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Ask HN: Books you plan to read in 2020?
421 points by ellinoora 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 320 comments
Any great books you cannot wait to read next year? Maybe something you wish to learn? Curious about all kinds of great book suggestions for 2020. Thank you for sharing! (And I wish you all a great, educational new year)



I hilariously overestimate the number of books I can get through when I make these lists, but my current list for 2020 is as follows:

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

Book of Proof

Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation

Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War (for a friend)

Master and Commander

Educated

Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark

Stretch goal: The Power Broker, as a warm-up for Caro's LBJ series

The Bible (perpetual, I don't get through it every year, but I get through much of it, often)

EDIT: I also hilariously underestimate the number of books I want to read. Here's one more I think is vital for my 2020:

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science


Depending on your current habits, starting with Digital Minimalism will help get through the others in one year.


Yeah, I suspect success with the overall goal may come down to better digital discipline. Starting with commenting on HN threads :)


Have you read my book, Indistractable, @techstrategist? Would love to know what you think of it! I spent 5 years researching and writing a tech positive guide to the deeper psychology of distraction.


Hey Nir, I just finished your book (loaned from the library). I feel like it has a lot of good information, however the people who are most likely to benefit from it are least likely to read it, or read anything at all for that matter.

I'd already implemented most of your recommendations before reading it, and this year I feel like I've finally balanced tech consumption so that it's at a healthy level. It's allowed me to read over 20 books, pursue my hobbies in more depth and spend more time with my kid.

Things that worked for me:

- no tech in the bedroom, I leave my phone in the living room every night. - start a morning routine without tech every day, I meditate, do stretches and a light work out. - i try to read as much as possible in hard copy from the library. 3 week loans push me to finish things. I look forward to getting a notification that one of my reserves has arrived. If the library doesn't have a book it will inter library loan or purchase it for me most of the time. - all phone alerts turned off except for text msg/calls - only use FB messenger light if I'm going to use FB at all - plenty of time to do nothing. I don't think the human machine is meant to be on all the time


I love that you’ve become Indistractable! Congrats!! What did you think about the section on “how to raise Indistractable kids”?


I think it's good advice for a lot of people. You're a role model for them, if you're always checking your phone your distraction will rub off on them. I try to spend a couple of hours each day with my kid focusing 100% on what we're doing.

I try to follow Derek Sivers advice as much as possible: https://sivers.org/pa


I agree with these, although I do still struggle implementing them.


I haven't, and can't say for certain whether or not I've come across it yet.

Downloading the audiobook as I type this.


I hope you enjoy Indistractable! Please let me know what you think of it!


curious whats in that book.

I feel like i already know what i am doing wrong re tech addiction but that i think is psychological issue with me. Not sue what a book can tell me.


I think the same for me. What I've gotten from books r.e. psychological issues are perspective and tools.

Perspective: sometimes a writer puts things in a way that illuminates or alters how I see my situation.

Tools: sometimes a writer has an idea or a scheme that I can put to practical use. The pomodoro timer on my desk has been handy even without adopting every aspect of the method. That came from a blog rather than a book, but same idea (to me.)


The great thing about books is that they not only provide knowledge, but can provide some course of action.

The book is both - an intro of "look how awesome you can be without the tech", a detox plan, and a plan to deliberately reintroduce helpful technology.

I am as guilty as anyone in that I have partly read the book, implemented a few of the suggestions, but haven't fully embraced. I think the holidays will be a great time to finish reading it and start my 30 day declutter.


"Designing Data-Intensive Applications" is excellent, but it took me a long time to get through (it really helped that we read it in the book club at work). I am very glad I read it though - there is so much good stuff in it. I wrote a summary of it (mostly so I would learn the contents better): https://henrikwarne.com/2019/07/27/book-review-designing-dat...


The description of Caro's books as "Harry Potter for adults" is accurate. Highly accessible, no preparation necessary


I just wish there were a Kindle edition. Eventually I'l break down and buy it but I do so much of my reading on commutes that I strongly bias towards a digital copy.


Same here. I've heard, and may implement, a suggestion; Buy a paperback copy, rip it into thirds, and carry the third that you're reading. Buy a hardback copy when you're finished. I've got the paperback copy, I'm not sure I've got the nerve.


I can highly recommend the Audible version.


My father had a stroke a couple years ago. Read "The Brain That Changes Itself" to get a feel for what might or might not be possible. Good stuff. Had practical insights for me as well. Definitely bump it up your priority list.


That book is freaky. In a really, really good way. I loved first chapter where the lady who can't balance has her brain rewired to map alternative signals as input into the balancing process.

Also the chapter on pain. Fascinating.


Start with Guns, Germs, and Steel and/or Digital Minimalism ;)


A book to read immediately after Guns Germs and Steel is Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu.

It's also useful to know that Diamond does not have a degree in Geography and many geographers aren't particularly on board with his ideas.

I think of him the same way I do Malcom Gladwell, a good story teller but he does this by cherrypicking anecdotes more than by a robust assessment of reality.


I've gotten to the point where I just suggest people skip Guns, Germs, and Steel entirely. Diamond is a really excellent writer, but he cherry picks his material to support a thesis and ignores all the prior art that shows that people already tried his thesis a century ago and discarded it.

Jump to 'The Power Broker' instead. Now that's an interesting read.



Nice, thanks. Do you have a go to piece of work that lays out where Diamond goes wrong? I've only ever heard it in off hand comments from people in human geography.

I've read a couple of the LBJ books which are really amazing and plan on getting to power broker eventually.


Agree on this one. Why Nations Fail is a fabulous book. I recommend reading Guns, Germs, and Steel first if you are going to read both. Highly recommend both.


I'm curious what you think of The Narrow Corridor, also by Acemoglu and Robinson. I finished Nations recently, not sure I should jump right to Corridor next?


haven't read it. I generally don't think it's a good strategy to read one author exhaustively though.


> It's also useful to know that Diamond does not have a degree in Geography

He has degrees in history and anthropology and has been a professor of geography for decades.


Why Nations Fail was incredible. One of the best things I've ever read.


I've heard there is lots of controversy surrounding Guns, Germs, and Steel. The author gets chided in some historian communities on Reddit rather frequently.


I read Seeing Like A State exactly around this time last year, and boy did I enjoy it. It somehow went well while reading Nassim Taleb’s Skin In The Game. One was an application of the other.


I’m on the third of the LBJ series after starting them a couple years ago. While they are long they really are absolutely fascinating and hold my attention far beyond what I would have thought.


May I recommend reading Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life as a practical and pro tech guide for managing tech distraction


I am interested in what others think of Educated. I made it 3/4 of the way through and struggled to get that far. The stories seemed very repetitive.


Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems is a really good book.


I absolutely love the power broker - incredibly fascinating and so well researched. I can't praise it enough. You will love it


My top priority books:

    Software Requirements - Karl Wiegers

    Programming TypeScript - Boris Cherny

    Associate Cloud Engineer Study - Dan Sullivan

    Design Patterns - Gang of Four

    Refactoring - Kent Beck, Martin Fowler

    Programming Pearls - Jon Bentley

    Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture - Martin Fowler

    The Pragmatic Programmer - David Thomas, Andrew Hunt

    CSS: The Definitive Guide - Eric A. Meyer, Estelle Weyl

    Working Effectively with Legacy Code - Michael Feathers

    Head First Design Patterns - Eric Freeman, Bert Bates

    Code Complete - Steve McConnell

    Peopleware - Tim Lister, Tom DeMarco

    Clean Code - Robert C. Martin

    The Clean Coder - Robert C. Martin

    Clean Architecture - Robert C. Martin

    Don't Make Me Think - Steve Krug

    Functional Design Patterns for Express.js - Jonathan Lee Martin

    The Surrender Experiment - Michael A. Singer

The best books I've ever read:

    Principles - Ray Dalio

    The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

    The Effective Executive - Peter F. Drucker

    Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill

    Extreme Ownership - Jocko Willink, Leif Babin

    Influence - Robert B. Cialdini

    The Startup Way - Eric Ries

    The Lean Startup - Eric Ries

    12 Rules for Life - Jordan B. Peterson

    Measure What Matters - John Doerr, Larry Page

    The Fish That Ate the Whale - Rich Cohen

    The E-Myth Revisited - Michael E. Gerber

    The Score Takes Care of Itself - Bill Walsh, Steve Jamison, Craig Walsh

    Management - Peter F. Drucker

    Thinking in Systems - Donella H. Meadows

    Blue Ocean Strategy - W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne


Sounds like you’re diving head first into web development? Or taking it to the next level?

