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Ask HN: Books you read in 2018?
578 points by rwieruch 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 347 comments
I'd like to know which books HN read in 2018. Which of these would you recommend? Which of these surprised you, because they are not the usual suspects.



My recommendations from books I read this year:

Bad Blood : Man, this book really does read like a Hollywood movie screenplay. The rise and fall of Theranos, documented through interviews with hundreds of ex-employees by the very author who came up with the first expose of Theranos. Truly shows the flaws in the "fake it before you make it" mindset and how we glorify "geniuses".

Shoe Dog : Biography of the founder of Nike. Really liked how it's not just a book glorifying the story of Nike, but tells the tale of how much effort, balance and even pure luck went into making the company the household name it is today.

Master Algorithm : It's a book about the different fields of Machine learning (from Bayesian to Genetic evolution algos) and talks about the pros and cons of each and how these can play together to create a "master algorithm" for learning. It's a good primer for people entering the field and while it's not a DIY, it shows the scope of the problem of learning as a whole.

Three Body Problem: Finally, after years of people telling me to read this (on HN and off), I read the trilogy (Remembrance of Earth's Past), and I must say, the series does live up to the hype. Not only is it fast paced and deeply philosophical, but it's presented in a format very accessible to casual readers as well (unlike many hard sci-fi books which seem to revel in complexity). If I had to describe this series in a single line, it's "What would happen if China was the country that made first contact with an alien race?"


The Three Body Problem had some flashy ideas (like controlling the CMBR, and building a computer the size of a proton), but I didn't really feel like it had much depth. It had none of the great social commentary that you often get in sci-fi, and I thought the characters were kind of two-dimensional. Overall it just didn't really do it for me.


I actually disagree and have wondered myself how he got such a book published in China. He is very critical of China's history throughout the series and collectivism. Also the sophons seem (at least to me) to be a direct parallel to the 'surveillance state' concerns that China has right now and how the citizens feel about them


The translator for volume 1 and 3 addressed this in an AMA, actually.

https://www.reddit.com/r/SF_Book_Club/comments/30xhj0/three_...

I enjoyed the 3 books. After reading the first one I was intrigued but it didn't blow me away. After reading all of them I am very appreciative of the epic scope, and while the it seemed to have less character development, the ideas more than made up for it.


I found it lacking in depth and interesting ideas of almost any flavor. I've heard that it's better in Chinese and something is lost in translation, but I found myself very disappointed after finishing it and not understanding the strong positive response.


Same - as said already, not a single one of the characters was memorable, except the comically stereotypical ones (rich daddy tree-hugger fanatic).

As far as scientific ideas - they were all a stretch. He is neither Stephenson in accuracy, nor Gibson in the vague, but accurate, predictions.


Same here. I think it might be a SF exposure thing: if you don’t read much of it, the book may seem better, but if you’re used to SF with big ideas, there’s so many so much better written novels out there that I don’t get the hype.


> It had none of the great social commentary

I mean, the author is an employee of the Chinese government, and doesn't seem to be a fool.


The Three Body Problem is entirely a set up for the other books. It does indeed have social commentary- but that social commentary is coming from a Chinese perspective.


>It had none of the great social commentary that you often get in sci-fi,

I found it great for this reason. For once I was absorbed in the fiction and not put off by excess sermonizing or social commentary.


"What would happen if China was the country that made first contact with an alien race?"

I don't think that the events would've unfolded differently if the first contact were made by a different country. The motivation of the contacter would've been different but it wouldn't change the reaction of Trisolarians.


+1 on Master Algorithm

Like OP said, not a tutorial. It talks about different thought processes and techniques. Extremely good stuff to know. Take notes on it. It's dense in things you should probably research more in depth.


Bad Blood should be required reading for startup founders and those that work in startups generally. I had so many flashbacks to prior companies I worked for when reading about some the ethical issues that were raised in this book.

Their big mistake was trying to use the "move fast and break things" mentality in biotech. If Holmes had started an ad company instead, she'd be lauded for her entrepreneurial accomplishments instead of being under investigation by the Feds.


+1 for Bad Blood and Shoe Dog


I think John Carreyrou got the idea that something is fishy is Theranos when Theranos came under regulatory investigation.


Who is the author of Master Algorithm? There is a few similar looking books on Goodreads.



Shoe Dog was great


I found the three body problems' representation of a computer with 30 million soldiers really stupid. I didn't read the book because of people raving about how clever that concept of the human computer is.

http://linusrosskamp.com/articles/2017-08/three-body-problem...

Guess what.

You can achieve the same power of computation with 1 person, a pen, a paper and our standard number symbols 0-9.

Do people not realize why we use gates and binary logic in electrical computer systems?


I understand your hesitation to read the books based on the premise of this article, but there is a lot of story complexity for why they created this computer that the article doesn't touch on. The scene is still perhaps a little cheesy, but it isn't entirely unwarranted.

It's also a small part of the story. I wouldn't judge the entire trilogy based on thinking this one scene is really stupid.


But it wasn't a human computer. It was a trisolarian computer made up of trisolarians that were alien beings that had the ability to do things like hyper-fast communication and always be truthful. Both of those traits could actually make for a viable computer system whereas humans obviously would not. I can see how you may have thought that though because in the 3 body problem simulation "game" in the book the trisolarians are represented as humans (the author does point out the difference though)

On a side note, is our system of government really all that different from a mass human computer?


Yeah but why use binary? Why not communicate through language rather than binary?

Yes, our system of government is a mass human computer that would be made really inefficient if everyone could only communicate in binary and if we restricted one persons functional processing to output that of a single logical gate.


That's definitely a good point; language would likely be much better than binary unless the aliens had some special capacity for binary (which I'm pretty sure was not the case)


Why Nations Fail (amazing!)

Chimpanzee Politics (interesting)

Corporate Confidential (paranoid, but worth a read)

Developer Hegemony (red pill for developers!!!)

Bargaining For Advantage (reasonable)

Tempo: Timing, Tactics and Strategy in Narrative-Driven Decision Making (abstract as hell but rewarding)

Thinking Fast and Slow (loved it)

The Elephant In The Brain (seriously underrated)

The Brain That Changes Itself (inspirationally freaky)

The Power of Habit (good!)

The Secret Barrister (mildly disturbing)

Thinking In Systems (huge fan of this book!)

A Short History of Truth (meh...)

Man's Search For Meaning (brooo... I am so sorry)

Thinking In Bets (meh.. really meh)

The Road To Ruin (alright. Interesting even.)

Lying For Money (lots of fun!)

Great Answers To Tough Interview Questions (what it says on the tin)

Traction (good overview of marketing tactics)

Lean Customer Development (pretty good)

The Mom Test (eye opening)

Lean B2B (solid playbook)

Principles (instant classic)


Read your list, we have a bunch of books in common

Why Nations Fail (was an interesting read!)

Thinking Fast and Slow (This was on a lot of trader desks and was a good read.)

The Elephant In The Brain (this is the first audiobook i have ever listed to, agree, highly underrated.)

Principles (many years ago, I worked at BW for around 4 years... It was required reading, but remains one of my top recommended books. I actually own a copy of his original principals, and still bought the hard cover. Dalio's deep thinking is amazing).


I've got another one in my bookshelf I'm about to tackle next called "In Defense Of Troublemakers".

It's about how group dynamics also produce irrationality and why dissent is dangerous but necessary. I'd say you'd probably really enjoy it too.


> Man's Search For Meaning (brooo... I am so sorry)

??


First hand account of being in a concentration camp. Frankl was lucky in that he was shipped from Auschwitz, but it was still a brutal existence.


Yes I know what it is, I was questioning the "brooo... " comment, which seemed so tonally inappropriate and weird in what otherwise seemed like a thoughtful list.


Cos I addressed that one to the author, not the audience.

It's like I imagine he's standing right in front of me and what my visceral response would be to him. From one human to another I'm sorry we're capable of putting each other through that.

That book is just unyieldingly bleak in the most gripping way. And he was such a good guy right til the very end.


I see, and I believe your intentions weren't bad. But as some constructive criticism I'd say the optics are not good.

The phrase "brooo" just feels tone-deaf and minimizing here. And unless you are the most charmingly clueless surfer dude on the planet, I don't think it works when the survivor is standing in front of you either.


Most people who use bro are being at least a little ironic. It's a weird register to use for a Austrian man born in 1905. Wouldn't be a big deal except that it's literally the Holocaust. Not personally offended, just explaining why most people will probably not take it the way you mean.


Concur on Thinking in Bets, very meh


> Developer Hegemony

Thanks for giving me another Xmas gift idea - bought!

The interesting thing for me about books like that is whether it inspires or makes you more down about the situation, what's that one like?


It's a fantastic read but it depends on the reader. I think it will leave some people thinking why oh why didn't I take the blue pill? Hahaha.


Good list! You should add Orientalism by Said and Open Society and Its Enemies by Popper - both classics!


This year, I discovered Agatha Christie. A few years back, when I was temporarily advised bed rest for a month, my sis loaned me a collection of Hercule Poirot short stories.

I was always a Sherlock Holmes fan and really enjoyed the logical detective work. Hercule Poirot felt like just like a pretentious quirky old man, making denouements based on evidence that is flimsy and tenuous at best.

This year, I came across the novels, and boy are they different! The novels give more space for characters to develop and for us to observe the proceedings and deduce clues. Each book felt more like a Whodunit game wrought as a novel. I tried to play detective as the story proceeded. Often the ending was radically different from what I expected, a few were a letdown and a bit lacking in proper evidence. But always, there are entertaining and I had so much fun and I was even right once or twice.

Of course they were written a long time back, but I am happy to discover them now.

If HN community can give me point to even better literature in the same vein, it would be heaven!


Maybe not "better literature" but I always look forward to a new Rebus novel by Ian Rankin (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inspector%20Rebus).

Though, the best (IMHO) whodunnit of 2018 is Stuart Turton's "The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle" (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36337550-the-7-deaths-of...)


Sherlock and Poirot are great detective genres. I'm not sure if they really have parallels.

The French people however love their Inspector Maigret (by Georges Simenon). The Maigret books are apparently some of the best selling books in the Francophone world of all time. Inspector Maigret however is more procedural, and doesn't go for climatic reveals and does not have the flawed omniscient genius character that most of us are instinctively attracted to.

On the opposite end of spectrum, you might enjoy Arsene Lupin (by Maurice Leblanc), a gentleman-thief.


I’ve been gradually working through producing the Arsène Lupin stories and they’re fabulous, especially when you include his relations to Herlock Sholmes :) Libre Arsène ebooks I’ve produced so far (the remaining PD corpus is gradually following):

The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/maurice-leblanc/the-extrao...

Arsène Lupin Versus Herlock Sholmes

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/maurice-leblanc/arsene-lup...

The Hollow Needle

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/maurice-leblanc/the-hollow...

813

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/maurice-leblanc/813/alexan...

The Crystal Stopper

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/maurice-leblanc/the-crysta...


