Other books which I find interesting
- The Slight Edge
- The Master and Margarita (apart from the fact it is a great novel, this is so wickedly funny )
There's a user on HN who learned French just so he could read it in the original, and I can see why.
If you read it, make sure to read the unabridged edition, and not any of the many abridged editions, which are often targeted at children and are a travesty to the mature themes in the original.
I can personally recommend David Clarke's reading of it on Librivox, who does an excellent job.
 - https://librivox.org/the-count-of-monte-cristo-version-3-by-...
The sword buried in earthquake and the samurai-wife subplots come to mind even all these years later.
Still, it was riveting compared to the shaggy dog that was Tai-Pan, the only book I've had the distinction of hurling at the wall in disgust at its non-conclusion.
I read Robin Buss Unabridged version from penguin for "The Count of Monte Cristo".
Also, some of other interesting books I forgot to mention in my original list
- How to Change Your Mind (don't be put off by title)
- Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (good peek into the mind of one of the greatest emperors of all time)
I think it was linked on HN where it caught my attention. This book teaches a great way to communicate, but for me, it has also helped me think about my feelings and how I can communicate those feelings better. I feel more in touch with my feelings and more empathetic as a direct result from following what the book is teaching.
On the communication side, it has helped me put more structure around tough conversations, personally and professionally. It has helped me understand others more and vice versa. It's also helped me see toxic traits in others. Such as people who aren't interested in understanding or people who struggle to understand their own emotions.
You can save yourself the time/money and just read the Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication
It almost feels like magic how effective it is as it seems to sort of ballet step away and around from conflict. I usually don’t care about conflict so it’s nice to just sort of leave behind all the distractions that come when people focus on the wrong parts of communication.
A recent example where this helped me...I was trying to figure out what tasks needed to be done to launch a product. At first I asked the project manager what tasks he defined and he started getting very defensive because perhaps I thought he sucked at his job. Just by rephrasing that I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to contribute to things that needed to happen and that I wanted to know what steps needed to be taken, the pm opened up. I felt like the book saved me 30 minutes of pointless arguing.
> it has also helped me think about my feelings
The book focuses on communication with others, but effectively fosters constructive inner dialogue as well. I know of at least one other person who claimed it helped them avoid destructive habits.
> it has helped me put more structure around tough conversations
I deescalated a nasty dispute between two people close to me after reading only the first few chapters. I was impressed because I wasn't the type of person to emotionally connect with people so effectively.
I believe the world would be a better place if more people read this book.
I wonder how his co-authorship affects contents of the book. I bought the book (b/c of this thread, not even looking at the authorship), and I will judge the book based on its contents, but suporting financially a de-facto cult leader of a not very rational movement doesn't sound like a good move from my perspective.
Still, not to surrender in this thread completely, letting such type of person to write a foreword for a book is not a very good initial signal in itself - it casts doubt on the main author's judgement with regard to whom she considers an authority in matters of communication (or, in any matter other than producing confusing statements).
In a different version of the book than the one you mentioned, the forward is written by Mahatma Gandhi's grandson. That forward is also very worth reading.
Actually connecting with people rather than just talking past them and having them talk past me is something that I find very appealing at this point in life after realizing how much people seem to ignore what I am actually saying (and realizing I am almost certainly doing the same to them).
* I read the Bible out of curiosity and ended up joining a church, so that's pretty consequential.
* Moby Dick and Journey to the West were probably the most sheer enjoyment I got out of books
* Learning C# 3.0 by Jesse Liberty is extremely dated at this point, and was dated even when I read it, but was the first book that made me "get" many basic OO concepts and taught me a language I've gotten a lot of professional mileage out of
* Skiena's Algorithm Design Manual and Sedewick/Wayne's Algorithms. Most people do algorithms in school. I learned about it while I was already writing programs for money all day, which means it deeply impacted the way I think about my work.
* Discrete Math with Applications by Epp -- I didn't read it all the way through but gave me the foundations to actually understand what the hell the books in the last bullet were talking about
* Battle Cry of Freedom by MacPherson was the first really meaty historical book I read. Turns out I like those a lot.
So many more but this seems like a reasonable place to stop for this discussion.
It is also great source of knowledge of what to do for example:
how to beat up your slave so to not offend god
what to do if your daughter is raped (spoiler alert sell her to the rapist).
what to do to people having tattoos or wearing mixed fabrics.
It is also a great that non of it contradicts itself:
Bible is what it is, but its not a source of never-ending wisdom. And being treated as holy book gives impetus to bad people to do bad things and feel good about doing it.
Problem with bible is that people clam it was divinely inspired - written by god through human hand.
Well it is clearly not. But all it really is a tool in hands of extremists justifying their evil deeds. That's how you have 'thou shall not kill' but wanting all gays to be killed etc.
In that case, to be fair to yourself, did you also read the Quran, for comparison? Other religious texts?
May your journey of faith be fruitful. I enjoyed reading Dostoyevsky and G.K. Chesterton along those lines.
What is your take on this? What about the Church’ take?
