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YC’s 2018 Summer Reading List (ycombinator.com)
391 points by craigcannon 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments



I saw someone mention it in a HN comment before, but I'd like to restate it here since it is definitely one of those perspective-altering books: "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker.

The author is a professor and prolific researcher of the effects of sleep on the human body, and goes into nearly every nook and cranny of what sleep does for the human body. He has scared me off of my usual practice of sleeping 6 hours or less to get some work or studying done and to get more hours in the day. Throughout the book, the author cites a scientific study and article on nearly every page, so you know that these are real hard facts.

If you are curious about some common causes of ailments or what the function that consumes pretty much 1/3 of your lifetime does, I'd absolutely whole-heartedly recommend this book.


> Throughout the book, the author cites a scientific study and article on nearly every page, so you know that these are real hard facts.

This is almost discouraging to me. If spending too much time on HN has taught me anything, it's that citing a study (especially medical, nutrition, and psychology papers, among other fields I'm probably missing), is not nearly enough of a guarantee that some assertion should be called a 'hard fact'.

I tend to depend more on the force of overall coherence in an argument, as well as its fidelity with my own experiences. Of course this is a problematic heuristic in its own right, since it by definition limits your ability to believe counter-intuitive but true results—but I'm not sure what's better.

I think with enough reproductions of results in varied contexts, unintentional reappearance of results in overlapping or unrelated studies, applications being developed on top of results (treatments, engineering applications, other fields of study)—then you can start considering the result to be 'factual'.

But from the above description, the impression I get of the book is that it's probably one of these taking a bunch of new studies which can be read a certain way to push a hypothesis the author is in favor of, but it'll take a decade or more before we have a good sense of whether the whole thing was BS (or at least badly exaggerated) or not.


I definitely get where you are coming from, given the unfortunately common practice of misconstruing scientific studies to make exclamatory headlines.

I should add then, that the author definitely backs up the studies (which are multiple and often independently discovered) with reasoning about why certain things are evolutionary advantageous and how they fit in to societal phenomenons. I hope you will give this book a chance :)


Thanks b_b, that does increase my interest and I'll probably look a bit closer now :)


disclaimer: I've commented so many times on this book before [1][2][3][4] that I may sound like the author's PR person (spoiler: I am not; just truly enjoyed the book).

I second parent's comment that for me this was one of those perspective-altering books in recent years. Even now, months after I finished, I still have several thoughts going through my head: why schools start so early, the societal impact of sleep deprivation, why doctors complete ignore the importance of sleep for your health [5], what happens when you drink alcohol (particularly at night), how Alzheimer's works, lucid dreams, and more.

I had already read about most of it in piecemeal over the years, but having everything pieced together for me, in a cohesive and fluid narrative, really helped for things to "click" for me.

Of course, if you want just the TL;DR, the gist is "Yeah, you really should sleep 7 to 8h per night, no joke". But if you want to understand the WHY, then it's a great read.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17381548

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17446932

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17520658

[4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17589509

[5] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17531171


> why schools start so early

Because they need to fit in around the schedules of working parents. I'm loathe to accept that this is a source of problems given the likely issue is actually the time students go to sleep, how long they sleep for, and what time they wake up.

The solution does not obviously need to be changing school start times rather than student behaviour

(seriously though, I'd love to hear the counter, as there probably is one)


I've just started reading this, but the counter is that at the age the students are their bodies start to produce chemicals that mean their sleep pattern tends towards late nights (evolutionary advantageous as young fitter ones of the tribe are active at the most dangerous time of day) and consequently are sleepier if forced to wake at a time where their body is still chemically calling for sleep.


If the topic of the book isn't something you know well, how well do you think you can judge the coherence of the argument? Is coherence measured in some presented mechanistic model? Is it measured against your prior conception of how the body works (gained from school or other historical reading)? What if we were wrong before?

I guess I'm asking this because I'd believe that this attitude is not good when heeded by the general population. My belief there is that in that population, the better essayist wins over the average expert.

Probably cosigning by other experts would help. As well as links and discussions to opposing studies.


> If the topic of the book isn't something you know well, how well do you think you can judge the coherence of the argument?

Hopefully by the time you have read the book, you have picked up a set of ideas from the field under the discussion and have an understanding of how they relate to one another. So I'm referring to coherence within that set of ideas and relations (which I'll refer to as a 'framework'). To be more specific I'd define 'coherence' as mutual support and lack of contradiction ('mutual support' is like... one point gains strength because of the content of other points.