I would say that Maigret is a kind of psychological detective : even if there are clues and detective work, his main characteristic is that he tries to get to the bottom of the personnalities he encounters, what motives drive the criminal and who they really are, so he is more concerned about the "why" than the "how".


> Inspector Maigret

Maigret books are really great time-fillers: there's a large number of them, they are short and self-contained, and I've yet to read a bad one.


I'm sure they don't compare (I haven't read Doyle/Christie/Poirot), but as a teen I really enjoyed the Dick Francis books my parents had.


Seriously, I envy you. I would give so much to be able to forget all I have read, just to read it all over once again.


Margery Allingham was active at about the same time (her last book was in the '60s), and ought to be much better known. Her writing is great, she's a really sharp observer of human psychology, but there's always a lightness to her stories.

She wrote a long series centred around the character of Albert Campion, and the books evolve as the times changed. The very first books are murder mysteries, but have a 39 Steps feel to them, then they evolve into Golden Age mysteries, and the post-war novels become more grounded crime novels, although never really bleak. The very last book, set in the 1960s, has a touch of science fiction.


The Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout fit the bill. Archie is one of my favorite characters, and I don't think any author writes dialog as well as Stout.

Just don't start with "Before I Die," it's a stinker.


My two favourite detective series are:

- Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr (March Violets is the first) - Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis (The Silver Pigs is the first)

They may be a little noirish for your tastes (more focused on character and society) but I loved the detailed historical settings and the level of depth to the detective characters. They're also both still propelled by a mystery / solving a crime.


Dorothy L. Sayers, perhaps.


If you like depth of character in your 30s detective fiction I warmly endorse this recommendation.

If you're only going to try one then "The Nine Tailors" is arguably her finest work.


Not Poirot, but still Christie: And Then There Were None / 9 Little Indians (same novel) was one of my favorites


Great book for all ages. It's "Ten Little Indians" by the way. It was first published under the name "Ten Little Niggers" based on the eponymous song.


Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone and G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories.


Not quite the same vein but I found Higashino Keigo's works really enjoyable.


Recommendations from my reading this year:

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling. #1 with a bullet! This is the best, most useful book I've read in many years, and totally changed how I think about my thinking, and how other people (especially smart people) think. This is a must-read for anyone who thinks they're engaged and well-informed.

The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty. This was recommended to me by a very smart friend as the best book she read in 2017. It's behind only Factfulness for me. Ostensibly a history of African-American cooking in the South, it's a sprawling yet deeply personal work of history, genealogy, multiculturalism, and of course food. A masterpiece, full of knowledge, wisdom, and heart.

Prisoners of Geography, by Tim Marshall. An overview of political geography, and how the physical structure of land and water affects the cultures living there, their opportunities, and their place in the world. It caused a total rethink about why Europe and the US have been so successful, and why Africa and South America have suffered. A worthy companion to the classic Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Let's Go (So We Can Get Back), by Jeff Tweedy. An autobiography by the Wilco frontman, talking about a lot of stuff I find intensely interesting - depression, being a bandleader, and being a parent and husband.

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. An outstanding science fiction novella from an entirely different perspective - an African future.

The Ethics of Ambiguity, by Simone de Beauvoir. A mid-century philosophy classic, tackling ethics from an existentialist perspective. Dense and difficult, but also highly entertaining and brilliant. Highly recommended if you read philosophy regularly (if you don't, start with something a little lighter!).


I think Twitty has a YouTube channel on “Food of the Enslaved”


I should watch that! I got to see him speak at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis (a couple of miles from my house), and he was incredibly entertaining and engaging. Besides showing us how the kitchen worked in the commander's house, he talked about what he was able to learn about the slave women who cooked there. He brought up the Dred Scott case - I hadn't realized that the famous Dred Scott had actually lived more or less in my neighborhood! The combination of technical, historical, and personal was really brilliant.


Couple out of the box ones:

Lost Languages - Andrew Robinson. Starts with the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mayan hieroglyphs, and "Minoan" Linear B, then goes into detail about many still undeciphered writing systems. Existing examples, what's been studied and tried, the personalities of people involved, etc. Fascinating stuff. One of the few examples of the "Isthmian script" or epi-Olmec script[0] (a precursor to the Mayan writing system) is owned by the Smithsonian Natural History museum, and while I think they usually keep it in storage, it coincidentally was on display this summer and I took a trip to go see it after reading the book.

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts - Christopher de Hamel. 12 different medieval manuscripts the author goes to visit. Describes their history, where they are now and what it's like to see them, contains many detailed reproductions of pages, etc. Not at all dry; the author writes well and adds bits of humor, while still getting across all the necessary details.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isthmian_script


I added Lost Languages to my reading list, thanks for the suggestion.


Author: Nicole Forsgren

Book: Accelerate

I picked up this book after hearing high praises from Martin Fowler and Dan North during conference talks. Forsgren and her colleagues have been doing research into DevOps and its effects on organizational performance. This is a much more rigorous account than is usual in this space, so I believe it is a must read for everyone in software.

---

Author: Gerald Weinberg

Books:

* Are Your Lights On?

* Becoming a Technical Leader'

* Introduction to General Systems Thinking

Jerry's books have had a tremendous amount of impact on my thinking in the past couple years. I highly recommend reading everything you can get your hands on.

---

Author: Nassim Taleb

Books:

* The Black Swan

* Fooled by Randomness

Taleb has changed my way of looking at the world. His books are enjoyable to read, and his ideas thought provoking. I will continue to read the rest of his books over the next year.

---

Author: Robert Pirsig

Book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

A classic. I reread this for a bookclub. It's a bit esoteric, but I coupled it with Weinbergs General Systems Thinking and extracted some vague but interesting insights.

---

Author: Timmothy Snyder

Book: On Tyranny

This is a short and captivating book. I read it in about an hour and a half on Remembrance Day.


As a counterpoint, I found "Accelerate" to be just ok. It is essentially a rehash of all the popular software and methodology best practices blog posts and articles we've all read in the last 15 years. This is disappointing because I expect a book to dig deeper and present new information. The main value is in the surveys measuring the improvements that organizations experienced from these practices.


I think I actually agree with you. That said, I would recommend it _because_ it actually has something to back it up–that's worth a lot imo.


Agree with you on Taleb. The guy has an Incredible mind.


I started 'Introduction to General Systems Thinking' but I abandoned because I couldn't find anything interesting in it. I think I didn't really get it even though I had big expectations. What would you said it's the main idea?


Mathematics is useful for modelling systems of small numbers (mechanics) and large numbers (statistics), but most of the systems we engage with are systems of medium numbers. For medium number systems we must rely on heuristics. General Systems Thinking is about finding heuristics that can be applied to medium number systems.

This idea is examined from different angles in both Pirsig's and Taleb's books as well.

That said, it is a bit difficult to read. I really had to sit down and read it slowly and deliberately. I think I would suggest trying to come back to it in a couple years. Different books catch our attention at different times, and that's okay.


That's why I had high expectations :) I'll keep it round and approach more patiently


Jerry was a gem. Every one of his books is worth its weight in gold.


+1 for Introduction to General Systems Thinking


I read that and the first of the follow ons recently. They were both good reads, and I plan to finish up the 4 (e-book) series [1] over the next month.

[0] Passive Regulation, in print form it and Active Regulation were one book.

[1] https://leanpub.com/b/generalsystemsthinkerbundle


+1 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance :)


A selection:

Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari, 2014 [English]) - A bit late to the party on this one. Mostly enjoyed it, especially the early ancient history stuff, but I felt it got a bit contrived in the middle - like the author was forcing it. Overall a good read though.

How to Invent Everything (Ryan North, 2018) - First book I've pre-ordered in a long time. A look at the history of civilization and technology through a comedic lens. Pretty funny and enjoyable.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Edmund Morris, 1979) - Randomly happened across this book while browsing a used bookstore for some stuff to read on a summer vacation. Loved it. It's big, but reads pretty quick for a biography. I've been a fan of TR since I first really learned about him in High School and I would recommend this for anyone interested in TR/The West/Americana.

Jaws (Peter Benchley, 1974) - Quite a bit darker than the movie.

Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn, 2006) - I enjoyed Gone Girl (book and film) so I wanted to read this before the HBO series. To be honest...not my cup of tea. It was okay.

The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein, 2008) - Made me cry on an airplane. Thankfully my coworkers were on a different flight.


The Art of Racing in the Rain was one of my favorite books to read!


+1 for Ryan North, his books are filled to the brim with wit


A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley: Decent. I think this book would best be read in conjunction while working through a textbook. I will admit that it did do quite a bit to help relieve math anxiety, but the nature of the book is practicality.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: A reread. A bit depressing considering the state of the world today. I found myself wondering which reality would be preferable.

Letters to a Young Mathematician by Ian Stewart: Easy, but fruitful read. I've struggled a lot with math confidence, and this helped alleviate a lot of that.

How to Speak, How to Listen by Mortimer J. Adler: A lot of practical advice. My biggest takeaway was this: if it's worth talking about, even if the conversation sucks or the other person doesn't understand, any bit of advancement and understanding is worth the effort. Really helped me increase my patience when talking to people.

Quack This Way by David Foster Wallace and Bryan Garner: Super useful and practical discussion between two lovers of language. I keep a copy with me at all times.

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane: Just a fun read while on vacation. "If Gucci can do it, you can do it".

Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson: A nice if brutal read. It was my first foray in DJ. I felt Cormac McCarthyish vibes.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: A classic. The Judge.

Thinking About Mathematics by Stuart Shapiro: Highly recommended for anyone interested in the philosophical questions of mathematics. Shapiro writes clearly, concisely, and in a manner that is easy to read.

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr: Pretty great but brutal.

The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace: I really enjoyed it. It's ode to Wittgenstein and it helped me cope with a lot of questions that I felt after studying LW.

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: I think we've all been in Werther's shoes. Though I hope that nobody comes to the same conclusion he came to.

Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind: A pretty great book. I find myself writing a book report on it to make sure I internalize a lot of the lessons. If you're having trouble doing creative work while working, read this.


> Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: A classic. The Judge.

I actually started this while on vacation but took a break to read something else. I'm tempted to continue.


I had to start it a couple different times - It is a hard read no doubt but truly truly worth it!


I would definitely suggest it. The Judge character is just so damn interesting. I found myself in awe of him, then disgust, then at the end I didn't know how I felt.


How was The Autobiography of Gucci Mane? Was it interesting, inspiring, funny, etc? It seems like a huge change of pace from the other books haha. I’ve also read Letters to a Young Mathematician and it honestly one of the reasons I was able to survive my math classes (mentally) when I was in school.


Haha! Absolutely. I just realized that I have so much work I have to do that I don't have time to waste reading stuff that isn't important. With that being said, I'm understanding that I also need be comfortable with the fact that sometimes I just like reading easy things.

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane was actually really good. While all the adjectives you listed fit, I found myself mostly inspired. You can tell that he's being brutally honest with himself, and that he sincerely made an effort to learn from his mistakes. I think any human being can appreciate that. If you're interested, I say go for it.


