think that's an exaggeration. But there's an element of truth to it, if you keep it in the back of your mind and try it yourself, memorizing people's names & using their name when you next meet them. (Especially at nightclubs, which is where I probably learned/used it most.)

Think of it as the difference between a letter addressed "Dear Ozovehe" vs "To Whom It May Concern". The latter shows they haven't even tried to get to know you personally. And now you'll notice when email / internet marketers try to use your name for just that reason....


> Then it tells you to be genuinely interested in someone. How can you force yourself to be interested in someone?

I truly believe you can. I feel the issue is most of the time that we don't want to care. That we value our own ideas and issues higher than those of others. For me the practice of deep listening [1] really helped me to better relate with people with whom I didn't really relate beforehand. Yes, it's exhausting and yes, I fail still often enough but it shows me that we have a choice.

[1] https://www.mindful.org/deep-listening/


Yes, it reads like common sense. But then even major politicians could learn a lot by reading it. Bill Clinton followed its principles. Hillary did not.

The book helped me a lot.


I started reading it recently and while most of the topics are pretty obvious. But we tend to forget those. For example the very first topic - don't criticize. With the advent of internet things have turned into black and white. The more you point someone the more ardently they will defend. For example Trump supporters. Pushed to brink, they now don't even care for his near impeachment behavior because now defending has become about pride.


I mostly concur with your sentiment. I have read it my summary is maybe "common sense meets idyllic 1950s TV show". Maybe I'm conflating manners and superficially "nice" behaviour and a few other things, but I found many pieces of advice borderline cringeworthy.

Then again I do know I am being too honest, but that's mostly a deliberate choice and not lack of empathy. I can refrain if needed.

Added to clarify: I'm German and so some of my (our) attributed directness and terseness is apparently at odds to some American forms of communication, and if you look at the book in this light it makes more sense. Also, I'd still encourage everyone to read it, I just don't buy the awesomeness :)


I like the story of the factory manager who sees some workers breaking the rules and smoking in in the factory.

He gives each of them an expensive cigar and says something like "I'd appreciate it if you guys smoked these outside."


Meanwhile on Google:

  Twelve Things This Book Will Do For You

    Get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, new ambitions.
    Enable you to make friends quickly and easily.
    Increase your popularity.
    Help you to win people to your way of thinking.
    Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
This actually happens to be a Wikipedia excerpt which Google shows in a big frame in front of real search results. Either somebody did an impressive SEO job or Skynet is getting out of hand.


Very good list. "Models" is an exceptional book (even if poorly written) about how to live a life that will maximize your opportunities to find a partner.


I am a huge fan of mark manson and I highly recommand his book "the subtle art of not giving a fuck". Great advice on how to live a happy life : https://www.amazon.fr/Subtle-Art-Not-Giving-Counterintuitive...


Rationality: from AI to Zombies really changed my way of thinking in many ways. It's very hard to describe it or sell it in a few sentences. Partly because it covers so many different things. And partly because I read it so long ago and have already absorbed many of the good ideas in it. They no longer seem exciting and new, and just feel obvious. But they certainly weren't when I first read it.

I constantly see places where an idea from the book is relevant and I want to make people read a chapter of it. Examples include insights into evolution, artificial intelligence, morality, and philosophy. There's a short section on how people tend to argue about the definitions of words and how unproductive this is, that I always find relevant. There's a lot of discussion on various human biases and how they affect our thinking. My favorite is hindsight bias, where people overestimate how obvious events were after they know the outcome. Or the planning fallacy, which explains why so many big projects fail or go over budget.

The author's writing style is somewhat polarizing. Some people love it and some people hate it, with fewer in between. He definitely has a lot of controversial ideas. Although in the 10 years since he started writing, a lot of his controversial opinions on AI have gone mainstream and become a lot more accepted than they were back then.


I'm audiobook-ing "Harry Potter And The Methods of Rationality" by the same author.

It presents some of the ideas from "Rationality" but from the point of view of Harry who is portrayed as a rationalist. In-fact the first chapter is titled "A Day of Very Low Probability" where Harry tries to think probabilistically about the new magical world he is being introduced to when he is still living with Aunt Petunia.

I recommend the audiobook because the voice actors have done such a good job with it. I can't help smiling at Harry's pre-pubescent ten year old voice.

Find it here : http://hpmor.com


One hundred and twenty two chapters :o


So worth it. If you read it, you'll wish there were more.


Rationality is good, but I found Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality to be a much more pleasant read about the same topics by the same author.

Both books suffer from the same problem, the lack of an editor. They could be half the size and it would make them a much more convincing and entertaining read.


So there isn't much new stuff in Rationality that one wouldn't already find in HPMOR, for those who have read the latter?


Rationality is much more technical and precise than HPMOR, and covers topics that you couldn't easily cover in fiction. I've read both, and would recommend each even if you've read the other.


There is more in rationality, but nothing you'd terribly miss, at least IMHO.


The HP books also suffers a bit from being written one chapter at a time. But at the same time, it's an interesting concept seeing a story evolve that way. I found some of the first chapters a bit long-winded, but after that I think the book found its direction.


Yea, I agree. Yudkowski found his voice starting around chapter 20. The initial chapters could use a good rewriting.


Arguing or getting heated over semantics has always been an irksome detail of human emotion / behavior for me.

Guess I'll give this book a read.


Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It gave me a good understanding of where we, as a species, came from. What did we do, why did we spread across the planet, how did we replace other hominids? What I really appreciated was his ability to explain some of the underpinnings of society like religion, nation states and currency with a relatively simple idea. Afterwards I felt like "damn that's so simple, I should have thought of that!" When you think that, you know you're on to something good.

On Writing by Stephen King. This a biography masquerading as a book on writing advice... Or its the other way around. Whichever it is, I think it's a great book for any aspiring writer to read. King explains the basics on how to get started, how to persevere and through his experiences, how not to handle success. Full of honesty and simple, effective advice.

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari. Most people agree that the War on Drugs is lost and has been lost for decades now. But why did we fight it in the first place? Why do some continue to believe it's the correct approach? How has it distorted outcomes in society and how can we recognise and prevent such grotesque policies in the future? This book offers some of those answers.

Only if you're Indian - India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha. Sadly almost every Indian I've met isn't well informed about anything that happened in India after 1947, the year India became independent. History stops there because that's the final page of high school history textbooks. An uninformed electorate leads to uninformed policy, like "encouraging" the use of a single language throughout the country. If I were dictator, I'd require every Indian to read this book.


One doesn't have to be Indian to read the magnificent book by Guha.


Yuval Harari's new "Homo Deus" is excellent. I had a blast reading it. It has a number of things from Homo Sapiens but talks about possible future and fundamental things that drive humans to create technology. Absolute one of my top 5 favorite books.


Reading that next!


Yes, a person who isn't Indian but has an interest in history or the Sub-Continent or both would find it engrossing. That said, it's optional for them, like how a history of the American Civil War would be optional for non-Americans. But in each case, citizens in their respective countries need to read their history so they understand their country well and be better citizens.


"Freedom at midnight" is a very well written book that describes the scenes a couple of years before and upto the freedom in 1947.

The way the french author duo paint the then lifestyle of the Britishers, the kings and the common man left me satisfied.

Currently I'm slow reading "India - A History" by John Keay. Another well written book.


I found Freedom at Midnight illuminating in parts but also dishonest. Their main source, which they did not credit at any time, was Louis Mountbatten, the Viceroy of India. It portrayed him as dashing, capable, diplomatic and a man of action without whom Indian Independence wouldn't have been possible. It's not surprising, because he had veto power over the manuscript, also something they fail to mention. I find such behaviour dishonest, especially as the man was well known as a bungler. The death toll of Partition was entirely his fault, but the book lays the blame elsewhere.

Worst of all, I was disgusted by how they derailed the story of Indian Independence by discussing the personal lives of every person involved. (All of them, except of course, the Mountbattens. Lady MBs affairs weren't mentioned ). Could you imagine a book on American Independence devoting reams of pages and ink to who George Washington was sleeping with or speculating if James Madison was gay?

Overall I would say the worst book I have read, on any subject, ever.


The Master Switch : This really puts a lot of things into context, especially if you're in tech industry. It's basically a history of the entire Information Technology, and it's fascinating how same things happen over and over again, pendulums swing back and forth over and over again, and people keep making same mistakes over and over again. Also you can see the larger picture of why some large tech companies make the decisions they make, and how to successfully compete if you are into that.