The probability that the framework is strongly coherent while also in reality being false decreases with the size of the framework. In other words, if the author has made a large number of claims, which are all coherent with one another, the probability that they are true (in the sense of corresponding to something in objective reality) is relatively high. The alternative is that the author went through enormous efforts to create a large, coherent framework which doesn't correspond to something in objective reality. It's just not easy to do that (requires lots of imagination and lots of attention to detail), and it's fairly easy to detect. So either the framework matches something in reality, or the author is a very imaginative and meticulous con artist.

I think the main risk is that the authors trick themselves too, not that it's a fully intentional scam. So it seems like a decent heuristic.


I prefer references so I have more information available to assess the validity myself. If an author makes assertions without evidence to back them up, then they are much less credible.

Having many recent studies available to back up a hypothesis at least informs us that it is credible, given our knowledge at the time.


Sure, all things being equal, it's better to have the references than not.

That said, as a practical matter, if the author cites 100 papers, and each paper takes half an hour to judge the reliability of it (assuming you have good command of statistics and scientific methodology, and some domain knowledge, and access the the required journals), we're talking on the order of 50 hours to validate the argument (of course this is a crazy rough estimate)—who is going to do that? You may as well just take the list of papers, try and validate them, and skip reading the book (and this is largely ignoring the fact that most likely your ability to validate is probably not that great in the first place).

Instead, for ~99.9% of readers, the argument presented will end up working solely as an authority argument.

Not sure what the solution is aside from waiting longer, then coming with maybe a handful of extremely reliable authoritative results that the reader can reasonably verify on their own. I'm not sure. I just know reading a book grounded in 'hard facts' because a study is cited on every page is not at all appealing to me.


There is a middle ground: spend a few hours verifying a small sample of the citations. This still takes more time, effort, and ability than most readers will have to spare, but it is feasible and would be enough to expose the worst offenders. Of course it can't guarantee that every study cited in the book is reliable, but it can give you a sense of how accurately the author characterises the studies and how carefully (s)he has chosen them. And if you choose your sample carefully, you can directly verify the claims that you care most about.

(Even better if this is done collaboratively, for a larger sample and less time spent per person.)

> for ~99.9% of readers, the argument presented will end up working solely as an authority argument

Agreed, but an author's authority can still be undermined or reinforced by expert opinion. In an ideal world where book reviews were written by qualified, careful people with time to do a thorough job, the existence of citations would be extremely important, even if hardly any ordinary readers looked at them. Obviously we don't live in that world, but sloppy scholarship is often exposed eventually.


That's definitely a better, more realistic process than what I described.

> Agreed, but an author's authority can still be undermined or reinforced by expert opinion.

That's a good point. Actually, that's probably how I will try to validate this book (or others like it): I'll give the 'okay', once I see some unassociated other researchers confirming that the work is good, conclusions drawn are not a stretch etc.


Walker also covered many of the ideas in the book on Joe Rogan's podcast - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig


I actually read this book after seeing a glowing recommendation here, probably from you TBH. And I must say I was disappointed. Most self-help and business books have the same structure:

1. Convincing you to accept the import of a problem.

2. Convincing you that the author has the solution to the problem.

3. Outlining the steps to implement this solution.

4. Listing IRL examples to convince you again of the effectiveness of the author's solution.

I read about 25% of Why We Sleep and skimmed the rest, it's all just the first step. I think sleeping is a lot like exercising: Most people agree that they need to do more of it. The problem is that we don't actually do it. So, the most important book on sleeping should be about teaching you how to sleep better and longer, which tend to include:

1. Make sure your bedroom is only for sleeping (and related), not "watching TV room" or "internet browsing before sleeping room".

2. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Not even one single LED light.

3. If you actually wonder whether you need a short afternoon nap, yes you do.

4. Track your sleep with a device. Remember, the point is to sleep better, not just longer. You can sleep for 8 hours but the tracking will show that you may turn a lot while sleeping resulting in very short REM sleeps.

5. Collect and analyze the tracking data. Everyone is different. Thanks to tracking, I know that I always sleep better if I do some light walking or running prior in the evening.


Thanks for your thoughts on the book. They actually make me quite a bit more interested in reading it.


I sleep 4 hours a night and feel great after I started doing that instead of my normal 7. Never tired when waking up anymore. Should I be worried?


I don't think it's a cause for concern but I would look at seeing if there's a way to feel refreshed with a longer sleep.

It might just be that your natural sleep cycle is almost exactly two hours long (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_cycle). Therefore at four hours you have completed a cycle, whereas at seven hours you are halfway through one. Perhaps try eight hours and see what happens?

