Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[dupe] Ask HN: What is HN reading?
53 points by redxblood on Oct 2, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments
Alright, so a month ago i made this same thread, and it seemed quite popular. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8257369) Since then i´ve:


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

Das Steppenwolf - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steppenwolf_(novel)

Into the Wild - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Wild_(book)

Bought, but yet not read:

Godel, Escher, Bach - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del,_Escher,_Bach

Being and Nothingness - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Nothingness

CODE - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code:_The_Hidden_Language_of_Computer_Hardware_and_Software

Let´s hear what HN recommends and is currenty reading

Godel, Escher, Bach;

This book is dense. But takes three times as long to read as any fiction that length. Most paragraphs require stopping and pondering.

It is my second time attempting to read this book. The first time, was about 6 months ago. Now, being on my second year in CPGE and having been through quite some math, it was more approachable.

Hofstadter invents his own system of formal mathematical logic and his own procedural programming language to explain concepts, without going into what would be considered a more "standard" formal logic system or even the Turing machine itself. He does a good job piecing them together but at certain times I feel like it'd be more meaningful to read the original works on several of the subjects he touches on.

While formal logic certainly predates this book, a lot of the AI and neuroscience research that he describes were (and are) very much active. The book was published in 1979, and its references to AI reflect the time period.

The book is hard to read, especially for prolonged periods of time. It's dense and the concepts are not the easiest to begin with.

Worth reading? Maybe.

Will it expand your thinking? Probably, though maybe not as much as you might expect; due to the broad spectrum of topics covered, it's not as deep as I would like in some areas and spends too much time smoothing over difficult topics in certain fields in order to make "clever" maps between concepts in the fields (though in this aspect he's just being a computer scientist---simple representations that map cleanly across everything! Sadly, the world is not that way).

Very good? Absolutely.

Currently engaged in:

-The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell. Just a fun read. Fiction sucks me in pretty easily, and I enjoy the time-hopping.

-Dirty, Sacred Rivers: Confronting South Asia's Water Crisis - Cheryl Colopy. Not enjoying this as much as I thought I would so far, possibly because I have too much academic experience in the topic area and the writer is a reporter. I'm a bit more pragmatic about large energy projects, not exactly bleeding heart, but I try to focus on the bigger picture. It was a free book on a table at work though from someone cleaning out their office, so not a big deal.

-Operations Research - Hillier and Lieberman. Also a free book from work. Something I need a stronger foundation in for upcoming projects.

Perpetual Backburner

-Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace. I've gotten a couple hundred pages in a few times. If I get distracted at all it's so hard to go back to.

-Capital in the 21st Century - Piketty. I blazed through the first couple hundred pages around when it came out, then I went on a long vacation. Now I sort of nibble at it when I'm in the mood. One of the most compelling economics books I've ever read.

Recently finished

-The Book of Basketball - Bill Simmons. Fun to read about the history of the NBA from a true fanatic. Eyes glazed over in some sections on the Celtics though.

I really, really love David Foster Wallace and I've also never gotten through Infinite Jest.

If anyone is interested in reading DWF I'd recommend checking out his shorter fiction (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men) or non-fiction (A Supposedly Fun Thing) if Infinite Jest (rightfully) seems intimidating :)

Same here with Infinite Jest. I've started and stopped like five times. And I always start from the beginning again because there's a lot of little things to keep track of you won't remember after four-five months.

What makes "Capital in the 21st Century " compelling?

Giant data set, big collaborative effort, spreadsheets and calculations are available online, and enjoyably written. Most economics texts I've found to be extremely dry, mostly theoretical (minimal or short-term real world data), and/or have their calculations hidden in some excel-based black box that will never be seen by anyone else.

Read: "Einstein: His Life and Universe" by Walter Isaacson

Currently reading:

"Zero to One" by Peter Thiel

"Discover Meteor: Building Real-Time JavaScript Web Apps" by Tom Coleman & Sacha Greif

Reading next:

"Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" by Walter Isaacson

Overall, I like Isaacson's writing style, and for someone with a non-scientific background, did a pretty good job at describing physical concepts such as a relativity and space-time.

It was exciting to read his bio on Steve Jobs the day it came out, but in retrospect seemed to lack depth. I'm not sure if I learned anything new about him as a person, than just someone following Apple and his career over the years.

Currently reading:

A Guide to the Good Life: Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

Algorithm Design Manual - Steven S Skiena

Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work - Dan Roam

Highly recommend the first 2, Blah Blah Blah is a rehash with a twist on Back of the Napkin.

Recently finished:

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow -- frankly, I found it kind of boring, and also found the narrator unsympathetic. I'm not sure if the author intended him to be an Unreliable Narrator or not.

Facts, Values, and Norms by Peter Railton -- Gains three stars for combining serious consideration of ethical and meta-ethical issues with a completely naturalistic worldview and a genuine grappling with history and ideology. Loses two stars for being far, far too long-winded and using vague, colloquial terminology and appeals to intuition where a methodoological naturalist can and should appeal to the fruits of science. (Copy-pasta'd from my Amazon review)

Rapture of the Nerds by Charles Stross -- pretty funny, even if it made a transhuman superintelligent supercivilization look kind of... dumb.

Currently re-reading for fun:

The Wee Free Men and I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett -- It's Discworld. Go read them. NOW. And read A Hat Full of Sky in the middle.

Then there's been a lot of textbooks I've been reading, which I won't list. Though...

Logical Labyrinths by Raymond Smullyan -- dense, and fun, a graduate-level intro textbook to first-order logic disguised as a logic textbook.

The Algorithm Design Manual

My 'technical non-fiction' read to help keep my mind sharp.


The Disaster Artist

My 'non-technical non-fiction' read to help keep me interesting around non-tech folk. The making of 'The Room,' complete with lots of weird Tommy Wiseau moments and behind the scenes insanity.



My fiction read to help keep my mind young.


Edit: formatting

Started this book way back, but finally getting around to finishing it now:

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape - James Howard Kunstler

It's a bit of a rant, though I think the author is generally on-point. As an armchair urban planner myself, his constant skewering of Le Corbusier work as a total failure makes me very, very happy.

For balance I'm also working through:

Doing Documentary Work - Robert Coles

There are some great insights in the book, but the author has a very tedious tone and is very, very verbose. I'm not sure if I will finish it, though I'll try. He also likes using really big words (like, a level of vocabulary that suggests he's deliberately trying to write at a superhuman reading level), which is tedious since his excessive vocabulary ultimately doesn't help him make his point better. I'm pretty sure I can get through Middle English faster than I can get through this book.

China Mieville, Embassytown, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/books/review/book-review-e...

"Language is the principal theme of “Embassytown,” a particularly deep-thinking entry in a tradition of using the speculative resources of science fiction to address how language shapes culture and society ... The drama of “Embassytown” develops as the Ariekei learn to lie and are beset by violent addiction to a new kind of speech. The resulting plague sends waves of change pulsing through the semi-sentient buildings and machinery of their city — an inspired Miévillean touch, grotesquely original (addicted houses try to grow ears) and yet also strikingly familiar to anybody who’s spent time in a neighborhood in steep decline."

Read: Ayn Rand - We The Living Currently Reading: Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

Honestly loving Atlas Shrugged, but We The Living is easily my favorite book I have ever read. It has deeply affected how I think about life and I share many philosophical beliefs with Rand, would highly highly recommend.

Thought it would be fun to see if your user profile looks like I thought it would...

> Business student. Accounting & Economics

> The startup world fascinates me, have a bit of technical knowledge, learning to code and would probably kill a man to become a VC someday.

Guess I was completely wrong; serves me right to stereotype Rand followers :-)

Rand gets some things right. She takes hero worship to a whole new level, though.

Peter Thiel's take on her in Zero to One is pretty good.

I don't remember reading about Ayn Rand in Zero to One. Could you tell me where? (Hoping the Kindle version wasn't abridged or something)

I don't have my copy nearby. It's a one-off comment about how Galt's Gulch is a childish fantasy. Some things are necessarily the work of many minds working together - nobody can build a rocket or a railroad on their own in a secluded community of genius captains of industry.

edit: I also just realized that I read a pre-release screener - it may have been cut out of the published edition.

I'm about a quarter of the way through "The Martian" by Andy Weir. It's good, geeky fun so far. Some of the dialog is clunky but the main character is interesting and fun.

I also read "11/22/63" by Stephen King. An interesting twist on time travel with the usual King propulsiveness. Recommended for King fans like me who may not have read him in awhile.

"Geek Sublime" by Vikram Chandra is a surprising mix of "my career in writing" with computation lessons and history. I took a break from it to read The Martian but it's extremely interesting. He's one of my favorite writers and I'm glad he's got something out that might expose him to a different audience.

Look up Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra - it's a great, multilayered story. I'm hoping it will be made into a movie someday!

