2017

  • Software Foundations Vol. 1 (Logical Foundations) - I've heard a lot about Coq over the last few years and have been interested in learning how to use it; this was the book that got me there. Thankfully I have been disabused of my previous conceptualization of Coq as magic; it does have that aura at times, but all the hard work is still in the mind. I think it's much more fun to use Coq to learn these concepts than it is to read traditional books or listen to university lectures. Informal proofs put me to sleep, but formal proofs let me be active instead of passive: I can step through parts I don't understand, try alternate approaches, etc. And the ability to extract code directly from proofs is indicative of the long-term future of software. Great book, highly recommend; available here for public download.
  • Post Office (Charles Bukowski) - A masterful combination of deadpan humor and an honest, straightforward writing style similar to that found in one's personal diary. The effect is such that on those occasions when Bukowski wants to communicate a serious point, it comes across perfectly without needing to be stated directly outright. My favorite line: "I wasn't much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing."
  • Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution (Derrick Jensen) - Every indictment the author levels at industrial education is accurate, but his criticisms of "industrial civilization" border on Unabomber-esque philosophy. If you wish to live in a cabin in deserted Montana, you have no right to send pipe bombs through the US mail to people who choose not to live as you do. Likewise, if you choose to live in modern society, with all the advantages and disadvantages that entails, harping, as the author does, on your desire to blow up dams on behalf of wild salmon sounds disingenuous. I get that modern society produces a lot of destructive conformity, but so did the colonialism and tribalism of generations past. These qualms aside, I found Jensen's thoughts on education and writing to be insightful and valuable.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (Hunter S. Thompson) - I laughed the whole way through this. When I get around to writing a book, in addition to taking some inspiration from The Paradise Eater, parts of it will be styled similar to how Thompson has done here. Not the whole thing and not completely gonzo, because I think this style is best suited to linear narratives of historically-fictive drug-induced shenanigans, of which life is (ideally) constituted piecewise rather than continuously. Many of the cultural references from the 1960s and early 1970s were lost on me, but after some heavy Internet research I can see why this book is acclaimed as an insightful commentary on that time period. "One toke over the line sweet Jesus, one toke over the line; sittin' downtown in a railway station, one toke over the line."
  • The Intel Trinity (Michael Malone) - Maybe I'm just getting old and jaded, but it seems to me that this is more of a hagiography than anything else; the title alone should have warned me. The author has some crazy obsession with Moore's Law, going so far as to breathlessly proclaim it "the metronome of the modern world." Apparently to the author, modernity is defined by the rate at which he can cram twice as many songs onto his iPod (do they still make those?). Noyce seems like a cool guy, and at least more of an actual person than Grove. I don't care how much skill it takes to grow a multibillion dollar company - it also takes a deplorable deficit of imagination to dedicate one's entire adult life to running said company predicated on the absurd belief that it would be "the ultimate way to assert one's place and identity in the world." If I had read this book just a few years ago, I would have wanted to become Andy Grove. Reading this now, my thoughts hang instead on the image of Grove spending his final days in a Los Altos office surrounded by Intel memorabilia and complaining that his successors were trashing the company. Grove's biggest failure was to be so successful at running Intel that it made him blind to a life without it. Similar to drug addiction, just more socially acceptable. I'd love to debate Grove on this point, and with all due respect to Malone: I'd win.
  • Flirting with Mermaids: The Unpredictable Life of a Sailboat Delivery Captain (John Kretschmer) - I will do this one day, if not with other people's boats, at least with my own. This guy has so many great stories, especially the one about getting shot at in the Middle East. I'll be floating off St. Vincent and the Grenadines fixing computers like that guy in Culebra does. Siku moja.
  • Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (Jerry Mander) - This is a brilliantly written book. The author stays away from surface-level critiques of television to dive into the technology, our biology, and the interdependence of TV with America's material culture. This was written in the 1970s; while some parts do seem dated in our age of the Internet, most of it is still entirely relevant today, and parts of it are quite prescient, such as ruminations that television was causing hyperactivity in children. Environmental advocacy efforts on TV having a negative effect on viewers was something I'd never considered before, and linking back to primitive societies and religions to remind readers that "we evolve into the images we carry in our minds" was especially on point. This book was quite depressing to read, in that it made me realize that it's impossible to acheive a sense of inner peace in any heavily technological, human-designed, environmentally-mediated society, regardless of any individual choices one makes while living in said society.
  • The King Never Smiles (Paul Handley) - Well-written and even-handed. The author includes quite a few salacious details about the royal court, so I can see why this is banned in Thailand. Any entity with power will fight to keep or expand it, so while I don't believe a "dhammacracy" is an honest form of government, the book makes the progression towards it clear enough. The palace hype machine notwithstanding, Bhumibol does seem like one of those rare, gift-from-God monarchs in light of his compassion and drive. And though I will always be a fan of Buddhist temples, the book details some wild beliefs by high-level monks (i.e., killing Communists is spiritually meritorious) that reinforce to me just how distorted any organized religion can become in the hands of its adherents. After all, Buddha himself was an independent wanderer, and upon his death he told his students to follow no leader.
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera) - The author deftly jumps from dream-state to reality, from 1900s political ideologies to love, and from present to future tense in a skillful way I have yet to see elsewhere. I enjoyed his interjection about Tomas, Tereza, Franz, and Sabina all representing extremes of his own character. In a way they're extremes of all of our characters, over the course of our entire lifetimes. The motif of lightness and heaviness is integrated well throughout, though perhaps too dichotomously. The part I most appreciated: "We can never establish with certainty what part of our relations with others is the result of our emotions - love, antipathy, charity, or malice - and what part is predetermined by the constant power play among individuals. True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power."
  • Barbarians: How The Baby Boomers, Immigration, and Islam Screwed my Generation (Lauren Southern) - The author deserves respect for calling out some of the harder-to-admit truths about Western society today, but her rants against Islam are xenophobic and her arguments against globalism make no sense to me.
  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Assuredly one of the more interesting academics to walk the face of the Earth, on account of his desire/need to venture out of his specialized area of knowledge and learn how to draw, play samba music in Brazil, self-induce hallucinations, etc. I found the parts about him "sticking it to the man" to be less enlightening, such as his insistence that the government give him a dollar for his patent rights, and the occasion when he refused to sign a final government form in order to get paid; life is too short to waste on such Sisyphean rebellions, even if it does make for a good(?) story down the road. Overall though, Feynman portrays the high and low moments in his life with the same clear-sighted honesty throughout, a difficult accomplishment for any self-regarding person.
  • Kiswahili: Msingi wa Kusema, Kusoma, na Kuandika (Hinnebusch, Mirza) - From humbly asking for water in an Islamic coastal village to telling the butcher I'd quit buying from him if he kept giving me bones instead of actual meat, this book has helped me immensely. And with regard to learning languages in general, the authors' approach in this book is the one to emulate.

2016

  • The Paradise Eater (John Ralston Saul) - When I eventually get around to writing a novel one day, I want it to measure up to this one. I now also want to live in Bangkok for awhile. My favorite passage is the dialogue between John and Paga at her golf course; there's too many good parts, but one of the best is Paga's thoughts about coups in Thailand: "Every coup, I lose money. The men spend all their time making coups, but they don't like to fight. No one dies in a coup. The Vietnamese are different. They fight all the time. If Vietnamese come here, they beat Thai army; but after, they cannot beat Thai people. ... Vietnamese man fight like lion, so he need Thai girl." Also, General Krit's reflections as a new monk: "When I was a Colonel, I spent some months in the States on a course. Fort Benning, Georgia, to be precise. The Parachute School. After that I worked with them through the Vietnam business, and really, I came to understand the Americans less and less. Perhaps it has to do with dogma. You Christians, you put dogma at the centre of your religion and, by association, at the centre of everything else. Every statement for you is true or false. Every action is right or wrong. Your salvation depends upon acceptance of the true faith. As a result, you lose your benevolence toward those who refuse your truth. And then, of course, you kill them. ... Our violence is much more personal. We don't believe any positive statement can be true. They are all false. Just by stating them, we make them false. So if we must kill, we kill out of passion or out of need. ... Certainty is a terrible distraction for the human mind. Certainty always obscures clarity."
  • All That Man Is (David Szalay) - I can't think of another book that made me as sad as this one while reading it. In each of the nine chapters, which are essentially loosely linked short stories, the primary male characters have their internal thoughts and feelings narrated by Szalay in a way that allows us to share in their misgivings about their lives. And I say "share" because most any male reading this will be able to identify with some of the attributes of the contemporary men portrayed here, living and working in ways that most other men do these days. This book isn't just an indirect commentary on men, or even men in Europe - it's a commentary on modern life and the way many men choose to live within it, which Szalay more or less characterizes as blind followership without an accurate sense of self-awareness. The ages of the portrayed men progress from young to old as the book moves through spring, summer, fall, and winter settings. The vividity with which Szalay expresses not only the physical, but the psychological state and environments of the characters transforms this book beyond a mere commentary into something truly personal for the reader, such that the confusing mix of compassion and pity I had for each of the men eventually united into an overwhelming motivation not to live as they had.
  • Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (John Ralston Saul) - After spending a few months slowly working my way through this, I consider it to be the most thought-provoking and well-written literary work I have yet read. Published in 1992, there is no mention of recent events and developments (i.e., 9/11, the Internet, Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers), but most everything Saul has written here is entirely relevant today. This demonstrates an incredibly rare ability to frame our society and our history -- our actual, non-mythologized history -- at truly enlightening angles, rather than the all-too-common broad brush strokes most authors settle for when attempting to do the same. If we fail to arrange our own Athenian pause and instead end up taking ourselves out (Trump 2016), I will make sure to save my copy so we can jump start ourselves out of the Dark Ages.
  • Turn Right at Machu Picchu (Mark Adams) - Respect to the author for the mental and physical effort required to write this book. The arch on Bingham was interesting to me, but not as much as the profiles of people like John Leivers, the author's Australian guide on his first trip who has made his living providing adventure travel services, and Paolo Greer, the independent researcher living in an Alaskan cabin. Even if they didn't "discover" anything, as Bingham ostensibly did, they appear much more at peace, and in solidarity, with nature and the world.
  • Death of Eden: Outlaw (Chelsey Colleen Hankins, Emily Martens) - This book has excellent plot lines and is well written, I am fortunate to have met the first author as well. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this plus the future four books in the series take the form of a TV show one day.
  • Creating the Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford (Rebecca Lowen) - This answered many of my questions about how present-day US higher education came to be what it is today, for better and for worse. Rebecca Lowen describes Stanford specifically, and others more generally, in a comprehensive history spanning the 1910s to the 1960s. I can't think of a more complicated evolution that has been researched and presented as successfully as she has done here.
  • Down and Out in Paris and London (George Orwell) - Best part were the pages about Bozo the screever's philosophy on life. Orwell narrates, philosophizes, and proposes societal changes, although his admonitions to the LCC that beggars be treated more humanely, while laudable, sound to me a tad idealistic considering human nature's drive to stratify. I'm agreed on the work of a plongeur being insane, but Orwell takes his argument too far by calling it "slavery;" if he didn't enjoy being last in line to the teet in Parisian society, he could've saved his croissant money for a one-way ticket elsewhere (I hear Burma's nice). In his own words: "Roughly speaking, the more one pays for food, the more sweat and spittle one is obliged to eat with it."
  • The Little Prover (Daniel Friedman, Carl Eastlund) - An excellent introductory book on assisted theorem proving, with more than a smattering of breakfast lexicon throughout. See this post for details.
  • 2312 (Kim Stanley Robinson) - As evidenced below, I typically read things that pertain to this world rather than others, but this book came highly recommended and did not disappoint. The author portrays a future of climate change and quantum computing that sounds like a logical extrapolation of today's society, and he whips out an impressive litany of art, musical, and literary references in the process. And although I don't share the author's view that Florida will be raised out of the ocean (get in line behind Charleston), nor his timeline on gender indeterminacy (I'm calling 2050 at this rate), I do celebrate his decision to get the two main protagonists married at the ages of 113 and 135; after all, we can't just go perambulating around Mercury forever. (Thanks to Lauren for the recommendation.)
  • The Prince (Machiavelli) - If society ever regresses (progresses?) to that of Rennaisance Italy, I will be prepared. Practical matters aside, it's fun to read about the societies of yesteryear and all of the ways in which they differ from today, in both leadership and populace. I didn't realize that Machiavelli wrote The Prince in hopes of proving himself worthy of a job with the Medicis - just wait until the US job market gets wind of that.
  • The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy (Rainn Wilson) - Rainn Wilson displays an articulate self-awareness here, and made me realize the potential that acting has as a medium to know oneself. His years in school and in the theater read as a separate world to me, and some of those insane classes make me want to go to acting school. Also, the fact that he can intimately identify with One Hundred Years of Solitude thanks to his several years of upbringing in Nicaragua is awesome.
  • Eating the Dinosaur (Chuck Klosterman) - As I expected, I loved this book. Chuck Klosterman's ability to write so well about so many disparate topics is an ability I wish to have myself one day.
  • Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Natasha Dow Schull) - Thorough and well-written; I was not aware how engineered both casinos and gambling machines are, and it's even crazier to consider how much of this engineering has made its away to other aspects of our daily lives.

2015

  • Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates) - I am fortunate to have read this now rather than ten or twenty years from now.
  • Creating a Class (Mitchell L. Stevens) - I picked this up after meeting Mitchell; I enjoyed both his writing and his willingness to question the meritocratic aura surrounding US higher education. He details, among other things, the motivations and constraints of an admissions office he worked in during the early 2000s, and it brings much light to that less-exposed half of the feedback loop between universities and applicants. References to status, that "endlessly renewable human resource and a complicating feature in virtually all human affairs" as Mitchell puts it, highlight the intractable conflict between our society's populist ideal of universality and our innate desire for selectivity. I think most prefer to ignore this conflict, while Mitchell does an excellent job of giving it proper treatment, controversies and all.
  • Animal Farm (George Orwell) - Quite an allegorical damnation of Soviet Communism. This must be illustrative of how Zappos employees feel about their newly flattened org chart.
  • Flash Boys (Michael Lewis) - This book is one of the reasons why I seldom read fiction - why bother with fake stories when the world has so many good real ones? The author did an extraordinary amount of research for this book. Brad Katsuyama and the people at IEX are all impressive for swimming against the tide. The parts about Serge clearing his bash history and that one dude coiling up a bunch of fiber to create a 350 microsecond delay are hilarious. Just wait til I have my own stock exchange: orders will only be acceped on written paper via pneumatic tubes, then processed by migrant workers wielding abacuses. The pendulum of history swings ever on.
  • Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers (Robert Jackall) - This book does an excellent job of articulating the many sociological nuances of the drama of corporate life. On the one hand, I'm now more sympathetic to the precariousness of those whose livelihoods depend on the vagaries of their peers and managers; on the other, I'm less sympathetic considering most of life in business is a game. All of the author's interviewees display a reasonable degree of self-awareness, so it seems to me that the problems start when people take the game too seriously, or get high off their own supply. Speaking of which, it is regrettable that the author's beautifully written lines can not be snorted off the pages of this book.
  • Working (Studs Terkel) - a compendium of individuals' reflections on their jobs and lives, written in the 1970s. Studs is apparently famous among his generation, based on my conversations with some of the nation's elders, including a homeless guy in downtown Seattle. I can see why; although many individuals he converses with get right to it, he has a way of guiding the others into a realm of more personal, and insightful, conversation. The biggest thing that stuck out to me were the numerous occasions on which individuals said something about society that applies just as well today; on the surface a lot has changed since the 70s, but the fundamentals clearly haven't. One day, when I look less like a punk-ass kid and more like a wise old man, I want to write a contemporary equivalent of this book (assuming we haven't automated ourselves out of all our jobs).
  • Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies (Andreas Antonopoulos) - a complete and well-communicated technical rundown of Bitcoin's internals, with a mind towards potential application to other domains and systems. Reading this increased my confidence that future systems and applications will make heavy use of the details presented here, regardless of Bitcoin's long term viability.
  • Antifragile (Nassim Taleb) - This one is right up my alley: a discourse touching on all manner of topics by an individual who is not afraid to write confidently and substantively. The author says he spent three cumulative years secluded in his attic ruminating on all things antifragile, and after reading this, there's no way it could have been done otherwise. I really can't do this one justice in a few sentences, so I'll just say it's awesome and leave it at that.
  • Modern Romance (Aziz Ansari) - I had high expectations for this one and Aziz did not disappoint. Much respect to him for writing scholastically, humorously, and candidly all at the same time (he outdid himself with his recounting of the time he pleasured himself with a silicone egg for the sake of research). It's interesting to ponder which parts of this will be true and which will be outdated in 20 years time; I'm looking forward to the day when my future children find this book on my bookshelf and tell me themselves via ridicule. I'm also a huge fan of the quote by Pitbull that Aziz says is his favorite discovery: "Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente;" I'm damn good (perhaps too good) at that way of life.
  • The Book of Satoshi (Phil Champagne) - I finally understand the inner workings of Bitcoin now, and certainly agree with the widely held sentiment that Bitcoin is the greatest technical contribution to society since the advent of the Internet. Despite a significant number of copyediting and message thread formatting issues, the author did a good job overall of highlighting and chronologizing important discussions from Bitcoin's early days.
  • The Case for Working with Your Hands (Matthew Crawford) - I uncharitably assumed that this book would amount to distant philosophizing, but the author's writing and his personal history made me eat my words. This book, along with Antifragile by Taleb, makes concrete, well-supported arguments for practical skills and jobs, and against many of the vague "knowledge economy" jobs that are in high demand these days. The author pointedly questions macroeconomic health, and his recounting of his own varied employment history led me down several introspective paths myself.
  • Java Performance (Scott Oaks) - I knew that the JVM can get complicated, but this book delivers a whole new level of awareness. Granted, the author is right that better performance always starts with better application code, but he does an excellent job of detailing what one should know about the JVM and the Java ecosystem when going the final mile. The author's years of experience and attention to detail are evident throughout.
  • The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (McLean, Elkind) - this is a good one; a big takeway from this book is that people can look smart on paper and turn out to be dumb as rocks. I didn't fully appreciate how many deluded people were responsible for Enron's collapse, both inside and outside the company. Speaking of which, I'd love to know the difference b/w some Silicon Valley "companies" with P/E ratios > 50 emphasizing MAUs in their earnings reports, versus Enron, which had its own insane P/E and invented its own metric called TCV (Total Contract Value) to distract investors. Some things never change.
  • The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (Matt Ridley) - this is without a doubt the most mind-blowing book I've ever read. The author paints a portrait of human motivations, gender competition, evolution, gene recombination, and more as the causes and effects of a Red Queen competition where "the faster you run, the more the world moves with you and the less you make progress." Ridley's writing here is of an experimental sort, putting together puzzle pieces and seeing how well they fit in a narrative fashion. Some parts are dispiriting, others are hilarious, but the whole book is awesome.
  • The Practice of Cloud System Administration (Limoncelli, Chalup, Hogan) - if this year sees a jump in adoption of automation by sysadmins, coupled with a heightened expectation that developers take more responsibility for the reliability of the code they write, this book will be largely responsible. Crossing the divide between development and operations is a must for ensuring the reliability of complex systems, and the authors draw on their extensive experience to explain how to get it right.
  • Scalia: A Court of One (Bruce Allen Murphy) - well researched; it's clear that the author is not a fan of Scalia's judicial philosophy, and his back-handed way of expressing this irked me at times. I understand that originalism is both narrow and malleable, but without it or something like it, constitutional law is reduced to a partisan free-for-all.
  • Geek Sublime (Vikram Chandra) - the author explores the functional/aesthetic duality of language, first in software and then in Indian culture. This duality is best described as a continuum, which the author travels while delving deep into Indian and Western literature and culture along the way, all the while managing to tie together seeming unrelated artifacts in novel ways.
  • Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (Daniel Dennett) - I thought about writing up my detailed thoughts on this book, but there's just too many awesome things in here and too little time for me to do them deserved justice. The author does a brilliant job of tying concepts from math, computer science, evolution, biology, philosophy, consciousness, and more into a cohesive literary exposé that is better appreciated than described.
  • Two Scoops of Django: Best Practices for Django 1.6 (Greenfeld, Roy) - this is enthusiastically written; although the detailed parts of the book (package names, package versions, API details, etc.) will likely have a short shelf life, the comprehensive treatment given to all aspects of Django (especially security) has long-term value.
  • Java 8 in Action (Urma, Fusco, Mycroft) - this is a very well-written and thorough tour of the implementation and use of lambdas, streams, and completable futures in Java 8. The authors do a great job of going into detail while keeping the big picture in mind.

