This is from Amazon:
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
I thought Pattern Recognition was truly awful and couldn't finish it.
Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock by David Todd
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back by Anna Anthropy
Some interesting ideas; the referenced tech is now dated. It's even easier to make games now then when this book was published.
I recently started 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
by Nick Montfort, et al http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262018462 (but also available as a free PDF)
Generative Design: Visualize, Program, and Create with Processing , by Hartmut Bohnacker, is under the Christmas tree. :)
If you really want to expose the bias and structure of your consciousness, this the book to read. I would also pair this book with Incognito by David Eagleman (2012) to rehash some of the ideas of Kahneman and for a discussion of the implications of these ideas in morals and justice.
Also Connectome by Sebastian Seung (2012) gives a good outline of the structure of the brain, and an interesting discussion of how understanding that structure is a great scientific goal and some hypothetical implications of that understanding.
Really, I'd recommend reading anything to do with the emerging understanding of the brain because, without hyperbole, the better we understand the brain the better we understand the self.
I also read Black Like Me, which seems to be required reading in the US, but I only recently became aware of it. Definitely worth a look.
Anna Karenina - just a whole different level, Tolstoy's writing in a way I don't feel many contemporary writes could. Feels creepy how similar the people's lives in the 19th Century was to ours. Creepy but fun too.
If On A Winter's Night A Traveller - Italo Calvino will just punch you in the face, this is a book for people who love reading books.
The Magicians - adult magic fiction, and somehow it feels that if magic was indeed real, it would be like it is depicted here, not like anything in Harry Potter's (no matter how much I loved the storytelling, the magic theory was just so full of plotholes).
The Casual Vacancy - JKRowling's not-Harry-Potter-book. It's very gritty, and feels very real. Still having my cold shivers thinking of small-town living after this.
(Except for the last one the others are older releases, don't usually jump into the newest ones, I just take it casual)
LBJ "hacked" the American Senate, understanding its operations better than anyone perhaps ever. He further understood its role in American politics, and the impact of American politics upon it. This 3rd volume of Caro's multi-volume biography covers LBJ's adoption of the vice-presidency, why his hopes of dominating JFK from that position failed (tldr; Kennedy was much, much smarter that Johnson understood), and Johnson's extraordinary transition to the Presidency on Kennedy's assassination.
The book would be outstanding simply for its sketches of JFK and RFK, figures secondary to its primary focus. Taken as a whole it's required required reading for anyone thinking they understood politics.
which was mentioned favorably in several HN threads this year. (Thanks to the recommenders here who reminded me to read this book.) The Checklist Manifesto is practical, exciting, and thought-provoking in balance, and it will help you do your work better, whatever you do, and enjoy your family life better, whoever is in your family. It's a great read; don't miss it.
(free lite version: http://lite.launchlist.net/)
* Hunger games 1-3 -- not bad, would probably recommend
* Hitchiker's guide to the galaxy -- good, surprised how short it was. really liked the style of writing, fun to read. recommended
* Stranger in a Strange Land -- currently reading this one, interesting, but nothing ground breaking. one character seems to dominate the book. don't know if I'd recommend.
* Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep -- interesting, a bit boring. I kept comparing it to the movie, and in the end I like the movie better. they each focus on different subjects, but I like the movie's subject better, and it felt more professional/solid. would recommend.
* Ringworld -- pretty good. the 'Teela problem' is fascinating to me and got me thinking a lot outside of reading, which to me is a sign of a good book. the 'spacey stuff' in the book was not that great. even the ringworld itself was not that interesting. would recommend.
* The Mote in God's Eye -- my favorite book of the year. so much to think about (moral problems/dilemmas). the realistic part of the space travel was new to me (like the consideration of g-forces in constant acceleration), and so that was more to think about. definitely recommend.
* Cryptonomicon -- a close second. Neal Stephenson goes into wicked detail in his books and always blows my mind (never heard of Van Eck Phreaking before this book, how is that possible?). definitely recommend.
I would also check out Quicksilver - there are significant tie-ins to Cryptonomicon. I've enjoyed it so far.
Abundance - Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler.
Diamandis has an almost infectiously positive way of looking at the world. And a hope that's not just based on a philosophical belief but is backed up with hard data.
Distrust That Particular Flavor - William Gibson.
I never got into Gibson as a fiction writer, but this collection of essays, articles and talks immediately made me appreciate him as an amazing thinker, observer, and truly brilliant writer. This book is worthwhile for the pieces on Japan alone, but every single piece is wonderful.
Finite and Infinite Games - James Carse.
An old book but one I only just discovered. No book has every so subtly had an impact on my life every day. The finite vs. infinite way of looking at the world has changed the way I think and act completely on the inside, yet it's probably hardly noticable on the outside. An amazingly easy book to read, couldn't recommend it highly enough.
How Music Works - David Byrne
A unique and refreshing take on creating music that can be applied to the creation of anything. Byrne leaves the mysterious & ethereal world of 'creativity' for dead, and looks at how he creates music, and how the industry works, in a grounded and logical way. A brilliant book for anyone who creates anything.
