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Ask HN: Recommend one book I need to read this summer?
341 points by chha on July 2, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 296 comments
I'm coming up on my summer leave, and have absolutely no plans other than doing various things related to house maintenance or renovation. Evenings are mostly free. If you could recommend one book I should plan on reading this summer, what should it be and why. No limitations on genre, it doesn't have to be related to CS.

Patrick Collison, co-founder of Stripe, keeps a cool reading list with tons of books, color coded by the impact they had on him. He's clearly a voracious reader on a wide range of topics. I happened to find it yesterday and found tons of books and authors to add to my Amazon wishlists: https://patrickcollison.com/bookshelf

If you're interested in games / startup stories, I have to recommend Masters of Doom, about the early days of id. It's thrilling and exciting to read: https://www.amazon.com/Masters-Doom-Created-Transformed-Cult... - It's also in the news that USA has ordered a pilot for a TV adaptation. Here's hoping it's good!

Sivers also has a list: https://sivers.org/book

Masters of Doom is such a fun, good book. I ended up power reading a few summers ago.

If you grew up playing Doom, and all the other shareware games like Hexen, Heretic, etc... reading about Id Software's start and history is more interesting than I ever thought it would be.

Another book that drew me in was "Blood, Sweat, and Pixels". It's a collection of short-ish game creation stories packaged into a book. Really candid interviews and writing.

Masters of Doom had a much bigger impact on me then I thought it would. Can really recommend it!

I read that a year or two ago and find myself quite often thinking about it. It really is very good

One of very few books I've read twice and intend to read again in the future.

Keep in mind, he claims to have read about half the books on the list and it's not clear which half...

I've read Master's of Doom 4 times...and loved each time through it.

love this list

My to-go favorite for relaxed summer evenings is "The Master and Margarita" by Bulgakov.

It is a literature masterpiece that magically adjusts to my current inner state. It can be both easy reading when I'm tired and just want to unwind, and thought provoking when I'm ready to be thoughtful.


I started reading "The Master and Margarita" this year after seeing this title pop up on HN so often. I could not finish it, I found it rather boring. I'm curious, am I the only one? What does everyone find so great about this book?

I read it earlier this year and also can't understand why it's so highly recommended. If I were living in the Soviet Union during the time it was written it would probably be the greatest book I had ever read, but as someone just looking for something to read nowadays, I mean, so, so many other better choices.

That is an incredibly limited view. How many amazing books written in "add country" during "add time" which are classics and amazing books. Sure, there is always an opportunity cost, but what does it have to do where you are living and the time it was written? Does it mean you can only read books written after the new millennia?

I also read it because it was mentioned on HN and I think it is boring too. Everything that is happening seems quite random and not very interesting. I feel either something got lost in translation or I lack some knowledge about Russian culture and don't get most references, even though I enjoyed a few other Russian classics. Otherwise I'm couldn't explain why it seems so popular here. It really doesn't help that the German translation which I read seems really theatrical and has really contrived dialog.

I also found it hard to follow and the story not particularly interesting, at least not enough of a reward for struggling through it. I finished it a few pages a night over ~3 months, which was a good activity to help me sleep.

I read the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Could be that it simply whooshed me, maybe I'll try again older and wiser and find myself enjoying it.

Great to see (classic) fiction suggested. Seems non-fiction usually gets the medal for "worthiness".

Laying at the side of the pool during my vacation in Turkey with a fresh smell of sunflower oil and the sound of an approaching tram.

I am reading it now - and it is fantastic. And because I cannot read in Russian but am learning it I see how much I am missing: eg: the word for Turnstyle in Russian is the same in meaning as tourniquet - which figures prominently in the beginning of the book.

This is a beautiful book. I recommend the Bergin/O'Connor translation.

Highly recommended! Especially the version OP linked (the Tiernan O'Connor/Burgin translation)

i actually just finished reading it last night. probably one of the best bits of fiction ive read.


I always think that learning probability can not only help you to gain more intuition when dealing with scientific relative subjects but also empower you to think the daily life things in a different way. I recommend Introduction of probability [1] since it's easy to study and provides great free video lectures [2].

[1] - https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Probability-Dimitri-P-Be...

[2] - https://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-6-012-introduction-to-prob...

yeah, statistics rocks! One area which I am fascinated about is Bayesian methods and here is the excellent book https://gumroad.com/l/empirical-bayes

What about the Bayesian has been fascinating?

I have a very rough idea about it and i wanted to learn more. Is this book based out on Baseball statistics any good when i don't know anything about baseball?

it's just the fact that one simple formula drives everything and there is the infinite number of applications - from A/B testing to deriving poker play strategies against opponents based on the small number of observations. I don't think that lack of knowledge about baseball can prevent anyone from reading this book. The author explains everything by using very simple terms. But you need to have some knowledge of R programming language to run the code samples.

this. I almost completed first book just 2 months ago .Excellent book also do all the exercise.

I'd have to recommend 'A deepness in the sky' and 'A fire upon the deep' by Vernor Vinge. Both really good science fiction books where your initial perception is slowly shown to be incorrect as more details appear about the characters, and with great storylines. Despite being thick tomes with small print, I got through both reasonably quickly as they were so addictive to read - 'just one more chapter', etc...

If you enjoyed those books, I'd recommend Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky as well! It explores the concept of a race of spiders evolving into sentience and how wildly different it's civilization and technology would be.

> I'd recommend Children of Time

I agree! Like the Vinge books mentioned by the GP, the interactions between aliens and humans are well written, and nicely bring out the quirks of the different species.

Also enjoyed that one. Reminded me of the whole series that started with ‘Three Body Problem’ which I read around the same time.

Finished the first last year, stalled halfway through the second. I’ll finish it sooner or later. The series is entitled ‘Zones of Thought’ IIRC.

Also check out Alistair Reynolds. House of Suns is probably my favorite, which is a pity because it’s a standalone not a series. The whole Revelation Space series is good too.

Lately it’s been the new ‘Expanse’ book, and ‘The Culture’ series.

If we're recommending scifi I'd like to add Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward.

Except he's now up to three books.

It's hard scifi of a neutron star passing through the solar system and Earth scrambling to research it. At the same time life is developing on the neutron star.

This book inspired the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Blink of an Eye"[1].

I haven't read the book but the Star Trek episode was awesome.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blink_of_an_Eye_(Star_Trek:_Vo...

No limits on genres or types of books. There are so much wonderful stuff to read I've never heard of, so by imposing any kind of limits or suggesting genres I would limit people to suggest stuff I might already like, not stuff I might like but would never otherwise hear about.

I did not expect to see sci-fi here but I'd like to add anything in the Revelation Space universe by Alastair Reynolds. I just got done reading it for a 2nd time, and Elysium Fire for the 1st time and I'm in love with his style of writing and the universe he's created.

I just want more information about all the things like Ultras, Rust belt, Glitter band, Belle epoque and so forth.

In my opinion it's not as poetic as Dune but it's not action filled like The Expanse. The fascinating parts that make me keep reading are all the cultural and technical details he brings out between the story line.

I could not imagine a thread like this on HN without sci-fi.

I also like this series but starting a new book in the series takes to long to drag me back in every time... I wish it would zoom into the main characters earlier...

Yes! Verner Vinge wrote some great stuff. Go read “Rainbow’s End” if you liked A Fire Upon The Deep.

Still my favorite SF writer of all time. I read the Witling in the 80's in high school. I have read every book he has written before and after that book. He peaked with the two books you recommended and has slowly gone down hill since then.

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" and "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out", also by Richard Feynman.

He worked on the Manhattan Project among other things, writes in a very engaging way and shares a huge number of funny anecdotes. Yet he is also thought-provoking, for example introducing the idea of nanotechnology, explains why he is against pompous titles and posing, and how he struggled with staying creative.