Is there a bigger story here? I'm not the type that would find reading the Bible appealing but I can say without a shadow of doubt that if I would, it would not awaken any latent desires for religion.
This isn't meant to be insulting or dismissive, I have nothing but good will to GP, but statistically just reading the bible doesn't usually lead to joining a church. If it did, you could lose the rest of the evangelism and missionary practices and not really see a dent in the population of Christianity.
I don't think these are necessarily mutually exclusive, but treating them as if they are, I'm curious why. I would presume your definitions, based on this, that:
* agnostic = "I don't know if there is anything"
* atheist = "I do know that there is nothing"
I have mostly met agnostic atheists, being "I don't know if there is anything, but I believe there's nothing", whereas it seems you are a gnostic atheist.
I'm curious because I somewhat took an opposite path in my life - reading Godel's Incompleteness Theorem exposed myself to the idea that I can't ever know what's out there, so it lead me to agnosticism.
There are many texts that are long and arduous, yet they are sometimes worth the effort to read! In many instances the rewards are seemingly unsubstantial but they all provide something that can shape subsequent thoughts in many ways. I suppose it's a matter of priority and interest. Ah well, vive la différence!
Tom Bissell --- who is sort of a lighter, breezier version of the kind of essayist David Foster Wallace was, and who has done a lot of serious writing about and in video games, which is not my thing at all but maybe HN's --- has a sort of travel/essay book about the apostles, where he visits each of their purported burial sites and uses that as a starting point for an essay about some aspect of the region, the particular apostle, or some broader aspect of christian faith, which you might find interesting.
I do think coming into it without any particular expectations, and while watching secular videos about it, was actually helpful in being able to get something out of the text. I was raised Catholic but I guess my upbringing wasn't particularly rigorous in that way so I didn't have that many preconceived notions about what the text was "supposed to" say.
“ When we meet somebody whose separate tunnel-reality is obviously far different from ours, we are a bit frightened and always disoriented. We tend to think they are mad, or that they are crooks trying to con us in some way, or that they are hoaxers playing a joke. Yet it is neurologically obvious that no two brains have the same genetically-programmed hard wiring, the same imprints, the same conditioning, the same learning experiences. We are all living in separate realities. That is why communication fails so often, and misunderstandings and resentments are so common. I say "meow" and you say "Bow-wow," and each of us is convinced the other is a bit dumb.”
A lot of people have a hard time with it, considering it nonsense and giving up a fifth of the way through. I'd strongly suggest sticking with it. There is a reason is seems like nonsense and the reason is given at the end of the book - the whole purpose of all of it is to reprogram your brain. It's a journey worth taking.
It's not all apples and oranges. Some people are right some people are wrong and some things are better than other things.
The mythos-over-logos argument points to the fact that each child is born as ignorant as any caveman. What keeps the world from reverting to the Neanderthal with each generation is the continuing, ongoing mythos, transformed into logos but still mythos, the huge body of common knowledge that unites our minds as cells are united in the body of man. To feel that one is not so united, that one can accept or discard this mythos as one pleases, is not to understand what the mythos is.
There is only one kind of person, Phaedrus said, who accepts or rejects the mythos in which he lives. And the definition of that person, when he has rejected the mythos, Phaedrus said, is "insane." To go outside the mythos is to become insane.
There is an infinite bunch of realities, and the one you see is defined by your own experience only.
In other words, what you perceive is what that you are.
Or that you can't perceive that what you can't accept.
Hat tip to Douglas Adams who described this idea that obvious.
Except that the majority of people perceive realities that are highly, highly similar indicating that they are all perceiving a singular thing outside of their own experience.
There's a reason why people who deviate too far from the norm get locked up.
There's also a reason why you understand the reality that I am describing to you right now. Likely because we are both perceiving the same thing. In order for us to perceive the same thing it likely must exist as a single shared reality separate from our own internal minds.
How do you now there are people for that matter other than brain(s) in vats ?
The fact that you are willing to assume so much does not invalidate parent’s argument, merely exposes the flaws in yours.
see my response to another persons post. By coincidence i address your issues as well.
People that get locked up are just the poor souls that can't live with this fact.
Evidence from common sense and psychology attribute the distinction in your example to flaws in human memory. No field except philosophy tries to twist it into some multi-reality concept.
There is no concrete evidence either way proving whether there is actually a shared reality or not. Additionally, it's impossible to even prove the existence of other realities outside of the reality you yourself are experiencing. I could be a figment of your imagination. Such things are impossible to prove.
But what lends evidence to the notion that there is in fact a shared reality, is the fact that we all go out and look at the sky and see that it is blue. It's that simple. Your intuition says there's a sky and that means it probably is. Don't get too lost in the philosophical mumbo jumbo because all these concepts of reality have equal probabilities of being true. But the reality or illusion that is placed in front of your eyes is the reality where multiple individuals occupy a shared reality where they all see a sky and they all say the sky is blue. That's all you got, might as well believe it.
“In the space between stimulus (what happens) and how we respond, lies our freedom to choose. Ultimately, this power to choose is what defines us as human beings. We may have limited choices but we can always choose. We can choose our thoughts, emotions, moods, our words, our actions; we can choose our values and live by principles. It is the choice of acting or being acted upon.”