The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff - Rich Gold
Another old(er) book, but one I can't believe I only just found. Rich Gold's outlook on how and why we make things should be required reading for anyone who plans on thrusting their big idea into the world.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain
It's had a lot of press, but I'm going to recommend it anyway. HN undoubtedly has a higher than average number of introverts who truly operate in an extroverted world. This book was absolutely eye opening in how it deconstructs different situations and personalities in a useful and positive way. I wouldn't say it's 'changed my life', but it has made a few relationships with close friends and colleagues a lot better.
And a quick plug - for any avid Kindle readers out there, I've built a web app for viewing/sharing/organising Kindle highlights. If any HN'ers want early access sign up at http://kindred.it/ and I'll ping you a beta login.
Me too - I did not realize the highlights or much of anything else was available through some sort of API.
I'll send out emails to all of the HNers who've signed up over the next few days. Thanks for the interest!
Great list too. I'm an extrovert but I look forward to checking out Quiet.
And my free ebook conversion:
A hell of a fiction, but the most important part is that it awakens on the reader the awe to the universe and the fascination to science, rationality, evolution, etc.
Hacker News stories which contains plenty of book recommendations (sorted by points, labeled by topic):
Science Fiction: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2978027
Computer Science: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3595599
Computer Science: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1636275
Developing mental models and increasing cognition: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3277457
Quant finance: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3177815
General (non software): http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1226736
Math for beginners: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=755043
Military strategy: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=456275
"I want to start a web company": http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1567456
Umberto Eco's Prague Cemetery which expands greatly on a tiny section of Foucault's Pendulum. Eco's writing is extremely dense. Similar to Neal Stephenson, but with more of a literary flavor than a technogeek flavor. A nice way to balance out your reading if you find you are a bit too focused on modern technology.
I finally read Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy. Early Internet and web culture was so deeply infused with RAW's ideas that the trilogy felt like one long déjà vu session. Lots of fun. RAW + Eco are a great antidote to taking conspiracy theories seriously, while having a ton of fun at the same time.
Gibson's Sprawl trilogy. Wow. Since the release of the Blue Ant books, I've been telling people that Blue Ant is the place to start, as it updates a lot of the underlying themes of Sprawl for this decade. But Sprawl is still very current and relevant. If you read Sprawl during or before the dot-com bubble like I did, you probably focused on the prophetic internet stuff. If you read it again, you will find out that there is plenty more interesting stuff to feed your brain in Gibson's early novels.
But, the blue ant books are so boring! I am so genuinely perplexed whenever anybody recommends them. Honestly I can't say anything after Pattern Recognition is any good or not as I never gave it a shot.
I guess I just struggle with what exactly and who exactly I'm supposed to be paying attention to in Pattern Recognition. Too many asides that I only found distracting and not amusing or even interesting.
But I loved the sprawl series so much, I keep trying to pick up Gibson again. I'm just left mystified what anyone sees in his recent 5 or 6 books.
I did read the Sprawl books pretty much as they were published, or within a couple years. I think I was in 6th grade when I read Neuromancer the first time.
Going back to Sprawl after reading Blue Ant, new layers of detail became apparent to me. There is a lot more than just an AI-driven singularity story going on. If anything, the [Spoiler!] Neuromancer-Wintermute union is a McGuffin made too explicit, distracting many readers from the rest of the interesting content. Like Space Rastas. How awesome are Space Rastas?!
I found it easy to follow the Cayce Pollard thread in Pattern Recognition. Everything seems to develop around her or eventually relate back to her. In some sense, Cayce is a hybrid of Case from Neuromancer and Marly Krushkova in Count Zero. Bigend is a hybrid of Josef Virek (Count Zero) and perhaps the physical aspects of Armitage (Neuromancer).
All of Gibson's books deal with characters that operate with relatively little wealth and power on the fringe of society and their interactions with figures of extraordinary wealth and power who have ambiguous locations within society. But these characters aren't just computer hackers / programmers. They can be marketing advisors, children, fashion designers, linguists, artists or mercenaries.
It is worth giving the Blue Ant* series a second change, there is more in common with Sprawl than first appears.
Julian set out to revive the old religions and convert Rome away from Christianity. He was a bookish boy, a bit of a philosophy nerd. When he unexpectedly rose to a position of prominence, it turned out that he had a knack for military command which helped him gain popularity with the people and seize the emperorship.
I enjoyed this book because it gets you inside the head of people in a different time and place, with different thoughts and concerns than modern westerners. It also shows you how quickly the world can change. Julian lived in a time when thousands of years of tradition were changing quickly, in a blink of an eye by historical terms. These are great lessons to have in mind.
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson. I thought it was interesting; an honest attempt at cataloguing the life of a fascinating and complex person.
How To Win Friends And Influence People - Dale Carnegie. I'd skimmed through it in high school, and decided it was full of obvious/cheesy platitudes, but was somehow convinced to take another look this year and I'm very glad I did. It is mostly full of very basic "don't be an ass" advice, but I needed it.
Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi. I'm not sure what to think of this one. It's pretty low on actionable advice, but it did help me (together with HTWFAIF, above) reframe the way I approach interpersonal relationships.
The Cat's Table - Michael Ondaatje. I haven't finished this one yet, but it's part of a recent concerted effort to read more fiction. I've always loved Ondaatje's work, and this latest novel is no different.
Freakonomics - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. I just started reading this last night, and I'm already 100 pages in. It's an addicting read, and is already causing me to re-evaluate the incentive systems that are everywhere.
Napoleon Bonaparte - Alan Schom. I've been reading this one slowly for a while (it's a hefty book). It's a very well written account of Napoleon's entire life story--highly recommended.
Crossing the Chasm - Geoffrey Moore. Just started this one last night as well (Christmas presents!) and so far it seems like it will live up to the hype.
The Education of Millionaires - Michael Ellsberg. This one, I can't recommend. As always, though, YMMV :)
Visual Communication -- old book currently out of print but timeless principles for effective communication. Visual communication is often more effective than words.
Eat, Drink and Be Healthy -- How to enjoy food but stay in great shape. You do not need to live on steamed broccoli and granola to do this! Lots of bland foods are unhealthy and lots of healthy foods are actually tasty. You just need to know which ones.
How to build a start up community in your city -- Book by Brad Feld with some interesting ideas about 'leaders' and 'feeders'. Read it to to build a community around http://AfriTech.org
Positioning -- interesting ideas on how to succeed in a crowded market place
Writing Non Fiction -- another old book that is out of print but lots of good ideas on how to communicate effectively
Mathematics: Form and Function by Saunders Mac Lane. This is one of my favorite books concerning the "build-up" of mathematics (it also contains nice diagrams of "relatedness" of subjects). On HN somebody once recommended Mathematics: Its contents, methods, and meaning (from Russian mathematicians in the 50s) which is similar but without the cross references.
Proofs and Refutations by Imre Lakatos. I have started reading this only recently and have to say that I find the approach and idea excellent. It would be great if we had something comparable for CS theory as well.
Notes on Introductory Combinatorics by Polya, Tarjan, and Woods. Have not read this exhaustively, but the introduction with Pascal's triangle and some of Polya' legendary problem solving insights (paraphrased from my memory: "you are on to something once you find a pattern") are definitely highlights in this book.
Mathematical Discovery: On Understanding, Learning and Teaching Problem Solving by George Polya. Based on the previous book and my fond memories of reading "How to Solve it", I got this one from the library. Again I can't attest for all of the contents, but AFAICT now it's another gem from Polya.
From HN advice in previous years I read The Tibetan Book on Living and Dying, which I can heartily recommend, too. It is an anti-thesis to Christian theology and I find it to contain many insightful comments and different views on leading a good, meaningful life. I disagree with some of the church-y comments on that it really is important to have a master and that only the master can do certain things, but that's probably just me being an atheist all along.
I actually read some other books, but the list is already kind of long and might hold interesting pointers for other mathematically inclined readers, too. I for one am always fascinated on how much advice on problem solving in mathematics translates to CS.
Lights Out in Wonderland by D.B.C. Pierre. A wonderful story with a few incidental observations about modern society.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Sure, you can read about people who've made everything, but what about people who lose everything. Absolutely everything. Shattering, tragic fiction.
Wool - by Hugh Howey. He self-published Wool and now has a deal to make into into a movie directed by Ridley Scott. In that, it's a pivotal work in the self-publishing movement. http://www.amazon.com/Wool-Omnibus-Edition-ebook/dp/B0071XO8...
Blood Song - Anthony Ryan. Best epic fantasy I've read since Martin's Song of Fire and Ice. http://anthonystuff.wordpress.com/books/
Most Thought-Provoking Books of 2012
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
by Jon Gertner published March 15, 2012
Over the span of a few decades, a single research lab invented the transistor, the microprocessor, radar, the communication satellite, the CD, and more.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg published February 28, 2012
Why toothpaste tingles, how Febreeze was a flop, and hundreds of other tidbits that are perfect for cocktail parties and future Jeopardy episodes.
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't
by Nate Silver published September 27, 2012
Weaves together baseball, earthquakes, the weather, poker, and terrorism. Chapter 7 is the best description of Bayes theoreom I've ever read.
The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
by Dan Ariely published June 5, 2012
The third Ariely book, and just as fun. Would be ranked #1 except it's essential the same formula as his prior two gems.
Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World
by Christopher Steiner published August 30, 2012
Surprisingly good read from a first-time author (and YC alum). Expands on Andreessen's quip to cover trading, couter-terrorism, the Arab Spring and more.
It's essentially the culmination of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan.
I read the first book. The arrogance was a bit much, especially in a book where he's talking about the importance of randomness. But, like you, I did go off an explore about a lot of what he said. So it's a fun exercise.
There are a few great books which are too repetitive. "Black Swan" is one; he could have got all of that into a book a quarter the size and not lost much important. Another one is "Reckoning with Risk" by Gerd Giggerenzer - he takes many chapters to say people don't understand percentages, and you should really use "X people out of 10,000" when explaining risk to people.