Besides funny stories and grand ideas, there's also a heartbreaking personal struggle. One of those books years after reading I find myself randomly thinking about sometimes.

Richard Feynman inspired Ralph Leighton to get curious about Tannu Tuva, an area in central Asia. Which led Leighton to write, "Tuva or Bust!" about his travels there. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60349.Tuva_or_Bust

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" is really good, almost every week I remember some adventure, and I look locks a different way :)

I listened to all of his books, and all of his lectures, on a car ride once. Everything was throughly enjoyable and I’d recommend it to anyone.

I've really enjoyed Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila by Robert M. Pirsig.

EDIT: Also, The Phoenix Project is very very good if you are into IT management: funny, and although a novel then the content will make you want to fix your company and perhaps even think bigger about your carrer. But this one won't last you a summer since if you read it that slow you'll forget what was going on. :)

After reading recommendations everywhere I read Motorcycle Maintenance but I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about. I was completely bored all the way through and still have no idea what it is people see in it.

I felt exactly the same way, and this as someone who spent their entire life surrounded by motorcycles. The philosophical insights just felt a bit... corny? And the rest was just plain boring.

If you've read The Phoenix Project (or haven't yet) I also recommend The Goal. Also a novel, but I think it does a better job of explaining the Theory of Constraints. The Phoenix Project worked better (for me) after reading The Goal, it connects ToC to IT work, but I don't think worked as a good introduction on its own.

Fun fact: Pirsig never once mentions which make and model of motorcycle he rides in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Blindsight by Peter Watts Very strong hard sci-fi with mind-bending approach to the question of conscience. And vampires (not the Twilight kind, the scary kind).


Fair warning: it's kinda pessimistic on the future of humankind.

If you like it, proceed to Echopraxia. More hard sci-fi, more vampires, even worse news for humankind.

Someone posted this on a previous book list and I read it and I'm so glad I did, now I've read Echopraxia, and I've bought all his other books and I'm on those as well, totally awesome. I still think about this series and the vampires and hive minds.

Some of the wildest sci fi I've ever read. So many mind stretching concepts are explored while still remaining a great story.

If you liked Blindsight, check out his Rifters trilogy beginning with Starfish. Hard Sci-Fi, bioengineering/hacking, deep sea adventure.

I propose that Planet 9 (when/if is found) to be named "Big Ben"

s/conscience/consciousness/ though conscience is mentioned too...

Thinking, fast and slow - by Daniel Kahneman

It is a great book and talks about two systems in which we can divide the working of our brain. Kahneman also talks exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.


Others already wrote that lots of the studies this book is based on have been called into question, here's a summary: https://replicationindex.com/2017/02/02/reconstruction-of-a-...

Please note also that Kahneman himself left a comment there stating: "I accept the basic conclusions of this blog."

Kahneman, like any scientist, can only really present our best thinking at the time of writing. It's not like anything he wrote about was conjecture or pseudoscience. There are studies to back everything he wrote about. In most cases, there was and still is ample evidence. Some are now considered questionable after contrary evidence was found. None have really been "disproven" but are much less certain. And I don't think he presented any of it with an air of mathematically certainty. Still a great book.

It is important to separate wrong results from the person who does or publishes them. There's always chance that some research fails to reproduce. Proper controls and methodology reduce it, but it's still there. Especially in fields where the science just begins to understand the basics and where the matters are as complex and diverse as human behavior. We shouldn't be afraid to question the conclusions if they don't reproduce because it might imply that it was "conjecture or pseudoscience". Sometimes it is, but often it isn't - it's just this particular theory proven to be not true. Happens all the time to the very best of scientists.

Yeah. Kahneman himself didn't do to badly in the replication crisis but a lot of the research that was used in his book did. It would be great if he could release a new, shorter edition or something.

The book contains much more than priming though, doesn't it?

I only listened to a few chapters and lost interest.

It is worth noting that a lot of the psychological studies that this book references have failed to reproduce. I don't have a list on me (and haven't read the book!), but I know that there was more than one.

Likely still worth reading, for at least forcing the reader to introspect on processes that will help them think better, and solve problems better.

If I had to choose one book to save from 451, I'd definitely choose this one. Also rereading it is very rewarding experience, I've read it at least 12 times.

Is not in Audible and that's killing me!

Living in Ireland you have to use .uk and they don't have many books.

This is a great book. It have me a lot to think about and sincerely improved my decision making skills.

Perhaps the most important book I've ever read is Difficult Conversations, by Douglas Stone. It's possible that my life is 10-20% easier since I read it, with zero hyperbole.

It's not a breezy quick read, but my favourite sci-fi is always likely to be Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson.

In what ways did reading Difficult Conversations make your life easier? Very curious to learn more (it's been on my list for a while, but need to motivate myself to get around to it)!

On that note, have you ever read Non-violent Communication? Seems like another book in the same vein.

I'm making this as a separate comment so that if there's one thing you take away, it's this:

Whatever someone says they are upset about is only rarely what they are actually upset about.

This seems simple and obvious in hindsight, but to truly internalize it has changed my life experience. They aren't sad that you forgot to call; they are concerned that you don't love them. It's almost like when someone is upset, you should try dropping down at least one level of Maslow's hierarchy to interrogate "what's really going on, here" because the upset person is frequently not consciously aware of what they are really upset about, either.

To that end, if you practice consoling people by addressing what they are feeling instead of what they are saying, it might as well be like gaining a superpower. And that is why I put this book at the top of any list. It is the real deal in this regards.

I haven't read NVC, but I am peripherally familiar. I would say that the two are only related so far as they are books about communication; for people who only read sci-fi, this might seem to be apples and apples... NVC is prescriptive while DC is about developing a greater understanding of intent and the motivations behind our words.

I was about to summarize, but instead, I'm going to copy and paste from the web:


Difficult conversations are anything that someone does not want to talk about, such as asking for a raise or complaining to a neighbor about his barking dog. People are usually reluctant to open a difficult conversation out of fear of the consequences. Typically, when the conversation does occur the parties think and feel a lot more than they actually say.

Underlying every difficult conversation are actually three deeper conversations. The "What happened?" conversation usually involves disagreement over what happened, what should happen, and who is to blame. The feelings conversation is about the parties' emotions, and their validity. The identity conversation is an internal conversation that each party has with herself, over what the situation tells her about who she is. The authors identify common errors that people make in these sorts of conversations. The key to having effective, productive conversations is to recognize the presence of these deeper conversations, avoid the common errors, and turn difficult conversations into learning conversations.


My favourite example is a scenario in which you have been consistently working late and missing dinner - and your partner is pissed. You feel tired and angry that your hard work is unappreciated and that they are just adding to your frustrations. This is roughly where most couples would fight.

The book helps you understand that when your partner is angry that you've missed dinner... well, unless you've been wasting away of a nutritional disease, they aren't concerned that you're hungry. They feel lonely and disrespected. They are aware that in the early days of a relationship, all of the demons in hell couldn't have kept you away... so what's changed? They are worried for the future of your relationship. They are worried that they've been replaced, physically or emotionally.

And part of this is the questions you have to ask yourself; is your partner correct to be concerned? Has something intangible changed? Am I hiding and using work as a cover?

After reading the book, I had powerful new tools to understand and correct the problem. Which is a big deal because these sorts of problems happen all of the freaking time. And if I can make even some of the problems in my life resolve faster with a better outcome, then I'm truly winning.

Honestly, the book was so powerful for me that when I finished, my primary emotion was anger at myself. I suddenly had to confront the idea that most of the major problems and conflicts in my life had been far more my fault than I'd ever considered... and that if I'd done some simple things differently eg. thought about what someone was really saying, there are people gone from my life that might have otherwise still been there today.

Is Cryptonomicon even sci-fi? I mean, Stephenson is known for the genre, and certainly it will appeal to genre fans, but it's not actually set in the future...

