I lead a team to translate the whole book to Vietnamese fifteen years ago as a freshman highschool student, and released it for free online. We beat the printed book publisher by months. I should have gotten into tons of troubles, but everyone was kind enough to not beat me down. I didn't get into any legal troubles partly because people saw the values in doing it, partly because they didn't know what to do with it, partly because we were anonymous later on. The website received so much traffic I couldn't believe. Later on, I wrote an ajax-based site: after loading a very simple skeleton, it would only load plain text on demand afterwards, yet it would quickly saturate any free hosting bandwidth I could get. To put it into perspective, I had several HN front page stories nowadays and I got about 50k unique visitors worldwide a day at best. I got 5k a day just from Vietnam back then.
It was how I knew and met half of all the important people that shaped my early twenties, many of them were writers, translators, poets, reporters. It was an incredible stretch of luck and a huge eye-opening experience to be starting it and seeing how powerful the internet could be and where following a passion could lead me to at that age. I was a college dropout at 19 and an internet celebrity I knew from that incident picked me up and suggested to me that I should look into studying in the US. If not, I would have been typing this in a dark hot corner in Vietnam today.
I wrote a bit in more details about it here: http://www.tnhh.net/posts/Harry-Potter-and-me.html
Archive of the translated book in 2004: http://web.archive.org/web/20040213105923/http://huanhuu.net... (it was lame)
But actually on-upping professional translators? That sounds amazing!
I took a lot of notes when I first read the book (https://booknotes.quora.com/Notes-on-A-Guide-to-the-Good-Lif...) and I still revisit them occasionally. (The notes don't replace reading the book, but give a good sense of its contents.)
I have always had a little bit of the spiritual side to me, but in the last ten years I have come even more to appreciate both the philosophy of stoicism and Buddhist teachings, which have a huge amount of overlap in my opinion.
I was 19 and living in a van, camping under bridge overpasses in Colorado so I could just ski all day every day. My naive uneducated mind was formulating some sort of psuedo-hippy philosophy around the state of ecstasy reached in the perfect ride down a mountain through powder. Little did I know the "no-thought" mantra I had been inculcating was just a pale impression of this thousands year old tradition of mindfulness. When I picked this book up at a library I just sat down reading page after page being blown away by how he would describe the exact same sensibilities I had been reaching for. It was my first spiritual awakening as an adult.
We liked to hate on Vail on that side of the pass, but it really is the best. The only problem was affording it ;)
He was a badass, grew up in South Central, would ride his bike to nicer areas of LA where there were tennis courts, and just hit against the wall until someone else would show up & he’d ask to play with them.
Ended up playing in High School, and getting a full ride to a DI college.
He told me that reading this book when he was trying to get scholarships to college was one of the turning points in his life and then said, “How I’m teaching you to respond to adversity on the court is preparation for the more important challenges you’ll face in your life off the court.”
To this day, I often suggest this book to anyone as it played a similar role in my life as well.
I know, I know, PUA's are despicable and all that. But as a super sheltered Mormon nerd who had zero flirting instinct and put girls on a pedestal/treated them like aliens, it absolutely refactored the social part of my brain for the better.
When I read the book, I was 22 and had never been on a date. Six months later I was engaged. Still married now, almost ten years later.
-It led me down the path to the realization that advertising in almost all of its current forms is unequivocally evil and has no credible moral justification in our current society. I have been running adblocking software on all of my devices (and that of my family's) and feel mildly disgusted every time I see an ad in the street or on the rare occasions I watch television.
-It opened my eyes on the fact that corporations having more power than governments is a huge deal, especially at times where government is often equivocated to 'lazy bureaucrats' and opposed to private companies' supposed 'efficiency' (but for whom?).
-It made me realize that environmentalists are not just some rambling, soft-natured and out-of-touch hippies but simply ringing the bell about how we are going to be royally screwed if we don't radically change our current consumption habits.
But the most shocking thing about that book is that it was written in 1952. There was no targeted advertising and tracking, no concerns about global warming, no oil peak. Critics at the time said it was witty and light-hearted, but far too much of a caricature to be taken seriously. Reading the thing more than 60 years later gives the whole experience a sour pang of irony.
Corporate greed and advertisement is quite old, though.
Not because of contents, but because of the fact how i got it. Our local "search engine" (already dead) make a gift to everyone in the country - you can pick any IT book that you wish and they will give it to you for free.
That was a great example how spending (very little i suppose) money can help a lot of people. Most of my friends got something from them. Eventually when i won several prizes on coding contest i have done same thing - i gifted 50 books to young developers and they was able to pick anything they want too. That was a great experience and after years people sometimes still tell me that how it helped them.
I think the saying "the master appears when the student is ready" kind of applies to books, it the depends the moment of your life the book will tell you something or not.