Careful not to burn yourself out, that is a long list of technical books, that have nothing to do with the books you’ve read and enjoyed in the past that are from other genres.


Long story short, I am an entrepreneur who sold a company and am transitioning into maximizing my engineering knowledge before diving back into entrepreneurship.

I've spent a considerable amount of time studying top performers and learned how to manage stress levels effectively. I do exercise, meditation, yoga, stretching, forest bathing, mindfulness, journaling, and other activities that battle against burnout.

I am much more worried about failing to meet my goals than I am burnout. Appreciate your concern though!


I'd say if the goal is to maximize engineering knowledge, less might be more. Especially if you don't plan to apply it on a day to day basis as an engineer.

For example, I'm currently reading Clean Architecture by Martin that is on your list. While the words on the pages are not hard to understand and it doesn't rely on any advanced computer science/engineering concepts, actually comprehending the posed principles, their implications, how to reason about them and how to pull them off well in a real world scenario is absolutely non-trivial.

I have met many people in tech that devoured douzends of books and conference talks, hundreds of podcast, blog posts, articles and that were an endless source of catchy quotes found in them. But they weren't able to actually apply all this "knowledge" to anything beyond the most basic. And in cases where these people where in leadership/management positions this often had negative impact on the project/product.

To finish with a catchy quote from Clean Architecture:

"The more haste, the less speed."


You sound like a Tim. Are you a Tim?


Kudos to you and best of luck :) I’m an engineer by trade, but I’ve quit my job recently to start my own thing, and moving into web dev (my experience is in native dev), so I both share your concerns and your reading list!


> forest bathing

That sounds pretty awesome..


No time for fiction?


You have quite overlap between some stuff. I would recommend "Clean Code", but then skip the rest from the same author, at least for a while. While "Code Complete" is good, it's loooong and also a lot of the same stuff.

For patterns, "Head First" is a bit childish maybe, but the content is fine for someone learning to recognize patterns. "Patterns of Enterprise..." is also good, but more dry. I'd stick with one of those two. And then skip the one by GoF, unless you want to read the "original" for some reason.

"The Pragmatic Programmer" is probably the book that has shaped my work the most.


Another "Patterns" book that seems to be interesting is "Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture For Dummies" by Robert Hanmer. I've actually ordered it and look forward to read it in the coming year.

There's also "Patterns for Fault Tolerant Software" by the same author that looks pretty interesting too.


Code Complete seemed to be a book with a lot of dense, redundant content. Reading what was written had me feeling like I was reading information that could have been written by myself. Clean Code on the other hand (along with Refactoring by Martin Fowler) changed the way I write code for the better.


Not a long time ago I've found this comment about how to read Code Complete: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R65Q50S27SSWE - After reading the comment, maybe I'll consider to give the book another try with a different approach :)


>Principles - Ray Dalio

I'm confused by the praise for this book. I couldn't finish it. No real insight or anything technical, just fluff (Dreams + Reality + Determination = Success!).

I'm with Josh Wolfe [1]; I think Bridgewater is going to be exposed as one of the random, large hedge funds that got lucky for a spell, but is not any better than an index fund, ex-fees.

https://twitter.com/wolfejosh/status/1082470723233476608


I thought I am the only one here. Managed to finish it (unfortunately) but it was completely wasted time.


Looking at your top priority books I recalled a slide from one of Brian Will's videos on object oriented programming: "Object Oriented Programming is Bad" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1iUe6IofM&t=326s. At around the 43:51 he pulls up a slide picturing several of these (and similar) books. Here is a rough quote: "I can tell you from personal experience of having read these books that you don't need to read them. They don't have answers, they aren't going to square the circle, and you are going to waste productive years of your life trying to live up to their ideals." Now that is just one rather controversial opinion, but we are talking about potentially wasting productive years of your life so I wanted to let you know that opinion is out there. That being said, it would probably be hugely beneficial to read a few of those books and then watch a few of Brian's videos (he has three or four on the topic) and sort out your own opinion. Also, Brian's other (not controversial) videos (dozens) are excellent for learning about programming. Also, Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think is a keeper. I thought of it last night when I was checking out at a store. I stuck my debit card into the thing, entered my PIN number, then clicked the big blue button that said "Skip PIN". The woman behind the counter said "don't worry about it; everybody does that!"


Skip design patterns, I think it locks developers into a sort of religious loyalty towards OOP abstractions. When you understand the pattern it describes you get a sort of catharsis for discovering a new interesting thing. In reality, any of these patterns are just bad despite the cleverness.

Modern programming is heading in a different direction already so it'd be better to move forward without it.


I disagree because people often don't have the luxury of working on greenfield projects.

When you are working with an old codebase, you are going to run across design patterns. You will see terms like factory, builder, observer, decorator, pool, flyweight, etc... and it's going to be helpful to know what those are. A lot of the value of design patterns was in the terminology.


Times have changed where few non-greenfield projects use these patterns as well. Languages like Go and javascript will rarely have these patterns. I would avoid depending on the programming language.

If you are working with Java or C++ these are the two languages where these patterns will appear, even in greenfield projects due to developer loyalty. If you are working with languages other than this, then you are more likely not to encounter these patterns that often.

Thus avoid the book unless you want to become an expert in Java. Also these patterns can be learned without the GoF book just off of quick scans of articles on the internet.


What has replaced them?

Presumably some of the problems they intend to solve still exist.

Is there some resource you can point to that says in the past when faced with situation X developers tended to use pattern Y, these days that has been superseded with way of doing things Z?

I've seen some of those patterns leveraged to great effect in modern software. But genuinely curious about alternative ways to solve the same problems.

I've definitely noticed the trend towards more and more functional programming these days. I doubt it's simply a case of "just use FP and there are no more problems".


This isn't about OOP vs. FP.

This is about OOP vs. everything else.

Rust, Go and javascript are three languages that are moving away from the OOP paradigm. None of those three languages are classified as functional.

>Is there some resource you can point to that says in the past when faced with situation X developers tended to use pattern Y, these days that has been superseded with way of doing things Z?

No. A general trend is an anecdotal observation. Still a quick google search yielded: https://blog.cleancoder.com/uncle-bob/images/fpvsoo.jpg

Take a look at the following video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1iUe6IofM

While I don't agree with a lot of it, I think it sums up my opinion really clearly. It's not about DP's but because DP's focus around OOP and the video is a criticism of OOP therefore the arguments apply to DPs.


Thanks. I've observed this as a general trend too. I'm starting to become more and more interested in the functional way of thinking.

The image you linked it interesting. I want to dive more in on the how/specifics. I don't necessarily buy the argument it's trying to make that "just make a function and you no longer have a need for factory pattern". You're trying to accomplish something fairly specific with that. Functions compose, I could see how there are properties they have that can be leveraged to achieve the same goal, but I'm guessing the functions you write or the way you write functions to achieve each of those specific aims likely differ in subtle yet important ways. I'm very interested in those details.


>I don't necessarily buy the argument it's trying to make that "just make a function and you no longer have a need for factory pattern".

The same pattern is achievable with functions but the implementation is so trivial in FP that it doesn't even need a name:

Just have a function return another function. That's a function factory.

Same thing with dependency injection:

Just have a function take another function as a parameter.

Outside of this I wouldn't even recommend either pattern at all. It's bad practice in all paradigms. Only have data flow through your execution path, don't have new "execution paths" flowing through your execution paths, such architectures tend to be over-engineered.


Do you have a good example of a reference architecture or implementation of a non-trivial system you can point me to?

I've recently gotten a copy of the book Domain Modelling Made Functional. I'm yet to read it, but I'm pretty intrigued by some of what I've seen and I have heard it comes highly recommend.

I'd be very keen to hear of other high quality examples of things people consider good reference material.


