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Books that have affected you and your life the most
26 points by resab 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments
I would love to hear what are some of the books that have significantly affected your life and why.

For me they are

Thinking fast and slow: This book helped me realize how to make sense of statistics that are usually cited in media and how to think critically about them and how to think about probability.

The power of habit: this book has helped me understand the habit framework and helped me curb some unwanted habits and helped establish some useful ones.


Fiction and philosophical nonfiction has far more potential to affect one's life than a pop-science book, at least in my experience.

Some of my favorites:

- Moby Dick. Probably the single greatest work of American literature, in my opinion of course.

- Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche. An excellent primer to his thought. Any of his books are worth reading, though.

- The Ego and Its Own, Stirner. An under-appreciated philosopher who can really shake up your foundations.

- Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, Borges. His favorite short story of mine. It serves as a very effective metaphor for the power of fiction.

- Anything by Joseph Conrad, although I particularly recommend The Secret Sharer.

The Immortal and The Aleph by Borges are pretty awesome too.

The Art of Learning by Waitzkin.

The book details the lessons over time that the author (an American chess prodigy) learned about how to improve at chess. It gets interesting when he applies these same lessons to become a world champion at combat Tai Chi.

The impact this had on me is how I apply myself to any competitive discipline to maximize learning. Not necessarily success, but the amount of knowledge gained from practice. This has the happy side effect of often leading to success.

But also I liked the stories of a child growing up in a competitive world, the amount of love and support he receives from his mentors, friends, and family. The ability to share this love with other students of chess and to produce profound insight into how people in general learn and react to hypercompetitive situations.

What is also great about the book is that it written in very accessible language. The reader does not need to be a scholar to understand the concepts Waitzkin is trying to express in his book.

This one sounds very interesting, I will definitely check it out. I especially like books that teach a framework that can be applied in multiple domains. Thanks for sharing :)

Man search for meaning - I think that most people, at some point in their life face with the big question "What is the purpose of life ?". Author of this book is the one who can handle this huge question because he survived death camps, and noticed what give people will to live. Highly recommended.

Flow: Psychology of optimal experience - If you want do double down the concept of Flow (situations where you are so involved that you forgot to eat for the whole day (programming in my case)), how to achieve these situations, and how they work.

The lessions of history - This book is just a mine of great golden nugget thoughts.

Slight Edge - Stop looking for easy paths, for quantum leaps. Yes, this is hard, this is a slow path. But you need to follow it to achieve what you want from life. But do it wisely.

Thinking fast and slow and The power of habbit are also great :) Here you can find more of my favorite books: https://stasbar.com/

I read Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning) decades ago and was impressed too. But a year or two ago I learnt more about his story. A reader of that book, which sold millions, would be surprised to learn, for example, that Frankl only spent a few days at Auschwitz, himself performed medical experiments on Jews, or that "in 1978 when attempting to give a lecture at the institute of Adult Jewish Studies in New York, Frankl was confronted with an outburst of boos from the audience and was called a nazi pig". Frankl's biographer wrote "...we know the reality of Auschwitz is that attitude mattered little for survival."


Thanks for sharing. Man's search for meaning is on my reading list. Flow was a really good read. I will definitely checkout other books on you list! :)

Language in Thought and Action, by S.I. Hayakawa. I read it in grad school and it opened my mind to how much of human language is subjective and made me think about the problems that arise because of that.

That sounds very interesting, I will definitely check it out!

"Never Split the Difference" and "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Before reading those I thought talking just happens between people with some of them being more resourceful. It never occurred to me before that simple tricks can be so useful in everyday conversations.

Why we sleep - changed my perception of sleep. I used to sleep the least I could get away with. Not anymore, I stand corrected by science.

- The essay "Complicating the Narrative" which lists out ways in which we can address the growing divide between humans on different sides of a debate. Vital for journalism to regain it's trust and also vital in everyday life.

- JCIP "Java Concurrency In Practice" changed my mental model of programming.

- Practical Vim, this was my Eureka moment with vim

- Wait But Why, gave me a diverse perspective on a wide range of things

Practical Vim seems amazing, pushed it on top of my to-read stack :D By "Wait But Why" you mean this one ? The Elon Musk Blog Series: Wait But Why by Tim Urban

(Speculative) Fiction: "The City and The Stars" by Arthur C. Clarke

Nonfiction: "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The best book on how to communicate. The best part: the book is written in a way that its content sticks to your memory for a very long time thus proving what it preaches.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die sounds really cool...off to order it!

- Man search for meaning

- Letters of a Businessman to His Son Paperback - G. Kingsley Ward (Author)

- The Design of the UNIX Operating System

- Horse Sense

- Hemingway farewell to arms

- Save your marriage

- The Essays of Warren Buffett : Lessons for Corporate America

- On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors: John Z. DeLorean's - made me never want to work for big company

1000s of books... no time to read or list them all.

I, Robot. I read the stories as a kid and I believed I could be a part of making them come true in the real world. We don’t have sentient robots (yet) but following the vision/dream has led me on an interesting career in technology!

Thanks for sharing, you are truly following your childhood dreams! :)

Contact by Carl Sagan - A good novel that deals with the politics of Science and religion. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse , A philosophical take on life , reality and belief system. The Code Book by Simon Singh - A book that explains the history of cryptography in a very interesting way

I like works of fiction that can make you question aspects of our world. Contact sounds like a book in this category. I watched the movie few years ago, but will check out the book as well. Thanks for sharing your books! :)

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, why I can't really say, it 'gelled' with me(?)

Assembly language programming for the IBM PC (John Socha & Peter Norton) Advanced MSDOS programming (Ray Duncan) All books by Michael Abrash (esp Graphics Programming black book) ‐---------- With out these books, 13yr old me would have gone down a non-computer route!

Thanks for sharing!! These definitely has a big impact on your life! :)

How to stop worrying and start living -- this helps every day.

How to become a hacker -- not actually a book, but helped build my belief.

The mythical man-month -- this tells me to never take software project time planning seriously because it won't be accurate no matter how confident people are.

Thanks for sharing these, I will check them out! :)

Tom Hopkins master the art of selling. It changed my life and it was absolutely for the better and it was absolutely a book I shared with most all of my future sales pros. I would not be where I am today whatsoever.

Vasistha’s Yoga - highly useful for understanding and transcending psychological conditioning, using mind to master mind.

Early books: Arrow to the Sun and Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Andersen and The Hobbit - all very stimulating to imagination.

Thanks for sharing, I was looking for a good yoga book, will definitely check it out! :)

Just a PSA;

"Yoga Vasistha" has nothing to do with the physical aspects of Yoga i.e. Asanas (though some passages do talk about them) but deals purely with the internal/intellectual aspects of the mind. It is a very long book with lots of Allegories/Similes/Stories/Repetition and so you have to read it slowly and with patience.

I recommend reading "The Concise Yoga Vasistha" (an abridged version) before reading the unabridged "Vasistha's Yoga" both translated by Swami Venkatesananda.

Sounds good? Thanks for a heads up! :)

Eat to Live (you will know more than your doctor about nutrition, 900 studies referenced, written by an M.D.)

Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Learning (changed the way I approach all learning, big compounding effect)

Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary.

Thanks for sharing, this sounds like an interesting read!

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