> I wanted to drop you a line to thank you for all the time and effort involved in debunking Matthew Walker’s book. As someone who works with individuals with insomnia on a daily basis, I know from firsthand experience the harm that Walker’s book is causing.
> I have many stories of people who slept well on less than eight hours of sleep, read Walker’s book, tried to get more sleep and this led to more time awake, frustration, worry, sleep-related anxiety, and insomnia. …
Has Walker responded to that critique?
Now that looks quite bad.
Point 1: the chart bottoms out at 7, which falls within the range the book recommends. I'm fairly sure he recommends 7-9, and that the required amt varies from person to person. Another thought I had: metabolism and longevity go hand and hand. I mean, I just read a brand new paper from George Church's Harvard lab, showing that they reversed several chronic ailments in mice by inserting FGF21, which regulates glucose levels. And sleep absolutely regulates metabolism. Personally, I'm keeping my ears perked up when it comes to metabolism/circadian rhythms/homeostasis, etc.
Point 2: Depression is an incredibly complicated topic. It is a psychological construct, the net result of thousands and thousands of genes, filtered through a modern technological world, and then filtered through inventories, interviews, and assessments. For this reason, I am not at all surprised that Guzey was able to find studies that suggest that sleep deprivation might have some benefit for some people. I would HIGHLY recommend this new, open-access Nature review paper covering the genome wide studies on depression: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0450-5. Its almost not worth pitting a complex phenotype like depression against another complex behavior like depression. But what the hell, let's brush with broad strokes: the significant genetic variants associated with depression have to do with regulating homeostasis (eg sirtuins). So I would not be surprised if good sleep is at least correlated with low levels of depression.
Point 3: I know almost nothing about FFI, but we have kept mice awake, and they do eventually die. I'm pretty sure humans would die too, but ethics precludes us from performing such a study.
Points 4&5: This is just fussing about Walker's writing and WHO. I'll have to agree with Guzey that Walker's citations and consistency are often weak. And I honestly couldn't care less about WHO. But I'm pretty confident that sleep quantity has declined with time across the world. I remain curious about the connections between light and circadian rhythms (I think retinal cells go straight to the superchiasmatic nucleus, the circadian rhythm controller). Also, sugar is a thing in the modern world.
So yeah, I'm just frustrated by his nitpicking, and his seeming lack of appreciation for sleep as an open biological question. We don't know why we sleep, really. If anything, the title is the worst part of the book. But at least the contents respect the question. This criticism does not. Nonetheless, I am a sucker for obsessive bloggers (eg slatestar, gwern, cowen, etc), so I will definitely be checking out Guzey's other writing. It looks interesting.
To my knowledge, Walker hasn't responded to Guzey's criticisms. The other issue that has emerged in the weeks since Guzey published his critique is that Walker seems to be using the erroneous claims in his book in his papers. Relevant exchange here: https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2019/11/24/why-we-sle...
>Point 1: the chart bottoms out at 7, which falls within the range the book recommends. I'm fairly sure he recommends 7-9, and that the required amt varies from person to person. Another thought I had: metabolism and longevity go hand and hand. I mean, I just read a brand new paper from George Church's Harvard lab, showing that they reversed several chronic ailments in mice by inserting FGF21, which regulates glucose levels. And sleep absolutely regulates metabolism. Personally, I'm keeping my ears perked up when it comes to metabolism/circadian rhythms/homeostasis, etc.
The point you're making has nothing to do with the point I'm making in the relevant section. I take issue with Walker writing "the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span". You seem to have missed this part entirely. If you say that the book recommends 7-9, feel free to quote the book because it definitely seems that he strongly advocates at least 8 hours. Example: as I showed in section 5, Walker takes 7-9 hours recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation and then falsely claims that they recommend 8 hours of sleep.
>Point 2: Depression is an incredibly complicated topic. It is a psychological construct, the net result of thousands and thousands of genes, filtered through a modern technological world, and then filtered through inventories, interviews, and assessments. For this reason, I am not at all surprised that Guzey was able to find studies that suggest that sleep deprivation might have some benefit for some people. I would HIGHLY recommend this new, open-access Nature review paper covering the genome wide studies on depression: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0450-5. Its almost not worth pitting a complex phenotype like depression against another complex behavior like depression. But what the hell, let's brush with broad strokes: the significant genetic variants associated with depression have to do with regulating homeostasis (eg sirtuins). So I would not be surprised if good sleep is at least correlated with low levels of depression.
You missed the point I was making entirely. Walker wrote that there are no biological functions that do not benefit from a good night's sleep. I point out that this is false, as sleep deprivation therapy is a safe, effective, and a very-well studied treatment for depression.
>Point 3: I know almost nothing about FFI, but we have kept mice awake, and they do eventually die. I'm pretty sure humans would die too, but ethics precludes us from performing such a study.
You missed the point I was making entirely, again. Walker wrote that FFI demonstrates that lack of sleep kills people. I pointed out that saying that is completely false. What relation do mice have to the point I was making?