It's old but many of the lessons he teaches are still relevant today. It opened my eyes to the danger of only thinking about the things that are easily observable, and ignoring the "unseen" things.
> The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.
Economics in one lesson is heavy on rhetoric and light on substance. The lesson is "look for hidden externalities". Which is by itself totally fair: we should indeed be mindful of externalities.
However when dealing with complex sociological questions there are always negative externalities and the case can always be made that there are additional hidden externalities we don't fully understand yet. And therefore the correct solution to all these sociological problems according to Hazlitt is to do nothing. Because only the externalities of action are considered, not the externalities of inaction. That's the slight of hand applied throughout the book. So the solutions are the same libertarian nonsense we're all familiar with: no government, no taxes, no minimum wages, no unions, no tariffs, etc.
"Economics in one lesson" is by no means a good book, but it's pleasantly written, freely available online, and it can be read in an afternoon. Additionally it makes the reader feel smart because it provides a very simple solution to a multitude of very complex problems. So that explains the appeal. If people want to learn basic economics they should study a reputable college textbook instead.
How can he propose to do something about what's not understood? Both action or inaction have consequences and those consequences once understood would motivate a new action or inaction. I'm not criticizing, I ask this because I didn't understand well the argument in its abstract form.
Regardless, I think the book is great as well.
I agree that the book upthread presents weak arguments. I didn't like it even though I sympathize with much "libertarian nonsense".
Very logically made me realise that willpower was really just about changing how you talk to yourself. Essentially learning impulse control.
I lost a deadly, expensive habit and a fair bit of weight. Clean for 6 years.
It was the fourth or third book I had read in my life up until that point.
I read it and realized that in order for me to quit smoking, I had to quit drinking(I was around 19 at the time and a heavy drinker), and in order to do that I needed to change/get away from the circle of friends at the time.
That day, after finishing the book the decisions were obvious and I did exactly what needed to be done.
It was like: 1,2,3 done.
I did it!
I quit drinking for 1,5 years. Moved to a different tow, to get away from all my friends at that time.
Started reading books like mad, because I realized that the info in a book can substantially change my life.
I’m 30 now. I’ve been free from smoking for more than 10 years.
Reading books has led me into having a well paid(by the standards of my country) job in SEO/digital marketing. I have not started, nor finished uni.
I think I need to re-read it, because I’d like to kick my habit of drinking and a few other bad habits.
I could not recommend it enough.
This was a book published in the 70s by DEC. I vividly remember at either the very beginning or the very end of the book there was a section on how to send submissions for consideration in future editions, complete with instructions on how to properly pack oiled teletype tape for shipping. :)
I found a copy of one of the editions of this book in my parent's book stash in the 80s some time after I got a C128. Up until then the C128 had spent most of it's time in C64 emulation mode alternately running a BBS, downloading cracked games while taking some liberties with the telephone system, or playing those games. Starting on that book put me on the path of teaching myself to program.
If the OP is looking for something that changes philosophical outlook, or something that might be relevant today, then I probably disappoint. However in taking the question literally, I'd guess this book set me on the path to the life I live today more than any other single book.
I read it during a stay in a psychiatric facility. I had checked myself in because I felt unsafe towards myself.
I couldn't focus reading anything else. I could focus reading this. It even made me smile. Then even laugh.
The author killed himself before he ever saw it published. It's a remarkable book. In addition to helping me get out of my head for a bit, reading it facilitated a desire to make / build / write something good and live to see it exist in the world.
That was 2006. Happy to say I'm still here, still trying.
Bukowski's style gave me a permission that I didn't know I was looking for. It was raw and accessible. It showed me that prose and poetry didn't need to be buried in metaphor and riddles.
That extends to much of life: let's get on with it. Sometimes it's fine to drop ceremony and adornment--especially if it's not genuine.
So, that's what it is called? Thank you.
Into the Wild (book and movie): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7ArZ7VD-QQ
When I was in high school I was considering the same path as Christopher took, but then I heard about him and I learned from his story. "Happiness only real when shared"
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
This is how I got really hooked up to triathlon and ultramarathons. Great book, I lent it to many people and changed some of their lives too.
Learning PHP and MySQL: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40544.Learning_PHP_and_M...
The book is ok, not great, but it changed my life. This is how I learned to program.
But I would say that other media also had an impact. Like poems:
"If—" by Rudyard Kipling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH5txHlSOUI
Then there are some short videos:
The Race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM5A1K6TxxM
"The Hubble Ultra Deep Field" by Deep Astronomy: https://youtu.be/oAVjF_7ensg
Timeless classic, tiny book of 300 maxims. Each one very profound, highly re-readable as you go through life. I've been reading it over and over little bits at a time, for well over a decade by now. Life changer for sure.
