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Ask HN: Books you read in 2017?
76 points by rwieruch on Dec 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments
I'd like to know which books HN read in 2017. Which of these would you recommend? Which of these surprised you, because they are not the usual suspects.

This year I read:

1. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - A steampunk graphic novel about Ada Lovelace and Charlie Babbage. Fun story with loads of research to back it up. Got even better when I got to go the UK and explore the places they worked at in their livetimes

2. The Hardware Hacker - A compilation of storis by bunnie focused on the hardware/maker(ish) ecosystem. Also discusses the Chinese manufacturing ecosystem and answers questions that most people have about it.

3. Technically Wrong - A book about how tech can sometimes leave lots of people behind for one reason or another and how we can fix them. A very quick read.

4. The Masters of Doom - The story of id Software, the company which spawned an entire genre with games like Doom and Wolfenstwein in its early days.

5. Blood, Sweat and Pixels - The book looks into how video games are made and the many challenges along the way. Focuses on ten games from solo all the way to AAA titles. Really good if you want to know why video games turn out the way they do. After reading this, you'll double take whenever you hear of a delayed game, cancelled project, E3 demos and buggy releases. It also has some uplifting moments.

6. My textbooks :).

Hopefully I can also read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Deep Work and CODE.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is a cringy read, I couldn't get past the first chapter. Deep Work as a whole can be summarized in a sentence. My interpretation is: put away distractions and focus on getting things done. There's other advice there but none of it is anything you haven't heard of before. CODE is great on the other hand. Just skip the nonsense self-help stuff.

I agree with your assessment about "Deep Work" but I still recommend folks to read it, just to reiterate what you probably already know. I think it helps us remind ourselves to focus on our life, when there are so many distractions.

I also enjoyed and learned a great deal from The Hardware Hacker. I gave copies to my daughter and to a friend who do manufacturing in China.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People - I recommend because I apply every day at work and reap the results as well, somebody should have recommended this book to me ten years ago;

2. Children of Time - a science fiction book that I enjoyed, I notice that fiction, in general, helps me deal with stressful work, as I disconnect easier and put myself in an imaginary world while reading;

3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius - this isn't a book you read cover to cover, I catch myself thinking long even after reading a single sentence;

1) and 3) I've come across on HN, but 2) was the unexpected random hit.

I'm sure I have an unpopular opinion on this, I have read How To Win Friends And Influence People a few times and I can't get over the fact that the skills taught feel very disingenuous and superficial. "act interested, use the person's name, etc". It's extremely cringe inducing when you see somebody blatantly using the tactics.

If there's a reason that everyone should read this book, it's more so that they are aware of these tactics.

It's not disingenuous or superficial if you exercise the advice earnestly. For example, don't just "act interested", but "be interested" in what the other person has to say.

I assure you that doing so is both extremely difficult (because we're selfishly interested in ourselves most of the time) and kind (because the other person rarely receives such selfless attention.)

It's only cringe inducing if someone is using these tactics without actually being interested in others. Carnegie definitely does not advocate for being such a person.

I think it's a mix of "do some bullshit smalltalk", "be nice" and common sense.

I really need to re-read it, but my basic takeaway was "Don't be a dick" - and maybe my suspicion is right that it (although it is very old) still play on subtle differences of American and European (to be more specific: German) work culture. I'd absolutely say we're not as nice and polite, but more direct - also more honest. But that could also be my limited experience in a non-significant amount of companies and fields. :P

It absolutely is, but it depends on where you're coming from.

You have to work to cultivate those actions to be genuine. I've been following the Buddhism path, and it's helped me become more genuine.

Source: Read that book this year. Thought about the same thing.

Children of Time was one of my favorites this year as well.


Overrated common sense, but you don't seem practised in applying it :-)

He did by using temp account.


1) Einsteins Dreams - This book is a quick read, but shows a bunch of different perceptions of time. Fantastic.

2) Rock warriors way - Even if you aren't a climber, I feel like this book has a lot of great lessons about committing without fear. Much more accessible as a climber though.

3) Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art - Quick read, I learned a lot about storytelling in general.

4) Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance - This is a series of essays and the first few were great views into companies creating ignorance in the 50's around smoking and link to cancer. Gets a little dense after a while.

Full list: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/18975415-samuel-mosley...

My daughter just had her first novels (a young adult trilogy) published a few weeks ago. Even though it is not really my genre I read it and enjoyed it. Of course I am biased....

Dysfunctional Series: Books 1-3 (Origins, Dark Imagination, A Mighty Long Fall)

By McKenzie Rae


Congrats to her!

Thank you. If you don't mind I will brag on her a bit.

Kenzi started writing fiction pretty seriously at about 14 years of age. So while 24 seems young to be a published author she has put in a decade of sustained effort honing her craft. She has completed something like 8 full length novels plus several others in various stages.

She seems to have found her daily writing pace and can write 2 or maybe 3 novels a year while working a full-time job.

She got her degree in Technical and Scientific Communication and works as a software and hardware tester along with doing some documentation for a health sensor company.

In the spring of 2018 her day job moves away, and she doesn't intend to move with it... so she will be looking for a new day job unless commercial success is surprisingly fast on the novelist front.

This seems soon. If appropriate you may want to share a general region in case anyone here will be able to help out, unless she is specifically targeting remote work opportunities (which would also be worth sharing).

Yes it is a bit soon, on the other hand it feels like it is good to get the word out there when you know that a change is coming.

She is located in Minneapolis MN. She would be happy with remote work.

She is smart, productive and reliable but not particularly ambitious with regard to the day job. Seems happy to take on the entry level grunt work including auditing telcom vendor bills, remotely updating router firmware and running test cycles, testing custom software portals, document/write test plans, update and clean up system documentation and whatever else the engineers don't want to do that isn't too technical.

Fiction? I started contributing to https://standardebooks.org/ and discovered Gogol’s Dead Souls and Strindberg’s The Red Room in the process as new favourite classics.

Thanks for this link. Didn't even know something like this exist :).

Update: added a few lines about the books than just a name listing

From the ones I read in 2017, I would highly recommend (non-IT):

1. The hidden life of trees- Peter Wohlleben Why forest trees are different than the ones you plant, how the communicate, how they care for their friends when they are not well, how mother trees protect their young ones by not letting them grow too fast, the fungi network, etc. The book is very easy to read- there is no scientific terminology overload. Things are told very simply. Not restricted to students of the subject. Learned something interesting every couple of pages. Another aspect is that the love shows. It is very clear that the author is in love with the subject. The author manages a wild forest in Germany and talks mainly about trees in terms of beeches, firs, oaks, etc. The author is politely insistent that we should protect the natural wild forests and let them be.

2. Why the allies won- Richard Overy Probably the best book I read on WW2. So many more factors went into winning the war than actual fight. Probably appealed to my analytical mind.

3. India After Gandhi- Ramachandra Guha As the author says history ends for many Indians with freedom. Very good chronicles. Started appreciating Nehru more.

4. Re-read Gone With The Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Godfather and a few P.G Wodehouse- all of which I like.

Currently, halfway through Stephen Fry's Mythos which seems good enough to recommend. I am pretty new to the Greek Mythology and he is a good story teller. Don't have much to compare it with, though.

Also, by choice, I read quite a few books in rural Marathi(an Indian regional language) and was surprised how good the story telling was. Also noticed that I had gone quite far from my mother tongue but was happy to see how easy it was to go back.

Please answer my similar question https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15960188

I finally got around to reading Dune. I burned though it pretty quickly and loved it. For some reason I can't get into the other books in the series. For now they mock me from their spot on my bookshelf...

It's still openly debated, but the generally accepted Best Order to read the Dune Novels is as follows:

Dune, followed by a 1-5 year pause, followed by Dune. Repeat until death.

You may, if you wish, throw in the first hundred pages of a different Dune novel every ten years or so, just to remind you of the correct sequence.

I feel like you wrote this in jest, but just happened to be 100% correct.

