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Ask HN: What is HN reading?
49 points by _dt47 on Sept 2, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 90 comments
Interested in seeing what others are reading.

My pick for now:

Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhartha_(novel)

The Art of Electronics - Horowitz and Hill

I'm a software guy, with a bunch of firmware experience, but I sometimes do data-center wrangling when I'm not slinging C++ and PHP around. It's really good to have a grounding in electronics and how things work under the hood, so you can have an appreciation for how (say) twisted pairs work, or how really fast serial cables work. Just knowing what's involved in pushing a signal from point A to point B in a rack or on a long-haul wire will help you make better decisions about what to buy, or decide to rip out.

AoE is a great practical introduction to how a lot of modern electronics stuff works. It has me tinkering with transistors and diodes again, and I may have to tell the wife I want an oscilloscope for Christmas . . .

Pretty pricey on amazon. How to get it?

It was published a long time ago. Second hand copies are not too hard to find although a third edition is apparently in the works.

I wonder how much it applies to digital electronics though.

There's a bunch of stuff (maybe half the book) about digital electronics. It's frozen in time in the late 80s, but that's sufficient for me right now.

I think there's a third edition coming out soon, which should help bring its digital stuff up to date.

> I think there's a third edition coming out soon, which should help bring its digital stuff up to date.

I'm waiting too, there are still a few months to go: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/the-art-of-electronics-3rd...

Masters of Doom - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Doom

And it's being an extremely fun read so far.

I found it quite "meh" by the end, too much details about their private lives and didn't like the hyperboles when describing more "technical" stuff (e.g. when they built the engine for commander keen, described as something revolutionary never done before, i don't remember it was the case...)

Read that after the GREAT "Commodore: A company on the edge" and was expecting something with more gritty details (both technical and about the business) was somewhat disappointed.

You are right about the technical details part, it is indeed lacking. And the commodore book seems very interesting. I'll be sure to check it after.

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg (http://tractionbook.com/)

All the reviews of this book are so positive. I have read free chapters. Is it worth purchasing?

I'm listening to the audio version and am several chapters in so far and would give it a definite thumbs up. There's little you couldn't divine from a lot of the articles online from those involved and interviewed, but having it all in one place wrapped up in a system of sorts is inspirational and more likely to get you using the good stuff.

(If I had any complaint, it's that the way you get the audiobook version is weird. I'd rather it were on Audible.)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality -- a fanfiction with the twist that Harry was raised to believe in science; as such he applies logic to understand how magic works, to bend it to his will; IMHO it's easily on a par with the canonical stories :) --> http://hpmor.com/

I'm so behind on reading this that I barely remember lots of plot points, but at this point it might be easier to wait until the work is complete, then return.

I periodically check if there are new installments, and grumble a bit.

The Masks of God series by Joseph Campbell - http://www.amazon.com/The-Masks-God-Vol-Primitive/dp/0140194...

Various myths and themes persist across religions, history and geography.

American Caesar - http://www.amazon.com/American-Caesar-Douglas-MacArthur-1880...

Biography of MacArthur. Interesting for its disclosure of relationships between politics, the media and the military in the absence of real time communication. Also, watch the death of Victorian values during the 20th century.

I just finished reading Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival[1]. It's a about a piece of american history that I had no idea had ever happened. The Lewis and Clark expedition is generally well known...at least that it happened...but the Astorian expedition was completely unknown to me and to probably a ton of you as well.

Very interesting.

1 - http://www.amazon.com/Astoria-Jeffersons-Pacific-Ambition-Su...

Good one! I like reading about interesting, but lesser known bits of history. Another book in that mold is about John Fremont:




* The Hollows series by Kim Harrison: https://www.goodreads.com/series/40628-the-hollows

* Discworld series by Terry Pratchett: https://www.goodreads.com/series/40650-discworld

* Dresden FIles by Jim Butcher: https://www.goodreads.com/series/40346-the-dresden-files

* Wiz by Rick Cook: https://www.goodreads.com/series/43084-wiz


* Programming Google App Engine with Python: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920033219.do

* The latest additions to the Lean Series: http://shop.oreilly.com/category/series/lean.do

* Think Stats: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920034094.do

"The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" -- one of the books pg recommends. I've just started, so I can't provide a review.

Do you know if there's a list of books that pg recommends?

Would you be interested in a site that lists books that have been recommended by public figures like PG, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Obama, etc? I've been kicking this idea around for a while.

It's been 8 days since you posted this comment so I have no idea if you'll read this ( I couldn't find any contact info on your profile ) but yes, I would. I've also been kicking this idea around for a while so if you're interested in joining forces drop me an email: mail -at- phow.at


Look under "Do you know of any good books about startups?"

This Book Will Make You Smarter - http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Will-Make-You-Smarter/dp/055277...

It's a collection of essays from leading modern thinkers (Dawson, Pinker, etc) on which cognitive tools people should be equipped with. It's fantastic. I'm 1/4 through at the moment and I can honestly say it lives up to it's title.

