銊淬厠銊广厙馃寘

This year I have finished 16 books. This is 4 books less than year ago, but it matches the plan for this year! 馃檶 It will be marked by good books I have known for a while as well as great new discoveries. The subjects vary greatly, but few common reoccurring themes can be seen.

One more observation, many of the books are related to what I have read before. Such, I have read books from Tim Wu and Michael Lewis. Later wrote the book about the author of 鈥淭hinking, Fast and Slow鈥 that I read last year. Speaking of fiction, plus-one goes to Charles Dickens and Neil Gaiman (looks like it will be the last one for Neil tho).

This year it has been 5 fiction (2 sci-fiction) books. Remarkably, EGB is the longest I have read so far with over 800 pages. More numbers from goodreads:

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鈥淭he Attention Merchants鈥 Tim Wu. Just as in his other work鈥娾斺娾淭he Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires鈥濃娾斺奾ere author gives a close historical look on the evolution of attention industry. Things at which we pay attention influence how we think and how we make our choices. Hence, it has been subject of profound efforts to direct it by individuals, governments, and businesses. The book concluded with remarks on how to this day attention in many forms is still the principal force that shapes our society. The real story was not as lush as Mad Men, still very intriguing to follow.

鈥淭he Chimes鈥 Charles Dickens. English classic. It was nice to spice it up a little last winter with a bit of Christmas magic.鈥娾斺奱udiobook

鈥淭he Nest鈥 Cynthia D鈥橝prix Sweeney. It was a joy to read this light story about one big American family. I remember when I bought this book, lady at the checkout told me 鈥..this is her first book. How did she do it so well?..鈥. I don鈥檛 know the answer, but I totally agree.鈥娾斺妏aperback from bookstore in SOMA SF 馃寜

鈥淲e Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama鈥. Last speech of Michelle Obama as FLOTUS sparkled in me interest into public speeches. Next thing I remember I was watching speeches by Barack Obama. I have got inspired by the style, how he elaborated on his ideas and connected them. Written form also helped to zoom out and see how he constructed his speeches more clearly.鈥娾斺妏aperback from bookstore in SOMA SF 馃寜

鈥淭he Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing鈥 Marie Kond艒. It was truly a life-changing book for me in many ways. My home have got cleaner. I鈥檝e got good habits, more free time, better sleep. Most importantly, this book gave me a cozy and warm feeling when it was very much needed.

鈥淭he Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers鈥 Ben Horowitz. This is a cornerstone of philosophy of execution under stress. This is a guide on how to go through struggle. How not to die. How to win when no-one cares.

鈥淶ero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future鈥 Peter Thiel. This book explains fundamentals on creating a new venture. However, to me its biggest value comes from its inspirational yet intelligent message. I mean, you get this strong sense of startup philosophy while reading this book. I am also very found of its open and direct style.

鈥淗omo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow鈥 Yuval Noah Harari. First, author went through forces that shaped our society up until this moment. Next, he explored on how these fundamental learnings might shape our nearest future. He very carefully and coherently covers hot topics including: AGI, religion, ethics, politics. Among many other topics with elaborate examples, from top of the mind, I most vividly remember references to 鈥渋nter-subjective鈥濃娾斺妑ealm where constructs make sense only when there are humans who believe in them, e.g. money, bank, government, corporation. However, there are many more ideas that are too hard to squeeze into one paragraph. Some of them are quite sobering, but sound reasonable nonetheless.

鈥淎 Nation At Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform鈥. Published in 1983, this official report gives harsh but critical overview of educational system in the United States at that time. The key alarming message of this report is that educational system was not keeping up with other countries. It provided analysis on why that might be so and how to fix that. I was interested in this work primarily in the context of other studies I was reading at that time.

鈥淕枚del, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid鈥 Douglas R. Hofstadter. This book has been a separate challenge to me. So far it has been the most challenging book I have read, but it has been the most rewarding at the same time. It is an elegant journey into math, consciousness, music, biology and art.鈥娾斺妏aperback. many thanks to Pooja.

鈥淐haos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley鈥 Antonio Garcia Martinez. This story sheds a light on the dark and ugly side of startups and big tech companies. Some of the points I find quite relatable, some鈥娾斺妌ot so much. Often the story is told in very subjective and overly one-sided manner. Nonetheless, I appreciate the author for speaking-out and uncovering unspoken hard topics from the tech world.

鈥淭he Restaurant at the End of the Universe鈥 Douglas Adams. Good sci-fiction in the best spirits of 鈥淗itchhiker鈥檚 guide to the galaxy鈥. I wanted to know how the story unrolled next. Had a few good laughs while reading it.

鈥淭he Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds鈥 Michael Lewis. This book does not talk much about behavioral science, rather it tells the story of Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky on their way to form its foundations. This is a story of people behind 鈥淭hinking, Fast and Slow鈥.

鈥淢an鈥檚 Search for Meaning鈥 Viktor E. Frankl. Long time ago back at KAIST, I have heard someone mentioning Frankl鈥檚 Optimism in his argument. Particularly, it was that even under worst conditions we are able to make a choice to strive for the better. Since then I wanted to finish the original work. At first, author brings very vivid and frightening images of struggles in death camps. Later, he uses them to advocate his theory. I am not sure about its soundness, but I like that it gives more weight to top-down (slow system first) directions of our motives as opposed to bottom-up (fast system; subconscious first).

鈥淭he Time Machine鈥 H.G. Wells. Very well written short sci-fiction. Author explored ideas on how basic biological evolutionary forces will play in long term with technological progress and social order.鈥娾斺奱udiobook

鈥淔ragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders鈥 Neil Gaiman. Last book this year. The choice was between another classic鈥娾斺奡herlock Holmes, and this book. I chose this one due to good memories of reading his previous collection 鈥淭rigger Warning鈥. This one is a collection of mostly dark stories. Few are good, but only very few. Perhaps, Sherlock would have been a better choice.鈥 audiobook

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It has been a great read this year. Let鈥檚 keep it rolling!