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Your favourite non-technical books?

lbeul profile image Louis ・1 min read

Hey there,

my biggest goal for 2020 is to read more books. Especially books that aren't solely dedicated to boost my career or increase my developer skillset but books that either broaden my horizon or entertain me.

So please feel free to recommend your favourite books in the comments!

So far, my favorites are:

  1. Homo Deus by Yuval Harari. This book really expanded my horizon and changed my expectations regarding the future of the humankind, considering gene manipulation and artificial intelligence.

  2. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. This graphic novel is not only beautiful drawn but also tells the dramatic story of Art's Jewish family during the Holocaust.

  3. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. Yep, I've never read them as a child. Started six weeks ago with the first one and been half through the 6th by now. I love them, they're great!

  4. Disrupted by Dan Lyons. Got that as a present from a good friend and it's hilarious! Dan worked as a journalist for a big, renowned Newspaper before. Now he enters the startup world as a "content creator" for Hubspot and encounters the secret tales of company candy bars and Nerf blaster wars.

  5. Blackout by Marc Elseberg. The story of some hackers attacking the European power grid is not only awesome but really well and accurate described - that accurate, that the author nowadays gets invited to countless security conferences and even advices governments!

Discussion

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perigk profile image
Periklis Gkolias
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murrayvarey profile image
MurrayVarey

The Power of Habit

Have you read Atomic Habits by James Clear? Full of practical advice. It builds on (and refers to) Duhigg's book.

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perigk profile image
Periklis Gkolias

Planning to read. I have read a summary, articles and listened to several interviews of James Clear. I think it is great, but I am not qualified to say an honest review at the moment :)

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

I also read How to Win Friends and Influence People and think it's a very good one!

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katnel20 profile image
Katie Nelson

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - they just made another movie

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u8nc profile image
MiAn

I read it as a child, because it was just -=there=-, and I read everything I could get my hands on after I taught myself to read in one week by looking at the advertisements in the school bus.

Funny ( or maybe not so ) that I married into a family of 4 girls. I married the eldest, of Dawn, Jo (Joanne), Sue and Gail.

Joanne is very much alive today however, but they all self describe as 3 (tom)boys with Jo as the girl of the family. I've not dared to parallelise the rest of them with the book. Gail was the artistic one and is only recently married, 20yrs after the others.

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katnel20 profile image
Katie Nelson

Sounds like you should write your own novel MiAn. You certainly have plenty of material for it!

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

Just looked it up on Amazon - sounds amazing! Never heard of it before - I think it's sadly not that well-known in Germany...
But anyways, now it's on my list for 2020. 😎

Thank you!

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katnel20 profile image
Katie Nelson

Okay but be aware that it’s mostly appreciated by women. I don’t know many guys who like it. Let me know if you do read it and what you think about it.

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Hey, I'm a guy, and it's one of my all-time favorite books!

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katnel20 profile image
Katie Nelson

Wow that’s great. You’re one in a million Jason. ❤️

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

I'm certain there are more of us. Alcott's work, like Montgomery's, may be focused on the titular heroines, but the messages still resonate with anyone who has to fight against societal expectations to achieve their dreams. It's just like how many boys appreciate the Ramona Quimby books; it doesn't matter that she's a girl. She's a kid.

In my view, while "Little Women" speaks to women particularly, it's more broadly about the human experience; issues of character, and daring to defy the conventions of what you're told to be in order to become who you really are. The storylines for Laurie and John are a particular examples of that; they, too, must defy conventional wisdom of "who they're supposed to be".

The sequels of "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys" continue that dialog, exploring many of the same themes as they relate to manhood, especially for Nat and Dan, just as "Little Women" related them largely to womanhood. Mama Bhaer (Jo) never saw any difference in how her own life lessons related to herself and her sisters, versus how they related to the boys she taught and cared for, and neither should we.

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MurrayVarey

Great topic and list! Here are some of mine:

  • The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. The real-life story of a partnership which changed psychology (not to mention economics and beyond). You might not know the names Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman (yet), but it doesn't matter. Written by Michael Lewis of Moneyball & The Big Short fame, this is both moving and informative.

  • Mythos and Heroes by Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry takes on Greek mythology. Wonderfully entertaining. If possible, get the audiobook, which Fry reads himself.

  • The City & The City by China Mieville. Detective story set in a fictional city, where things aren't quite as they seem. (Are they ever?) Avoid spoilers if possible -- a lot of the fun comes from realising what's going on.

That'll do for now!

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

Nice! I'll add them to my list for 2020:) Especially The Undoing Project because The Big Short was fucking brilliant! Thanks a lot!

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murrayvarey profile image
MurrayVarey

Yeah, I could've chosen any of Lewis's books. Opted for The Undoing Project because it's less well known. It's also less angry (and angering) than The Big Short.

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ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

A few of mine:

  • David Brin's Uplift Trilogies: A somewhat different take on one possible future, and one I personally feel is more realistic than most. Not all sapient species are humanoid, those that aren't aren't automatically hostile or misunderstood, most races can't really figure out what to make of humans, and you don't have as much of the 'everyone mostly gets along fine' crap that you see in a lot of Sci-Fi stories.
  • Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series: Good British satire plus unconventional high fantasy makes for a great collection of stories. Part of what makes this series so interesting in my opinion is how well Pratchett handled multiple intertwined story-lines across so many books. Most of the books stand just fine on their own as an isolated story, but they also make regular callbacks to previous books in the chronology in universe, and even the isolated 'one-shot' stories that are only seen in one book feel like they fit properly with the rest of the series.
  • Isuna Hasekura's Spice & Wolf: This one's a Japanese light novel series. I like it quite simply because of how 'different' it is compared to most of the other things I've read. The story is set in a world heavily influenced by the European middle ages, but instead of the conventional high fantasy you normally would expect from such a setting, it follows the life of a traveling merchant and a supernatural being who becomes his traveling companion. The story taken as a whole is largely a romance, but that isn't always immediately evident while reading through any given book in the series. It's entertaining and sometimes quite witty, but manages to be far more 'down to earth' in a lot of cases than stereotypes of Japanese literature would suggest.
  • Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions: One of Anderson's less common high fantasy works, this one takes heavy inspiration from the historical 'Matter of France' (Charlemagenian legend). It's well written and an interesting story, and was also a significant influence on the development of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG (trolls, paladins, and the original law versus chaos alignment system were all derived from this story).
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mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

I like the writer BEN MEZRICH.
The first book of his was "Ugly Americans" about hot-shot 'quants' in Japan.
I also really liked "Bringing Down The House" about the MIT kids in Vegas.
He writes about tech very well.
"Accidentally Billionaire" was great too. That's about 'Zuck...
Keep reading.

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

Oh crazy! I just realized that the movie "The Social Network" is completely based on this book!

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mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

Yes, MEZRICH is god. ;))

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peledzohar profile image
Zohar Peled

Short and sweet:

  • God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut

  • Animals by T. Troughton

  • Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann (and the following book called Garou)

For long runners (three books or more):

  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (4 books [perhaps 5 already?])

  • InkHeart by Cornelia Funke (3 books)

  • Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn (5 books)

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mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

Love Kurt Vonnegut. Have you read "Slaughterhouse Five", really amazing. It s about being in a POW camp during WWII, ...kinda'... lol.
Vonnegut is so funny and imaginative. Also loved, "Breakfast of Champions", funny.

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

Speaking of POW camps, have you ever read Maus? It's the story of a Jew who survived Auschwitz. Was my first graphic novel and I absolutely love it! It's very metaphoric as the Nazis are drawn as cats while the Jews are represented by mice. Very engaging and heart-tearing piece of art!

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peledzohar profile image
Zohar Peled

Speaking of the Holocaust, there is a lot of great literature about and around this subject. One of the books I liked about it is Markus Zusak's The Book Thief which was also adopted to a movie by the same name.

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mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

I have seen rave reviews of Maus for a long time but have only read bits and pieces.

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peledzohar profile image
Zohar Peled

Thanks, I'll try to get them.

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Jacob Herrington (he/him)

I read a lot. This year I'm trying to read more fiction. These are off the top of my head:

Non-fiction:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Shoe Dog
  • It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work
  • The Design of Everyday Things
  • Meditations
  • Steve Jobs (Isaacson)
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
  • The Pragmatic Programmer
  • The Little Book of Hygge
  • The Intelligent Investor
  • Brief Answers to the Big Questions
  • The Passionate Programmer

Fiction:

  • Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit
  • The Saxon Chronicles
  • Gates of Fire
  • Dune (Book 1)
  • Forever War
  • The Expanse
  • Brave New World
  • The Martian
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The Three Musketeers

I'm certain that I'm missing some 😁

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

I've got a copy of The Intelligent Investor in my shelf, but I never found the time to dig into it!

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Favourites are hard. There are at least a hundred books in my top ten, so...

I'm currently reading Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, which is technically non-technical. It's really good so far.

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Patricio Ferraggi

I don't know favorites but a few I read this year.

How to win friends and influence people
Rich Dad poor dad
The millionare fastlane
Stop acting rich
Thinking Fast and Slow
The way of men
As a man thinketh

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

I read the first two you mentioned! Thinking of buying the millionaire fastlane, is it worth reading after Rich Dad Poor Dad?

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Patricio Ferraggi

Yes completely different approach, it tries to give the other point of view to rich Dad poor dad. Very good book

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Kelly

For fiction:
Circe by Madeline Miller and Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Both are heartbreakingly beautiful retellings of Greek Myths!

Non-fiction:
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

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Ian Pride

Someone already mentioned LOTR & the Dune saga, but I also love King's whole 'Dark Tower'+'Talisman/Black House' series. Also King's/Bachmans 'Desperation/Regulators' set. And way off mark I loved reading 'Les Miserables'... I've read thousands of books, but these are close to my top favs.

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Jason C. McDonald

The "Boo" series by Rene Gutteridge ("Boo", "Boo Who", "Boo Hiss", and "Boo Humbug") is hilarious. I also adore the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams.

"Pour Your Heart Into It" by Howard Schultz and "You Must Set Forth At Dawn" by Wole Soyinka are two of my favorite non-fiction reads. "Paris-Underground" by Etta Shiber is a classic, of which I am proud to own a first edition! I also enjoyed "The Silk Road: A New History" by Valerie Hansen.

Besides that, I'll read just about anything by Tony Hillerman, Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, or Louisa May Alcott. More recently, I've also started reading G.K. Chesterton.

Right now, though, I'm working my way through "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens.

P.S. I can't help but include a shameless plug for my own mystery novel, Noah Clue, P.I., of which I am quite proud. :D

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Binyamin Green

Here's a hidden gem: The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt. Wonderful coming-of-age/adventure. Similar to Lord of the Rings. It has a sequel which I just discovered.

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ghost profile image
Ghost
  • Dune saga by Frank Herbert. Science fiction at its best.

  • Road to Reality by Roger Penrose. it's almost all you need to know to dig into modern physics, not a light read but worthwhile. Penrose is a mathematical physicist and worked closely with Stephen Hawking.

  • The Theoretical Minimum series by Leonard Susskind. There are 3 books so far: classical, quantum and relativistic physics, all the basics needed to start doing physics or to remember the forgotten knowledge from out younger selves. Susskind is one of the fathers of string theory and this books are an extract of his teachings in Stanford.

  • Everything from Fyodor Dostoevsky, is the most comical, depressing, wonderfully engaging author I've read.

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wilsonbright profile image
Wilson Bright

This year its "Permanent Record' by Ed Snowden

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

Does it live up to the hype? And is it written as an exciting novel or more like some documentation?

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Wilson Bright

It's a auto-biography. I see it as a novel and documentation. It's exciting. Got some new perspectives.

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Fulton Browne

The Lord Of The Rings and Sherlock Holmes are my favorites.

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binyamin profile image
Binyamin Green

You took the words right out of my mouth!

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

Yeah these are definitely on my list!

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abinash393 profile image
αвιηαѕн

The art of war
- sun tzu

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

classic!

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biros profile image
Boris Jamot ✊ /

I bought black-out but I didn't read it yet.
Did you read "collapse" by Jared Diamond ?

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Matt Curcio

I saw Jared Diamond speak recently. Really low key but very nice. I thought "Guns, germs and steel" was landmark.

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lbeul profile image
Louis Author

No, do you recommend it?

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alliwalk profile image
Allison Walker
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  • A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind

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Matt Curcio

Maybe you might like, "Zen Mind, Beginner Mind" by S. Suzuki. Classic

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Harshana Serasinghe
  • Stick with it by Dr. Sean Young
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
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kayis profile image
K

Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking