Summary of recent reading(January-March 2020)

Posted on Mar 31, 2020
  • 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.