銊淬厠銊广厙馃寘

As a part of my last year鈥檚 resolutions, on the January 1st I committed myself to finish 20 books this year. And Yay! I did it!

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Cool thing is that in this year I read more books in English than in the rest of my life before (5 in 2015, 3 in 2014 and only a couple before that). Some of them are pretty short, but on average they are of a decent length. Many of them are popular, but few are surprisingly undiscovered. Here is what goodreads tells me:

Here are few words about each of them:

鈥淭he Education of a Poker Player鈥濃娾斺奿n this book cryptologists Herbert Yardley, who founded US black chamber (predecessor of NSA), guides through his life experiences and teaches subtleties of a poker game.

鈥淎ge of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China鈥濃娾斺奀hina have long been of a big interest to me. This book helped me to gain a bit of insight about its today鈥檚 society, role of party, culture with a bit of deeper historical perspective. Author recalls his memories and conversations with many people from different backgrounds in China, which forms very tranquil and rich narrative.

鈥淭he Lessons of History鈥濃娾斺妕his book is a collection of observations regarding biology, social order, economics, religion, moral. If we could say few things about each of them, what would they be?

鈥淏rave New World鈥濃娾斺妛idely known masterpiece that became classics of modern literature.

鈥淭he Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life鈥濃娾斺妛ith innate to academic world love to detail and clarity author describes origins of life. It is certainly filled my gap in this part of biology. But what is more, I found it interesting how author brings physics and biology together and goes into details of evolutionary process.

鈥淭rigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances鈥濃娾斺奵ollection of short, a little bit scary and disturbing stories from Neil Gaiman. These elegant stories were like a breath of fresh air in the midst of predictive, worn-out plots we see often in TV or novels.

鈥淪phere鈥濃娾斺妚ery pleasant Sci-Fi in the best traditions of the genre.

鈥淗igh Output Management鈥濃娾斺奿n this fundamental book Andrew Grove, the guy who made Intel, US semiconductor industry, and the Silicon Valley itself back in the day, talks about how to be a Great manager. We are all managers of a sort鈥娾斺妛e manage our own lives and people around us. I find it uttermost useful and insightful.

鈥淭he Machine Stops鈥濃娾斺奱nother short Sci-Fi that pictures over-reliant on tech society.

鈥淕host in the Wires: My Adventures as the World鈥檚 Most Wanted Hacker鈥濃娾斺妕rue story from the O.G. hacker who elevated social engineering up to an unimaginable level. Reading this book was comparable to watching Hollywood Action movie that makes your heart pump faster, but with a big difference鈥娾斺妕he story here is real.

鈥淒aemon鈥濃娾斺(if you are involved in software world鈥娾斺妝es, it is that daemon. background process in your OS). What if highly autonomous, self-healing, distributed, and resilient program runs wild. How bad it could be? On the bigger scale, tech described in this book blurs border between highly advanced man-made tools and intelligence. Cool thing鈥娾斺奻olks from Google were consulting author about tech :)

鈥淔reedom鈩⑩濃娾斺妔econd part of Daemon. Now whole society is going through rapid changes and being re-shaped by tech. Is it good or bad? This book reminds how dramatically society can be changed by tech.

鈥淥utliers: The Story of Success鈥濃娾斺妕his books is very popular nowadays, I see people reading it in London underground and in coffee shops. Without going into details, in this book author tries to find common patterns behind stories of success. No wonder this book is so popular :). It is a combination of luck, hard work and environment. What surprised me the most is role of environment and culture, which I tend to underestimate in favor of other factors.

鈥淧ale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space鈥濃娾斺奱esthetically beautiful passages about other worlds and outer space. Imagery that you picture while reading this book is comparable to ones from best Sci-Fi (in my case鈥娾斺奍nterstellar), but it is real and goes in hand with our best understanding of physics. Interestingly, few times you can even see glimpses of technology that might come only in decades (i.e. today) like rise of A.I. enhanced tech and VR. And all these has philosophic foundation that sees us as travelers, explorers and defines a new frontier in space.

鈥淭he Last Lecture鈥濃娾斺妕here is a heart-breaking story behind this book, which made me curious about its content. It is a collection of advices reflected in life story of a man that happen to be in very unfavorable conditions. There are definitely some good ideas here, but to me it was more about understanding how he thinks under such circumstances. It is one more reminder for all of us think about what really matters.

鈥淭he Man in the High Castle鈥濃娾斺妛hat would our world looks like if history turned other way in WWII? The plot in the book goes closely to the TV Show. However, I find later better developed with richer and more interesting narrative.

鈥淯topia鈥濃娾斺妚ery old book, really, published in 1516 in Latin. It is mix of fiction and philosophy about social structure and politics about imaginary society. It is where term 鈥渦topia鈥 is originated.

鈥淭hinking, Fast and Slow鈥濃娾斺奷espite it sounds like a cheep motivational book. Believe me, it is very far from that. This work is written recently by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman. It is like a comprehensive course on psychology and cognition have been compressed into a book. Yet, it preserves good writing style. It also has many references to economics and statistics. If you are familiar with books by Nassim Taleb, you will find here many related ideas. The core concepts in this book change the way how you understand human behavior and inner workings of our mind.

鈥淲eapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy鈥 鈥攋ust like in 鈥淪ilent Spring鈥 by Rachel Carson, Cathy O鈥橬eil talks about issues that require public attention, but on different front鈥娾斺奲ig data usage in big companies and government.

鈥淏ushido: The Soul of Japan. A Classic Essay on Samurai Ethics鈥濃娾斺妕his is another old book published in 1900. It is one of the best essays on the traditional Japanese culture and the place where Bushido was introduced to Western world. It is one of the works that initiated such prolonged interest in Japanese and Oriental culture, so I was eager have a look into it myself.

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Looking forward to what I will learn in years to come!