Functional programming is rare. It's sort of like the PS3 when it came out. Better specs across the board but harder to use and understand so it's hard for me to point to production level examples. Facebook does have one big project done in haskell you can look into that. Also whatsapp is done entirely in erlang.

Also note that the trend I see in the industry is not exactly movement towards functional programs but more movement towards borrowing features popular in functional programming as well as getting rid of classes.


Thanks for the heads up. I'm going to read it soon despite your warnings, but I'll keep what you're saying in mind while going through it.


I agree with crimsonalucard but for different reasons. This book is catalog. It's like reading a dictionary from start to finish. This becomes dull fast and you don't learn efficiently. Sure you can just use it to look a pattern up once in a while but then again you might as well read the Wikipedia article.


Could you summarize the different direction that you see things moving?


Less OOP.


Based on your Best Books list, check out David Goggins book 'Cant Hurt Me'. I found him through a podcast he did with Joe Rogan and it resonated with me on a deep personal level. It ultimately inspired me to change my life: I lost 50 lbs since, got a raise and promotion at work and travelled more in 2019 than the last 5 years.


Can't hurt me was so masochistic that after 50% of the book I started thinking why is he doing "that much". It's a good book no doubt. It makes you feel that limits are just in mind. But I've to give it a break after hearing (audible) 66% and will return to it later :)


I love Goggins! That's a great book. So hard to believe, but there's documented evidence for his achievements. Unbelievable.


You'd probably really Technology Strategy Patterns.

That book is seriously underated.


As someone who approximately has their life figured out and is approximately in a good place, would you still recommend Peterson's 12 Rules for Life?


>As someone who ... is approximately in a good place

Are you going to be happy on your death bed that you lived "approximately" a good life?

I can definitely recommend the book. It could reveal to you those aspects of your life that you feel are off the mark.


I look forward to read “Meditations”[1] by Marcus Aurelius and re-read “Black Swan”[2]. On the _craftsperson_ front I’ve heard good things about “Designing Data-Intensive Applications”[3] by Martin Kleppman.

Also hope to get some good recommendations here :)

[1]: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30659.Meditations?ac=1&f...

[2]: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/242472.The_Black_Swan?ac...

[3]: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23463279-designing-data-...


Before diving into meditations spend 15 mins researching Aurelius. Because it's written diary style without intention to publish the context triggering his thoughts isn't always explained in the text.

e.g. Parts seemed quite obsessed with death - which is in part a stoic thing - but also just because at time of writing he was already old & his health was failing.


Meditations can be a slog - he repeats himself constantly, as is the tendency in published ancient Greek diaries/correspondence. It's a great grounding for stoicism though. I'd recommend also reading the Enchiridion and Discourses of Epictetus - I found them easier to absorb.


Re Aurelius: preview a couple different translations if you can - I have found there to be significant differences.

If you have the time/inclination and haven’t already I’d also suggest reading Epictetus and Seneca first.

NB: My favorite of all the available Aurelius translations so far is Martin Hammond (Penguin Classics)


Standard Ebooks has a nice PD edition of the George Long translation.[1] Also Elizabeth Carter’s translation of Epictetus’s The Enchiridion[2] and Aubrey Stewart’s translation of Seneca’s Dialogues.[3]

[1] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/marcus-aurelius/meditation...

[2] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/epictetus/the-enchiridion/...

[3] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/seneca/dialogues/aubrey-st...


Is Hammond's your favorite because it's the best read or because it's the most faithful to the source material?


I surveyed a ton of translations a few years ago and found Maxwell Staniforth's to be the best balance between readability and fidelity to the original text. Older translations (as is typical of older translations of ancient works) tend to use needlessly "elevated" language, while a lot of newer ones seem to be convinced the Greek is even more simple and informal than it actually is, for whatever reason.


Best read for me - most powerful and readable imo. I’m sure there is a better academic/true-to-source read. I’ve read about 4 different translations and Hammond always stick with me - possibly because I read it first.

Thank you - in the future I will clarify.


Get a few different translations of "Meditations". I recommend the ones by Gregory Hays, Martin Hammond and Robin Hard. The book is basically a collection of thoughts on various aspects of cultivating one's character and developing a "stoic" approach to whatever life may throw at you. It has no overarching framework/grand theory and thus you can read the individual thoughts in random order as the mood strikes you. It is quite practical and needs to be practiced in everyday life (with some commonsense changes to adapt to current time period).

You might also want to look into the works of Epictetus, Seneca and Cicero.


I read Meditations this year, and found it very repetitive and only occasionally inspiring.

It might be good to spread out reading it over a long time. Read until you find something that clicks with you. Repeat after a few weeks.


Meditations has some cool phrases here and there. It mostly gets very repetitive and you figure out his philosophy pretty clearly early on because he restates the same idea in hundreds of different ways. It's largely the same idea though.


I just finished Kleppman last week. It took me since August since I was mostly reading during working hours, but I highly recommend it, especially as a companion piece if you already have a lot of familiarity with database technologies.


It's become a yearly tradition of mine to reread this at the beach over the summer.


“craftsperson” <rolls eyes>


Thanks! Seems legit.


I've begun reading The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, his first novel. It's left a very good impression so far. It's a fourteenth century murder mystery, set in a monastery, where the mystery is mostly an excuse for exploring the historical and cultural contexts, which are very interesting. Wikipedia has a nice summary: "an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies, and literary theory". Eco was a semiotician and a philosopher and he brings the best of that to the table in this book.


I have resorted to his phrase "what is good for an old monk may not be so for a young novice" from that book about Emacs over the years. The quote above will not be exact since I was reading it in Italian.


I've read that book two years ago and really liked it. As such, I was recommended "My Name is Red" by Orhan Pamuk which is supposedly similar and which will be the next one to tackle (after I finish my current one: "Faust" by Goethe). After that...no idea. I don't really plan ahead like that since the decision on what book to start depends most on how I feel at the time/what kind of genre/story/setting I desire the most. All I can say is that "The Three Musketeers" by Dumas is on my radar.


My compiled list for 2020, as suggested by friends I respect and HN:

General

====

- Master & Margarita (w reader's guide)

- Why we sleep

- The righteous mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion

- The wisdom of insecurity

- The denial of death

- The three body problem (friend's advice: slow burn, stick with it)

- The dubliners

- The devils (Dostoyevski)

- The name of the rose

- Enten-Oller (Kierkegaard)

- Zero to one (Peter Thiel, recommended reading as palantir new joiner - not fantastic but has some thought provoking ideas; i.e. which very important truth would very few people agree with you on?)

Economy/finance

===

- Basic economics (Thomas Sowell)

- How an economy grows and why it crashes

- Know the city

Math

===

- Coffee time in Memphis

- Real analysis (mathematics textbook)

- Problems from the book (Halfway through this one, and I found it really enjoyable, even with only a CS bachelors)

If anyone has read any and has feedback/notes, I'm looking forward to hearing them!


My fiancée is an avid reader of fiction and canonical literature, she averages around 40 books a year. I was looking for something interesting to get her one Birthday for a change and was recommended "The Master & Margarita" by some folks on reddit. She loved it. It's a very strange book apparently but it steered her into some other Russian authors since.

I've read "Why we sleep" on your list—I average about 20 non fiction a year. It made me think about my own sleeping habits, although I believe there is a blog post out there that claims there is little scientific evidence to back up some of the medical claims made in the book, I still found it beneficial and thought provoking. The history and theory around sleep and it's role in human evolution I found particularly interesting.


Here is the blog post regarding factual errors in "Why we sleep" in case anyone is interested: https://guzey.com/books/why-we-sleep/

I was about to read the book based on a colleague's recommendation, but the blog post and a separate article in my local newspaper debunking few of the claims made me decide against it.


> I believe there is a blog post out there that claims there is little scientific evidence to back up some of the medical claims made in the book,

You might find this useful: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21546850


I've seen The Master & Margarita mentioned a few times in this thread and for anyone who might pick it up, you'll want to familiarize yourself with popular historical Christian names and events first.

I was not raised Catholic and was a bit lost reading through some of it because I had no idea who some of the characters were or what the references meant. Made for some fun conversations with my girlfriend who read it first and was familiar with all those names and their historical context.