Oh man, I feel like Dune Messiah (dune 2) is such a fantastic compliment to the original. It is about half the length and has such a different tone that makes the original even better.

Messiah is just good enough to make you think that the thrid book will be ok... it's is indeed ok. The third book is ok enough to make you think the fourth book will be ok. It's not. It's rotten.

My advice: Even though Dune 2 is a good book - it's best to stay off the slide downwards or you'll wind up like me reading all of them and wondering if I could get the time back.

I finished Dune about 2 months ago, and I'm currently a quarter through Dune Messiah. It so far is a great compliment and progression, and I constantly fight the desire to look up what happens because I want to know now.

I had the same feeling with The Hunger Games. The first one is amazing, the second starts to be repetitive. Didn't manage to get to the third one.

Push on for books 2-4. They're great but take a longer investment. 5 & 6 fast-forward thousands of years, so I'd only recommend them if you enjoy things like the Foundation series where the setting and cultural movements are more important than individuals.

I think the quality starts to drop off after the first couple of books.

I've read the books by Frank and I agree that the quality declines after the first books, mostly because the scale change, but the writing does not cope with this change.

These are all hard sci-fi, and much like Dark Mirror, given today's troubles, it's simultaneously entertaining while being intellectually stimulating, but in a way that feels relevant, even if not immediately actionable.

The first is what got me hooked, and back into reading.

The Wages of Humanity, is a short story by Liu Cixin. The short story used to be available by itself on Amazon, but now it's been disappeared[1]. It can be found as the last story in The Wandering Earth: Classic Science Fiction Collection.[2]

An assassin is being offered exorbitant sum to kill the three poorest people for some reason, and the book explores why, to a thrilling conclusion.

Since I found it as a stand alone story I cannot comment on the rest of the books in that collection. From there I read into The Three Body Problem[3], and Dark Forest by Liu Cixin; first two books of the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. The only reason I don't mention I have not (yet) finished reading the third book.

[1] This link now returns a 404: https://amazon.com/dp/B00CSW0UZI but it's what the URL my Kindle points to. Search does not find the stand alone edition.

[2] https://amazon.com/dp/B00CXUKNA2

[3] https://amazon.com/dp/B00IQO403K

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, it's a memoir of a neurologist who comes across lung cancer himself and how his life changes from being a doctor to the patient. I recently finished reading it and let me tell you, I had to pause every other page to reflect upon those words as they were surreal.

Best book I read this year hands down was The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

It's a really lucid and eye opening introduction to moral psychology, and as a left-leaning person politically has made me understand my right-leaning friends more than anything else. Truly enlightening.

This year I've read:

Maxims - Epictetus

The road to serfdom - Friedrich Hayek

De officiis - Cicero

De divinatione - Cicero

Lives of eminent philosophers - Diogenes Laertius

Confessions - Al ghazali

Illiad - Homer

Odyssey - Homer

Influence - Robert Cialdini

Guns, Germs and steel - Jared Diamond

Poor Charlie's Almanack - Charlie Munger - 2nd reading

Andrew Carnegie's Biography - Joseph Frazier

Fooled by Randomness - Nassim Taleb - 2nd reading

Bed of Procrustes - Nassim Taleb

Never Split the Difference - Christopher Voss

The intelligent investor - Benjamin Graham

Autobiography - Benjamin Franklin

I always remember this quote:

"In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time -- none, zero." Charlie Munger

1. Off to Be the Wizard (Scott Meyer) - Very good.

2. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) - I liked it although it's kinda ridiculous and one-sided.

3. The Bloodline Feud (Charles Stross) - Actually part 1&2 of a series. Really need to continue, very good. I'd say this was not "oh I know what will happen next" which is kinda rare.

4. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) - It's ok, but not as good as I had hoped.

5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman) - It's a children's book, and very short, but I liked it a lot.

6. Accelerated C++ (Koening/Moo) - Not finished, I was under the impression it's "C++ for programmers well-versed in other languages" and for that it's a bit slow-starting, but not bad I guess

I really need to read more. :|

Hi Kirubakaran,

I'm going to give Columbus Day a try.