I totally second the recommendation, though.

That's a valid question to which I offer a hopefully interesting answer: given that Cryptonomicon came out in 1999, it would have been a prediction (or anticipation) of a future that was more and more true over the next 10, 15 and 20 years - especially if you were in the 99.9% of the population that was outside of the ultra-nerdy pre-crash tech bubble that we live and breathe in and take totally for granted today as HN members in 2019.

I'm reminded of "This Is Water" - the David Foster Wallace commencement speech where he started with an allegory about the frog making small talk with a fish. I paraphrase:

"The water is lovely today, isn't it?"

"What the hell is water?"

One of the characters is actually an immortal alchemist - though that might not be obvious just from Cryptonomicon.

Coincidentally, I recently got into an interesting argument with my father. He'd just seen Captain Marvel and got defensive when my friend referred to it as a superhero movie; he insisted that it was a science fiction movie.

I probably shouldn't enjoy being empirically correct so much, but this dispute gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that he was, quite simply, wrong.

Disregarding the movie, it's the attempt to identify sci-fi that is interesting. In the same way the judge couldn't define pornography "but knows it when I see it", there is not one standing definition. However, the greats who established the genre agreed on some important basics which hold water today. Cribbed from Wikipedia:

Heinlein: "...realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method."

Wells: "...a conscientious attempt to be faithful to already known facts (as of the date of writing) was the substrate on which the story was to be built, and if the story was also to contain a miracle, it ought at least not to contain a whole arsenal of them."

Shippey: "...the basic building block and distinguishing feature of a science fiction novel is the presence of the novum... a discrete piece of information recognizable as not-true, but also as not-unlike-true, not-flatly- (and in the current state of knowledge) impossible."

It's Wells' point that led to me leaving this comment. Don't get me wrong - I get genuinely excited every time REDACTED shows up in a Stephenson novel... but his immortality is, for me, uncomfortably close to a miracle.

Now, sometimes this is preferable; hands up if you would prefer to not know the word Miti-chlorian.

Haha, in Stephenson's latest we find he is even more than that!

Spoilers, people. ;)

Cory Doctorow has often said that good sci-fi doesn't predict the future so much as anticipate the present.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that Cryptonomicon came out in 1999. While there were early cryptocurrencies that all went nowhere, Stephenson was a good decade ahead of the BTC paper.

It could also be argued that his particular focus on the obliteration of sensitive emails being kept on private servers was unnervingly prescient, too.

I would recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Hays Translation) along with On the Shortness of Life by Seneca. These 2 books together will introduce you to the Stoic philosophy which I just found a couple of years ago and it has made my life much better.

I have always been of the opinion that you ought to read the stoics in the order of:

1. Epictetus (foundational with the enchiridion) [trans Robert Dobbin] 2. Seneca’s letters (eloquent exhortations from one person to another) [trans Robin Campbell] 3. Aurelius’s meditations (powerful self-reflections not meant for publication) [trans Martin Hammond]

I found that, going back, both Seneca or Epictetus were lesser reads than Aurelius, but I’m still glad I read them.

[These are my preferred translations, but I did see this comment and just ordered the translation mentioned https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8717216]

The obstacle is the way (https://www.amazon.com/Obstacle-Way-Timeless-Turning-Triumph...) is also a good one on the Stoic philosophy, could serve as in introduction to Meditations

On this vein one may benefit from the Enchiridion of Epictetus.

A special book that I'm thoroughly enjoying right now: "Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts"[1].

Why? I'll let the abstract speak:

"[...] The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste.

"Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible. At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge. It is a most unusual book."

    - - -
PS: Get the hardcover edition—absolutely worth it, especially given the subject matter; it's about 600 pages (don't let the page count discourage you) and is beautifully bound, with lots of educating pictures of internals of manuscripts, calligraphic masterpieces and much more.

[1] https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/213/213069/meetings-with-rem...

I mainly read SF to relax (biased towards hard space opera) and have accumulated a "best of the best" list of my own:

Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey (TV show The Expanse is loosely based on this, but IMO doesn't even come close)

Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds

Three Body Problem (all 3 books) - Liu Cixin

Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks (your gateway drug into the Culture universe)

Genuinely wish I could experience all the above for the first time again. And looking forward to checking out some of the others mentioned here.

> Three Body Problem (all 3 books) - Liu Cixin

These are great and helped me re-discover my love of sci-fi from when I was a kid, they are often recommended in these HN book threads. I just ordered the other 3 books that you mentioned so thanks for the recommendations!

TBP is probably the worst sci-fi book I've ever read. It's hard to say how much one should blame Cixin vs. the translator regarding the inept, wooden dialogue, but we can certainly blame Cixin for terrible character development and absurd plot points.

Well, there's no accounting for taste I suppose - needless to say I disagree, but if it wasn't for you, so be it. I do note the books seem a little divisive; people either love them or hate them, much like Stephenson.

I do understand how some people might find the dialogue somewhat strange, especially if they haven't had much exposure to foreign media before. The translator always has a choice as to how much they "westernize" the dialogue. This translator did indeed try to keep as much of the Chinese "tone" in there as he could, and as such if you were expecting totally normal English, I can see how you'd be disappointed.

So yes, anyone thinking about picking this up should be aware - it doesn't read like a Tom Clancy novel. If that doesn't scare you off, though, I think you'll find it most rewarding.

My specific complaint with the dialogue is that nearly every character talks in the same way: robotic and professorial. It's a symptom of Liu's poor character design, especially when it comes to female characters. His characters' motivations are often opaque so their actions are inexplicable.

I could forgive this (even Arthur C. Clarke wasn't much interested in characters) if it wasn't for some of the laughably absurd plot points the novel hinges on.

This way of speaking is believable for Chinese scientists and militaries. The cop had a very different tone.

I agree that TBP is overated and is also poorly translated. I could not bring myself to read the next two books.

I’ve read all of them. You won’t be disappointed.

I’d start Alistair Reynold’s stuff off with ‘House of Suns’ though. It’s a standalone, but it’s one of his best works IMO. Then go ahead and devour the ‘Revelation Space’ series.

Huh, haven't actually read "House of Suns"! Guess I know what's next on my list, thanks!

If you bounce off of Consider Phlebas, try Player of Games. I think it's an easier place to start the Culture novels.

Agree with this. Consider Phlebas took me a few tries to get into, ‘Player of Games’ was just easy.

Couple chapters into ‘Use of Weapons’ but haven’t been reading much lately due to life.

OP asked for one book. Help us decide?

Why everyone is recommending even more work for on your summer leave is beyond me. I'd personally recommend Ready Player One, perhaps use an audiobook (I love them). I personally listened to the one voiced by Wil Wheaton and it was fantastically done. Definitely recommended! It is a lot better than the movie in case you're wondering.

You have every right to enjoy this book. But for anyone who has read Ready Player One and absolutely hated it as much as I did, there is a hilarious podcast called 372 Pages We'll Never Get Back (from the guys of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax) that mocks the book chapter-by-chapter.

Why did you finish the book? I just don't finish the books that I find a drag to read. I won't listen to the podcast, but everyone is free to have their own opinions.

I promised a friend. It was a pretty short book as well so it was easy to blow through.

"Ready Player One" was a lot of fun and really fast-paced

War and Peace by Tolstoy (I like the Volokhonsky and Pevear translation, though I first read a different one that I also liked and now can't remember). If you read it casually, it'll take you most of the summer; if you race through it, you might be done in a few weeks. It's funny, it's tragic, it's moving, it's educational.

Strongly second this. However, it starts very slow, so, if you do read it, make sure to force yourself through the first handful of chapters.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, SF from 1992. Goodreads entry here [1]

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40651883-snow-crash

Recently finished this, I enjoyed it a lot but I admit it's not... quite what I expected with the heavy religious aspect of the book. Deliberately irreverent, almost tongue-in-cheek (Hiro Protaganist...). Neal Stephenson had an incredible eye wrt the capabilities limitations of software, especially if you view it through the lens of 1992

Or his most recent novel "Fall, or Dodge in Hell".