Books Read: Never Split the difference by Chris Voss (FLIPPING AMAZING! This book is so good I didn't want to share it here.)

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (Fantastic Look into how we as humans work and how to deal with each other and ourselves)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Enjoyable and entertaining)

The Martian by Andy Weir (The Audiobook of this was AMAZING! The book is still amazing especially for technical people)

The Hard thing about Hard things by Ben Horowitz (I think it would be a great book for people who are already running companies.)

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (It had some interesting parts. Wasn't a bad book, but also not crazy memorable)

Boundaries in Dating by Henry Cloud (I found the advice for the christian dating relationship to be a honest eye opener. This book taught me a lot about myself.)

The Launch Pad by Randall Stross (How I found Y Combinator and Hacker news. I really enjoy the startup community and love the fact that this introduced me to it)

The richest man in Babylon by George S Clason (OMG EVERYONE SHOULD OWN THIS BOOK!!! It teaches you about handling money in one of the most entertaining ways I've ever read. It was crazy good and I reread it often.)

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

(Great read about the interesting problems solved and the fight for survival to one day bring about a worthy ideal)


+1 for The Martian. Excellent!


Overall I read a mix of some sci-fi, business type books, and a little Clancy mixed in.

1. Fear - Bob Woodward (did not actually get too far before dropping it)

2. Radical Candor - Kim Malone Scott (interesting)

3. Black & Decker Complete Guide to Wiring (VERY helpful during my home renovation, did most of my electrical)

4. Pitch Perfect - Bill McGowan (helpful for communication)

5. Quantum Thief/Fractal Price/Causal Angel [Jean le Flambeur series] - Hannu Rajaniemi (I enjoyed the first book in this trilogy the best, the third was too difficult for me to understand! Very hard Sci-fi)

6. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (enjoyed the audio production from BBC radio)

7. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories - Ken Liu (enjoyed several of the short stories very much)

8. Revelation Space/Chasm City/Redemption Ark/Absolution Gap - Alastair Reynolds (love the series but it is long!)

9. Executive Orders - Tom Clancy (not my favorite Clancy book but still fun)

10. Rainbow Six - Tom Clancy (also not my favorite Clancy book, a little more fun than Executive Orders though)

While waiting for the next Game of Thrones book I picked up a few new series that I really enjoyed! I hope to get a few new suggestions out of this list.

The Expanse - James Corey

Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds

Broken Earth - NK Jemisin

Three Body Problem - Liu Cixin (translated: Ken Liu)


> Three Body Problem - Ken Liu

This isn't entirely wrong, but it's written by Liu Cixin in Chinese originally. Ken Liu is the translator. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking foward to it. Stories in "Paper Menagerie" convinced me that he could skillfully deliver different kinds of stories in different voices - and good translators need that.


whoops, thanks for that. I want to make sure I get that correct! I am happy to see that series on this thread a few times though, it is great!


I also read Revelation Space this year. I liked it, but it definitely felt like it dragged on. Maybe because it has fairly long chapters. I feel like shorter chapters help me get through a book faster because I usually do most of my reading on my lunch break, and I hate having to leave off in the middle of a chapter.


Non-fiction:

- Factfulness by Hans Rosling

- The War on Science by Shawn Otto

- Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

- The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan

- The Enigma of Reason by Hugo Mercier

Fiction:

- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

- The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

- The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The non-fiction books were all incredible and highly recommended. I especially appreciate The War on Science as it is highly relevant in today's polarized and emotional political climate.

The fiction books were good, for the most part. However, The Magicians might be the worst book I have ever read, not limited to fiction or fantasy. For more on that, ask.

I managed to read significantly more books this year due to joining an at-work book club, which has been very nice.


Wow, that's interesting. We must have approached Grossman from completely different perspectives. Last year (2017) I read the entire Magicians series and thoroughly enjoyed them because they made me uncomfortable. I was trash, in the same way that Quentin was trash, so following his arc was introspective. At the time I contrasted it to the optimism in "All the Birds in the Sky" by Charlie Jane Anders (if you're familiar)

What was your experience like?

For reference, my most recent fiction is:

- "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Murakami

- "Uprooted" by Naomi Novik

- "God Emperor of Dune" by Frank Herbert


Cool to see an economics book on your list. I think it's a highly underrated subject among the tech community. I started to lightly teach myself economics this year. It was a real sobering experience learning how incredibly stupid I was towards economics and how complex it is. But even after just learning a little, it's amazing to see how that ignorance is a fear mongering tool in the media.


I agree with you 100%. There is a lot I didn't understand which is surprisingly obvious to me now.


Right? It's really eye-opening when a few basic concepts are explained. My only qualm so far in that field is the ideology aspect towards economic theories. I don't think Keynesian, classical, supply-side, etc should be considered as "theories", but more as "tools" to address certain economic situations. More I read about them, the more I think they are all, more or less, equally valid, depending on the situation or end goal. It's like, there's no one perfect battle strategy. It all depends on the situation. But it seems the greater part of politics and society just wants "One way that works all the time".


I hated The Magicians the first time, but I read it again once the tv show came out and I found it a lot better the second time. I just had to realize everyone in the book was supposed to be incredibly spoiled and bored assholes with barely any redeeming qualities. It showed the completely emptyness of life for people who can do pretty much everything, like youre playing a video game with cheats.


I definitely understood what Grossman was going for with the characters and the aspect around boredom you mention. My problems with the book have to do with how the story is paced, which is pretty bad, as well as with completely unnecessary and useless plot points around sex. I don't want to read a fantasy book where furry porn is sprinkled in wantonly without contributing to the plot in a meaningful way.

Also, Grossman writes the perspective of women (especially with respect to sexual interactions) as if he were a horny 19 year old incel. It actually gives no consideration to how women truly think in the real world, which is offensive and makes for bad reading.

Just my thoughts though.


I'll push back just a little and say that a lot of the first book was written from Quentin's perspective, so that's why it might have come off as clueless wrt how it handled sexuality. However, that might have been by design because in the rest of the series there's a lot of, "Expectations vs Reality." Meaning, "Here's how Quentin expects the women around him to exist," but "Here's how they actually exist."

Plus, a big chunk of the rest of the series revolves around <spoiler> Julia healing from sexual trauma </spoiler> and it was both nuanced and satisfying.

I won't go so far as suggesting that you give it another try, but it's not as terrible as it might seem :)


I side with you on this, I found it to be fantastically bad.

That being said, the defenders here have me suspecting that I may have misjudged it or misinterpreted it some. There is also a fairly popular tv show based upon it. It is very polarizing, perhaps it’s the age of the reader or some other experience that makes it so.


Man, the Magicians has to be the most controversial book, in terms of people either LOVE it or HATE it. I fall in the former camp and consider it my favorite book of all time.


Yeah, me too. I thought it was a wonderful take on fairy stories and the danger of getting what you want. I think you need to read all three to truly appreciate it though.


I thought I was the only one! The Magicians is by far the worst and least enjoyable book I’ve ever read, and I read ~ 100 books per year.


Yes - it was truly atrocious. It was nominated in our book club, but I wouldn't have finished it otherwise.

I wonder how it managed to get published in the first place. Also, I love this review from George RR Martin, where he manages to discuss the book without complimenting it:

“The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. Solidly rooted in the traditions of both fantasy and mainstream literary fiction, the novel tips its hat to Oz and Narnia as well to Harry, but don’t mistake this for a children's book. Grossman’s sensibilities are thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists. Hogwarts was never like this.”


I'm interested in checking out Basic Economics, but I'm concerned it's very ideologically slanted compared to an undergrad economics textbook. I'm moderately well read in classical political economy (and Marx) but I've heard conflicting reviews over Sowell (the man) and his book.


I highly recommend it. I don't think it's ideologically slanted too much, but he does ignore some oppositional arguments. However, I've heard (no source, just word of mouth) that the book is used as the main text in introductory courses to economics.


It's a very well written book. It's obvious that Thomas Sowell skews libertarian but he doesn't brow beat you over the head with it. The focus of the book is more to provide the analytical framework for you to make your own judgements as to how things operate in an economy. Once you ready the Sowell book make sure you read "How Markets Fail" which takes a slanted, oppositional view to deregulation.


I just picked up "How Markets Fail" at your recommendation, thanks!


Thanks for your recommendation of Thomas Sowell. I've been looking for a good beginners guide to economics.


I just finished this one and I have to say it was eye opening and a great read.

My one criticism is that sometimes he ignores oppositional arguments where I think he should address them. For example, he argues against market regulation in a number of cases, but doesn't admit that some market regulation is a good thing.

However, I'm very glad I read it and think it's much more good than bad.


> My one criticism is that sometimes he ignores oppositional arguments where I think he should address them.

Yes, that's because Thomas Sowell skews libertarian as mentioned by another commenter elsewhere in the thread.

I think this Amazon review [0] and a few others did a decent job of mentally preparing me wrt Sowell's biases before I committed to reading his very well-written book. It's essentially a caveat that there are quite a range of economic views out there but Basic Economics only exposes you to the economic view which he considers worthy of his time.

Regardless, Sowell does an excellent job of clearly expounding on what constitutes economic thinking.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3RFDB6MCBI1BI/re...


I'm not sure if he skews libertarian because of his economic views, or vice-versa, but I agree that he is libertarian.


This year was a year in which, along with everything else, I read a number of standout scifi trilogies:

---

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (African girl goes to space, becomes a unifying force in the galaxy)

- Binti

- Binti: Home

- Binti: The Night Masquerade

---

Remembrance of Earth's Past by Liu Cixin (Humans make first contact and it doesn't go all that well)

- The Three Body Problem

- The Dark Forest

- Death's End

---

Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie (A spaceship's AI becomes confined to a single human body and seeks revenge)

- Ancillary Justice

- Ancillary Sword

- Ancillary Mercy

---

Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin (Earth really hates humans, but some people have the power to control the earthquakes)

- The Fifth Season

- The Obelisk Gate

- The Stone Sky


Read/heard and thoroughly enjoyed all of those except Binti which is new to me. Wishlisted, thanks!


- The Prince (get's a bad press, thought provoking)

- Apex [Nexus 3] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Factfulness (Awesome, most important book I read this year)

- Prisoners of Geography (why nations act the way they do)

- Crux [Nexus 2] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Debt: the first 5000 years (slog to get through but interesting)

- Nexus [Nexus 1] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Digitocracy (super short story, super powerful message)

- Artemis (Not as good as the martian)

- Before Mars (Starts out great, fizzles out)

- Down and Out in Magic Kingdom (How reputation based social currency might pan out)

- Blood Sweat and Pixels (How games are really made)

- Masters of Doom (Awesome story of how the game was made and what it led to)

- Foundation [Foundation 1] (Prescient with where the world is, what might happen in reality)

- Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can't... (Ok, not great, read it on blinkist)

- Ender's Game (Under rated, most fun I had reading this year, I know...)