>Points 4&5: This is just fussing about Walker's writing and WHO. I'll have to agree with Guzey that Walker's citations and consistency are often weak. And I honestly couldn't care less about WHO. But I'm pretty confident that sleep quantity has declined with time across the world. I remain curious about the connections between light and circadian rhythms (I think retinal cells go straight to the superchiasmatic nucleus, the circadian rhythm controller). Also, sugar is a thing in the modern world.
Points 4&5: this again has very little relationship with what I was writing. In section 4, I pointed out that Walker has seemingly invented a sleep loss epidemic and attributed it to the WHO. This is not just an issue with citations. In section 5, I pointed out that Walker misrepresents National Sleep Foundations sleep guidelines, saying that they recommend 8 hours of sleep, while in reality they recommend 7-9 hours of sleep.
For readers of this exchange: if you're still unsure how serious my concerns with the book are, the clearest example is provided in section 18, where I show deliberate data manipulation by Walker. He simply edited out the part of the graph that contradicted his argument in the book: https://guzey.com/books/why-we-sleep/#appendix-what-do-you-d...
Walker's book is sloppy. The graph you mention last is egregious. No disagreements here. Honestly I agree with you at least partly on all of your points.
So why did I miss your points? I was trying to give better evidence/info relevant to the topic of each point. My hope was people would read it and continue to respect sleep as an open and very interesting biological question. Maybe it came off as ignoring the points. I understand that. But honestly I don't care about Walker that much - I care about sleep. Its really weird, and we don't understand it.
Out of curiosity, what is your current stance on sleep?
EDIT: after re-reading this comment, I realized it might seem a bit disingenuous, because I did criticize your arguments as bad faith. Clearly I care a little about your take-down of Walker.
I said this because you found claims in Walker's book, found errors in his evidence, and then denied the general claims in your bold-font headings. It seemed like you were dismissing the putative importance of sleep along with dismissing Walker the author. I felt this was uncharitable to the topic, so I gave you the "bad faith" charge.
My current stance on sleep is that we don't know much about it and we don't know much about how much exactly we need to sleep. I'm collecting some notes on sleep (very preliminary so far) here: https://guzey.com/sleep/
If you're curious, here's another GWAS open-access paper on sleep: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08917-4. Its self reporting, but its tricky to do EEG or some other technique on half a million people. Also this associated portal is cool: http://sleepdisordergenetics.org/home/portalHome
All of this is completely irrelevant to Guzey's point, which is that sleep deprivation is a known treatment for depression. You are going off on a tangent about the genetics of depression, while failing to engage with the topic under discussion.
The point I am making is we can keep throwing new treatments at depressed people, or we can finally recognize the immense heterogeneity of depression, in both its genetic & environmental causes, as well as its many phenotypes (there are lots of ways to hit the inventory threshold). This fact is why this argument over sleeping or not is even happening. It’s not a tangent, in my opinion. This is the central problem.
You'll be interested in reading this study: "How to preserve the antidepressive effect of sleep deprivation: A comparison of sleep phase advance and sleep phase delay" https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004060050092 and googling the keywords from that study
Also, you again ignored the point I was responding to in that section.
However, what I took away from it was nothing about productivity, but rather how to live a good life. Habits 1-3, 5, and 7 are all solid advice that have broad application far outside of the narrow domains of the workplace. The mental model in Habit 1 about the "circle of influence vs. circle of control" has been one of the single most effective contributions to my mental health.
But there's just something about Frankl's descriptions, at least for me. It personalized it in a way I had never really experienced before. That book horrified me in a way that none of the other material on the holocaust ever had.
- High Growth Handbook (general company building tips)
- Traction (the one by Weinberg and Mares; engineer-friendy guide to marketing and growth)
- Understanding Michael Porter (great intro to business strategy)
- Monetizing Innovation (pricing advice)
- Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity (how to be more creative)
- Atomic Habits (how to establish good habits)
- A Guide to the Good Life (friendly intro to stoicism)
- What Got You Here Won't Get You There (building self-awareness)
- Richard Feynman autobiographies
- The Martian
- Shadow Divers
- Ready Player One
- The Myron Bolitar Series (mysteries with a good sense of humor)
Non-fiction: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Of all the books of the last ten years, I can't think of one that more transformed my understanding of (and compassion for) my fellow thinking, feeling, moralizing, tribal primates. https://righteousmind.com/
However, I feel like the author sometimes falls into the same biases/flawed thought patterns he spends the book describing. Because of this, I'd rate it as very good instead of great.
"Stoner" by John Williams; fiction; this book knocked me on my butt and I read it all in almost one sitting; about an English professor who refuses to relinquish his integrity in the face of great adversity
"Light Years" by James Salter; fiction; inexpressibly beautiful novel that takes place largely on the Hudson River above New York
"Narcissus and Goldmund" by Hesse; fiction; a fun yet literary adventure novel about the importance and fun of living life with integrity
"When Things Fall Apart" by Chödron; non-fiction; Chödron proposes that leaning into suffering, experiencing it as directly and fully as possibly and without resistance paradoxically leads to profound relief from suffering
"Enlightenment Now" by Pinker; non-fiction; proposes, convincingly, that life nhas drastically improved for nearly everyone on earth due to a shifting philosophical orientation towards enlightenment values; proposes that although much is problematic, there is reason for great hope, too
I read this book twice in the past 4 years. Such a wonderful and well-written book.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is also excellent.