Out of curiosity do you use an alarm to wake yourself up, and did you before? I'd be quite surprised if someone could sustain four hours sleep a night without an alarm. I've often heard that if you need an alarm to wake up then you're not sleeping sufficiently.


I've seen this recommended a lot and I heard him on NPR.

His comment of not being able to recover from sleep deficit because you don't sleep 16 hours the night following a night with less than 8 hours of sleep made me wary of everything else he might have to say.

That seems like an obviously wrong assumption to make and suggests that there's limited understanding of the underlying system.


To offer some alternatives here are three books which I believe are relevant given these challenging times:

* Enlightenment Now (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35696171-enlightenment-n...): Offers a defense that our current institutions have delivered the goods and should be defended. The left doesn't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We should continue improving the system we've got -- especially urgent today as they're under seige.

* Your Money or Your Life (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/78428.Your_Money_or_Your...): Philosophy masquerading as personal finance. Challenges the reader to ask "What is enough?" and honestly evaluate whether they are living an integrated life that is consistent with their values. Lays out one way to help answer these questions and course correct as necessary.

* Stand Up! (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35989237-stand-up): A hand book and call to action to answer the "knock at the door" and step up to address "a world on fire". Especially useful for those interested in or actively leading volunteers.

If, like me, you're upset about the current state of affairs and unsure where to go from here I recommend the above as a small tonic and, hopefully, stepping stone.


This is Vis a Vis your first recommendation, and how it's associated with "left wing" politics. Its fascinating to me that I have a fairly sepcific idea of what you are talking about, without being able to specifically define the key concepts. Wtf is left/eight anyway, and how come we can classify politics this way in polities and topics that are novel to us?

Anyone got a "history of the left and the right" thats a good read?


Thomas Sowell splits it down collectivist lines:

"If we attempt to define the political left by its proclaimed goals, it is clear that very similar goals have been proclaimed by people whom the left repudiates and anathematizes, such as Fascists in general and Nazis in particular. Instead of defining these (and other) groups by their proclaimed goals, we can define them by the specific institutional mechanisms and policies they use or advocate for achieving their goals. More specifically, they can be defined by the institutional mechanisms they seek to establish for making decisions with impacts on society at large. In order to keep the discussion manageable, the vast sweep of possible decision-making mechanisms can be dichotomized into those in which individuals make decisions individually for themselves and those in which decisions are made collectively by surrogates for society at large." [1]

[1] https://theindependentwhig.com/haidt-passages/sowell-the-lef...


Thomas Sowell is, on at least this issue, completely detached from reality.

“If we attempt to define the political left by its proclaimed goals, it is clear that very similar goals have been proclaimed by people whom the left repudiates and anathematizes, such as Fascists in general and Nazis in particular.”

The central unifying, defining goal proclaimed by leftists since the origin of the left is the achievement of a radical egalitarianism in the distribution of power in society.

To say that fascists in general and Nazis in particular did not proclaim such goals is, well, a massive understatement.


“This is water” has to be one of my favorite short essays/speeches of all time.

If you haven’t read it/seen it before so yourself a favor and go through it, it doesn’t take very long.

Seriously wish I could get these ideas into everyone’s head.


That was excellent, thank you for the recommendation.

To save others a trip to the search engine: http://www.metastatic.org/text/This%20is%20Water.pdf


Not everyone is ready for a philosophical smack in the head. I'm glad it was preserved beyond the commencement speech, because I can't imagine sitting there listening to this on graduation day and taking much away from it besides "don't forget to think." This is the kind of stuff that you have to find at the right time in your life.


FWIW, I have seen people use the image related to this piece (seen through a google search...) in the most annoying way to discredit peoples views on a subject because "they are a fish in the water."

I have not known the source of this garbage, so I hope it's a simplification of the actual source, but I will listen carefully :)


We don't know who first said, "We don’t know who discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a fish", but we're pretty sure it wasn't David Foster Wallace. [1]

[1] https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/12/23/water-fish/


Seriously, excellent suggestion. Thank you.

I'm in the middle of making the switch towards maximizing positive outcomes for others, having realized that I have enough for myself. The author paints a description of self-awareness here that I'll be sure to return to every now and again.


I'm really glad you took the time to highlight this speech as worth my time. It's short enough to be a "quick" read and deep enough that I'll be chewing on the message for some time.


I've read this three times now, yet I still don't see the profundity. It seems like a lot of obvious "how" -- of course your framing changes your outlook -- but no "why".