You can read all the essays for free at http://edge.org/responses/what-scientific-concept-would-impr... (book form is a lot nicer though) - edge.org is well worth poking about on. There's some seriously interesting stuff on there.

Frigyes Karinthy - A Journey Round My Skull

A friend turned me onto an international bookstore in Budapest which has an entire section of translated Hungarian novels which is where I bought this. I had no idea Hungary had such a rich literary tradition and I'm counting the days 'til I can go back to Budapest :)

Depending on what kind of novels/etc. you're looking for, I could give you some recommendations -- or even send something by post :) (although not that much of the Hungarian literature is available in English). There's some stuff available online (on Amazon, like this gem: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Journey-Moonlight-Antal-Szerb/dp/190...) or in digital form.

Ha actually my friend bought Journey By Moonlight - I'll try to borrow it off him once he's done. I'm guessing you're Hungarian based, do you know of any HN-related goings on in Budapest? I'm only a few hours by train away and I'd love an excuse to go back :)

Ah, Karinthy! I remember doing a production of his ´Refund´ [http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/170806254] in high school theatre many years ago; we had lots of fun.

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization - Brownworth, Lars

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1491:_New_Revelations_of_the_Am...)

Here are the reviews of stuff I've been reading:


I'm currently reading "Made to Stick": http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/140... - which I put off buying for a while, but am actually enjoying quite a bit. It's got real, actionable advice in it.

I also read the transcripts from http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/ on a regular basis.

Mathematics: Its Content, Methods and Meaning by A. D. Aleksandrov et al.


A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_People%27s_History_of_the_Uni...)

On the Steel Breeze by Alistair Reynolds (elephants in space!) [0]

Two Scoops of Django: Best Practices for Django 1.6 [1]

When the Clyde Ran Red by Maggie Craig [2]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Steel_Breeze

[1]: http://twoscoopspress.org/products/two-scoops-of-django-1-6

[2]: http://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Clyde-Ran-Maggie-Craig/dp/18459...

I recently picked up Tim Geithner's book 'Stress Test' (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IN73B9E)

...but in the first few pages he referenced that HE was recently reading a different book, which sounded more interesting, so now I'm reading that:

Liaquat Ahamed - Lords of Finance (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QIGZEK)

...so far so good; if you're into historical stuff.

"Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage" by Murakami

"The Expedition" by Bea Uusma. A forensic investigation into why three arctic explorers died trying to reach the north pole in a balloon—conducted over 100 years after they died.

It's a fascinating story, as well as a great insight into a mind that became obsessed with answering the question "they had enough clothes, food, fuel and ammo to survive. Why did they die?"


Siddhartha is great--if you like Hesse I would also recommend that you check out "Steppenwolf" (same author), and if that also appeals to you, then "The Stranger" by Camus

Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game" is well worth reading if a little enigmatic.

I read The Stranger, great indeed. Mind giving some overview of Steppenwolf?

Advanced API Security by Prabath Siriwardena

Just started it, but so far it's a well-written discussion of OAuth, OpenID Connect, UMA, and JSON for API security.

The State of the Art by Iain Banks

I have been forcing myself to ration out the Culture books so I don't run through them too quickly. Such a great series.

The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein

The fourth book I've read by him, a really good synthesis of Buddhism and psychology. I was pleasantly surprised to see him appear in Dan Harris's 10% Happier, too.

The Prabath Siriwardena book is too expensive. Any good cheaper alternatives out there?

I have two on the go. In the middle of moving houses so it's been about a week or so since I've picked up either :S

1. Prelude to Foundation by Asimov 2. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

I've read the Foundation series in the past, and I'm going through them again since it's been years. As for Greene, I've always had an interest in Physics, though I studied Computer Science. It's a nice introduction to String Theory that is approachable enough to be read during my leisure time.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century. A truly outstanding economic research of the age. This book answer how and why inequality of wealth become part of our society and will continue to be... if we failed to change.

One more impressive thing about this book is the massive amount of data used to proof the writer's thesis. He find and represent data of wealth from several countries over 200 years and present it neatly to support his idea. He also open those data for others to proof it as well.

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software http://www.amazon.ca/gp/aw/d/B008PGKDOO This is one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time, definitely recommended.

Introduction to Information Retrieval http://nlp.stanford.edu/IR-book/ This is a free digital book, very good so far.

I will second the recommendation for CODE. Great book - you can even read that with your kids.

Code, highly recommended, even if the content isn't new for you, it's so neatly structured that you'll enjoy reading it anyway.

'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash

Finished reading The Center Holds recently, which was a page-turner despite being pretty aware of the events (spoiler: Obama wins 2012).

There's a section about the Obama campaign's digital strategy which is interesting.

Also read Jordan Mechner's "The Making of Prince of Persia", which is snippets of his diary from working on the game. It's insanely interesting, very sad I couldn't read more from his life (especially the making of Last Express).