 - https://tripinsurancestore.com/4/on-the-shortness-of-life.pd...
 - https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/...
They seem plausible at first read, and should receive more attention. Thank you for highlighting them.
> In his "Gutachten" Gestapo profile, Frankl is described as "politically perfect" by the Nazi secret police, with Frankl's membership in the Austro-fascist "Fatherland Front" in 1934
> None of Frankl's obituaries mention the unqualified and unskilled brain lobotomy and trepanation medical experiments approved by the Nazis that Frankl performed on Jews who had committed suicide with an overdose of sedatives, in resistance to their impending arrest, imprisonment and enforced labour in the concentration camp system. Operating without any training as a surgeon, Frankl would voluntary request of the Nazis to perform the experiments on those who had resisted and once approved, published some of the details on his experiments, the methods of insertion of his chosen amphetamine drugs into the brains of these individuals, resulting in at times an alleged partial resuscitation, in 1942, prior to his own internment at Theresienstadt ghetto in September later in that year
I didn't necessarily agree with all of it but it helped me understand the changes I've seen across workplaces, colleges and beyond. It was also a nice way of thinking more "grey" in terms of the current political climate, and trying to understand the reasons behind people's actions regardless of their political stance.
Great for grey thinking and better understanding. And I think it's one of those books that if everyone read it, we'd all be better off. Like an antidote or inhibitor to tribalism.
For me, I just flat cannot understand this current generation, from safe spaces, to being mentally broken over the smallest things. I've always viewed it as a dishonest way to try and get power over people.
Until Jonathan Haidt. He helped convince me that these young people are legitimately fearful of the world around them.
Also on my list are the already-mentioned "Getting To Yes" and "Nonviolent Communication". I also really enjoyed "Good for You, Great for Me" by Lawrence Susskind, which is a slightly more real-world take on the ideals put forth in "Getting to Yes".
I also studied Physics in College and my course on Classical Mechanics was really the impetus to continue down that path for a while. Textbook was "Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems" by Thornton and Marion.
David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity. If you know him, it's probably because Deutsch did some pioneering work in Quantum computing back in the day, but this book covers everything from physics to biology to computing to art with a grand sort of theory of everything. There are few popular science books more densely packed with original ideas.
Borges' collected fictions. There probably isn't much that needs to be said about this that hasn't already been said. Borges was a visionary.
Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. Completely changed the way I think about sci-fi.
Nick Bostrom's Superintelligence. I think this is still the gold standard of speculative AI books.
Sapiens. Like everyone else I loved this one.
The only other book I read this year was Evicted by Matthew Desmond. It was an excellent account of poverty cycles as it relates to housing.
Though more focused on cultural evolution, I much preferred Joseph Henrich's "The Secret of Our Success".
I felt like Sapiens rewired my brain in a way. Homo Deus only drove in the message that we are nothing but algorithms
Same here. His explanation of intra-species realities blew my mind. Explains a _lot_.
> Homo Deus only drove in the message that we are nothing but algorithms
Biological algorithms but still...
(This reminded me of it and I had to look it up)
2011 - In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan
2012 - Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
2013 - Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss
2014 - Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
2015 - Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins
2016 - Black Swan, Nicolas Taleb
2017 - Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman, Richard Feynman
2018 - The Prophet, Khalil Gibran
2019 - Three Body Problem (series), Liu Cixin
These aren’t publishing years, just the year these books transformed me.
I even found Tim’s later books (4-Hour Body, 4-Hour Chef) to be far better.
Tim Ferris has at times mentioned some regrets regarding the title and contents and wishes he could re-write parts of it because he does not like that association. He freely admits it was a marketing gimmick, essentially.
However, after reading/listening to some of his other works, I've seen it in a different light and grew to start liking it again.
The 4-hour workweek provided me a useful foil to Gladwell’s “10,000” hours. It might take 10k to master, but you sure as hell can move fast if you get to 80% in 10 hours.
- Jobs by Walter Isaacson. To learn about the Apple and Steve Jobs himself. I thought it was great
- Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's older than a decade (about 4 decades old actually) but I only read it a few years ago when I studied philosophy and it left quite an impression on me, food for thought.
- The Dip. It's motivational, I think back on it every now and then when pushing myself through a rough patch in the gym or professionally.
- Turing's Cathedral, it's a history of computers basically. Recommended if you're into software/computers.
It's a good middle point on the understanding of 'mastery' that Gladwell started in the late oughts and whose meme of '10k hours' kinda infected a lot of pop-psych and MBAs. Epstein argues that there are areas where 10k hours work, but limits very much exist. His thesis is that you have to know your environment and that most environments are too chaotic for just grinding out hours. A larger Range of knowledge/experience is likely a better strategy for many areas of life.