What software do you use for your bookshelf? It does a good job.

I've been tracking my reading habits via Goodreads for a few years too, although I just post a summary at the end of the year.


Hi Evan, thanks! :-)

I use Hugo [1]. Like you, I too track my books on Goodreads. So I wrote a simple Python script to add an org file to Hugo, for each book. It is an easy set up. Please send me an email (in my profile) if you're interested and I'll share the script with you.

I strongly recommend the audiobook version of Columbus Day, if you can do that.

[1] https://gohugo.io/

This year I read 31 books. Only 8 were non-fiction. I'm hoping to finish another 2 before the year ends.

My top 3 were.

1. The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. This series did a good job of balancing big and little picture, while givings us a neat form of magic to learn about.

2. Stock Market Cash Flow from the RDPD series. In 2016 I had read several books on fundamental(or value) investing, and this book helped me bust out of the thinking that, that style is the only way to look at, and earn in the stock market.

3. Snow Crash. This book was just fun. The characters were enjoyable to watch, and there was some clever stuff in this book.

* The Unconsoled (Kazuo Ishiguro)

* Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

* Influx (Daniel Suarex)

* Sputnik Sweetheart (Haruki Murakami)

* Apex (Ramez Naam)

* One Second After (William R. Forstchen)

* Anna Karanina (Leo Tolstoy)

* Neuromancer (William Gibson)

* A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)

* Crux (Ramez Naam)

* A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway)

* Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World (Haruki Murakami)

To continue the Ishiguro and Hemingway theme, two of the books I enjoyed most this year were The Buried Giant (Ishiguro) and The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway).

Short stories from Nocturnes are good as well.

Seconding Murakami. The Remains Of The Day is the best book I read this year. It talks through a lot of ideas I see get mentioned on HN.

The movie adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson is also excellent.


Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer

If you like reading adventurous books, i'd recommend it. This one is about the Mt. Everest expedition of a group of people and the disaster that fell upon them.

You're Surely Joking Mr. Feynman - Richard Feynman

This one is collection of events in the life of Feynman. He's mostly known for being a scientist, but he's equally talented in few other areas as well. An interesting and fun book.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell

Recommended if you are into psychology and knowing how our thoughts and actions are affected by our subconscious.

The sequel to Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman, titled What Do You Care What Other People Think? is also really good, and includes his account of investigating the Challenger disaster which is worth the read just for that chapter.

1. Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem - I've been on a giant math books kick. I really enjoyed Simon Singh's other book, The Code Book, so this one is awesome.

2. The Code Book - If you're really into the history of cryptography, this book is for you.

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Not a really a revelatory book by any sorts. But a fun read.

4. The Handmaid's Tale - Revisiting this since the TV series came out and I really felt like getting traumatized all over again.

"I've been on a giant math books kick"

Any other math books recommendations?

Yup! Making my way through Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea right now. It's a little more "pop math" than Fermat's Enigma or The Code Book.

I also have The Man Who Loved Only Numbers and Elliptic Tales on my to-read list once I wrap up Zero.

Awesome! I'll check them out. (Read The Man Who Loved Only Numbers already, it's great).

If you're looking for something else, "Journey Through Genius" is absolutely the best semi-pop-science Math book. It's premise is that it goes through about 10 of the most interesting proofs in mathematics, giving their history and context, then the actual proof.

It does what few other "pop" books attempt - it actually gives the real proof, taking you through all the steps. If you work it, you come away actually knowing how to prove the various things there. More interestingly, it gives the original historic proof, which is not what you always encounter. It even tends to explain the problems with the original proof, if any. And since it gives the history, you learn a lot.

It's by far my favorite non-textbook math book, and I can't recommend it more highly if you're into that sort of thing.

This sounds right up my alley. Thanks!