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

The ride to the top and then rock bottom for Theranos is a wild one, and the author does a great job of not letting you put this book down once you start.

I would recommend this book to every young person just entering the workforce. Many companies are outright built on lies and many managers, C levels especially, are manipulative psychopaths. Don't sell your soul, don't lose your sanity, don't doubt your skills, even if a whole room of wealthy and venerable yesman point finger at you - there is a good chance it is not you who is crazy, it is them.

This is a book I recommend to everyone. I could not put it down. Also, I think it is essential to living in the current "fake it till you make it" culture. That books shows no matter how well educated you are, you are still human that can be swayed to do things you don't agree with to a certain extent, even when your gut is telling you "No, this is wrong".

One of the best books I've read this year. Highly recommended, read like a well written hollywood movie.

Books on interacting with people.

How to Win Friends and Influence People. - Dale Carnegie

Influence - Robert Cialdini

Books on understanding how to push through adversity

The Obstacle Is The Way - Ryan Holiday

Man's Search For Meaning - Victor Frankly

Books on process improvement

The Phoenix Project

The Four Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss (ignore the outsourcing bit, listen to his podcast)

Books on breaking out of your thought bubble.

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Ishmael - David Quinn

Books for understanding how sales works

Ultimate Sales Machine - Chet Holmes

Negotiate As If Your Life Depended on It - Chris Voss

Any of these books are great starts. If the leadership big bites you there's way more I can suggest. Most of these are a mix of classics and new stuff. I've read them all and they want have their own style and provide their own insight. The trick is to find out what parts work with how you do and incorporate them into your flow. The learning process never ends.

I'll disagree with Viktor Frankl, not because I've read the book - but it is worth knowing the man was a questionable person and his ideas have some questions over them too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl#Controversy

There's valid criticisms that can be made of any book and any author. The question isn't whether the reader gets benefit or not in my eyes. We read books from Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Marcus Aurelius, and all sorts of historical people who have advocated or committed actual atrocities. Many of our heroes are warriors with imperfect lives that history has white washed. General Patton for example was a brilliant general who knew what it took to win a war, but was harsh on his troops often to the point of cruel. General Sherman burned civilian cities to the ground and let slaves drown in his mission to end the civil war. Rev. Martin Luther King was a womanizer. To take the important lessons one can learn from a person who has failed in one way but succeeded to find the positive aspects of life and shared them is what allows for all human advancement. We don't succeed because we are without fault, but because we overcome that fault.

Thanks for your point and great examples.

They succeeded because they [somehow, for one reason or another] got away with their bad traits (or what we perceive as bad trait nowadays), and they became famous because of their good traits.

I read the book and find it extremely useful in finding meaning.

I’m not sure what “questionable person” means. The Wikipedia article describes criticisms and I’m glad they are documented, but seem to come down to criticism of his philosophy by some peers.

That has to be Factfulness from Hans Rosling :-)

Why: Where journalists continuosly provide the trees of human progress, this book provides the forest.

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. A wonderfully in depth look at a society that grew up in the harshest conditions, and their revolution against tyrannical oppression.

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence [by Max Tegmark]

> When they launched, Prometheus was slightly worse than them at programming AI systems, but made up for this by being vastly faster, spending the equivalent of thousands of person-years chugging away at the problem while they chugged a Red Bull. By 10 a.m., it had completed the first redesign of itself, v2.0, which was slightly better but still subhuman. By the time Prometheus 5.0 launched at 2 p.m., however, the Omegas were awestruck: it had blown their performance benchmarks out of the water, and the rate of progress seemed to be accelerating. By nightfall, they decided to deploy Prometheus 10.0 to start phase 2 of their plan: making money.

I always found that book shallow. I only read it because of Elon Musk being mentioned

I found the name dropping (Elon Musk etc) rather tedious. The book wasn't as good as I expected it to be.

Yes and that's the only reason I picked up the book. Because back in the day I was obsessed (2017-2018) with him and the book literal advice is getting a job not like musk but a special skill that automation can't replace

I really enjoyed Never Split the Difference. The stories are good, and I still use the practical tips on negotiation and conversation all the time.


I am glad this is mentioned here, as I was about to. One of the most useful book I have read. Lots of practical advice.

I'd recommend The selfish gene , quite interesting book, it gave me a new perspective in how the evolution and life works.

Plus one. I’m reading this now. I have little interest in biology/zoology but already I’m gripped by it. I can’t believe how old it is, yet still feels fresh

Carter beats the devil, by Glen David Gold. It is sort of a mystery-thriller fiction novel, set in a real-ish historical context of stage magicians, when technology is entering the scene.

I found it very enjoyable, rarely read books in that kind of fictional setting, and have successfully recommended it to a number of friends and family. I can't recommend the author's other books though. It has nothing to do with CS.

I should add that this is not a book you will see commonly recommended, since it isn't on many people's top 10-20 lists. However, I originally read it on a summer holiday from work - and I hope others will share in enjoying it too.

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca.[1]

[1] - https://tripinsurancestore.com/4/on-the-shortness-of-life.pd...

On the genre of Stoicism, Marcus Aurelius has intrigued me for some time. I have yet to read any of Seneca's work though but imagine that it is any bit as much quality(!).

I would like to add a candidate for the recommendation on Stoic philosophy - "Meditations by Marcus Aurelius".

Meditations disappointed me, it was so obviously never meant as a coherent whole. Just long lists of notes in more or less random order, lots of repetition, not everything intelligible, few things applicable.

I think reading a randomly selected 1/6th of Meditations gives more or less the same experience as reading all of it.

I find it great to dip into. Open at random and read a page. Like you said, it's just not meant to be read as a whole.

Meditations is great. Seneca's letters are better I think.

Inner Engineering by Sadhguru. For me it was an unexpectedly transformational when I read it 6 months ago.

Unlike the stoicism books that teach you to condition yourself to be unaffected by external events, this is a method for taking charge of what goes on inside the body and (in my case) in the mind and emotions.

As an aside, if you haven’t tried audiobooks, I would recommend trying. I find that after a while day of staring at the screen I really don’t want to stare at anything else, so my book consumption dropped considerably. With audiobooks I was able to restore it somewhat (and it’s great for filling in lost time during driving).

Not to take away anything from your experience. Obviously Sadhguru and his teachings worked for you.

To me Sadhguru comes across as a person who made a good living for himself by telling others what they want to hear. As a person of science, I can't tolerate his 'scientific' theories which are downright wrong. This is person who said he can figure out if a food is spoiled by looking at the direction of rotation of a rudhraksha necklace held above it!

You can find more examples here: https://scroll.in/article/927625/opinion-the-disturbing-irra...

Your perspective is yours to chose.

I chose to see him as a great human being who inspires many people to do a lot of good for his country and the world. [1] Really, the state the world is in, the fact that he is really big on planting trees means I don’t care if he’s into Xenu - just keep planting those trees man! ;)

Jokes aside though, my perspective allowed me to benefit from his teaching and yours precludes you from doing so. Interesting, isn’t it?

As for “science”: the only thing I care about is what I know through direct experience. So I follow the simple rule of practicing something for 3 months without questioning and evaluating the results. If it works, I keep at it - so I’m keeping at it. I also recently took the opportunity to meet Sadhguru in person. This to me is better “science” than theoretical discussions.

[1] https://isha.sadhguru.org/sites/default/files/uploadpdf/OUT1...

I’d also recommend searching for Sadhguru on YouTube and watching any of his answers that peak your interest. I can’t help but feel that he has tapped into some stream of wisdom we can only hope to catch a glimpse of.