- Neuromancer (classic, must read)

- Pre-suation (interesting and worth reading if starting a consumer facing business)

- The Three-Body Problem (Found it tedious, honestly. Interesting though)

- Radical Candour (A lot of common sense advice we take for granted and could do better with)

- Seveneves (Longggggg, but really worth it. Shame about the ending)

- The Virgin Banker (Really good read, how a bank came into being)

- Why information grows (Great read, could of been half the length, would recommend)

- Babylon Revisited (Meh)

- Money: the Unauthorised Biography (Simplistic history of money before and after coin. Good)

- Hellbent (Enjoyed it, good for a holiday read)

- Snow Crash (Classic, Awesome, read it)

- The little prince (must read)

- To Pixar and Beyond (A different viewpoint on Jobs)


Yea, the book "The Prince" is different than the pop-culture ideas of it. I blame English literature snobs for making mountains out of mole hills from this one.


Neuromancer is always at the top of scifi lists but I found it to be astonishingly strange and dull. I'm surprised I was even able to finish the read.


Really? I found Neuromancer to be incredibly exciting when I read it, almost breathlessly so. The first time I read it (back in the 80s), I read through the Sense/Net run to retrieve the Dixie Flatline cartridge in a single sitting, and my adrenaline was pumping.

I re-read it last year, and it still works for me.


I was introduced to sci-fi last year and pretty much stuck to it throughout 2018. Perhaps the usual suspects given the crowd here but in any case below are my highlights.

Completely blew me away:

- Anathem by Neal Stephenson

- Accelerando by Charles Stross

- Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy by Liu Cixin

Great Reads:

- Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

- Glasshouse, Neptunes Brood & Saturns Children by Charles Stross

- Rendezvous with Rama by Isaac Asimov

- Hyperion by Dan Simmons

- A Deepness in the Sky by Verner Vinge

The two categories are pretty subjective, due to personal taste but also the fact that all of the concepts in the more recent books were new to me (whereas they may be quite familiar to those who had read earlier authors work). All are awesome.


> I was introduced to sci-fi last year and pretty much stuck to it throughout 2018.

If you're looking for additional science fiction suggestions:

1. American War by Omar El Akkad

2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

3. Artemis by Andy Weir

4. Daemon by Daniel Suarez

5. Old Man's War by John Scalzi

6. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

7. Red Rising series by Pierce Brown


Tripple upvote for Accelerando -- my all time favorite sci-fi (I even re-read it).

Anathem was great


> Rendezvous with Rama by Isaac Asimov

Arthur C. Clarke, not Asimov


Also, and I might add, stay at that one and don't bother too much with the sequels.


Your right. Unfortunately I cant edit the comment though.


Lots of dystopian and alternate world sci-fi (most recently read first):

1) The Handmaid’s Tale

2) Off to be the Wizard

3) The Three-Body Problem

4) Good Omens

5) We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

6) American Gods

7) Ready Player One

I really enjoyed all of these, though the Neil Gaiman books are rather long-winded. Ready Player One in particular is something I’d recommend to any geek or 80s movies and music fan. I found myself watching lots of old movies and listening to old music so I’d understand those references I didn’t know.

I’m now quite eager to not read any more about virtual worlds though.

Graphic Novels / comics:

8) Monstress

9) Rat Queens

10) Saga

Monstress and Saga develop really amazing worlds with engaging stories. Read them both. Rat Queens is just good fun.

Coding:

11) Code

Still working my way through, but it’s pretty cool. It goes from Morse code and electrical circuits to more complex code as conceptual fundamentals.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but these are the ones that stand out.


I've been putting off Ready Player One because I could never get through Snowcrash, and everyone says "if you like Snowcrash you'll love Ready Player One". I finally got around to reading it and it was far better than I thought it would be. There was still a bit too much handwaving away the most amazing coincidences, but I thoroughly enjoyed it right through the end.


I think a better description would be Snowcrash lite or Snowcrash without all the Cuneiform and linguistics with more nostalgia. If you are in doubt check out the audiobook. It's pretty fun.


Snowcrash but the hero protagonist isn't named Hiro Protagonist. I understand the name was intentional, but it still bothers me enough that I can't move past it.


Upvoting the whole Three Body Problem trilogy -- it's an awesome sci-fi!


If you've not done so already, peep Atwood's 'Maddaddam' trilogy. Those are a lot of fun and fairly prescient.


* The Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults (Laurie Penny) - This stretched my boundaries on thinking about feminism a bit. I thought it was an interesting collection because it managed to take a very firm line without being preachy or moralistic. I suppose I mostly agreed with it.

* Wool (Hugh Howey). I was deeply disappointed. It came highly recommended by people I trust. I saw exactly where it was going and was never once surprised.

* The Magicians (Lev Grossman). I managed the first two books and was utterly bored. It is hard to overstate how much I really disliked these books. They seemed like a smart-alec attempt to take down the genre, including what I think was a side-swiping smear of C.S.Lewis as a kiddy fiddler. Just nasty really.

* Calculus Better Explained (Kalid Azad). OK, so this was not just a book, but the video course with the book. I bought this with the intention of helping a family member get up to speed, and discovered that I really enjoyed going over it as I had forgotten a lot of AP Calculus and the models/paradigms Azad introduces are far richer than the simpler ones I had retained (slightly by rote learning). Very enjoyable.

* Seeing Like a State (James C. Scott). This is oldish (1999) but full of interesting information about failed attempts at managerial systems. Wrestling with naming conventions in an old "evolved" code-base I felt some sympathy with bureaucrats trying to impose order on local conditions.


1. The Feast of the Goat by Vargas Llosa - fast paced, fictionalized account of the last days of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic

2. 100 years of solitude - currently 70% through but the writing and story is superb.

3. Death in the Andes — another Vargas Llosa book. Not as good as Feast of the Goat in my opinion, but gives a good idea of the situation in Peru in the 1980s during the Shining Path insurrection, written after the author’s participation in a government investigation of the murder of several journalists in a remote Peruvian village.

EDIT: spelling


100 years is my favorite fiction book of all time...


Llosa is one of my favourite authors and the feast of the goat is amazing. I recommend his Conversation in the Cathedral. And don't miss out on Carlos Fuentes if you're into that region and literature.


The top 4 this year for me:

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them

Phenomenal books. I have a longer list of recommendations I've collected over the decades: http://yboris.com/reading/



HOME ABOUT LOGICOMIX NEWS THE TEAM BEHIND THE SCENES PRESS CONTACT

Story Themes Cast of characters Topics Praise International Editions Covering a span of sixty years, the graphic novel Logicomix was inspired by the epic story of the quest for the Foundations of Mathematics.

This was a heroic intellectual adventure most of whose protagonists paid the price of knowledge with extreme personal suffering and even insanity. The book tells its tale in an engaging way, at the same time complex and accessible. It grounds the philosophical struggles on the undercurrent of personal emotional turmoil, as well as the momentous historical events and ideological battles which gave rise to them.

The role of narrator is given to the most eloquent and spirited of the story’s protagonists, the great logician, philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell. It is through his eyes that the plights of such great thinkers as Frege, Hilbert, Poincaré, Wittgenstein and Gödel come to life, and through his own passionate involvement in the quest that the various narrative strands come together.


I love Bertrand Russell, and this was a great read.

One idea from it really struck me: what kind of an individual spends years trying to prove that 1+1=2 (oversimplification of course). It takes a peculiar type of dedication, curiosity, and perhaps madness to go that deep.


Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark - great glimpse into the current and potential future of AI

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Issacson - fascinating look into the real life of Leonardo, demystifying the genius

Excession by Iain M Banks - a bit of a let down

Bluets by Maggie Nelson - lyrical and philosophical and explicit ruminations on the color blue

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan - a lot of already known and rehashed info on psychedelics

Lost City of the Incas by Hirham Bingham - Yale professor who discovered Machu Pichu. Good history of the Incas and region

Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbuy - Classic!

2041 by Kim Stanley Robinson - NYC underwater in the future. A bit of a let down compared to his Mars series

Shiver by Junji Ito - short stories from the king of Japanese horror manga

Lenin: The man, the dictator, the master of terror by Victor Sebestyen - great bio on Vladimir Lenin. Knew very little about him before reading this. Fantastic!

Deep Learning by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville - definitive text book on Deep Learning

The Curse of Bigness by Tim Wu - interesting read into the history of Antitrust and the Sherman Act and how they relate to modern tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook

Connecting the Dots by John Chambers - a bit dry. Lessons Chambers learned while CEO of Cisco


I just started Leonardo, really excited about it!


Bad blood: couldn't stop flipping the pages, reads like satire. Seeing the names of the most powerful people in the US and how they enabled Theranos' rise to prominence made me realize how much we fetishize geniuses and how little popular experts know. Books like these remind me not to pay too much attention to how people frame their success

Leonardo da Vinci by Isaacson: I went into this book expecting to be blown away by how much smarter Da Vinci was than me. Instead I was blown away by how human and hard working he was and it taught me valuable lessons on how to structure my time and life to work on things I care about. This book was instrumental in my decision to quit my job

Modern Robotics Mechanics planning and control: Because it gave me the mathematical foundation to understand how robots work. It's dense but brief so well worth the attempt. Robots was something I've been wanting to get into since I was a kid and seeing a concise treatment like this one with good intuition, mathematical formulas and code reminds me that these days I can learn anything I want


Personal summaries and opinions on some books I’ve read this year:

The First Man - Camus: A semi-autobiographical novel about his childhood growing up in Algeria in a poor family, his friendships, his educational successes and becoming a man.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Kundera: A realistic, unromantic look at the ideals involved in love, sexual and romantic relationships.

Laughable Loves - Kundera: More of the same in the form of a collection of short stories. Thoroughly enjoyed.

The Only Way to Stop Smoking Permanently - Alan Carr: I’m not particularly into self-help books, but this has actually worked so far. It focusses on removing the desire to smoke, rather than increasing willpower not to smoke.

Metamorphosis - Kafka: Looks at duty to family, social alienation and the equation of a man’s worth with his career and earning ability.

What we cannot Know - du Sautoy: A not too poppy pop-science look into the limits of human knowledge and consciousness. Delves into maths, astronomy, philosophy, existence of a god, quantum physics. Still interesting as a graduate of mathematics, and answers a few questions I had about quantum physics.


For someone who didn't read at all for the longest and started a couple of years back, I'm glad I read 20 books this year. Here are the few that stuck with me -

Bad Blood (John Carreyrou) - Story of Theranos, its founders and the conception of terrible ideas. Great record of their actions based on subjective ethics and morals, how they can lead you to going insane.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain) - Fun read for functional introverts like myself.

Stuff Matters (Mark Miodownik) - I wish every science lesson is taught like this

Em and the Big Hoon (Naresh Fernandes) - Fiction, but based closely on the author's mother, her control over the English language, poetry and the mental illness' control over her and their family here in Bombay.

Born a Crime (Trevor Noah) - A biography of the Daily Show host. He's seen a lot of terrible situations and come out unscathed!

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande) - Hospice care - all its good and bad.

A Man Called Ove - Fictional and funny book about a man with a strict code, who lost his beloved wife and still dislikes everyone.