You will become a pessimist for a while after reading this, just because it feels like there's no meaning in all this since everything repeats itself and nothing is forever, but when you recover from it you'll find yourself much more insightful about the industry and can make better decisions.


The Master Switch : This really puts a lot of things into context, especially if you're in tech industry. It's basically a history of the entire Information Technology, and it's fascinating how same things happen over and over again, pendulums swing back and forth over and over again, and people keep making same mistakes over and over again

OK, you sold me. Just ordered a copy. Thanks for the recommendation!


Surprised this isn't higher given the demographics of HN. Another one that felt similar to me, but more focused on mass media specifically and its effect on society, was Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Be warned, you will have a very dim view of the future of humanity if you read all the way through.


<meta>

I love all the answers in here but please, please answer with more than just a title! I want to know why I should care about a book -- sell it to me, don't just throw it out there and ask me to do the work.

</meta>


I wish as a kid I had access to the following:

"More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite" https://www.amazon.com/More-Money-Than-God-Relations/dp/0143...

Market Wizards, Updated: Interviews With Top Traders https://www.amazon.com/Market-Wizards-Updated-Interviews-Tra...

The New Market Wizards: Conversations with America's Top Traders https://www.amazon.com/New-Market-Wizards-Conversations-Amer...

Hedge Fund Market Wizards: How Winning Traders Win https://www.amazon.com/Hedge-Fund-Market-Wizards-Winning/dp/...


I've noticed (as a non american) that every single book I see in american airport book shops (at least the sort of business/self-help ones which seem to constitute 95% of american airport book shops) follow this exact title style: $PITHY_PHRASE: $MEANDERING_SUBTITLE_THAT_IS_A_BIT_TOO_LONG

It's very unimaginative.


must be some sort of publisher's fad, but a great observation indeed :-)


One more comes to mind:

Pit Bull: Lessons from Wall Street's Champion Day Trader https://www.amazon.com/Pit-Bull-Lessons-Streets-Champion/dp/...


I'd also add "Reminescences of a Stock Operator", which is older but very good.



Thank you Sir, I constantly read, so will add it to the queue


Yes, absolutely, I just read it earlier :-)


The bible, cover to cover: if reading western literature or philosophy produced in whatever year A.D., the bible is required reading for comprehending many the references and various rhetorical modes. I'm irreligious from a muslim background myself but I'm reading it now. Same goes for the qoran, my family is not a practicing muslim family and thus I never read it, but it's a part of the canon, must be read. I'm not sure if I would like to have read these earlier tho, as now I have the consciousness to not be fooled by the stuff in these books.

Karen Armstrong's A Short History of Myth is a very nice guide into mythology and what that and religion are. It's like a vaccine for any sort of fundamentalism or bigotry, if read with some accompanying knowledge of mythological traditions.


I read a passage (Revelation 8) that could very well describe a nature catastrophe instead of godly will. Also other stuff like Job 26:10 ("He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.") which describes day/night boundary on earth quite well.

That made me think. What if there is other stuff that could actually be related to secular events and knowledge.

And so I started to read from the beginning. Genesis is very interesting actually. I noticed it is mostly inspired by earlier literature, like Arthasis, Gilgamesh and the like. Now I am totally into reading mesopotamia literature and origin stories all over the world. Maybe someday I am done with that and I can backtrack to advance further than Genesis in the bible. Time will tell.

So far it has certainly enlightened my view on early mankind.

edit: typo


Myth is science. It's how people transferred knowledge from generation to generation, and it's always based on observations of the world. Thing is though, in the ancient times they didn't have the access we started to have in the last centuries into the structure of things, so all they could do was to interpret that which they saw and that which they learned through earlier myths. Dismissing religion and myths as fairy tales because they are not relevant anymore is wrong, for one even fairy tales are, or were, tools for sharing knowledge along generations. Yes, we have better means of knowledge today, but we wouldn't have came here without religion and myths, they have been an important step in cognitive evolution of humankind. And still today important as part of our history and also a still-comtemporary sociological phaenomenon that directly affects us in every way.


Equating myth and science will focus discussion on that statement. But the important part comes after that first statement:

Myth and religion are the giants that todays science is standing on.

"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." -- Newton

Todays universities where born out of the church. I will just gonna quote wikipedia[1] here: "These universities evolved from much older Christian cathedral schools and monastic schools, and it is difficult to define the exact date at which they became true universities, although the lists of studia generalia for higher education in Europe held by the Vatican are a useful guide."

Dismissing our past is certainly not the way to go.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_university


Myth is certainly not science. Transmission of belief occurs through myths, not knowledge.


And belief is not necessarily orthogonal to knowledge. You can belief in something and it can still be knowledge.


eh, i sure as hell will dismiss a 8-bit processor for general computing nowadays though, despite it being state of the art not that long ago.

just because something had value before doesnt mean it still does.


Neither does it mean that it has no value anymore.

Taking your example "8-bit processors": it still has value. Even if it is only for learning purposes.


I think the secular perspective about the bible, Quran, and other Abrahamic sacred texts, is far more interesting than the contents within. This is the perspective so rarely visited by athiests, agnostics, or religious folks.


Certainly, but it's nice to at least have read the corpus before learning what others think about them. It's a long read, but rewarding.


Is it really necessary to read it cover to cover? A lot of it seems quite drawn out, and there seems to be a lot of overlap, particularly between the four gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).


It depends on what you want to get out of it. My reading is a philological/historical one, I'm aiming to become a scholar of literature (I'm a humanities student with a passion for computing), and also I'm looking for literary prompts in it, so a deeper understanding is important for me. But if you just want to know what it's about, then you can peruse the book and rely on commentaries and recaps. But all in all it's about 2000 pages, which equals to 4-5 novels, and does not require a linear, uninterrupted reading, so I guess it's worth it. I'm still reading the old testament (1Sa), but AFAIK the gospels do overlap in the story but views and interpretations are different.


Those 4 gospels offer varying perspectives and are worth reading as well. They each offer something different and can be helpful when studying. For example, Luke's account offers insight as to what was going on during the time of Christ's birth(see Chapter 2, the decree from Caesar Augustus) while Matthew starts off with the genealogy of Christ. So I believe that reading cover to cover is worth it.


I don't know how people can read it, for me it's a pain to read more than a page.

>the bible is required reading for comprehending many the references and various rhetorical modes

I'm sure there are modern book about rhetorics


The English bibles are just unreadable, with all those archaisms. I have a New World Translation that a JW gave me and it seems more pleasant to read, but many say there are problems with opinionated translations. Mine is a CEI Bible, a modern translation in Italian. Tho if you're not into it, it'll be boring nevertheless.

I was referring to the contents of rhetorical modes (allegories, metaphors, etc.), not their definitions.


I felt the same. But if you want to understand the whole bible I would recommend The Bible Project : https://m.youtube.com/user/jointhebibleproject


Why is that? Some of the language isn't all that easy to get through but, taken as a piece of literary work, I don't find it that unreadable.


It's hard for me, feels like totally unrelated parts are patched together. Tons of contradiction and archaic views even on a single page. But I never read more than a page at a time I always put it back as something I should not waste my time with deciphering what they meant.


It's difficult if I take it as something I'm meant to believe. I always get that tug in my stomach.

It's interesting as a reflection of culture, of which religion takes a prominent part in much of history.

I see it like viewing the works of a renaissance artist. Perhaps not as brilliant but similar in that a lot of works have religious themes but your beliefs, what they may be, look past the religion to consider it as part of the work itself.


Can you recommend a good English translation of the Qoran if it exists? I've asked Muslim friends but they seem adamant that it must be read in Arabic or, at least, only know of the Arabic text.


You can read this one from Muhammad Asad, it's very good. http://muhammad-asad.com/Message-of-Quran.pdf

> I've asked Muslim friends but they seem adamant that it must be read in Arabic

Not sure if these are practicing Muslims but that's simply wrong.


I can't unfortunately, but many translations exist, some from academical background. I don't think it must be read in Arabic, especially if the reading is a secular one.

edit: Saheeh international seems to be a nice translation with heavy annotations, there are pdfs online. I myself will consider this one for my readings.


There is this one http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp, which offers seven parallel translations of the Qoran.


Also, do you know of a good annotation of it which provides context to the text and provides information on how passages are interpreted by at least one school of thought?


The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.

You hear 'ancient wisdom' on how to lead the good life all the time. These ancient aphorisms came from a time before the scientific method and the idea of testing your hypotheses. Tradition has acted a sort of pre-conscious filter on the advice we get, so we can expect it to hold some value. But now, we can do better.