It was a fun book to read though. Got a bit boring for a while but the ending is great so I'm glad I stuck with it.


Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of overlap in my have-read/wants-to-read:

Master and Margarita: Very recommendable.

Three body problem: Got bored.

Enten-Eller: Delightful.

Basic economics (Sowell): Very recommendable.

How an economy grows and why it crashes: Childish and grossly simplifying. I read this one while taking a year's of economics on top of my CS. My impression is that some economists have a bad habit of not stating their basic scholastic assumptions. Sowell and Krugman are, in my opinion, not unbiased, but able to inform you at a level where you don't feel like they're also trying to brainwash you.

As for the remainder, I've taken a few notes for myself, so thanks. :-)


Thanks for the feedback too!

Since you seem to have similar taste (or people you respect?), what other books/authors have you enjoyed/would recommend? I am a big fan of Hesse, despite his works being very unrelated to anything on my list.


Each of the books in the three body trilogy started a bit slow for me, but the payoff was worth it. Opens up into a pageturner about 1/3 of the way in.


I second that. A few years ago, I began reading the first book of the trilogy after lunch to kill time, and got so bored and nearly gave up nearly 1/3 ~ 1/2. And then suddenly the idea became clear. I couldn't put it down and skip the dinner to finished it.

And the second and third books got even better. Especially the third one was mind-blowing beyond description at that time for me. I was sad when I finished them all because I didn't know when I would have a similar experience on another book/series.


Had a similar experience. The end was bitter sweet for me. Could not put them down till the end .


Can someone tell me why Master and Margarita is a masterpiece? I’ve read it this year and it was a slow read, of basically (possibly) the author’s dreams or long mescaline trip.


It’s mostly a masterpiece because of when and where it was written, and who it was written about. If you’re lacking the context of the author and the times (most people are), it can take a long, hard time to appreciate.

Specifically, it’s written for a Soviet audience at a time when the censor was hard to get past. So the only way you could publish controversial thoughts or critiques about society was to couch it in metaphor, sarcasm, and double entendres, in a way that requires a lot of cleverness and courage on the author’s behalf. Master and Margarita is considered to be one of the peaks of this genre, because the story it tells manages to have an interesting plot and narration style, even if it’s just there to prop up the incessant jabs at contemporary soviet elites and norms.

It’s sort of like reading a comedy in another language, that’s been translated to English, but all the jokes are region specific, satirical slant rhymes that are explained in the footnotes. It’s very good, but hard to enjoy in its, originally intended, viscerally funny delivery.


I see. In hindsight, it makes much more sense now, thank you!


I, for one, found it unbearable to read. I wouldn't recommend it. Maybe someone with the right background and who can read it in the original language could find some appreciation for it. I did not, but YMMV.


Many years ago I was especially excited about how the author managed to circumvent Soviet censorship restrictions :-)


Master and Margarita is one of my "level 0" books (the small shelf of books that get dumped in the suitcase when I uproot and change continents). It bears rereading over the years.


> If anyone has read any and has feedback/notes, I'm looking forward to hearing them!

The wisdom of insecurity: very very good if you are at all interested in the matters it explores

Zero to one: the whole genre of business wisdom books is crap IMHO, but at least this one is short

Basic economics (Thomas Sowell): total must read


Interesting list, commenting to have a look again later. I'm already reading the name of the rose after giving up half-way a few years ago.


how are you finding it?


I'm not very well educated in the fields of history and philosophy so I constantly have to google for references to people or concepts I've only heard of before.

It's much more rewarding this way than how I went through half of the book in the past ignoring a lot of things I was ignorant of, but it's a way slower process.

It's an experience I'm thoroughly enjoying, but some of the characters described seem to me like they couldn't be real people, but this might just be that my way of thinking as someone living now clashes so heavily with how actual monks in the 14th century thought about the world. I'm giving the author the benefit of the doubt on this for now, as, again, I'm very ignorant on this topic and he was an actual academic in the broader field we're discussing.


> some of the characters described seem to me like they couldn't be real people

Could you elaborate? I'd like to hear what you find dissonant.


Apologies, I didn't find the time to look up a specific example as none came to mind on the spot.


The Dune movie isn't due until December 2020, but I figured I'd get started with Dune the book, which has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while. Maybe if I enjoy it I will get my hands on the rest of the Dune series.


The first book is great but the sequels are awful. So yeah


I really enjoy expanded universes (I'll forgive a lot on the quality side in exchange for coloring in the world), and I also just couldn't get through the sequels.


And I love the sequels...


Huh, maybe someday I'll try again. I did find that Dune took me a few attempts to truly get into.


Can't recommend it enough


I plan to reread a couple core works for myself. Of that list the ones that I’d recommend for others are: Aurelius (trans. Martin Hammond) Fear and Trembling Man’s Search for Meaning Tolstoy’s Confessions Kundera’s The Art of the Novel

After doing a thorough reading of “How to Read a Book” I decided to try rereading a few books to pull more out of them.

I can’t recommend “How to Read a Book” enough - despite its anachronisms and glaring faults, it’s the only book I’ve found that has genuinely made me feel that I’ve not really read a single book in my life.


How to Read a Book has been on my list for the longest time. I might have to finally give it a go. Is the book very dense? I think one of the reasons I've held off is because I have a suspicion that it could probably be distilled down to the length of a magazine article...

I read a decent amount and enjoy it, but I feel in the end I don't get much from it. The time doesn't feel well spent. FWIW, I try to alternate fiction with non-fiction.


Anne-Laure Le Cunff just published a blog post that appears to be a summary of the book, which you might find interesting.

https://nesslabs.com/how-to-read-a-book


Thanks for the link! Have you read the book? Is the article you linked to a decent summary of the book?


It is a very good summary; matches a lot of my own notes on it. One thing to note though...

> Adler’s main point in the first section of his work about how to read a book is that it’s best to gain knowledge straight from the source. Instead of going through a teacher sharing the main points of a book, he considered it better to read the book yourself. He called this concept “original communication”—the idea that information coming directly from those who first discovered an idea is the best way of gaining an understanding.

Also worth checking out is Adler's "How to Mark a Book" : http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~pinsky/mark_a_book.htm


Read though the first section thoroughly (I recommend attempting all the strategies presented in it on the book itself), and then skim through the "how to read this type of book" section - it's really not necessary and much less enjoyable of a read IMO.


here to second "how to read a book". few books have changed the way that i interact with written information as profoundly.

it's not just about reading books, of course. it's about reading any long-form content.


To start the year off, my casual just-before-sleep reading will be "Ender's Shadow", which is a story that isn't a prequel or a sequel to "Ender's Game", but a story parallel to it.

"What We Cannot Know", which is an exploration of all the topics that we might never be able to know, such as how to predict the weather, is the universe infinite etc.

"Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder", because it's dauntingly long and I'm feeling masochistic.

"Commodore - A Company on the Edge" because I really enjoyed "Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made", so I think I'll also like seeing how another computer I really like (the Commodore 64) came about.


> "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder", because it's dauntingly long and I'm feeling masochistic.

The length on its own isn't that big of a problem. But if you want a simple idea which can be explained thoroughly in a couple of pages to be stretched out for hundreds pages in the most unbearably condescending and arrogant tone that you can imagine... then Antifragile will fit in great with your masochistic inclinations.


True that it's a simple idea. But the length of the book is worth it for the breadth it covers(economics, health, politics, etc), the implications of the idea would be otherwise hard to explore by self.


Ender's Shadow is a great series. It complements the original story so, so well.


> because it's dauntingly long and I'm feeling masochistic.

it's only 544 pages?


For the reasons psv1 mentioned, despite this it feels long.


Lifespan: Why We Age-and Why We Don't Have To - David Sinclair [1]

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Lifespan-Why-Age-Dont-Have-ebook/dp/B...


USMC Commandant's 2020 Reading List.