+1 for A Man Called Ove - surprisingly good.


I read Stories of your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. It features a bunch of stories that intersect a lot of science and philosophy.

There is a story that is about humans having a finite germ line. There is a story about a future scenario where humans can turn off their conception of "beauty" when looking at others. Then there is a story that turned into the movie Arrival, but the story is much better because it brings in a lot more physics (principle of least action equated to foresight).

Definitely the most thoughtful and inspiring book I've read this year.


    - Complete Hyperion Cantos (incl. Endymion series)
    - Bad Blood (Still churning through)
Hyperion is a 2500 page behemoth and took most of my year, however most of the things written in the book are not sci-fi, and overall the book is very enlightening. Still digesting the stuff in my brain.

Bad Blood is a fascinating read. I'm still in the first quarter, and with this density, the events are well simply amazing to put it lightly.


LibraryThing reports 854 editions of books identified by "Bad Blood". Please add at least the author's name to make life easier for people who want to check your suggestions.

(I am not picking out specifically you, I had similar problems with whoever suggested "Code" above, and I am sure more will be found in the rest of the thread...)


You're right. I've written that comment haphazardly and quickly, and forgot the authors of both books. Someone (like me) can archive this thread and get confused later. Worse he/she wouldn't be abe to find the intended books.

Hyperion Cantos is written by Dan Simmons. It's 4.5 books.

  - Hyperion
  - The Fall of Hyperion
  - Endymion
  - The Rise of Endymion
  - Orphans of the Helix (a novella in the same universe)
Bad Blood is written by John Carreyrou. It tells the story of Theranos' rise and fall & everything in between.


You're probably being downvoted because more than a dozen comments on this thread mention Bad Blood (including the author), which was a bestseller this year and has been widely described and discussed across popular media. It's pretty easy to guess that the person you're replying to probably meant that.


a) As I specifically mentioned, "Bad Blood" is not the only title with this problem. Also, what if in this case we were talking of one of the dozens other books with "Bad Blood" in the title?

b) It is a bit sloppy to just throw out a title hoping that someone else in the thread will do a better job.

c) Unless we are talking of extremely well-known books (Dune? The Mythical Man Month?) I think it is better to always provide the author: to give an example, I personally dislike Tom Clancy, so if I see "Title-I-Am-Not-Familiar-With-Because-I-Am-Far-From-Being-A-Clancy-Completist, by Tom Clancy" I will just pass, while "Obscure-Title-I-Cannot-Recognize-Because-I-Read-It-In-Translation, by Jack Vance" would be enough to make me work a little to find out more.


Some good ones I read this year:

- _SPQR_, by Mary Beard. Engaging book surveying the history of ancient Rome, mostly Republic and early Empire if I recall correctly.

- _To Explain The World_, by Steven Weinberg. History of physics from the ancients to about the time of Newton. Don't skip the technical notes! Actually do the problems!

- I reread _Wolf Hall_, by Hilary Mantel, it was as good as I remember. This time through, I also spent some time on the Internet tracing the histories of the major characters before and after the events of the book, and it really enhanced my appreciation of it. (I also read, for the first time, its sequel, which was fine but not quite as good.)


I loved Weinberg's history book. I'll read literally anything by Weinberg, i'm a fanboy, i admit it! It was very different than the usual academic history, but not ignorant like they usually are. And i love that he actually works the problems himself.

My only complaints are that I think he is unfair to the ancients (for example I don't think he mentioned that they developed a universal gravitational theory, which was a direct inspiration for newton), and i wish he spend more time on optics, especially Kepler's optics which was apparently the great conceptual revolution in the field, but I know next to nothing about it!


The Market Gardener - a guide to profitable high-end vegetable growing on 1.5 acres (organic, niche, supplying CSA's, farmer's markets, and restaurants). Seriously considering doing it myself.

The Autumn of the Middle Ages - A discussion of the mindset of peoples as the medieval period ended and the renaissance begain. Bit dense, translated from Dutch. But really interesting to focus on what was going on inside people's heads and how they viewed the world instead of simply historical events.

More importantly:

Llama Llama shopping Drama

Goodnight Moon

All aboard for the Bobo road


The Market Gardener is incredible. It's so information dense I need to read it 5 more times though. I'm going to some of the principles on my small suburban lot and scale up someday


I find myself in a remote job and it was part of why I thought "hell, let's go for it" when looking at 3.5 acres of loamy land in the country. Discussions here about practices like desiccation didn't hurt.


We Are Legion (We Are Bob) was my flat-out favorite series this year. I'm positive that a lot of HN users would love it. The Punch Escrow by Tal Klein was also a favorite of this year.


Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price

The Hunting Apes: Meat Eating and the Origins of Human Behavior by Craig B. Stanford

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith

Craft Beef: A Revolution of Small Farms and Big Flavors by Joe Heitzeberg, Ethan Lowry, and Caroline Sanders

Don’t Eat the Oil! The Health Consequences of Consuming “Vegetable” Oils by Thomas L. Copmann, MS, Ph.D.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

This year I became ex-vegan and the books I read center around nutrition as such. I would recommend all of them. The Vegetarian Myth was the most shocking, one woman's struggles with health which finally opened my eyes. The Case Against Sugar was surprising for the depth of how many people and corporations were involved in promoting sugar on an unsuspecting public. Skin in the Game is Taleb's insightful observations as usual. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is thorough and prescient, intriguing to see the drastic physical changes due to nutrition, and was I impressed by the dedicated research to study the effects of what was not known at the time but is now believed to be vitamin K2.


Lierre Keith is indeed a powerful writer; that's a fascinating read.

I've spent time as a vegetarian, and ethically I find it desirable, but my body doesn't fly right without some meat.


This is't a comment on his ideas or philosophy, as that will just descend into a total garbage fire, but I found 12 Rules For Life an absolute mess to read. Peterson badly needs an editor who will whip his writing into shape.


My list has a lot more fiction than others here, but I enjoyed myself!

Just For Fun - Linus Torvalds (Highly recommended, Tells of Linus's early life and how Linux came to be. I'm surprised I haven't seen this recommended more often.) Into The Plex - Steven Levy (The history of Google, definitely worthwhile) Dune - Frank Herbert (I enjoyed it, but not enough to pursue his other books) The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett (Kinda interesting, but rather odd) Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of The North - Bernard Cornwell (The first three books in his Saxon series. These are what The Last Kingdom TV series is based on. Worth a read if you liked the show or like English history.) REAMDE - Niel Stephenson (Very fun! Lots of crazy action while still being almost believable) Seven Eves - Niel Stephenson (Typical Stephenson Sci-Fi. Very interesting take on an Armageddon type scenario) The Hardware Hacker - Andrew Huang (Talks a lot about manufacturing tech in China. Neat to see some of the processes behind the devices we use every day. Also interesting if you like the idea of open hardware.) The Art of Wheel Building - Jobst Brandt (I've built a few bicycle wheels so this was interesting to me.)


> The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett (Kinda interesting, but rather odd)

This is the first book on Pratchett's Discworld. It definitely has a different tone than his later works. If you've not totally annoyed by it, or if you'd like to read fantasy which strongly mirrors our world, with a dry and playful humour, I'd recommend reading some later ones. They are quite independent of one another, so that you don't have to read them in order (although there's several sets with the same protagonists).

Personally, I'd always recommend Going Postal, maybe Night Watch (a bit of back story could help but is not necessary), or Monstrous Regiment.


This year I read "Clean Coder" by Robert Martin and "The Software Craftsman: Professionalism, Pragmatism, Pride" by Sandro Mancuso.

They were both excellent and I recommend them to any programmer who wants to improve his or her Engineering professionalism and craft. Don't be a "coder," be a professional Software Engineer. Take pride in your work, do your best work possible, and stand up to insane, unrealistic management.


This has been a light reading year, for various reasons of circumstance and laziness, but here are the standouts in my mind:

* Thomas Merton -- The Wisdom of the Desert

A collection of quotes by and about the Desert Fathers of the early Christian church. I especially liked the ones that showed extreme mercy and selflessness, such as the monks who turned in a band of robbers, felt bad about it, and broke them out of prison, or the monk who would not count payments he received, as that might cause someone who cheated him to add lying about it to their sins.

* Alfred Lansing -- Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

This is just an exciting adventure log, following Shackleton's expedition as they spent over a year stranded on an Antarctic ice floe.

"The adaptability of the human creature is such that they actually had to remind themselves on occasion of their desperate circumstances." -- Alfred Lansing

* Seneca -- Letters from a Stoic

"I am not, mind you, against your possessing [riches], but I want to ensure that you possess them without tremors; and this you will only achieve in one way, by convincing yourself that you can live a happy life even without them, and by always regarding them as being on the point of vanishing." Letter XVIII


I’ve spent the year producing and proofing a bunch more PD books for Standard Ebooks.[1] I keep the full set of books I’ve produced on my site[2]; highlights for me from this year were:

The Little Demon by Fyodor Sologub https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/fyodor-sologub/the-little-...

The Awakening by Kate Chopin https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/kate-chopin/the-awakening

Wilfred Owen’s poetry https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/wilfred-owen/poetry

[1] https://standardebooks.org/

[2] https://www.robinwhittleton.com/books/


Never Split the Difference - I loved this book and would highly recommend it to sharpen your negotiation skills.

Extreme Ownership - I also really enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio and it was read by the authors. Both Navy Seals, the stories they used about their time in war was very eye opening. The concepts are all about leadership, and if you a manager or part of a team, you will get some benefit.

Getting Things Done - 2001 edition, very practical approach to organizing everything on your plate. I will probably re-read this again.

Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens - a great book that has great tips on learning for kids and adults.

A Philosophy of Software Design - still reading it, I really am enjoying it so far. I like the big picture approach it takes to discussing software design and complexity.

Mindset - I just started this book. So far it is just explaining the general concept in different ways. I am hoping the latter part will get into some practical tips and methods.


Here's the few that stood out from this year's reading pile, IMHO:

Derek Howse - Greenwich Time. On why there was (is!) a need for GMT, how it evolved, how it was utilized - and how it was kept. Brilliant engineering porn for those of a horological bent.

J.E. Gordon - Structures: Or why things don't fall down. Eminently readable on structural engineering, explaining concepts and methodology, delivered with the dry wit of a British don.

Mary Elise Sarotte - Collapse. On how -hm- accidental the fall of the Berlin Wall was, telling the stories of a number of individuals who more or less inadvertently played a role in its downfall - from dissidents in Dresden to the Stasi head-of-station at the first border crossings to open as the crowds gathered.

John Hackett - I was a stranger. Memoir of a British officer in hiding in occupied Netherlands after operation Market Garden, on the friendship he formed with the people who risked it all by hiding him and on the ways he found purpose to the long days spent doing essentially nothing.


The Paypal Wars (4/5): Gives insight about the company from it's beginning to IPO. Might have suffered from survivalshi[ bias and is kinda anti-Musk.

The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health from Morning to Midnight (4/5): Tells lots of things about biological clocks. Action items to have better sleep, mood and hunger.

Alan Carr- Easy way to quit smoking (5/5): Helped me to quit smoking with ease. Although I have started again and quit again because it was so easy to quit I fell in the trap that I would quit later. Hopefully, it will stick this time.

The Road Less Traveled (4.5/5): Scot Peck shares his experience of physiology and what he learned about human behavior. What he thinks make fully grown people and how to think in that direction.

The Little Prince (2/5): Probably I missed something in the book, probably the hype spoiled it for me but I didn't find it profound or anything.


I want to comment on Alan Carr's Easy Way book. This book is the reason I managed to stick to quitting. I haven't smoked in 3.5 years because of that book, after nearly 15 years.

The argument he makes is better than the common ones you hear (it's bad for your health, it costs money, it smells bad), which is nice. As he mentions, smokers know all those things, and that information isn't helpful. Instead he points out clearly that it is just an addiction, and one that you don't need.

10/10 - I have Alan Carr to thank for being smoke free.


I'm not smoking, but have different addictions, do you think it might help with other stuff too or is it useful only for smokers?


In reverse chronological order..

The Earth is Enough (recommended if you like trout fishing)

Clean Code (recommended if you want to invigorate your desire to write better code, there was a lot to both agree and disagree with though for me anyway)

Game Engine Black Book: Wolfenstein 3D (recommend if you want to study the details of an early 3d game engine, or details about the 386 that made it so hard to do games with)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (this is the first manga series I've read, because I was obsessed by the anime for a while and wanted more, so would only recommend if you like the anime)

Land of Lisp (only recommended if you want a fun sort of scheme-ish style approach to seeing some of the features of common lisp in a simple mostly text based games setting)

The Age of Em (recommend if you want a careful and detailed analysis of what a possible future looks like should humans get mind uploading technology)

A Critique of Democracy (recommended if you want to have a chance of winning bar arguments, not the best for deeper thinking)

The End of Eternity (fun sci-fi from Asimov)

The Three-Body Problem (book 1 of (I found out after starting (again)) 3 -- good enough that I'll read the next two, but not good enough that I had to go out and get the second book immediately like other series I've read)

Beyond Happiness (meh, wouldn't recommend)

Ninefox Gambit (book 1 of (I found out after starting) 3 -- if you like "armchair playing war" sci-fi you'll probably like this more than me, but I'll get and finish the next two books at some point)

More detailed short thoughts + older reads if desired: https://gist.github.com/Jach/1610886 Maybe I'll wrap up one of the several in-progress ones before the month is out, too.


I found the 2nd & 3rd books of The Three Body Problem series to be much, much better than the 1st. IMO the 1st is just a bit of pretext for the real story of the series.


Blitzscaling

Kubernetes up & Running

Brotophia

Software performance & Scalability

Performance modeling & design of computer systems

The art of capacity planning

Control Theory for Engineers

Traction

Never too late to startup

The lean startup

The mom test

Executive functions

The manager's path

Grit

Power of Habit

The new new thing

Startup - a silicon valley adventure

Deep work

-------------- The Big short

Dark Pools

Flash boys

My life as a Quant

Liar's poker

A random walk down wall street

The Finance ones surprised me, I had no idea about Wall street and the mechanics/engineering behind it. I still don't like em or trust em, but I did gain quite an amount of respect for the engineering they do.


I re-read some Sherlock Holmes, which was delightful. They're all up on Project Gutenberg —

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/69

Other books I liked a lot were "Operation Kronstadt" which is an incredible story about British intervention into Early USSR. Had a mix of hard engineering on how they built covert fast ships, espionage and intrigue, points around following orders vs taking initiative in an emergency, and many more. Excellent read.

"Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt" was also excellent. First book to really make my understand the Gilded Age. Terrifying read in a lot of ways, actually, but well-written and insightful.


Not an exhaustive list but these were the books I felt moved to record[0] reading:

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Welles --> kind of trashy but fun and enjoyable.

Priest by Matthew Colville --> terrible, don't read this.

It's Behind You - The Making of a Game by Bob Pape --> Interesting if you grew up in the 8bit era

Jade City by Fonda Lee --> Basically Jedi street gangs, pretty great

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson --> Near future hard sci-fi with a Big Dumb Object, excellent

Making the Monster by Kathryn Harkup --> Non-fiction about Mary Shelley, disappointing

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer --> Effectively creepy and well written

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin --> Absolutely fantastic, highly recommended

[0] https://sheep.horse/tagcloud.html#book


"Atomic Habits" by James Clear - best book on the psychology and practice of habit formation.

"Personal MBA" by Josh Kaufman - best introduction to business administration studies.

"Why Switzerland?" by Jonathan Steinberg - book on why Switzerland is the best European country.


Read "The Power of Habit" so feels like "Atomic Habits" will not be much different.


For those interested in humour, check out the novel Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher [0]. It had me laughing out loud and gasping many times at the sheer absurdity of the plot.

It is an epistolary novel composed of letters of recommendations by an English professor. It does a good job telling its story through a series of LORs.

Schumacher released a follow up novel this year, albeit written in conventional narrative style, that is also good. If you're coming from the first novel, the shift in narration may be jarring.

[0]: https://julieschumacher.com/writing/novels/dear-committee-me...


  East of Eden - John Steinbeck
  Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
  Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl
  Deep Work - Cal Newport
  The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint
  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Mark Manson
  Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
  Notes to Myself: My Struggle to Become a Person - Hugh Prather
  Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
  I Heart Logs: Event Data, Stream Processing, and Data Integration - Jay Kreps
  Kafka: The Definitive Guide - Neha Narkhede
  Effective Java - Joshua Bloch
  Algorithms - Robert Sedgewick, Kevin Wayne


I've been looking forward to reading Steinbeck for a while. Thanks for this :)


A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts - Andrew Chaikin. Loved it

A Man for all Markets - Edward O. Thorp. Loved his stories about counting cards and then moving onto hedge funds etc.

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road – Nick Bilton. Not a bad rundown on the Silk Road. I came across this book after listening to the Casefile podcast https://casefilepodcast.com/case-76-silk-road-part-1/ which I highly recommend.

Origin - Dan Brown. Enjoyed his first couple of books and thought that this might be alright. It was okay.


Yes! A Man for All Markets! I read this one too! Thorp became my new hero because of it. Got me to start doing more personal research projects.


Its an inspirational story alright. I’ve recommended it to just about everyone.


The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. Surprised at the amount of wisdom about life succinctly communicated on so many of the pages. Recommended.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

Frankenstein: The 1818 Text by Mary Shelley.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.


+1 "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"


Here are the best books we read in 2018. Happy reading! https://delanceyplace.com/view-archives.php?p=3739


The "book" I will recommend is: A practical guide to evil [1]. Extremely fun read.

[1] https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/


Review: One of the best series in the rational fiction genre (i.e people don't randomly hold idiot balls, there's no "they're just evil" and instead people have nuanced motivations, etc).

This story has the epic fantasy and action of the Lord of the Rings, the banter of a good comedy, the rising anticipation of a good thriller and all whilst having an ever intriguing world that is being slowly revealed.

You'll like it if you've ever read Worm, Mother of Learning, or HPMOR. Though mainly I'd say it's for people who want to read truly interesting complex characters, as well as enjoys the intellectual stimulation of trying to figure out what the protagonist should do next, and are at least open to the fantasy genre.


I read a ton and this is one of the best books I've read in the last 3 years, it is called "Killer of Men" by Christian Cameron.

He is one of my fav authors and this book is amazing. The story starts with a young farm boy named Arimnestos, Arimnestos is a historical figure who was the commander of the Plataean contingent during the Greco-Persian wars ~500BCE. The story is remarkable because it starts with him as a kid and you watch him grow up during this remarkable period in history. The author is incredible at developing the character and you feel like he is in the room every step of the way.


= Finished =

* Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari

* Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

* The Quants

* All About ADHD: A Family Resource for Helping Your Child Succeed With ADHD

* Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide To Getting It Done

* Why Does He Do That? Inside The Minds of Angry And Controlling Men

* Killing Pablo

* Blackhawk Down (re-read)

* Revelation Space. Banks. (re-read)

= Finished Chapters Required For A Course =

* Essential University Physics, Volume 1. Wolfson.

* Linear Algebra, A First Course. Kutler.

* A Concise Introduction to Linear Algebra. Schay.

* Biology I: Cells, Molecular Biology, and Genetics. Custom Text (York University, BIOL 1000).

* Chemistry, A Molecular Approach. Tro et. al.

= In Progress =

* 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari

* Time Reborn: From the Crisis In Physics to the Future of the Universe. Smolin.

* Freemium Mobile Games: Design & Monetization


Currently reading The Sun Also Rises. I have already read my fair share of Hemingway and I knew TSAR is regarded as one of his finest works, but still I didn't expect to be struck so hard by Book One.


Of the books I've read this year, there are a small handful that I think are beyond good.

Antifragile: This book has informed many decisions I have made recently. It is insightful, entertaining, and in its concern for human choices manages to send a beautiful message about nature and reality.

The Power Broker: I listened to this via audiobook and I highly recommend the experience. It's a large dose of history and a fascinating exploration of city politics and, as its name implies, power. And I learned a lot about New York!

Lonesome Dove: I hadn't read any fictional "westerns" and this came well recommended. I loved it. Listening to it while backpacking and on a road trip was extremely rewarding.

Man's Search For Meaning: Extremely powerful and potentially life changing. It was both cathartic and therapeutic for me, and has affected how I live my life.

The Lathe of Heaven: Incredibly enjoyable dystopian future fiction. It came recommended via the "HN reading list" released some number of months ago, and I liked it a lot.

The Fellowship of the Ring: I had started this book in high school but hadn't finished it for some reason. I picked it up again, and I'm glad I did. It is a gem, and there's good reason that it has become a part of our cultural bedrock. Its exploration of purpose, challenge, and choice is quite moving.


I read 50 books this year. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/50-books-i-read-year-fahad-ud...

One Minute Manager

Talent is Overrated

Originals

Measure What Matters

Crossing the Chasm

Mindset

The Startup Of You

Remote - Office not Required

So Good They Can't Ignore You

The 8 Traits Successful People

The Box

The Defining Decade - Why Your Twenties Matter - Meg Jay

The Power of Habit

Cracking the Coding Interview

The Google Resume

Brain Rules

Automatic Millionaire

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Bootstrappers Bible

Startup Nation

The Lean Startup

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Ideavirus

Traction - Gabriel Weinberg

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The $100 Startup

The Customer Funded Business

Alibaba - The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark

Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability

Hooked

Shoe Dog

Side Hustle

Start With Why

The Phoenix Project

Wiley The Customer Funded Business

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

The Pragmatic Programmer

Outliers

Delivering Happiness

The Four Hour Work Week

Good to Great

Sacred Games

Option B

Entrepreneuring Pakistan

Give and Take

Your Money or Your Life

Zero to One - Notes on Startups

Pour Your Heart Into It

Fourth Industrial Revolution


That is a very narrow, heavily concentrated set of subject matter. Obviously everyone's reading tastes vary, but could you benefit from branching out a little?