Sorry, this got a little longer than I meant it to be

- Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed - It's over 20 years old now but still really good, especially if you're into planes like the U-2, F-117, and SR-71

If you're wanting a deeper understanding of the other side of the war on terror, I'd recommend the following:

- I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad

- Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea

- The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State

- After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam

- The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda

If you're wanting a dive into Russia:

- The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War

- The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries

- Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

If you're wanting true Spy stuff:

- The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal

- The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia

- Left of Boom: How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda (the author is a little full of himself, but still, it's interesting)

Two of the most interesting books I've read this year are:

1. Man's search for meaning, by Viktor Frankl. He was an Austrian psychiatrist who founded Logotherapy as a form of analysing one's life with the idea of finding meaning or living a purposeful life. According to Frankl, such a life would mean doing important/meaningful work, enjoying nature in all it's beauty, loving and taking care of another person and being courageous when going through hard times. These are things that I personally consider part of the common sense package I had built-in when I was born, so this book kind of talks to my soul. I would recommend it to anyone who is highly self-reflective.

2. Stumbling on happiness, by Daniel Gilbert. This was an interesting read and the different studies described in the book made me think how would I react in a similar situation and I realised funny things about how memory works and how does our brain imagine future events.

A few of the best were:

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. A really profound and interesting look into what technology is. Technology evolves through the same sort of Darwinian process that life evolves. Technology is in some sense alive, and Kelly's perspective on it is wonderfully refreshing. I also read his book Out of Control, which is fantastic.

Sapiens by Yuval Harari. Enough people are talking about this one that I don't have to say much, suffice it to say it's a fascinating look into human history a la Guns, Germs, and Steel.

The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. If you're a fan of Harari you'll love this one. It's an alternative scientific look at evil, and how evil appears to be encoded into our species.

Hyperspace by Michio Kaku. Kaku is an amazing popular science writer bar none and this is his exploration of modern physics and string theory. The most concise and understandable explanation of modern physics I've read, which is part for the course with Kaku.

Red Queen by Matt Ridley. A fascinating look at sex, and why the human sex drive, and therefore human nature, is the way it is.

The full list: https://gitlab.com/rlease/Books

My list lines up with a lot of books that people have recommended here, so I'll try to add a few favorites that haven't been mentioned so far.


1. Ubik - I read a bunch of Philip K. Dick this year, but this was my favorite. It's delightfully mind bending and left me thinking about it long after the book was done.

2. All the Pretty Horses - Beautifully written. McCarthy has an uncanny ability to paint with words.

3. Cannery Row - Short, witty, and full of interesting characters.


1. The Idea Factory - A dive into how Bell Labs became such an innovation powerhouse and gives a rounded picture of the figureheads that brought it so much fame.

2. Moonwalking with Einstein - A fun read about a journalist who took researching a memory competition a bit too seriously.

3. Countdown to Zero Day - A fascinating look at the development and deployment of Stuxnet -- the virus built to set Iran's nuclear program back.

If you liked The Idea Factory, you should read Kitten Clone. Kind of a dark sequel.

Interesting, thanks for the recommendation!

That's impressive! How do you manage to read so much?

I plan to write a bit about that when I finish (Dec 27 will mark one year from when I started). Here are a couple things I noticed:

1) This was my big goal for the year. One book a week that I've never read, instead of getting in better shape, learning a new hobby, etc. Judging from prior experience, it felt difficult, but doable.

2) It was mostly about time management. This was either accomplished with reading incrementally (infrequent) or bingeing over a weekend (frequent). I think if I was going to do it over, I would shift most of the reading into the first couple months of the year where the weather is dreary and not conducive to being outside.

3) Cheating. I've had books (like GEB) on the list the whole year that I haven't gotten to because I knew that they would slow me down and ruin the average. When I would read something that I couldn't get through quickly, I would make up for that by reading books I knew I would plow through quickly. You can see that more towards the end of the year.

4) I truly enjoy reading, and it's something I'd rather do than many other forms of entertainment. This helps immensely when deciding to devote a large amount of time to it.

Here's quite a few, but they might be of interest to others.

1. You Have the Right to Remain Innocent: great advice that I had never seen anywhere else (except his video that started the whole thing).

