Diaspora by Greg Egan: Hard sci-fi about quite a few things but mostly centering around the nature of consciousness. Although it is about a number of different big ideas and spans a long, long time, the story gels together really well. A lot of the physics and maths stuff flew over my head, but the plot is followable.
Leviathan Wakes(Expanse #1) by James S. A. Corey: First book of the Expanse series. Entertaining story and intriguing start of the series– I’ll definitely read on.
Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks: This is a book about how to tell better stories, by an award-winning Moth storyteller. The book also talks about how to find better stories from your life.
Besides surgically analyzing what goes into crafting a great story, the book is filled with great stories from the author’s own life and so is really entertaining to read.
The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova: This book documents the journey of a journalist who goes from knowing almost nothing about poker to becoming a pro player. It’s an enjoyable book which strikes a good balance between the poker lessons the author is learning and lessons that poker is teaching her about life outside of the game.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks: An enjoyable story, told from an interesting perspective. I read this shortly after Storyworthy(by the same author) so I found myself appreciating some of the story-crafting techniques show up in the book.
Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda: An Apple insider’s account of the development of the iPhone, iPad and WebKit. The book feels like it could use a little more editorial touching up– there are some weird analogies and tangents– but on the whole I enjoyed reading this book.
Most stuff out there about iPhone-era Apple don’t have any substance beyond painting Steve Jobs as a visionary genius. While this book does show admiration towards Jobs, it is mostly an account of all the nuances that programmers like the author of the book were thinking about, and how the team there approached designing and building software.
Tiassa by Steven Brust: Part of the Vlad Taltos series. This one was really good. It is written from the perspectives of different characters in the story– not first-person like the other books in the series, but the focus shifts between different different people in each chapter, and you get to learn about other characters.
The story itself is also pretty cool. The Jhereg cook up a really large hoax– an imminent Jenoine attack– just to rope in Vlad, but Cawti prevents that from happening.
Hawk by Steven Brust: This may have been the best book in the series so far. Spoilers ahead. Vlad is trying to make a deal with the Jhereg to stop trying to kill him. And it works. Sort of. There’s a good amount of suspense and the build up to the end is amazing. I’ve said this before, in an earlier summaries post, but man Brust sure can write. Even after being more than ten books in, each book still feels fresh.
Vallista by Steven Brust: A mystery where Vlad has to figure out how a time-warping manor works, in order to rescue Devera.
The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin: a collection of short sci-fi stories from the author of The Three-Body Problem. All are thematically quite similar to each other(and to The Three-Body Problem) but they still feel quite fresh; I enjoyed all of the stories in the book.
Julian by Gore Vidal: a historical novel around the life of the 4th century Roman emperor Julian. The book is written as his memoir, with some commentary by two philosophers who knew him. I enjoyed this book. I find historical fiction to be a really interesting genre and it seems pretty underappreciated. Creation by the same author is also a good read.
Deep Work(Audiobook) by Cal Newport: Somewhat of a re-read. I read most of the book a few years ago but never finished it. Like most of the books in the category, most of the value from reading this book comes just from getting nudged into assessing the things you value and improving your current systems even if just by a smidge.
Jhegaala by Steven Brust: Entertaining read but I found the ending to be a bit unsatisfying.
Iorich by Steven Brust: Another great story in the series. I don’t have anything specific to say about the book itself, but the way larger themes build across these books while the individual books are each feel “episodic” makes you really admire Brust for the way he has constructed this series.
The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha: A career book by a LinkedIn cofounder. Emphasizes networking as an essential tool to advance your career; unsurprisingly advocates using LinkedIn to do this.
Ultralearning by Scott Young: The book describes an approach to learning by immersing yourself in projects which will teach you the skills you are interested in. It also discusses incorporating techniques like retrieval practice, spaced repetition into the projects to speed up your learning process.
A lot of the learning techniques bit will be already familiar to you if you’ve read any other books about learning, but I do quite like the idea of project-based learning.
Range by David Epstein: the main message of the book is that the world could do with a little less of everyone rushing to specialize and more of people and organization who cultivate breadth.
Most of the book reads like the typical non-fiction book with a lot of the same examples(like the Polgar sisters who also appear in Ultralearning above) but for a change, the author also talks about his own experiences and perspectives. The chapters talking about the value of improving what the book calls match quality– finding what kind of work suits you– were pretty good.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: Contrary to what I thought coming into the book, the suggestions in the book are not at all extreme. The book urges you to be intentional about how you use your smartphone and social media. It tries to make the case that when it comes to using these technologies there is actually a lot at stake– your mental wellbeing but also how these technoligies can distract you from the things you really value in life.
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis: biographical book about the Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Also, goes into their research into the systematic ways in which human minds make errors. I can seem why Lewis’s other books(Money Ball, Liar’s Poker, etc) are so popular– his writing style is very engaging. This is probably also a good book to read prior to diving into Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, which I’ve been told requires some effort to read.
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough: a biography of the inventors of the airplane. This is an excellent book bringing to life the characters involved. It also serves as a reminder of just how amazing of feat the brothers achieved not too long ago.
Among other things, excerpts from the letters the brothers wrote to each other and to other family members, and diary entries give a good glimpse into their minds and lives.
I highly recommend this book.
The Idea Factory: Learning to think at MIT by Pepper White: the book is about the author’s experience at MIT as a graduate student. There are some points in the book where the author significantly expands his personal frontiers in learning to think; those parts of the book were most interesting.