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Ask HN: What book(s) had the most impact for you in 2019?
35 points by petecooper 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments
It's 'best of' season on the books and music front, so I wish to ask about how you found your reading lists this year. What stood out?

I didn't read as much as I'd have liked due to life complications, but I particularly enjoyed:

* Manufacturing Consent (Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky) * The Psychedelic Experience (Timothy Leary) * Young Men and Fire (Normam Maclean)

They Don't Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43309161-they-don-t-repr...

Don't Be Evil: How Big Tech Betrayed Its Founding Principles — and All of Us https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46758636-don-t-be-evil

Stolen: How Finance Destroyed the Economy and Corrupted Our Politics https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43789131-stolen

An Introduction to Theories of Personality by Robert B Ewen

It's a textbook. For a very good overview of Freud, Jung, Adler, Horney, Sullivan, Erickson, Maslow, etc. In each section, it feels like you found a theory of personality you like best, then it gets better. Each time, they recommend further reading. For example, one good one is Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis by Karen Horney.

Also, Personality Theories: Journeys Into Self by Williard and Patricia Frick is an interesting workbook. You don't have to fill it out, it's helpful read what it's asking and think on it, then also think of those questions when understanding people.

Attachment Theory: Attachment in Adulthood, Second Edition: Structure, Dynamics, and Change by Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver. For an easier read, Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner by Jeb Kinnison is on Audible and Kindle and despite the title is very canon to modern adult attachment theory.

Just finished The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris. I can’t express strongly enough my gratitude that if I were to need surgery, it wouldn’t be in an operating room where “the screams of those struggling under the knife mingled discordantly with everyday noises drifting in from the street below: children laughing, people chatting, carriages rumbling by.”

Currently reading These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lapore where she argues for the pressing relevance of our foundational principles. It’s a hefty tome of about 800 pages, so I still have a ways to go.

Next up are two books which have been featured in several end of year lists: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe and Exhalation by Ted Chiang.

Reading aloud with my 10 year old daughter: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Penguin’s 150th anniversary annotated edition with a Patti Smith foreword). Enough said about how influential this experience is for both of us.

* Machine Platform Crowd: Harnessing the Digital Revolution Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

* Kiss The Ground Josh Tickell

* Do Purpose: Why Brands with a Purpose Do Better and Matter More by David Hieatt

* The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth by MichioKaku

* The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte

* The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos by Christian Davenport

* * * 95 Best Books most impacted me in 2019:


The new trail of tears - overview of policy law and history leading to systemic disenfranchisement of first persons.

Braiding sweetgrass - biographical story of the mix of native spirituality and science

What the eyes don't see - discussion of the policy and governmental resistance to disclosing the Michigan water crisis

Weapons of math destruction - the ethical and cultural costs of artificial intelligence at-scale

Seems like youre interested in native Americans - do you have any other book recommendations on them?

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. I've been reading 1 meditation per day so I'm not done yet but I would say out of every 5 I read I find at least one really valuable lesson that makes me rethink a lot.

"This is how you lose the time war".

A science fiction short book where rival agents send each other letters and attempt to thwart each other.

It is also has some of the most beautiful prose/poetry I've ever seen that made me re-read each section over and over. I've been an avid reader since childhood and this is the first book to have that impact on me. Not at all what I was expecting.

Seconding this recommendation. This was the first book in maybe a decade that my first instinct after finishing was to start again.

Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking

Fabulous book about how certain individuals strive in what they do, and what separates these people from the rest of us. It has very interesting stories as well of how these individuals became so accomplished in life.

I mostly read fantasy books and this year I got Kindle Unlimited subscription and checked out a lot of self published books. Top 3 among them would be:

* The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

* Cradle by Will Wight

* Arcance Ascension by Andrew Rowe

Preacher the comic book.it was something that made me give respect to the medium and now on a journey to read all the well known

Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker.

Sleeping is important, and since I started doing more (and improving the quality of), I feel better and get more done.

On a related note, there was a recent thread debunking most of the book here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21546850

That post has a lot of analysis. I don't doubt there are mistakes or exaggerations in the book; however, I still think there is value in prioritizing a good night's sleep. Of all the research he presents, I noticed that his anecdote about the pianist becoming more proficient at a pattern he was struggling with after sleeping to ring true; I have found this true in my personal experience, as well.

I personally don't have a lot of knowledge in the field (the author has an entire professional career of researching) so I take at lot of the advice, at least what seems logical and reasonable to me, at face value. I'll read the link you posted and consider the points as well, though - thanks for that.

Debunking the introductory chapter, not much more.

"Blowing the Bloody Doors Off : And Other Lessons in Life" by Michael Caine

permanent record by edward snowden. you can read it in plain text here if you’d like :) https://texts.tg-z.now.sh

* Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson * Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut * Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky

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