This book is pure gold, however one has to approach it with a right mindset. It's not the best literature, per se, you will ever read, but if you take a deeper look, it's very simple, yet very profound. It somehow reminds me of the quote from Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett long time associate, and one of the wisest man alive) - "Take a simple idea, and take it seriously"
Then again, the last book really depressed me - I can't imagine having my Fenchurch being ripped away from me...
That part was probably worse than the ending for me.
I hope you are doing well.
Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, in retrospect, laid the foundation for a fundamental shift in my understanding of belief and how it interfaces with reality.
It helped me better detect and understand seemingly hypocritical and self-defeating actions by middle managers in companies, and also a lot of the disingenuous emphasis on “passion” used to suppress wages in start-ups or sell job candidates on a reduced salary or equity package with poor expected value or risk characteristics.
I wouldn’t say anything from Moral Mazes was surprising when stepping back to think about known manipulative behavior of middle and upper management. But it did give an excellent analytical and even a normative philosophical framework to use for recognizing and diagnosing it, which sometimes helps for avoiding it, choosing your battles, or knowing when to quit or turn down job offers.
Gösta Berling's tale by Selma Lagerlöf was also very defining. It kept me away from the niilism that often strikes teenagers. Truly wonderful writing (Although I can't vouch for any translations).
The upshot of this is that he advocates veganism, but also abortion, and even acknowledges that the killing of infants is potentially okay here.
Read it first when I was 16, at the recommendation of my literature teacher in high school. For the past... - darn, this was long ago! - ...more than 20 years, I've read it at least once a year, and intend to do that for as long as I can read.
That book changed me, like nothing else since.
I read it only recently but it changed the way I look at everything now. I am now seeing how our creative culture is being hurt without most people noticing. I have become an advocate for free culture and contribute all my art to public domain. The book itself is freely available, you can google it and download it right now if you want to read it.
After I read it, I had some of the best communication with romantic partners I ever had. I also had fights with friends transform into heartfelt conversations when I was practicing NVC, even though my friends weren't practicing it.
A description of how love (romantic love, brotherly love, love for God, love for oneself) has to be actively practiced much like any other discipline and what the consequences are for individuals living in a society that by and large does not hold this belief. As a younger person who often gets frustrated with how easy it is to get caught up in his own narcissism and materialism, this book helped me better understand myself and what my core drives are moreso than anything else I’ve encountered to date. Only like 120 pages to boot.
I almost passed on this one due to the corny sounding title, but I’m so glad I didn’t. It renewed my optimism about the future of humanity at a time when my faith was deeply challenged and I was bringing a new person into the world.
The Road to Reality by Penrose
The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli
"For a long time, we have tried to understand the world in terms of some primary substance. Perhaps physics, more than any other discipline, has pursued this primary substance. But the more we have studied it, the less the world seems comprehensible in terms of something that is. It seems to be a lot more intelligible in terms of relations between events.
We therefore describe the world as it happens, not as it is. Newton's mechanics, Maxwell's equations, quantum mechanics, and so on, tell us how events happen, not how things are...we understand the world in its becoming, not in its being. Things in themselves are only events that for a while are monotonous. But only before returning to dust, everything returns to dust.
The absence of time does not mean, therefore, that everything is frozen and unmoving. It means that the incessant happening that wearies the world is not ordered along a time line, is not measured by a gigantic tick-tocking. It does not even form a four-dimensional geometry. It is a boundless and disorderly network of quantum events. The world is more like Naples than Singapore.
If by 'time' we mean nothing more than happening, then everything is time. There is only that which exists in time."
Very influential in my teens:
Absalom, Absalom by Faulkner
USA by John Dos Passos
Cache Lake Country by Rowlands
Quite frankly that both introduced me to racism and taught me to strongly condemn it. I also learnt the value of education and the utility of appropriate conduct.
I’ve never found a writer who could discuss humanity writ large — both in masses, and over enormous spans of time — like Herbert. Dune is the easy to read, fast moving approachable yarn that gets you in. The real masterpiece is God Emperor, where we get to see humanity over thousands of years, and we really learn Herbert’s most important lesson: beware the charismatic dictator.
The Tao of Pooh: Benjamin Hoff
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut
TI 99/4a basic reference manual
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, by Abelson, Sussman
Object Oriented Analysis and Design by Grady Booch
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Thieves in the Night by Arthur Koestler
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
War and Peace by L.N.Tolstoy
Chapaev and the void by Pelevin
Just great, modern, adult scifi books that describe scale of time and space really well in a constantly surprising plot
I'll go with "Turbo Pascal für Kids" instead. It's the first programming book I've read as a kid and the topic has stuck with me so far :)
I first read it when I was ~25 and it made me think about the way the world is, the historical reasons it is this way and how we can nudge it towards being better.