The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945 (John Toland)

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (Alfred Lansing)

Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War (Richard Holmes)

NB A book that I read recently that I wasn't expecting to like very much but really enjoyed was "A Fortunate Life: The Autobiography of Paddy Ashdown" - to say that he's had an eventful life is a bit of an understatement (Royal Marines, SBS, MI6, politics) - he actually comes across as a politician with strongly held morals - shame I can't vote for him!

Machine Learning: a Probabilistic Perspective http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~murphyk/MLbook/

excellent ML textbook, comes with code

Currently Reading:

Annals of the Former World - John McPhee https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/78.Annals_of_the_Former_...

My Years with GM - Alfred P. Sloan Jr. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/275912.My_Years_with_Gene...

Read: Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales (This was a great read), The Painter by Peter Heller (Interesting novel), Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Good ideas and content, repeats a lot)

Currently reading: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Edit: reformatted for clarity.

I'm working my way through the novels that were joint winners of the Hugo and nebula awards. Every book has been fantastic, although The Left Hand of Darkness was the high note of the books I hadn't read before.


Read: Dune by Frank Herbert

Reading: Foundation by Isaac Asimov

I have been trying to get back to science fiction after leaving it for so long. It's great so far!

Comedic sci fi is getting me back into it:

John Scalzi writes a kickass tale- Old Man's War series

Robert Kroese just hilarious - Starship Grifters

Read a while ago and couldn't put it down - Avogadro Corp: The Singularity is Closer than it Appers by William Hertling

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tradgedy of the Whaleship Essex, often called the non-fiction version of Moby Dick.

It's a brilliant, engrossing read > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17780.In_the_Heart_of_the...

Just finished: In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger

Now reading: Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiesen

Been on a travel themed binge the last few weeks, rereading my favorite travel books. I highly recommend Arabian Sands, gives a pretty unique view of how the Arabian Peninsula was changing right after WWII.

Read -----

The Unwritten Laws of Engineering - King & Skakoon The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things - Bruce Sterling The Dilbert Future : Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century Always Postpone Meetings with Time-Wasting Morons - Scott Adams

The Straight Dope Tells All

Currently Reading

The Mahabharata - This is an epic

Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet

Recently read:

Programming Elixir - Dave Thomas

Introducing Elixir - Simon St. Laurent and J. David Eisenberg

The Swift Programming Language - Apple

Currently reading:

Functional Programming in Swift - Chris Eidhof, Florian Kugler, and Wouter Swierstra

Recently purchased but not started:

The Algorithm Design Manual - Steven S Skiena

Sipping from time to time:

Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics - Jonathan Wilson

I just finished Feynman's Rainbow by Mlodinow. It's an interesting look at Feynman and Gell-Man. It was a little lighter on Feynman moments than I expected, but certainly worth the read. I took a break from the 3rd Game of Thrones book to read that.

I'm a good way through Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

So far it has given a lot of insight into his upbringing and general history that would be the bedrock of his philosophy. Hopefully it gets into how he identified and executed on his business strategies.

Reading: Jaron Lanier - "Who Owns the Future?"

Read: Jessica Livingston - "Founders at Work"

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

Highly recommend

Next up: Zero to One - Peter Thiel

The Goal is one my favorite books to recommend to anyone joining a startup, but also for product management types. I first read it around the same time I read The Lean Startup, and I found the two to be very complementary.

Recently finished Freakonomics (S Dubner & S Levitt) and East of Eden (Steinbeck). Highly recommend the latter, but Freakonomics was a bit of a disappointment, possibly because it was overhyped to me beforehand. Worth a read, though.

Reading: "A Game Design Vocabulary" by Anna Anthropy and Naomi Clark.

It's good, I recommend it. She addresses quite well what I think is wrong with a lot of indie games these days, and offers insightful ideas to making games better.


Zero to One - Peter Thiel

Traction Book - Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Currently Reading:

How to win friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie

Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System (Sobek II and Smalley)

Data Smart: Using Data Science To Transform Information into Insight (Foreman)

An Everlasting Meal (Waters and Adler)

Product Design and Development (Ulrich et al)

Currently Reading:

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11721966-good-strategy-b...

This is an interesting site, which started up recently, producing short stories paired with music.