This year I am finishing up the Harvard Classics and am looking for a new view point. https://www.myharvardclassics.com/categories/20120612_1

Unfortunately, the military only publish on New Years Day (traditionally as a sort of holiday gift to those under command), so the 2020 list is not out yet. Every title is free via either the base library or the Navy Digital Library. Most have free audio book narration. There are discussion guides also provided for free. The website is very easy to use and poke around in, I'd suggest looking at it from a Dev standpoint alone. That said, the 2019 list is here: https://grc-usmcu.libguides.com/usmc-reading-list

There are a LOT of titles so here are the Poolee through PFC levels:

Poolee:

BATTLE CRY by Leon Uris

CORPS VALUES by Zell Miller

GATES OF FIRE: AN EPIC NOVEL OF THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE by Steven Pressfield

GRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE by Angela Duckworth

STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert A. Heinlein

PFC through Lance Corporal:

CHESTY by Jon T. Hoffman

ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card

THE LAST STAND OF FOX COMPANY: A TRUE STORY OF U.S. MARINES IN COMBAT by Bob Drury

THE MARINES OF MONTFORD POINT: AMERICA'S FIRST BLACK MARINES by Melton Alonza McLaurin

ON CALL IN HELL by Richard Jadick; Thomas Hayden

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

RIFLEMAN DODD: A NOVEL OF THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN by C. S. Forester

THE WARRIOR ETHOS by Steven Pressfield

The 2020 list should have some froth in it (Greitens likely won't stay, but who knows, judge the art not the artist). I think it'll be a good look into a Corps that has been punched for a long time in Afghanistan. Still, some great titles in there.


I wouldn't bother with Ready Player One, which is an unrewarding story mostly written as an effort by the author to collect every bit of his 80s nostalgia in one place.

Instead I would suggest Speaker For The Dead, the sequel to Ender's Game and a remarkable novel.


I had a lot of fun reading the book and thought it was influential to my view of the future and VR. It's an easy read (I finished it on a long train ride) but certain parts stuck in my brain ever since. Much different and more mature than the movie.


Which parts?


Neat plan! I'll add a tangent, that if the material on Thermopylae intrigues you, there's a really good trilogy of historical novels by Helena Schrader about Leonidas and archaic Sparta that tries to lay out the best of our current knowledge (which is very different from what scholars thought about Sparta even a few decades ago...it's taken a long time to peel back all the appropriation on top of the fact that most of our sources are Athenian).


They should add House to House by David Bellavia. Excellent book and as it's written in the present tense you feel like you are right there with him.


I want to finish to read Snowden’s autobiography: “Permanent Record”.

I started during a long train trip recently and found that I really enjoyed the tone of the first few chapters.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_Record_(autobiogra...


I listened to him read it on Audible. It's really interesting. Though it started off a little slow but picks up as it keeps going. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


It's definitely a book that I thought benefited from being read by the author - strongly recommended!


I enjoyed it, though I thought it ended rather abruptly. I enjoyed reading about his childhood/early adulthood and how that shaped him and prompted him to act, but I thought more time would have been spent during/after "the main event"


It's great. I was surprised by how well written it was, it was very easy to read and had some good insights.


I am currently reading it as well. Only a few chapters in but already gained some interesting insights from it.


I'm hoping to tackle this list in 2020, I've been wanting to read Caro's LBJ series for a while now.

=====

Robert Caro - Lyndon B. Johnson series & The Power Broker

S.C Gwynne - Empire of the Summer Moon

Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Black Swan & Antifragile

Graham Hancock - America Before

Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs and Steel

Safi Bahcall - Loonshots


The entire LBJ series and The Power Broker? Ambitious! Caro has a fantastic voice in his writing but by golly he sure does know how to fill a thousand pages!


Yes, it's an ambitious list, Caro is my priority for 2020 so I don't mind spending a large portion of the year on his books. Are there any other books you'd recommend?


Start with Guns, Germs and Steel ;)


I've had this book recommended to me so many times, I might try and tackle it over the Christmas break.


I found it less interesting than I anticipated, but I think it was because we watched the PBS documentary in HS. So if you're short on time, then you could try that, it seemed to cover all the key bits :)


Oh cool, I wasn’t aware of the PBS documentary, I’ll definitely check it out. Thank you!


My 2019 reading list


Hahaha. I know the feeling.


"Between the world and me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

"A people's history of the United States" by Howard Zinn


be sure to take the people's history with a grain of salt...

there's factual information in there, but a lot of it is a bit exaggerated and from a very... shall we say, not-rigorous perspective, even if you largely believe in the thrust of what's being said and the facts aren't really up for dispute.


>there's factual information in there, but a lot of it is a bit exaggerated and from a very... shall we say, not-rigorous perspective,

I agree. Perhaps when the book came out in the 80s, and there was far less access to "information", this book was probably great from a "history isn't always as it seems" perspective. Today we are far more conscious of the "elite narrative" of history. Now I think you'd be better served by perusing the table of contents and finding various sources on the subject matter that interests you.

It's well written, and Zinn is great. Just feels a bit dated.


The Body - Bill Bryson

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics - Rovelli, Carlo

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment - Robert Wright

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari


The only one on this list I disliked was the Wright book, mainly because it's not a scientific justification of Buddhism. It's really about how evolutionary psychology explains stuff like road-rage and dieting struggles and how insight meditation (Wright's brand of secularized Buddhism) helps us manage those emotions. Which is fine. Only he's not an evolutionary psychologist and almost all the evidence he puts forward for the effects of meditation is anecdotal. For me a pretty disappointing book.


Really appreciate that feedback.. thank you!


Thanks for posting it! Definitely going to add a couple of those to my list.


Can highly recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow and Why Buddhism is True (listened to both as audio books).

I have not read the others, but the 5+ books I read by Bill Bryson have been awesome, putting The Body on my year's list - thanks ;)


Bill Bryson has a remarkable talent for making stuff that should be pretty dry quite remarkably interesting - I even found the sections on baseball in "One Summer: America 1927" fascinating (I'm not from the US).


Leisure Stuff:

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga Of Oklahoma City, It's Chaotic Founding... by Sam Anderson

Midnight In Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

Dune by Frank Herbert

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (tried it this year and stopped, want to give it another go)

Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang (just finished Exhalation and I think it's great)

An Ursula K. Le Guin novel, have not picked one out yet

A book related to basketball (possibly Dream Team, but IDK yet)

Less Leisure Stuff:

Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform by John Pfaff

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

The End Of Policing by Alex S Vitale

Either Manufacturing Consent or Understanding Power by Chomsky

The Annotated Turing by Charles Petzold

Work:

Code Complete 2 by Steve McConnell

The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws by Dafydd Stuttard, Marcus Pinto

Finish Writing An Interpreter In Go by Thorsten Ball

If I can get through all of these, I will be very pleased. Throw in a book or two at recommendation from friends and I think I'm full for the year.


Dune is great. Really great, especially the first part. While many books get a lot of praise/hype, Dune is one of the few that lives up to expectations.


For Ursula, I would strongly suggest Left Hand of Darkness. Try to read it without looking into it too much.


Or go dip into her novellas. There's a collected edition out now ('The Found and the Lost'). I think my favorite stuff of hers is in there. Or, if you just want fun, 'Changing Planes' is a delightful romp inspired by the misery of sitting in airports.


Since they are shorter, I may add that and sprinkle them. Good suggestion!


Seconded. As an SF fan since childhood, it’s one of the few that has really taught me something of the human condition.


That was my most likely pick.


Some good ones on in your leisure list that I have really enjoyed recently!

I also took two attempts for The Three Body Problem. Gotta say, I don’t understand the hype. Maybe something was lost in translation but it seems like another poorly written SF novel carried by a few interesting ideas. Not in the same league as Dune, Ursula Le Guin or some of Ted Chiang’s shorts.


Agreed. I was told it's slow going and worth the payout, but I generally have low tolerance for books like that. Several friends who know what I like think it'll be worth my time though so I'm trying again.


If you haven’t read it already, I highly suggest Sam Smith’s “The Jordan Rules”. It’s really fascinating to see the tension that’s present behind-the-scenes even on a team that is super successful on the court.


That was one of the others I was considering for that spot!