I can imagine everyone in traffic, or in the grocery store has a perfectly legitimate reason for why they're acting whatever bothersome way they're acting. But how does that help me accomplish my goal any more efficiently?


The irony here is that you're asking how to use an essay about avoiding self-absorption in order to accomplish your goals more efficiently. It's not about your goal when you're in a grocery store, it's about the fact that you can't focus on anything other than your goal.

The idea is not that there's a profound insight hidden in there. In fact, the essay repeats several times that there's no trite lesson or platitude to walk away with, and that the basic idea is already obvious - the world doesn't revolve around any given person. What's not obvious is exerting the mental effort to consider that fact when you feel like you're the only person who has any self-awareness in a crowded grocery store.

On a more practical level, if you're looking for a lesson then this is close to it - you get in your own way, intellectually speaking, by defaulting to the easy path of discounting the myriad reasons for other peoples' behavior while rationalizing your own. We tend not to think about the things that are so obvious they're dreadfully mundane, but because of that we close ourselves off to insights that could be very helpful but for the fact that we're locked into our first-person perspective.

More succinctly: if you find yourself thinking that you're surrounded by people who lack self-awareness, you might be lacking some of it yourself.


Found it through this thread and it's great indeed. Worth keeping in mind author did commit suicide before his 50s though :/


Ordered it. Thank you.


Thank you for that comment. It was one of the greatest things I have ever read.


Happy to see some great books recommended there. Specifically, let me call out:

The Three Body problem. The Lathe of Heaven.

And while I haven't read Parable of the Sower yet, everything I've read of Octavia Butler has ranged from really good to some of my favorite books ever, so I'm sure it's a good one.

One anti-recommendation (kind of): I recently read Finite and Infinite Games, after many (many) recommendations for it, and didn't particularly like it. Obviously I'm in the minority on this, but I really wonder what other people saw in it.


The three body problem:

I found this book fascinating how the cultural revolution was weaved in to the story. It really highlighted my ignorance of recent Chinese history, and many times found myself turning to Wikipedia to learn more of the specific events mentioned. The English translation also includes several lengthy footnotes and see-also's when historical characters or events are mentioned, as I'm sure many western readers are less familiar with the details of the events and historical characters.

Without giving away anything, I also found the Egyptian scene truly awesome.


I basically read the whole trilogy at one go. The first book in particular is a page-turner.


Three Body Problem trilogy is being turned into an Amazon Prime Video tentpole, with a reported $1 billion budget.

I’ve read the first book, I really enjoyed it.


Yeah I was super hyped when I saw that announcement. I am excited to see how they portray some of the things in the second and third books (you will know what I mean when you read them) that will require some truly special effects.


Completely agree with you about "Finite and Infinite Games".

Also read it recently and was disappointed. It's written in a style that I associate with continental philosophy. Obtuse language that can be difficult to follow.

That wouldn't be the end of the world if the underlying ideas were really brilliant, but I wasn't convinced.


I'm going to go against the grain here regarding The Three Body Problem, not because it's a bad book, but because it fails to live up to its billing in a subtle but disappointing way. The book is often touted as a "hard sci fi" masterpiece, and to me (and wikipedia and most definitions I've seen), "hard" means remaining faithful to the boundaries of plausible physics. T3BP almost entirely respects these limits, even while exploring daring and fascinating ideas, but (without spoiling anything) the author does make one very common concession. It's disappointing because he does so well otherwise that it feels very authentic and convincing. Then when the violation is revealed, it totally spoils the illusion and feels like such a let down.


Can you Rot13 what you're talking about? It's been a while but not sure what you're referring to.


I guess it doesn't spoil anything to say it was FTL. Sorry, but nothing can travel faster than light, not even information, and no, quantum entanglement doesn't help.


I am guessing they are referring to the fbcubaf (ROT13).


I have to say, I just didn't "get" The Three Body Problem. I got the impression I was reading an allegory I didn't have the cultural background to understand - so much of the surface plot seemed like it must have some important meaning but I couldn't decipher it. It was an odd experience, but maybe the translation of words wasn't enough in this case for me to get the content.


Agree on Finite and Infinite Games anti-recommendation. Like someone else stated the book is written in an unnecessarily obtuse style.


I loved Octavia Butler's Kindred. More than the science fiction, its cultural importance cannot be emphasized enough.


Agree.

But question - when you say cultural importance, do you mean in terms of what it talks about? Or was the book itself important culturally? (I'm not sure how well-known the book itself was, I've always gotten the impression that Octavia Butler is a less-known SF author).