Haidt is a psychologist who read a large collection of the ancient texts of Western and Eastern religion and philosophy, highlighting all the 'psychological' statements. He organized a list of 'happiness hypotheses' from the ancients and then looked at the modern scientific literature to see if they hold water.

What he finds is they were often partially right, but that we know more. By the end of the book, you have some concrete suggestions on how to lead a happier life and you'll know to the studies that will convince you they work.

Haidt writes with that pop science long windedness that these books always have. Within that structure, he's an entertaining writer so I didn't mind.


This book is my favorite non-fiction book. It is hard to reduce it back to what it is about, but it is filled with very useful insight into how the mind works. The metaphor of the rider and the elephant finally let me explain differences between what I consciously decided and what I actually did.


It's a metaphor he also puts to good use in his later book, the Righteous Mind. It's useful to seeing through your own righteousness and recognizing patterns in others. I enjoyed that one too, but it didn't have the same life impact as the Happiness Hypothesis.


I'd also recommend 'The Righteous Mind' as a solid basis for understanding political thinking.


Definitely the best pop-psych/self-help book I've read.


"The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman.

Technically this book is about how humans interact with things, but actually it covers a lot more topics that one can think: how humans act, err, how they make descisions, how memory works, what are the responsibilities of conscious/subconscious. Also you'll start to dislike doors, kitchen stoves and their disigners)


My wife told me that this book turned me into a design snob and she constantly pokes fun at me for it. One time, there was a pull handle for a door that needs to be pushed, and i went on a rant about how that is terrible design, and why wouldn't they design it this way, etc. (very similar to the arguments he uses in the book. ) so lately every time she sees something that she knows i think should be designed differently, she does the stupid spongebob mocking meme and goes "tHis sHoUlD bE DeSiGned SoOoO muCh BEttEr!"


I went on this rant on a day last weekend.

Nerdy by endearing is how she put it once I was done.

At least we have the high ground when they stumble over a stair with an offset height.


This book changed how I look at the world. I highly recommend it.


Did it? I'd heard so much about it and I was very disappointed - seemed to be a lot about door knob design (Yes I know it's an example but seemed a bit obvious, maybe it's been absorbed into the design literature so much that it's everywhere now and so the book is no longer surprising)


Man's Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism) by Viktor Frankl who survived the concentration camps to go on to develop logotherapy and existential analysis (considered the third Viennese School of Psychotherapy). "lack of meaning is the paramount existential stress. To him, existential neurosis is synonymous with a crisis of meaninglessness", an interesting read, it does not focus on the horrors of the event, instead recognising the human capacity to overcome and rise above.


One of my favourite books. Read it many years ago and re-read it a few years later. One of the key take aways for me was that we always have a choice of how we deal with adversity and it helped me get through some tough situations.


"How to Prove It" by D. Velleman. Introduces logical reasoning, set theory, functions, relations, and proofs. It is the base for understanding any mathematical subject.


"How to solve it" because it encourages you to not just mechanically follow steps, but think critically and solve a problem.


I wish I had read Real World Divorce, much of which can be found on realworlddivorce.com. It's notable for the fact that Philip Greenspun is a major contributor to it, which I found most surprising and intriguing.

I don't want to duplicate a lot of text, so I'll link to my Amazon review of it:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2UKHDY7L4NPSV/re...

TL;DR it's the only bit of literature I've found that's got the real talk, and in data-and-comparison driven ways hackers will appreciate.

Yeah, obviously I'm going through a divorce, but I really think this book should be required reading for anyone before they get married in the US. I don't say that lightly or confer that kind of veneration unto books at the drop of a hat.


Haven't read this specifically, but agree with the concept. Also recommend The Psychopath Code by Pieter Hintjens (the ZMQ guy). Most books are ultimately quite abstract. A few are useful when the shit really hits the fan.


Philosophy/Psychology:

The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind, / Julian Jaynes. Hard to tell if crazy or genius, but well worth a read. Read at 38, wish I had read this at 20 or so. Most of us take our inner voice for granted, but should we really? And what if there was evidence supporting the idea that there's another inner voice, but our modern upbringing suppresses it (but it does reappear with some illnesses, under duress, etc)?

Fiction:

Different Seasons / Stephen King. A collection of four stories, NOT your usuall King horror genre; one of which became the movie "Stand By Me". another became "The Shawshank Redemption", the third became "An Apt Pupil", and the fourth will likely never become a movie. All are excellent. I actually read it at 16, which was the right time, but I'll list it here anyway; if you've seen the movies and liked them, it's worth reading - the stories are (a) much more detailed than the movies, in a good way, and (b) related in small ways that make them into a bigger whole than the individual stories.

Management (software/hardware oriented):

Peopleware / Demarco & Lister - read after I was already managing dozens of people. Wish I had read it long before. This book is basically a list of observations (with some supporting evidence and conclusion) about what works and what doesn't when running a software team. Well written, and insightful.

The mythical man month / Fred Brooks - wish I had read this before first working in a team larger than 2 people. Written ages ago, just as true today; A tour-de-force of the idea that "man month" is a unit of cost, not a unit of productivity.


Regarding Julian Jaynes, I also read the book, do you know that the Westworld series touches on his views directly?

For more about inner voices, you might like this article http://nautil.us/issue/40/learning/a-mental-disease-by-any-o... and the books by Malidoma Patrice Some.


Snowcrash also plays heavily with Jaynes' ideas, as does Embassytown.


+1 for Different Seasons. I still get goosebumps when thinking about reading this book a few years ago. This man is a master of words.


Eye-opening/shocking books:

"Science et Méthode" (Henri Poincaré, 1908)

"The Conquest of Happiness" (Bertrand Russell, 1930)

"The Revolt of the Masses" (José Ortega y Gasset, 1930)

"Brave New World" (Aldous Huxley, 1932)

"Reason" (Isaac Asimov, 1941, short story)

"Animal Farm" (George Orwell, 1945)

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" (George Orwell, 1949)

"Starship Troopers" (Robert A. Heinlein, 1959)

"The Gods Themselves" (Isaac Asimov, 1972)

"Time Enough for Love" (Robert A. Heinlein, 1973)


Great list! I love alot of the books you put on this list. I see Brave New World on alot of book lists. I get that it is a groundbreaking work at the time of its publication, but is it really that great nowadays? I've tried to read it on multiple occassions and i find it almost impossible to completely get through the book. his writing style is absolutely maddening (I think its partly because of my OCD, but at certain points the author is carrying on multiple conversations at one time, line by line. Nothing is Particularly surprising to me about this book, and I found it rather boring. I understand that it kind of predicted classical conditioning, but thats all obvious now. I understand that it inspired 1984, but i read 1984 before i tried to read brave new world, so nothing was suprising. Am i missing something here?


In my opinion, Brave New World is still groundbreaking now. Not because of the writing style, but because of the ideas and messages of warning for the Mankind. From my point of view, being both great novels, Brave New World is very different to Nineteen Eighty-Four (e.g. [1])

[1] http://www.pensnest.co.uk/A-Level%20Pages/mod5compare.html


Borges: Collected Fictions (https://www.amazon.com/Collected-Fictions-Jorge-Luis-Borges/...)

IMO you won't really understand the nature and limitations of fiction until you've read JLB. His work won't change your life, as such, but it will divide it into two parts: the part that took place before you read him, and the part that comes after. You'll always be conscious of that division.


The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank. I've learned more about "what goes into building a startup" from reading this book than any other book I've read.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. One of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. A strong reminder to remain true to yourself in the face of all sorts of challenges and adversity.

Mastering The Complex Sale by Jeff Thull. I don't claim to be a great, or even good, salesman. But if I ever become any good at selling, I expect I'll credit this book for a lot of that. I really like Thull's approach with is "always be leaving" mantra and focus on diagnosis as opposed to "get the sale at any cost".

The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon. Like Thull, these guys deviate from a lot of the standard sales wisdom of the past few decades and promote a different approach. And like Thull, a core element is realizing that your customer aren't necessarily fully equipped to diagnose their own problems and / or aren't necessarily aware of the range of possible solutions. These guys challenge you to, well, challenge, your customers pre-existing mindsets in the name of helping them create more value.

The Discipline of Market Leaders by Fred Wiersema and Michael Treacy. A good explanation of how there are other vectors for competition besides just price, or product attributes. Understanding the ideas in this book will (probably) lead you to understand why there may be room for your company even in what appears to be an already crowded market - you just have to choose a different market segment and compete on a different vector.