Currently read and recently read, in no particular order:

Modern C++ Design (Andrei Alexandrescu)

The Screenwriter's Bible (David Trottier)

Clean Code (Robert Cecil Martin)

Il Codice da Vinci (Dan Brown)

The Anatomy of Story (John Truby)

A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Burton Malkiel)

The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)

Evidence-Based Technical Analysis - David Aronson ; Chapters 4 and 5 give a very accessible explanation of statistical inference through the use of sampling distributions. It's an excellent book.

Code Complete, 2nd Edition.

Rating [][][][][][][][ ][ ][ ] => [7]

Level [][][][][][*][ ][ ][ ][ ] => [6]

Basic => Intermediate

Pages => 753

This is a generalist book with lots of references to more advanced topics about programming.

Currently reading:

Where The Golden Apples Grow, Kage Baker

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, Ellen Notbohm

Atypical: Life With Asperger's in 20 1/2 Chapters, Jesse A. Saperstein

Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

Les Misérables, Victor Hugo

Currently Reading:

Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India (William Dalrymple)

Just finished: Ready Player One and The Riftwar Saga (both very enjoyable)

Reading: Predictably Irrational (more substance than most business books I've read)

Reading: How to Lie with Statistics - Darrell Huff

A very entertaining read: throughout the short book, Huff satirically likens abusers of statistics to criminals.

Recently read:

Fluent in 3 Months - Benny Lewis

Currently reading:

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Looking forward to:

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)

I started reading "Atlas Shrugged" after reading about Peter Thiel's libertarian views. I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

Great! It is a thought provoking book.

Zero To One - Peter Thiel

Tribes - Seth Godin

The Four Agreements - Miguel Angel Ruiz (life changing) The

Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - Deepak Chopra

These are some that I am reading/read recently.

Reading: Be As You Are - Ramana Maharshi Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg Applied Security Visualization - Raffael Marty

Read: A short history of nearly everything. - Bill Bryson

Bought, but yet not read : My Struggle: Book 1 - Karl Ove Knausgaard

Currently reading: For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - Walter Lewin

-- Read --

Don Delillo: End Zone

Luc Ferry: A Brief History of Thought

Brett Easton Ellis: Less Than Zero

-- Working on --

Don Delillo: Libra

Hubert Dreyfuss: Being in the World (it's taking me a long time...)

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety -- Eric Schlosser

Currently reading: - "When Google Met Wikileaks" by Julian Assange - 1984 by George Orwell

Design for Hackers - David Kadavy

A rebours - J.K. Huysmans (in dutch translation: 'Tegen de keer')

Bad Astronomy - Philip Plait

How did you manage to read 7 books in a month? That a book in 4 days.

I hope to finish To Kill a Mockingjay this month.

He only got through 3.

You are right. 3 is a good number. 20.43 pages ((152+237+224)/30) per day.

Just completed: Zero to One.

Always reading: Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order: The Phenomenon of Life.

Would also recommend Christopher Alexander's "Notes on the Synthesis of Form".

Is Zero to One worth the read?

I thought it was worth the read. It's short and quick. I don't agree with everything, but it's compelling and entertaining, and thought provoking.

I also read Blake Master's blog entries back when he first wrote them, and found the book a better superset.

Thanks for the rec on Synthesis of Form!


Michaelangelo - A Life in Six Masterpieces

Proving Darwin - Making Biology Mathematical

Handmade Electronic Music - The Art of Hardware Hacking

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

Very similar style to Infinite Jest, but the story seems much more sinister.

Parts of it were boring, parts of it terrified me (way more than Lovecraft ever did).

Read: Expanse Series by J.S.A. Corry (decently diverting space opera)

Reading: Galaxy Formation and Evolution

One Jump Ahead: Computer Perfection at Checkers - Jonathan Schaeffer

The Number Mysteries - Marcus Du Sautoy

Currently reading: The Humans, by Matt Haig.

Funny, insightful, perceptive. It's a really great book.

Currently working on Robert Caro's series on Lyndon Johnson. Awesome, dense books.

Read: The Fall of Hyperion

Reading: Eloquent Javascript 2nd edition Learn You a Haskell for Great Good


Discworld series

Secrets of The Javascript Ninja


Cadilllac Desert: The American West and it's Disappearing Water - Mark Reisner

Year Zero: A Novel - Rob Reid

Read: "Galápagos" - Kurt Vonnegut

(re)Reading: "Drown" - Junot Díaz

Reading : After dark by Haruki Murakami

Read: No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald

Currently reading

Mature optimization handbook by Carlos Bueno

Last read: Hard to Be a God

Reading: The Karamazov Brothers

currently reading - Working effectively with legacy code (Michael C. Feathers)

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact