Best books I read this year (2017)

Here’s a list of some amazing books I read in 2017. I re-kindled my reading habit this year, and want to keep a record a list of the books that taught me the most, moved me the most, and I’d recommend others to read. This is a continuation of a childhood habit from several years ago, when I used to write down the names of all the books I read. Here are my recommendations, with a brief summary of each (without any spoilers):

  1. Don’t Make me Think — by Steve Krug: This is an insightful book for designers, product managers, and anyone else interested in building intuitive, usable products. It covers common sense guidelines to web and mobile design.
  2. Hooked — by Nir Eyal: Why are some products so addictive? Why do we get a dopamine rush when using Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? This is an interesting read on why some products are habit-forming and engage us effectively. It sheds some light on techniques to build habit-forming products.
  3. SuperFreakonomics — by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: This economics book touches various topics, including prostitution, altruism and global warming. It talks about the factors that affect various world phenomena by providing data, background, and stories, often pointing to faults in our current systems. For example, the book points out that for children aged two and up, child safety seats provide no advantage over traditional lap/shoulder belts.
  4. Outliers: The Story of Success — by Malcolm Gladwell: Often times we attribute success to hard work and talent, but oversee luck. This book is an exploration into the factors that contribute to success, including luck. It answers questions such as “How did The Beatles become one of the most successful musical bands in history?” and “Why are majority of Canadian ice hockey players born in the first few months of the calendar year?”.
  5. A Long Walk to Water — by Linda Sue Park: This book unfolds two moving stories of survival, set in Sudan. One is based on a true story, based on the lives of some 3,800 Sudanese “Lost Boys” airlifted to the United States in the mind 1990s.
  6. Man’s Search for Meaning — by Viktor E. Frankl: In this book, the author, a holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist, chronicles his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp. It delves into what ran through his mind as a prisoner at Auschwitz, and what thoughts helped him find meaning in existence, even in the most brutal situations. These thoughts helped him cope and survive.
  7. Rena’s Promise — by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam: This is a story of sisters who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. It’s a moving narration of how the strong bond between sisterly and dreams of one day reuniting with family helped Rena and her sister Danka survive Auschwitz.
  8. The Book Thief — by Markus Zusac: This story is also based on the WWII and the holocaust. It’s a work of fiction, inspired by real-world events, and narrated by a very peculiar protagonist — death.
  9. Women Heroes of World War II — by Kathryn J. Atwood: This book portrays unbelievable stories of courage, espionage, and compassion — true stories of women who risked their lives to protect and rescue strangers they often knew very little about. This book is so fascinating as it displays how some human beings displayed extreme selflessness, and stepped up to help others in times of need while others indulged in the some of the worst criminal atrocities ever committed by mankind. This book gives me hope that there will always be people to speak up and act against monstrosity.

What were your best reads in 2017?