His answers such as water retaining emotional memories? Trapping spirits in boxes after Tantric rituals like Ghostbusters?

No thanks, it's plainly nonsense.

Yes he’s a Mystic so not everything fits within our western beliefs. I assume you don’t dismiss someone once you find out they believe in God? Search for topics of his that interest you as appose to looking for reasons to dismiss him. The man has done some incredible work through his non profit Isha. Look at Rally for Rivers or the green hands project or Youth and Truth.

I do think belief in God is irrational, but I don't dismiss people for being religious because I understand that such belief offers great emotional support. There is a difference between someone who holds personal religious beliefs and someone who is trying to convert people to their belief system for personal gain.

This is what people like Sadhguru do, but at massive scale. He is a classic cult leader, a more sophisticated Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh catering to a more sophisticated and English-speaking audience. Organisations like his Isha are non-profit for tax benefits as they don't end up paying income taxes and donations to them are tax-deductible almost worldwide. And of course they are massive vote banks which is why they are protected by politicians.

I don't have a problem with non-western beliefs. I've had a daily meditation practice for years, currently at least an hour everyday. But it's just psychological exercise. Nobody should have to pay $400 to Sadhguru's rebranding of these public domain practices, even if Sadhguru exclaims it is not for profit as he rides into the sunset on his BMW motorcycle or private jet.

Again looking at the good that Isha does, if it’s a cult, sign me up!

As for money: https://isha.sadhguru.org/us/en/wisdom/article/should-the-sp...

Anyway it seems like your mind is made up. Glad you found a practice that works for you!

So his argument is that he charges rich urban people for their own good because they are too spoilt to attend the program in bare minimum conditions in rural settings and they only commit when they have to spend money. I suppose he thinks rich people take only rich gurus seriously.

It falls flat when you consider, to name just one example, Vipassana courses that are 100% free and taken very seriously by all participants. Nobody is walking in and out of those courses. The teachers are volunteers who are neither rich nor famous. It doesn’t lessen the seriousness of the participants.

Edit: if there is any doubt Isha is a cult, please read the comments on the very page you have linked. Upselling more expensive seats, claiming “my master” ought to charge one a lifetime’s income or “1 child” to listen to his words.

Could you share more about the personal transformation you experienced?

Sure, if you really want to know.

To put it into perspective: I live a life most people can only dream of - I have good looks, excellent physical condition and health, a loving family, a partner who adores me, a very comfortable income and circumstances, a job where I am made to feel valued, lots of experiences from travelling all around the world - everything that I can think of that would make one happy.

And yet, for years I have suffered from an underlying unhappiness that would periodically surface into week-long periods of depression. This has been following me for at least 20 years.

I have spent 15 years practising internal arts and they have helped me immensely - without doubt they are the foundation of a lot of the good things that I have listed above. But I still could not get at the root of my problem.

But about 7 months ago something happened. The circumstances around it are too long and frankly too weird to discuss in place like HN, but it led me to re-discover Sadhguru's teachings (I had come across him about 7 years ago but, although I appreciated the wisdom, at the time it did not connect with me).

After 6 months of practice I really feel that finally I got at that problem root and am having a good go at tugging it out and it is me who is doing it, not hoping for someone to come and magically fix it for me. I can't tell you how it feels. :)

Of course it was not just the book - it was a result of all the work I put in before over the years, but it's as good a place to start as any as recommendation for others since, in my experience, the technology there is universally applicable.

Thanks for sharing. :) Congratulations on sorting your self out. I imagine it feels like you've lost an old, all too familiar pain.

Read an intro book on biology at university level. I think I read this one, but feel free to grab a newer one:


I used to read books on physics, but I think I learned an order of magnitude more about the world we live in from the above book, and it didn't require more than a high school level understanding of chemistry and biology. I read three more books on various topics in biology afterwards.

Otherwise, if you are the sort of person who can stomach a theoretical book, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed is really the kind of book that takes a while to get through, but you start seeing things differently afterwards. It discusses how large organizations can mean well and do evil.

Strange not to found it here yet:

Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

What's better than to have a good laugh, even if already read it, is always a nice book. And if you finish it fast, you have the rest of the series ahead.

The list looks great so far, with lots of books and authors I would never otherwise hear about. A big thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.

Please keep it coming, but try to stick to one book each. This isn't as much about keeping the list short, more to make you decide on one title which is more interesting than the others you've read.

When I was a pre-teen/teen, I grew up in a pretty nerdy family with a scientist dad, a brother who eventually became a linguist, and stacks of Byte Magazine, Omni, Particle Physics Digest, etc. as far as the eye could see. I couldn't stomach the fantasy stuff my brother was into, and I was a bit on the technical side, so I decided my genre was Sci Fi. I followed this to the point that I felt deeply guilty for reading anything else, until one summer I found myself at a cabin somewhere with nothing to do but lay in a hammock and read Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen. Oh my God, it went down so easy compared to the Sci Fi. It really made me realize a joy in recreational reading that's stuck for 30 years. Now I'm not saying that Florida Humor Noir is right for you, but don't feel obligated to spend your summer reading something like Nudge or Crucial Conversations.

Last year a friend showed me trailer of a game called The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I found its story so fascinating that I ended up reading all of its 8 books in a single month. If you like reading fantasy, do not miss it.

I just recently stumbled across the "The Wichter" series and found it interesting. I haven't read all of them yet though. They sort of remind me of "Wheel of time" but with a sort of different twist.

I have been interested in reading, playing and watching Witcher series ever since I read about in Blood, Sweat, and Pixels (loved that book too)


Especially since the first two books are a collection of short stories that are super accessible and self-contained.

Lots of great mentions here, book-related HN threads are fantastic.

As for my recommendation:

- technical - "Mythical Man-Month", if you haven't read it yet, - "Dune" by Frank Herbert - I just love re-reading it in the summer!

In the wake of new attempts to "ban encryption", I'd recommend reading Crypto by Steven Levy (2001).


The Code Book [0] by Simon Singh (1999) is another famed popular science book that offers a non-technical introduction to cryptography and its history, there's also an indie game [1] Cypher by Matthew Brown (2018) inspirited by the book.

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

[1] https://store.steampowered.com/app/746710/Cypher/

Someone recommended Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss here recently. I read it and found it invaluable.

Packed full of quality advice and techniques that you can use out of the box. The real-life stories he had from his FBI negotiating days make it an easy read.

Regardless of your religious beliefs (I'm a very happy aethist) I found Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth hugely interesting.

As a tool to understand the people of the time, the stories that grew and the 'person' behind the dominant religion of the Western World - there is no book that comes close.

Don't expect to have fun chats with religious (Christian) friends after reading this though, as much of what you learn will differ from the bible that they were taught, or the uniqueness of Jesus as a prophet/zealot.

Still - a book that I found a hugely interesting historical/religious read last summer, and one I recommend to my friends.

I don't find Zealot any more damning than The DaVinci Code.

Jean Danielou wrote a book about the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran, and the Essenes way back in the 80's that explains how it's all related and what it means for Christianity.

I personally had a "not fun" chat with an atheist friend about Zealot because I pointed out how much silly conjecture and assumptions are underlying the book.

Like religion, it is heavily based on conjecture and assumption - but one that I heartily read and enjoyed. It is nice to get a different point of view and a challenge to the stories that I'd been told were 'true' as a child - eg Joseph returning to Bethlehem

What specifically did you find silly, if you don't mind me asking?

I'll look out for the Dead Sea Scrolls book, I listened to a hugely interesting series of lectures about them on Audible and was left wanting more, but hadn't found a good book yet.

I found “Sapiens” absolutely fascinating and incredibly dense in information.

I found it 50% of things I already knew. I got dissapointed with author lack of knowledge how farming works. He just keeps going on how those hunter gatherers had it all good and farming started to break people backs and stuff. When farming you work hard 2 times a year, rest of the year you just check out on stuff and myabe round up some animals. But it is not 365 days a year back breaking labor.