I feel like I'm way behind on fundamentals so mostly textbooks. I'm focused on CS, maths, and finance mainly, not sure I'll achieve this in a year, kind of my perpetual read this within 10 years list. I'm also interested in literature but prefer reading to enrich my knowledge and skills as opposed to reading for leisure :

Maths:

James Stewart's Precalculus

Spivak's Calculus

How to Solve It

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

I Am a Strange Loop

Introduction to Linear Algebra

Euclid's Elements

The Principia: The Authoritative Translation and Guide: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

CS:

The Algorithm Design Manual

Finish SICP

Computer Networking: A Top Down Approach

Computer Systems: A Programmer's Persepctive

C Programming: A Modern Approach, 2nd Edition

Operating Systems: 3 Easy pieces

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation

The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools

Lions' Commentary on Unix

TCP/IP Illustrated

Finance/Econ/Business:

Liar's Poker

Investor Z (Manga)

Trading & Exchanges

Dynamic Hedging: Managing Vanilla and Exotic Options

Python for Finance: Mastering Data-Driven Finance

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it

Alpha Masters

Fooling Some of the People All of Time

Dark Pools

When Genius Failed

Advances in Financial Machine Learning

Algorithmic Trading

Other:

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free productivity

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

Chaos: Making a New Science

Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World

Data and Reality: A Timeless Perspective on Perceiving and Managing Information in Our Imprecise World


> Computer Systems: A Programmer's Persepctive

Can vouch for this one. Provides a great overview of systems through the lens of algorithms they are built on.



Next up on my list is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I was given it as a gift from a friend and have seen it recommend here on HN


When I read this book the first time, I was slightly intrigued and somewhat disappointed. Years later, when I was on a spiritual journey, a reread revealed profound depth and led me toward a complete shift in perspective on life.

After months of philosophy, I again questioned the value of the ideas the book hints at. It's one of those books that can be a guide - if you need one, are ready for one, and haven't yet encountered the deeper themes.


I'm not one to reread books, but I have read that one three times. My father recommended it to me when I was young and I have treasured it ever since. Be sure to read the author's Afterward, which is available online.


My bare minimum is learn more about Alan Watts and his books. I saw him mentioned here many times but it wasn’t until I started reading one of the books that I got hooked by his way of explaining fundamental life stuff.


AH! So many books to read.. I always get excited when I see these type of threads (because I can get new worthy books to add to my list), but on the other hand I get depressed that it is pretty damn hard to catch up with everything that I want to read.

My list would be too long to post, but these are the ones next in line: - Meditations - Digital Minimalism - I Ching - Art of War - Tao Te King - Steppenwolf - Think and grow rich

In general want to focus on books of: business, leadership, self development, productivity and spiritualism (mostly buddhism).


3 or 4 Discworld books, as in every year. Starting with Soul Music this time, in publication order.

Designing Data Intensive Applications.

Some books on leadership from the recent HN discussion, not decided which yet.

Death's End (book 3 of The Three Body Problem). The first two were really good.

The Algorithm Design Manual. Domain Driven Design.

Some chess books. Some general science and history. The yearly random self help book.

If I manage all that plus whatever I'll decide I want in the actual year, it will be a good year for reading, but maybe I need to have some more focus. We'll see.



I don’t have a list handy but I do intend to read a lot. Every year I make the same New Year’s Resolution: read one book a week. The closest I came to 52 was in 2011 when I read 36. I do this because I calculated that if I met my goal from the age of 16 to 90, I’d only read 3,900 books. I grew up an avid reader and the decline in my intake bums me out. So here’s to 52 in 2020!


Everyone else with nice collections of books.

Mine :

Harry Potter


Well, I still read them almost every christmas. At least a few of them.

I'd also recommend Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn series is very good, and Stormligh Archive is good so far. I really like his world-building, and I think the way he uses magic is something most HNers would approve of. It's often well defined, and the characters try to exploit it the same way a reader would.


I’ll add The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss to this, having recently gotten into Brandon Sanderson. Probably my favourite fantasy series. Lots of similarities to the Mistborn Series.


Kingkiller Chronicles is hands down my best fantasy series but its unfinished and the last book has taken over 8 years now with the author constantly pushing the release date. There are rumours that it will be released in 2020 but they have been saying this for years.


That's a given yearly re-read for me, honestly.


Well here are the books I’m currently reading (physical, kindle, and audible). I bounce around a lot. Sometimes it takes me a week to finish a book, other times I take a few months. Sometimes I never finish. But these are the ones I have some progress on so far:

1. Faust by goethe

2. I am That

3. Book of why

4. The gift by hafiz

5. Simulacra and simulation

6. Candide by Voltaire

7. Meeting the shadow: the hidden power of the dark side of human nature

8. Nonviolent communication

9. After the ecstasy, the laundry

10. Watchmen

11. Noble heart by Pena chodron

12. Developer hegemony

13. Brothers karamazov


I am That by Sri Nisargadatta is a great book.


I read the intro and really liked it. Unfortunately it's been a month since I picked it up, got distracted by a few other books haha.


Hopefully I'll knock at least a couple off my "most shameful not to have read" list:

- Paradise Lost

- The Divine Comedy

- The Aeneid

- Moby Dick

- Middlemarch

- Othello & at least the lesser Henriad

- Any of several Russian novels, of which I've read none (War and Peace, Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment probably being the biggest)

- Kafka's The Trial

- The Canterbury Tales (I've read Sir Gawain & The Green Knight but not this, WTF is wrong with me?)

- Don Quixote


Here is my list, which excludes fiction. Mostly philosophy. I prefer to read fewer books but more deeply.

Currently reading:

Republic - Plato

Being and time - Heidegger

On the list to begin reading:

Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle

Recursivity and contingency - Yuk Hui

Wholeness and the implicate order or thought as a system - David Bohm

Finite and infinite games - James P Carse

Book lists:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/31590496?shelf=to-read

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/31590496?shelf=current...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/31590496?shelf=read


A lot of what I read in 2020 will involve just finishing titles I started in 2019 (or before). So my "To read in 2020" list already has a lot of stuff on it.

But to name ones that I very specifically want to read/finish sooner than later... hmm... there are a number of books that fall more into the realms of history / anthropology / etc., that I have been meaning to read. Books like Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Sapiens - things of that nature. One of those that I'm already on, but probably won't finish before Jan 1, is Human Universals by Donald Brown.

I also want to get through some books on writing/reading mathematical proofs. Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof by Ted Sundstrom, or The Book of Proof by Richard Hammack.

Another one I hope to get through is Designing Data-Intensive Applications.


Some of the books in my 2020 to be read basket:

Cultural Amnesia by Clive James

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Silver, Sword & Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story by Maria Arana

The World As I Found It by Bruce Duffy

Alice And Bob Meet The Wall Of Fire edited by Thomas Lin

Masscult and Midcult by Dwight Macdonald

Big Bang by David Bowman

White Noise by Don DeLillo

The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles C. Mann

A House for Mr. Biwas by V. S. Naipaul

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

On The Abolition Of All Political Parties by Simone Weil

Collected Stories by Bruno Schulz

On Being The Right Size by J. B. S. Haldane

Bela Tarr, The Time After by Jacques Ranciere

La Vida Breve by Juan Carlos Onetti

The Clown by Heinrich Boll

Memoirs From Beyond The Grave by Francois-Rene De Chateubriand

Blood Dark by Louis Guilloux

The Liberal Imagination by Lionel Trilling

Cuentos Completos by Juan Carlos Onetti

Balcony In The Forest by Julien Gracq

Historia De España Contada Para Escépticos by Juan Eslava Galán

Diez Lecciones Sobre Los Clásicos by Piero Boitani

Waiting For The Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee

97,196 Words by Emmanuel Carrere

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

El Zafarrancho Aquel De Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda


The Body: A Guide for Occupants The Topeka School: A Novel The Yellow House Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures Mastery Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning Never Lost Again: The Google Mapping Revolution That Sparked New Industries and Augmented Our Reality Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World's Deadliest Special Operations Force Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know


Going to finish Crime and Punishment, Year of the Monkey (Patti Smith), The Children of Húrin (along with many cross references and letters) (Tolkien), re-reading A Game of Thrones for fun... as for 2020 I might read Slaughterhouse 5 again and work through George Sand.

Technical things I am working through are the:

- https://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative/a... along with the Artin text, writing proofs out by hand and in Lean.