Agree! Great book.


I am really glad to see Mans Search for Meaning on here for another year in a row. It is a short read with a very powerful message.

A few others I would really like to see on this list would be:

- Principles by Ray Dalio

- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth


Listening to Mans Search for Meaning right now, agree it is very worth wile, and quite distinct in the Holocaust literature.


Perhaps I'm the only person who finds this list disappointing. So much SciFi. So many works a hop and a skip from get-rich-quick stuff. Of course, when I was younger, I-ate-that-shit-up. Truly. And a second helping, please.

IDK, the world is under great stress on so many levels. The people at YC are wonderfully bright and well educated. Is this really the best they could come up with?


I would really appreciate any recommendations or suggestions you could give!


You're not wrong, but- those two are prototypical hacker/hustler startup fodder genres


Ready Player One seems to be the weakest thing on the list, read it recently and I was very disappointed.


I'm very surprised to see it on the list.

It's a mediocre teen-fiction, that starts off strong, but completely loses itself into an endless list of standard story tropes by the end. (trying not to spoiler, here)

It's only still popular now because the film has just left cinemas.


Yep, surprised at this. I think even if you enjoy it on some level you have to acknowledge that it is a thin spread of nostalgia on a slice of very weak plot and characterisation, with no real heart to speak of.


Under a book on Napoleon, Sam Altman says:

> An incredible primary-source portrait on a brilliant (but obviously deeply flawed) individual.

What is the obviously deeply flawed characteristic about him that Altman is referring to? I read Napoleon: A Life a few years ago and found him fascinating with character flaws like every other human being, but nothing that particularly struck me as "deeply flawed."


Maybe that whole lets conquer Russia thing that ended in the deaths of 400,000 of his countrymen (IIRC)? Have you seen the Minard plot? https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/229-vital-statistics-of-a-...


Makes sense. I guess I was hung up on the flaw being some personal issue but I guess killing a million people counts as one too.

And thanks for the link.


Lost in Shangri-la is good (read it last year, there's video from the rescue mission on YouTube if you search for it), also good:

- Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World

- Escape From The Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew

- Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios (not as good but still worth reading).


Anyone else read "The Undoing Project" (a Michael Lewis book on Daniel Kahneman, which was on the list)?

I thought it sounded super interesting, but I'm getting mixed impressions from Amazon reviews.


Yeah, I liked it -- was a good mix of biography/personal stories about Kahneman and Tversky and brought in some real-world examples of applied topics covered in Thinking Fast And Slow.



Loved reading it. :)


The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane makes the case of the evolution of life from the vantage point of energy transfer.

I found the book accessible and compelling.


I'm pleasantly surprised to see Robert Caro on this list. I have read all of his books, and they are some of the most profound expositions into the nature of power I have ever seen.


H is for Hawk:

I gave up reading this book about halfway through. It drags out a lot with needless fluff; she spent about 3 pages just naming the bird! She seemed to really hate T.H. White's 'The Goshawk' so I decided to give it a read. I much preferred it (he names his bird in one sentence) and felt she'd read between the lines much more than there was in the book.

The three body problem:

This is a brilliant book until the end, which basically solves all of the interesting problems it's been building up to throughout the book with 'magic supercomputers that can do anything!', which is a shame because it had me hooked.


If you think Helen McDonald and thought she hated the book you saw only the barest surface of what she was trying to say. T.H. White lives in McDonald’s head. The Goshawk was if not the first book she read with any level of criticism and complexity. I can see why you’d put it down, it’s neither swift nor light reading, but the entire point of writing a memoir of grief combined with the taking of a goshawk, all overlaid and intertwined with the story of T.H. White’s life is to bring us a little closer to seeing the broken and bleeding human beings everywhere around us.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you.


You read Dark Forrest or Deaths End (other books in the 3BP trilogy)?


Nope, is it worth continuing?


I think so (not the original replier).

SPOILER FOR THE FIRST NOVEL . . . . . .

The whole paradigm of Earth defense changes so dramatically, as people realize sophons can see everything people do. I highly recommend continuing, as you see society changes in the series.


Not GP, but hell yes, worth continuing.


Nobody going to mention Bad Blood - Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup?


I had it on my list. But wanted to include optimistic recommendations


Understandable but I think there's a strong need for awareness and scrutiny too. All rainbows and unicorns is what enables disasters like that to take shape.