How to Measure Anything by Douglas Hubbard. It's pretty much what the title says. This is powerful stuff. Explains how to measure "things" that - at first blush - seem impossible (or really hard) to measure. Take something seemingly abstract like "morale". Hubbard shows how to use nth order effects, calibrated probability estimates, and monte carlo simulations, to construct rigorous models around the impact of tweaking such "immeasurable" metrics. The money quote "If it matters, it affects something. If it affects something, the something can be measured" (slightly paraphrased from memory).

I wish I'd read each of these much earlier. Each has influenced me, but I'd love to have been working of some of these ideas even longer.


Mini Habits - It gave me a new perspective of how to go about making changes in my life, that aren't so burdensome.

I have developed several habits:

a. Writing a Gratitude Journal

b. Going to Gym in the morning

c. Programming in the morning

d. Reading in the morning

I copied some of my highlights here:

http://www.chestergrant.com/26-highlights-from-mini-habits-b...


How long is your morning?! :)


I get up around 4:30. Work isn't until 8:30.


Oh wow. May I ask how long do you sleep every night?

I tried to have a morning routine more than once, but the trade-offs where two big to keep it going. Two things stand out for me:

- It works only in the summer. The absence of natural light at 4.30 in the morning is a big no-no for me. I can't get productive on artificial lights only. Sounds weird, I know.

- Social life goes to hell. I live in a big city. Keeping up with friends, even if it's just a small circle of those I really want to keep around me, is basically a evening side-job. To get up at 4.30 every day I would probably have to cut this drastically, and I'm not sure the balance would be positive for me. I'm also single, so you know, some nice encounters are usually a matter for the nights.

From my experience, this is a daily schedule that may fit a family person, a short sleeper, a monk or a hermit.



How do you context switch from one activity to the other in the morning? I believe most mental activities need a warm up and cool down period. I would love to know what strategy you use. When do you hit the sack?


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KK0PICK/ref=kinw_myk_...

It's about tidying up, but also about making your living space harmonious without clutter. It's not one of those get a box and put your pencils in it and then label it.


The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin. I was definitely in the right place to take in the topic, but it was, more or less, a book on how you can be "good" without much effort, but to be great or the best, it takes a lot of hard work and time. This book helped me learn that lesson.

On top of that, some of Tim Ferriss' stuff on accelerated learning. Learn how to learn first, then learn everything else.


I'd second Waitzkin, that was an amazing book.


Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, especially good if you're feeling down or disallusioned.


Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Amazingly powerful read. It is simultaneously completely saddening to read what some humans are capable of doing to others, but also inspiring to see those who were victims of the holocaust and how they looked out for their fellow man during times when they themselves had absolutely nothing.

A tale of the absolute worst and best of humanity.


"Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers" by Geoffrey A. Moore and also his recent "Zone to win". His books explain some of the "deeper structure" to tech business, and is one of the few business-related books I've read that has any depth. By "depth", I mean in the sense that I'm used to from research mathematics (I'm a number theorist by training), where you learn something about a problem that lets you think about problems in a more detailed way.


How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams.

Turns out the creator of Dilbert was at one time a mid-senior level manager in Corporate America, who attempted several failed entrepreneurial ventures over the years. He's also a brilliant writer. Totally hooked by Chapter 3: Passion is Bullshit > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17859574-how-to-fail-at-a... 


i discovered 'the phantom tollbooth' in grad school (for some reason, it was pretty much unknown in india when i was growing up). i'm pretty sure kid me would have loved it even more than adult me did.


I remember telling my parents this was my favorite book when I was 10. I'm currently reading the Chinese translation since it matches my current Chinese reading level, and it's been quite enjoyable, even though a lot of English-specific word play is lost in translation.


I still remember being engrossed by this as a 10 year old, looking forward to reading this again with any kids I have of my own.


A non-tech, non-business recommendation: "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera. A beautiful story, told with equal parts philosophy, psychology, and humor, and honestly heartbreakingly beautiful.


Around the time that came out a widely criticised portrait of the late writer Brendan Behan was unveiled in some gallery and someone came up with 'the unbearable likeness of Behan'


This is my suggestion as well.


+1. Beautiful!



Upvote for The Master Switch. It's one of the few books that manages to brilliantly cover a large territory within a small number of pages (<300).


Getting Real - got me out of the corporate grind SICP - got me out of the OO grind

Each one had a significant positive impact on my life. And both a free online!

https://gettingreal.37signals.com/

http://sarabander.github.io/sicp/


To Have or To Be? by Erich Fromm.

I did read it fairly early and it had an quite an impact on my life and thinking. It put into words a lot of my discomfort with a life focused on materialistic success. And it was inspiring seeing an intelectual combining so many of the thoughts and topics he developed during his lifetime into one coherent and approachable book.


Autobiography/Memoirs:

  Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard Feynman
  What Do You Care What Other People Think? - Richard Feynman
  Crime and Guilt: Stories - Ferdinand von Schirach
Fiction:

  The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
Technical:

  Bulldog: A Compiler for VLIW Architectures - John Ellis


I have never heard of Ferdinand von Schirach, but since the two other books of Feynman are really good, I would also like to know, why you recommend the third book. Could you tell more why his autobiography is worth reading?


Crime and Guilt is completely unlike either of the Feynman memoirs. It is a compilation of two separate short story collections that were originally published in German. The author is a German criminal defense attorney and the stories are fictionalized accounts of some of his cases. I probably should have listed it under Fiction. It is not an uplifting read and some of the stories are quite brutal. I recommended Crime and Guilt because it portrays the best and worst of human beings. You will read about a bank robber who starts a new life in Ethiopia. Another story is about the author defending a nameless assassin. A third is about a petty burglar who steals from the wrong victim.

Here are some links to more articulate reviews.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/review...

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2013/01/crime-and-guilt-by-fer...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/books/review/Steinhauer-t....


The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov - this is a great book, I am lucky my Mom gave it to me when I was a kid...


+1. An absolutely wonderful read. I've found myself constantly gifting copies. To anyone looking to purchase, the Alma Books[0] translation is the one I would recommend.

[0] - https://www.amazon.com/Master-Margarita-Mikhail-Bulgakov/dp/...


Thank you for the link and the idea, I will follow your lead and start gifting to friends and coworkers...


I should finish this. I got two or three chapters in on a move interstate, and it got lost in the unpacking process.


Don Quixote. Specifically the translation by Edith Grossman.

In high school I was assigned this book but I didn't read it all, it seemed like a waste of time to read 1000+ pages about a silly knight.

A few years ago I got into reading a lot of fiction translated from Spanish and Don Quixote got back on my radar so I decided to give it another try. I was blown away. It's astounding that a book from 500 years ago is still so funny and engaging today. Grossman's translation makes the book accessible and very enjoyable. If you didn't know the history you'd believe it had been published in the last few decades.

I recommend this because it's the best example of how literature can be time travel. When I smile at one of the adventures in the book I know that I'm sharing an experience with readers across centuries. There's almost no other way to get that feeling.


_The Beginning of Infinity_ changed my worldview from thinking progress is slowing down or problems in the world are overpowering to a more hopeful one where problems always be there for humans to solve, and that through human activity we can keep making progress. It also gave hope that one day in future, we might be able to clearly see that good, bad, evil, love, beauty might be fundamental aspects of universe, just like gravity, atoms, and radioactivity is. It also walks through philosophy of science (v/s pseduo-science). All in all, I wish I had read it earlier.

_Feeling Good_ because of the tools it contains to battle self-defeating feelings that lead bouts of sadness or depression. I wish everyone would read that book so that they can build mental immunity against circular, depressing thoughts.


"The Self-aware Universe" by Amit Goswami. Opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the world around us, and finding new ways to react to events that affect us. Wish I'd read this when I was much younger - before I had decided with a high level of confidence that I am completely in control of everything I do, all that happens to me and how I react to events. Seeing yourself as a minuscule part of a whole you perhaps will never fathom, allows you to simply focus on doing your best when you can and not get overly possessed with results. One of the many mystic-physics books that were very much in fashion for a while, but the one that stuck to my consciousness the most.


_The Art of Electronics_. As a software guy who sometimes is involved in embedded systems, having a good understanding of what's going on at the resistor/capacitor/transistor level would have helped a lot. I did a bunch of hobby electronics as a teenager, but never had circuit theory. I knew a lot about digital design, but not the analog stuff that the whole world ultimately rests on.

