Books [|||] 2017

Time is limited - pick reads wisely. I tend to select my books based on the friend’s recommendations, top-x lists and Amazon/Goodreads reviews. Psychology, finance and realistic novels are my favs. I hope you can discover something you will like in my short review below.

  1. What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton (4 out of 10) 
    Entertaining farce read that I definitely would have preferred to see in a form of a play on stage.
  2. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (6 out of 10)
    Weird and thrilling with Dostoevsky style self dialog this novel is good for a rainy autumn night.
  3. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (8 out of 10)
    Great overview of the world history over the past 40 000 years. I’d have all schools everywhere cover this book during the history lessons over a few classes — it’s absurd that we are taught about the insignificant details yet most of the people have no clue how Eurasia became dominant today.
  4. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman (8 out of 10)
    Fascinating and entertaining! At times like reading your diary. At times like a guide to the past. At times revealing the nature of physics. Great gift to a boy or girl of any age!
  5. The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs by William Thorndike (7 out of 10)
    Good book: effective style, interesting stories and sound logic. The main takeaway: think for yourself, don’t blindly follow your peers, buy low, sell high, decentralize operations, concentrate capital allocation and CEO must control all capital allocation decisions — invest only in the projects with good returns.
  6. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini (9 out of 10)
    Another book that a modern person must read. Great job on explaining and compelling why the compliance techniques work by providing real examples from compliance professionals. The style at times is a bit annoying, but the work behind is excellent.
  7. The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David J. Hand (6 out of 10)
    Good collection of examples on coincidences and miracles. Take a look if you need some facts to support an argument. The book loses points for boring language, poor structure and on being too simplistic. Probably a good fit, however, for either nerdish school kids or laymen without much math/tech background.
  8. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers (8 out of 10)
    Fun and inspiring read for those considering (or active) entrepreneurs. Very short and strongly recommended before you start — sound principles will help to get refined.
  9. Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson (6 out of 10)
    Informative book that will benefit in life. Not the most entertaining read, at times too verbose, but I’ve learned a lot. It’s almost like a textbook. I personally liked the section about marriage (or couples) relationships — super useful if you don’t want to be alone :)
    In conjunction with “Influence” it makes so much sense!
  10. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (6 out of 10)
    Not even close to the Portrait of Dorian Gray by any measure of entertainment or wittiness yet still a good read for a short travel.
  11. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8 out of 10)
    “A book that turned on the entire generation…” I can see why. Unusual, poetic and romantic yet in somewhat cruel and absurd (in other words, realistic) way. I’d recommend this book if only for its style though content is arguably awesome as well. 
    Probably best to read when you are 17. Also don’t be silly and don’t take everything literally.
  12. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (10 out of 10)
    Gem of the year! Please just read it. Great summary of our history. Yuval is an incredible analytical thinker: he managed to categorize everything in a fresh and unbiased way (read: if you are a strong believer in anything — you will probably be offended). I would not be spoiling it — just buy at as a gift for yourself and your friend.
  13. The Martian by Andy Weir (9 out of 10)
    Fun and thrilling — excellent book! My first audiobook — narrator is incredible. Would make a great gift.
  14. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler (10 out of 10)
    One of the best books I’ve read: entertaining and educational, mixing biography and science, covering serious economic concepts to explain the behavioral economics. Great read from each perspective. If nothing else-a great collection of Econs misbehaving. Probably better fit for those with some economics background as a lot of references are made and they make a lot of sense but might be obscure for the unprepared.
  15. The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge Robbert Dijkgraaf (6 out of 10)
    Thoughts on the original essay by Abraham Flexner in light of modern times. Great to know as we are not reminded of this often enough. Should probably be explained to all in schools. The book itself if a wee too boring.
  16. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (10 out of 10)
    This book consists of two parts: a novel concept of two-minds (fast intuitive crude and slow logical accurate) that humans use everyday and an excellent pragmatic collection of the mind curiosities that make more sense in light of the concept. It is not an easy read, though enlightening and fascinating for psychologically inclined.
  17. Tog on Interface by Bruce Tognazzini (8 out of 10)
    Collection of wisdom on user interfaces from Apple’s guru. At times irrelevant (but easily skippable), it’s a must read for those who develop UIs (after some more fundamental reads like Tufte). Language is fun and lively.
  18. Elements of Programming Interviews by Adnan Aziz (9 out of 10)
    The best guide for serious Java interview. Good follow up after How to Crack the programming interview by McDowell.

Stats: 18 books, ~5200 pages and tons of enjoyment!

2016: https://medium.com/@alexsalo/books-2016-d01ee6a93a7

P.S. The Goodreads has a nice feature to make visual summary of things you’ve read during the year. Here is mine: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2017/53080723