Interesting choice, Wizard of Oz. One question I've always wondered, what to do about narcissists who think someone else is the narcissist? Also, funny thing I've seen happen at work: there was someone this one (but influential) person didn't like because of office politics, and wanted to have that person be dismissed in social circles in the office. Easy job for them- label them as a narcissist. Honestly, everyone is a little selfish, so it's not hard to pick and choose behavior from any one person, and make it fit into that narcissism box.


The Years of Lyndon Johnson is a terrific study of power, and I'm glad to see it on this list.

It's also really, really, really long. I highly recommend the audiobook if you drive a lot.


Robert Caro's series on LBJ is IMO possibly the greatest nonfiction work of the last century. The depth of research, the quality of writing, and the study of politics and power are what make the series so enticing. Sure the volumes are long, but it never seems like necessary information or too much detail and it never drags. I highly recommend reading at least one of the volumes.


Yay for The Untethered Soul. I would add:

  Adversaries into Allies: Master the Art of Ultimate Influence
  Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box 
  Rejection Proof: 100 Days of Rejection, or How to Ask Anything of Anyone at Anytime
  Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
  The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection


Looks like a missing word in this blurb.

“Science have already proven we can grow all kinds of animal protein in labs. This book is the founding story of a revolution that will how we eat and the planet forever.” – Gustaf Alstromer

I believe it should be This book is the founding story of a revolution that will change how we eat and the planet forever.”


Lost in Shangri-La book is excellent.

End of World War II true story of a plane crash into remote New Guinea.

The survival/rescue/recovery mission is remarkable.

If you like Robinson Crusoe, The Martian, and Lost In Space, you’ll enjoy this remarkable true story.


I have slightly ambivalent feelings about an institution like Y-Combinator getting into the business of promoting those sorts of books. -- Making a reading list on books teaching you programming or statistics or business skills like accounting is one thing.

But when you're talking about reading materials that promote a certain world view, certain values, a certain political position, or instill in an individual a certain kind of "cognitive programming" (for lack of a better word), like psychological self-help books and the like, that's a whole different story.

This is one thing that I distinctly remember as a negative about the young entrepreneurs' scene back at university, that so much of it bordered on brainwashing.


the people who read HN are a self-selected tribe of a certain bent and it would be strange if YC's reading list didn't have an underlying theme to it. i dont think there's anything wrong with a "this is what guys like me are reading" (guys like me? hey, i'm a guy like me!) list of books. maybe it is a little narrow but YC is rather niche to begin with in terms of appeal so it doesn't seem like there's conflict of values here.


Angel investors frequently follow a mode of operation where they actively seek out young and impressionable minds (doing motivational speeches and mentoring programs at universities and so forth) and trying to establish themselves in the role of educator/mentor/role-model at the same time as trying to establish themselves as business partners of those young people. That is a conflict of interests, to say the least.

Now, if I were an angel investor and I had gathered around myself a group of such people who look up to me for mentoring and education and who might depend on me for financing their lives' ambitions, I don't think it would be quite appropriate for me to say, even just by innuendo, "By the way: Here is how I feel about xyz [political issue]..."


Man's search for meaning is good. The first part describing life in the camps that would lead to this philosophy really does an amazing job of framing the rest of the book.


Pretty cool of YC to link to the books on Amazon and not include affiliate links for monetization. Creates more trust in the "realness" of the creation of the list.


What percent of YC's revenue comes from affiliate links?


Are there any EconTalk listeners out there who are taking up Russ's challenge to read "In the First Circle" by Solzhenitsyn?


Lathe of Heaven an incredibly beautiful story. One of my favorites of all time.


You are so late, summer is almost gone :D


> Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet

I was very disappointed with this book.

The book TLDR : Current solar technology is great but will flat-line at XX% of energy usage. We need new stuff.

In fact, this book could have been written 10 or 20 years ago. It pushes all sort of mythical solutions and still-in-lab technologies. And it hand-waves away the entire progress in solar/battery/EVs in the last 10 years.


"Sustainable Energy – without the hot air" is a much better book and available free to read online at https://www.withouthotair.com/

Whilst it's a bit out of date and focuses mostly on the UK, it contains a wealth of figures and references for all possible renewable sources. It covers the topic in a neutral and non-biased way presenting the numbers and graphs to make the point that the transition to renewable will have to require a number of technologies as well as huge energy savings in transportation and heating.


Shoedog was so boring, why does everyone think it is so great?


what are these books? Some of them are just crap


I'm currently readin "Apache Wars" (can't remember the rest) so far, it's the best book on Iraq I ever read.




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