So now, when I hear a switching power supply whine in protest, I will think of it as the squeals of pain of the engineers whose life I turned into a living hell because of my lack of appreciation for P = IV. I’m truly sorry. I wasn’t thinking. (And this is just the first chapter of that book).


How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie - a timeless classic for people skills, useful in almost all circumstances.


4 Hour Work Week, it gave me some perspective on the 9-5 job I wish I had given more thought to earlier in my life when I had more time.

80/20 principle, while mentioned in the 4 hour work week, it really has a lot more to offer in the book. How you should go about leveraging your time. There was a real gem in there about how books are really the best way to acquire knowledge and a great way to approach reading in the university.

There was a speed readying and studying book I came across from a friend that owns a book store that really helped me. I wish I had that book before I entered high school. I can never recall the name, but I will try to find it.


I was going to mention this book. Glad you did it :)

Totally changes your perspective towards success.


Is this this book you guys are talking about?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/368593.The_4_Hour_Workwe...

The reviews seem pretty mixed but I might pick it up just to see for myself.


Yes, but there is a revised edition with bright orange colors on the dust cover of the hardbound version.

The first part of the book on productivity is still very relevant. There are a few dated parts in the book regarding testing an idea.

I still recommend it to all of my friends who have not read it as the bigger picture message is one that is still very relevant today.


The left hand of darkness, by Ursula Le Guin.

I found it by working my way through the list of joint nebula and hugo award winners (which is a really fun project, because all of them are amazing books). It is my favorite sci-fi book. It changes the way you look at gender, especially if you haven't questioned the concept much before.


Completely random tip: The Left Hand of Darkness is today's "Audible Daily Deal", so you can get the audiobook version for $3.95. This is true for 2017-06-04.

Just happened to notice the email today and thought it might be relevant to someone... if so, enjoy :)



Thanks for sharing the summary. Deep Work was recommended to me recently so this is super helpful. It seems consistent with common thinking that attention is a muscle to be strength trained regularly.

I've been gathering my own book notes in a GitHub repo [1] and added a link back to your post for when I read the book.

[1]: https://github.com/tedmiston/notes


I always found this question pretty impossible to answer. There are so many books that i find myself wanting to recommend, and the list soon becomes unmanageable. So, instead i'm going to provide a different resource - Patrick collisons whole library. He color coats the books he thinks are great, and lists hundreds of books. https://patrickcollison.com/bookshelf


On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

I read it at 18 and I wish I had read it way earlier. It taught me to be mad, to live life, to get out and see the world. But looking back at it, it also taught me how to be responsible and how to not to be a jerk.

It, above all, showed me what beautiful writing is.


Metamagical Themas by Douglas Hofstadter. This book has taught me more about thinking differently than any other.


Isn't that mostly a book of math problems? I've read some of his other books (GEB, The Mind's I, I'm a Strange Loop) - how does it compare to those?


It's a collection of columns that Hofstadter wrote for Scientific American. It explores a lot of topics, but personally the one I found most interesting was "superrationality:" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superrationality


it's absolutely the book of his I but copies of to give away. GEB was impressive in it's own way, but a bit too self-indulgent to be fully engaging, and 'le ton beau de marot' is spectacular but pretty narrowly focused. metamagical themas is just plain great in every respect.


"The Silk Roads: A New History of the World" By Peter Frankopan. This book tackles essentially all of human history, tying together the world's major cultural shifts with the socioeconomic forces that brought them to pass. For readers who have implicitly come to believe that the center of the world has always been Western Europe (I had), this book will greatly shift your perspective (Eastward). I've never learned so much from a book, and damn is it entertainingly written.

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen. I'm sure everyone here is familiar with bits and pieces of GTD methodology, but I encourage you to check out the full text. There are a lot of great ideas in there there that I didn't find reading online about GTD. I have been a serious GTD user for more than a year now, and I feel amazingly more in control of my life. Everything I've done in that time - from planning my wedding, to projects at work, to completely organizing my house - has gone smoother than I can remember projects going ever before.


I would strongly recommend people read both GTD and The life changing magic of tidying up by Marie kondo and, and this is the important bit, draw parallels between them. This is a pedagogical technique that takes knowledge out of the domain of specificity and into general applicability. In this case, it will help point you to the general move David Allen and Marie kondo are trying to point at and allow you to apply it fluidly.


Which one of the both would you recommend starting with?


I'm thinking about getting the GTD book now that you've mentioned it.

Any chance you could give a TLDR?


It's not a really long read, and it's worth reading it cover to cover, even if you don't follow its advice to the letter.

That said, essentially:

Keep a daily list of all the next actions you want to accomplish, separated by context (e.g., at work, at home, at grocery store)

Break down large projects into next actions. Identify the next thing you need to do to move it forward.

Review your projects and next actions weekly (or more often) to make sure you're not missing anything.

There's other stuff too, but mostly GTD recommends that you write everything down and review it often. Your lists are a way to offload the stuff in your head, so that you can focus on what's right in front of you and not have that nagging feeling that there's something you forgot to do or something more important you should be doing.

It definitely changed the way I approach my day at work, and I feel like I'm able to accomplish a lot more without feeling exhausted at the end of the week.


Eric Hoffer, The True Believer. You will see applications for the principles in this book in all aspects of society and politics. Easy to read and unassailable insight into what makes people join a common cause.


Fooled By Randomness & The Black Swan by Taleb


I was going to say the exact same thing!


A popular recommendation here, but Getting Things Done by David Allen.


This. I learned to use Emacs' built-in org-mode at the same time, and they've helped me survive grad school.


On the shortness of life, by Seneca.


The book that I should have read (and re-read) earlier:

No more Mr. Nice Guy -- Robert Glover


ingenuousness? English is such a mess!


Animal farm by George Orwell: a revelation of the beginning and end of revolution and 'change'. Jewish wisdom for business success. Call of the wild by Jack London: it shows how possible it is to adapt in order to benefit maximally from change -- using a dog's (Buck) life.


How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson. Walks you through a half dozen foundational inventions and the process through which they came to be. Fascinating to see what the inventors were trying to solve vs. how the world ended up applying their technology.

Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand. If you haven't read the book don't judge it by the (awful) movie.

The Liberators: My Life in the Soviet Army. Really opens your eyes to the problems and realities of communism. I love the author's dry sense of humor as he witnesses the absurdity of many of the things he encountered.

Sniper on the Eastern Front, Albrecht Wacker. A view of WWII through the eyes of a German sniper.

Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account, Miklos Nyiszli. A view of the holocaust through the eyes of a Jewish doctor in the Auschwitz concentration camp.


How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization by Jeffrey J Fox

I found this book in a library's junk pile, evidently unread. It has one of those bad 80s covers that suggest it'll be terrible, but to my great surprise, it's great! It's 80 or so one page missives/dictums/edicts that'll take barely half an hour to read through - I re-read it every time I have a job interview coming up or a some kind of major life choice. The author's tone is abrasively direct; this is how it is, not how it should be. And the advice isn't just for wannabe CEOs, it's accessible and attainable for everyone.


"Out of the Crisis" by W. Edwards Deming. The author was one of a handful of people who helped the Japanese apply methods of statistical control to their manufacturing processes, which in turn helped them to become an economic superpower after their country's occupation by the Allies. In the book the author takes a deep look at the problems of management in the United States, and provides a list of reforms that would lead businesses "out of the crisis". I only recently learned of W. Edwards Deming, and I wish that I had known about him much earlier.


A People's History of the United States


Yes absolutely. Howard Zinn—rest in power—is one of the few historians who could 1) detail political arguments and rationales 2) without becoming obtuse in language or overly complex in reasoning and 3) without diminishing in any way the academic integrity of his work. Read this in 9th grade, and it truly did grant a focus to my life that I still carry.


Rollo Tomassi – The Rational Male

If my younger self had read this, I think my course of life would be very much different than it is right now. Just a caution that it might come off as misogynistic ramblings for some readers.


• “On Liberty” (John Stuart Mill) for political enlightenment and an impeccable defence of [classical!] liberalism. It's packed with simple but enormously powerful ideas that are also timeless, thus applicable today and to so many aspects of life.

• “Don Quixote” (Cervantes): unanimously considered the best work of fiction in the Spanish-speaking world… and on many lists, even #1 of world literature, ever (!). Often overlooked (at least in Spain) by young folks as it is long, the language is archaic, and its themes appear quaint and silly today at first sight. But there's a reason it has been praised for centuries. It's funny and tender. Themes are also modern, and Cervantes' style is playful and innovative, making use of devices such as meta-references, alternative pasts, removal of the fourth wall, etc. I'm not sure how much non-native audiences can enjoy translations, though.