I was dissapointed with that book, maybe because everyone was saying it is great book, so I had high expectations.

The hype is ruining me some movies and books as well..

and if you don't get time for the entire book: I did an almost lossless compression - https://neilkakkar.com/sapiens.html

Thanks so much for this - I'm really a fan of condensed factual books. I think the book format necessitates undesirable verbosity (ahem), detail, anecdotes, side stories, padding etc.

That was the first book that came to my mind. Highly recommend.

If you like sci-fi, I would recommend Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. It really had some weird twists ! :)) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27833670-dark-matter

The Book of Why, by Judea Pearl.


I'm in the middle of it and I feel - maybe weird could be a right word, regading the book.

It is very verbose in explaining how stupid statistics and statisticians were before the causal revolution orchestrated mainly by the author were. And how magnificiently efficient and simple these new concepts with causation diagrams are for uncovering causal relationships.

But for some reason I have completely missed how you come up with these diagrams in the first place, and how you actually, practically use the data to validate if the diagram you have come up with is correct. In other words, the book has completely failed to help me build any kind of mental model how I should apply this magnificent new idea in practice.

Is that just me being dumb or would there be some other sources worth reading for yhe same concepts? (Yes, I am intrigued with the question how to evaluate causal statements)

I think you’ll enjoy this piece titled “Bayesian Networks without Tears”.


The author of this paper/article attempts to make Judea Pearl’s concepts digestible while keeping a good balance between using math (not much) but still referring to the relevant mathematical concepts.

I’m currently (re-)exploring these concepts (specifically Bayesian networks) and would be happy to chat (check profile) if you end up reading this paper or finding different sources which help you grok the field!

"What is Real" by Adam Becker. He presents the sociology of why the Copenhagen interpretation persisted for so long, despite strong opposition early on and refutations of Von Neumann's work on why it had to be true.

Once into the modern world, he provides an overview of current interpretations and their experimental support.

Becker's book is, I think, the best lay person's explanation of the problems QM was invented to solve, the Copenhagen Interpretation itself, and several of the more modern interpretations.

Great, mind bending read.

If you like Michael Lewis (the big short, moneyball, etc) try his favorite novel: The Confederacy of Dunces. The main character is an antihero. This can bother some people. The story about the book which is usually in the prelude is interesting and tragic. Really good fiction.

I can’t recommend “Into thin air” by John Krakauer enough.

A true story written with naked emotion by someone who experienced the life altering disaster on Everest.

It’s all too relevant right now with another recent calamity on Everest.

An excerpt from the opening words:

“The Everest climb had rocked my life to its core, and it became desperately important for me to record the events in complete detail, unconstrained by a limited number of column inches. This book is the fruit of that compulsion...

Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it—mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn’t, of course. Moreover, I agree that readers are often poorly served when an author writes as an act of catharsis, as I have done here. But I hoped something would be gained by spilling my soul in the calamity’s immediate aftermath, in the roil and torment of the moment. I wanted my account to have a raw, ruthless sort of honesty that seemed in danger of leaching away with the passage of time and the dissipation of anguish.“

He does have an incredible writing style ("voice"). Compelling read, admittedly I only finished half - thanks for the reminder.

If you don't sleep 8+ hours every night: Matthew Walker - Why We Sleep

Also, the Circardian Code by Satchin Panda.

I have read both recently, and there is a lot of overlap, but the Circardian Code goes beyond sleep into nutrition and execise, as well.

Oh yes, definitely. Another one from these experts is Valter Longo with his book "The Longevity Diet". All three of them were interviewed by Rhonda Patrick https://www.youtube.com/user/FoundMyFitness/videos for people who like to watch/listen before reading. Matthew was also a guest in Joe Rogan Experience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig

I found only one point in which Satchin Panda and Matthew Walker were disagreeing:

Satchin said that there were no (genetic) sleep types among humans (who prefer to get up and go to bed early, or late) referencing a paper in which a group of students went on a hiking and camping trip where they all synchronized to the same rhythm after a few days of exposure to all natural light.

Matthew, on the other hand, says that there are definitely variations in sleep time preference in humans, with a genetic base and recommends to find out so that the ideal time windows for work and sleeps are chosen. Does not give a reference, sadly.

Not sure what to make of it, really.

Hahaha, I know this book will show up soon or later. I haven't finished the book yet. But the book is very informative and easy enough to be read.

Currently reading this at the minute. Extremely easy to read and informative.

Basically anything by Simon Singh, I mostly enjoyed the Code Book and the Big Bang, Fermat's Last Theorem was also solid.

Detailed yet extremely readable for a very wide audience.

A few people already recommended this already but I'll add some of my thoughts.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It's a memoir by the founder of Nike. The book goes deep into his emotional rollercoaster, starting from nothing to eventually going IPO.

I read it this year, one of my favorites for sure.

If you have the whole summer to read a book, check out The Power Broker by Robert Caro. It’s the story about the rise and fall of Robert Moses. His accumulation of power and how he basically built modern New York and his impact on the 20th century.

I’m in the middle of reading it, it’s very good. It’s long though. Something like 1400 pages or 66 hours of audio. So you'll need the summer to finish it!

Neurosis and human growth by Karen Horney

Neverending story by Michael Ende

It is interesting to read these two together - they are basically the same book, just expressed differently.

I personally hate self improvement books/management, so here are some narrative books that I loved and got lost in

1) The tiger's wife - To me it has a brilliant full universe. Its comprised of a overarching narrative broken up with lots of short stories.

2) night watch/ making money / going postal - terry pratchett Fun stories with full characters.

3) THe pigeon tunnels - john le carre, Again composed of short stories, not overly spy-y just fascinating character studies, with a bit of history.

4) differently morphous - Yahtzee croshaw this one is a scifi comedy, 100% worth getting in audiobook form

5) rivers of london - ben aaronovich, policeman who was all set for a life of being a desk clerk accidentally becomes a wizard policemen.

6) harry potter, obviously :)

I just read "A hat full of stars" yesterday evening. I can recommend all discworld books. But this one was especially moving. Now that I know that Terry was a advocate for assisted dying, I finally understand the alegory at the end of the book. Moved me to tears.

If you only read one book, I suggest Don Quixote, the Grossman translation particularly, if only for the higher quality footnotes (compared to Lathrop's which is very well translated but poorly commented). The advantage here is DQ is really like four or five books of various types, and has a Yale Open Courseware series attached to it, so for any chapters you want to know more about, the resources are at hand. Through this book you can learn so, so much about literature.

But also, watching Don Quixote and Sancho's friendship develop is heartwarming. It was a book written for entertainment first, and just happened to be saturated in intense philosophical and literary quality.

I've started and failed to complete this book many times. Yet I've loved what I read. There are many who believe this is the greatest novel of all time.

Anything by W. G. Sebald for instance The Rings of Saturn https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rings_of_Saturn

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight (Nike). The best business book I've read in 5 years (maybe more). Really well written, too.

The Undoing Project, Micheal Lewis. The story behind "Thinking Fast and Slow" but much easier to read.

Both are a major investment of time, but have paid off:

VOLTAIRE’S BASTARDS: THE DICTATORSHIP OF REASON IN THE WEST http://www.johnralstonsaul.com/non-fiction-books/voltaires_b...

The Penguin History of the World https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/316944/the-penguin-...

Haven't read the book, but his interview on Econtalk was interesting: http://www.econtalk.org/john-ralston-saul-on-reason-elites-a...

Kundalini — An Untold Story by Om Swami https://www.amazon.com/Kundalini-Untold-Story-Himalayan/dp/0...

If you fancy about metaphysical and mystical stuff, If you think there's more to a living being than blood and tissues, and if you want to keen on not just entertaining but possibly learn to experience the truth (if any)s behind the claims of superhuman faculties, then read this book.

>>> Kundalini is your polar opposite within you. When it awakens, you realize how immensely powerful you already are. You experience how there is a whole universe within you. It is your feminine energy if you are a man and your masculine energy if you are a woman. It is your passage, your path to eternal fulfillment within you.

>>> Awakening of the kundalini is realization of your pure abstract intelligence, the type that is not conditioned by your fears, emotions and worries. It is your pristine nature. When you are able to tap into this latent source of energy, you truly become the master of your universe. You can manifest whatever you wish in your life because your scale of consciousness is no longer limited to your body alone; it envelops the whole universe.

Probably not able to completed during a single 3 months unless you do it full time, but I picked up a copy of SICP [0] and started reading through and working through every-single-problem. I got stuck so far on one problem in the first chapter toward the end at the moment. I will say, Scheme is fun! The problems can be challenging, short, and very rewarding.

However, maybe I'm not very smart and feel like I might have a very hard time with it. I'm not that great at math I don't think, nor do I consider myself genius like. Did people who go through this book do every single problem and figure it out themselves? There are a lot more problems then I expected. They are also, so far, some to be quite challenging and math heavy. It does really feel like it helps get my brain thinking differently about a lot of problems and I love it! But it also feels like I might start grinding a lot and burn out on it. Any tips or help or suggestions how to get through it successfully, get a good amount of education out of, and continue to be excited to keep moving forward?

[0] https://www.amazon.com/dp/0262510871

I know it's free online, but I wanted a physical edition.

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas https://www.amazon.com/Mindstorms-Children-Computers-Powerfu...

I highly recommend Isaac Miller’s book, Just Get Up And Manifest Inner Genius. His real life example of a teenager overcoming extremely overwhelming obstacles as he fought his way out of a life drugs, crime, and poverty by becoming an entrepreneur at 17 is very inspiring. I love his 27 Month Plan for discovering your gifts and dreams. His Limelight Spot Effect theory is genius and The Octagon Way chapter is just brilliant. You can click on the link below to preorder a copy of his book. I was privileged to read an advanced reader copy of his book because I gave him an endorsement quote. His book’s release date is August 31th but you can preorder a copy. I enjoy his motivational podcast episodes as well. http://www.koehlerbooks.com/book/just-get-up-and-manifest-yo...

https://youtu.be/NSoc8_BRM74 (Podcast)

www.isaacsmiller.com (you can go to his website and preorder a copy of his book from his website or from the publisher’s website. I hope this information was helpful.

There is a book I've read at least 6 times:

"The problems of philosophy" by Bertrand Russell.

And for a completely different turn:

"Revolt against the modern world" by Julius Evola.

The first book in my mind is a great read no matter what place you are coming from. The second one is a bit esoteric and might be controversial from some people. But for me it offered a biggest shift in perspective out of all the books I've read so far.

"The Real Happy Pill" by Anders Hansen.

In a nutshell: it goes through the myriad of ways that exercise is good for your brain, and the author does it in a way that is easy to grok and even easier to implement in your own life.

To me it really drove home that I need to continue exercising for years to come and thanks to this book I'll be driving the concept home for people I care about as well.

Dead souls, by Nikolai Gogol. Wikipedia article [0] and freely licensed ebook [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Souls [1] http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1081

In the wake of China's expansion into Africa, I'd recommend "Confessions of an economic hitman" by John Perkins.

I read this long time ago, it was unbelievable and crazy to my naive brain. I don't know how much of it is true and how much of it is made up, it is definitely worth a read. I remember reading it in one sitting, shaking my head along the way multiple times

Me too! The most memorable ones are the Iran CIA coup of 1953 which is pretty much considered the truth. Torrijos "murder" remains a mistery imho. I'm willing to believe the book...

I also love the way the book is written, like an adventure, very immersive.

Lost Connections by Johann Hari

About the sources of depression and anxiety of the current society. Interesting book backed with a lot of studies.

Algorithms to live by - Brian Christian

Takes you through the entire CS curriculum again but applies everything to personal real life situations.

I recently decided to do all my presentations (work related) by drawing/sketching (No slides). People love the clarity and interactions.

A really good friend and business partner suggested me Dan Roam and his books. I'm loving it. Check out his books https://www.danroam.com

This sounds really interesting — do you mean on a whiteboard in the meeting room or bringing pre-prepped material?

Yes on Whiteboards, I usually carry a bunch of whiteboard markers (many colors). In special cases, I include post-it notes.

I also tend to sketch/scribble a lot during meetings. They usually end up being the meeting notes. People take pictures of them to relate back later.

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells - super eye opening.

If you haven't read it: Factfulness by Hans Rossling The book uncovers our misconceptions about what is going on in the world in terms of global population, health and prosperity. It provides you with a sharpened sense of where the world is going and what factors play a role in this development.

Lots of disposable scifi in this thread. And there is nothing wrong with that so let me chime in with the hard stuff: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is one of the best scifi/fantasy (it is hard the classify) novels I have read in recent years. Fair warning, it gets pretty grim.

I also enjoyed reading Ignition! by John D Clark. It is a dated (written in the 70s) but fascinating look at all the different chemicals tried to make rockets during the space race. Very interesting even if, like me, you only have a simple understanding of chemistry. There are some hair-raising (or hair razing) anecdotes.

I keep a list of books I've liked to answer questions like this: https://sheep.horse/tagcloud.html#book

The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium by Martin Gurri.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Revolt-Public-Crisis-Authority-Millen...

Darwin's Dangerous Idea, by Daniel Dennett, one of the two most important (IMHO, of course) books I've read (Thinking, Fast and Slow is the other, already recommended, below.

Dennett is a practical philosopher of science; the book is a detailed analysis and extension of the idea of "designer-free design", evolution by incremental random change. Among other things, he thoroughly presents the implications of Darwinian evolution, discusses the concept of "design space" and how some evolutions preclude whole swaths of that space, then speculates carefully on how the idea could pertain to other fields, e.g., the evolution of physical law (assuming that each "big bang" resulted in a universe with slightly different physics.

"how some evolutions preclude whole swaths of that space"

If I remember correctly, Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control" introduced me to this idea, of a kind of but not quite meta-evolution: https://kk.org/mt-files/outofcontrol/ch14-a.html

An odd one here. 'Chimpanzee Material Culture'[0]. It's getting on a bit (pub 1992) so perhaps others can recommend a more updated study, but it's a sophisticated presentation of chimps, their culture, how they compare to human hunter-gatherers (and how difficult it can be to distinguish between crude stone tools used by one or other), how difficult it is to even phrase the right question when it comes to comparing chimps and humans, and a list of open issues. Anyone who wants to talk about limits of nonhuman should read this.

And with a sense of humour too. Not too heavy, and I found it a genuine page-turner (rather unexpected that!)

And as I mention humour I just reminded myself of 'The Innocent Anthropologist'[1] which is kind-of similar in a way but totally hilarious [1]. It's really funny, also very educational, and would make a very good complement to the first.

I suppose to continue the theme of other cultures (which fascinate me because they teach me so much about my own culture and assumptions when I read how very different other societies can be), 'Aztec'[2]. It tracks the life of a (fictional) aztec and the destruction of his culture and people as the conquistadors arrive. The author does take some historical liberties; allow for that a little. I'll call it the best book I ever read, however it is dense so it either works for you or it doesn't. But if it works, it is amazing!

[0] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chimpanzee-Material-Culture-Implica...

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Innocent-Anthropologist-Notes-Mud-H...

[2] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aztec-Gary-Jennings/dp/0765317508

Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

I _really_ liked the series of A Song of Ice and Fire (the books on which Game of Thrones is based). Martin does a great job at building a fantasy world while keeping humans true to their human nature. The combination of morally ambiguous characters that follow their own motivations with the fog-of-war (in the sense of making decisions with incomplete information) sets the motion for a really intriguing plot.

