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Ask HN: What are some Good Books you have read in past one year or so..
5 points by fromdoon on Nov 15, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

I have some free time coming up next month and wanted to know if you have some good books to recommend.

I'm looking for not-strictly-technical books. After a whole year of going through programming related books, it would be great if I can unwind with some non-technical mind opening stuff.

Thanks in Advance! :)

The Seven Mysteries of Life I read last November over the span of a month, and this book is probably the one that has most-defined who I am today, even though it's been just a year. The author, Guy Murchie, spent 15 years writing it. From it I learned the most anybody is from me is 50th-cousin. I also learned that there are insects so small they don't feel gravity, and for them flying through the air feels like swimming. Seriously, get this book, it is earth-shattering.

I'm also going to recommend another book but I hope not to undermine my first recommendation. It was written by Joseph Campbell and it's called The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I read it in January. In it Campbell writes of many mythological stories and then ties their common themes back to the journey the 'hero' must take. And from this journey the hero must take I got insights that were profound. I'm not kidding when I say I hold a deep reverence for this book.

I hope you check 'em out. :)

Edit: Here are the links to the books on Amazon:

The Seven Mysteries of Life: http://www.amazon.com/The-Seven-Mysteries-Life-Murchie/dp/03...

and The Hero with a Thousand Faces: http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Faces-Collected-Joseph-Campbe...

I found the book "The definitive book of body language: How to read others's thoughts by their gestures" by Allan and Barbara Pease to be a great read.

The greatest show on Earth - Richard Dawkins was an excellent read.

Surely you're joking Mr Feynman by Richard p.Feynman was terrific read by a very small bit can considerred offensive or at the least dated in its outlook but if you can get past that its great!

I recently finished a book on ID called "Masters of doom" by David Kushner which I rather enjoyed as well.

I also love reading about crackers from the (mostly) 80's and I can recommend.

Cuckoo Egg by Cliff Stoll Masters of deception We are anonymous - Inside the hacker world of lulzsec, anonymous and the global cyber insurgency by Parmy Olson

I loved "Underground Hacking Madness and the obsession on the electronic frontier" once I got past the first 2 or 3 chapters (also it was researched by Julian Assange before wikileak and has a chapter about his hacking) An Ebook copy can be found on the authors website http://www.underground-book.net/download.php3

Ghost in the wire Kevin Mitnick

I re-read Julius Caesar's Commentaries at least five times a year. I find them some of the most absolutely fascinating texts that exist. Discovered them when I was maybe 15 and they sparked my love of ancient history.

Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" is interesting in some similar ways.

The power of habit by Charles Duhigg.

Whether its getting up early in the morning, going to the gym, learning new skills - it all comes down how good a person is in forming new habits and sticking to them.

This book helps get into the mechanics of how habits are formed, and the elements that will help make them stick. The best part is that the book is loaded with specific case studies for both personal use as well as case studies relevant for product-based organization.

I loved it! Not that I'm going to the gym any more regularly though :)

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars by Shankar Vedantam

The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

Idea Man: A Memoir by Paul Allen

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

Regenesis by George Church and Ed Regis.

Mind-blowing future possibilities for synthetic biology from one of the main leaders in the field. I wrote a full review here: http://radar.oreilly.com/2012/11/george-church-and-the-poten...

Last month I read "Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig and just completed reading "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely. I would recommend both of these books. I have just started with 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman.

I quite liked the following 1) Angelmaker 2) Gone away world 3) The Hobbit 4) Fables the comic seriers Non fiction 1) Steve Jobs 2) Thinking fast and slow

Have a look http://blog.kaipakartik.com for the books I enjoyed reading

Coders at work

The numbers behind Numb3rs

Statistical methods in counterterrorism

Total recall (the biography by Schwarzenegger)

From dictatorship to democracy (available for free here: http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations98ce.html)

The miracle of mindfulness

The design of everyday things

Escape from camp 14

I've slowly been working my way through Kitab Al-Hikam by Al Iskandari. It's pretty interesting, reminds me of eastern philosophies, zen koans and the inter connected nature of religions or philosophies which don't seem to share any apparant connection.

Man's Search for Meaning - ViktorFrankl

Endgame (Biography of Bobby Fischer) - Frank Brady

Walt Disney - Bob Thomas

The Given Day - Dennis Lehane (Fiction)

Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane (Way better than movie)

Michael Lewis - The Big Short

Churchill - Paul Johnson (faster read than the others)

Some old that I have re-read, some new, all worth your time:

Old Man And The Sea - Ernest Hemingway

IQ84 - Haruki Murakami

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

On Writing - Stephen King

When Bad Things Happen To Good People - Harold Kushner

Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger

Notes To Myself - Hugh Prather

I like this thread very much.


If you like sci-fi - try the Red/Green/Blue Mars trilogy. Not exactly recent, but I thought quite good.

I just read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. It's a beautifully written book. It's fiction.

Great Expectations (Charles Dickens). It grows on you after you've read through the first part.

Shantaram by Gregory Roberts.

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow.

That's Me in the Middle by Donald Jack.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho.

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Moore and Gillette

The lean startup

Paul Graham how to start a startup

Mark Hyman Ultimate Mind Solution

Tribal Leadership

Wheel of Time

Think and Grow Rich

Superior Man David Deida

The Fountain Head

Eckhart Tolle New Earth

50th Law

Good to Great

Jed Mckenna

Earl Nightengale

Long Walk to Freedom


Good to Great

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (Self-image)

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey(Being awesome)

Wealth of Nations

Wayne Dyer The Tao

System of the World

Origin of Species

Brave new world

Thank you economy

Crush it

Built to Last

Who Moved my Cheese

Stillness Speak Eckhert Tolle

Mastery George Leonard

Steve Jobs Biography

The Last Lecture

Steve Pavlina Books


Striking Thoughts Bruce Lee

Carlos Castaneda

Ghost in the Wires

Richest Man in Babylon

Way of the Superior Man

Losing My Virginity

Think and Grow Rich

Delivering Happiness

"Running with Kenyans"- Adharanand Finn

A varied assortment:


The Lifecycle of Software Objects

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

What Is Property

The City of Dreaming Books

Born to Run

Gödel, Escher, Bach

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