• “The Lord of the Rings” (Tolkien) for the original epic and touching fantasy. (I know many people devour it in their teens, or in their early youth… But I read it as an adult; quite late. Mainly because it seemed to be the only “difficult” book that many of my friends bothered to read, and that predisposed me negatively towards it. Also, my family hadn't read it, and there was no copy of it in our house.)

• “Brief History of Time” (Stephen Hawking): mind-boggling introduction to (astro-)physics, modern cosmogony, etc.


Oh, and don't waste your time with “How to Win Friends and Influence People”; it is definitely overrated! The whole book would fit in a sheet of paper if you took out unscientific anecdotes, redundancy, and obvious instances of common sense...


Think and Grow Rich. Amazing, though maybe simplistic, insights.


"A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science" by Oakley http://barbaraoakley.com/books/a-mind-for-numbers/

Despite the title it is useful for learning how to learn in general (not just math). Simple techniques supported by the research. I wish I didn't had to reinvent them in high school, college.


A Short History of Nearly Everything -- Bill Bryson


"Shop Class as Soulcraft", by Matthew Crawford

It discusses the intrinsic characteristics of work that lead to satisfaction, growth, mastery, and ultimately happiness. The author is a PhD, worked at a think tank, and quit the white-collar life to go work on motorcycles. He discusses how white-collar work has been hollowed out, transforming "professionals" into "clerks", why so many of us "knowledge workers" feel unsatisfied with our work. The book has helped me figure out how to change my work to be more intrinsically rewarding, and as an IT developer whose technology affects other people's work, it also helps me think more about how to make the end user's life better.

Another great book along these lines is Joanne Ciulla's (2000) "The Working Life", which is a bit more academic and has less motorcycles but is nevertheless very readable.


Below The Root [0], by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

A highly imaginative, original, and underrated, world setting.

Also had the distinction of having a sequel in the form of a video game, with the game's story written by the book author herself. [1]

The game (for the PC, Apple II and Commodore 64) was way ahead of its time in 1984: [2] and I only just heard of it and the books last month! It definitely needs more recognition.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Sky_Trilogy

[1] http://blog.stahlmandesign.com/below-the-root-a-story-a-comp...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdUBefQ1cT4


The Human Zoo - Desmond Morris ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/333063.The_Human_Zoo )

Morris uses his background as a zoologist to examine human beings as a regular animal; many books have come out of this approach. In this one he draws parallels between the city-dwelling human and the caged animal. This sort of perspective gives you self-awareness about your own tribalism and how we as a species deal with the opposing forces of individuality and longing to belong to a group. Also some ideas on the urban-rural divide that has consequences that leave people on either side puzzled (Brexit, Trump etc.)


Books that are mentioned multiple times in this thread: The master switch; Sapiens/Homo Deus; How to Win Friends and Influence People; The animal farm; The lean startup; The Bible.

Ctrl+F these names in this page for rationale.

Is there an "awesome books" repo on Github? I wonder.



I've started to maintain a list of awesome books from HN on my profile here.

http://shelfjoy.com/sia_steel/non-technology-books-that-have...

Currently noting down the ones on this thread.


Oh yes. Siddhartha was really a good read!


1) Superintelligence. This is a really great read about the implications of AI, or general intelligence. It's really intriguing and brings up so many scenarios I've never thought about. Anyone interested in AI should definitely read this.

Similarly, On Intelligence is an absolutely brilliant book on what 'intelligence' is, how it works, and how to define it.

2) Hooked. Although it's very formulaic, Hooked provides a lot of good ideas and approaches on building a product.

3) REWORK. If you're a fan of 37 Signals and/or DHH, this is a succinct and enjoyable read about their principles on building and running a business.

Currently I'm reading SmartCuts and The Everything Store - both of which are great so far.


"The Hero with a Thousand Faces" from Joseph Campbell.

It opened my mind to understand metaphors and analogies in literature. It allowed me to peek under the surface of text. Seriously, every written piece I read after that was different for me than before.

It also gave me more insight in the human mind and psyche.

Being able to read and understand more literature also gave me more perspectives and deeper understanding of the world and place of mankind in it.

Some other nice reads:

"The Way of Zen" - Alan Watts

"The Book" (On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are) - Alan Watts

"Demian" - Hermann Hesse; but I wouldn't want to read it earlier. I think I read at the exact best time for me (in my late 20s).


Hackers and Painters from Paul Graham. I wish I had read that when I was 14 years old.


There are some books I keep coming back to when I am "feeling lost and/or hopeless", when my "back is up against the wall and/or feel cornered", when I feel like I have "hit rock bottom" or I just need to "escape reality"... This list contains books I have read/listened to more than a couple times:

!For inspiration:! 1. Loosing my virginity (Richard Branson) - Richard Branson's Autobiography. From student magazine to Virgin to crazy ballooning adventures and space! I keep coming back to this when I feel like I need a morale boost. There isn't an audible version for this book, but there is a summary-type version on Audible "Screw it, Let's do it"- does a good job curating the exciting parts.

  2. The Everything Store (Brad Stone) 
-AMAZON and the man leading the massive team behind it. Jeff Bezos is quite easily one of the most important and influential people in the world. His relentless pursuit to build Amazon (& it's various products) amid constant setbacks, losses and naysayers... I personally use Amazon and their products every day. It's a really interesting view of how things are run backstage.

  3. Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson) 
- One of the most popular books in the Valley. Almost all startup founders I have met has read this. They usually have a very polarized view of Jobs after reading this. Take the good stuff and leave out the bad/crazy. Jobs was a very polarizing person and so is his biography...This is a very long book. "The second Coming of Steve Jobs" by Alan Deutschman is another really good book and a much shorter read and not super-polarizing (leaves out some of the crazy stuff from early life). Other notable Steve Jobs books I have read & highly recommend: Becoming Steve Jobs & The Steve Jobs Way.

  4. Elon Musk (Ashlee Vance) 
-Another polarizing book. I am a Spacex & Tesla Fan-boy. I picked this up in 2015 the day it was launched! I have read this at least half a dozen times by now. Hard-work, perseverance and creativity to the max. A must read for every entrepreneur.

  5. iWoz (Steve Wozniak) 
-If you are a technical-founder, this is a must read! Gives a very interesting view of- behind the scenes at Apple during its inception and early years. I was really moved by how humble Woz was/is and I am inspired by his problem solving approach.

  6. How Google Works (Eric Schmidt, Alan Eagle & Jonathan Rosenberg) 
- A very good book to read after/before this: "In the Plex" by Steven Levy. Hands down the two most important / influential books while you are starting something new. I read these while I was contemplating conceiving my startup and giving up the "safety" (illusion of safety) of a "normal-job". A must read for anyone planing to start a company and want to take it to the stratosphere (or higher)!

  7. Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama) 
- Another polarizing personality. A short but powerful memoir by Obama. This gives a unique insight into Obama's thought processes. Most people can relate to this and every "Leader" must read this. It really helps clear some of the fog on- what makes an effective leader.

!Business & Management:!

  1. The Upstarts (Brad Stone) 
-An amazing story about AirBnB and Uber. Culture is key and culture is defined by the Founders and the first few hires. The two companies are extremely similar in many ways (timing, shared economy, disruptive) but radically different in the way they are run. This came out earlier this year and is probably one of the best "startup-books" of 2017!

  2. Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
-A very short book, a must read for every entrepreneur. Dives into "first principal" thinking & execution. A very good read after/before "Elon Musk" the biography by Ashlee Vance.

  3. The power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
-I have always wondered how successful people get so much done. They have the same amount of time as everyone else, but they are able to get so much more done...how? This book answered that question. Ever since, I have been using "Habits" as my ultimate personal tool. Day & night difference when you figure out how habits are formed how they are broken and how you can influence the process. A good companion book (from the same author) "Smarter Faster Better".

  4. How to win friends & Influence people (Dale Carnegi)
- I bought this book freshman year in college. I tried reading it then and gave up / got bored after the first few pages. I really wish I had actually made an effort to read the whole thing. It sat on my shelf collecting dust. Luckily I picked up the book again and gave it another shot. I read this during a particularly "rough-patch" at our startup- really helped me cope with the "situation". What was once a boring book is now scribbled with notes, bookmarks and highlights. A very useful life-guide.