- Seven Sketches in Compositionality: https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.05316


I'm planning on going through the entire Harvard Classics. At 51 volumes, it works out pretty nicely to read one volume per week.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics


I'm going to suggest some alternate translations for some of these where it really matters.

Virgil's Aeneid, the best I know if is CS Lewis's partial translation. I'm unaware of a complete translation that has any of the magic of the original.

Dante's Divine Comedy, read the Clive James translation. This is the first one that captures some of the luminous quality of the Tuscan.

Beowulf, get Seamus Heaney's translation.

I don't read Spanish and cannot offer any insights on Cervantes, but maybe someone else can chime in. Likewise, do some research on translations of the Buddhist writings in volume 45.

One volume a week of this material is steep. A lot of this has its own pace and forcing your way through it faster loses the reason to bother. Milton's Paradise Lost, for example, is an awesome poem, but it implies a cadence, and it's a much slower cadence than modern readers are used to for nontechnical prose.


Thanks for the suggestions. I actually have read Paradise Lost before, but yeah, point taken. I manage my time well so I don't anticipate having to rush through it, but we shall see.


Those volumes seem very dense for reading, digesting, and understanding in a single week. Unless you read & learn very fast, how do you plan to do this?


They aren't too bad, really. Each volume is something like 500 pages, so roughly 70 pages per day. If you can dedicate an hour or two per weekday and three hours per weekend day, it's very doable.

And as far as a deeper understanding of the work in question, I plan to listen to podcasts or lectures during my commute or when I'm getting ready in the morning. For example, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations has a plethora of free lectures on YouTube.


I’d like to finally read something by Jason Fung.

I have been trying fasting on and off for about 6 months and I can see results, but I have not bothered to check the theory behind it at all.

If anybody would like to recommend some books on nutrition, body aging and general health regarding food, bring it!


Jason Fung explains his theory of type 2 diabetes / metabolic disorder, and how it is addressed by fasting, in detail in episode #59 of Peter Attia's "The Drive" podcast [1].

The review of Fung's "The Obesity Code" on Red Pen Reviews [2] details some serious flaws in the scientific claims in the book related to calories, insulin, and fasting, and their relation to obesity and fat loss.

Relating to nutrition/health/longevity, they aren't books, but I've found the podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, and even tweets by Rhonda Patrick (FoundMyFitness), Peter Attia (The Drive), Stephan Guyenet, and Chris Masterjohn quite enlightening.

[1] https://peterattiamd.com/jasonfung/ [2] https://www.redpenreviews.org/reviews/the-obesity-code-unloc...


He did write The Complete Guide to Fasting, which is excellent and covers all the science behind it. There is also Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle by Gin Stephens which is basically One Meal a Day, however she includes links to all the reports to everything she talks about in the book and yes, she actually read them and encourages others to do the same, not just believe what she says. There's always the fasting subreddit's wiki that has links to other info: https://www.reddit.com/r/fasting/wiki/fasting_in_a_nutshell


I don't have a list because I usually look around on here for my next book to read. I see a lot of similar titles after reading through this thread. Some I've read, some I've started and got bored with and a lot I've never heard of.

I just finished reading Siddartha, which is a really short book, but I'd like to read more that are similar to this, any suggestions?

I see Designing Data-Intensive Applications quite a bit in this thread, might have a go at that one too.

Currently I'm reading https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_Standard_Oi... which is fascinating!


I'm a huge fan of Hermann Hesse. Beneath the Wheel is probably my favorite novel of his, although Steppenwolf & Demian are also fantastic. The Fairytales of Hermann Hesse re-read every couple years. I've also bought it probably 5 times now, each time lending (giving?) it out to a friend. His fairytales hit the same themes as his novels and often do so with a bit stronger punch and a fun sense of magic.


- Design Data Intensive Applications (https://dataintensive.net)

- Database Internals (https://www.databass.dev/)


The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles Mann, it covers two different approaches to the environmental problems we face. Whether we can use technology to extract ourselves from these problems or restraint and a simpler life.

After that I'll probably read Walden again.


First two thirds are engaging, though he over simplifies rather too much to fit everything neatly into the either-or, but I learnt of much I did not know. Despite his efforts over preceding pages to remain neutral, the later parts become infuriating. He can't help guiding you to Borlaugianism (wizard's tech as adversary to nature) as the preferred correct solution. I felt rather let down in the end and wonder about how balanced the preceding actually was.


I usually don't plan in advance but I'll finish The Dark Tower series(3 to go).


The Gunslinger (part of The Dark Tower series) was excellent.

Demons and Wizards, the metal band, made a song called The Gunslinger, through which I learned of this book.


I plan to read:

- "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber

- "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" by Lawrence Wright

- "The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves" by Matt Ridley

- "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life" by William Finnegan


Going Clear is great. I've read several of Wright's books and really enjoy the depth of the research he does.


Quantum Computing: An Applied Approach is an amazing book, that I just started, and I will be working through into the new year.

It is a well written textbook with clear learning paths for readers with different backgrounds and learning objectives.


My plan is to read about the french revolution and as such I was thinking about reading the books recommended by Five Books[1]:

1. Ancien Regime and the Revolution by Alexis de Tocqueville

2. Interpreting the French Revolution by François Furet

3. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama

4. Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution by R. R. Palmer

5. New Regime: Transformations of the French Civic Order, 1789-1820s by Woloch Isser

Just ordered the first one!

[1]: https://fivebooks.com/best-books/french-revolution-lynn-hunt...


Anatomy of a revolution is a good one to frame the French rev in the context of the other revolutions of that time.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/648063.The_Anatomy_of_Re...


In your case I can't recommend enough joseph fouché by stefan zweig


That's a great list. What made you interested in the subject?


A couple of years ago a friend mentioned a now infamous quote by the Chinese prime minister Zhou Enlai, who, when asked by Henry Kissinger what he thought about the French Revolution, said that it's "too early to tell"[1]. Apparently he was referring to the revolutions of 1968, but the quote has taken a life of its own to kind of describe the magnitude of the actual french revolution.

Anyway, it's been 15 years since I first really learned about the revolution in high school and after hearing the quote I've been skimming the wikipedia page every now and then and it just seems like one of the most fascinating events in the history of the western world.

In the span of 30 years:

  - The french kill their king

  - They're the first monarchy to convert into a republic

  - Most of the early leaders of the revolution die, apparently because they're so brutal

  - The whole thing ends with Napoleon becoming emperor and conquering half of Europe.
Also at the same time the industrial revolution is going on. I think that for someone who's living in 2020 it's hard to put into context the magnitude of the changes for the people at the time. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

[1]: https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/978019182...


Why in 2020? There are 2 weeks left of 2019... time enough for a couple books...


Exactly. I still plan to finish 6 more this year which is apparently more than some plan for all of 2020...


most*

25% of people are going to hit 0 again. 1-2 is huge for most people


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

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

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

* Kiss The Ground Josh Tickell

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

* * * My other 95 Books I am going to continue re-read in 2020:

http://casualwalker.com/95-best-books-to-read-in-2019


I'm moving back into a team leadership role after working for myself a while so probably The Managers Path and Managing Humans. Would love to hear other suggestions for software development managers too!


The Managers Path is brilliant. I highly recommend it.

One of the best books I read in 2019. :)


Radical candor by Kim Scott. Was an eye opener for me.


Managing Humans was hilarious and definitely insightful. I saw myself in some of the stories he mentions lol.


I've read over 38 books till now, so, it will be about 40 by the year-end. I have a long list of Book Wishlist on Amazon. I try to buy (both physical and Kindle) about 5 books ahead. Twitter has become a very good source of my Books to Read.

I also tend to and try to re-read quite a few books from before. I never have any specific books lined up for a year but I'm sure, I won't be able to finish my current wishlist.

The comment thread on this post is going to be another good source for my book wishlist.

I wish to be rich enough to have all the time to read so many books. :-)


I would like to start with:

High Output Management Grove, Andrew S.

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People Covey, Stephen R

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship,(Robert C. Martin)

Clean Architecture: A Craftsman's Guide to Software Structure and Design (Robert C. Martin Series)

Building Evolutionary Architectures: Support Constant Change by Neal Ford, Rebecca Parsons, Patrick Kua

If you have read any of them and you would like to share your thoughts, I will be truly happy to listen!:)

Happy reading


I try to only read books that are at least a few years old, so these aren’t timely recommendations.