It's kind of grating, but works for an audiobook in the car, where I might lose a few seconds due to temporary attention increase on the road. He'll reliably spend 3-4 minutes saying the same thing with minor variations when 20 seconds would do.
_Racing The Beam_ (study of the atari 2600 platform)
_The Future was Here_ (study of the amiga platform)
Best books I've read in the last five years:
_Debt: The First 5000 Years_
_Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means_ (william vollman)
Another one I read and loved this year that is in the same sphere of interest, with a relatively similar appreciation (though it is European history focused rather than anthropologically centered) is 'Founder: Meyer Amschel Rothschild and His Time' @ http://www.amazon.com/b/dp/0571279635
Life of Pi - Bought it following the buzz of the movie. Read the book first, then saw the movie. A good simple read. Sort of reinforces, the 'various models' idea of the 'Zen...' book. Found the movie slightly better than the book, which was a surprise. Ang Lee has made subtle changes, which makes the story more peppy.
Perfect Rigor - Captures the story (and math) behind, the turning down of a million dollar prize by Gregory Perelman. The genius Russian mathematician, who solved a 100 year old standing problem, of the missing proof of the Poincare Conjecture. It was perhaps my best technical read of the year.
I am feeling Lucky (by Doug Edwards): Google's emplpyee number 59, writes about his experience at Google. I found it the best book on Google. Better than some of the others, which seem a bit like officially authorized versions.
Below ones I read it in 2011. But haven't posted here, so here goes:
Born to Run (By Chris Mcdougall): A health book. Has really helped my running. Highly recommended to all.
A guide to a good life: The ancient art of Stoic Joy (By Joseph Irvine): A very good book on philosophy. Read it on the reco (http://sivers.org/book) of Derek Sivers.
I think [one of] the basic messages of the book, that of paying attention and enjoying the little things of life like understanding and servicing your BMW motorcycle is great. Unfortunately I didn't get much out of the philosophical ramblings about arete (quality) and the author's nervous breakdown, which takes up most of the second half of the book. I did enjoy the description of the road trip though, if I were living in the US right now I'd love to do it.
At deeper levels a lot of things are left to the interpretation of the reader, as it is with most abstract things. He uses the word Quality in the most fundamental way. To me that word held the meaning for his life. Quality in the way in which he understands and reacts to the world.
Before he learned to fix his motor cycle, he was at the mercy of various kinds of mechanics with varying skill levels and attitudes. He particularly cites an example of some listening to music while working on the machine. Which he does not like. For him working on the machine or writing technical documents for his job, is a spiritual activity.
Also, he makes a point regarding his nervous breakdown, that for others it was a nervous breakdown. But for him, the way he saw it, it was the deepest of meditations. Following which phase the understanding and meaning of Quality, dawned on him, and he was at peace with his life.
Also, I found the way he treats his 11 year old son, i.e like an adult, very interesting.
Another delightful thing, was the book full of philosophical quotable quotes. Like the (approximate) one I have cited in my above comment.
But most basic reason I liked the book, is because, it talked to me in the tone, I wanted it to talk to me. For example the moment any book becomes very specific (for example 'Life of Pi' is very specific in being inclusive to all religions, in a rather simplistic way), as a reader I tend to start to disagree. But if it is abstract, and "Zen.." is very very abstract in portions, I can provide my own concrete implementations!
I first heard about it in Michael Lewis' Vanity Fair profile on Obama (Obama was reading it - http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/10/michael-lewis-pro...), and then my cofounder Omar mentioned it as an engrossing book whilst he was reading it, specifically because of the topic it handles: the malleability of our memories.
Anyway, it was a pleasure to read, captivating, and the imagery jumping out of the pages was brilliant. I frequently had to stop and re-read parts. It also made me laugh.
A personal favourite sentence:
"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation."
It won the Man Booker prize last year.
On the non-fiction side, probably "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Kahneman, though I haven't quite finished it. It's dense, but filled with insight after insight.
Amazon links: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0452297710 and http://www.amazon.com/dp/0143122231
Thorough book notes:
http://www.quora.com/Leo-Polovets/Exceptionally-long-book-no... and http://www.quora.com/Leo-Polovets/Exceptionally-long-book-no...
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin - Erik Larson
Highly entertaining non-fiction that reads like fiction. Accounts of the build-up to hitler's Germany like you're actually there.
A good no-nonsense self-help book. Outlines set of strategies for dealing with challenging situations in everyday life, touching on areas such as Parenting, Career, Dating. Author also looks into common misconceptions about how we function and which mental tricks are efficient and which are not so much.
2. "Start Small, Stay Small: - A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup"
I actually have a blog post on it here - http://blog.nimblegecko.com/when-your-drugs-wear-off/ - in short it's a book for developers that focuses on how to start building an online product, with heavy emphasis on market, and marketing. It also addresses some of the common mistakes we, as developers, tend to make when conceiving and carrying out the execution of an idea.