  5. How to win at the Sport of Business (Mark Cuban)
- A very entertaining yet eye-opening book. It is very short, finished it in a couple hours. A must read for every entrepreneur. I keep coming back to this when I feel like things are going dreadfully slow and I need a boost. If you follow Mark Cuban's blog, skip this. It is mostly a summary of his blog posts.

  6. Finding the next Steve Jobs (Nolan Bushnell)
- Finding good talent and retaining it is probably the single most important thing you will do as startup founders (especially if you are the CEO). Many things in this book seem obvious (if you are familiar with the Silicon-valley culture). A good read before you set out to hire your dream team of "rockstars". A good companion book: "Outliers" By Malcom Gladwell.

  7. The hard thing about hard things (Ben Horowitz)
-Are you in a startup? If the answer is YES, then read this NOW. Ties well with "Finding the next Steve Jobs". I wish I had read this before I started my company. I have lost track of how many times I have listened to this audio-book.

  8. Start with the Why (Simon Sinek) 
- Mid-late 2013 I came across Simon Sinek's ted talks on the golden-circle and my mind was blown. I bought the book the very next day and I keep coming back to my notes whenever we are starting a new project. Get the "Why?" right and the product will define itself. This is true for building companies as it is for building great products. A must read for every entrepreneur.

  9. Art of the Start (Guy Kawasaki)
-Getting ready to pitch? read this! Also watch Guy's many presentations/talks on YouTube. A good companion book- "Pitch Anything" By Oren Klaff

!Escaping Reality! 1. Hatching Twitter (Nick Bilton) -Sooooo much drama! Definitely learnt what not to do! Very interesting read.

  2. The accidental Billionaires (Ben Mezrcih) 
-I have heard that not everything in this book is "completely-true" (more distorted than others...) but still a great read!

  3. The Martian (Andy Weir)
- Hands down the best science fiction book I have read. I have lost count how many times I have listened to the audio-book (probably >15). I want to go to MARS!

  4. Harry Potter Series. 
-My go-to "background noise". I read the books as a kid. I use the audio-books to tune out the world when working on stuff that does not require my full attention (Listening Goblet of Fire as I type this)...

  5. Jurassic Park || The Lost world (Michael Crichton)
- Read the books as a kid. I usually listen to it while I am traveling. Still gets me as excited as it did when I first read the book. (The movies are nothing compared to the book...)

  6. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) 
- I am looking forward to reading the entire series. Read it once, listened to it many times (lost count). I love Space!

  7. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
-I picked this book up while I was working on a VR project back in 2014. An excellent book for re-reads and a nice place to get some inspiration.

!Other honorable mentions:! Actionable Gamification (Yu-Kai Chou) I invented the Modern Age (Richard Snow) Inside the tornado (Geoffrey Moore) Jony Ive (Leander Kahney) Sprint (Jake Knapp) The lean startup (Eric Ries) The selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins) Titan (Ron Chernow) The inevitable (Kevin Kelly) The Innovators (Walter Isaacson) Scrum (Jeff Sutherland)

!Most if not all have an audio-book version!

If you are in a startup or plan to start one soon, reading/listening to books should become a routine. I try to get through at least one book a week, sometimes two.

Good luck!


Don't bother with the rest of the Ender Quartet. While they're not terrible, they don't hold a candle to Ender's Game. There's just better uses of your time (like any other book on this page).


Thank you for this awesome comment :-) I'm gonna pick up some of these!


Thanks! Your summaries are really helpful.


"From Bacteria to Bach the evolution of minds" by Daniel Dennet.

Should be called How Minds Evolve as Heirarchies of Darwinian Turing Machines ( analagously to Deep Neural Nets (Dennet cites Geoff Hinton and Edinburgh's Andy Clarke).

"working computer models have been developed that can do a good job identifying handwritten—scribbled, really—digits, involving a cascade of layers in which the higher layers make Bayesian predictions about what the next layer down in the system will “see” next; when the predictions prove false, they then generate error signals in response that lead to Bayesian revisions, which are then fed back down toward the input again and again, until the system settles on an identification (Hinton 2007). Practice makes perfect, and over time these systems get better and better at the job, the same way we do—only better" p.178 [1]

"Hierarchical, Bayesian predictive coding is a method for generating affordances galore: we expect solid objects to have backs that will come into view as we walk around them; we expect doors to open, stairs to afford climbing, and cups to hold liquid. These and all manner of other anticipations fall out of a network that doesn’t sit passively waiting to be informed but constantly makes probabilistic guesses about what it is about to receive in the way of input from the level below it, based on what it has just received, and then treating feedback about the errors in its guesses as the chief source of new information, as a way to adjust its prior expectations for the next round of guessing."

Which echoes Richard Gregory's concept of vision (or perception) as a hypothesis continually tested against input.

This is Paradigm shifting; weltanschauung shattering stuff. Dennet very clearly lays out a methodology for how all aspects of minds can evolve using heirarchical compositions of wetware robots or :

"Si, abbiamo un anima. Ma é fatta di tanti piccoli robot! (Yes, we have a soul, but it’s made of lots of tiny robots!)" p.24 [1]

[1] https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/253900/from-bacteria-to-bach...


How To Be A 3% Man by Corey Wayne [0]

I'm 30 now. I wish I had read this when I was 20. It would've made dating in my 20s so much easier. I came across it last year and it's probably the single most important book I'll ever read in my entire life, for the sole reason that understanding women will allow me to have a successful marriage one day. I cannot recommend this enough.

[0] Free online: https://www.scribd.com/doc/33421576/How-To-Be-A-3-Man


Anna Karenina, A Suitable Boy, and the like. Excellent books but after college it's been difficult to start and keep at them in a acceptable period of time given the time (or lack of it) is an issue now. I also wanted to read Ulysses. I am stuck around the ~20% of Dostoyevsky's Idiot since a long time. Off late I've had better success with shortner ones.

For me the reason is simple - it's just the daunting number of pages and it is a shame that I have not read/finished these books.


A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami


You can never go wrong with Murakami. I haven't read that one but it's on my list for Real Soon Now.


Murakami never manages to keep my interest and halfway through I just want it to be over. I've always attributed it to losses in translation.


Interesting. I had exactly the opposite experience with my first Murakami. I was at Barnes & Noble one Sunday evening, grabbed one of his titles (After Dark) off the shelf, intending to flip through a few pages; and next thing you know the store is about to close and I'm halfway through the book. I bought the copy, drove home and finished reading it that night. I was hooked pretty much from the get-go.


A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell


the hard thing about hard things(Ben Horowitz): This book is mostly recommended for managers but I found it very useful to adjust my estimations about life. Also, you will learn about silicon valley history and it's dynamics.

The fifth discipline (Peter Senge): This book is one of the systems thinking references and it helped me to learn more about hidden dynamics in the world around me. I truly wish I've read this when I was junior in college.


Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline is great. Related, I would also recommend "Thinking in Systems" by Donella Meadows and "An Introduction to General Systems Thinking" by Jerry Weinberg.


Fiction:

1. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes because it's so beautifully written and made me experience a flood of emotions.

2. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Again, a very touching, charming book about a little kid's world(universe?) view, told through his adventures.

Non-fiction:

1. The subtle art of not giving a F*ck - Mark Manson Opened my eyes to what I was possibly doing wrong with my life.

2. Radical Acceptance - Tara Brach Still currently reading it, but I wish I'd found it earlier.


No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. It's so good. I keep rereading it. Does wonders to my motivation and productivity.


"How to get what you want", by Raymond Hull. Everything else follows, like a bootstrapping process. Wish I had found it 10 years earlier. Changed my life forever. I could recommend dozens other books, my walls are lined with shelves of books, but you and me are different and all you'd need is this one book to find everything else you'd need to read or do.


I wish I'd read some good books on fitness and nutrition when I was younger. It could have saved me a whole host of health issues.


Starting Strength is an excellent book for getting started with lifting.

https://www.amazon.com/Starting-Strength-Basic-Barbell-Train...


The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late

This book is a detailed research on what's wrong with the world and what can be still done. The chapter II brings inputs from various culture on approaches that could improve from ground up. Must read book for us and future generations.

Can someone suggest something similar to this book?


A little late to the game but this book changed my perception of reality.

Saving the Appearances: A study in Idoltary by Owen Barfields

You won't regret it.


Nature of Order Volumes 1-4, Christoper Alexander. <30 yrs old, as I believe I would be able to understand the organization of life and how to make better art. Even though I'm only on volume 1, as soon as I started it I wish I would've read this sooner.