2014

  • Java Generics and Collections (Naftalin, Wadler) - I read this to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of generics in Java and was not disappointed. The second half has a distinctly different feel than that of the first, serving mainly as a reference manual for the Java Collections Framework; it contains some interesting JCF implementation details, but the first half on generics was by far the most useful for me.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman) - all-around awesome; my favorite part is the section midway through the book that starts out with "The twenty-three questions I ask everybody I meet in order to decide if I can really love them."
  • On Intelligence (Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee) - if you have any interest at all in AI or neuroscience, and aren't looking for textbook-level discourse, this is a worthwhile read. The author details his comprehensive views on how the neocortex functions, dubbing it the memory-prediction framework. Written in 2004, it's interesting to see that some of the concepts presented by the author have already found their way into recent advancements (i.e, self-driving cars).
  • OCaml From the Very Beginning (John Whitington) - excellent introduction to OCaml; if you're looking for details you should probably go straight to Real World OCaml, but for a solid introduction, this is a good resource.
  • Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again (Roger Martin) - this was occasionally interesting as an expository work, but I found its persuasive elements lacking. The author spends 25% of the book describing his interactions with students during the fall 2004 semester at St. Johns, another 25% commenting on St. John's "Great Books" curriculum and the state of higher education in general, and the remaining 50% detailing his practices and competitions as a member of the college's crew team. Although my respect goes to the author for competing in collegiate crew at age 61, I remain unconvinced that an education based primarily on classical literature was appropriate in 2004, let alone 2014.
  • An Introduction to Functional Programming Through Lambda Calculus (Greg Michaelson) - written in 1988 (and revised slightly in 2011), this is one of the few books I can find that slowly and methodically steps through the foundations of functional programming, balancing the theoretical with the practical the entire time (this goes for the exercises as well). The last two chapters use the constructs and lessons from the previous ones to compare and contrast ML and LISP as functional languages. I think alot of university students would benefit from a course based on this book, all knowns and unknowns considered.
  • Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates (Tom Robbins) - this one is awesome; the themes and plot line are tangential at some points and aligned in others in a surprisingly cohesive way; I almost put it down 80 pages in when this wasn't clear to me (and when I thought the author was using overly ornate language just for the hell of it), but eventually I caught on.
  • The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network (Katherine Losse) - this book reads alternately as a tell-all about Facebook's early years and as a compilation of reflections by the author on her experiences as one of Facebook's first hires. Time-wise, the author covers 2005 to 2011; her take on the developments that transpired over those years, both with regard to Facebook and social media in general, is especially noteworthy given her position in user relations, rather than in engineering.
  • The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) - as I read this, I found myself agreeing with both the explicit sentiments and unstated subtext of this book. The Fountainhead has fervent fanatics and detractors; I think both camps are guilty of mistakenly conjuring potential government policies from Rand's writing and finding the imagined result to be either appealing or deplorable, respectively. In its intentionally limited context of the individual, however, I find it to be an extremely compelling philosophy.
  • The Fractalist: Memoirs of a Scientific Maverick (Benoit Mandelbrot)
  • Sunnyvale: The Rise and Fall of a Silicon Valley Family (Jeff Goodell) - the author goes to great lengths to detail the evolution of the bay area in the same disappointed and analytical manner in which he descibes the events that transpire in his family; this is interesting, but rather dark
  • I Love Yous are for White People (Lac Su) - this book gave me alot to think about, especially the part that ties the eye-catching title into the book at large; the author does an excellent job of weaving cultural insights into his own personal narrative
  • Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas (Chuck Klosterman) - this is far and away the best book I have read in recent memory; the writing style Klosterman employs is brilliant and must have taken a long time and a lot of practice to hone.
  • Daring Greatly (Brene Brown) - author presents some interesting research-based insight and interview data on various personality attributes related to innovation, creativity, parenting, etc.; research is more qualitative than quantitative but does not detract from the author's findings, all of which are worthwhile and well-presented.
  • We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency (Parmy Olson) - highly recommend
  • Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits (Kevin Roose) - highly recommend, makes me appreciate life as a programmer rather than what it could be as a bank analyst
  • The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Marc Levinson) - well cited, occasionally repetitive, highly insightful
  • Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality (Jacob Tomsky) - excellent; disregard the negative reviews on Amazon
  • A Hologram for the King (Dave Eggers) - very good one

2013

  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (David Kushner)
  • Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (Scalia, Garner)
  • Known and Unknown (Donald Rumsfeld)
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo)
  • Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir (Eddie Huang)
  • The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (Jeffrey Toobin)
  • The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (Jon Gertner)
  • My Grandfather's Son (Clarence Thomas)
  • No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of The Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden (Mark Owen)

2012

  • Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man's Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan (Daryl Davis)

Bookmarked


Bookmarked Authors

  • Chuck Klosterman
  • Douglas Hofstadter
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Daniel C. Dennett
  • Richard Feynman
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Carl Jung
  • Robert James Sawyer (recommended by John)
  • John Ruskin
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Tom Wolfe
  • John Ralston Saul
  • Osho
  • Hunter S. Thompson
  • Charles Bukowski