I gave copies of the book out as a thank you note/gift after an interview, as I think the book is really good and that the firm could get something out of reading it; that even if they did not hire me, it would help them.
I know that's a bit looney, but it worked. I got my dream job and a hefty pay raise, great benefits, and a short commute.
Literally, the book changed my life.
Mastery - Robert Greene
The Talent Code - Daniel Coyle
Peak - Anders Ericsson
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine
The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning - Peter C. Brown
Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art - Stephen Nachmanovitch
Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari
1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; I have no words for this except that it was profound and I was ready for it.
2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; a classic where history knows better than we do.
3. Special Topics in Calamity Physics; a fictional tale that shows you how damn easy it is to get lost in conspiracy and speculation.
4. House of Leaves; you can't beat a mind-bending horror like that. I live for this stuff.
5. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse;
It's 50 pages long, just read it.
6. Tantra Illuminated;
A well researched and academic study into the history and the beliefs of Tantra
7. The King in Yellow and its derivatives; The Hanged King lore in the SCP universe is obsessively fascinating to me.
(And no, there's no eBook - that I know of. You'll err... understand why when you see the physical copy.)
Gai-Jin by James Clavell
It showed me how different cultures can have very different "codes", how they can see others as "barbarians" purely based on that; more specifically, helped me look more critically on (part of) European culture and history through "foregin eyes", and better understand some aspects of Japanese culture taking them nearly all the way from "weird" to "natural". While at the same time being just a super entertaining and engrossing story!
The series of books has largely inspired George R. R. Martin's novels, and you will recognize many character traits, as well as the trademark realistic scenario, where main characters also die a lot... Unlike A Song of Fire and Ice, it is based on actual European history, and is fairly accurate - so no nightwalkers or dragons, but it is every bit as epic a saga.
The author even shared the formula used to calculate those rankings
* (Lot's of machine learning books to list: PRML, All of Stats, Deep Learning, etc.)
* Active Portfolio Management - Kahn, Grinold
* Thinking, fast and slow - Kahneman
* Protein Power (the Eades') / Why we get fat (Taubes)
* Why we sleep (Walker)
* Deep Work / So Good They Can't Ignore You (Newport)
* Flowers for Algernon (Keyes)
* Getting to Yes (Fisher)
The short story was lengthened in to the novel and was ruined, in my view, by all the Freudian-influenced attempts to sexualize and psychoanalyze the protagonist. It was a real let down after the brilliance of the short story, which had absolutely nothing to do with any of that.
Personally, I would put "Sapiens - A brief History of Humankind" in the list rather than it's successor "21 Lessons for the 21st Century".
While some people have some gripes about The 48 Laws of Power and Robert Greene's other books, in my opinion, they serve as a really valuable tool for understanding how most medium and large companies work. And for anyone interested, a great way to dip your toes into it is by having a look at Derek Sivers' book notes - https://sivers.org/book/48LawsOfPower
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
- The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake
- Sherlock Holmes: The definitive collection
Enlightenment Now is different. Taleb might also have opposed that book (he likes to pick fights) but that's not what your link describes.
My top recommendations here for the Hacker News crowd - with a nudge for the under-rated, are:
The Time Paradox - by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd
Profound idea that everyone has a primary time focus: either Future-focused, Present-focused, or Past-focused. Fascinating implications of each. Because I'm so future-focused, reading this book helped me understand people who are very present-focused. Also great advice on shifting your focus when needed. I read it 7 years ago, but still think about it almost every day.
Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want - by Nicholas Epley
Many new brilliant insights, especially about over-estimating the differences between you and others, thereby separating into us-vs-them tribalism. Scan to the end of my notes, to see. If you know more books like this, please recommend them to me. I adore this subject.
The War of Art - by Steven Pressfield
Have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what “Resistance” is. This book is about that. Read it.
E-Myth Revisited - by Michael Gerber
Absolutely everyone who is an entrepreneur or wants to be one needs to read this book. I first read it after 10 years of successfully running my company, and was still blown away and totally humbled by its wisdom. Re-reading it today, I'm amazed how my view of business was completely changed by this one little book. See my notes for examples, but definitely read the book itself to get the real impact.
The Courage to Be Disliked - by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
Wow. A profound little philosophy book from Japan, communicating the psychology of Alfred Adler - a rival of Freud. Told as a conversation between an angry student and a patient teacher. A little book so good that I rushed home from other activites to keep reading it, and finished in a day. A surprisingly fresh perspective on how to live. (The “disliked” part is not the point, so don’t let the title distract you.)
Seriously HN, listen to this guy about books, and check out his site.
I regularly use your book list for inspiration on what to read next
Derek's book 'Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur' was definitely up there for me.
PS. My better half is hating you all guys - I've ordered quite a lot of books today :)
I also really enjoyed Manufacturing Consent, which is prime reading right now for anybody in the US because it's about media manipulation in free society.
Never Split the Difference - some very practical negotiation strategies.
Mini Habits by Stephen Guise - short book but awesome method. I am still doing the one pushup habit since last March.
How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck by Steve Stockman - I wanted to improve my video production for my programming course for kids. I am still learning but this book has been a huge help.