It frustrates me that Fuller wrote the book nearly 50 years ago and all the same stupid crap continues to happen and humanity doesn't seem to be getting its collective shit together.
But then I remember the lessons from the book on why the world is like it is and how we can only nudge it slowly....
You can read it here: http://designsciencelab.com/resources/OperatingManual_BF.pdf
Edit to also mention; Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (as well as basically every other book he ever wrote).
or get it free via
However, I've read books with interesting ideas that I've probably applied in my life to varying degrees, which I guess one could say has changed my life to some extent. If that's the criterion, then there are probably too many to list.
Since I'm likely being over-analytical, if I had to recommend one book to read it'd be something like 'James and the Giant Peach' or another book that would sufficiently open one's imagination.
It's introduction to microcomputers and programming on ZX Spectrum.
I've read russian version of this book in 1994.
In post-soviet area in 1990, time was shifted, so in 1990s we had wave of popularity of ZX Spectrum and 8-bit game console NES (i.e. what was popular in 1980s in the west).
Reading of Kevin Mitnick's exploits and benign (to me) curiosity was inspiring as I was testing out my own hand at hacking and social engineering in college. His approach to SE allowed me to get over the fear of dealing with individuals in my job hunt and to generally see people more as people (strangely enough).
The book is full of excellent anecdotes on the joys and consequences of sincere curiosity. To this day it still inspires me to ask "What is behind x/ if I push/pull/turn/fuzz this x" and "What happens if I just ask for x"
(Tao Te Ching / Chuang-tzu / Wen-tzu / The Book of Leadership and Strategy: Lessons of the Chinese Masters)
Got me started building my first business.
Just caring about that has helped me lose 94lbs, and changed my life forever. Thank you Larry.
* Introduction to systematic theology (the discipline, not the book): https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/whats-systematic-...
* Introductory book: Christian Beliefs
* Mid-Level: Bible Doctrine
* In Depth: Systematic Theology
Obviously to anyone knowing me well enough I'm biased but I think parts could be of interest to some people here, esp. the proverbs.
Personally I got a lot from it and I'd say it has helped me to stay alive, make friends, work smarter and generally don't waste my life.
(Also maybe interesting is how different it might seem to how it is usually portrayed.)
That part _changed_ me. Ironically I've now forgotten the exact life lesson.
The stuff I managed to do in recent months was unseen in my life so far (not that I was unsuccessful, but the time after reading this book is really different).
Course that book and Kevin Kelly post bubble were roundly criticized. But looking back he got most of it right. Sadly he stopped writing for quite a few years. That book motivated me that I was doing the right thing. That startup failed, but the next one didn't.
I read this every few months.
I was doing a post-grad degree in biomedical engineering and that book set me on a path to become a statistician -- exclusively Bayesian at the start, but now well-versed in all sorts of approaches. (Still prefer Bayes, but I'm only dogmatic about it in theory, not in practice.)
Truly a mind-expanding book, which can help remove a lot of contraints on ones’ thinking.
Milk, Sulphate, and Albie Starvation by Martin Millar.
I was introduced to Martin Millar by a very close friend who stole very many books. She was good at it, and she stole hundreds of books.
In turn I introduced her to Ivor Cutler. We'd sit in her room drinking tea, eating pikelets and jam, listening to Ivor Cutler.
It helped me understand certain things I experienced in life without consciously knowing about them.
-  https://www.robinwieruch.de/lessons-learned-deep-work-flow/
I ordered a Hindi version first but couldn't make head or tail of most of the parts and later ordered the English one.
But procrastination prevailed. These days I am feeling a bit lethargic about reading; reading this comment make me to go and give it a try again.
This has changed how I approach sleep.
Despite Kipling's jingoism in other works, Kim spoke to me in school. It opened me to a world of adventure and fearlessness that I didn't know was possible. I really haven't been the same since I read that book.
His insight about trying to predict how the car will behave was staggering. Literally, it makes the impossible something that is achievable... terrifying but achievable.
Tied together a lot of concepts from my undergrad with my new work, and on top of it also Poker, which became one of my main analogies for life.
Fascinating story of a fabled trader from the bucket shops of mid-America in the Gaslight era to the roaring twenties on Wall Street.
Well, it's 3 - but it is a hard question.
I can palpably feel my awareness expanding as I do the sentence completion exercises.
It gave me a plausible alternative to Nihilism.
It teaches about Jesus Christ and answers questions like “Where do we come from?”, “Why are we here?”, and “What happens after we die?”. It’s had a incredible effect on my life by helping me understand the purpose of my life and provides the right perspective when making big decisions in my life.
I know it’s a true book that can change the life of anyone who reads it.