I'm enjoying my free month of KU and reading Hugh Howey's works at the moment. Halfway Home is pretty good, as are his short stories.

From what I have seen, there aren't a ton of amazing books in KU, but being able to borrow lots of foreign-language books might compel me to stick with it. I'm brushing up on my Spanish, and it helps to read children's books and short stories I probably wouldn't buy otherwise.

"The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology" by Horace Freeland Judson; a masterpiece originally published in 1979 and based on ~10 years of research, interviews w/ more than 100 scientists &c.


_dt47, if you like it read everything else from Hesse (continue with Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, The Glass Bead Game).

Right now, as late night reading, i'm in the midst of the sprawl trilogy of Gibson, i read Neuromancer more than a few years ago and now i'm checking out the rest.

Other than this, i started "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies", but i'm quickly getting bored.

We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider. Kreider has a a blog on NYT. I liked this post [1] and bought the book. Enjoyed every single page of it. [1] http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/i-know-what-...

Just started reading GEB[1] after having it recommended by many IRL and on HN/proggit. Thoroughly blowing my mind, would recommend even if you don't have a CS background.


It's been years since my last fiction book. I feel kinda guilty if I spend my time reading anything other than technical guides and reports.

I've just finished reading Addiction by Design: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9156.html

Just finished Tiger Shrimp Tango by Tim Dorsey, and found out that it is 17th in a series starring the same ensemble of main characters (I'd never read Dorsey before).

If you want nothing more nor less than pure entertainment and hilarity, with plenty of social satire, this works.

Looked that up and it looks an awful lot like Carl Hiassen's books, which I enjoy - ever read any of his books?

I did, a good while ago. I think there is definitely a family resemblance, but I don't remember it very well (aside from remembering that I enjoyed it). I think there is almost a genre of Florida novels that take full advantage of that state's unique oddness.

1. Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush by Geoff Dyer with photographs by Chris Steele-Perkins

2. Windhorse by Kaushik Barua

3. 17 Equations That Changed the World by Ian Stewart

4. The First and Last Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity" by Steven Strogatz


I'm alternating between "1984" and "I am a strange loop" right now. I like to mix in some fiction with the serious stuff.

Montaigne's Essays; and I'm reading (Bunin's Russian translation of) the Song of Hiawatha for my son at bedtime.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, by Scott Adams. Highly recommended, and I still have half the book left.

Worlds Together Worlds Apart (http://amzn.to/1rzYmUg)

Finishing up "Ready Player One" on Audible right now and just started "Neuromancer" the other day.

"A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History" by Nicholas Wade.

Controversial but fascinating.

Supported by some economists and social scientists, but widely regarded as rank pseudoscience by real scientists: http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/a-troubling-t... (just one example).

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg (guy behind Duck Duck Go).

Fantastic read so far.

Wycliffite Spirituality from Paulist Press' Classics of Western Spirituality series.

Age Of Reason by Thomas Paine

A Tour of C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup

Effective C++ by Scott Meyers

Moon Walking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

Paolo Bacigalupi "Pump Six and Other Stories" short sci-fi stories.

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, second part of the Southern Reach trilogy.

Business Adventures By John Brooks. An awesome book. Must read for all.

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes. Yes, it's fiction.

what if? - Randall Munroe - https://whatif.xkcd.com/book/

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert

The Chrysalids - John Wyndham.


Mindswap - Robert Scheckly

Focus by Dale Goleman

I have several in-progress.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling [5] (Kindle edition)

2012-06 issue of "Analog Science Fiction and Fact". I'm so far behind the current issue because I switched to an electronic subscription when a few years ago. At the time, it was only available from Barnes & Noble. The Nook app on iPad was pretty terrible, and I don't like reading on iPad in bed, so I fell behind. When it became available for Kindle [6], I switched my subscription to that, and converted my Nook issues with Calibre, and am now working my way through the backlog at a casual pace.

"Logical Chess Move by Move" by Irving Chernev [1].

"Build Up Your Chess 1: The Fundamentals" by Artur Yusupov [2].

"Understanding Copyright Law" by Marshall A. Leaffer [3] (Kindle edition).

"Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond [4] (Kindle edition, via Kindle Owner's Lending Library)

I've also been re-reading "Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories" by Arthur Conan Doyle [7] (Kindle). Generally what has been happening is that a PBS station here has been showing the 1984 British "Sherlock Holmes" TV series with Jeremy Brett as Holmes [8]. I'll watch that, and then often will re-read the corresponding Doyle story.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Logical-Chess-Explained-Algebraic-Edit...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/Build-Up-Your-Chess-Fundamentals/dp/19...

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Copyright-Law-Marshall-L...

[4] http://www.amazon.com/Guns-Germs-Steel-Fates-Societies-ebook...

[5] http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-Half-Blood-Prince-Book-eb...

[6] http://www.amazon.com/Analog-Science-Fiction-and-Fact/dp/B00...

[7] http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Complete-Stories-Volum...

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes_(1984_TV_series...

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