I am focused around tech and startups.


must've been a painful year. I tire of these books that force 350 pages out of something that can easily be explained in 20 pages.

Grit by Duckworth is probably the worst example of this. Overhyped trollop


Yep, Exactly how I felt about Grit. I didnt have the Grit to finish it.


Yes. So many books that could have been explained in a single tweet.


Could you give a thought about which one is worth to read write and which one to skip? I have some same reading list with you


Question, how in depth was the Alibaba book? Was full of nitty-gritty details of how it started or was it kind of a shallow hoo-ray kind of book?


It had details and insights of what was going on in real. Pretty detailed.


One Minute Manager is such a short but worthy read! I think everyone should go through it (takes 30 minutes maybe?)


Yes. It was a very quick read.


* The Secret History -- Donna Tartt

* The Goldfinch -- Donna Tartt

* Hotel New Hampshire -- John Irving

* A Prayer For Owen Meany -- John Irving

* Wonder -- R.J. Palacio

* Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain

* The Elegance of the Hedgehog -- Muriel Barbery

Irving and Tartt are my favorite.


I read alot on Kindle Unlimited, but mostly it's garbage. Fills the time while waiting in lines. My better quality reading is on Audible as I have one of those long Silicon Valley commutes each day.

I'm sure 10s of books, or more, passed my eyes this using Kindle Unlimited. Most are mind candy that pass odd moments of time. Two books caused me to rethink how I work and actually take notes with time to stop, reflect on how it applies to my world. They are:

_High Output Management_ by Andy Grove (from 1983!) _The Phoenix Project_

These have led to spirited discussions with the two co-founders of the startup where I work, and eventually to changes in process. There are some clashes, but logical ones, between the Scrum and Kanban approaches that are hot now and some ideas here. Mostly it's another way to think about the same core issues -- another tool in the toolbox.

Also, as time allows I am slowing going through _Blockchain Revolution_ by Don & Alex Tapscott. I'm a few years late on this one, but loving the updated 2018 version.

I've also enjoyed numerous offerings from Audible, especially:

_The Addictive Brain_, a Great Courses series of lectures. An overview of current thinking; dopamine does not play the role I thought it did in addiction.

_How Emotions are Made_, by Lisa Feldman Barret. The end of the book seems to be her preaching her political views with the theories she develops in the first 75% of the book. Her thinking and information is so excellent that it's worth putting up with her moralizing towards the end. Completely fascinating research by a top rate mind.

_The Girl with All the Gifts_, by M. R. Carey. Why did no one ever tell me this was a zombie story? Excellent!

_Unfu*k Yourself_, by Gary John Bishop. Offensive title; great book. Advice is dead on, if not new. People need to review a book like this once every year, and the narrator has the right voice for it.

_Judges for You_, by Timothy Keller. I used to really study the Bible; now I rarely get in deep. Keller always has something to say that's worth hearing.

_Elon Musk_, by Aslee Vance. Hate or love him, he's a major factor in moving human civilization forward in what I think are good ways. The wife and I got a few lively conversations while listening to this book.


Since no one has mentioned it so far, I recommend the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. This year, I finished (numbers in Discworld order, annotated by the series):

9. Eric [Rincewind]

10. Moving Pictures [Independent]

12. Witches Abroad [Witches]

18. Maskerade [Witches]

19. Feet of clay [The City Watch]

23. Carpe Jugulum [Witches]

32. A Hat Full of Sky [Tiffany Aching]

37. Unseen Academicals [Wizards]

38. I Shall Wear Midnight [Tiffany Aching]

Brilliant series, highly recommended. Whenever I feel down, I re-read one of the Witches series - I spot something I never noticed before - an immediate mood-booster!


Not going to list all fo them, but the one that will have the most immediate impact on not just my life is: "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn.


I can't praise Alfie Kohn highly enough.

I've read numerous books by him in the education section and they deserve so much more attention! For example, did you know that the vast majority of studies done to show the benefits of homework failed to show benefits? If you like that -- read The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing.


I read 12 books in 2018 and these are my favorites from 1 to 4:

- Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

- So good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport

- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Yuval Noah Harari


Only 9 books this year, https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/40352124-mike?shelf=re...

Highlights are:

* Networks of New York by Ingrid Burrington - A fascinating look at the communications infrastructure in NYC, written as a field guide. Inspired me to make a website in the same style for Philadelphia.

* Kitten Clone: The History of the Future at Bell Labs by Douglas Coupland - This is my first non-fiction Coupland book and it was nice to see his punchy writing translate to the topic. The chapter where he goes to the old facility in New Jersey is fantastic. There is a shorter, edited version of this part online, https://www.wired.com/2014/09/coupland-bell-labs/

* The Philip K. Dick Reader - My second time reading any Dick, this collection is amazing, lengthy, and inexpensive to pick up. You'll be up all night reading this and surprised how sci-fi from the '50s is so relevant today.


Consider the lobster - David f. Wallace (good)

Brief Interview with Hideous Men - David f Wallace (better)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep -Philip K. Dick (better than I expected)

A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick (even better)

The Goal, It's Not Luck, Critical Chain - Goldratt (OK, easy read)

The Phoenix Project - (bad prose, not inspired)

Grimus - Rushdie - (Amazing)

Autobiography of Mark Twain ( oscillating between amazing to boring, worth the effort)

Foundation (the whole series) - Asimov - (ok)

The Blank Slate - Steven Pinker - (Interesting, good read).


Good list - except for Phoenix Project - sorry you had to read it - utter insipid crap.


A Scanner Darkly is a great book. Too bad Keanu made that stupid movie.


Ernst Jünger: Annäherungen. Drogen und Rausch (not transleted to english? I've read it in polish). Great piece of essay.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu - bit sad

2 books by Greg Egan: Distress & Teranesia

The Invention of Nature : Alexander Von Humboldt's New World

DMT: The spirit molecule

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez (WOW)

The book of dead philosophers by Simon Critchley (funny!)

& some more (I have to start noting it down :P)

Currently: The Systems View of the World by Ervin Laszlo


So far this year, I've read the following:

- Revelation Space

- Armada

- I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire

- The Sleeping Dragon

- Wizardry: The League of the Crimson Crescent

- Snow Crash

- Scythe

- Off to Be The Wizard

- Spell or High Water

- An Unwelcome Quest

- Thunderhead

- Everlost

- Replay

- Stranger in a Strange Land

- The Amulet of Samarkand

- Everwild.

I'm currently reading A Conjuring of Light and The Way of Kings.

I was able to read so much more than I usually can because of audiobooks. I had a long commute for a couple months, so that helped me knock a book every week or so off my list.

Of the books I've already read this year, I think I would recommend Scythe and Thunderhead the most, but Snow Crash is a must-read, and Stranger in a Strange Land is pretty interesting, but I think a lot of it was lost on me because of the time period-specific language used throughout; it made it hard to understand the interactions between people.

As far as what surprised me? Probably Snow Crash. For some reason, I read somewhere that Ready Player One ripped off Snow Crash and while reading it, I just couldn't understand why they would think that... the two are really nothing alike. Pretty much the only common ground is a virtual world...


If you enjoyed Snow Crash, I would definitely encourage you to look into Stephenson's other books if you haven't already. REAMDE is very good and is also partially set in VR. Anathem is an interesting exploration of the distant future and alternate universes. Cryptonomicon has so much going on it's hard to know where to start, but it's a lot of fun.

I was also a big fan of Stranger in a Strange Land! I'll have to check out Scythe and Thunderhead.


Secrets of the Temple. An absurdly good read on the history of the Federal Reserve system. I learned a tremendous amount about how our world works, and how we got to where we are today. Very eye opening, and a little scary how powerful they are. (Not conspiratorial in tone, as the title and topic might have you believe. Very balanced narrative.)


Freakonomics - good “everything you know is wrong”

Promote yourself - meh “just become an influencer and pick a new job”

Extreme Ownership - good “navy seal war story -> leadership principle -> business application” x12

Rise - good “wow I have an easy life”

Drive - good “some people like doing stuff just because”

The Accounting Game - good “money explained to a kid to make you feel vetter about not understanding money”


I'm reading "Extreme Ownership" and it's a really entertaining read. The only offputting aspect is the nonchalant way they describe killing enemy combatants and the language they use is somewhat deragotory towards their adversaries. But I'm not sure you could survive sane through the things the authors went through without a bit of dehumanization of ones enemies - enemies that have killed your friends and colleagues and that you've had to kill yourself.

War is really ugly, but I liked the rational tone nevertheless and the techniques they use to stay focused and organized in a totally chaotic environment.

Systems analysis, nihilistic violence, group psychology, mindless cruelty towards animals, building leadership and team spirit - all applied to corporate consulting. 10/10 points, would read again. Would likely not want to be employed where this was considered the highest art of management literature.


Thanks for your take on this one. I was in Baghdad around the same time, Army, but a half step removed from combat arms. A decade removed from that now, I agree with you. In the moment, I think that dehumanization is a necessary side effect of combat. It lets you come to terms with everything slowly over time, rather than dealing with it all at once.

Interestingly, this was a management team read at my current employer. It isn’t seen as the only way to manage - more of a kick to have people own more of their responsibilities rather than deferring to others.


Click Here to Kill Everyone by Bruce Schneier

I wish it had a better title / cover because the interior of the book basically covers how bad things are right now and how we ended up with so much cyber-insecurity in the world. I read many other books and other things in 2018 that were great, but this one is a real wakeup call to our industry.


I have a post at my blog here: http://westby.io/5-books-ive-read-2018-1/

Some other books I read that I'd recommend: - Anathem - Deep Work - A Canticle for Leibowitz - Into Thin Air - Shoe Dog - Happiness Hypothesis


Yuval Harari - Sapiens

Yuval Harari - Homo Deus

Yuval Harari - 21 lessons for the 21st century

Frank Schätzing - The Swarm

Peter Drucker - The Effective Executive

Stephen Hawking - A Short History Of Time


These are a mixture of audio books and paperbacks I've been reading. I'm listening to more and more audiobooks via audible as it allows me to keep learning new stuff whilst travelling or doing simple household jobs.

Anyways. Here are a few of my best of I've read/listened to this year:

Dictators Handbook by Bruce De Mesquita and Alastair Smith - Very interesting theories on power structures.

History of western philosophy by Bertrand Russel - I love my history. And it was fascinating seeing how ideas/thoughts/thinking have evolved over the centuries.

America the Farewell tour by Chris Hedges - Very interesting ideas and points of view. A tough read at times. I really hope it some part of the book doesn't come true.

Chasing the Scream by Johanne Hari - Good history of the war on drugs, the cost and its futility.