2. The Vital Question: good overview of origin of life research.

3. Fragment: hard science fiction (is that the term?) that delved into evolution and dovetailed with some of the reading I had been doing around that subject.

4. The Science of Navigation: delved into the wonder of current navigational technology and how we got to here.

5. The Lost City of the Monkey God: bought on a lark, made me realize that archaeology can still find new things nowadays.

6. Island of the Lost: historical account of two shipwrecks on the same island at the same time that knew nothing of each other.

7. Protecting the Gift: another eye-opener about being more aware of the ways people _can_ prey on children.

8. Wondrous Contrivances: how people reacted to new techologies in the past.

9. Rig Ship for Ultra Quiet: submariner's account of life during a Cold War operation.

The Aeon 14 novels following Tanis Richards[1] have been a consistently good read. The Intrepid Saga and The Orion War series. Haven't ventured into the other offshoots as yet.

The Dome Trilogy[2] was also pretty good, as are the Rho Agenda series[3][4][5].

And if you prefer horror to sci-fi, the I Am Not a Serial Killer series[6] was very good overall, although I thought it lost some steam in the last two books.

And finally, The Rosie Project[7] was so completely charming I ended up reading it straight through in one night.

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6426890.M_D_Cooper

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25501349-unexpected-rain

[3] https://www.goodreads.com/series/61746-the-rho-agenda

[4] https://www.goodreads.com/series/142618-the-rho-agenda-incep...

[5] https://www.goodreads.com/series/175066-rho-agenda-assimilat...

[6] https://www.goodreads.com/series/49883-john-cleaver

[7] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18015965-the-rosie-proje...

The archipelago of another life from Andreï Makine. I don't think it's already translated in English, but since his other books has been translated, I think this one will be too.

Les chemin noirs by Sylvain Tesson. I don't think it will be translated in English but I enjoyed it a lot (and half of my family too). Sylvain Tesson is a traveller, he has walked across a lot of countries (mostly Russia and Asia). After a bad fall (multiple broken bones, head trauma) he decided to walk across France along the so-called 'empty diagonal' from South-East to North-East, recounting a solitary walk on forgotten/rarely-used trails (the so-called 'chemins noirs' or black trails), talking about places mostly abandoned by the current society. He'll also talk about the people he's meeting along the way and the friends that accompanied him along the way.

My target this year was one book every other day, same as last year. Goodreads has my ratings https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8007012-aditya-y?shelf...

1. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

It's a fun read, and got me inspired to run my first ultra marathon.

2. Alone on the Wall

Inspiring stories about this amazing rock climber Alex Honnold, as told by himself and one other experienced climber. You get a little insight into what makes him tick.


1) The Power Broker - About Robert Moses, the most powerful city planner in New York from the 1930s to the 1960s. Great if you're interested in city planning, how people gain and exercise power, and the real politik of government.

2) The Jungle - Remembered as an exposé of meatpacking, but really more than that. Phenomenal story about early 20th immigrants to Chicago trying to take part in the American Dream but struggling to survive. Surprisingly relevant today.

3) The Big Con - Fascinating look at con artists in the first half of the 20th century.

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

It's an amazing book on philosophy, history, and much more. It felt very relevant to current times. The philosophers in question lived around and through WWII and it examines how their ideas came about before and after as well.


1. 10% Happier

2. Traction

3. Unshakable

4. Shoe Dog (This has been my favorite book thus far of 2017, I did not think it would of left such a lasting impression on me about life and success and business)

5. Start with Why

6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck

Fahrenheit 451

Animal Farm

The Gene: An Intimate History

The Martian

Currently reading Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. I would recommend all these books, if you're interested in the subjects they are written about.

Currently reading: Hyperion.

* Peak: Secretes From the New Science of Expertise

* The Hard Thing About Hard Things

* American Gods

* The Dark Tower

* Children of Time

* Sapiens

* The Lies of Locke Lamora: Gentleman Bastards #1

* Red Seas Under Red Skies: Gentleman Bastards #2

* Dark Matter

* The Dark Tower #1

* Guns of The Dawn

* The Hunter Killers

* Snow Crash

Reinventing Dell. How a company with an entrepreneurial spirit that allowed it to innovate then collapsed in on itself like a dying star.


