Books [|||] 2016
Since our time here is very limited, I reckon it’s very important to pick your reads wisely. I tend to select my books based on the friend’s recommendations, top-x lists and Amazon/Goodreads reviews. Generally, psychology, finance and realistic novels is my pick. I hope you can discover something you’d like in my short review below.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (7 out of 10).
A refresher of how different the writings were only couple of centuries ago. Interesting from the historical perspective: allows you to feel through the French revolution that you’ve read in the school books about.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (9 out of 10).
A touching convincing book that should be hopefully read by all. The style is great, lots of material for quotation.
- On Being Certain by Robert Burton (10 out of 10).
One of the best books I’ve read: enlightening, with lots of good arguments and peculiarly useful implications. Strongly recommend this one for anyone who wants to get insights into fundamentals of human behavior.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (4 out of 10).
Given I’m not a big fan of fantasy or scifi, I still expected something more out of this famous book. Some good wild guesses about the future and generally entertaining story does not make it absolutely worth reading.
- The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen (9 out of 10). Excellent idea nicely explained and proved by examples. Somewhat dry read, especially at the beginning, but totally worth it — you start seeing things in business much differently.
- Thinking Strategically by Avinash K. Dixit (9 out 10).
Basically, a game theory class without much math and applied to all sorts of life use cases. Great examples to your arsenal for understanding of our world.
- Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman (10 out of 10).
Economics explained in hundred pages using simple language. Genius writing which have influenced a lot of things we take for granted today. Yet a lot of present ideas are still buried under our ignorance. Must read if you ever consider voting.
- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (9 out of 10).
The bible of value investing (and there is no other kind, as you can confirm your guess by reading this book, everything else is a speculation). Also a very practical guide to action. A bit dry and overly detailed, but you don’t need to read it in one go. Definitely consider reading some of it before you invest real money.
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman (10 out of 10).
The guy singlehandedly invented many the concepts and vocabulary that good designers are now using. Delightful and entertaining read that will make you look around more often and have a specific feedback whenever you can’t start the god damn microwave in a hotel room.
- The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte (10 out of 10).
Elegant and genius work of the Princeton statistician who got tired of ugly dull 3D pie charts. The book is mostly a collection of examples and guiding principles in graphic design. Please do read it if you ever consider creating a presentation.
- Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1 out of 10).
Silly and obscure play, regardless of the fancy reviews you might read. Unless you are bored literature major stay away from this one.
- Effective Java by Joshua Bloch (10 out of 10).
Obviously, this is IT specific. I rarely read IT books, even more rarely like them. This one is a nice exception. Absolutely must read if you work in Java.
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (10 out of 10).
Now this is exciting! All you ever wondered about the universe as a kid — explained! Hawking, master of analogy, covers very complex phenomena using very easy language that makes everything sound like a fairy tale. As a bonus, the evolution of physics is elegantly summarized starting from Aristotle, moving through Newton and finishing with Niels Bohr and Max Planck.
- Java Concurrency in Practice by Brian Goetz (5 out of 10).
Very useful and broad, but hard to read, boring and repetitive. Worth keeping it on the table and consulting when needed.
- User Interface Design for Programmers by Joel Spolsky (10 out of 10).
Super entertaining yet maximally useful exemplified guide that you should indulge yourself reading if you ever consider creating user facing interfaces (you guessed it: all the interfaces are facing users, by their definition!)
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (9 out of 10).
Cunning book full of historical examples that would enrich any reader. Oh, and yes, for a change, it tells you the truth about the power in the world. The description from the Goodreads summarizes it well: “This amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive book synthesizes the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz with the historical legacies of statesmen, warriors, seducers, and con men throughout the ages.”
16 books, ~5000 pages and tons of enjoyment!
P.S. The Goodreads has a nice feature to make visual summary of things you’ve read during the year. Here is mine: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2016/53080723