3. "The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company "
ebook - http://amzn.to/V3BxWq
dead tree book - http://amzn.to/12DNfwd
This is classic, really. What was interesting for me in particular is the types of markets that a startup launches to - new market, resegmenting an existing market (low-end, high-end, specific features), clone market, and all of the limitations/dangers/expectations/growth profiles that choice of marketing strategy entails.
4. "Core Transformation: Reaching the wellspring within"
Not that I've only read this book in 2012, but I keep returning to it - that's probably one of not too many truly life changing books for me. It contains very simple, yet very efficient reframing exercise (think NLP) that helps to uncover the true motivations behind behaviours that you don't like in yourself, and change those for good, yet in a completely unexpected and never predictable ways.
Syed was the top Pingpong player in England, and goes in detail about his trainings and what he thinks are the reasons for his success: lots of circumstantial luck, and thousands of hours of deliberate practice with immediate feedback. Even though it's too late for me to become a national player, the book forced me to refocus my thoughts on the everyday activities that are important to me, and find a way to practice and improve up on them.
Still reading it (up to Chap 11 of 15).
Covers creating 2D games for iOS using the cocos2d 2.x framework, and Kobold2d 2.x framework. All code is in Objective-C, and it's expected you know Obj-C to understand the content. If you've done any OS X or iOS development already you'll have no problems following along. The frameworks are really simple to learn and use.
It does promote some inexpensive pay-for tools to aid in development, but always offers a free alternative if available. TexturePacker, Tiled (qt) (free), GlyphDesigner, and ParticleDesigner.
The only other Egan I've read is his collection Luminosity, which was similarly impressive. I'm definitely going to check him out further.
(Incandescence also had some neat ideas, and I don't regret reading it -- it showed a reasonable way much of general relativity could be discovered before newtonian physics; but the people stuff irritated me. There was eventually an in-story explanation for the implausible characters, but it wasn't enough.)
2) The Lean Startup
(Read when I joined founders institute, was helpful in quite number ways. Doubled it with same course on udemy )
3) Banker to the poor - Md. Yunus
(Got a chance to interview Md.Yunus,)
4) Business Model Generation http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/book
(Quite a read, for business model generation. One can explain whole biz plan in 1 page)
5) The Dilbert principle
6) Steve Jobs
1) The Hobbit
3) Sense of ending
The House of the Stag, Kage Baker
Soldier of Sidon, Gene Wolfe
Range of Ghosts was definitely the stand out book of the year for me, the other three I'm sure I will reread. (Actually this time around was already a reread for Soldier of Sidon.) I'm pretty sure there were a couple of other books I read and quite enjoyed that I've forgotten now. No science fiction books come to mind at all, which makes me kind of sad.
Not the kind of short cut book that it may lead you to think. The book is a brief introduction to modern database types and what are their characteristics, what are their use case, and why you should choose it over other database types.
Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages (Pragmatic Programmers)
Similar book as above, but introduces you to 7 different programming languages. The focus of the book is not on how to use each language, but to explore the different programming paradigms introduced by each programming language. (prototypical inheritance, functional programming, logic programming, object-oriented programming)
The three titles in The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant. I'm not normally real big on zombie stories, but this one was a breath of fresh air. Part zombies, part conspiracy story, and wildly entertaining.
Living Low Carb - Jonny Bowden. Picked this up after I was diagnosed as diabetic, and needed to clean up my diet and lose some weight. Very detailed book, explains the endocrine cycle and the relationship between carbs, fat, insulin, etc. very well, and makes a compelling case for eliminating most carbs from one's diet. I've been following this approach for the last 2-3 months and feel pretty good about it. My weight is coming down, even though I'm not doing a lot more exercise (that part will come eventually, but for now I'm basically just doing on mountain bike ride of about 2 hours, on Saturdays).
The Startup Owner's Manual - Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. The successor to the famous The Four Steps to the Epiphany, this is the Bible of Customer Development.
Winning The Knowledge Transfer Race - kinda niche, but important to me, vis-a-vis Fogbeam Labs. Our space is (largely) knowledge management, and I got a ton of ideas from this book, in terms of how to articulate problems our customers might be facing, how some of the solutions map to capabilities we're working on, etc.
Outthink The Competition - Kaihan Krippendorff. Definitely got me thinking about the value of strategy and strategic thinking. Contains a nice catalog of basic strategies one can employ. Inspired me pick up some other books on strategy and strategic thinking as well. I definitely recommend this one, unless you happen to be in a business that might compete with us at Fogbeam Labs, in which case, forget you ever heard of this.
Capability Cases: A Solution Envisioning Approach - Irene Polioff, Robert Coyne, Ralph Hodgson. An interesting book on matching business problems to technical solutions through something called a "capability case". Think of a "capability case" as something like a cross between a "use case" and an Alexanderian pattern, and a business "case" like you'd study in business school. Basically it's an approach to distilling the essence of a problem an organization might have, laying out the capabilities needed to address that problem, and demonstrating the business justification for the solution.
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson. Just a fascinating story of a strangely interesting man. Lots of computer industry history embedded in here as well.
Hackers - Steven Levy.
Artificial Life - Steven Levy.