I would add more but I think these volumes will keep you busy for awhile ;)


Discovered a lot of fresh books and reasons for reading them.

I've collated the ones with interesting reasons for reading them here --> http://shelfjoy.com/sia_steel/books-hn-wished-they-had-read-...


In no particular order:

- So Good They Can't Ignore You - Deep Work - Hackers by Steven Levy (perhaps my favorite book) - Learning How To Learn - The Person and the Situation - The Art of Money Getting - Make It Stick - The Algorithm Design Manual - Moonwalking With Einstein - Extreme Ownership


"Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise" because I've been learning ineffectively my whole life not knowing that I was. Should be required reading for every 15 year old. The best, most science based book I've ever read about learning effectively.


"The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes

It was the first time I read someone who was thinking about the mind like I am and was able to put into words some of my own more vague thoughts.

It's definitely going to leave you thinking.


"Anatomy of the State" by Murray Rothbard.

We live in a world of thieves masqueraded as leaders.


Software

The Mythical Man Month && Design Of Design by Fred Brooks

Everything else

Hitchhikers Guide (Existentialism does not have to be edgy) The Foundation Series (Bureaucracy and Institutionalization will never undermine Ingenuity) Dune Series (Plans within plans)


The power of now changed my life. Hard to describe without sounding hokey


Das Kapital. You know why.


Code Complete by Steve McConnell https://www.amazon.com/dp/0735619670


I bought this book based on the endless internet recommendations. After reading it, I was mystified, completely mystified, why people recommended it so strongly.


How experienced were you? It was really the first thing I read after beginner type tutorials, and helped me a great deal.


/Cannery Row/ by Steinbeck. It's a short read, but it packs in a lot of insight about the human condition. I re-read it every year or so, and still learn new things.


The Art of Computer Programming series, by Donald Knuth. They are so well written and full of humor, I can not think of any technical book(or any kind?) written as good as these.


Evicted. Showed me how racism is still alive today, how bad it actually is to live in poverty even in a wealthy country in the USA. Tore down a lot of assumptions I had made.


A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Helped me understand investing.


1. The One Thing. ~ Gary Keller 2. Mini Habits. ~ Stephen Guise 3. Learned Optimism. ~ Martin Seligman 4. Spark. ~ John Ratey 5. Miracle of Mindfulness. ~ Thich nhat hanh


The upside of irrationality. Ariely

Germs guns and steel. Jared Diamond

Influence, the psychology of persuasion. Cialdini

Justice: what's the right thing to do. Sandel

QED. Fyenman

All of Feynman lectures on physics

The hard thing about hard things. Horowitz

Al muqqadimah. Ibn khaldun


The Holy Bible

Start With Why

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Think Like a Freak

SmartCuts


I really liked The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck as well. I realized, while reading, that I give far too many, and working on not doing that has made me happy.

Edited for fat-finger syndrome.


I'm about 75% of the way through SmartCuts and I love it! I really enjoy this type of format, but the people and stories Shane chose are just great. +1 recommendation.


"How Not To Die" by Dr Michael Greger, Gene Stone. It really changed my mind about how to achieve long term mental and physical health.


The Personal MBA.

Deep Work.

How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Think and Grow Rich.

The E-Myth Revisited.

The Science of Selling.

(stuff about stoicism)


Why the downvote???


The slight edge

This is a very interesting book that emphasises how small persistent things matter in life. Changed my worldview for good.


Metaprogramming Ruby by Paolo Perrotta


The Denial of Death (Ernest Becker)


The Effective Executive. My company did not prepare me very well for being a team lead.


Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Stoicism is by far the best philosophy I've ever encountered. Some people call it "the best operating system for the mind", and I very much agree with that statement.

It changed my life more than any other corpus of ideas. I can't overstate how much better I feel now that my brain is running on a 'Stoic OS', especially on an emotional level --which was the hardest to deal with as I'm rather hyper-sensitive; now my emotions have truly become an almost entirely positive force in my experience of life, regardless of their nature, good or bad, of said emotions; in fact I no longer even qualify emotions on this scale; and the same goes true for an overwhelming majority of my thinking.

This book is the personal journal of one of the greatest roman emperors, leader of the (western) world at the time. A rare enough occurrence in the history of leaders, he was deemed 'worthy of his position' on a human and philosophical level by most people who knew him.

A couple remarks: "philosophy" as seen by ancient authors and thinkers is not a strictly intellectual or abstract endeavor, not a scholarly matter, at least not at its core. Philosophy is the closest equivalent they had to what we'd call "self-development" today. It's very down to earth, 'life recipes' of sorts, simply to educate and help people deal with this elusive brain of ours. Seneca's and Epictetus writings are also excellent food for thought, food for one's mind. Imho, philosophy, litterally the "love of wisdom", is something we should deeply reappropriate, both as individuals and whole societies.

Relatingly, Stoicism used to be taught from childhood throughout most of human history in the western world (and it could be argued that Asia has its own equivalent philosophies). For some reason, we ceased teaching philosophy to children around the turn of of the 20th century, which leaves most people with a lack of means to deal with their emotional circumstances. I'm one of those who consider this to be a dire pity, especially in our day and age. I think it sorely shows in public discourse and interpersonal relationships, and the end result is too much suffering that is entirely preventable.

Meditations is easy enough to read, but if you want something more modern, I found The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday to be a very good introduction to Stoicism.

____

As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. It's as short as it is good for the mind, the building/making of one's persona. Well worth a read at least once in your life, there are many 20th and 21st century self-development books (e.g. How to Win Friends and Influence People) that I believe drew some of their teachings from this 1903 classic.

____

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Regardless of where you find the information contained in this book (there are many works on the topic, both modern and throughout history), this book helps understanding that living in the present moment is critically important, and a key to happiness. Notwithstanding the 'wu-wu' aspects of Tolle's particular take, it just works. If you find yourself constantly dwelling on the past, or being a 'nostalgic of the future' (as I both used to do), knowing the value of living 'in the now' may be the difference between chronic depression and a fulfilling experience of life. It certainly is for me.


How to See Color and Paint It -- It taught me how to see color and paint it. Also how to use a palette knife which makes my paintings very different and fun.

Remembrance of Things Past -- I'm still reading this, as it's a massive stream of consciousness book, but I wish I'd started it when I was younger so that I'd be done with it by now. It's just so weird to read it and experience the writing that I enjoy it for simply being different. As you read it just remember that every ; is really a . and every . is really \n\n.

Van Gogh: The Life -- I absolutely hate the authors. They're great at research, but I feel they had a vendetta against Van Gogh of some kind. Throughout the book, at times when Van Gogh should be praised for an invention, they make him seem like a clueless dork. Ironically, their attempt to portray him as a dork who deserves his treatment ends up demonstrating more concretely how terrible his life was because he was different. I think if this book were around when I was younger I might have become an artist instead of a programmer.

A Confederacy of Dunces -- Absolutely brilliant book, and probably one of the greatest examples of comedic writing there is. It's also nearly impossible to explain to people except to say it's the greatest example of "and then hilarity ensues".

Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar -- After a terrible guitar teacher damaged my left thumb I thought I'd never play guitar again. I found this book and was able to use it to learn to retrain how my left hand works and finally get back to playing. Mickey Baker's album also brought me to the Bass VI, which got me thinking I could build one, and then I did and now I've built 6 guitars. I play really weird because of this book and I love it. This book also inspired how I wrote my own books teaching programming and without it I'd still be a cube drone writing Python code for assholes. If I'd found this book when I was younger it most likely would have changed my life then too.

Reflections on A Pond -- It's just a book of this guy painting the same scene 365 times, one for each "day of the year" even though it took him many years to do it. All tiny little 6x8 impressions of the same scene. I learned so much about how little paint you need to do so much, and it's also impressive he was able to do it. I can't really think about anything I've done repetitively for every day of a year. I've attempted the same idea with self-portraits but the best I could do was about 3 month's worth before I went insane and started hating my own face.

Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting -- Instructionally this book isn't as good as How To See Color, but as a reference guide it is about the most thorough book on painting there is. It's so huge it's almost impossible to absorb all of it in one reading, so I've read it maybe 5 times over the years.


> How to See Color and Paint It

Ordered a copy, thanks!


Thanks for sharing! These all look very interesting.


Pretty much everything ever written by William Gibson should do.


The lean startup. How to win friends and influence people.


This book changed my life.


Which one of these, out of curiosity? The post above references two books :)


Lean Startup.


Both of them are really good :)


"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.

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