I've read more but these are my top 5 of 2018


1. Imperium/Conspirata/Dictator [Cicero Trilogy] - Robert Harris (excellent)

2. The Fear Index - Robert Harris (good)

3. 1776 - David McCullough (good)

4. Sharpe's Eagle - Bernard Cornwell (good)

5. Star Wars: Thrawn - Timothy Zahn (okay, fun if you read original Thrawn books)

6. Star Wars: Alliances - Timothy Zahn (okay, not as fun as above)

7. Heir to the Empire - Timothy Zahn (fun!)

8. Star Wars: X-Wing series books by Aaron Allston (fun!)

9. Art and Fear - Bayles & Orland (not that impressed)

So I rediscovered Star Wars stuff I enjoyed a lot as a kid and re-read them as well as some newer SW stuff which was all right but not the same as encountering it at 13 years old.

Discovered Robert Harris this year, he's great. Going to keep reading more of his stuff.

I was re-reading some of the Hornblower books by C S Forester (amazing stuff) and branched out to Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe. It was good fun. Going to read more of that large series.


I thought The Fear Index was quite disappointing, simply not believable for me.


I have no life outside of reading and consume nearly 200 books/year, so I'd love to offer up a few 2018 favorites!

Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire (by Marc Bowden).

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator (Ryan Holiday).

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (Sam Quinones).

American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic (John Temple).

Rosemary's Baby (Ira Levin).

The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order: 1905-1922 (Edmond Taylor).

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Jeffrey Toobin).

The Way of Kings: The Stormlight Archive, Book 1 (Brandon Sanderson). This year was my fourth read. Don't get me started :/


Woah... How much time do you spend reading?

Also, what do you do in general?


I'll guess it avarages out to roughly 3-4 hours on weekdays and 10-20 over a weekend. I also love longform journalism, which can eat up a few hours per week.

I do little in general haha :/ My own reclusiveness combined with a relatively severe mental illness have kept me inside my apartment around 23/7 for years. I'm self-employed and try to hit 10-20 hours/week of work. Aside from that, my free time is endless and basically consists of reading, Netflix, and browsing the web with my two cats!


My dream!


Non-fiction:

7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy - Hamilton Helmer

American Wolf - Nate Blakeslee

Atomic Habits - James Clear

Conspiracy - Ryan Holiday

Courage To Be Disliked - Ichiro Kishimi

How To Change Your Mind - Michael Pollan

Open - Andre Agassi

Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker

World After Capital - Albert Wenger

Fiction:

Chocky - John Wyndham

Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata

The Eight Mountains - Paolo Cognetti

The Invisibility Cloak - Ge Fei

The Midnight Fox - Betsy Byars

Such Small Hands - Andres Barba

The Thief - Fuminori Nakamura

Ties - Domenico Starnone

Trick - Domenico Starnone


I’ve read more this year than I have in the past few years.

A few I especially enjoyed: - The Effectivd Executive - How to Win Friends and Influence People - Never Split the Difference - Code Simplicity - Atomic Habits - The Lessons of History - Superhuman by Habit - The Coaching Habit - On the Shortness of Life - Deep Survival - Desiring the Kingdom - Masters of Doom

You can check out the full list at my Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/50310109-paul-cook?ord...

Planning on diving more into history and biography in 2019 if anyone has any recommendations on that front.


I wish I could say I read as much as others here, but I'm slow and lazy. I'll mention one, though...

Roughing It by Mark Twain. It's a grab bag of stories about his journey west without much of an over-arching plot. Though one of his earlier novels, it already has his distinctive humor and a command of English you could drown in, like this:

"A growing warmth suffused the horizon, and soon the sun emerged and looked out over the cloud waste, flinging bars of ruddy light across it, staining its folds and billow caps with blushes, purpling the shaded troughs between, and glorifying the massy vapor palaces and cathedrals with a wasteful splendor of all blendings and combinations of rich coloring."


If you want to get through more books but don't have the time, you might want to give audio books/Audible a go. My book reading has declined over the years due to work and life. But my Audible subscription has allowed me to get through quite a few extra books every year.


I just ordered the book Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins (just came out).

If you haven't watched David Goggins' interview by Joe Rogan, it's definitely worth it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvWB7B8tXK8

David Goggins was the subject of Jesse Itzler's book Living With A SEAL which I did read after watching the interview.

If you haven't heard of David Goggins, he went from 280 lb bug exterminator to SEAL, and is now retired and runs seemingly-impossible marathons.

He is truely a "mind-over-matter" kind of person.

---

Otherwise, this year I started reading Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Pretty good and recommened.


Some books I've enjoyed in the past year:

Wish to laugh?

* Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

* Yes please! by Amy Poehler

Think?

* Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

* Where Good Ideas Come from, by Steven Johnson

* The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene: An Intimate History both by Mukherjee Siddhartha

Learn (more) about great thinkers?

* Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci or Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

* Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

Yuval Noah Harari 3 good ones:

* Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

* Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

* 21 lessons for the 21st century

From time to time, I try to put some good ones over here: https://greenido.wordpress.com/?s=book


Dr. Sleep - a newer Steven King book that reads like the old ones. May be the best King book I ever read. A sequel to The Shining, taking place mainly during Dan's adulthood (Dan was the kid in The Shining), a nomadic group of RV-dwellers sustain themselves into unnaturally-long life by torturing kids with The Shining to death and eating as it oozes out of them in a gaseous state.

Honestly, I can't believe King wrote this after all the gaudy, self-indulgent garbage he produced after he stopped doing coke. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be ghost-written.


Some fiction from this year I would recommend:

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S. A. Corey - I enjoyed this whole series. I like that the physics of space travel is respected among the politics/mystery. Each book in the series is a bit of a different genre set in the universe.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak - Eastern European folk tale akin to Rumplestiltskin.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green - Contemporary fiction with a scifi bent. Ultimately hopeful, it explores the consequences of viral fame.


Janesville: An American Story. This is about Paul Ryan's hometown and how it flourished until the Great Recession and what happened after. If you want to try to truly understand the thought process of Paul Ryan and expand your political horizons a bit (if you're liberal), then this is a good read. Full disclosure, I haven't finished yet, but mostly done and it has at least helped me understand his thinking a bit more.

Children of Blood and Bone: Really good and gripping. Listened to the audiobook of this one and it keeps you on your toes.


> Children of Blood and Bone: Really good and gripping. Listened to the audiobook of this one and it keeps you on your toes.

The most-liked review on the Goodreads page said to avoid this book like the plague. What makes this so good?


Older books, bought secondhand and enjoyed:

Batavia’s Graveyard - A brutal history of a shipwreck and subsequent mutiny that occurred off the coast of Australia in 1629 when Dutch traders were exploring a new route to the East Indies. Much better than expected from the cover.

Gates of Fire - Historical fiction that tells the story of the Spartan 300 and the battle of Thermopylae. Lived up to it’s high recommendation.

A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 - still working my way through this detailed tome, but enjoying the style of the author.


1. Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda - Great insight into how Apple teams develop products, and creating a “demo culture”

2. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou - Gripping prose and an altogether incredible storyline

3. It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and DHH - Some great lessons in here (interspersed with other not-so-great ones) for creating a “culture of calm” within organizations

4. When The Bubble Bursts by Hilliard Macbeth - Insightful look into the fragile structure of the Canadian real estate market (a bit hyperbolic at times, though)


Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand. Story of human grit and survival in the Pacific WWII theater that I hadn't heard of before. I was blown away by the story, and about what I learned about the War that I didn't already know.

Creativity Inc. Re-read it this year, re-inspired.

The Outsider - Stephen King. Well written, engrossing but a typical Stephen King novel

Shoe Dog - Phil Knight. Story of Nike. Phenomenal.

Bad blood - John Carreyrou. Story of Theranos. Absolutely crazy read.

7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy - Hamilton Helmer. Good insights on strategy


Winter Blues, Fourth Edition: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself

Primal Leadership, With a New Preface by the Authors: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

HBR's Guide to Getting The Right Work Done

The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life


These are the ones I read:

1. An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India - Highly recommended to Indians. It covers various aspects of colonization that are not covered in our history curriculum.

2. The Making of the Atomic Bomb - You will love it if you enjoy a mix of history, science and engineering. It pretty much covers everything from the discovery of the electron to the dropping of atomic bombs.

3. Sapiens - I think this is well known to HN community. It's a good read if you want summary of human development.


The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life — Erving Goffman (1956) You will recognize yourself and things you do, brought into high relief and as such revelatory. https://www.amazon.com/Presentation-Self-Everyday-Life/dp/03...


Factfullness - Hans Rosling [Highly Recommended! My favorite book this year]

How to Change Your Mind - Michal Pollan [Thumbs up]

Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker [Two Thumbs Up]

Creative Selection - Ken Kociend [Neutral. Blog post in book form. ]

Achtung Baby - Sara Zaske [Thumbs Up]

The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida [Been in my queue for years. Two thumbs up]

Small Fry - Lisa Brennan-Jobs [Neutral]

Gut - Giulia Enders [Two thumbs up]

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah [Two thumbs up. Learned more about the nuances of apartheid than I thought]

I'm Proud of You - Tim Madigan [Thumbs down]

Night - Elie Wiesel [Thumbs up]


The best books that I read this year were

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (this book is about Theranos and is absolutely insane, it reads like a thriller)

Educated by Tara Westover (this is a fascinating memoir about a woman who was raised by fundamentalists and "escaped" to BYU)

The Undoing Proect by Michael Lewis (about the relationship between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and their research together)

The Rise and Fall of DODO by Neal Stephenson (I love all of his books)


Favorite books of the year: (I'm primarily a sci fi and short story novel reader)

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang Like Brothers by Mark and Jay Duplass A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr Endymion by Dan Simmons Hyperion by Dan Simmons

A few classics that I'd never read before. Really great year of books for me.


Great picks!


I started the first volume of In the search of lost time[1] (french version), the masterpiece of Marcel Proust. Very nice book though hard to read because of the length of the sentences (nobody write this way nowadays).

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


- Homo Deus (and Sapiens, of course) - Enlightenment Now - Superintelligence (SUPER dense, but thorough overview on the topic if AI)


FAILED IT! - (good ideas but not deep enough)

The Children's Machine, Rethinking School In The Age of Computers - (uprooted my mind completely about kids)

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas -

Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds - (helped me to start thinking about phenoms in a decentralized way, a delightful perspective!)


Why We Get the Wrong Politicians - Isabel Hardman

A very real world and practical look at UK politics. When it costs £100,000 from your own pocket to stand, and councillor jobs (that are the training ground for MPs) are part-time but spread throughout working hours, we aren't really selecting politicians from a diverse pool.


One I can recommend is Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister

How to architect a failed military campaign that leads to the downfall of the government, become PM because the existing PM has to go and then write the history to blame everyone else and boost your own reputation.

Quite relevant today of all days!


It seems Boris Johnson knows about the book, unfortunately :-)


I just finished it the other day - the parallels are remarkable.


I'd recommend all of these:

Freakonomics- Interesting book if you're into Game theory and economics kind of stuff, though it has no prerequisites

Meditations- Great views of a stoic thinker

Zero to one- Interesting take on startups and how to build them

Foundation and empire- Amazing sci-fi book. Second book in the foundation series


+1 to "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius.


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