1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

2. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)

3. The Loyal: The Story of Atwood and the Second Civil War (disclosure - my father wrote this book)

4. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

5. Grit

I thoroughly enjoyed all of these. It was interesting to see how Grit and The Power of Habit played off each other.

Would you care to add a few lines about Sapiens? Plan to read it. But only tentatively.

Sapiens opened my eyes to social constructs and human behavior and forced me to think about the vast timeline of humanity and how small our time is within it. Personally it provoked a re-visit to the philosophical questioning of life.


How would you read it tentatively? Just a couple of pages at a time and then stop?

:) I was rather hoping that reading a single page (instead of a couple of pages) and then stopping would qualify.

Anyway, what I meant was that the plan was tentative. (I have read Guns, Germs and Steel and a few reviews seemed to liken Sapiens to that book. So was looking for some other perspectives.)

1. The Tolkien Reader by J.R.R. Tolkien - If you are into trolls living under a bridge, and more.

2. Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions by Neil Gaiman - If you are into a young knight with a cool horse looking for a holy grail but to only find out an elderly woman bought it from a thrift store, and more.

- The Road to Character (David Brooks)

- Code (Charles Petzold)

- Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual (John Z. Sonmez)

- Zero Bugs and Program Faster (Kate Thompson)

- Daemon (Daniel Suarez)

- Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (Brian Christian)

- How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships (Leil Lowndes)

Pretty popular and not a niche book, but I enjoyed Give and Take by Adam Grant very much [0].

- [0] https://www.robinwieruch.de/lessons-learned-give-and-take/

- The Innovator's Dilemma by Clay Christensen

- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking

- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

- The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

- Start with No by Jim Camp

- How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

- The Everything Store by Brad Stone

- The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

Top books that I read this past year:

- Hillbilly Elegy By JD Vance

- Golden Son by Pierce Brown (second book in a trilogy) liked the whole trilogy

- Rosie Project/Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

- Graceling by Kristin Cashore

- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Worth mentioning: 1. Ready Player One 2. On The Road (re-read)

I would recommend Red Rising. A very good read!

I hadn't heard of this, and for anyone else wondering, it's a sci-fi novel


A couple of books I've read can be found at https://www.theceolibrary.com/nick-janetakis-2771.html.

They are mainly focused on communication and getting better at selling yourself and your code. There's also a couple mixed in that will help improve other non-technical skills which in turn amplify your existing coding skills.

India: A Million Mutinies Now - V.S. Naipaul

Recommended by a friend who works on mobility policy in India.

Yes. It is a good one.

For me India: A Wounded Civilization by Naipaul was even better.

It is also from his India trilogy. I have read it a couple of times and even today I read a few pages. Highly recommended if you are open minded. A few people to whom I recommended it were quite offended. I guess that is because Naipaul has sharp eyes and blunt way of putting his observations.

* Currently reading: Edgedancer

* Flowers for Algernon

* Going Rogue: Spells, Swords, & Stealth

* Split the Party: Spells, Swords, & Stealth

* NPCs

* Children of Time

* Death's End

* The Shining

* IT

* All 7+1 books of The Dark Tower

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov was definitely my favorite.

1. Selected Essays of Warren Buffett

2. First, Break all the Rules

3. Between the World and Me

My general rule is: if the book is in Barnes & Nobles its not worth reading. If you want true enlightening from reading branch out from what everyone else reads. The best books I have ever read in my life didn't even get published. Check out Thomas Hardy: The Poor Man and the Lady. Which was rejected my 5 publishers

I haven't walked into a Barnes & Noble in a while, for the one that used to be in walking distance is closed. But I would be very surprised if I couldn't walk into the nearest B&N and find forty pounds of books that a) are worth reading and b) that I haven't read.

Plenty of those books are good places to start learning about a topic. Get a basic understanding of something and then, if you find it interesting, go deeper.

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