The Apocalypse Codex - Charles Stross. My first foray into "The Laundry Files" and it was a good one. When somebody first recommended this series to me, they said it was "sci fi with a Lovecraftian bent" which caught my attention as a huge fan of Lovecraft. Sure enough, that's exactly what it is. As soon as I encountered the phrase "computational demonologist" I knew I was in the right place.
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand. I like to read this for inspiration every now and again. Howard Roark is one of my favorite characters and I aspire to be more like him. Unfortunately, to date, I think I'm closer to Gail Wynand.
Trust Me, I'm Lying - Ryan Holiday. How one man manipulated a variety of media outlets to gain free PR for his clients. Some of these tactics may seem (and probably are) underhanded, perhaps even downright unethical. But even if you don't want to use them yourself, you should probably be aware of them, as it may help you understand why certain stories get featured in the media and why others don't.
Ghost In The Wires - Kevin Mitnick.
This Machine Kills Secrets - Andy Greenberg. History of the cypherpunk movement, from the early days through Wikileaks and the Bradley Manning and Julian Assange sagas. Lots of great stuff here, definitely recommended for anyone interested in cypherpunks, government/corporate transparency, information security, and related topics.
Started, but haven't yet finished Taking People With You by David Novak. Another book on leadership and how to engage other people and get them onboard with whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. So far it strikes me as pretty good, with actual actionable material, not just a bunch of pithy aphorisms. But I'm only about 1/3rd of the way in, so kinda early to pass judgement.
Started Reamde by Neal Stephenson, but got distracted, set it aside and never resumed it. Will probably start it again sometime next year. Was entertaining up to the point I stopped.
Started, but didn't finish The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. It's a long book, what can I say?
I also liked his Eschaton series, "Singularity Sky", and "Iron Sunrise".
In spite of loving "Accelerando", I've never been able to get into his non-hard science fiction series, like the Laundry series, or Merchant Princes.
Also, just because you don't like Rand doesn't mean you should go around insulting people who happen to enjoy her work. It kinda makes you a dick. Reasonable people can disagree on things, you do realize this, right? If not, come back when you're a little wiser and maybe we can talk.
"Liar's Poker" by Michael Lewis http://www.amazon.com/Liars-Poker-Michael-Lewis/dp/039333869...
"Reminiscences of a Stock Operator" by Edwin Lefevre http://www.amazon.com/Reminiscences-Stock-Operator-Commentar...
"The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods" by Hank Haney http://www.amazon.com/Big-Miss-Years-Coaching-Tiger/dp/03079...
"The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time" by Michael Craig http://www.amazon.com/Professor-Banker-Suicide-King-Richest/...
It's the result of years of his research on the process a human goes through to achieve mastery in a field. It breaks the process down to key components and stages and examines masters of various disciplines that exemplify these concepts. The subjects were pretty varied, from Leonardo to Darwin to PG!
In short this book is everything I had originally hoped for in Outliers.
(also, from what i remember, the third volume of 1q84 was most like his other works - i almost stopped after the 2nd and was glad i continued).
ps on translation - i don't think that would make this one so different to the others (which are also translated). i do agree that murakamis books feel translated (like you could guess they were translated if you were given one and didn't know what it was), but that seems to be just something about either translated books or authors that work well in translation (or may just be me imagining things). i don't think i have ever read a book in both the original language and a translation, but i know that roberto bolano, who was recently very big in english translation, reads like a translated author in the original (if you see what i mean)...
The Post Capitalist Society - Peter F. Druckert
The War of Art - Pressfield, Steven
Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology (Bradford Books) - Braitenberg, Valentino
The Art of Doing Science and Engineering - Hamming, Richard W. (this book is even better if you are good with math, which I am not) it's still fairly inspirational.
Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas
Papert, Seymour A.
Simple, to the point and effective.
I liked it a lot better than Lean Startup because it's actionable.
I also really enjoyed Logicomix which I thought was an excellent and entertaining throughout.
I read many others which were also good +/-, but those two were definitely the best.
The New Solution Selling -- The first sales book I ever read and extremely enlightening. It demystified much of the sales process for me.
The Intelligent Investor -- Timeless ideas on investing.
Steve Jobs -- I had no intention of reading this book but found it incredibly interesting. Very insightful.
The Intelligent Entrepreneur -- This book followed 3 HBS grads from pre-HBS to entrepreneur success, and attempted to draw some overarching conclusions on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Very interesting.
Name of the Wind -- The only fully fiction book I read this year. Great book. Waiting on the 3rd to come out before I read the second in the series.
Dreaming in Code -- I'd heard great things about this book but I felt it was very lacking in insight. Some interesting moments but overall a disappointment. Perhaps it is because I read it after ~6 years of professional programming experience + 4 years of school + a number of other programming books?
Teaching Minds -- Roger Schank's latest book on education. In this one he outlines key cognitive abilities that education should be centered around rather than subjects. Very interesting.
A Concise Guide to Macroeconomics -- I had read very little macroeconomics, and this book provided a very readable and quick guide on the basics.