The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Minto - huge help with improving my written communication at my job.
The Coaching Habit by Michael Stanier - short book but huge help when your transitioning to managing people.
Made to Stick by Dan Heath - was a huge help in planning how I would teach elementary students last month about programming.
The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch - aside from application of Pareto principle, I took away the idea that books provide the best bang for your buck for knowledge density.
The 4 Hour Work Week - great inspiration to start your own thing.
The $100 Startup - like the 4HWW but with more details.
Alexander Watson's "Ring of Steel" is World War I seen from the perspective of the Central Powers. OK, it didn't really help me personally or professionally, so I'm not sure it counts. But it was definitely a huge perspective-changer, and so beautifully written too.
It was on my list for the past like, twenty years, and after reading it I really wish I would have read it back then.
It's not exactly science - but it's very stimulating.
It guides you through a wide variety of historical, scientific, and literary sources, painting a picture of contemporary human consciousness evolving right before your eyes.
Born to Run - Chris McDougall
I had a chance meeting with this book at a newsstand in Logan Airport. I purchased it on a whim. It converted me from a sometimes runner to a full-blown run fanatic - marathons, and mountain, trail, ultra especially. It changed the entire trajectory of my life.
- Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
- Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
- Kochland by Christopher Leonard
- Masters of Doom by David Kushner
I read a lot of "business consultant" books and began to be annoyed with them since many of them can be summed up by the title and the first couple of chapters.
I like the books above because they presented factual events that allow you to draw your own conclusions.
I especially like Schwarzenegger's book and Bad Blood because of their depth. It was interesting to hear about Schwarzenegger's crazy business ideas like how he became a millionaire before becoming an actor and how he bought a 747.
I found the audiobook "Master's of Doom" (book is 2003 but audiobook is newer) to be really entertaining as it was read by actor Wil Wheaton who did a great job.
Do you have any other recommendations?
If only I could actually apply its principles at my job in an open office with an IM chat system.
Doesn't work for all jobs, i.e. I wouldn't be able to this when handling incomming as L2 or L3 support :)
However, I see its core messages as deeply problematic. The entire work is a justification of violence, obedience, and traditional social roles. It's simply amazing to me that Gandhi, the most famous advocate of non-violence in history, was a huge fan of it.
Well, one of the interesting things about religious texts is how divergently people understand them, even when they're being totally sincere.
The Bhagavad Gita is a subset of the Mahabarata epic, albeit the most famous one, so the preceding story was that peaceful negotiations were not possible even though that was the route preferred. The idea is that if two sides are willing to negotiate peacefully, that is the option that should be taken. But if one side insists on war, action (karma) and inaction (akarma) are two sides of the same coin - inaction is not avoiding doing something, it is a form of action ("He who seeth inaction in action and action in inaction, he is wise among men; he is a Yogi and performer of all actions"). In fact, Ghandi actually wrote a letter to Hitler initially asking him "peacefully" to stop WW2. This was followed up with a less peaceful letter . It would seem he was happy for violent war against Nazis because they were evil and it was against injustice. (Naturally, this leads to discussions on what one would consider evil but the idea is not to be the first to attack and provoke). The ending of the epic is wasteland of emptiness caused by the war - both as a symbol of the waste of war but also as an idea that everything and nothing exists at all times; whether you chose action or inaction is on you, time destroys all regardless.
Ghandi (and I guess Oppenheimer  to a degree but not sure) seemed to take the concept of Dharma (duty) to strengthen his resolve and he accepted what he considered his Dharma to keep going through the difficult times. The other aspect is that Arjuna did not choose the war but his previous actions (karma) have led him to be where he is. Just like what is said nowadays about how your past makes you who you are today. Sometimes the battle is unavoidable given past actions.
Sorry, probably too long a response :D but I genuinely had the same thought as you when I first started reading about it but then did some further reading. There's so much to dissect, from all sides, which is why I think it's one of the greatest philosophical works written.
Interestingly enough, if you watch the first Matrix with the Bhagavad Gita in mind, you'll notice a lot of parallels in the hidden meaning of the Gita and Hindu philosophy about what we consider 'real' and how life is an illusory. So much so that the Matrix Revolutions soundtrack during the end fight is a famous Sanskrit mantra from the Upanishads
asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrtyor mamrtam gamaya
(From delusion lead me to truth
From darkness lead me to light
From death lead me to immortality)
Imagine Neo is Arjun.... there is no spoon ;)
Arjuna had thrown down his weapons and refused to fight until Krishna intervened with his godly arguments to make Arjuna fight despite his disinclination to do so.
If Krishna had instead used his superhuman persuasiveness to argue for non-violence to each of the war's participants, perhaps the entire war could have been averted.
Regarding the Matrix and Hinduism, while there are undeniable parallels, and while Hinduism might be able to lay claim to being the first major religion to posit the illusionary nature of the world, there are also parallels to other philosophies and religions.
For instance, one can see parallels between the Matrix and Plato's allegory of the cave, and to Gnosticism.
Also, it's important to mention that Hinduism is not a single religion, but might better be thought of as an umbella term for dozens if not hundreds of different religions, some of which have radically different views.
