WhatI’ve decided to share interesting content (books, papers, tech talks, etc.) here as I read/watch/consume them. Why? Because I am interested in your reading list! Maybe this will convince you to start logging the content that you find interesting, which will make me (and probably a lot of other people) happy. (No, seriously. It will. Convince yourself by reading the section on “content filtering” in this paper)
The C Programming LanguageYou probably already know that you must read this book. Amazing read, which teaches you simple but subtly important details about how to write programs in general. Constantly outsmarts you by providing bullet proof code examples (my favorite is the sample malloc/free/morecore implementation).
Expert C Programming - Deep C SecretsThis is I guess the 2.5th time I’m reading this. Not as insightful and perfect as the K&R, but extremely funny and incredibly non-trivial with lots of gotchas. Works best if you allow yourself to spend a lot of time on each section and use external resources to to read about every bit of detail that you find interesting. Also, you’ll get to figure out how to measure the height of a building using a barometer if you show enough patience.
Not Even Technical
Sylvie and BrunoI enjoy Lewis Carroll’s writings and this is no exception. Full of clever jokes caused by the overflow of logic that will make you laugh out loud and appreciate how smart the author is. The fun parts make it easier to navigate the deep stuff. The characters are perfectly formed throughout the story and act consistently. Whatever Mr. Carroll has written looks like the perfect thing to write. “Faith: The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things ont seen”.
Sylvie and Bruno ConcludedPretty much more of the same, as this is a sequel. I found the jokes in the other book a lot funnier, but the vibe is pretty similar. Lots of opportunities to predict what’s gonna happen and give yourself an immaginary highfive when you’re right, knowing that you’re somehow thinking up to the level of Mr. Carroll.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceThis is just a great one. I’m not even going to try to summarize the plot or anything. If you’re into thinking about the meaning of things and life in general, and/or you’re somewhat interested in philosophy, but have never really read anything rigorous on the subject, this is definitely a good one. If you’re going on a cruise ship travel or on very long hikes, this can very well be the only written material that you would need to carry. Very intriguing and very readable. Not even halfway through you’ll realize that you’ll need to read it again. One thing I really liked was the fact that the subjects had been presented in a manner similar to chess-openings: The author does not stubbornly go on and on about some random idea of his and there is plenty of room for you to disagree, and there’s a good chance that path is also covered in the book to try to challenge your ideas.
TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The ProtocolsAwesomely written and amazingly informative. There are exercises which are almost all of the form: read rfc xyz, and understand why something is such and such, or: remember that page you just read? There is this very subtle detail that you didn’t pay attention to. Explain that. I don’t know about the second edition but the first edition is written very long ago and therefore embodies lots of ancient material (e.g. BOOTP) while not inclduing lots of important material (DHCP, NAT). A must read I would say. Can be easily referred to as the “you don’t know TCP” book.
How Google WorksProbably one of the best things that I have read. Talks about a lot of ideas that you won’t find trivial. Doesn’t default to a middle ground by providing you useless speculations. Gives you the feeling that the authors have just woken up from a dream, in which they had seen all there is to be seen, and while they feel like they haven’t even got enough memory to address all the data that they are now exposed to, they try to tell you about the dream as quickly as possible, jumping from detail to detail, hoping they wouldn’t forget anything, but they know that they cannot transfer all that vision as they’ve seen it. Therefore they decide to give you only the big picture and just the very VERY important portion. Will read again.
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions HardcoverNicely concretizes seemingly complex everyday phenomenons by modeling them in a way that is simple but no simpler, allowing you to capture the essential behaviors and fundamental properties of what’s being discussed. Especially a good read if you have little background in computer science, but are interested in knowing about CS, as many of the topics (say, multi-armed bandits) have a somewhat high barrier to entry if you think you are very far away from this field, but they are presented in a very understandable fashion in this book.
The Lean StartupI came very late to the lean start up party by reading this in late 2018. Yea hold that one against me… Interestingly enough, I didn’t find a lot to learn from this one probably because of coming across similar analogies on different sources over time and also working in the industry for a few years, when I had the luxury of learning about all these practices from my peers (also lets not forget the role of everyone quoting the life out of this book all over the internet). I still found it a somewhat interesting read though, in spite all the hype and overrating around it. The last chapter I found a little bit weird with the author getting too philosophical, trying to generalize this methodology to the universe.
Not Even Technical
Deep WorkI didn’t like the fact that the book tries to prove to me that Deep Work is necessary. I mean there are some nice case studies in the first part but I think if someone picks this one up to read, she at least believes that deep work is good. I didn’t understand the necessity of going overboard with trying to sell this. I’m a big fan of studying human performance and I enjoyed the subject/stories/practices and found them interesting. On the other hand I didn’t quite click with author’s mental model (e.g. introducing tools like metric blackhole just to be able to fallacize (imo) ahead to false-prove an idea, or defining academic success to be the number of academic papers published in a year!).
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. FeynmanI listened to this one which did make me laugh. Out loud while walking on the streets. The book can make you laugh, examine how strongly you hold particular beliefs, test your self-esteem and ability to disagree with what you read(!), and teach you that big things take time and perseverance. It’s easy to lose yourself in the fascinating adventures of Dick Feynman, astonished by how everything falls into place like a hollywood show: Yea that looks so cool! I should learn to play an instrument/learn to pick locks! However from time to time the noble prize winner is going to remind us that it can take one up to a year to reach a level of mastery in, for example, lock picking, just for the mesmerizing sentence-long worthwhile stories to pop out in one’s life.