Bounce (by Matthew Syed) -- Great book about how great performers became great performers. This goes back to the nurture vs nature debate, and sides very heavily on the nurture side. Syed was an olympic ping pong player from the UK.
The Willpower Instinct -- I'm still reading this one (with my wife), and find it to be unbelievably insightful. If you have any desires to change any habits or behaviors, this book is incredible.
The Innovator's Solution -- The book after The Innovators Dilemma. Very insightful, just like the previous one.
Why I left Goldman Sachs by Greg Smith (Good insight into the 2008 financial breakdown and a look into the day to day operations of Goldman Sachs)
Data Mining: Concepts and Techniques(Great intro into data mining)
Programming Collective Intelligence(You can play around with actual implementations of the concepts in the previous book)
Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick (Was really nice to see the details behind Mitnick's adventures)
On War By Clausewitz(Really enjoyed this book.)http://www.amazon.com/War-Carl-von-Clausewitz/dp/1448676290
'Anything You Want: 40 Lessons For A New Kind Of Entrepreneur' by Derek Sivers. http://www.flipkart.com/anything-you-want-1936719118/p/itmdy...
'Jugari Cross' by Poornachandra Tejaswi; an amazing thriller novel that takes place in real-time. http://www.flipkart.com/jugari-cross/p/itmd7gdp6xvushkd?pid=...
The Expanse by James S. A. Corey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_Wakes & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calibans_War
Near SF by Daniel Saurez http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_(Suarez_novel)
Katherine Boo: http://www.behindthebeautifulforevers.com/
Susan Cain: http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/
Daniel Kahneman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow
I liked "Kill Decision" a lot, and I can highly recommend it.
Although this may sound very complex, the book is actually not that hard to follow. Highly recommended!
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, Mike Brown
A funny and very humanizing picture of a scientist at work: A great account of the quest to discover planets beyond Pluto, and of the upheaval that followed.
Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
Can a normal person become a memory champion? Joshua Foer covers a lot of ground in this well-written book, including extensive historical background as well as considerations of neuroscience, deliberate practice and expertise, savantism, and immersive journalism.
Among Others was one of the most enjoyable fiction reads. Beautiful. Prep was also surprisingly good, and not something I would usually have read.
Leading So People Will Follow surprisingly insightful and clearly actionable.
The Big Nerd Ranch's guide to iOS development carried me through last Christmas and the new year admirably. I haven't really read many programming books this year but it stands out as being well crafted.
By the way: If you (edit: or anyone else ;) wants to read them I can loan them to you.
Of that list, "Information wants to be shared", and "The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick" stick out as being pretty good. "Climbing the Charts: What Radio Airplay Tells Us about the Diffusion of Innovation" was also very interesting, and a clever use of statistics to look at how one specific sector works. I also loved "The Oregon Desert", although it's probably not very interesting to most people out there.
That aside, I reread the Dan Brown 'Angels & Demons' and 'The Da Vinci code' novels, worked my way through 'To kill a Mockingbird' for the first time since high school and read the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' - to better understand the religion my girlfriend is choosing.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke, started in 2011, finished this year
War and the Iliad essays by Simone Weil, Rachel Bespaloff, and Herman Broch
EIMI by E.E. Cummings, his account of a visit to the USSR in 1931
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Can Be Considered As a Science, Immanuel Kant (reread many years after the first reading--interesting to be reminded how awful translations from German can be)
Essays Ancient and Modern by Bernard Knox
1. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
2. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
3. Developing a Universal Religion by David Hockey
4. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
"The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" and its video lectures. Highly recommended!
"Programming Pearls" by Jon Bentley http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Pearls-Joe-Bentley/dp/8177...
While not featuring any groundbreaking ideas, it's convincing and straight to the point.
Softwar - Larry Ellison's story. Fascinating read.
Games People Play - Classic by Eric Berne. Must read psychology. Short, and you will get so much out of it.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Must read psychology. Short, and you will get so much out of it.
Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! - Will re-read soon to get to the next level.
* or, for the pedantic out there, A Song of Ice and Fire.
is the book on animation, takes you through all the basics and breaks down why disney's animators were just better than everyone else... applicable to css3 / front end development.
Shogun - James Clavel. 'Epic' is the best word I can use to describe this historical fiction. I first read it in 2009 and have reread all 1100 pages multiple times since. The first English pilot to reach the Japans discovers a culture that, while strange, is in many ways far more advanced than his own. The fictional Lord Toranaga is based on the historical Tokugawa Ieyasu, a brilliant strategist who founded a dynasty that lasted 268 years. The book is full of the real Tokugawa's writings, which can be very profound. For anyone familiar with the 'marshmallow test' for determining how well 5 year olds will do later in life, Tokugawa had it figured out 370 years before Walter Mischel:
"The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, adoration, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience."
Lieutenant Hornblower - C.S. Forrester. Shogun taught me that reading historical fiction made regular history much more interesting, which made me seek out more historical fiction. This is a series of 12 books covering the career of a British navel man during the Napoleonic Wars. Gene Roddenberry based the character of Jean Luc Picard on its protagonist. My recommendation won't be as strong as these gentlemen though: "I find Hornblower admirable." -Winston Churchill, and "I recommend Forester to everyone literate I know," -Ernest Hemingway
The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell. I found this through another Hacker News book thread. I enjoyed it so much that after reading the sequel I immediately went back and read the first book again. SETI discovers music coming from Alpha Centauri and the Jesuits are the first to launch an expedition to investigate. It's science fiction, but unlike most science fiction, the story is more about the characters and their relationships than it is about exploring the consequences of an interesting premise.
Call Me Ted - Ted Turner. At the peak (before the AOL-Time Warner merger debacle) Ted Turner was worth $10 Billion. His autobiography is a great look into the sort of exceptional personality that creates that kind of exceptional result. Everything from growing up in the south and almost being lynched in school when someone started a rumor that he'd badmouthed General Robert E. Lee, to transforming his dad's billboard company several times until it was a media empire with TV channels like CNN, TNT, and Cartoon Network. Here's a great excerpt from a section written by a friend of his:
"And you know what I’m going to do next after I have the fourth network?” I said, “No, Ted, what’s that?” “I’m going to run for president and be elected.” Now I thought to myself, “This guy is absolutely nuts— and I’ve just agreed to lend him all this money!” I said to Ted, “Oh, Ted, don’t tell anybody else about that, okay?” And he said, “Cuz, your trouble is you don’t understand the power of television. Let me show you.” He pulled a little book of matches out of his desk drawer and he said, “Okay, it’s Saturday morning at 7: 30 and it’s Captain Teddy’s Kiddy Hour, and I come on television and I say, ‘Hey kids, today we’re going to play a game and it’s going to be so much fun. Now, don’t tell Mommy and Daddy, this is our secret between Captain Teddy and you. Now, everybody go get some matches. See Captain Teddy’s matches? Go get some just like this.’” Then he goes over to his window he says, “All right kids, everybody got your match? Go to the window and strike your match and light the curtain or the drape,” at which point he struck his match right near the old cheesecloth thing he had hanging in front of his window and then he flung the window open and he said to me, “At that point, I’d look out over Atlanta and watch it burn.” It was an incredible performance."
If you liked this, check out Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commmander" series - it's the cream of the crop for this sort of historical fiction (or any sort, really).
Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00422LERA/?tag=dedasys-20
I only read the first of the O'Brian books, but Cochrane's life was full of fascinating episodes, and I highly recommend that biography of him.
Cypherpunks - Julian Assange with Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn and Jérémie Zimmermann - http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/cypherpunks/
And for designers and developers, the Smashing Magazine series - brilliant!
A computational neuroscience approach to the visual system. Changed the way I think about perception and cognition.
The best? Probably Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, but I can't say all the other books (most non-fiction) weren't great
An important book to understand how we could tackle climate change, as well as how companies like Uber and Twine could be part of the solution.
It's not a new release, but it's the standard by which you might measure new releases once you read it. Screw 2012, do yourself a favour and sit down with a really good book :)
Ms. Munro is a masterful storyteller. Each story is different, some you may enjoy more than others, some you will struggle through, all are boutique crafted.
An epic reading. If you ever wanted to know about the nazi and post-nazi germany and get force-fed with entirely different topics in the process.
Through the Language Glass, by Guy Deutscher
For the body: Born To Run - Chris McDougall
For fun: REAMDE - Neal Stephenson
For business: What The CEO Wants You To Know - Ram Charan
I think this is an amazing book for entrepreneurs.
Very Bad Poetry – Ross Petras, Kathryn Petras
Genghis: Birth of an Empire – Conn Iggulden
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and other Clinical Tales – Oliver Sacks
"The New Industrial State" by J.K. Galbraith
The first 150 pages are particularly great.
Steve Blank, Bob Dorf: The startup owner's manual
Walden - Thoreau
A Universe From Nothing - Krauss
Goedel, Escher, Bach - Hofstadter
1. The Dark Tower
2. You Are Not So Smart
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days
Excellent book covering interviews with founders of companies that became really big. I thought this book was really insightful and inspirational.
- Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
I just started this book, but already like it - the format is the same as the Founders at Work book but on the developer side of things.
- World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It
It was a good book, but not as inspirational as the Founders at Work book. Some of the stories are good, but since the majority of the people are not in my sector, the book just wasn't as interesting to me.
- Ready Player One
An excellent story that really made me nostalgic to my younger years - definitely recommend this one.
- The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel
I have a weak spot for Charlie Huston books - he's not the best author (sorry Charlie), but his books are really easy to approach. This is one of his best ones and is about crime scene cleaners - a nice departure from all the Joe Pitt vampire novels.
- World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
It's OK... I read it half way through and then once I got busy I just couldn't get myself to pick it up again. I will finish it eventually.. just not yet.
A friend recommended this book to me - I could not get past the first chapter.
I would also recommend "The Terror," which is a historical fiction piece loosely based on the first expedition to the North Pole.
Simmons has won multiple awards in Science Fiction and leaps across categories with aplomb. I highly recommend any of his work!