On the list for next year:

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

Essays of Montaign

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Higher Speculations: Grand Theories and Failed Revolutions in Physics and Cosmology

The Enigma of Reason

Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind

Impro

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

Invisible Cities

Collapse of Complex Societies

--

Favorites from this year:

Death's End

One Man's Meat

Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery

Cosmicomics

Why Quark Rhymes with Pork

The Unfolding of Language

A Sand County Almanac


- Princeton Companion to Mathematics

- The Art and Craft of Problem Solving

- Div, Grad, Curl and all that

- Visual Complex Analysis

- Ordinary Differential Equations

- Mathematics and Its History

- Geometry and the Imagination

- Introduction to Electrodynamics

- Penrose's Road to Reality


Ken MacLeod. I read most of his hard SF, and I am just about to finish re-reading Fractions: The First Half of the Fall Revolution (The Star Fraction + The Stone Canal). It’s a great series, often underrated because it’s more political and technical. The Stone Canal is probably the best of the series.

I plan to re-read Descent and The Restoration Game, at the least.

Haven’t made yet a list of new stuff to read, I’ll pick stuff is it comes.


I will try getting through Goodfellows ‚Deep Learning‘ book, the maths for ML book: https://mml-book.github.io/ and the classic ‚The Fractal Geometry of Nature‘.

I’m also listening to various audiobooks, but these are much easier to get through in bulk than books I’ve actually got to sit down and read for like the above.


Currently, my list of to-reads looks like this:

Non-fiction:

The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

Bad Science

I'm Afraid Debbie From Marketing Has Left for the Day: How to Use Behavioural Design to Create Change in the Real World

Fiction:

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Catch-22

The Wanderers

I could definitely use some more fiction. Any suggestions?


> This Is How You Lose the Time War Catch-22 The Wanderers

At first I thought "wow that's a crazy book title", but then I realised that this is just markdown shenanigans.


Before the next wave of Internet-from-space companies fly by, I'm going to delve in to the last great bubble. John Bloom's "Eccentric Orbits," mainly about the life and death and rebirth of Iridium–but also covering all of that company's even less successful peers–came out in 2016, but somehow I missed it until now. Lots of awards.


For me:

- On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche

- Simulcra and Simulations, Jean Baudrillard

- The Ruling Class, Gaetano Mosca

- Finish off the Enchiridion and Shobogenzo

For work:

- Envisioning Information, Edward Tufte

- Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb


When I studied Nietzsche it was more or less “Read Zarathustra, then read all the ‘Viking Portable Nietzsche’ then read all of the ‘Basic Writings of Nietzche’” all translates by Hollingdale or, preferably, Kauffman.

Among the jewels you’ll find in such a reading are things like the seed of Nietzsche’s thought being placed, imo, in The Birth of Tragedy, with the line:

> It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified

Other Nietzsche related recommendations: Pre-Nietzsche: Plato, Schopenhauer Post-Nietzsche: Camus - maybe?


I'm on the back end of Zarathustra at the moment, hence moving onto something a bit stronger. I tend to flick between different books by any given author in order to assimilate their ideas, so I might add Birth of Tragedy at the same time - thank for the recommendation. I'd like to get through all of Nietzsche's key writing in the next couple of years.

I've thought about reading Schopenhauer as I understand he's a great complement to Nietzsche's work - I'll see where I get to with Nietzsche first. Camus is somewhat related as an absurdist compared to Nietzsche/Schopenhauer's existentialism, but a bit more optimistic about the possibility of meaning.

I'm tempted to dig into Plato as the problem of universals is a philosophical topic that I value greatly, and his theory of forms is basically its origin story.


I heavily recommend the Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Republic, and Phaedrus (in particular) - it’s said all of philosophy is a footnote on Plato until Nietzsche. I think only a summary of Schopenhauer (like a penguin selection or something) is all that’s needed - he moves past Schopenhauer pretty quickly.

I enjoyed Camus due to it being an attempt to move beyond Nietzsche and offer something more digestible, but I never moved past the Nietzsche/Plato combo for my personal philosophies (with a heavy dash of stoicism)

Re forms: I find that Plato’s forms are one of the most used mental models I engage with - especially working with software.


Thanks for the suggestion - I'll add Plato's works to my list. I tried to get into Republic when I was a bit younger but couldn't digest it at the time, but I wasn't very familiar with philosophy (or reading dry books in general) at the time so it would be worth another go round.

I'm roughly familiar with Camus' ideas as presented in the Myth of Sisyphus, and I like the idea that one can make the fight against suffering the source of meaning - it resonates with my understanding of the role of dukkha in the four noble truths in Buddhism. I personally use a mix of Zen Buddhism and stoicism, which seems very similar to you.

The main mental models I use day-to-day are those derived from systems theory, and I believe that patterns of emergence and recursion described by systems theory are the underlying mechanism that brings about abstract properties. I believe I have a copy of "The Human Use of Human Beings" by Norbert Wiener on the way for Christmas, which is meant to be a great book on the topic of cybernetics which is essentially a sub-category of systems theory.


That does sound very similar. I know that in my interpretation Camus is one of the possible outcomes of Nietzsche's thoughts, and that his thoughts afford for many... I think that is something that resonated with me - that _my_ philosophy does not need to be yours, but that we can still find some common ground to survive with one another.

Do you have good recommendations for Zen Buddhism and systems theories?

I have touched on both, but never got deep enough to know what are the main works I should be working off of.


> in my interpretation Camus is one of the possible outcomes of Nietzsche's thoughts, and that his thoughts afford for many

Yeah that makes total sense. How do you respond to a meaningless universe? By imagining up our own meaning and putting value in that.

> I think that is something that resonated with me - that _my_ philosophy does not need to be yours, but that we can still find some common ground to survive with one another.

Yeah I totally agree, and I think we could benefit from more people who viewed our existence in that way.

> Do you have good recommendations for Zen Buddhism and systems theories?

Unfortunately I'm not generally that bookish - a lot of the knowledge I have on these subjects, I've picked up from thinking and practicing the ideas within, odd sources on the internet and in conversations rather than reading books. However, I can recommend Alan Watts' "The Way of Zen" and Donella Meadows' "Thinking in Systems", which I have read and both of which are fantastic.

Unfortunately sometimes systems theorists get caught up in the fine grained details such as "stock and flow" and "causal loop" diagrams and specific types of loop structure, which happens in Donella Meadows' book - the wiki page for complex systems (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_system) is a good entry point for the high level concerns in systems theory.

[edit] I'm also told that Godel Escher Bach is an interesting book for approaching systems concepts like self-reference and emergence in a more esoteric, example-driven way.


Here is a list of systems thinking readings I posted before.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19835208


[flagged]


You're not helping your recommendation by starting it with a condemnation.

What makes you think I want to read this book at all? Or that I'm reading Nietzsche for practical ethical advice? I have no idea who would do such a thing.


Much of philosophy is concerned with "how are we to live"?

I am consistently puzzled what people seek when they read Nietzsche, or what of value they take away from his writings.


> Much of philosophy is concerned with "how are we to live"?

And how does one decide that question? Presumably in response to a model of how the world is.

> I am consistently puzzled what people seek when they read Nietzsche, or what of value they take away from his writings.

I'm sorry that you aren't able to benefit from his writing.


I wonder if we both agree on our dislike of Ayn Rand. She presents a world view that is nicely convenient to people who don't want to care about others. Having a model of how the world is based on her writing would make one a callous person.


That's a poor comparison - just because the universe is amoral, doesn't mean we have to be. There's two parallel paths that I see people confuse all the time, that of how the world is (truth) and how we should be (good). Nietzsche is interesting for talking about truth, not necessarily good. Practical philosophy is just telling you what is good, and so far I haven't seen a moral framework that is competent at that. Especially utilitarianism. Partly because I think the idea of a moral framework is reductionist, but this isn't the right place, nor perhaps you the right counterparty, for me to lay out my issues with reductionism.

Tldr: yes I think Rand is a poor moral philosopher too.


Thank you for engaging in this conversation and sharing your thoughts!


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