In addition, although not a book, I would strongly recommend the podcast Hardcore History. In particular, the series on WWI (Blueprint for Armageddon) is the best audio content I've ever heard, and it is long enough to be considered an audio book (~23 hours of content broken into 6 chapters).

'The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion' by Christopher Germer https://chrisgermer.com/mindful-path-self-compassion/

If you are open to the possibility to go against society's norms:

1. A brief history of humankind: This opens your mind to the possibility that maybe our society is not as good as you think. What if the foundation that our society is built on is wrong?

2. A guide to the good life: Perhaps your pursuit of success, comforts, and convenience is grounded on the wrong foundation. And as a result, a false sense of happiness.

Then you might realize that core of your happiness starts with the people you love most (parents, kids, childhood friends, etc). From there, you can treasure friends (or coworkers or whatever) who support and appreciate your priorities and keep these people close to heart.

I decided to try reading the classic literature this year. The books that stood the test of time. I started with

  Brothers Karamazov by F.Dostoyevsky
  Middlemarch by G.Eliot
After that I plan to continue with

  East of Eden by J.Steinbeck
  Ulysses by J.Joyce
They all have incredible characters, deep thoughts, delicious language. Sure, not an easy read after contemporary fiction, but I noticed that the more classic literature I read the better I understand and enjoy it. Also, I own Folio Society's copies of last three titles, and it's an an additional pleasure to hold, touch, and read physical books.

Good luck with Ulysses. I tried several times but I always find myself with no idea of what I just read after reading a few pages. Might try again one day. I read Brothers Karamazov some years ago and I find impressive how I still think about it regularly.

>Ulysses by J.Joyce

you will never be able to read that. i have a friend that did read it and it took him 10 years just to finish (not even understand!)

This neat little web page might help: http://m.joyceproject.com/info/sources.html

It allows you to click on things to understand their allusions/references.

Yeah, I thought about it as well : As many people suggest, I will start with his Dubliners and read Ulysses together with reading guides:

  The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses https://tinyurl.com/newbloomsday

If you like Science , I’d highly recommend “Our mathematical universe” by Max Tegmark. I’m halfway through it and find it fascinating. It is more about physics than mathematics. Think of it like “A brief history of time” advanced plus.

I have been spending a lot of time reading English language classics lately (I'm Swedish, so I only read two classics in my high school English class) so I will recommend one I recently read, Catch 22.

I read it so that I knew what it was about before watching the Hulu show. Still haven't watched the Hulu show, but absolutely loved the book. It's funny, very dark and even though most people think they know all about it without reading it because they understand the term "catch 22", they are missing out on a very good story that will leave you in want of discussing it with someone else.

The Godfather -Mario Puzo

The Running Man -Richard Bachman (A Stephen King pen name)

Never Split The Difference -Chris Voss

"The Godfather" is a classic that features my 2nd favorite evil genius Don Corleone (Hannibal Lecter being the 1st). Great character development and a fine tale to boot.

"The Running Man" isn't Kings best, but there's something about it, well that book and "The Long Walk"--also by Bachman, that makes it an entertaining read.

"Never Split the Difference" is the best negotiating book I've ever read and, I have negotiated deals for a living at various times in my career.

Limiting us to recommending one book is very cruel.

I suppose if I have to recommend one it would be Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts by Stanislas Dehaene. This isn't a complete scientific explanation of consciousness. This is looking at questions like how do stimuli we're consciously aware of differ from subliminal stimuli? How does awareness relate to memory? How do the readings our instruments give relate to people's descriptions of their experiences?

Shantaram is a great novel that is very easy to read regardless of the book length (it's very long). If you are even remotely interested in India and/or travelling it is a must.

Random book with no justification:

Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization, Volume 1

by Will Durant

It's in the Internet Archive:


The Story of Civilization is an 11-volume set of books[1], by the way.

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

I got through the entire set on audiobook. It's a fantastic history of Western civilisation. We might accent some things slightly differently nowadays, but overall it's held up really well.

I read a bit of the first one years ago, but didn't get very far since I was busy with other stuff.

I'm still busy with other stuff. I haven't been able to prioritize such career-unrelated leisure reading in years. Maybe in one or two years I'll give it another go.

Neuromancer. Utterly cool sci-fi.

Neuromancer and Snowcrash. For some reason, I always think of both at the same time. The story is kind of similar after all.

If you like SciFi, and you didn’t read The Martian yet, then now’s a good time. In my opinion this is by far the best SciFi book of all time. Hard SciFi, in the style of Arthur C Clarke, but packed with 10 times the “sci” of the Odyssey or Rama. If you already read this, go for Andy Weir’s second novel, Artemis. Not the level of The Martian, but still better than 99.9975% of all the SciFi books out there.

On the topic of Mars, may I suggest The Martian Chronicles by R.Bradbury. It's on the other end of the spectrum from hard SciFi - more like lyrical and poetic SciFi.

Aldous Huxley - Breve New World

I only started reading this one yesterday. I honestly know nothing of this book other than everybody always mentions it (along with 1984, Animal Farm and Farenheit 451). The first few pages made me raise a few eyebrows already, looking forward to finishing it.

"Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas R. Hofstadter A beautiful multidisciplinary dive into number theory, self-reference, consciousness art and much more. It's written in the spirit of Lewis Carroll. Really enjoying it right now

I am preparing to read it this summer. But this book is going to be big project to read and understand for me and I don't think I will make it in 2 months. If you can read it just like novel I totaly envy you.

I started in December and got into like 20% of book or less and then I decided that I don't get that much out of book by casually reading it.

A recent book that I read which really helped my outlook on things business was "Money: The Unauthorized Biography" by Felix Martin. Perhaps my general lack of knowledge in the general area made me feel that the book was profound but it's a good read either way.

If you prefer fiction, I highly recommend "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter M. Miller Jr. One of my alltime favourite books.

On my list for summer reading "NASA Saturn V 1967-1973 (Apollo 4 to Apollo 17 & Skylab) (Owners' Workshop Manual)"


The History of the Future by Blake J. Harris. It's about the foundation and subsequent acquisition of Oculus by Facebook. He has done a lot of first-hand interviews with the involved parties.

It reads like a movie script, and it's full of drama (e.g Palmer Luckey and FB) and full of little gems and information. Even if you're not intersted in VR, it's a great read.

The "Master & Commander" Series by Patrick O'Brian has been a great companion to me over the years and over many re-reads.

For me it's not about the sea battles -which I don't find particularly interesting- but rather about the writing style, the character development, and the fun of ambling through life with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.

This series was the only thing I could read (just barely) while mired in a 1.75-year-long depression in 2014-15.

"The Body Keeps the Score" taught me a ton about the psychology of trauma, as it relates to everyone. It really has some jaw-dropping stuff.


The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Short fiction book with a marvelous message about following your dreams and believing in yourself.

the Baroque Cycle (three large novels, in fact) by Neal Stephenson

Beyond good and evil, Nietzsche. Probably his best work and one that will shake up your conception of morality.

Killer of Men - The best historical fiction I've read, you will love it :)


Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.

Can't pick one sorry.

Entertaining classic; Gibson: Virtual Light, Idoru

Thinking ahead; Marshall Brain: The Second Intelligent Species

Smart reply became reality but luckily it did not turn into SkyNet; W. Hertling: Avogadro Corp.

Startup advice; Fitzpatrick: The Mom Test

About "value"; Priceonomics: Everything is Bullshit

Entertaining; Ramez Naam: Nexus

The Code Book (The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography) By Simon Singh

Eisenhorn by Dan Abnett.

It's actually a triology (Xenos, Malleus, Hereticus). It comes in omnibus format now but will not take a long time to get through.

Not a difficut or life changing read - just a good time, with good characters, doing things you haven't read about before.

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