If there was a superhuman in real life who could avert all wars (literal and metaphorical), that would be great, but we don't live in a world where we can pray to fix away our problems (my humble opinion of course, not to offend anyone). This sets a basis for the story upon which life lessons can be learnt in the form of the Gita; fundamentally stating that time has no beginning or end, therefore everything on the battlefield has come and gone, regardless of your input in life (" I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world, out to destroy. Even without your participation all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exist.").
I think it's why the book is so powerful, looking at a wiki list of people it's influenced, a common theme is a day to day reference of spirituality more than actual religion 
You're right, I didn't mean to imply it's the only philosophy or religion but I would posit it's the largest. Also, the Matrix thing was just a flippant offshoot but I never noticed until I heard them playing the Sanksrit shokla :D
Agreed, Hinduism is a catch all, often misunderstood. It's completely different from Abrahamic religions from a fundamental point of view. You can be any religion, or atheist, and still be a Hindu, in essence. Most (if not all?) branches of Hinduism considers God to be the ultimate reality of which we're all part of as opposed to an external entity, hence in the Gita, Barbarika said Krishna was the one who one the battle despite not taking part directly. Whether you use the Bible, or Vedic scriptures, to reach Moksha (Englightenment) isn't prescribed, it's your journey.
If you've got even a hint of depression or anxiety this is a great resource. Reading/understanding the "10 cognitive distortions" in this book is worth the time for anyone, imho.
1. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (this might actually be more than 10 years ago, but I'll still list it)
I really like this one because it emphasizes the value of caring about the _core_ of anything instead of the _trappings_ that will spring up around it. Keeping this book in mind reminds me to focus on the thing instead of the appearance of the thing.
2. On Writing Well, William Zinsser
I'm a programmer, and I've often found that improving my ability to write clearly translates directly to programming well: On Writing Well is the best – and warmest – book I've read on writing nonfiction.
3. Incerto, NN Taleb
This series forced me to revisit several assumptions. Something that still resonates is valuing anything – particularly books – that has aged well across several years, because it's clearly valuable; and to discount the new shiny.
4. The Pragmatic Programmer, Andy Hunt & David Thomas
I started an open source project in my 3rd year at college – as part of Google Summer of Code; inevitably every release would break something and I started hungering for skills that would let me create new releases _without_ breaking the world every time. I stumbled across the pragmatic programmer in my 4th year, and immediately started applying it on my project. This carried through to work and helped me a lot early in my career.
5. The Art of Doing Science and Engineering, Richard Hamming
There are so many gems in this book: from the emphasis on fermi numbers for quick approximations, to a simple demonstration of the distance covered by a random walk as opposed to the distance covered by choosing a direction, to asking the question: "Am I working on the most important thing I could be? If not, why not?". He also predicted that great programmers will have one thing in common with great writers – clarity of thought.
There are some books I'm reading right now that I suspect will end up on this list: Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (available at https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intellig...) – for making better decisions with limited data; and The Power of Choice – to allow me to pay attention to the non-technical parts of doing valuable work.
To me, if reading about Gulag destroys left-wing for you, is like if realizing world was not created in 6 days destroyed your faith. Like what was your belief in the first place? But I had simmilar moments as well :)
I did hear that SSSR does still have fans in some western countries, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn has really good antidodes against that, I myself am a fan of "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"
Politics is the continual friction between individuals and various groupings of people.
Not exactly. Grouping along left/right, conservative/progressive axes is in effect a severe dimensionality reduction, simplifying thousands of metrics of political stance into two neat little clusters. It is technically valid, but overly reductive and forces black/white thinking into the common psyche which itself becomes a source of friction.
why isn't left/right a valid grouping then?
For example: I am absolutely pro-choice on the abortion issue. I am also rabidly pro-gun on the second amendment issue. So do I fall into the "left" bucket or the "right" bucket? The answer is "neither".
I'm also a little more radical than most people, and if I have to pick a label for myself, I'm more likely to choose "voluntaryist", "anarcho-capitalist", or "libertarian".
Even in your own example you can fall into either group by selecting what you care about the most and giving up others. Group where others in the group have made similar compromises.
Otherwise how can you possibly form a group, there is no one else is the world that has the precisely the same preferences as me.
Sure, you could do that, and people do. The point though, is that it makes these terms mostly useless for actually describing anything. Let's say I chose to define myself as "right" because I care more about the second amendment than abortion. You see me self-identify as "right" and then conclude that I oppose abortion, support tight border control, want a legal system defined by Judeo-Christian ethics, etc. But all of those conclusions would actually be wrong. And the same kind of construction could be applied to what would happen in the other case.
That said, of course there are some people who just happen to fit exactly into the bucket of "right" or "left" as defined by colloquial usage. But I still find that the terms are mostly useless because they lack any kind of logical consistency and because so few people actually have that "exact fit". But, that's just me.
Exactly, Unless @smitty1e knows the person personally, a generic response
> The whole left/right dichotomy is a bugaboo.
is invalid. since, as you noted, it does apply to some people.